Does God create people knowing they will end up in hell?

There is no doubt that this is a highly charged emotional question, let us at least try to look at this issue through a biblical lens (what the Bible reveals to us).

Here is what we know. All Bible believing Christians would affirm that God knows the end from the beginning and therefore has exhaustive knowledge of the future. Therefore, He creates people whom He knows will end up in hell. There is no way to avoid this conclusion.

God does indeed know His sheep and He knows those who are not (John 10:25,26) and there are indeed scriptures that talk of predestination to rebrobation – just one being 1 Peter 2:8, “They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” In contrast, those who believe were predestined by God. Acts 13:48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Those who had the appointment, made the appointment, as they responded in faith to the gospel.

Romans 9 gives us a clue as to why God would create people knowing their final end will be an eternity in hell and that is to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known (see the passage below).

This never sits well with us when our starting point in the pursuit of truth is man and his feelings, for even as redeemed men and women, we have much more sympathy with fellow sinners than with the holiness and righteousness of God. Think about that for a moment, and I believe it will strike the heart, for we have much more in common even with a Hitler or Stalin, than we do with the holiness, majesty and glory of Almighty God, and this itself is a manifestation of our deep depravity. BUT if we make the big paradigm shift and see life, the universe and everything from the starting point of the rightness of God being glorified in all His attributes, then everything begins to make perfect sense.

I believe that with minds that are fully sanctified in heaven we will rejoice that God’s righteousness is being glorified, but here, our fallenness makes us cringe that a fellow human being, as bad as he may be, may face the judgment of God for all eternity, knowing that God knew this would be where that person would end up even before He created him. This side of heaven it is hard for us to see God’s desire to display His attributes such as His righteousness, justice and wrath as a valid reason for God doing what He does, but in heaven, I think with glorified and sanctified minds, we will not have that problem at all.

I think the following passage in Romans 9 spells it out that it is right for God to show forth His attributes, even in the damnation of “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” just as He does so through redeeming the “vessels of mercy” – certainly God thinks so:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

For anyone still struggling with this concept, I fully realize that you might need much more than a few short words on a blog. However, I would ask you to keep struggling (so to speak) and look through the Scriptures on this issue.

Three resources may be helpful:

1. A sermon by Jonathan Edwards called “the Justice of God in the damnation of sinners.” Though lengthy, it is well worth the effort to read it – found here.

2. I wrote an article some time back that some may find useful here.

3. For more on the doctrine of rebrobation, this one by Dr. R. C. Sproul is very helpful, especially in explaining what I believe to be the reformed and biblical understanding.

22 thoughts on “Does God create people knowing they will end up in hell?

  1. Unless one is willing to deny the eternal omniscience of God, then the answer to your question must be “Yes.” This then presents a problem even for the average Arminian, who wishes to say God’s election of sinners for salvation is based upon foreseen faith. This “foreseeing” must also then necessarily includes foreseeing who will NOT believe, but he creates those people anyway.

    Thus, those who typically pose the question to those of us in the Reformed camp place themselves in a sticky wicket, to be sure, in their attempt to refute the doctrines of grace.

  2. Jeff you beat me to it :p

    In the end of it all God has displayed All of His attributes, or else no one would have been created in the first place.

    Some people for His Wrath and Justice, some for Mercy and Love etc…

    People who have a problem with this are thinking about earthly things instead of heavenly things.

    All praise and Glory goes to GOD.

  3. John, you may want to verify your second Scripture reference of 1 Peter 1:8. I think you meant 1 Peter 2:8. Just a simple miss. Great article! I agree with you that this is a particularly emotional subject for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ but we cannot allow emotions to interpret truth but we must have Truth interpret our emotions. Again, great article!

  4. Hey thanks Chris for pointing out the reference mistake. I have corrected it now. Thanks also for the encouraging words.

