Predestination-Freewill Dyspepsia (P4)
Predestination Decrees

 

This is where many Bible students get all tied up in knots. They read the word predestined in a verse and suddenly the larger Bible goes dark and all they can see and think and feel is that one word. Let's start by understanding a basic governing pattern we see in Scripture: God foreknows, then decrees. Then we will advance the concept and narrow our study specifically to predestination decrees that orbit salvation.


God Foreknows, Then Decrees
 

God foreknows, then decrees. His foreknowledge informs and counsels His decree. The exact Biblical phrase for this administrative pattern is "the counsel of His will". The phrase "the counsel of" refers to the guidance of His own omniscience/omnitemporal knowledge/foreknowledge; the phrase "His will" refers to His authoritative decree as a result (on any matter). The phrase is found in Ephesians 1:11 (ESV): ...who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
    Plenty of scriptures show us this pattern of divine activity. As you read, keep in mind the phrase "His foreknowledge informs and counsels His decree", or the verbatim Biblical rendition, "the counsel of His will".
 

Jeremiah 1:5: Jeremiah
    A simple, straightforward scripture showing this pattern is Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV). Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. God's foreknowledge is seen in the phrase, "before I formed you in the womb I knew you". His resultant decree or will is seen in the phrase, "I appointed you a prophet to the nations". To use Ephesians 1:11's wording, God's omniscience counseled Him to will that Jeremiah be a prophet.

Psalm 139: David
   
In Psalm 139, David writes about God's foreknowledge-to-decree activity. In verses 1-6, he describes, in a most beautiful and intellectual way, God's omniscience. He focuses especially on God's omnitemporality and foreknowledge.
    As we looked at previously, one manifestation of omniscience is omnitemporality, which David describes in verse 5 (ESV): You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. David says God is "behind" him as his rear guard (past time zone), "before" him as the One who goes ahead of him (future time zone), and God's hand lays upon him with covering and power in the here and now (present time zone). God is equally and fully present in all three time zones, which David creatively describes as behind-upon-before.
    We also looked at previously how one manifestation of omnitemporality is foreknowledge, which David uses multiple phrases to describe. In verse 2 he says (ESV), You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. In verse 4 he says, Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O L
ORD, you know it altogether. These are perhaps the clearest and most detailed descriptions of God's foreknowledge in all the Bible.
    In verses 7-12, David describes God's omnipresence. In verses 13-15, he describes God's omnipotence.
    Then suddenly, in verse 16, David comes full circle back to God's foreknowledge and the decrees that flow from it (NKJV): Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. God saw David's substance, "being yet unformed"--before it came into actual existence. God then decreed and wrote down the days fashioned for David (his ideal plan for him, life purposes, vocational destiny, key experiences, etc.), before one of them ever came to be. Can you see the administrative pattern here in verse 16, beginning with all the omni statements in verses 1-15? God omnisciently foreknows, then decrees.

 

Isaiah 49:1-7: Jesus & Paul
    This meaty prophecy is first and foremost about the Messiah. Verses 1-6 list decree after decree after decree about the identity and mission of the Lord Jesus (verses 8 and 9 also). Verse 7 is the foreknowledge passage, describing both the indignities and honors Jesus would experience (ESV): ...to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves..." The pattern continues: God foreknows, then decrees.
    A second layer of this prophecy refers to Paul. In the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch, Paul quoted a piece of this prophecy verbatim (Isaiah 49:6) and said the Lord commanded he and Barnabas from it (Ac 13:47). Additionally, the Lord Jesus Himself said Paul would take "my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel" (9:15 ESV). These three audiences--Gentiles, kings, and Israel--are the three audiences listed in Isaiah 49:5-7 (Israel in verse 5, Gentiles in verse 6, kings in verse 7).
    Regardless of which layer the prophecy is applied to, Messianic or Pauline, the pattern of divine activity is there regarding both: God foreknows, then decrees.

Luke 1:13-17: John the Baptist
    In this well-known passage about the identity and mission of John the Baptist before he was born, Gabriel is speaking directly for God. We might expect, then, to see some semblance of the foreknowledge-to-decree pattern. Read Gabriel's message; it is a rich back-n-forth of foreknowledge and decree, foreknowledge and decree, foreknowledge and decree. The pattern persists: God's foreknows in His omniscient counsels, then decrees authoritative wills accordingly.

