Does this mean that you believe God chose certain people for damnation?

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"William The Baptist"

Puritan Board Freshman
I had a friend ask this in a FB thread.

I've been praying and thoughtfully considering how I ought to respond. She is not a believer. I knew her from homeschooling sport events in Jr. High. Her family went down a WEIRD path of new agey spirituality after leaving their church (which was more than likely a typical southern baptist arminian dispensational one, considering the circles we were in). In years past I struggled when we had conversations and the realization of her unbelief was fully revealed. Back then I had so much anguish wondering if I must be explaining things wrong and it weighed heavily on me. Praise the Lord that He has shown me the truth of His word more fully where I understand His sovereignty and know my persuasion has nothing to do with her lack of belief. I am not so concerned as convincing her now, as responding rightly.

So her question: "I haven't read any of the previous comments, I just wanted to comment on "Or another way: If God chose to create the world, chose to create you (you didn't choose to be created, did you?-I know I didn't), why is it so hard to accept that He chose you for salvation?"

Does this mean that you believe God chose certain people for damnation?"

My inclination is to say yes the long way. But I struggle with how to explain it fully. I wrestle with the explanation because it is so hard to understand God's foreordaining everything (which I obviously believe) in light of the garden, Adam and Eve, their free will, and their choice of sin... It seems the simple answer would be to just tell her "Yes, He created some vessels for honor and some for dishonor."

How would you answer this question?
 
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Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
The short answer, yes:

The larger Catechism:

Q. 13. What hath God especially decreed concerning angels and men?

A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, hath elected some angels to glory; and in Christ hath chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extendeth or withholdeth favor as he pleaseth,) hath passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
If I may take a stab at this, I would essentially say the following:

"God created the world good. Adam, the representative head of mankind, sinned against God, and so merited death for himself and all mankind. Adam fell out of fellowship with his Creator, and so he died spiritually. Because we are descended from Adam, we are born into a sinful nature, a nature by which we are self-seeking, spiritually dead, and in rebellion against God. God, seeking to glorify himself, demonstrates his love and mercy by choosing to redeem a particular people, the Elect, as his own. This is according to his good pleasure, and his people in no way merit salvation. He is not obligated to save anyone, but choose to save a people as numerous as the sands on the seashore. God also glorifies himself by demonstrating his justice in choosing to pass over others whom he chose not to save. These unsaved individuals, the Reprobate, have merited death because of their rebellion against God. Ultimately, God's choice to redeem many and to pass over others was made in eternity past, according to his good pleasure, for his own glorification."

Short answer: God chose to save me according to his good pleasure (though I did not deserve it), and God chose to not save others according to his good pleasure (they receive what they deserve, justice).

Certainly you could say that God 'chose' people for damnation, but this wording can be tricky because it makes it seem like those people were not going to be damned until God decided to damn them. All people were going to be damned, and no one is 'neutral'. I think saying that God 'passed over' those who are already damned is perhaps easier to understand (although both ways of saying it are correct if they are understood in their proper sense).

Please let me know what you think.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
In addition to what Edward has shared, I will add the WCF chapter 3:


1. 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 neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.

8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
 

KevinInReno

Puritan Board Freshman
Tim Keller uses the "Thy Will Be Done" argument on this one (I forget the theologian who originally made the argument).

To the saved: Thy Will Be Done refers to the will of the worthy Lamb of God. Where ever the reward of his suffering leads us, our desire is a proper Thy Will Be Done.

To the unsaved: Thy Will Be Done refers to those who desire to be their own God. God will allow them to be their own God, and ultimately remove his temporary mercy from them at some point in the future allowing them to permanently live in a personalized state of their own depravity.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
While asserting good theology (that God is sovereign), it's always helpful to make it clear that God will send no one to hell except those who've decided to reject him and live for themselves. It's not like people go to hell kicking and screaming, begging God to let them belong to him. Those who truly desire God and beg him to save them always receive a "yes!"
 

"William The Baptist"

Puritan Board Freshman
Eric, I like what you wrote. The wording of it is definitely tricky! It's like the word force, people get up in arms over "God forcing someone to believe". I guess technically He did "force" us, but He irresistibly drew us, regenerating us so we would want to love Him and thereby repent and confess Him as Lord. The wording is definitely tricky in instances like this, which I guess is why the WCF says "8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel."

