Thursday, April 13, 2006

Predestined To Hell?

Predestined To Hell
by James Spurgeon

To know what the confessors of sovereign grace soteriology actually believe, it would seem to me that the prudent thing to do would be to read what those who hold to those doctrines actually say and write. In other words, common sense would say that the best way to understand what the professors of any faith believe would be to read what they have said about it themselves. So if we want to know what Calvinists believe about predestination, for example, reading what Dave Hunt says would be second-hand information. For the more accurate version we would naturally turn to the old confessions of the Calvinists themselves. Wouldn't we?

Does God predestine people to hell? What is the historic Calvinistic answer to that question? To find it, I went to the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of 1742.

I found the following on God's eternal decree which I have cut & pasted here adding only the three numbers found in parentheses to aid in the breaking down and understanding of it. The wording varies only slightly from one document to the next.

God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby (1) neither is God the author of sin, (2) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; (3) nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Now think about the nature of God for a minute. He is omniscient. His knowledge is infinite and unchangeable because it is perfect. He never learns for he has always known it all. God is also omnipotent. He has all power and that power is infinite so that his power can never be increased nor diminished. There is no limit to what he can do. God is also all-wise. His wisdom is perfect. He never takes even a second-best path. All of his choices, decisions, decrees are eternal and they are perfectly wise. In fact, his decrees are the wisest of all choices.

Omniscience + omnipotence + all-wisdom = complete sovereignty.

So this God of whom we speak has decreed all things, according to historic Calvinist (I would say "Christian") teaching, whatever comes to pass. He has done so freely. He has done so unchangeably. That he has done so freely and unchangeably are necessary conclusions stemming from those three atributes of God which I noted above. The all-wise God never has to re-consider and the all-knowing God never receives new information which he has to process and the almighty God does nothing by outside compulsion. All this leads us to the inevitable conclusion that his decrees are eternal.

Is your head spinning yet? I hope not. Go get a drink of water, come back, and let's go a step further.

Here's the question. Does this decree, this sovereignty, this predestination, extend to who is saved and who is not? The answer: Yes, it does. Does this mean God predestines people to hell? Yes, it does. But let's look at that in the light of the statement and see what it is we mean by that.

I noted in the above statements three clauses that I call "exception clauses" though that might not be an accurate name for them. Whatever you want to call them, they help head off many common objections to the stated doctrine and add clarity to what is meant by it.

1. God Not the Author of Sin

The first one is this: ". . . yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin . . ."

However God is sovereign, it is in such a way as to not make God the author of sin. Let us say that the relation of God and his decree to sin is not efficient, but permissive. God does not commit sin, nor force anyone to sin. God does allow free creatures to sin, but that only for his greater purpose, and God will punish that sin—justly.

2. No Violence Done to the Creature's Will

Now to the second clause. However God is sovereign, it is in such a way as to do no violence to the will of the creatures. ". . . nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; . . ."

Those individuals, then, who we say are predestined to hell, are predestined to go there in such a way as to do no violence to their will. Let's make that clear. God does not force them or coerce them to sin. He does not make them evil, nor does he make them commit evil. Their evil choices and actions are free.

3. Liberty and Contingency of Second Causes Established

Now, let's look at the third clause. However God has decreed all things, whatever comes to pass, it is in such a way as not to take away the liberty of secondary causes. ". . . nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

Those individuals, then, who we say are predestined to hell, are not predestined to go there without sufficient cause. If they are to go there, and if God has decreed from eternity that they will go there, he has done so because there is a cause or a reason for them to go there. The cause is their sin and their guilt. Their liberty in sinning and in accruing that guilt is not taken away from them. I say again, their liberty is not done away with. In fact, quite the opposite, it is established. God decreed that those who go to hell would do so freely and with sufficient cause—because they are guilty.

However God has decreed all things, whatever comes to pass, it is in such a way as to not take away the contingency of secondary causes.

Contingent means dependent on or upon something uncertain. What is uncertain in this context is only uncertain to us, for nothing is uncertain to God.

Those individuals, then, whom we say are predestined to hell, are not predestined to go there "no matter what." Rather, God has decreed that they should go there because they are guilty and because they reject Christ. Their liberty in rejecting Christ is not taken away from them (again) but rather established in the decree. God's decree that they should be sinners, guilty, and condemned, was passive, not active. It was permissive. He allowed it to happen. He allowed them to do it to themselves.