Romans 8:29: Born-Again Christians
    Finally we arrive at Romans 8:29, a passage that is either a nuclear power plant (if correctly interpreted) or a radioactive waste zone (if misinterpreted). The passage says (ESV): For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son... Young's Literal Translation words part of it this way: because whom He did foreknow, He also did fore-appoint...
    Is this verse about salvation proper (who gets saved versus who gets reprobated to hell), or something orbital or secondary to salvation? We'll get to that question next. For now, simply notice once again the foreknowledge-to-decree pattern. As Young's Literal words it: He did foreknow, He also did fore-appoint. God foreknows, then decrees. The counsel of His will.


Romans 8:29:
Salvation, Transformation, or Glorification?

 

Now for the question that has led to many aggravated conversations in the body of Christ. What, exactly, does God's predestination decree in Romans 8:29 refer to? Paul said we were predestined "to be conformed to the image of his Son".
    What, then, does "conformed to the image of his Son" refer to? Does it refer to salvation, i.e., our positional conformity to Christ imputed to us at the born-again moment (Heb 10:14)? Does it refer to transformation, i.e., our practical conformity to Christ that we grow into attitudinally and behaviorally as we walk obediently with Him every day (2Co 3:18)? Does it refer to glorification, i.e., our physical conformity to Christ that happens at the end when we are resurrected with a glorified body exactly like His (Php 3:21, 1Jn 3:2)? The New Testament uses "conformed to the image of his Son" in all three ways--positionally, practically, and physically. Therefore, we have to narrow down and pinpoint how the phrase is being used in Romans 8:29. That answer will answer our original question: what does God's predestination decree in Romans 8:29 refer to?

 

The Firstborn Among Many Brothers
    Immediately after saying "predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son", Paul says "in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers". Here is the full verse again with my underline (ESV): For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. The crucial phrase, "in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers", tells us what dimension of "conformed to the image of his Son" Paul is referring to--salvation, transformation, or glorification.

 

The Firstborn from the Dead
   
The Messianic title firstborn is shorthand for firstborn from the dead, referring to the resurrected Lord Jesus and all that comes with His resurrection. Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5 use the full title, firstborn from the dead.
    There were resurrections before Jesus', as in 2Kings 13:21 and Lazarus, but those individuals died again. Jesus was the first to permanently defeat death, raised to never die again. This is one dimension of Jesus' status as firstborn from the dead. A second dimension is, Jesus was the first to be resurrected in the new era, an era that would eventually lead to the end and the restoration of all things (Ac 3:21). Jesus' title firstborn or firstborn from the dead, therefore, refers to His resurrection, permanent defeat of death, glorified body, post-incarnation immortality, inauguration of a new era. Acts 26:23 and 1Corinthians 15:20 present the same truths, but with slightly different wording.
    Consequently, when Paul says the Father wants Jesus to be the firstborn "among many brothers", he is referring to believers who will also experience a physical resurrection, a new glorified body, a sinless immortality. Jesus is the older brother and firstborn, He went first into resurrection glory, we are the younger siblings, we are next for resurrection glory. Hebrews 2:10-11 say this precisely (NIV, underline mine): In bringing many sons and daughters to glory...are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. God is bringing many sons and daughters to a future glory. The Biblical word for this is glorification. It happens at the end, at the return of Christ.
    Romans 8:29's predestination decree, then, has nothing to do with who gets selected for heaven and who gets reprobated for hell. It is referring to our physical conformity to Christ at His return--physical resurrection, a new glorified body, a sinless immortality--that the firstborn from the dead might actualize as firstborn among many brothers. He is the firstborn from the dead now, but on that Day, when all the sons and daughters are brought to that same glory, He will be the firstborn among many brothers in actuality and substance, not merely in spirit.
    Romans 8:30 confirms this, laying out the ultimate endgoal of God's total salvific work: glorification. Paul writes (ESV, underline mine), And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The larger context of Romans 8:29 also confirms this.
 

