A Question I Was Asked:

Isn't Hell Just What Most People Deserve?

The Question:

I have read through the article, "PREDESTINATION OF THE SAINTS: BIBLICAL. “DOUBLE-PREDESTINATION”: UNBIBLICAL!" and had a question.

First off, I am not trying to argue against it, but wanted to dig deeper for answers. I have read in this article that the claim of God predestining to "hate" certain people while predestining certain people to receive his grace is not biblical. However, what would be your answer to the fact that ALL have sinned and therefore are already destined to hell. This means that those that have been predestined to receive salvation is simply receiving an UNDESERVED gift from God and those that DO NOT or DID NOT get this gift really have received what we all deserve. Therefore, God is not "hating" anyone, but judging justly.

I would like to hear your perspective on this.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, for the benefit of others who will read this, our article on predestination is here. Obviously some of these questions on predestination are not the easiest to answer and I would never pretend that they are. However, we must always insist on being entirely scriptural and not going beyond scripture. It is true that all have sinned and it might be considered that Hell is the only option. However, our God is a merciful God and His intention was not to create many millions of people who - upon stumbling due to the serpent's lies - are thereafter - effectively - on a one-way track to Hell. Indeed, He has provided redemption through the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The mistake is to then think that only those who have lived and died since Jesus came to earth can be saved, for the scripture is clear that that sacrifice can be applied to anybody who ever lived who earnestly wanted to serve God, so many in the Old Testament, for example, are saved. It is true that salvation cannot be earned and it is, therefore, an undeserved gift of God in all cases.

Predestination, biblically, always refers to the saved and the principle is never applied to unrepentant sinners in Scripture, that is what men have done - I mean, also applied it to sinners. So "double-predestination" is going beyond what scripture teaches. A very careful consideration of the scriptures seems to show that God has mercy on His Elect (fore-ordained to receive this mercy), and others are largely left to their own devices, yet God does not "hate" these people, but he hates sin. I like the way that Neal Punt has expressed it. Neal wrote, "Salvation is a gift of unconditional sovereign grace; condemnation is earned by disobedience" - that is exactly right. Sin is the free and undeserved gift of God, but separation from God is earned by sin. So "double-predestination" is doctrinally incorrect. Nevertheless it might still seem logical to say that all sinners will inherit Hell, but we should avoid the use of a purely human logic when considering the things of God. We serve a supremely merciful God. There are strong indications that many of these people will also receive mercy right at the end, although they will not attain the very highest-level salvation of the saints. Holy Scripture reveals that there is grading in both judgment and salvation (Matthew 10:15, for instance). But does that not mean that those finaI recipients of God's mercy are also saved by the blood of Christ? Absolutely, yes! The blood of Christ has efficacy to save far and wide. It will save the Elect (the saints), but it can also be applied at the last judgment in an act of mercy. I cannot go beyond this brief answer to a question here but would thoroughly recommend that you read my major 2002 article on this subject:

An Evangelical Inclusivist Defends Evangelical Inclusivism

Apart from that, we have other articles which consider various facets/nuances of this general topic, such as, Are Our Spiritual Choices In This Life Meaningful? Or Just An Illusion? and Are Certain People Doomed To Never Believe in God?

I hope that this helps.
Robin A. Brace. Easter, 2011.