Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#19 - Does God want some to go to hell?

Response by Wendell Leahy

The claim is blatantly FALSE

1) The critic claims "God wants everyone to go to heaven"
Timothy 2:3-4: God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved.
2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2) The Critic claims: "God wants some to go to hell"
Proverbs 16:4: The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

So that the justice of God will appear to his glory, even in the destruction of the wicked. ~Geneva Study Bible

"for its answer," or "purpose," that is, according to God's plan; the wicked are for the day of evil (Psalms 49:5, Jeremiah 17:18); sinning and suffering answer to each other, are indissolubly united. ~Jamieson Fausset Brown

John Wesley:
Doth work - He orders or disposes.
For - For his own glory; for the discovery of his wisdom, power, goodness, truth, justice.
The wicked - Wilful and impenitent sinners. Men make themselves wicked, and God therefore makes them miserable.
John 12:40
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
It is of no great moment, whether the he, who is said to blind and harden, be God or Christ, or whether the words be rendered, "it hath blinded"… that is, malice or wickedness; or whether they be read impersonally, "their eyes are blinded"… since God or Christ blind and harden not by any positive act, but by leaving and giving men up to the blindness and hardness of their hearts, and denying them the grace which could only cure them, and which they are not obliged to give; and which was the case of these Jews, so as never to be converted, or be turned even by external repentance and reformation, that they might be healed in a national way, and be preserved from national ruin, as it follows.
~John Gill
The Syriac and Persic versions read, "they have blinded their eyes"
Matthew 13:15: For this people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart: and be converted and I should heal them;
Romans 9:18
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth
But the force of the word is great, for hardening, which is set against "mercy", presupposes the same things that mercy did, that is, a voluntary corruption, in which the reprobate are hardened: and again, corruption presupposes a perfect state of creation. Moreover, this hardening also is voluntary, for God hardens in such a way, being offended with corruption, that he uses their own will whom he hardens, for the executing of that judgment. Then follow the fruits of hardening, that is, unbelief and sin, which are the true and proper causes of the condemnation of the reprobate. Why does he then appoint to destruction? Because he wishes: why does he harden? Because they are corrupt: why does he condemn? Because they are sinners. Where then is unrighteousness? Nay, if he would destroy all after this manner, to whom would he do injury? ~People's New Testament
Therefore hath he mercy.
Verse 15 has shown that he hath mercy according to his own sense of right, not according to any human code. The case of Pharaoh shows, in addition, that whom he will, he hardeneth. "What must not be forgotten, and what appears distinctly, from the whole narrative in Exodus, is that Pharaoh's hardening was at first his own act. Five times it is said of him that he himself hardened, or made heavy his heart (Exod. 7:13; 7:22; 8:15; 8:32; 9:7), before the time when it is at last said that God hardened him (Exod. 9:12), and even after that it is said that he hardened himself (Exod. 9:34). Thus he at first closed his own heart to God's appeals; grew harder by stubborn resistance under God's judgments, until at last God, as a punishment for his obstinate rejection of right, gave him over to his mad folly and took away his judgment." ~People's New Testament

2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.
Jamieson Fausset Brown states:
for this cause - because "they received not the love of the truth." The best safeguard against error is "the love of the truth."
shall send - Greek: "sends," or "is sending"; the "delusion" is already beginning. God judicially sends hardness of heart on those who have rejected the truth, and gives them up in righteous judgment to Satan's delusions (Isaiah 6:9,10'Romans 1:24-26,28'). They first cast off the love of the truth, then God gives them up to Satan's delusions, then they settle down into "believing the lie": an awful climax (1 Kings 22:22,23, Ezekiel 14:9, Job 12:16, Matthew 24:5,11, 1 Timothy 4:1).
strong delusion - Greek: "the powerful working of error," answering to the energizing "working of Satan" (2 Thessalonians 2:9); the same expression as is applied to the Holy Ghost's operation in believers: "powerful" or "effectual (energizing) working" (Ephesians 1:19).
believe a lie - rather: "the lie" which Antichrist tells them, appealing to his miracles as proofs of it. (2 Thessalonians 2:9,12)
they all, damned - rather as Greek: "that all," &c. He here states the general proposition which applies specially to Antichrist's adherents. Not all in the Church of Rome, or other anti-Christian systems, shall be damned, but only "all who believed not the truth," when offered to them, "but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:32, 2:8). Love of unrighteousness being the great obstacle to believing the truth.
John 3:16-21
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever 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 the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's argument:

God wants everyone to go to heaven.
"God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved." 1 Timothy 2:3-4
"The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

God wants some to go to hell.
"The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." Proverbs 16:4
"He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." John 12:40
"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Romans 9:18
"God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned." 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

God ideally wants all to go to Heaven, and to be in fellowship and communion with Him. However, it may be helpful to take a look at the concepts of Free Will and Predestination in light of Proverbs 16:4 and Romans 9:18. Here are my thoughts on the subject, which I have quoted before:

"God operates outside the limits of space and time but has the ability to work inside its framework. Because of this, God can see humanity as it unfolds from its full and complete existence, but He can interact with it anywhere He wants; in fact, there is not a moment where He doesn’t.

God chooses people on a simple capacity or display of faith. To deny this fact would not only contradict certain Scriptures, but not give man a choice of free will as we know it.

Free will is ultimately based on our finite view of the world and the cosmos; we cannot think beyond this framework because of how our minds were created to specifically fit in to this environment. Within these boundaries, we have all the freedom necessary, externally and internally, to make choices based on our desires and judgment. However, because God operates outside this system, He knows and controls how events will unfold, and makes necessary changes as He sees proper. Because we do not have the mind of God in the aforementioned breadth of consciousness, we do not have the necessary facts or ability of reasoning to consider this arrangement which Man finds himself in as fair or unfair.

God foreknows people because He created them; He knows them better than they know themselves. God knows who the elect are because He knows their heart and disposition, as well as how they will handle the trials and tests before them.

From birth, God sets Man in motion as He guides his actions when He sees fit.”

Summarily, mankind makes its own choices, but God oversees and controls all in a way we cannot begin to fully comprehend.

Now, when it comes to “hardening hearts”, God does this after the sinner will not turn from his/her sin, even in the light of the truth of God. This happened with Pharoah, where he hardened his own heart, and then God gave him over to his sin by hardening it more for him. (Exodus 5-14)

Because 2 Thessalonians 2:11 starts with “For this cause”, it is absolutely necessary to look at the preceding verse:

"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” 2Thess:2:10

These verses are from a passage describing the days of the Antichrist, which is today’s generation. It is the same case with the unbelievers now as it was with Pharoah in Egypt: “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” So, God will send them more delusion then they have already indulged in, since they reject His Word.

With John 12:40, we must realize why Isaiah was quoted in this passage. Going back a few verses, we find:

“But though he[Jesus] had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him.” John 12:37

These miracles were done right after the Triumphal Entry, at the Passover just before His death. Therefore, we know that many, many sermons were delivered to the Jews before this time; they knew Jesus’ doctrine by now. Because they rejected it, His Word, God “blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart”-- they had already chosen to move in this direction beforehand.

God wants us all to be with Him, but we have free will to make the choice ourselves. God is not the author of sin(sin is essentially not conforming to God’s wishes or Will), but rather He respects us as autonomous beings here on this Earth. Since God does not want a repeat with us of the defection from His Court by Satan and his angels, He leaves us this life as a test-- even graciously giving us a cancellation of our sin debt if we accept His Son Jesus’ sacrifice and Lordship.