In other words, God decreed that they would go there because they freely sin and reject Christ, and for that reason. In fact, all those who freely reject Christ, God has decreed from before time that they will spend eternity in hell. Rather than undermine God's justice, this establishes God's justice. The causes of their being damned (that of freely sinning and freely rejecting Christ) are just as necessary (and just as certain) as the end result.

Once again, this is true, even if we just take into consideration God's omniscience and God's omnipotence. Does God know the end from the beginning? Yes, he does.

Is God able to choose the end, working it any way he wants? Yes. God chooses the beginning, the middle, and the end and works it all after the counsel of his own will—any way he wants to.

If God has chosen this universe, out of an infinite number of possibilities, including its past, present, and future, and in his wisdom decreed that it should be, should we question that wisdom?

Once again, nothing about God's decree makes him the author of sin, does violence to the will of free creatures, or takes away the liberty or contingency of secondary causes.

Now, didn't we already know this?

So man falls by divine appointment, but he falls by his own fault. We can then say that it happens because God allows it. God permits it. God is the first cause in that it would not happen without his permission and that leaves God as first cause, but man at fault.

So the damnation of the wicked depends upon the decree of God, the predestination of God, in such a way that the cause and matter of it are found in the wicked themselves. It is by divine appointment, but it is so by man's fault.

So let's ask and answer the question: Does God predestine some people to hell, no matter what? No. God predestines those to hell who sin and reject him. Their damnation is just and the fault of it is their own.

Let us repeat that the relation of God and his decree to sin is not efficient, but permissive. God does not commit sin, nor force anyone to sin. God does allow free creatures to sin, but that only for his greater purpose, and God will punish that sin—justly.

Does God predestine some people to heaven, no matter what? Again, no. God does predestine some to heaven, but only through means.

1 Corinthians 1:21 (KJV)
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

Romans 10:14-17 (KJV)
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

God has predestined no one to heaven in a way which does violence to the individual's will.

God has predestined no one to heaven in a way that takes away the liberty of secondary causes, or the contingency of secondary causes. In fact, the opposite, God has decreed that a multitude which no man could number would go to heaven and that they would go there through the means of the death of Christ, the preached gospel, their faith in Christ and that gospel, and the finishing work of the Holy Spirit in them. Without those things, they would not go to heaven.

In the final analysis—those who go to hell, do so according to God's decree and because they reject Christ. Those who go to heaven, do so according to God's decree and because they come to Christ for mercy (by God's grace alone).

That is the reformed and Baptist doctrine of predestination.


  • Simply. Without big words or extended sentences, I'll put the debate simply. God knows everything. He knows the future. He allowed sin into the world, to give us 'free choice'. But he KNEW that some of us would be affected by it, or that some wouldn't believe in Jesus. You can't deny he knew that. You also can't deny that he knows the future, thus where we are all going to end up (heaven or hell). God did predestine us to hell, or heaven. He loves us so much, yet he is fine with konwing that the majority of us are going to end up suffering eternal pain. Thats one sick, twisted 'God'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:57 AM  

  • God predestined all of us to have a relationship with Him. This is evident in Genesis, He created Adam and He walked with him. Some people would love to call Adam an 'elect', but his disobedience was the cause of the Fall of Sin.
    So, does that mean we are all predestined to Hell?
    If so, then why did God even create us?

    God is all-knowing, omnipotent, and most importantly; He loves us.
    The Word even states, "God was pleased with what He made!" (Refer to Genesis 1)

    Because of the above, the truth is He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him!
    That is what was originally predestined, a relationship with Him.
    Hell is there for those who choose not to follow, and also desire to live in the flesh.

    There is so much controversy with this topic.

    I asked God what He predestined, and He said to look in Genesis.
    So I did and I found He was pleased with what He created, and He was so pleased with creating Man that He chose to put him in dominion over the earth. The first Man walked with God and had a relationship with God.

    I will look deeper into this, and I guarantee I can find scriptural proof of what I have said.

