We Christians need to work on our delivery.
“Believe in Christ or go to Hell” is over-simplified, and doesn’t interpret well. It’s easy, it’s marketable, but the negativity of it causes people who do convert to do so out of fear, not faith. Most times, it turns people away.
If you believe the Bible, you believe Heaven and Hell have always existed, or you believe Lucifer created Hell when he fell – even if the latter is the case, the evil element was already there. If God created the angels, if he is omniscient, that means He created evil. If He created evil, is He both good and evil Himself, or did He push His internal evil into an external source, or is He simultaneously God and the devil? Whatever you believe or debate, the Bible tells us the dichotomy of good and evil has always existed.
The purpose of our existence, according to Christianity, is to resist and fight evil by doing good (defined as humility and charity), until the day evil is nonexistent. While the devil instigated original sin according to Genesis, free will guaranteed internalized evil alongside good. Original sin was ordained. You can’t make a choice for good without the opposite option. Then you are a robot with no individuality or personality, or anything that makes you human. Now, I know I said the endgame is to eliminate evil. Do we become robots at that point? I hope not! God must have a plan beyond good vs. evil, but the dichotomy is obviously part of the path to that end.
So, yes, God created us knowing we would sin. Hell is not a punishment for the inevitable (how unfair would that be?) but the place where evil dwells and where people engulfed by malevolence are meant to exist. Disobedience and evil have no home in a place of eternal goodness and purity. It’s not that we’re being denied a “reward,” but that we choose our eternal home based on our decisions.
Christ came to deny the devil his citizens. He came so we could make the choice of Heaven or Hell throughout our entire lives – to give us the option to choose Heaven again even after we choose Hell. Forgiveness is one of the most powerful gifts God has offered. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is the next step after Creation towards defeating evil for good. We have the option to be purged of all our evil choices, purified, and allowed into the holiest of destinations.
In other words, it’s not that God will send you to Hell if you don’t love and accept His son. It’s that His son is the only one who saves us from our own corruption, from damning ourselves. Our own sin sends us to Hell, not God. Jesus did not come to send us to Hell if we don’t believe in Him.
It’s like this. You jumped into a pit for some reason, on a dare perhaps. It is deep and you are trapped. And arm appears and reaches down towards you and says, “Let me help you out of there.” If you scorn the arm, you remain in the pit, die, and rot there. If you accept the arm, you climb out of the hole and into the light. The arm did not put you in the pit, and the arm did not make you stay in the pit. That was all you. The arm is providing you a way out, a way past your mistake. And the arm will always reappear no matter how many times you fall back into the pit. The choice to reemerge is entirely yours. The hope is that by end of your journey, you will have learned how to not fall in again, and you will stay in the light until your metamorphosis.
I personally have faith in the following quote:
“To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.”
– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
God bless with mother earth’s bliss.