Because there are no ‘good’ people, according to the Bible (Romans 3:10-12). This may sound harsh but do you know of anyone that’s perfect? If you let imperfect people into heaven, wouldn’t heaven eventually become just like Earth is now? And Earth now is definitely not a perfect place.
If you compare our ‘righteousness’ to God’s, it’s like comparing the height of a postage stamp to the height of the Empire State building. We don’t even come close (Isaiah 64:6). We’re great at comparing ourselves to other people, usually the ones not as good as we are. But Paul says not to compare ourselves to ourselves because this isn’t wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). But if we compare ourselves to perfection (which is what heaven is), we’ll see that we fall short. If we want to get into heaven, we’ll have to be perfect (Matthew 5:20).
Jesus lived a perfect life. He NEVER sinned. When we invite Him into our life, He forgives our imperfections and wipes them away. He then applies His righteousness to us. Because He has removed our sin nature and replaced it with His, we can now enter heaven, the perfect place (John 3:16).
But, you protest, what about people who are genuinely good? Everyone would agree that we cannot look into each other’s souls. We can only see the outward actions of a person. God can see into their soul, their real self (1 Samuel 16:7). Yes, there are some people who are more righteous than others. But what good does being twice as ‘good’ as the next person, if we are still not equal to God’s righteousness? We may be twice as good as another person, but the height of two postage stamps is still a long way from the height of the Empire State building. The only thing that can wipe away our imperfections is the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ blood really does cleanse us (1 John 1:7).
Finally, one last point. This may shock you. The people in hell don’t want to be in heaven with God. There is not one instance in the New Testament of people wanting to get out of hell. People in hell don’t want to get out of hell because the only other place to be is in heaven. And heaven is the one place they don’t want to be because heaven is where God is. For them being in God’s presence would be much worse. C.S. Lewis has said“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it is opened.” He also said that “The Gates of Hell are locked from the inside.”
So, in a sense, hell is God’s merciful provision to those who don’t want to be in His presence forever. But don’t read into this too much. Hell is NOT a nice place for sinners (Matthew 13:42, Luke 13:28. Jesus compared it to the worst, most repugnant place ever. The Valley of ben-Hinnom (or what we call Gehenna or hell) was Jerusalem’s garbage dump. It smelled terrible, had rats, mice, and maggots in it, and fires that were continually burning the garbage (Matthew 9:42-48). Hell was made for the devil, his demons, and for all who follow him. Jesus made it clear. If you’re not following Him, you’re following the devil (Matthew 12:30).
So, will there be good people in hell? By some people’s definition, YES. But by God’s definition (the only one that counts), NO!
“The Problem of God” by Mark Clark, pages 125-150, an excellent book for skeptics
“The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, pages 169-194, an excellent book
“How to Talk to a Skeptic” by Donald J. Johnson, pages 105-121, great answer on hell
Featured image by Jill Dimond