Predestination: Does God predetermine who’s going to Hell?
Some people certainly think so! I graduated from a seminary where this was taught. Every true “Calvinist” believed that God had already decided on this matter. I didn’t fall for this false teaching, but nearly every other student on the campus did. In case you don’t know, the followers of John Calvin [born in France in 1509 and died in Switzerland in 1564] believe that God selected a limited number of souls for salvation and there’s nothing any individual person can do during their mortal lifetime to alter their eternal destination. Either you were chosen for Heaven, or you were chosen for hell and the lake of fire. It appears that other classmates of mine had not studied this subject through, and they trusted their professors, assuming they must know what they were talking about. Yes, the professors there could quote Scripture to “prove” their position, but people quote Scripture about a lot of things, usually out of context, that prove to be false. So, what are you going to believe about this teaching? What do the Scriptures really teach about this? Let’s look!
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
What a wonderful promise we have in this passage to every believer!
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [PROORIZO = predetermine] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. [Emphasis added]
The first thing that needs to be asked about this passage is to whom it is addressed. Is this addressed to unbelievers or believers, ones who are already saved? Answer: Believers! And only believers! No unbelievers are in view here at all. We see this clearly stated at the beginning of the letter.
7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints [HAGIOS = set apart ones – a word used to refer to all believers]: Grace to you [believers] and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]
The phrase “to be” is nowhere found in the original Greek text. These people were all simply called saints. This means they were all set apart by faith as God’s people. In Romans 4:29, the passage is simply telling us that all these, because they were believers in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the sole basis for their salvation, are predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. In other words, this is a promise for all those who choose to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Nothing at all is said to indicate that they were predestined to be saved. It is the destiny of all believers that is said to be predetermined. Then there’s a second passage that speaks of this.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us [believers] with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we [believers, ones who choose to believe the apostle Paul’s gospel message] should be holy and without blame before him in love:
In other words, it was determined before human history that God was going to do this for all who would choose to believe in His provision for their salvation. Here again, there’s nothing said about God picking some for salvation and not others.
5 Having predestinated us [believers] unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. [Emphasis added]
Altogether these passages are telling us God has a glorious future for all who are saved. This passage [as in Romans 8] is talking about what God has planned to do in blessing for all those who accept His provision for their salvation. It has nothing to do with God predetermining who would be saved and who would not. God didn’t pick and choose who would be going to Heaven and who would be going to hell. That matter is determined by the individual and his response to the means of salvation God has offered him through Jesus Christ. Every believer today should know and rejoice in the fact that God has prepared a special place in Heaven for him to enjoy forever. This passage provides assurance of that. As verse four says, all this was predetermined for believers “before the foundation of the world.”
The teaching of predestination in the Bible has nothing to do with God determining who will spend eternity in Heaven or hell. Instead, it is about certain blessings God has predetermined to provide for all those who respond with faith in the gospel message [1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21] pertaining to their salvation.