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Hell: Does God pick and choose who’s going there?

Gary Googe Nov 16

There are people who think God does this.  They believe man’s will is really not a factor and that he is not free to operate contrary to God’s will.  They believe that anytime someone “is saved” it is because God willed it, meaning He predetermined it and made it happen.  They do not believe man’s will is truly free to function in the matter.  They may not want to admit it to you, but they believe it was God alone who made this decision for people.

Let’s first back up and get some background for all this.  From the time man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden, he has had free will.  In that Garden, God gave man a way for him to express his will.  He could either follow God’s command regarding the fruit of a certain tree or reject it The Bible clearly states this.

Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. [Emphasis added]

Undoubtedly this was a test for man.  There had to be something like this as a test for man’s will because without it, man would have been like a robot, having no will of his own.  We later find man exercising his will foolishly.  The Bible record tells us the man and the woman chose against God’s will.

Genesis 3:6

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [Emphasis added]

Later in this passage we read about our Lord’s comments about all this.

Genesis 3:8-11

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? [Emphasis added]

We find that the woman was deceived in this matter, but the man was not.  He knew full well that he was choosing against God’s will.

I Timothy 2:14

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [Emphasis added]

By deception or not they were both guilty.  But by God’s grace He decided to provide a Savior for them through childbearing.  Notice the next verse in that passage.

I Timothy 2:15a

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, [Emphasis added]

It was God’s plan to bring a Savior into the world through childbirth who would provide a way for man’s salvation.  By bypassing the male factor, in this case Joseph, God brought a virgin born child into the world who would not have a nature to sin as we all do today.  By then living a sinless life, Jesus would be qualified to bear our sins for us.

II Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

By His death Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of all mankind, not just those who would ultimately believe in Him.

I Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]

By doing this Christ completely satisfied the justice of God.

I John 2:2

And he is the propitiation for our sins: [having satisfied God’s just demands] and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]

All this was done as an expression of God’s love for ALL mankind.

Romans 5:7-8

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]

It was by this provision that God provided a way for man to be made right with God.

Again, II Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

It is when someone puts their faith in this provision that they are given the righteousness of God.  When that happens, they are then said to be justified.

Romans 5:1

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

This was all provided courtesy of God’s grace.  There’s no work or combination of works man can do to gain this.

Galatians 2:16

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [Emphasis added]

Galatians 3:11

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. [Emphasis added]

Now that we’ve looked at all these things, what about this thing of God picking and choosing who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell? What about passages like this next one?

Romans 9:13

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. [Emphasis added]

How does this relate to passages like this next one?

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [Emphasis added]

Then notice what immediately follows that.

John 3:17-18

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [Emphasis added]

But then we have some who want to tell us that it is God who gives the faith by which to be saved. But, again, what do the Scriptures tell us about that? WHERE does that faith come from? Here again, the Bible tells us.

Romans 10:17

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [Emphasis added]

That faith comes from within the individual who chooses to believe in the information He’s given, that information being the gospel [the good news] God provides.  That good news is all about what God has done through Christ to provide all mankind with a means for his salvation.

Let’s look at the context in which we find Romans 10:17

Romans 10:12-18

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. [Emphasis added]

People all over the world come to a consciousness of the existence of God, regardless of the fact that some claim otherwise.

Romans 1:19-21, 28

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Many refuse to accept the evidence the creation provides that there surely is a Creator.  But God always gets the good news out regarding what He has done to provide a way of salvation, especially for those who seek Him.  But most people choose to shut Him out of their lives.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [proper]; [Emphasis added]

All this is telling us that it is because of man’s choice to reject God that he doesn’t enjoy His blessing, even if we’re talking about man’s salvation for entrance into heaven.

The passage people seem to like to use most to argue that God predetermines heaven and hell for people is found in Romans.

Romans 9:10-13

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. [Emphasis added]

When the Bible speaks God’s Word telling us, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” it is primarily speaking of the progeny of these two men.  Yes, Jacob was a man of faith, but Esau was not.  But this passage has nothing to do with these men personally being predestined.  God never predestines someone to hell.  There’s no place in the Bible where that is stated.  Furthermore, we are not told that God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were born.  Instead, this was all about God’s purpose to make the descendants of Jacob His people, a people of faith, rather than those of Esau.  In this passage, God had NATIONS in mind, not individuals.  This is also what He was talking about when He told Rebekah, “The elder shall serve the younger.”  There is no record at all that the man Esau ever served Jacob.  Again, the Bible tells us nations are the subject here, not individuals.

Genesis 25:23

23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. [Emphasis added]

This is a statement of prophecy.  We’re simply reading what God KNEW was going to happen, NOT what He was going to cause to happen.  When He tells us these things shall happen, He’s speaking of prophecy, that which He is foretelling.  This passage by no means says God “picked” Jacob over Esau.  But this passage has often been used to “prove” that God picked Jacob to be saved and Esau to be unsaved, even before they were born.  But the fact is this statement about them was made around fourteen hundred years AFTER they were born.

Malachi 1:2-3

I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob,

And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. [Emphasis added]

Again, all this is about the two nations of people that descended from these two men.  Jacob’s lineage [generally speaking] was one of faith and Esau’s was not.  In every case, individuals determine their own eternal future by their own decisions about God and what He’s provided as a means for their salvation.  Therefore, while God desires for all to be saved, we find that most people choose contrary to God’s desire [His will] for them.

II Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [from the Greek word THELO—means wishing or desiring] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [Emphasis added]

Because He desires for all to be saved, He made provision that makes it possible.  It has always been amazing to me why some people mistakenly think God would create some people just to see them suffer in misery throughout all eternity.  The whole idea is contrary to the way the Bible defines God for us.  One of the most important things you need to gain from this study is that anyone who ever comes into your life is an object of God’s love and a candidate for salvation.  In all that you say and do, you need to prepare yourself to be one of God’s representatives to them.  God wants these people to be drawn to Him through you for salvation. And just as there were others that led you to Christ, you have a similar opportunity to do the same for others, maybe many others.  And, just as it was for you, God used someone or some people to lead you to Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered you.  Never for a second suppose that there are some who could never be saved because God has already determined that they will spend eternity in the misery of hell and the lake of fire.  Instead, realize that Christ died on a cross and rose from the grave to provide eternal salvation for anyone who will accept by faith what He has lovingly provided.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]

As the apostle Paul once told a Philippian jailer…

Acts 16:31

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house [meaning—and anyone else in your household who believes this]. [Emphasis added]

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