Predestined To Hell? Absolutely Not!February 1, 2017 Save Article
Predestined for Hell? Absolutely Not!
No book apart from the Bible itself has ever influenced or impacted the world like Romans. Dr. Rogers studied Romans extensively, and on radio and television we are currently in his study of the book of Romans. There’s no other book like it. Dr. Rogers believed the book of Romans impacted history, and that “if we’ll study together the book of Romans, we will have corporate and personal revival.” Coleridge said, “It is the greatest piece of literature ever written.” It’s been called “The Constitution of Christianity.” An understanding of Romans is fundamental to our faith and growth as believers. That’s why Love Worth Finding is devoting extended time in January and February to his message series on Romans.
In this study, when Dr. Rogers came to the ninth chapter he said, “Let me ask you a serious, somber question. Has God created—predestined, ordained—some people to go to Hell, and there’s nothing they can do about it? They’re just pawns on the chessboard of faith? Is it all settled? Is that what the Bible teaches?”
We’re going to find the answer in this study—not by opinion or guesswork, but by what the Word of God says. We’ll do so under three important truths about God around which Dr. Rogers formed this message:
God makes sovereign choices.
God has spotless character.
God has sincere concerns.
So as the Apostle Peter instructed, “Gird up the loins of your mind. Be sober and hope to the end…” (1 Peter 1:13). Prepare for serious contemplation of this important issue.
Let’s begin Dr. Rogers’ study.
May I say this, friend: Ours is the greatest mission on earth: the salvation of lost souls. Our message is the greatest message: the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Master is the greatest Master, Jesus Christ Himself. One of the early leaders of this mission was a Jew named Paul, author of the book of Romans.
Turn to Romans 9:1-2. What you have here is the heartbeat of a soul winner. Fill in some key words:
1-2 “I say the truth in Christ, I ______ not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great _________________ and ________________ ___________ in my heart.”
1. In Paul’s sincere concern for souls, who does he call upon as a witness?
2. In Paul’s sacrificial concern for souls, what does he assert?
3 For I could wish that myself were ________________ _______ Christ, for [the sake of] my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Already, from these passages alone, we’re getting a sense of what God’s desire is and how the concept of predestination influences the issue of salvation.
If I understand plain English, Paul was so full of Jesus he said, “I would be willing to die and go to Hell if my Jewish brothers and sisters could get saved. I’d be willing to take their Hell if they could take my Heaven.” I’m not sure I could say that. That’s sacrifice. That’s exactly what Jesus did on the cross. He had a sacrificial concern for souls.
But notice, as we tighten the focus, when Paul addresses this message to the Jews, he has a message to the church of God, because in this we learn something of the character and nature of God. And this will lead us to the truth about whether or not a person is predestined, from the beginning, for either Heaven or Hell.
All true theology has to know the nature of God. If you do not know the true nature of God—if you do not know His character and His attributes—your theology will be skewed. You cannot interpret or understand Scripture correctly if you do not know the character of the One who wrote it.
As we look into the question asked by the title of our study, we’re going to learn things about God’s character and attributes through Scripture which will help our theology come into focus.
God makes sovereign choices.
3. Continuing in Romans 9—
3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh; 4 who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 whose are the Fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.
Paul is simply saying the Jews are the chosen people, a special people, blessed and chosen by God for a purpose.
Look at the 3 words in bold in this passage.
- Adoption—you cannot adopt yourself.
- Covenants—you do not make a covenant by yourself (a covenant is an agreement between two parties)
- Giving of the law—you do not give yourself the law.
All these were initiated by God and required His proactive movement toward a specific people. According to the passage, who chose the Jews?
4. 5 and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came…
For what purpose were the Jews set apart by God from other peoples/nations?
5. Not all the children of Abraham were chosen.
6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In _________ shall thy seed be called.
Abraham had both Ishmael and Isaac. God sovereignly chose only one. Paul narrows down the sovereign choice of God even further:
10-13 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but Him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ 13 As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.’”