But that's essentially what I was wanting to write at first, like your long answer. Actually, re-reading the post, a Calvinist friend said something similar:

"I have not seen it expressed this way yet in Leah's comments so I will answer what our church says about this. Adam and Eve caused us to die in spirit. We ALL would be going to Hell if Christ had not redeemed us. We do believe that God (who is worthy to do as he sees fit, as our creator and king) has chosen a particular people to redeem. He did not send the others to Hell. Original sin did that. He just chose to redeem the ones he covenanted with the Son to save. Now, not to speak for anyone else, again, I believe the scripture teaches that most people will be saved, with a very few left to their reprobate nature. He did after all, say that Heaven will contain those of every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue."

What do you think of that explanation?

Thanks all, for the helpful answers. It's nice to get feedback on something I've been pondering.

Edward, thanks for bringing me back to the SC!- I ended up using some of that verbiage since it is explained so nicely there.

Jack, thank you for that reminder. I like the way you said that. I have always appreciated your replies here on the PB!
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
So my usual response of "Yes - get over it. Submit yourself to the God who made you. Kiss the Son lest He be angry." isn't good enough?

Oh well, back to the drawing board....
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Open to correction here - but I generally say we choose our own damnation. Left to our own devices, we choose evil every time. God in His mercy pulls some of us out of the fire.
 

J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
Asahel Nettleton once had a person (an unbeliever I presume, based upon the nature of the argument) come to him and express his disgust at the Calvinist understanding of predestination. Nettleton responded "Well then, if that's what you believe, then go ahead and choose Christ right this instant." The man became even more indignant and sharply ended the conversation. It proved Nettleton's point.

Those who believe will not be condemned; it's as simple as that (John 3:18). Those who are not elected do not WANT to be elected. Spurgeon reminds us that God predestines AND man is responsible. It's not an either/or.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Leah,

I think your Calvinist friend was very accurate with their words. Though I do not know if the 'majority' of the human race will be saved or not, we can be assured that the Elect is a 'multitude that no man can count'. I also fully agree with what others have said that those who are condemned to hell have no desire to be saved by God. They want to be separate from God, and they have lived their entire lives that way. Of course, I wanted that too until God replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh. So ultimately, it is God who chooses to save or not to save, according to his good pleasure.

Anyways, glad I could help!
 

Supersillymanable

Puritan Board Freshman
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

(Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

It is correct. People who are not saved don't want to be. They know the truth about God, but suppress it, because they don't like it. Paul Washer once said almost everyone wants to go to heaven. They just don't want God to be there when they get there.

God's Holiness offends sinners, and so spending eternity with a Holy God is a nightmare for them. No one is dragged screaming and kicking into hell. They choose it. Their sinful nature compels them to. That is not to say God doesn't send them there as just punishment.
 

"William The Baptist"

Puritan Board Freshman
Paul Washer once said almost everyone wants to go to heaven. They just don't want God to be there when they get there.

God's Holiness offends sinners, and so spending eternity with a Holy God is a nightmare for them.
So true. This actually brings back a memory... I remember being in Jr. High and I had just gotten a new "youth study bible" for Christmas, fully loaded with devotionals every few pages. I would read the devotions, and didn't care much about the actual word of God. As I was investigating the front of the bible that had a Q&A section. I vaguely remember it saying something about heaven and it both addressed what will be IN heaven, and the lack of excitement about worshipping God, that it may seem boring (something along those lines). I remember thinking that going to heaven seemed like a wonderful deal!-I just couldn't imagine how inconvenient/annoying it would be to have to worship God the whole time... I wanted time to go spend time with other people etc. :um: The little section in the bible basically said that was ok. I knew there was something wrong with my selfishness, but I couldn't help it. But I am so thankful that the Lord helped it!-that He changed my heart and gave me a new nature who cannot wait for such a day!

And I like Paul Washer, the Lord used his "shocking youth message" to bring me to the realization/understanding of total depravity.. and that I was wicked and not the perfect sunday school student!
 