  5. The answer is obviously, yes.
    But what bothers me is that some Christians don’t seem to be too bothered about this!
    Is this a case of ‘I’m alright Jack’…?
    I am a bible believing born again Christian, by the grace of God, I love Jesus…I seek to follow him with all my heart.
    BUT I am ‘bothered’ about this, and No this doesn’t mean that I am on the edge of apostasy or about to deny Jesus…nor does it mean that I reject the truth of God’s sovereignty and majesty…etc etc.
    There will be issues that ‘bother’ (perplex) us about God, if there’s not then maybe we haven’t thought long and hard enough about who he is and what he does.
    If this issue doesn’t leave its mark on us and cause us to seek the face of God for the lost then all we have is cold smug self assured orthodoxy…something I understand Jesus was not too happy with…to say the least.
    No we cannot ‘allow emotions to interpret scripture’ but if ‘rightly interpreted scripture’ doesn’t ignite and form and shape our emotions then, in my view, there is a deep problem.
    Maybe this is an issue for another article Pastor John?

  6. This is a very good article. It has been my greatest problem and my greatest question since I was rejected by both the Catholic church and the JW’s.
    I had pondered this and sought to know this over most of my life (60 years). Somehow I knew it must be true or everyone has no hope in anything (religion or man). But, I could not see God in all things no matter how I looked! Worse, I was taught throughout my life that it is of mans merit and goodness and so forth that brought us to God. A God who sat far back somewhere hidden from us and just waiting for man to get it right!
    He was a hidden God waiting on man but once in a while he would let some know he was there! Like those few the Catholic Saints who performed miracles and so had the proof that he is there!
    No one told me nor did I even think that God is God and as such does all things that are! He has never waited on man to figure him out or get it right! He doesn’t have to as he is God and not man! That was HUGE! A huge comfort which broke years of confusion and doubt and self and gave me incredible peace! The struggle goes on but not as before!

  7. That is a powerful scripture. Thank you for laying out what God says so plainly. Who could ever know the divine unsearchable counsels of God before eternity. Who are we to question God, yet we truly do everyday with our actions that display ignorant lack of faith. God grant us your grace, have mercy on us, and for you name lift up our countenance so that we may proclaim Jesus Christ the Anointed One who was and is and is to come.

    What convicts me or worries me is that I want to not be so proud that I assume I am not one of them. I truly want to know and be assured I am in the faith.

    Let us be mindful of the workings of pride and the deceitful human heart and be vigilant to battle sin in our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Test yourselves! Read 1 John. Do not stop this very night reading and praying until you have a full assurance of faith.

    1 COR 15:1-5
    2 COR 5:21
    Gal 3:13
    Titus 3:5
    Colossians 1:19-20
    Hebrews 9,10

  8. Oh, I see how it is we will always worship God throughout eternity! How it is all of his glory and never of ours! Never of ours to see as Lucifer looked upon himself in all his glory! I often fall back into that old deceptive model of the Jehovah’s Witnesses which paint the picture of how man will be as they were in the garden of Eden! But never worshiping God for all he is and does and has done in Christ! Through eternity as are those in heaven before the throne!!
    Thank you Ricky for your comments esp. when you said, “What convicts me or worries me is that I want to not be so proud that I assume I am not one of them”. WOW!!!!

  9. Yea Ricky! You are so right! Just when we think our pride has been destroyed it comes forth in us. Blind again to see how we can easily fall back into it!
    The life seems to me to be as you say, ‘“What convicts me or worries me is that I want to not be so proud that I assume I am not one of them”! It is so often sad to see the sin in me which I want done away with with all my heart but now its worse even to see especially the sin of pride without a life of repentance for sin! But, God has chosen this to show me how it is He was behind and the cause of even Satan’s fall! And how the angels, who were less in glory than Lucifer, were kept by Gods revealing of Christ to sinners of fallen man and not of the fallen Angels! How they rejoice to see Gods revealing, his glory and power in salvation of Christ when a sinner repents and is saved!
    Now, I know what I wanted to know for so long. That Edwards was right in his sermon of God choosing man and not fallen Angles though he could have either! That all is for his glory and not mans or Angels! How it is God reveals himself for all he is! This corrects so much in my thinking as it does also in my life! That my only hope and all my joy is Christ alone who alone reveals Gods incredible grace to a sinner!
    Now, I can put behind me all this picture painting of the old theology come from the Jehovahs Witnesses as a born JW type! But a known sinner to myself! Yea, I too suffer the problem of assurance do to sin but never do to Christ crucified to see and his grace to receive!
    Thank God for the instruction come here!