Glorification in Romans 8
    Earlier in Romans 8 Paul sets the context on glorification. In verse 17 he writes (ESV, underline mine), and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. This verse sets a new context on glorification, gear-shifting away from the previous context on living by the Spirit (v1-16).
    In verses 18-25, Paul goes into detail about the future glorification of the born-again. He mentions the glory that shall be revealed to us and in us (v18). He mentions all of creation is waiting and groaning for that Day (v19-22). He calls it "the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (v21 ESV, NASB). He refers to that moment "as the redemption of our bodies" and "the adoption" (v23). He says were saved in this hope, the hope of glorification (v24), and to wait for it patiently (v25).
    After a few verses on the Holy Spirit's help (v26-28), Paul comes back to and continues the context on glorification (v29), but with new terminology. In verse 29 he calls it "conformed to the image of his Son" so that He might be "the firstborn among many brothers". He brings the entire context full circle and finishes with the same term he started the context with: "glorified" (v30 and v17).

 

Other Scriptures on the Future Glory, Physical Conformity to the Son
   
Here are some of the wider New Testament verses on glorification. Romans 5:2 (ESV, underline mine): Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Same language as Romans 8:24,25; we were saved in the hope of glorification and wait for it patiently. Colossians 1:27: ...Christ in you, the hope of glory. Same language, same idea. The indwelling Presence now is a deposit or guarantee of future glorification (2Corinthians 5:1-5 is fantastic passage on this; see especially verse 5). In Philippians 3:21 Paul uses the same "conformed to the Son" language as Romans 8:29 (NKJV): who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body... And 1John 3:2 (ESV, underline mine): Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. When He appears at His return we shall be like Him.
    1Corinthians 15 is an in-depth sermonette about the coming glorification, the resurrection, the new glorified body, and sinless immortality. See especially verse 49 onward for the most definitive terms. Verse 49, like the aforementioned verses, also describe our being conformed to the Son physically (ESV): Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. And verse 52,53: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

 

Other Language Used to Describe the Future Glory, Physical Conformity to the Son
   
H

saved people predestined to inheritance, redemp of body 2co 5:1-5, eph 1:13-14 HS guarantee, deposit of glorification. "adoption" false friend word, homophone ex: "bodily exercise profits little"

 

Summary & Conclusion
    
We began this section by asking, What, exactly, does God's predestination decree in Romans 8:29 refer to? Paul said we were predestined "to be conformed to the image of his Son". What does "conformed to the image of his Son" refer to? Does it refer to salvation, i.e., our positional conformity to Christ imputed to us at the born-again moment (Heb 10:14)? Does it refer to transformation, i.e., our practical conformity to Christ that we grow into as we walk intimately and obediently with Him every day (2Co 3:18)? Does it refer to glorification, i.e., our physical conformity to Christ that happens at the end when we are given a glorified body exactly like His (Php 3:21)? The New Testament uses "conformed to the image of his Son" in all three ways--positionally, practically, and physically. Therefore, we had to narrow down and pinpoint how the phrase is being used in Romans 8:29. That answer answers our original question: what does God's predestination decree in Romans 8:29 refer to?
    
Romans 8:17 begins a context about glorification that runs consistently until verse 30. Paul says much about glorification in this context, using a variety of synonymous terms and phrases: "heirs", "glorified with him", "the glory that shall be revealed in us", "the freedom of the glory of the children of God", "the adoption", and "the redemption of our bodies". When we get to verse 29, Paul picks up where he left off and adds more synonyms to glorification: "conformed to the image of his Son" and "firstborn among many brothers". He ends the context at verse 30 by using the original word he started the context with in verse 17: "glorified".
    Romans 8:29's predestination decree, therefore, is not at all about who gets selected for heaven and hell. It is referring to our physical conformity to Christ at His return--physical resurrection, new glorified body, sinless immortality--that the firstborn from the dead can actualize as the firstborn among many brothers. He is the firstborn from the dead now, but on that Day, when all the sons and daughters are brought to that same glory, He will be the firstborn among many brothers in actuality and substance, not merely in spirit.

 

God foreknows, then decrees. What did He foreknow that led Him to decree the future glorification of believers?
    The answer is simple and beautiful. Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 15:50 (ESV), I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. God foreknew that His beloved children could not inherit the visible, tangible, fully present kingdom of God in perishable, corruptible flesh-n-blood bodies. He foreknew, or knew in advance, that we would need bodies compatible with a sinless transphysical kingdom. And from that omniscient foreknowledge, He decreed a new kind of future body for us--a sinless, glorified, immortal, transphysical body exactly like Jesus' resurrection body. God foreknows, then decrees.


