Why does God create people that are destined for Hell?

by | Apr 4, 2023 | Ask the Pastors

QUESTION

Why does God create people that are destined for Hell?

ANSWER

This is a great question, but some would answer it with a simple, “He doesn’t.” So before I answer it, let’s take a brief look at the objections to the question.

Some would object because they don’t believe in Hell—a place of torment where sinners will be punished forever. However, the Bible is quite clear about this coming punishment for those who are not in Christ. For example, Revelation 20:15 says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Others would object to the question because they don’t believe that God “destines” people for Hell. Rather, they would say that some people choose Hell. Usually this argument comes out of a desire to protect God from being unjust in man’s eyes. However, once again, the Bible is quite clear that God does indeed destine people for Hell.

This second objection is answered in Romans 9, which is also where we get the fullest answer to the original question of why God creates people destined for Hell. In verses 8–13, the Apostle Paul is explaining that God indeed predestines some for God’s wrath, and not because of something good or bad in us, nor because He looks into the future to figure out whether we will be good or bad, repent or not. It’s just because of what God wants, “so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand” (Rom. 9:11). This passage culminates with the memorable lesson and poignant reminder in verse 13: “Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”

Paul understands that many will object to God predestining some to punishment, feeling that it is unjust, which is why he continues by asking the question in the next verse (14), “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there?” Only if we have a proper understanding of verses 8–13 will Paul’s follow-up question make sense. If he wasn’t talking about God’s predestining some to Hell, there would be no reason to raise the question of His justice. He then continues on to reiterate his original point that God destines some for Hell, culminating in verse 18 with, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

Verse 19 is another question that reveals whether we have properly understood the previous verses: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” God indeed creates some people that are destined for Hell, and the Apostle Paul and the Holy Spirit know that we find this difficult. Thankfully, they don’t just insist on the truth of this fact, but also give us an answer to the question of “Why?”

It’s His Nature

This question digs deep into who God is. “Why” questions with God inevitably point us back to His nature. Everything He does is because of His character. What is it about God’s attributes that lead to Him choosing some to be saved and others to be condemned?

His name is holy. He hates sin. He cannot and will not abide it in His presence (Psalm 5:4). It is partly through His rejection and punishment of sin that His holiness is made clear to us. This is why Pharaoh is mentioned in Romans 9:17. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that we would see the contrast between Pharaoh and God, between sin and righteousness. When God destroys Pharaoh, everybody sees God’s wrath being poured out on sin, for Pharaoh refused over and over again to do what God said. “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth’” (Rom. 9:17).

God’s hatred of sin is only one piece of His character that we see here, but let’s continue by examining some other reasons that we are given in this passage.

For His Own Glory

As we just saw with Pharaoh, God reveals Himself more clearly by pouring out His wrath against sin. But this is not the whole story. God actually tells us it is His intent to let everybody see his power as well, and that seeing God’s power displayed through his judgment of Pharaoh, the whole world will hear about Him. God glorifies Himself by creating some people whom He will send to Hell.

But perhaps you will say, “God sending people to Hell doesn’t make me want to praise Him. In fact, it kind of makes me mad!”

Let me ask you a question: What does God creating people and sending them to Hell drive home about God? That He is absolutely not to be ignored. That His word is law to us. That He is above us. These truths are inescapable when we see God pouring out His wrath on sinners that He made, especially when we remember 2 Peter 3:9, which tells us that He “does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Some people try to use this verse to prove that God doesn’t actually destine some for Hell, but actually the context is Peter assuring us of the fact that God’s judgment is indeed coming. It is God’s patience and mercy that have caused Him to delay His judgment for so long.

And that brings us to the most glorious part for those who put their faith in Christ. In both 2 Peter 3 and Romans 9, what God chooses to emphasize is His mercy toward His people.

God could certainly have ended things right when Adam sinned. Instead He let things continue. Why? It’s not because He is embarrassed about His wrath against sin. It’s not because He is in conflict with Himself and can’t make up His mind whether to be loving or pour out His wrath. It’s not because “Love wins.”

Romans 9:22 says, He is “willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known” but that instead He “endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” The next verse (23) explains why: “to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”

Not Satisfied?

Don’t talk back.

I’m a little out of order here in the text, but this is ultimately the answer we are given to any further questions or objections. If we still want to say, “But men can’t help it! It’s God’s fault!” then we are told, “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Rom. 9:20).

Another illustration might be helpful here. Two cars roll off the assembly line, and the manufacturer sends one of them to crash testing, and the other to the concept room at the auto show. Is that “fair”? Who cares? We make the cars, and we choose to do what we want with them. We are the maker. We don’t have to answer to the cars for what we have chosen to do with them. We have good reasons for destroying some cars at the crash test facility, and we can even explain them. But ultimately the car can’t talk back.

We can’t talk back to God either.

We have a choice in how we respond to this fact of God creating some for destruction. We can either become angry at God, refusing to glorify Him, rejecting His character and hardening ourselves against Him. Or we can submit ourselves by faith, trusting in His tender mercy, seeing His marvelous power, delighting in His love, rejoicing in the fact that there’s forgiveness with Him, and yes, fearing Him.

But no amount of clapping back at God will make any difference to His plan. He is the Maker. We are the thing made. Let us submit to Him by faith and be among those who receive His mercy.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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