  10. What bothers me about Calvinism is not the fact that God knew sinners would reject His salvation and end up in Hell, nor the fact that He created them anyhow, but the belief that God planned it that way before He ever brought it to pass. Calvinists quote Ephesians 1;11 “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,” and say that it is God’s will to save some and to damn others when other scriptures say different;1 Tim. 4:2-6 and 2 Peter 3:9.And I have read how Calvinists interpret those verses, which in my opinion is a big stretch from the simple plain speech of scripture. But Ephesian 1:11 doesn’t say that God works all things according to his will, but “after the counsel of his own will.” There is a major difference there.

  11. Hi John,

    Its hard to fathom the idea that the world as we know it was not planned by God. Is that really what you wish to espouse? God did not plan any of this? Really? So He is just an observer of history with no plan? I am sorry John but your view of God is not Christian in any way and cannot stand up to any biblical scrutiny.

    Regarding 1 Tim 2 and 2 Peter 3:9, I believe it is you who is making the big stretch by failing to look at the context. Follow the pronouns. Pronouns mean something – they let the reader know what is being referred to. To ignore them altogether, as you do, is to give the author no respect at all. I believe you are taking these verses out of their setting, as I explain here.: http://effectualgrace.com/2011/05/04/ten-objections-to-divine-election-2/

  12. John, You say that my “view of God is not biblical in any way.” Do you have any children? If so, do you think that your love for your children is any greater than God’s love for his creation. But you wouldn’t think of bringing a child into this world or even raising an animal just to inflict it with pain and torment a long as you possibly could, would you? But in your view of God, He does just that. I think I’ll stick with my view of God. Your view maligns God and is not biblical. I’m sorry, But I have to reject that. There’s just too many verses and examples of God being a Loving Being as well as a Righteous Being.

  13. T., I’ve watched that video twice and others by James White and John Piper and disagree with all of them. Here’s why. Men are depraved. Jeremiah 17:9 “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?…” Only by the work of God to draw men to himself will they come to him.John 6:44 But Christ said that He would draw all men unto him if he were lifted up. John 12:32,32. And he was lifted up. Meaning crucifixion. So he draws all sinners. And the goodness of God “leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4 But he doesn’t pick us up by the hair of the head so to speak and make us repent. He commands all men everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30 not just the elect but the others as well. He knows who will repent and who will not repent but he gives all men that option, thats why he draws all men. Why would he draw all men and command all men to repent if He’s going to purposely keep them from repenting? It just doesn’t make sense. Christ would not have said “Come unto me ALL ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” Are not the non elect heavy laden? Was Jesus being insincere when he said ALL? No. Of course not. The offer of salvation is to all. God puts the guilt on man because He draws all men to him and when they reject, its their own fault they go to Hell. There will never be a man ever able to say to Christ. I’m going to Hell because I never had the opportunity or availability of salvation. You foreordained it so I never had a chance from the start. Thats why I cannot accept Calvinism.

  14. Hi John,

    Your view has a problem. John 6:44 in its entirety reads,

    “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    You only half quote John 6:44, but the rest of the verse tells us that the one drawn is raised up to eternal life. If God draws ALL sinners, then that would be universalism (all will be saved) which certainly is a concept foreign to the Bible.

    Of course, it is God’s goodness in action when anyone repents. Repentance is God’s gift (2 Tim 2:25).

    God’s offer of the gospel is sincere, while man is sincerely evil and will NOT come to Christ – he loves his sin so much. The fact that God commands all to come, all to repent, all to believe, does not mean that men have the ability to come – for the reason they will not come is not because of some physical handicap, but because of the moral disposition of his heart. Man hates God. No one seeks Him (Romans 3:11). There is no God seeker. Unless a man is first born again, he CANNOT enter the kingdom of God.