Let’s pause, because some people are going to be unsettled by verse 13.
When the text says that “Before these children were born, having done neither good nor evil,” God chose one of them over the other, someone will ask, “Now, wait a minute. You’re telling me, before they were born, God said of these children, ‘I love this one, and I hate that one?’ God chose one to go to Heaven and one to go to Hell?”
No, that isn’t what it says. Speaking of Jacob and Esau, God is not talking about one boy or another boy. God is talking about two whole nations. What’s being described here is national, not personal.
6. Turn to Genesis 25:23.
“And the Lord said unto her [Rebecca], ‘Two _____________ are in thy womb, and two _____________ ____ ____________ shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the _________ shall serve the _____________.’”
That is, Esau’s descendants will be one nation that will serve Jacob’s descendants, another nation (the twelve tribes of Israel). It doesn’t say anything about saved or lost; it is service, not salvation. He’s not talking about two little babies. It’s not personal, but national. It’s not about salvation, but service.
7. But what about where it says in verse 13, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I
A CLOSER LOOK AT “ESAU I HAVE HATED” A better rendering in today’s language is “I have preferred one, not that I abhor the other,” or “I chose Jacob instead of Esau.” This is completely different from the idea that God arbitrarily hated Esau.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus is talking about being His disciple:
“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
Is Jesus saying we must despise our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, our little children in order to be His disciples? ______
As the word is used here, it simply means preference. God had a sovereign preference for this man Jacob, and He did not have a preference for Esau. It doesn’t mean “Esau, I created you to go to Hell. I hate you.”
The Message captures the meaning of this passage very well:
10-13 To Rebecca, also, a promise was made that took priority over genetics. When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, and her babies were still innocent in the womb—incapable of good or bad—she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that His purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by His decision, flowing steadily from His initiative. God told Rebecca, “The firstborn of your twins will take second place.” Later that was turned into a stark epigram: “I loved Jacob; I hated Esau.”
God’s choice of Jacob over Esau…
was national, not personal.
dealt with service, not salvation.
dealt with preference, not contempt.
If you don’t understand that, you’re going to get confused.
8. To help us at this point, turn to Romans 5:8. Four chapters earlier in this letter, Paul has already established this fact about God:
a. “But God commendeth His ________ ____________ ____, in that while we were ____ sinners, Christ died for us.”
b. What state were we in when Christ died for us?
c. Were we making efforts to clean up our act and be more presentable when Jesus went to the Cross for us?
d. Had we done anything to cause God to say, “I think I’ll redeem that one”?
9. Turn to 1 John 4:7-8. Repeatedly in the Bible, God reveals one of His primary attributes. You find it here.
Beloved, let us ______ one another, for ______ is of ______, and everyone who loveth is _______ of God and _______________ God. He who __________ _____, knoweth not God, for God is _________.
Thus far we have seen:
- God loves lost sinners, which is what we all are before we come to Christ.
- Don’t get the idea that Esau—or anyone—is predestined for Hell.
- God chooses individuals.
- He has preferences for nations, having to do with their realm of service for Him, but it is national, not personal. It is service, not salvation. It is preference, not contempt.
10. Continuing in Romans, we will take verses 14 through 24 bit by bit.
14 What shall we say then? Is there __________________ with God? God forbid. 15 For He saith to Moses, ‘I will ______ ________ on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ 16 So then it is _____ of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of_____ does that show mercy.
God pardons according to His sovereign will. Does that mean God says, “I’m not going to give mercy if you ask for mercy”? No, not at all. God is simply saying, “If you’re saved, you’re going to be saved by grace. It’s not because you will for me to be merciful to you. It’s because I will it.”
God’s mercy is not rooted in man’s merit, but is found in God, because God is merciful.
11. Truth about God’s mercy
a. Turn to Titus 3:5
“It is not by ________ of righteousness that we have done, but according to His __________ He saved us.”
b. Psalm 32:10
“Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but to him that ____________ the Lord, mercy shall ______________ him about.”
