My husband (a philosophy professor) and I have often discussed this question. He offers this example. Suppose a parent offers to forgive a child for a particular misdeed, yet the child keeps sinning against the parent with no remorse. The relationship between the parent and the child is still fractured even though the parent extended forgiveness to the child. The parent desires an intimate, joy-filled relationship exemplifying reconciliation. God is like that parent. God is good, beautiful, and full of compassion (Psalm 136:1
). Forgiveness through Jesus Christ is for all (John 3:16
; 2 Peter 3:9
), but not all of us have it. Some of us continue to arrogantly resist God because we think we know better than God. Like Satan, we desire to be God (seeIsaiah 14:12–15
; Matthew 4). But some say that in the end, even if people experience hell, they’ll have a chance to escape hell. Furthermore, they claim God’s love is irresistible and unconditional, so the unrepentant in this life cannot help but be wooed and so repent even after death.
As for me, I’m inclined to think that some will stubbornly resist God in this life and in the next. This question leads to many other theological questions about the nature of hell, the problem of evil, and the salvation of people such as babies, the intellectually disabled, and others who cannot understand the propositions of the gospel. There is quite a bit I don’t know about this topic. But I do know God is loving, compassionate, and just. And I truly trust him to judge rightly.