    John 12:32 has a context and again, you disregard it. The word “all” always has a context. Sometimes it means everyone on the planet and all in human history, but usually it does not. That is the same when we use the word “all” in our own day. When a speaker testing his microphone asks, “can you ALL here me?” is he really asking if the almost 7 billion people on the planet can hear his voice? No, of course not. If he is in Seattle, he is not even asking if all people in Seattle can hear him, and certainly not all those in Milan, Italy, or Sydney Australia. It would be a total misunderstanding of his use of the word “all.” The context of his words (the building where he is making the statement) tells us that the use of the word “all” refers to all the people in the room.

    For the context of John 12:32, please see his article: http://effectualgrace.com/2010/11/26/understanding-john-1232/

    God bless.

  15. John, I guess then that when Jesus said “Come unto me ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden,” And when Luke said in Acts “God commandeth ALL men everywhere to repent” they are referring to only the elect? I don’t think I’m gonna change your mind but I’ll say his. I think God speaks plainly, and plain speech is easily understood. I think Calvinism takes certain scriptures and misinterprets them to fit their doctrine. I don’t doubt your sincerity, but sometimes reading after a lot of men, instead of simply reading the scriptures will lead a persons thinking away from the simple truths of God’s Word. God bless you. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts.

  16. Hi John,

    Thanks for your comment. No, when Jesus said “Come unto me ALL ye that labour and are heavy laden,” And when Luke said in Acts “God commands ALL men everywhere to repent” they are NOT referring to only the elect. God commands all people everywhere to come, that is Scripture, and so is “no one CAN come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.” I believe all these Scriptures in their entirety, not just some and not just half of the verses. Only the ones drawn CAN COME AND ALL WHO ARE DRAWN IN THIS WAY are effectively called, and are raised up to eternal life. God graciously intervenes in their lives to change the disposition of the hearts so that they WANT TO come.

    I am not sure if you have watched the short 3.37 minute video at this link, but this explains man’s radical depravity and yet his total responsibility: http://effectualgrace.com/2011/01/22/tulip-4/

  17. So what you are saying is that God creates creatures in His own likeness to be damned. Am I right?

  18. Rachel, So you are saying that when God creates people, He has absolutely no idea where they will end up. Am I right?

  19. So God pre-destined people to go to heaven? It must be nice to be one of the chosen ones… I find it funny that the people who talk about calvinism are always part of the “elect”.

    How can God love us if we are pre-destined to be with him or not? Thats not love. Love is one thing that requires free will. You have to choose love.

    This is such a huge turn off of Christianity because of people who think like this. Luckily for calvinists that wont matter since you are already pre-destined.

    • Josh,

      Please allow me to interact with your comment. You say, “So God pre-destined people to go to heaven?”

      ALL Bible believing Christians believe this to be the case, though there is disagreement as to what the basis is for the predestination. However, very clearly, predestination is a biblical word and concept.

      “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation…” 2 Thess 2:13

      You say, “It must be nice to be one of the chosen ones… I find it funny that the people who talk about calvinism are always part of the “elect”.”

      All genuine Christians are part of the elect, whether they realise it or not. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

      You say, “How can God love us if we are pre-destined to be with him or not? Thats not love. Love is one thing that requires free will. You have to choose love.”

      Jesus said “no man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). Man’s inability to come to Christ is universal according to Jesus, and outside of the Father’s intervention cannot do so. The whole message of the gospel is that although God could have sent every rebellious sinner to hell, He chose to intervene to save a people for Himself – such was His love. Those who love Him are told they do so, because He first loved them. Those who love Him freely choose to do so but only after He gives them a new heart and take out the heart of stone. As v. 44 declares, the one drawn is raised up to eternal life, such is the effectiveness of this drawing.

      You say, “This is such a huge turn off of Christianity because of people who think like this. Luckily for calvinists that wont matter since you are already pre-destined.”

      Christianity will always be a turn off for people who wish to ascend the throne and boast of their supposed free will. Except biblically speaking, man’s will is not free, but in bondage to sin but if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed. “…and all who were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

      I hope you will take the time to watch the short video at this link for more: http://effectualgrace.com/2011/08/31/paul-washer-divine-election-explained/

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