“Oh, why don’t you just go to hell, does God really care about the people in hell?”
This is an important question, and the short answer is “yes.” God does love people in hell. If God is conceived of as a finite, creaturely personage, then the doctrine of divine justice will make little sense. His omniscience, perfection, justice, holiness, and goodness are not possible if God is not infinite and transcendent; finite beings cannot be essentially perfect, etc. But making God in the image of man is, unfortunately, what many people do. When we think God is just like us, but with superpowers, we commit a great error. God is not a being in the cosmos, He is being itself (Exodus 3:14; Acts 17:24–29). He transcends the cosmos. This is critical to the question of God loving people in hell, because, when 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love,” it means the very essence of God is love. It does not mean that God loves His creation because it does something for Him or that He goes through mood changes having good days and bad days. It does not mean that God is impacted by what happens in time. Rather, God loves people because that is just simply who He is. Because of this, God’s love is not affected by our actions or our location. God loves the people in hell.
Pop culture takes a cavalier approach to hell. People will casually tell people to go to hell or assume that hell will be a big party. From the biblical standpoint, what is broadly called “hell” represents something quite abhorrent. The Bible says that, upon death, the wicked soul subsists in conscious torment until the future resurrection (see Luke 16:19–31). So how is it that God loves people in hell?
God loves His creation—His nature is love—but this love manifests itself differently to the impenitent creature than to the penitent. It is the same love, experienced from two perspectives. As an analogy, two people outside on a bright, sunny day can have very different experiences, if one is in the sunshine and the other is in the shadow. In both cases, the sun is the same; it is the experience of the creatures that is different, depending on their situation relative to the sun. In a similar way, the creaturely experience of God is different in hell than it is in heaven. Instead of experiencing the fullness of God’s grace, one gets the fullness of divine wrath.
Do YOU know Jesus Christ as YOUR personal savior and Lord? What does that actually mean to you?