    By Blogger Leigh Kennedy, at 10:04 PM  

  • this has been very helpful. seriously thank you. also, to the anonymous guy...i think i can clarify a bit further. he did it this way because he wants true love. if he forced his hand and made everyone love him, it would be 'forced love'. there is no such a thing as forced's a contradiction in terms. honestly, would you want to marry someone that you had brainwashed to love you? no. nobody wants that..and neither does God. so He allows us to choose between things of this world or himself. also, we were all created by him and for him. when we choose things of this world, we betray our maker and commit treason. in america, when someone commits treason they are usually killed or serve a life sentence and no one puts up a fuss about it, because it is just. but God, in His divine mercy, holds back His hand of wrath and gives way more chances than we deserve. every passing minute is a chance to turn it all around. anonymous guy...i would have agreed with you a couple of years ago. but then i really started digging for truth and seeking answers. thats how God introduced himself to me. i found out he is who he says he is. my prayer for you is to exogetically seek truth...and i promise you will find it. luke 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." my heart cries out for you because i know where youre coming from. i don't know who you are, but I love you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:18 PM  

  • Where in the Bible does it talk about predestination in relation to non-believers? I'll save you some time, it doesn't. Predestination is for believers, not non-believers. Your making an assumption that non-believers are predestined. It's simply not true.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:14 PM  

  • What about all that people who never had a chance to hear about Christ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:48 PM  

  • No matter how you choose to use scriptures to support the visage of a God choosing to save a man or men before time, the reality is that if he did, he also, by design or neglect then choose some for hell.

    Many scriptures and christianesque speech devices are used to divert from this logic but that is all they are; devices. If the argument is that God places in the "elect" something that ensures their positive response to the preached Gospel, and that he will not lose one of those, then by virtue of his not placing that same thing in the lost, he determined for them to be lost. God is not the author of confusion and God is logical as his his word. You also can't make the Calvinist definition of election into truth without negating personal responsibility and personal volition thereby negating almost all references to sin being a personal decision.

    Add to this that Calvin died an unrepentant murderer and even Augustine a womanizer and it is hard to understand anyone-anyone in the Church ascribing to any of their teachings.

    By Anonymous John bernard, at 8:34 PM  

  • Im sorry lets put on our thinking caps here, to the individual who said the Bible talks about predestination for the believer but not the non believer that is a silly question and counter intuitive. The FACT that God clearly chooses(elects) many means that he clearly does not choose many. It just makes sense. However I would desire anyone reading this to understand that we DO NOT know who are chosen and who aren't thus leading to the absolute empowering of evangelism.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:34 PM  

  • I'm a programmer and i have enough knowledge to know that there is no random number cause i simply do know how random numbers are generated.

    God is a creator and He has enough knowledge to know that there is no "freewill" cause He simply does know how "Freewill" is generated.

    How's that?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:00 AM  

  • Just because you know who will be choosen doesn't mean you choose it for them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:19 AM  

  • I would consider myself a believer in the doctrines of grace, but this is a troublesome issue at best. While your article was helpful and well-written, it still doesn't fully render this topic of "liberty or secondary causes" supported. This is a very complex idea and I still feel as though it goes unanswered. The scriptures that are supported in the confessions do not seem to support this idea very well either. If God has decreed all things and for some to receive salvation and some not, then (in my mind) it is difficult to move past that. If he goes down into my spiritual tomb to revive me and to awaken me unto regeneration, call me to himself with irresistible grace, then how does this not violate my own will? If he chooses to never revive me, how does this not violate my will? This is contradictory in nature. Yet, I honestly and genuinely want to understand this...thanks.

    By Blogger Kiwi in Flight, at 2:58 PM  

  • Mans doctrine has made it so complex that it appears you need a well versed theologian or lawyer to understand it, sounds a lot like the sadducees and Pharisees in Christ time complicating things. Time is short and John 3:16 sums it all up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 AM  

  • In the conversation with Nichodemus, Jesus' argument and point is that God is the one who chooses and regenerates man to be born again unto salvation. Man cannot choose to be born again because he is spiritually dead and inclined only towards sin by his "fallen and tainted" free will. When God sends sinners to hell He is actually keeping sinners in the darkness they love. Sinners hate God and holiness and even though they will hate being tortured for eternity they will prefer that to being with God whom they hate. The rich man in hell wanted to get out of there yet not once did he repent. He wanted to warn his brothers about not going to that dreaded place but through good works as he did not know nor care for God. Not once did the rich man think to call on God, repent and ask for forgiveness. Such is the sad state of the sinner

    By Blogger Musicnmore, at 2:36 AM  

  • Noone is predestined to hell without sufficient cause? Are you kidding me? God chose the isrialites and sent anyone to hell who wasn't one of them. Would someone please explain why god would send millions of people to eternal damnation cause they weren't born an isrialite? God tells the isrialites to rape women and smash infants on rocks. Why? Please tell me why?!?!

    By Blogger Bradlee Caldwell, at 3:58 AM  

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