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Things I’m Asked: Did God Predestinate Humans to Hell?

by ervte

Many of the writings of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament suggest that God has chosen all those who will be saved and live with him forever in his kingdom (Romans 8:29-33; 9:18; 16:13; Ephesians 1:4-6; Col 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). This is called “divine election” in theological language.

This leads to the disturbing thought that God has chosen those who will go to hell – and that God already decided this before the world was made. Such an idea, of course, poses enormous ethical problems – because it is unfair to those not elected. It also conflicts with Bible verses expressing God’s desire for everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9).Things I'm Asked: Did God Predestinate Humans to Hell?

The idea that God made us like mechanical clocks, destined to turn his cogs and tick relentlessly, poses a logical problem because it would mean our relationship with God is not real. We were “pre-programmed” to love and become Christians. Therefore, the whole idea of ​​Jesus and Paul urging us to be faithful, follow, love, and choose holiness becomes meaningless.

However, the reality is: Both Jesus and Paul emphasized the importance of choice (Mark 16:16; John 10:9; Acts 2:21; Romans 1:16).

Paul had an incredibly strong understanding of the high calling to be a disciple of Christ. The privilege of being “in Christ” and thereby being “saved” colors all his theology. Paul never taught that anyone was excluded from God’s kingdom except through sin. His entire missionary focus was to preach to those who could reasonably have thought they were excluded from God and to involve them. His letter to the Church in Rome reflects his urgency to do this.

How can they appeal to the one they have not believed? And how can they believe in the one they have not heard of? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14-15)

The Swiss reformer John Calvin popularized the theory that God predestines some people for hell. Calvin revised his teachings (his institutions) several times and never claimed this was the last word. As such, we must ensure we get our ultimate authority from the Bible, not Calvin. To be fair to Calvin, his understanding of predestination was driven by a shepherd’s heart. He wanted people to know that God never left us unseen in the hands of fate and chance. And to this, we can all say: amen! God has a plan.

The fact is, God’s will for humanity is not realized until God and humanity each become the object of the other’s love. For this to happen, both must be able to choose to love each other – unless they do frit eely, no authentic relationship will develop. However, it is important to remember that while God and humanity are the two agents that participate in a freely chosen, loving relationship, only God provides the means for this to happen and to realize His full potential in God’s kingdom. He did this, of course, through the cross of Christ.

The problem can be solved if we consider God outside of time. This means that his past, present, and future are equally known. As a result, God already knows who will become his people by faith and of his own free will.

Remembering that God did not create humans for hell and damnation is important. God did not intend anyone to go to hell (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Jesus came to save us from hell. Hell was primarily designed for the devil and his evil spirits (Matthew 25:41). Unfortunately, the Bible teaches that hell is a state of being that many choose. After all, God will respect everyone’s decision to have nothing to do with him. Jesus put it well when he said, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

One image that has helped some understand the issue of predestination is this. Imagine walking to the gate of God’s kingdom. As you approach this gate, you will see written above it: “Enter all who choose.” You decide to enter the gate, but when you look back, you see written on the inside above it: “You did not choose me; I chose you.”

Dr. Nick Hawkes is a scientist, preacher, apologist, writer, and broadcaster. He also describes himself as an absent-minded, slightly obsessive man, pathetically weak from cancer and chemo, who has experienced and must experience the grace of God every day.

Nick has written a book, Soar Above the Storm, in which he draws on his experience with cancer to encourage anyone going through a storm to find peace and hope in God. It offers a 40-day retreat to be refreshed and strengthened and to find deep peace in God. Order it from Koorong.

He blogs and records podcasts at nickhawkes.net.

Nick told his life story to Eternity in Deadly Storms, Heroin Addicts, Cancer, and My Faith.

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