What does the Bible tell us here about God’s mercy?
c. On the other hand, in balance with that, see Proverbs 28:13
“He that ________________ his sins shall not prosper: but whoso _________________ and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
What would cause God to withhold His mercy?
If you want mercy, you can have it. You say, “Well, no… it’s only according to God, who wills, to show mercy.” That’s right! And God wills to show you mercy. God is merciful.
Pardon is according to God’s sovereign will. God has decided He will show us mercy when we don’t deserve it. It isn’t rooted in our merit, but in His mercy.
12. Now in chapter 9, we come to Pharaoh, the wicked king of Egypt. Paul refers to what happened to Pharaoh as an example of what can happen to a person who spurns God’s mercy and goes his own way.
17 For the Scriptures saith unto Pharaoh, ‘Even for this same purpose have __ _______ ___________ _______ _____, that I might show My power in thee, that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.’ 18 Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He _________________.
People have raced their theological motors on this, fretting, “God made Pharaoh, but only raised him up just so He could knock him down. God created him so He could send him to Hell.”
No, that’s not what this says at all. When the Bible says “God raised up Pharaoh,” that doesn’t mean that God grew him from a child. The language means God raised him up to the very highest throne, giving him place, power and prestige so that God will be glorified by His judgment on this man.
13. Turn to Exodus 9:16. God is speaking directly to Pharaoh:
“And in very deed and for this cause have I __________ ______ ____, for to show in thee My ___________; that My name may be ____________ throughout all the _________.”
14. It sounds like God forced Pharaoh to rebel. Is that the case?
- Exodus 8:15 “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, ___ _______________ his heart, and hearkened not unto them”
- Exodus 8:32 “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go”
Who is making the choices here?
A CLOSER LOOK AT PHARAOH’S HARDENED HEART Eighteen times in this passage in Exodus we find, “And Pharaoh hardened his heart,” or “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” Nine of those times, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Pharaoh first hardened his own heart before God hardened his heart.
God did not override Pharaoh’s will.
What happened was this: God did not harden his heart when he was young and tender, when he was a child. God witnessed to him. God warned him. God sent a messenger to him. God sent the plagues, but Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart. Pharaoh was already lost. God didn’t make him lost. Pharaoh was vile, wicked, cruel. He was a despot. He had murdered thousands of people. He had a heart set against God. God’s judgments upon Pharaoh only crystallized Pharaoh in his sin.
God did not create Pharaoh and say, “I have chosen you, to send you to Hell.” No. God said, “I’m going to make an example out of you. I am going to show My power in you. You hardened your own heart. Now, as a reciprocal action, I’m going to send plagues that will even further harden your heart, and I’m going to use you as an example of My punishment.”
God’s love will be magnified in Heaven, and God’s justice is going to be manifest in Hell. God uses situations like this to bring glory to Himself. God said, “I raised you up, that I might show My power in you.” The only reason God hardened Pharaoh’s heart is that Pharaoh had already hardened his own heart.
15. What about your heart? You can make the same choice Pharaoh did. You can harden your heart. The Bible warns against being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Turn to Hebrews 3:15.
“Today, if you will hear His voice, _________ not ______ ________.”
If you harden your heart against God, you will, like Pharaoh, crystallize in your sin and God’s judgment upon you will harden your heart even more.
Eventually, God destroyed Pharaoh because even with the patience (longsuffering) of God and the warnings He sent, Pharaoh would not accept those warnings. Thus he was made an example of God’s wrath.
God has every right to punish sin because He will give us mercy if we want mercy. But the sobering thought is: if we harden our hearts, God will harden our hearts further. He will say, “All right then, since you insist upon it, not My will, but yours be done.”
16. Continuing in Romans 9, many people have difficulty with verse 19.
19 Wilt thou say then unto me, ‘Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath ____________ His ______?
Is it true that, “If God is sovereign, we’re just victims. There’s nothing we can do about it”? Is that the case? Keep reading…
20 But nay, O man, _____ _____ ______ that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto Him that formed it, ‘______ hast Thou made me thus?’
