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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Predestined to Hell. Really?

That word has caused more theological debates over the millennia than perhaps any other doctrinal concept.
I believe it was St. Augustine who first proposed the idea. Some 1100 years later, John Calvin formed an entire denomination around the idea.
I know I am not about to settle the debate here. But I will tell you with as much clarity as I can why I know, based on Scripture, that God does not predestine (meaning He removes the ability of choice) – God does not predestine anyone into the Lake of Fire.
That would make God not only a monster, but it would place Him in competition with the devil for the one who is the most sinister.
Mount Calvary should immediately shut down any doubt about God’s character. God sent His Son to die an ugly and bloody death so EVERYONE would have the same chance and the same choice to live eternally with Him. How could a merciful God predestine anyone to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire?
Imagine if God predestined your child to hell. Could you love a God who foreordained before all ages that your child could never be saved, could never have a choice to turn toward Him in faith? If that doctrine is not straight from the bowels of hell, then hell is not real.
Paul clarifies predestination in Romans 8. I don’t understand why his clarification doesn’t settle the question. Here is what he says in context:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)
Through the apostle’s pen, the Holy Spirit tells us God knew IN ADVANCE who would choose to follow His Son. In His omniscience – (there is nothing God does not, did not, or cannot know) – in God’s foreknowledge He knew BEFORE the ages even began, who would turn toward the Savior and who would turn away. I mean, after all, He is God!
If He didn’t know the end from the beginning of everything, if He didn’t have inerrant foreknowledge, then He wouldn’t be God.
It is those whom He foreknew would turn toward the Savior that He predestined to be conformed into the image of His Son. Predestination doesn’t come first. Foreknowledge comes first. God simply orchestrates our lives and our circumstances to bring about the end that He knew would occur from the beginning of the ages.
Because Paul understood God’s omniscience and His omnipotence he wrote further in this chapter: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . ."

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Love of God. The mercy of God. The gentleness, and the tenderness of God. The very idea that God predestines anyone to eternal darkness, the place where there is unending wailing and gnashing of teeth, is totally incompatible and irreconcilable with the God of the Bible. 

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