Do People Choose to Go to Hell?
Hell is the eternal home, prepared by God, for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41). When Adam used his God-given will to disobey God, his choice thrust the entirety of his posterity into the state of sin (Gen 3; Rom 5:12–21), which is the dominion of Satan (Acts 26:18), the domain of darkness (Col 1:13). Man joined Lucifer’s rebellion and reaped the consequences…death.
Adam was made in the image of God, but by succumbing to the temptation of the serpent, he took on the image of the devil. After the fall, every inclination of his heart was only evil all the time (Gen 6:5). Adam’s nature was now sin (Eph 2:3), and this caused him to practice sinning in diverse ways (Gal 5:19–21).
The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). All people are conceived in sin, having inherited the sin of Adam (Rom 5:12). All are shapen in iniquity in their mother’s womb (Ps 51:5), and this refutes any notion of innocence. The soul is still-born (spiritually dead) and the body suffers entropy before it dies (2 Cor 4:16; Eph 2:1).
It is appointed for sinners to die, once, and then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27). It must be noted that humanity is already under condemnation (Jn 3:18), therefore, the judgment is actually a sentencing by the just Judge (Dt 32:4; Ps 89:14; Is 9:7; Jn 5:30; 1 Cor 4:4; Heb 12:23). Guilty sinners die in the flesh and their souls dwell in Hades (Mt 10:28), until the Day of Christ’s return (Mt 24:30; Rev 19:11), when the dead, apart from Christ, will be resurrected in the body for assignment to eternal hell (Jn 5:25–29).
Hell is eternal punishment in outer darkness (Mt 8:12; 25:46), where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:42). The torments of insatiable thirst (Lk 16:23–24), amidst the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15), will be bodily and conscious, for the worm dieth not (Mk 9:44, 46, 48). The infinite offense, with an infinite collection of sins, against the infinite majesty of God, adds intensity to the default position of every soul, with Adam as his or her federal head (representative head).
Adam chose sin, hence, all humanity warranted hell, by the justice of God. No man chooses hell for himself because of federal headship. Adam’s willful choice and its consequences were applied to all who were “in him” (Rom 5:12–21). One man’s choice poisoned the whole lot. Thus, no choice remains for man.
There is a false teaching that says, “God doesn’t send anyone to hell. He just honors their choice.” When God warned Adam, “You shall surely die” (Gen 2:17), He gave the first man His Word. Adam died, first, in soul, then, he died in the body. Following the first death, there is the resurrection to judgment, and finally, the second death in eternal fire (Rev 20:14; 21:8). Hell is forever (Mk 3:29).
Man does not will himself out of hell (Jn 1:12–13), nor does he have the ability to do so (Rom 8:7). He cannot work his way out of hell in this life, nor when he reaches hell, as his eternal destination. There is no meritorious system that can remedy man’s plight — no, not even one satisfactory act of obedience.
Man, in the futility of his mind (Eph 4:17), does not seek after God (Rom 3:11), to rectify his disposition. He is unmoved by persuasions of those who know and understand the dangers. When the natural man hears the truth of what God has done in Christ (Jn 3:16; 2 Cor 5:19), he has no love for the truth (2 Thess 2:10), nor has he any love for God in his heart (Jn 5:42; 1 Jn 3:17), nor room for God’s Word (Jn 8:47). He does not believe in Jesus because he does not belong to Jesus (Jn 10:26; 1 Cor 3:23).
The doctrine of the total depravity of man teaches us about sin’s enslavement of man (Rom 6:6, 16–20), and the accompanying helplessness and hopelessness he has without God in the world (Eph 2:12).
Because of Satan’s deception of man (Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 4:4), he does not believe the seriousness of his situation, being on the highway to hell (Mt 7:13). Man believes he is good and that he does good. Upon hearing the Bible’s assessment of his status (total depravity), he dismisses God’s Word in the same way his father Adam did so long ago.
Thus, we can conclude that man does not choose to go to hell. We can also conclude that man does not choose to go to heaven. As a slave to sin, man does not have free will to choose his eternal home, nor is this man’s prerogative, according to the Bible.
But God, being rich in mercy, has used His divine free will (Jn 1:13) to graciously and in love (Eph 1:4), choose a people for himself (1 Pet 2:9), saying, “I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy (Rom 9:15).” God is able to have mercy only because of Jesus Christ’s sinless conception, birth, life, and sacrificial death. In this, God retains His righteousness and justice because Jesus paid the penalty for His church and cancelled our debt of sin (Col 2:14).
Jesus came into the world to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). These are the people predestined to adoption by God the Father (Eph 1:4–5) and given to the Son before the foundation of the world (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24), whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from eternity (Rev 13:8; 17:8; 21:27).
In time, no one can come to Jesus for salvation, unless the Father draws him or her (Jn 6:44). No one can hear the voice of Christ, to hear and believe the Gospel, unless he belongs to the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:26; 1 Cor 3:23). No one of the world can receive the Spirit of God (Jn 14:17), and if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His (Rom 8:9).
It is the Spirit of God who teaches and guides God’s elect (Jn 14:26; 16:13), so they might know the things that are freely given to His beloved (1 Cor 2:12). The natural man does not accept spiritual things from God (1 Cor 2:14).
In conclusion, God warned Adam of the hell to pay for rebellion against his Creator (Gen 3). God has sent the majority number of humanity to hell (Mt 10:28), since the fall, and to this doom they were appointed (1 Pet 2:8), being vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22).
No man has a choice in these matters, which invariably infuriates those who imagine themselves to be decision-making gods (Satan’s deception). Rather, God is willing and working His good pleasure (Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13), whether that is a righteous act of just judgment or a compassionate act of mercy. It is His sovereign choice.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 23, 2022