God or Hell?
One argument made for universalism, the doctrine that teaches that everybody will go to Heaven, even if they have never received Yeshua as their Saviour, is that God would not give people a choice between God and Hell, because it isn't a fair choice.
Right enough, it isn't a fair choice to say that we have to either believe in God, or we will go to Hell. But this is not the choice that He is asking us to make.
The choice that God presents is between God and Self. If we choose to join ourselves to God, we get to go to Heaven, because that is where God lives. If we choose Self, we go to Hell, because that is the place where Self abides. Hell is the environment that Self creates.
Self is so selfish that it destroys everything around it. If satan, or any creature that is Self–centred, could gain Heaven's Throne, they would turn the whole Universe into a Hell. Self's touch is poison and contaminating. Everything that Self takes over becomes tainted and diseased.
Think of the choice that God gives us to choose between Him and Self in terms of marriage. Let's say that God is Mr. Good and Self is Mr. Smith. If we choose to marry Mr. Smith, do we get to go and live in Mr. Good's lovely mansion and give orders to his servants? No, Mrs. Smith lives with Mr. Smith, and Mr. Smith lives in a garbage dump.
During courtship, Mr. Blackie Smith (Self) wears the handsome mask of Self Deception and drives a fancy car. It is the very latest model of a Rationalization, sometimes called a "Coupe de Vil", and is a flashy convertible that can take Mr. Smith and Miss Myra Will just about anywhere they want to go. They took a little trip to Mr. Smith's hometown in Missouri so that he could show My (her nickname was My) where she will live, if she chooses to marry him. The landscaping with its low–lying shrubs and brilliant flower beds was lovely. Miss Will didn't get close enough to the flowers to see that they are fake. The house was couched among shady trees that had obviously been around for a long time. A long field stretched out behind the mansion. She remarked about how behind the house, that field had the greenest grass she had ever seen. Blackie laughed and said, "The grass is always greener on the other side."
Mr. Smith couldn't take her into the mansion because it was being painted and he didn't want to run the risk of losing her, he said. A paint bucket on top of a ladder might fall on her or she might trip over something and break her neck. It was just so sweet how he cherished her and was concerned for her safety.
He cares about her desires, too. He has promised to give her everything her heart desires and says he can afford it. He showed Miss Will videos of what the rooms looked like and asked her what colours she wanted them to be painted. He also took her to a decorator to choose fabrics and window treatments. The furniture in the videos was gorgeous. She will get to see the real thing after the wedding when it will be all ready and waiting for her. Miss Will didn't see the decorator's conspiratorial wink at Mr. Smith behind her back and his wolfish, answering smile when they were leaving Ms. Daye Dream's design store.
Mr. Smith tells Miss Will that she would be bored to death if she were to marry Mr. Good, that he is no fun, that he is mean and critical and wants to beat her, and that he will make her live in poverty. With a chuckle, he says that Mr. Good should be called Mr. Bad, because that is what he really is. He tells her that Mr. Good is so spiteful that he is likely to want to do something nasty to her if she rejects him, but she must not worry about that. Mr. Smith will protect her and not let Mr. Good, or any other Good, come anywhere near her after their wedding.
Miss Will has never seen Mr. Good's place, not even the outside of it. He has told her "stories" about it, but offers no proof. He says he wants her to just have "faith" in him. Miss Will laughed in his face and said, "Show me the money, honey. Seeing is believing." He replied, "No, actually, believing is seeing. You can't be my wife, if you don't have faith in the goodness of my character." She smirked and said, "This is true." Obviously, she was not willing to trust him; she chose to put greater confidence in Mr. Smith.
Mr. Good is not particularly good–looking, but he dresses neatly. He looks wholesome, but she prefers Mr. Smith's provocative, "bad boy" looks and the sexy way he looks her up and down. Mr. Good drives a modest, little car and seems to be sweet and gentle on the surface, but Mr. Smith says that this is all an act and to not believe Mr. Good's promises.
Mr. Good tries to warn Miss Will that Mr. Smith is a charleton. She says, "Why Mr. Good, that is what Mr. Smith says about you!" He tells her that Mr. Smith lives in a shanty in a dump, and it is a worse dump than anything she could even imagine. She shakes her head and says, "But we have driven by his place and it certainly isn't any shanty and the yard doesn't look like a dump."
He tells her that is just an illusion. She replies, "It is my experience. I have been there, I have seen it, and it is my experience that counts, not you and your big promises and that shabby, little book of petty rules that you keep pushing at me."
