Going to Hell in a Handbasket – Part 1

Question: “Do we go to Hell because of our sins or because of our failure to acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour?”

To me this question has major implications for our free-will. I am one of those people who have a hard time believing that we have free-will. Based on how I know things work I seriously doubt any free-will. I think everything has a cause/effect relationship. Since any effect is caused, which causes another effect, so-on and so-forth, there cannot be free-will. I am fairly confident in my position for this reason and because if you take away the cause/effect relationships when making moral choices, you come up with randomness. You cannot very well make a decision without something effecting the decision and randomness does not make any sense.

Now that I have told you my position on free-will, let me explain that I am not sold on my position. I hold my position because it is the only position that makes sense (to me). However, I do not really like my position. Why? Well because of the question I posed at the beginning of this post.

It does not seem to be “fair” if we go to Hell because of our sins and our sins are an outcome of a cause/effect relationship. Although I think there may be a solution. What if we do not go to Hell because of our sins? What if, instead, we go to Hell because of our failure to acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour? If so, then our lack of free-will is not problematic. Here are a few texts to think about:

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” – Romans 5:12 – We discover that Adam sinned, death resulted. Everyone sinned and so death results in everyone. *NOTE* This text does not talk about sin sending us to Hell, but sin causing us to die.

“He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2 – Jesus’ propitiation was not just for us but for the whole world. *NOTE* This text does not talk about Jesus’ propitiation saving people from Hell, just about the forgiveness of our sins.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 – Whoever believes in the Son will have eternal life.

Now here is my reasoning:

  1. God wanted to fix the sin problem in his creation.
  2. God sent his son, Jesus, to Earth to sacrifice himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
  3. Jesus’ work applies to all men, everywhere.
  4. Forgiveness of sin says nothing about the acceptance of Christ.
  5. God elects some to Heaven and the rest to Hell – yes, I believe in double predestination.
    *NOTE* As far as I am concerned, if you believe in single predestination (God only elects those who are going to Heaven) then you must believe in double predestination. Even if God does not “actively” elect those who go to Hell, he is actively electing them by not choosing them for Heaven.
  6. Those who he elects to Heaven are sent the Holy Spirit (the sufficient cause to accept Christ’s work).
  7. Those who he elects to Hell are not sent the Holy Spirit (a sufficient cause to reject Christ’s work).

So, since we are not sent to Hell for our sins, we do not have to worry about the fairness of our lack of free-will in sinning. We do not need free-will if we are only sent to Hell for our failure to accept Christ’s work and we know that God is the one who chooses who will and who will not accept Christ’s work.

I realize that this is a dangerous topic and that I have pretty much rejected a major idea concerning our sins. I definitely lean towards this system of belief, but I am not sold on it. Which is why I have posted about it. So please, if you read my post, comment and tell me your thoughts.

Comments

  1. Baptist Theologue says

    I believe that the unpardonable sin consists of the ultimate, final rejection of Jesus by those who have heard the gospel while under the special conviction of the Holy Spirit, but I also believe that judgment of the lost is on the basis of works according to the following Scripture passages:

    “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:13)

    “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

    “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” (Matthew 16:27)

    “And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth.” (1 Peter 1:17)

    Norman Geisler not only lists determinism and indeterminism as you have; he lists a third possibility, self-determinism. In other words, there is a possibility of a self-generated cause. Consider the example of Satan before his first sin. His sin was not caused by depravity inside himself. He was also in a perfect environment. Thus, in some way he generated a sinful inclination. He was in equipoise before becoming inclined toward sin, and had the power of contrary choice (libertarian free will).

    BT out

  2. Gary Harris says

    Lew,

    I have listed some of your comments below along with some questions that came to my mind.

    Lew: “What if, instead, we go to Hell because of our failure to acknowledge and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour? If so, then our lack of free-will is not problematic.”

    Q: In order to be “fair,” shouldn’t we have the genuine choice or opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior? According to the first possibility, we go to hell because we are causally determined to do something, that is, to sin. You stated that this doesn’t seem fair. According to your alternative suggestion, however, we go to hell because we are causally determined to do something, that is, reject Christ. (One might state this in the negative: We go to hell because we are causally determined to not do something, that is, accept Christ.) Are we not in the same boat?

    Lew: “God wanted to fix the sin problem in his creation.”

    Q: If causal determinism is true, didn’t God create the sin problem. In other words, doesn’t causal determination make God the author of sin? If God kicked off the cause and effect chain under a certain set of initial conditions, then He created and set in motion a machine that would make human sin a reality. When put this way, it sounds as though God is trying to fix a problem of his own creation; unless you want to argue that the causal determinism thing didn’t begin until after Adam and Eve’s transgression.

    Lew: “God sent his son, Jesus, to Earth to sacrifice himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.”

    Q: Was Jesus governed by the law of cause and effect? Did he chose to die for us or was he compelled to do so? I’m not sure if Scripture says that his freely offering himself as a sacrifice is important; I just thought it was interesting to ask what the implications would be for Jesus’ going to the cross under compulsion.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post!

    Gary

  3. Lew, I just thought I’d point you to this post over at Strange Baptist Fire: http://strangebaptistfire.wordpress.com/2007/01/16/technically-sin-is-still-the-issue/.
    It relates to your thoughts on what it is that sends people to hell. Still mulling this over in my mind. My only question is: Isn’t rejecting Christ itself a sin? And if it is, why isn’t it universally provided for in His sacrifice?