It doesn’t say “the thing created,” but “the thing formed.” Here God is shaping, and some will not take the shaping. Some people will not like God’s choices in any realm. And the Jews might say, “What right does God have to break His promises to us? We’re the chosen nation.” In verse 20, Paul’s “Who are you that replies to God?” is his own version of, “Your arms are too short to box with God.”
God is sovereign. He does as He pleases. He answers to no one. Respect this: God is God!
A CLOSER LOOK AT FAIRNESS, JUSTICE, AND MERCY
God is not fair; He is just. If you believe God has to be fair, then you will believe He owes you something. You’ll be upset if you don’t get what you want, or if someone gets it before you do. God doesn’t owe us anything but judgment. When you realize God is just, then His mercy toward you is going to mean something to you.
God is saying, “Listen, I am free to pardon, and I am free to punish. I am God, and I will pardon whom I will pardon. And I will punish whom I will punish.” Does that mean that God does that arbitrarily? No. God does as He pleases, but He always pleases to do right. There is no unrighteousness with God.
21 Hath not the ____________ ___________ over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?
22 What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, _____________ with much ________________ (patience) the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction;
What is he saying? The Amplified Bible clarifies it:
22 What if God, although fully intending to show the awfulness of His wrath and to make known His power and authority, has tolerated with much patience the vessels (objects) of His anger which are ripe for destruction?
God, who is longsuffering, is forming, working, forming, but these vessels of wrath are not yielding to the hands of the Potter.
A CLOSER LOOK AT A SCARY TERM: “FITTED FOR DESTRUCTION”
About “vessels of wrath fitted for destruction,” W. E. Vine says in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words: “[Paul’s use of] the middle voice indicates that the vessels of wrath fitted themselves for destruction. It is not the Potter who fits them for destruction. They fitted themselves for destruction. The Potter was longsuffering. He did not create them; He formed them. But they were fitted; that is, they made themselves fit for destruction.”
But it doesn’t have to end there for any of us. All this is going somewhere so that it can bring about the best possible result.
23 and that He might make known__________ the ________ of His _________ on the vessels of _________, which He hath afore ________________ unto _________, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
18. What he is saying is—
23 He waited with patience so that He could make known His rich glory to the people who receive His mercy. He has prepared these people to have His glory, 24 and we are those people whom God called. He called us not from the Jews only but also from those who are not Jews. (NCV)
Look at what this means:
- God waited with patience so He could make known His rich glory to all of us,
- We receive His mercy
- He has prepared us to have His glory
- We are the people God has called.
How does it make you feel to know that you are in this group, and that anyone who asks for this same mercy can receive it? What are your thoughts?
Predestined for Hell?
Some people have the idea that God says, “I’m going to make two vessels. One I’m going to send to Heaven; the other, I’m sending to Hell. People are just weak, helpless, insensible clay, and I’m the Potter. So I’ll just take a lump of clay…. I’ll make this one for Heaven; I’ll make this one for Hell. Nothing you can do about it.”
Is that the kind of God displayed in the Bible or in the book of Romans? Listen carefully to understand what the apostle Paul is saying here. God did not ordain some for Hell. What potter would ever make a vessel just so he could destroy it? Can you imagine a potter in his shop making a bunch of vessels, setting them on a shelf, then making other vessels, setting them on a shelf, then taking a stick and just breaking one group to pieces? He set out to do that? Of course not. God did not ordain some people to Hell. No. The reason some vessels were destroyed is they did not realize the purpose of the Potter.
God has spotless character.
The Bible tells us over and over again in a multitude of verses (we’re going to look at 4 of them), God is holy; thus He cannot sin. He cannot do wrong.
People say, “God can do anything He wants, so that means He is free to sin. There is nothing God can’t do, so God can sin anytime He wants to.” That blanket statement is not correct. No, there are some things God cannot do, and sin is one of them.
Why? Because to sin would be to deny His own character. He cannot deny Himself nor act in a way that is a violation of His character. In the choices God makes, He cannot and will not choose to do wrong.
