Sunday, 15 April 2012

Is Hell A Personal Choice?

"Rodin's Gates of Hell"
Photo Credit: Christian Ortiz
Flickr Creative Commons
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"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." (by C.S. Lewis; "The Great Divorce")

There are a lot of people today who seem to stuggle with the concept of Hell. They seem to feel it inconsistent with the nature of a loving God to send anyone to Hell. I confess that I have sometimes even wondered that myself.

However, while it is most certainly true that God is a God of love, and He does desire that none shall perish, it is also true that He gave mankind a free will. If we believe that God gave us the free will to choose, does that choice essentially include a choice for Hell by our rejection of His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ?

Everything God has for you and me He has given us in Jesus. Like all gifts, though offered, they must still be received. I can offer to give you a suitcase full of treasures, but until you actually take it from my hands and receive it, it remains only an offer that you do not yet possess. Salvation is like that. The offer is there in Jesus. But Jesus Himself said, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). The offer is there, and it is free, but it must be personally received to take effect and to be of value to you and me.

If that is true, the question then becomes, what happens to those who reject God's offer through Jesus? Does God, because of His love, finally say, "Oh, that's OK. You rejected my Son, but I will let you into my Heaven anyway?" No. Again, look back to John 14:6. Jesus is the way, the only way. Reject Him, and by default, you essentially choose Hell.

Does God send people to Hell? While He doesn't want to, He has given us the choice. Yes, the Bible says that one day "every knee will bow" (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10), but personally I think it would be a mistake to assume that all who bow the knee will be saved. Even demons bow the knee in obedience to Jesus, but they're not saved either.

Rejecting Jesus is a personal choice just as much as accepting Him is a personal choice. In this case, there is no middle ground. Our vote must be either a "Yea" or a "Nay," either for or against Jesus. Therefore, by default, a "Yea" vote also equals a vote for Heaven, whereas a "Nay" vote equals a vote for Hell.

Photo Credit: Eric Schmuttenmaer
Flickr Creative Commons
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Is Hell a personal choice? Yes, I think it is. It's not the choice God would have made, because He is a God of love, but He lets us choose our own path. I know that God hopes that we choose wisely, but in the end, the choice is yours and mine. 

Does God send people to Hell? I suspect that C.S. Lewis is right in this regard, "All that are in Hell, choose it."

2 comments:

  1. Hi Will,

    I don't claim to have hell figured out completely, but my doubts didn't come from thinking it was unfair, unjust or unlike a loving God. My doubts actually came from a fresh reading of Scripture, and then the more I dug in the more I questioned where our traditional belief actually came from. From what I can tell the Jews in Jesus day did not hold the same view of the afterlife as we've gotten handed down to us.

    Anyways, here is where my study of Scripture took me. Sorry about the length of the post.
    http://jonjourney.blogspot.ca/2009/10/does-scripture-say-hell-is-eternal.html

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Jonathan. I haven't got the whole hell thing figured out yet either. These were simply a few of my thoughts in reading The Great Divorce. Having said that, C.S. Lewis himself said in the preface to the book, "I beg readers to remember that this is a fantasy. It has of course - or I intended it to have - a moral." I enjoyed Lewis' book and I do recommend it. However, it was never intended to be, nor did I take it as, a theology text on hell. Perhaps all we can hope for is that it brings some healthy discussion on the subject. Peace.

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