He urgently insists that Mr. Smith really doesn't live at Many Roads Manor, nor does he live at Perpetual Party Palace, or Reincarnation Plantation, or at Elysian Fields, or Valhalla Hall, or any of the other places where he said he lives when he cruises about in his fancy Rationalization and shmoozes his prospective brides. The houses are always "under renovation," so nobody gets to see what the inside really looks like.
Miss Will smiled to think of how she has these two men vying for her affections. Mr. Good goes so far as to say that he is willing to lay down his life for her to keep her from coming to ruin. How flattering. She tells him to not worry, that she is certain that she is in no danger from Mr. Smith.
In spite of his ardent avowals of love, Mr. Good annoys her. When she tells little white lies, he tells her she should speak only the truth. Every time she does something that goes against his little book of rules, he says something to her about it, and it is really irritating.
Miss Will has a blast when she is dating Blackie Smith. He does all sorts of things that she finds fun and interesting, and he isn't such a stickler about her little weaknesses. In fact, he thinks that they make her kind of cute and endearing. They enjoy romping about in bed and going to parties and having other good times.
Mr. Good is too much of a prude for that. His idea of courtship is to recite poetry and go for long walks and have long talks. He tells her that he will forgive her for going to bed with Mr. Smith. She scowls and retorts, "I haven't done anything wrong that you need to forgive me of!" Eventually, she doesn't call back any more when Mr. Good leaves messages on her answering machine, asking her for a date. She marries Mr. Smith.
After her decision is sealed, the wedding is planned. Mr. Smith thinks it would be amusing if they were to break with tradition and have everyone, including her, wear black. He says it would be in honour of him, seeing as his name is Blackie. Miss Will loves the irony and agrees. The wedding looks more like a funeral, but Mr. Smith and his jolly friends whoop it up with him while he rejoices over having obtained such a lovely bride, one who was hotly contended for by that odious Good.
After a brief reception, Mr. Smith smiles and says, "It is time for us to go home, my dear." She protests that it seems rather soon and she hasn't even had any punch, yet. He leers and says, "You can have some at home. Come on. I can hardly wait to consummate our nuptials." The new Mrs. Smith smiles and says playfully, "Idiot! That isn't going to be anything new to us." He kisses her hand and says, "But my dear, now you are mine, all mine, and what I have in store for you is where the real party begins!"
Flattered by his passion, Mrs. Smith agrees to leave. Actually, she can see that even if she isn't ready to leave, her bridegroom is determined, and there is no arguing with him. They pile into his fancy car that has been decorated with pompoms and streamers and bears a sign that says, "Shackled Forever!" The new Mrs. Smith thinks it's so cute that her hubby is enthusiastic in his declaration of abiding commitment to her. There was a bit of a sour note in their leave–taking, though. When Blackie's friends threw rice at her, they threw it so hard that it really stung!
Mr. Good stands outside the exit gate sadly, knowing that Mr. Smith was referring to his bride when he placed that sign there, but it is now too late to say anything more. Mrs. Smith will soon find out what it really means. Mrs. Smith shrugs at Mr. Good's sober face and thinks he is a poor sport, though it is rather gratifying to her ego that he is breaking his heart over her. She blows him a kiss and waves good–bye with a merry, little laugh.
The Smiths head for Missouri and arrive at the lovely mansion that the bridegroom showed her the outside of previously. He gives her a wicked grin and picks her up in his arms to carry her over the threshhold. Mrs. Smith langorously wraps her arms around his neck, anticipating the intimacies she is about to enjoy with him and the pampered life ahead of her.
Mr. Smith opens the door and steps through. Mrs. Smith stares in bewilderment. There is nothing behind the door except for an empty field. A scaffold is holding up the facade of what she thought was a mansion. She asks, "Is this some kind of joke?" Her bridegroom then vanishes, and she gets dumped on the ground. Another man steps up and says, "Yes, this is the kind of joke that I enjoy. You are mine, now, Mrs. Smith, mine forever!
Mrs. Smith wonders who this man is. He looks like Mr. Smith, but she can see that his handsome face is only a rubber mask. He proudly says, "Let me introduce myself to you, Mrs. Smith. I am your husband. I am the original rebel, the very first one who chose to serve Self rather than God. The man you chose was merely a reflection of me. He was my proxy. Come along, now. Let's go home." He grabs her by the wrist and starts to drag her across the meadow.
Mrs. Smith seems to have no choice but to run to keep up, or else she is going to be dragged along the ground. Maybe their mansion is at the other side of the field that they are now striding over. The grass is so bright, but there is something odd about it. Then she realizes that it has been spray painted and it is sharp against her legs. Pretty soon, her legs from the knee down are lacerated and bleeding. She can't believe this is happening to her.
