People don’t choose hell with a full understanding of what they are doing. They don’t have a clear picture of the eternal happiness they will miss or the everlasting separation and darkness they will endure. But according to the Bible, hell is a place of choice. As a result, the Bible repeatedly appeals to its readers to choose the way of life rather than the path of death and judgment. Over and over, Jesus Himself urged His listeners to make wise choices with questions like: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).
Yet the same Bible also reminds us that most people will risk their eternal souls rather than feel obligated or indebted to the love and mercy of God. In some cases, this stubborn independence is easy to see. Some will even tell you that if there really is a heaven and a hell they would rather go to the place below because that’s where their friends will be. Others say that heaven and God and eternal goodness sound boring. Still others are so angry at God for the pain and rejection that He has allowed them to experience that they have literally challenged Him to send them to the devil and his place.
Most people are merely ignoring the long-term possibilities of their own choices. They are either counting on the hope that God is too loving to send them to hell, or they are assuming that they aren’t bad enough to be sent there. Many are so preoccupied with trying to survive day-to-day struggles that they have chosen not to worry about the future.
In the process, such people make personal choices for which they will be held accountable. Certainly they fail to understand the full weight of their choices. They fail to realize that just as the first man and woman made choices that resulted in enormous loss, so also we who are made in the image of God continue to be held accountable for the choices we make. With such choices and consequences in mind, the apostle Paul wrote: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18-19).
As God’s creatures, we owe Him glory and thanksgiving. God has a right to expect that we as a race and as individuals recognize His lordship, give Him thanks, and live in grateful obedience to Him. But in our pride, we have refused to glorify God as God. Instead, we have become preoccupied with ourselves and our own happiness. We have chosen to love ourselves rather than God– to glorify ourselves rather than the Lord. This is why “the wrath of God” (Romans 1:18) rests upon the human race. This divine wrath is a terrible reality. It is God’s revulsion against the things that contradict His holy being. It is God reaction to those who choose evil while rejecting His love. Some accuse God of vindictiveness. But we would ne wise to withhold our critcism and respond as quickly as we can to God’s invitation to escape the eternal fires. It was Christ Himself who urged us: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
This is still true. While religion is common all over the world, how many people do you know who accually and consistently love God and express their gratitude to Him? If you think carefully and honestly, you will have to admit that no one does. But born-again Christians freely admit this and have placed their trust for salvation in Jesus Christ, believing that He paid for their sins when He died on the cross. When people refuse to believe on Him, they are choosing to stand on their own merits. To be placed on the road to heaven, we must acknowledge our sin, admit that we can’t save ourselves, and place our trust in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
If you haven’t chosen to believe on Jesus Christ, you are choosing the path to hell. Don’t listen to the behaviorists who suggest that you have no real choices of your own. Reject the New Age thinking that says you are governed by a non-moral Force. Accept the teaching of the Bible. If you reject Christ, you will have no right to blame anyone but yourself when you someday find yourself in hell. You will have to admit that you made the wrong choice. You won’t be able to blame God.