Predestination Decrees & Salvation
 

If Romans 8:29's predestination decree is about future glorification and our need for it, what else does God decree regarding salvation? Does He decree who will be saved and who will be reprobated to an object of wrath?
 

Handpicked for Heaven, Handpicked for Hell?
    Let me be utterly clear: I absolutely, emphatically do not believe God's Word teaches that He handpicks individuals for heaven and handpicks individuals for hell (directly or by a default "passing over" them). Hardline predestinarians point to several scriptures that allegedly say this. Some of those scriptures, on the surface, sound like they are saying this, especially to readers preloaded with Calvinist assumptions. However, with rigorous, assumption-free, heart humble study, one will learn that Scripture is not teaching what these hardliners allege.
    I devote the final chapter to the theological and logical insurmountable flaws of hardline predestinationism, predeterminism, and full Calvinism. I address several of those scriptures there.
    What, then, does God decree regarding a person's salvation? Scripture shows us at least three predestination decrees orbiting a person's salvation.

 

He decrees a person's opportunity to be saved.
    
God does not make a person's salvation choice for them, however, He does issue a predestination decree that they will be given opportunity to know Him. Psalm 50:1 says (ESV), The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. This is a remarkable scripture. It says God speaks to and summons (decrees to) all of humanity, "from the rising of the sun to its setting". An identical scripture, but worded differently, is John 1:9 (ESV): The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
    Those salvific speakings and summonings and enlightenings and opportunities can come in a variety of forms, like nature's revelatory metaphors (Job 12:7-9, Ps 19:1-5, Ro 1:19,20), God's law in the heart and conscience (Ro 2:15), preachers and witnesses (Isa 43:10-12, Ac 1:8), even a visit from the Lord Himself (Ac 9:1-5), or whatever other way He might choose. However the opportunity comes, Psalm 50:1 says a decree has been sent out to the entire earth predestinating their drawing, enlightening, calling, and chance to know Him.

 

If God foreknows a person will follow in the way of Abraham unto salvation (see chapter 3, Omnitemporality & Foreknowledge), He decrees their choice will become a real event in real-time.
    This one is a complex mind-bender, so follow along closely.
    Scripture says only God can create literal reality out of nothing, and His creative process begins with decrees. Romans 4:17 is especially specific on this (ESV): ...calls into existence the things that do not exist. The following scriptures continue the theme, telling us in various ways that God has to be the one to authorize and decree and create reality into literal existence. Romans 11:36 says (ESV), For from him and through him and to him are all things... John 1:3 says (ESV), All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Colossians 1:16 says (ESV), For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. Not only does He have to authorize and decree and create reality into literal existence, He also has to uphold it and sustain it once it is in existence. Colossians 1:17 says (ESV), ...and in him all things hold together. Hebrews 1:3 says (NASB), ...upholds all things by the word of His power... Acts 17:28 says (NKJV): for in Him we live and move and have our being...
   
Now superimpose all those verses on top of the subject of salvation. Even if your freewill choice is Yes to Jesus, God still has to issue a predestination decree to bring that freewill choice into literal existence in real-time. Why? Because only He can create the reality architecture out of nothing so that freewill choice, and everything leading up to it, can come into existence. Notice especially Romans 4:17 and Colossians 1:16.
    Romans 4:17. He has to call into existence the things that do not exist. Your freewill choice is genuinely your choice, but who will create and sustain the reality architecture so that you are even successfully born?! Do you realize how many things could have gone wrong before you even made it to the nursery, much less to the salvation moment?! God foreknows, then decrees. He foreknew you omnitemporally, then decreed that your choice would become a real event in real-time.
    Colossians 1:16 says it like this. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. This verse is like the light of seven suns. "By Him all things were created...all things were created through Him and for Him"--that means He had create or bring into existence our choice to be saved. It was our choice, certainly, but God had to translate that choice from the eternal realms of omniscience and omnitemporality into a real event in real-time on earth. Only He can do that. Thus, His predestination decree does not make the choice for you, it makes your choice an existential reality in real-time on earth.

