One of the arguments that is often made by those who either choose not to believe in the Bible or who contort it in a way that downplays the risk of eternal damnation is that any all-knowing, all-loving God would never condemn people to suffer forever. I agree. God has made it very clear through the apostle Peter:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
But there’s an understanding all must have as we go through this life. When God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, He did so because He knew we continue to abandon the righteous path He has set forth for us, the path to salvation by our works. No man is righteous and therefore no man is worthy of salvation, but God simplified things for us through the blood of Christ.
He offered us the simplest of choices: Believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior or not. Those who truly believe will repent from our sins because His blood granted us the forgiveness we have never deserved. Through His blood, we have a very clear path to salvation. It is a narrow path, but it is clear.
Choosing the option of not embracing Jesus Christ as the one path to salvation is choosing an eternity in the fiery pit.
What about judgment?
Throughout the Old and New Testament, we are told of God’s judgment. We are told of books being open through which we will be judged for our thoughts and actions. I believe this concept has been contorted, especially by atheists and believers in other religions to paint an incorrect picture of what is to come.
Our souls do not die. What happens to our souls and our resurrection bodies is determined by this final judgment, but I believe that judgment comes in two parts. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will be judged on their works to determine their place in the resurrection. The Bible is explicit that the are different degrees of placement in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:19
I believe the final judgment will be for those whose name is written in the Book of Life. Those who did not believe in Christ and repent for their sins as a result will have no need to be judged for their works. Their judgment will be instantaneous. That was their choice.
It is unfortunate that the adversary has been able to confuse so many into believing that the God of the Bible is mean-spirited or somehow to be blamed for the choices made by men. God has not said He will pick people who do not meet His harsh requirements for a purely righteous life to suffer for eternity in Hell. He has made it crystal clear that the free will He blessed us with is what determines our eternal fate. Those who choose to accept salvation are given the easiest of mindsets to perpetuate in their lives in order to be given this greatest of gifts. Those who choose not to accept salvation will not be forced to do so.
Salvation is not set aside only for those who have not sinned. If that were the case, the streets of Heaven would be empty after the resurrection because sin is in everyone. Instead, salvation is set aside for those who accept that we are sinners and willingly embrace the forgiveness we were given by believing in Jesus Christ and repenting from our sins.
Those who oppose the Bible often say it is unfair that God would make us sinners and then judge us for our sins. Those who know the Bible and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior realize God hates sin but loves sinners enough to give us a path to eternal salvation.