As they continue to make their way across the field, an unpleasant smell reaches her nostrils and it gets stronger and stronger the farther they go. Fear has been rising in her throat, choking her. It makes her legs feel weak, and she collapses. They have come to the end of the field and are now travelling over an area that is covered with grey slime with gravel mixed in. She begs Blackie to stop, telling him she can't walk any further. Her new husband ignores her pleas and drags her through the muck.
Snakes slither by. She catches glimpses of hideous faces peeking at her from behind rocks and dead bushes. She hears low, hissing whispers, growling chuckles, and outbursts of maniacal cackles of laughter. When she looks at her husband to beseech him for protection from the lurking menace, he looks back at her with an evil grin. Then he rips off his mask; to her horror, she now sees that he is actually a monster!
Mr. Smith continues to pull her along towards a garbage dump that is far more horrible than she ever could have imagined that a dump could be. Too late, she discovers that Mr. Good was not lying! Her husband tosses her down in front of a miserable hovel in the midst of piles of stinking, rotting carcasses and other types of filth. This is what she chose when she chose to marry Mr. Smith.
She looks up at him with pleading in her eyes. He asks, "How do you like your new home, my dear?" Myra tries to cover her nose with her hand; the stench coming from inside the hovel is even worse than what she has smelled already. She begs the monster to not make her go in there. He tells her that what is in there is even better than what she has seen so far. Smith then picks her up in his arms and gleefully tosses her through the door. She finds herself falling, falling, falling down a long tunnel towards a gigantic cavern of horrors. Everlasting fire is only part of what awaits.
God doesn't place a choice of Himself or Hell before us. He says, "If you choose me, you choose Love and you choose Life, for I am Love and I am Life. If you choose Self, you choose Death, because Self is Death."
It is because God loves us and feels sorry for us that He tells us that, if we turn our back on Him, we will go to Hell. He feels sorry for us because we are no match for satan. Satan is far more intelligent and powerful than any of us. When God says that satan, the advocate for Self, is a liar, it is a warning, not a slander. When God says that we will go to Hell if we turn our back on Yeshua, the Way that He made for us to be reconciled to Him, it is a warning, not a threat.
God made a Way for all to be saved by pouring His Spirit into mortal flesh, and taking the penalty for our sins on the cross at Calvary. He paid the debts to righteousness that we owed, and His blood that flowed washes away all sin, if sinners will forsake their sins and come and kneel under its cleansing fountain.
But what of those who never heard of Yeshua, or Jesus as He is more commonly known? Nature itself bears witness that everything was made by design rather than random chance. Logic and honesty lead to the conclusion that there is a Creator. It follows then that everyone is accountable to that Creator. But what are His expectations? If anyone really wants to know, they can cry out to the Creator to teach them His ways and help them to be pleasing to Him.
God always hears that cry, and He always answers. When an S.O.S. is sent to Him, He finds a way to make His will known and to introduce the Way of escape. Yeshua Himself has shown up to proclaim that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, when there hasn't been anyone else around who could do the job. Just because one hasn't heard of that happening does not mean that it doesn't happen.
I have heard people testify that Yeshua visited them, though some had not heard of Him before, and He told them that He is the Way of salvation. We can't assume that all savages who lived and died far from civilization and never heard the Gospel from human lips died in their sins. Any one of them who sincerely cried to their Creator eventually came face to face with Yeshua. Those who truly know God know this to be true, because it is in keeping with His character. He delights to show mercy whenever He has the slightest excuse.
When the Bible asks how anyone can believe except they hear a preacher, and how can they hear a preacher except one is sent to them, it does not necessarily mean that the preacher always has to be a human agent. Yeshua and His angels can be sent through intercessory prayer that has been birthed and directed by the Holy Spirit. Heaven's agents and the King of Heaven Himself have been working to bring in the harvest, in addition to His children, whom He sends so that they may share in His joy and His rewards.
There is no way that God would let anyone perish who truly wants to please Him. As for those who please themselves, they worship Self, and they have chosen to wed themselves to Self, and they must live with the consequences of their choice. God does not force anyone to love and serve Him. He has given us free will. He tries to persuade us to choose Him, but He allows us to choose, and He honours the choices we make. If we refuse His redemption, choosing to trust in self–righteousness, which is a sin, God will not let us into Heaven, for He does not allow anything in that would defile it.
When it comes to salvation, merely saying a prayer to receive Yeshua as Saviour is not enough. God knows our heart; He knows if we are sincere. If we are sincere, we will turn away from sin and let His power produce in us the character of Jesus Christ.
Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.