The next chapter will discuss and develop this truth even more. 

 

He decrees a person's vocational calling for them to discover and fulfill once they have been saved.
    This is the probably the easiest predestination decree to understand. Ephesians 2:10 speaks easily for itself (ESV): For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. This verse is conceptually identical to Psalm 139:16 (ESV): Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. God foreknows how we should best serve His kingdom, and formulates, prepares, writes, decrees, and predestines that vocational plan for us. 


Recap
 

God foreknows, then decrees. His foreknowledge informs and counsels His decree. The exact Biblical phrase for this administrative pattern is "the counsel of His will". The phrase "the counsel of" refers to the guidance of His own omniscience/omnitemporal knowledge/foreknowledge; the phrase "His will" refers to His authoritative decree as a result (on any matter). The phrase is found in Ephesians 1:11 (ESV): ...who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
    
God foreknew that His beloved children could not inherit the visible, tangible, fully present kingdom of God in perishable, corruptible flesh-n-blood bodies (1Co 15:50). He foreknew, or knew in advance, that we would need bodies compatible with a sinless transphysical kingdom. And from that omniscient foreknowledge, He decreed a new kind of future body for us--a sinless, glorified, immortal, transphysical body exactly like Jesus' resurrection body. This truth is the theological substructure beneath Romans 8:17-30, especially verse 29.
    God foreknows, then decrees. Romans 8:29's predestination decree, therefore, is not at all about who gets selected for heaven and who gets reprobated to hell. It is referring to our physical conformity to Christ at His return--physical resurrection, new glorified body, sinless immortality--that the firstborn from the dead can actualize as the firstborn among many brothers. He is the firstborn from the dead now, but on that Day, when all the sons and daughters are brought to that same glory, He will be the firstborn among many brothers in actuality and substance, not merely in spirit.
    God omnisciently foreknows, then issues predestination decrees on at least three aspects of a person's salvation: (1) their salvation opportunity, (2) the creation and translation of their freewill salvation choice from the eternal realms of omniscience and omnitemporality into a real event in real-time on earth, and (3) their vocational calling post-salvation.


Does God's Foreknowledge Always Lead to a Decree?
 

Absolute predestinarians say God's foreknowledge always produces a decree, i.e., that He is the ultimate causation of all things, including Adam's fall, the sin and evil present in the cosmos, and every sinner who says No to salvation. Satan, demons, and humanity are identified as "secondary causes" or "instrumentalized causes" or merely proxies of God's meticulous sovereignty.
    That opinion traces back to what we discussed in Chapter 2 on God's sovereignty: whether He expresses that sovereignty meticulously as a micromanager, decreeing and controlling all things in the most totalizing sense, or, whether He expresses that sovereignty selectively and with restraint, choosing with discretion what aspects of reality and moments on earth He will micromanage. Please refer there for a fuller analysis of this subject. In this section I will simply show scriptures in which God's foreknowledge did not lead to a micromanagerial decree, but rather, God restrained Himself and allowed human choices to play out organically.

 

David at Keilah
    When David was hiding in Keilah, God gave him lifesaving intel about the immediate future. Notice, however, God did not tell David what to do or decree an outcome sovereignly. He restrained Himself and let David decide what to do (which was pretty common sense if he wanted to survive). In 1Samuel 23:10-13 (paraphrased), David asked, "Will Saul come to Keilah to search for me?" God said, "He will." David then asked, "Will the people of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?" God said, "They will." So David and men left Keilah. God dialogued with David and gave him intel to survive, but did not assert His sovereignty by decreeing an outcome.

 

"Which I Did Not Command, Nor Did It Enter My Mind"
    Jeremiah contains four statements from God that explicitly, definitively declare that God did not and does not decree every last detail of every single thing--especially sin. Note the underlined portions.
    Jeremiah 7:31 (NKJV): And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.
    19:5: (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind).
    23:32: "Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams," says the L
ORD, "and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them..."
    32:35: And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
    These statements from God Himself obliterate the idea of absolute, totalizing predestination in which He is the ultimate metaphysical causation of every last detail of every single thing, including sin and evil. There are several more scriptures in this category of "Which I Did Not Command, Nor Did It Enter My Mind".
    God says in Isaiah 10:1 (NKJV): Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortune, which they have prescribed.
    