Tyrese

Puritan Board Sophomore
1 Peter 2:8-They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
As has been cited, the Westminster standards summarize the doctrine of Scripture well. I have bolded the parts to emphasize:

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter III
Of God's Eternal Decree
[emphasis added]

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

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions;[4] yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.[5]

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels[6] are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.[7]

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.[8]

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,[9] out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto;[10] and all to the praise of His glorious grace.[11]

VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto.[12] Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[13] are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,[14] and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation.[15] Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.[16]

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.[17]

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,[18] that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.[19] So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;[20] and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.[21]
It's not a parallel situation- God choosing some for mercy, some for justice.

The elect sinner gets something they do not deserve, mercy.

Other sinners get something they do deserve, justice.

The sinner does not want God. He wants self above all else.... and gets what he wants, which justly deserves the punishment of a Holy God who commands His creatures to worship Him.

Here's an analogy you can use to reveal your friends presupposition, and contrast it with that of God's.

A man who has committed armed robbery goes before the judge and the judge sentences him to 10 years in prison. Is that unjust? No, we would say that is the law.

Another man goes before the same judge, also having been found guilty of armed robbery. Instead, the judge pardons him, and orders him to live rent free in the Hilton Hotel for the rest of his life. Is that fair? No. Yet, that's what the elect get before God.

One got justice.

The other got mercy.

Would there be any justice if all got or demanded or had an entitlement mentality toward a free gift of mercy? Would it be a gift?

Our God's glory is displayed in BOTH His justice and His mercy.

For a thoroughgoing biblical discussion of this topic, "What is Reformed Theology?" (still free) on-line series, superb:
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/what_is_reformed_theology/introduction-4/
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
While asserting good theology (that God is sovereign), it's always helpful to make it clear that God will send no one to hell except those who've decided to reject him and live for themselves. It's not like people go to hell kicking and screaming, begging God to let them belong to him. Those who truly desire God and beg him to save them always receive a "yes!"
Though I appreciate the sentiment of your post Jack I think we all must all remember that the person who ends up in hell is there because of Adam's sin along with his representation of all of humanity.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
While asserting good theology (that God is sovereign), it's always helpful to make it clear that God will send no one to hell except those who've decided to reject him and live for themselves. It's not like people go to hell kicking and screaming, begging God to let them belong to him. Those who truly desire God and beg him to save them always receive a "yes!"
Though I appreciate the sentiment of your post Jack I think we all must all remember that the person who ends up in hell is there because of Adam's sin along with his representation of all of humanity.
Please correct me if I'm misreading you Earl, but you seem to be saying that a person's actual sins have nothing do with their damnation; that they are guilty due to original sin only. Sinners are also completely guilty of all their own, actual sins they commit as well.

From the WCF Chapter 6, sections 4 & 6:

4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

6. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
While asserting good theology (that God is sovereign), it's always helpful to make it clear that God will send no one to hell except those who've decided to reject him and live for themselves. It's not like people go to hell kicking and screaming, begging God to let them belong to him. Those who truly desire God and beg him to save them always receive a "yes!"
Though I appreciate the sentiment of your post Jack I think we all must all remember that the person who ends up in hell is there because of Adam's sin along with his representation of all of humanity.
Please correct me if I'm misreading you Earl, but you seem to be saying that a person's actual sins have nothing do with their damnation; that they are guilty due to original sin only. Sinners are also completely guilty of all their own, actual sins they commit as well.

From the WCF Chapter 6, sections 4 & 6:

4. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

6. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.
Reprobation to hell like election to heaven is not based on our works. The quality of reward in heaven or degree of punishment in hell is based on our works.
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
I vaguely remember it saying something about heaven and it both addressed what will be IN heaven, and the lack of excitement about worshipping God, that it may seem boring (something along those lines). I remember thinking that going to heaven seemed like a wonderful deal!-I just couldn't imagine how inconvenient/annoying it would be to have to worship God the whole time... I wanted time to go spend time with other people etc.
This reminds me of a question Puritan Thomas Boston asked in his book "Human Nature in its Fourfold State" He asked, “How would such as now account the sabbath day a burden, brook the celebration of an everlasting sabbath in heaven!”
 
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