- Religion and Philosophy
Are You Predestined for Hell?
Are you on the road to hell?
Has God predestined some people to hell?
Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Zedong. These are just a few of the most maniacal and evil men to ever live in human history. Just these four men alone are responsible for the deaths of millions upon millions of innocent men, women, and children. Few people would defend the statement that these men not only represent a magnified picture of the depravity of mankind, but would also agree that each one deserves an eternal sentence of everlasting punishment in a place the bible calls hell.
And rightly so. The accounts of their actions enflames the sense of justice inherent in each one of us. The cries of their victims demands justice for which death in this life seems incapable of fully delivering. Very few reasonable people would argue against this.
But what about the man or woman who lives a somewhat moral life by worldly and even personal standards? Those who give to charities, volunteer in the PTA, are active in their community, and may even go to church when the occasion calls for it. The bible tells us that even people who by all worldly accounts live a “good” life, if they die having not been born again by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, will spend eternity in the same place as Hitler and Stalin. Is that possible? Is that reasonable? After all, how can it be that a man or woman who tries their hardest to live a decent, moral life would be cast into a lake of never-ending fire after they die simply because they do not believe in Jesus or subscribe to the teachings of Christianity?
There are countless numbers of people who hear the good news of Jesus, His death, burial and resurrection, and yet remain unchanged and unmoved by its call to repentance and faith. How is it that a group of people can sit in a place, all sharing the same relevant background, culture, and upbringing, hear the same gospel message, and only a fraction be eternally changed and saved while the others walk away in the same lost condition? Has God predestined some people to hell, while predestinating others to heaven? Does God play favorites?
Emphatically-NO! However….there is a popular ideology within Christian circles today called Calvinism that teaches God in fact does choose some for heaven, and thus conversely has chosen the un-chosen for hell. This teaching seeks to reconcile the problem exposed by the previous question, that people can hear the same message with the result that only some are saved and others are not. (Now I will address the specifics of this teaching via its supportive bible verses along with opposition views and verses in a later post. However, for the present I want to address the common false responses and teachings that have sprung up in opposition to this question of God predestinating some for hell.)
Normally, the average person’s response (albeit wrong response) to this bemoans the apparent lack of fairness that seems inherent in this idea. After all, how can it be fair for God to choose some and not others? By what standard or on what basis does He go person to person, placing some in the saved basket and others in the lost basket? It’s as if God is walking through the produce isle at Kroger, picking the ripe, delicious fruit and putting it in His basket, while leaving the unappealing, older fruit to sit and rot. Can it be that our eternal destiny is decided so unfairly?
People who lean on this fairness argument believe and teach that God is too loving to send people to hell, unless they are Hitler and the like. After all, it seems a little excessive for me to be sent to hell over what I think amounts to petty offenses. While most will readily admit to lying, stealing, and the occasional lustful glance at another person, they will also argue that these things are not equal to more heinous crimes such as rape or murder, and thus should not receive everlasting torment in hell.
In fact, this view is growing in popularity today, as teachers and leaders continually downplay, distort and ignore the truth of hell while they concomitantly elevate the love of God. “God loves you” is the catchphrase of 21st century Christianity. Sunday after Sunday the message that God loves you just as you are and has a wonderful plan for you is trotted out in churches and echoed on televisions and so-called christian radio stations. And it’s a message that is being sopped up by a self-loving and self-centered society.
And it’s the widespread popularity and repetition of this view that has led people to stop wondering and questioning if they are predestined for or headed to hell, but rather falsely believe that they are not only predestined for heaven, but that God is the better for it. After all, He needs someone like me.
This fairness view falls short on many levels, while failing to take into account the holiness, righteousness and wrath of God. And it is only in light of these attributes that we can begin to understand that God is not fair, He is just, and in His justice He must and will punish sin. It's only under the light of this truth that we begin to understand that we are all on the road to hell, and the only way off is through faith in Jesus.
John 3:16 is a beautiful and wonderful passage of scripture that expresses the love of God. Sadly, however, many use this verse as a springboard for false teachings and false beliefs, leading gullible and undiscerning people down the road to hell. While it would be easy to recall the last sermon or teaching you heard regarding John 3:16, when was the last time you heard a sermon or teaching regarding John 3:17-21?
It's clear from these passages that every one of us is condemned already because of our sin, and if not for God's love and grace in sending His Son Jesus to die in our place, we would all remain in that lost condition, loving evil and living in darkness.
So has God predestined some to heaven and some to hell? No! But God has foreordained, or appointed, that every person who places faith in Jesus and is born again will be reconciled and receive eternal life, while those who remain in unbelief will spend an eternity of torment in hell. God has appointed that man should die once and then face judgment. The only question is, when you stand before God on that day, will you be covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven, or will you try to plead the fairness of God and face His wrath? As scripture clearly says, we each have two paths before us-life and death-and it is incumbent upon us to choose.
What will your choice be?