This verse is especially damning to the Calvinist bifurcated model of God's will, which claims God has a preceptive will (His ideal will revealed, if the world were perfect) and a decretive will (what He actually decrees to happen, regardless of His preceptive/ideal/moral will, even if that decree is for sin and evil to happen). I call this phenomenally silly model God's "press conference will" (what He says publicly to virtue-signal) and His "situation room will" (what He is actually ordering in secret). In Isaiah 10:1, however, God sharply condemns the decreeing, writing, or prescribing of anything unrighteous. What a head-splitting case of schizophrenia for God to turn around and do those very things.
    Isaiah 30:1 continues with the same theme. He explicitly distances Himself from any involvement in Israel's alliance with Egpyt (NKJV): "Woe to the rebellious children," says the L
ORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin."
    In the New Testament, Paul hovers over this same theme in Galatians 5:7,8 (ESV): You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
    God is the ultimate causation of every last detail of every single thing? Paul says No. "This persuasion" causing the Galatians to backslide from grace back into law "is not from him who calls you". As you can see so far, there are many things God did/does not command, nor did/does it even enter His mind.

 

Hell
    Matthew 25:41 (ESV, underline mine) says, "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
    
Hell was created for Satan and his demons, not people. Simple proof God never planned or decreed for humans go to hell. They send themselves there by rejecting Jesus.

 

What About? Verses
    What about 2Samuel 24:1? Or "the evil spirit sent from the Lord" upon Saul in 1Samuel 16:14,23, 18:10? Surely these verses and others like them, absolute predestinarians say, show God is the ultimate, meticulous causation of all things, including sin and evil.
    2Samuel 24:1 says (NKJV), Again the anger of the L
ORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." In verse 10 David realizes he sinned greatly by taking the census, and shortly thereafter, God punishes him and Israel for it. 1Chronicles 21:1, describing the same event, says (NKJV), Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. Did God or Satan incite David? Or is there another explanation the English translations fail or struggle to convey?
    James 1:13 tells us God never tempts anyone to sin or evil. We can, therefore, eliminate any interpretation of 2Samuel 24:1 that proposes God caused David to sin, ultimately or indirectly.
    By studying the Hebrew underneath 2Samuel 24:1 and 1Chronicles 21:1 we arrive at the simple truth of what the writer was trying to say.
    In 2Samuel 24:1, most of the English translations say "he" (God) incited David to number the people. However, curiously, some translations do not. The NASB 1977 and NASB 1995 say "it" incited David to number the people. Some translations use neither "he" nor "it" nor any pronoun, like the Douay-Rheims: And the anger of the Lord was again kindled against Israel, and stirred up David among them, saying: Go, number Israel and Juda. Discombobulating things even more, two literal translations, The Literal Standard Version (LSV) and Young's Literal Translation (YLT), use "an adversary" instead of he, it, or any other pronoun. The LSV: And the anger of YHWH adds to burn against Israel, and [an adversary] moves David about them, saying, "Go, number Israel and Judah." The YLT: And the anger of Jehovah addeth to burn against Israel, and an adversary moveth David about them, saying, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.' The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Brenton Septuagint, does the same: And the Lord caused his anger to burn forth again in Israel, and Satan stirred up David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Juda. What does the Hebrew underneath 2Samuel 24:1 really say?
    The reason for the divergent translations--"he" versus "it" versus nothing at all versus "an adversary"--is because, in the Hebrew, there is no subject for the word "incited". Amazingly, in the Hebrew, we are never told exactly who or what incited David! The translators adding "he" or "it" or "an adversary" are simply trying to make sense of a verse that contains no subject for the verb "incited".
    The translations that add "he" are assuming it was God or His anger that incited David. But James 1:13 rules this out immediately and completely.
    The translations that add "it" open up the possibilities. "It" could mean an unhealthy attitude or ambition inside David; his sudden recognition of the sinfulness of what he had done (v10) would support that possibility. "It" could mean an evil spirit or Satan. "It" could even mean bad counsel from a shady advisor. The weakness of all these possibilities, once again, is because "it" is not in the Hebrew.
    The Douay-Rheims comes the closest to the original Hebrew, just leaving it as it is, no "he" or "it" or "an adversary": And the anger of the Lord was again kindled against Israel, and stirred up David among them, saying: Go, number Israel and Juda.
    We are not told in the Hebrew what incited David in 2Samuel 24:1. Perhaps this is the reason 1Chronicles 21:1 tells us so explicitly that it was Satan who incited David. But even 1Chronicles 21:1 needs to be looked at beyond the English, into the Hebrew. Specifically, we need to look into the word Satan.
    The Hebrew word satan simply means adversary. It is used to refer to the angel of the L
ORD opposing Balaam (Nu
mbers 22:22,32). It is used to refer to human enemies or contrary individuals (2Sam 19:22, 1Ki 11:14,23).