19. See these 4 passages; two are close together in the book of Psalms:
a. In Genesis 18:25, Abraham asks a rhetorical question:
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do __________?”
b. Psalm 67:4
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt judge the people ___________________, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.
c. Psalm 96:13
Before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with ________________, and the people with His __________.
d. Revelation 19:2
For ________ and ________________ are His judgments:
We could go on all day with Scripture confirming that God judges from righteousness, not from pique, a bad mood, or a temper tantrum.
20. Turn to Romans 11:33. This is one of the key passages in our study of predestination as it pertains to salvation.
Two chapters beyond where we are right now, Paul has come to this statement about our sovereign, spotless God. This verse is profound, almost poetic in its content and beauty:
O the ________ of the ___________ both of the ___________ and _________________ of God! How __________________ are His judgments, and His _______ ________ finding out!
God is holy, righteous and just in all His ways—and His ways are “past finding out.”
God does not create people in order to damn them! God does not create people in order to destroy them! God is a God of love.
21. If you still think God wants some to go to Hell, turn to 1 Timothy 2:3-4.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have _______ men to be saved and to come unto the __________________ of the ________.
God has steadfast concern.
22. What is God all about? Look again at verse 23:
“23And that He might _____ _______ the riches of His _________ on the vessels of mercy [the people who are saved] “which He hath afore prepared unto glory.”
What are we being prepared for? _____________________________________
What, specifically, does this mean? The working out of Romans 8:28, which Paul has just said in the previous chapter. Turn back one chapter to this verse.
28 And we know that all things ______ ___________ for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
All things are working together for good to make us like the Lord Jesus, “24 Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only.”
He’s saying to the Jews, “Look, you’ve not cornered the market on this thing.” Then Paul quotes Hosea in a prophetic passage,
I will call them My people, which were not My people (we Gentiles); and her beloved, which was not beloved. (Hosea 1:10)
God is saying, “I’m going to take a bunch of folks that are not part of the covenant promises of Israel, and I’m going to include them in.”
26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, “Ye are not My people,” there shall they be called the _____________ of the ______ ______.
He’s talking about us, folks. What He’s saying is, “My purpose and plan is to take both Jews and Gentiles and make them children of God.” This is God’s steadfast concern and purpose. The highest privilege on earth is to be a son, a daughter of God.
23. In closing, and to answer with Scripture our question: “Are some people predestined to go to Hell?” I’m going to show you that God wants all people saved; that God didn’t create anybody to go to Hell.
- Turn to John 3:16. You’ve known this one since you were a child.
“For God so loved the elect….” Something wrong there, isn’t it?
“For God so loved ____ _________, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that if a certain number would believe on Him.” No….
“That _______________ _believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that ____ ________ through Him might be saved.”
- Isaiah 53: 6
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him [Jesus], “the iniquity of ___ ___.”
Jesus died for ___ ____.
- Romans 8:32
“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for ___ _____ how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
- 1Timothy 2:4
Who will have _____ men to be saved.”
- 1 John 4:14
“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of ___ ________.
- 1 John 2:1-2
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if _____ (which ones? ____) man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins ___ ____ ________ _________.”
Some people say Jesus didn’t die for everybody. He did! He did!
That’s the reason I’m glad I’m a Gospel preacher. That’s the reason I can say to anybody, any place, anywhere: “If you want mercy, you can have mercy. If you want salvation, you can have salvation. If you want to be saved, I’m telling you, on the authority of the Word of God, you can be saved.”
24. God closes the entire Bible with that blessed book, the book of Revelation, and in the last chapter, God says:
17“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come. And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is athirst come. And_______________ _____, let him take of the water of life _________.’”
There’s a hymn I love by P. P. Bless, titled “Whosoever Will”
Whosoever heareth, shout, shout the sound!
Spread the blessed tidings all the world around;
Tell the joyful news wherever man be found,
“Whosoever will may come.”
And whosoever cometh need not delay.
Now the door is open; enter while