Everyone who goes to heaven is there because God chose them to be.
Everyone who goes to hell is there because they chose to be.
This is the mystery of the way God works. And the way we are.
It's beautiful and terrible, comforting and shocking, all at the same time.
WE DON'T CHOOSE GOD
We make choices, some small, some big, every day. We choose the town in which we live, the resort where we vacation, the school our children attend.
But heaven is very different. It is not a place we choose to be. It is a place God prepares for us, readies us for, chooses us for, and actively brings us to.
-“You did not choose me, but I chose you,” Jesus says (John 15:16).
-The Father “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world,” (Eph 1:4).
-We are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2:3), “enemies of God” (Rom 5:10), and cannot by ourselves even say “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor 12:3).
God does 100% of the work of making us children of grace, friends of Christ, and those who confess Jesus as their Lord.
We wouldn't choose to be with God. But, in his grace, he makes the unwilling willing, his foes into friends, his enemies into his own dear children.
That’s what the Father does for us in Jesus Christ. He chooses us in Christ, transforms us in Christ, and brings us to Himself in Christ.
Everyone who’s in heaven is there because God chose them to be there in Jesus Christ.
HELL IS BY CHOICE
Everyone who’s in hell is there because they chose to be there. This seems ludicrous at first. Why would anyone choose to be in such a horrid place?
Think of it this way: way too often, don't we find ourselves in the midst of pain, regret, loneliness, and heartache because of the choices we make? No one forced us to do it. We elected to do what brought us nothing but pain.
Thus if even in this life, we actively choose those horrid, emotional hells we end up in, why are we surprised when it’s that way even after this life?
As the Eagles sang, “we are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”
Or as C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, "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."
Hell was not in the original blueprints for creation; it was an add-on. It was built for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
Hell had to be retrofitted for humanity because there were those who chose it.
Though the Father did everything necessary to save them in Jesus Christ;
though he sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world but to redeem it;
though he desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth;
indeed, even though God actively and willfully seeks out the lost,
nevertheless there are some who steadfastly refuse to have anything to do with him.
If they want nothing to do with God, then why would they want anything to do with God’s home? We don't even visit the homes of our enemies, much less pack up and move in with them.
So it is with the enemies of God. They would rather “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power,” (2 Thess 1:9).
When God sends them to hell, it is indeed punishment, but he’s only giving them what they asked for.
In the words of C. S. Lewis, "The doors of hell are locked on the inside."
A BEAUTIFUL AND COMFORTING TRUTH
If there is anything in all creation worthy of rejoicing over, it is that God the Father desires our presence with him in Paradise.
And not only does he desire it, in Jesus he has prepared a place for us, done every single thing necessary to get us there. He loves us, saves us, calls us, makes us his children. He has promised, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned," (Mark 16:16).
What more needs to be done? Nothing, nothing at all.
I don’t care who you are, or what you’ve done. I don't care if you think you're the most evil, rotten, messed up person in the world: God the Father, in Jesus Christ, wants you to be with him.
He is calling you by name. Everything is ready. The feast is prepared. Salvation is won. Christ stands there, smiling at you, loving you, forgiving you.
Hell is for the devil and his angels.
Heaven, in Jesus Christ, is for you. Believe it. There is nothing truer in the world.