by Jesse M Kelly
via Preceptor, p.12 - Vol.57, No.6, June 2008.
While discussing the subject of "Hell" with a lady acquaintance one day, she said to me, "I just cannot conceive of a merciful God sending one to Hell to suffer eternally." We readily agreed with her. God doesn't send people to Hell. He didn't prepare Hell for man, and man has no business going there. However, we reminded the lady acquaintance that this by no means dictates that a person won't go to Hell. People will go to Torments of their own free will - God does not send them.
The fact is, God has done everything possible to keep people from going to Hell. He even gave His own Son to suffer in the flesh and die on a cross in an effort to keep people out of Hell. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He prepared the way to Heaven and now exhorts the sinner to turn from his evil way and walk in the light. Now, it is up to the sinner to avail himself of the means that God has given to escape the power of Satan and the confines of Hell. The next move is the sinner's and if he does not make that move he alone is to blame. The apostle Peter said, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).
In the first chapter of Acts, we have a good example of a person destroying himself in spite of all anyone could do. Peter, in speaking of Judas, said: "Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place" (Acts 1:25). Notice, Peter said Judas "went to his own place." The place Judas went to was not God's place, for God had nothing to do with his going there. It was Judas' own place because Judas had prepared that place himself by his conduct in this life. God didn't send him, he went of his own free will. If a man is eventually lost he cannot accuse God, for God's will is, that he not go to torment. Man goes to Hell himself while all Heaven is pleading with him not to go.
Yes, we choose our own destiny. God has placed before man two ways - one leads to Hell, the other to Heaven. We are left to make the choice ourselves.