When the adversary, the enemy of mankind, is meant, the word takes the article, which it has not here.The “adversary” (the meaning of the word Satan) mentioned in 1 Chronicles could be someone other than the devil; it could have been an unnamed counselor to David who prompted him into a foolish (or sinful) action. 2Sam 19:22 sons of Zeruiah satan in Hebrew; When the adversary, the enemy of mankind, is meant, the word takes the article, which it has not here.

self-congratulation, self-reliance? collect a bunch of money from the money? assess the fighting number for a military expansion campaign God has not ordered, wanting more beyond God's territorial boundaries for Israel? Likely one reason because 2Sam 24:2,9. no indication that David sought God before undertaking the census David had moments of headstrong narcissism before 1Sam 25, Bathsheba Uriah  second reason Exodus 30:11-16 David did not follow these instructions   also Exodus 38:25-26; Numbers 31:48-54
God's command was morally neutral, "Go count all the citizens." What God knew was that David would not do it the way Exodus 30 commanded, squeezing David's own heart and character issues to the surface, resulting in a multilevel judgment on Israel and David. Regarding Israel, the judgment was

2Samuel 24:1 and 1Chronicles 21:1 are puzzle pieces telling the same story. Each verse alone only tells part of the story, only one dimension of it. The author of 2 Samuel (probably the prophets Nathan or Gad) chose to view this whole affair in the ultimate sense of God being in control of all things, while the author of 1 Chronicles (probably Ezra) wanted to showcase the satanic plot and how God used this as a tool for judgment. 
the devil is God's devil. Other stories with the same dynamic: Job 1 and 2, Luke 22:31, 1Co 5, 2Co 12:7-10
When God and Satan's core strategy both converge on one person   

or other examples of God permitting temptation and it being ascribed to Him, see 2 Samuel 16:7–13; 1 Kings 22:20–23; Psalm 105:24–25

It should be noted that when God has a plan in mind, He will sometimes allow Satan and his demons to do things they want to do (e.g., lie and cause disaster and death), while actually they are working the will of God (who wanted to punish Israel for their idolatry and wickedness)

It is not surprising that the anger of the Lord was directed against Israel at this time: there certainly was cause enough for it. They were ungrateful for the blessings of David’s government, and strangely drawn in to take part in rebellion against David with Absalom first (2 Samuel 15:1–12) and afterwards with Sheba the son of Bichri (2 Samuel 20:1–2). The armies of Israel and Judah had constant strife between their commanders, and Joab proved to be a cold-blooded murderer on several occasions (2 Samuel 3:27, 18:14, 20:10). We have reason to think that their peace from outside enemies and the prosperity of the land under David’s rule had made them secure and sensual, and that God was therefore displeased with them. Remember that God brought a famine upon the nation for the sin of Saul’s house (2 Samuel 21:1

"This sin is repeated today when churches rely on marketing and salesmanship to gain success. There is nothing wrong with prudent surveys about how the church may better serve its people, or how practical matters may be improved. But when the church takes surveys of felt needs and desires so as to identify consumers and convert them into customers—paying customers, of course—by redesigning its worship and message, then, like David in his census, the church repudiates its reliance on God, places its own prowess in the place of his provision, denies the gospel by implication, and angers God so that he judges it and allows it to spiritually wither. This is, in my view, the very thing the church in America is suffering from today." By Rick Phillips. © 2022 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org


Next Chapter: Pre-Salvation Grace
 

Let's continue on the salvation sequence. What happens next, after predestination decrees, on the way to the salvation moment? Fast forward to our mother's womb...God goes to work in our life with what we could call "presalvation grace".