Atheist Caller: Who goes to hell?
Koukl: People who deserve it…. Hell is a place where justice is ultimately accomplished. Those who do wrong—in rebellion against the Sovereign of the universe—are banished forever from His presence.
Atheist: So only through belief in Jesus is someone redeemed from hell? Do I have that understanding correct?
Koukl: You do, but I have to add something because just saying that much leaves a false impression.
A pardon is offered by the Sovereign for all the crimes committed against Him and it is made possible through what He did—actually by becoming a man Himself and taking the punishment on Himself that we deserve.
We can either accept the pardon, and therefore receive clemency, or we can deny the pardon and then stand in the dock as guilty and pay the penalty our self—that’s our choice.
Atheist: [So] it’s a cognitive decision. People choose to be pardoned and if they accept that—if they accept Jesus—then they’ll be pardoned.
Koukl: Yes, that’s a different way of putting it—”accept Jesus”—but essentially it is to trust in the provision that God has made through the person of Jesus. And so that’s a way of accepting the pardon. It’s believing in it, and when I [say] believing here … I don’t mean just mental ascent—although that is certainly part of it. You have to believe that Jesus is able to save you before you believe in him to save you…
And so, yes, that’s what is necessary—one has to put their trust in Christ and bend their knee (there’s humility involved). And if they don’t do that, then they receive what they have coming to them.
— Greg Koukl, from Conversations With An Atheist at 14:28