Reprobation: Does God elect people to hell?

The doctrine of “reprobation” is the teaching that God is sovereign not only over those who will come to eternal life, but also over those that will resurrect to eternal death (John 5:29). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines reprobation as “The act by which God condemns sinners to eternal punishment.”
The concept of reprobation is biblical, and the actual word is used in a few places (Psalm 15:4, 1 Cor 9:27, 2 Cor 13:5-7).  The doctrine of reprobation is best understood in contrast with the doctrine of election.  Thus the discussion of the nature of reprobation is usually had by those who already believe in election—that God chose which individuals he will save before the foundation of time. And any consideration of reprobation leads to this question: “Does God predestine people to hell?”
In other words: is reprobation like election in every way except the destination? If God chooses some for heaven before they are born, then does he also choose the rest for damnation before they are born? These answers require nuance.  
First, God does indeed choose individuals whom he will save before they are born. He does not choose every individual, but rather he chooses only some. Thus unlike reprobation, election is limited. Election by its nature does not apply to everyone, but rather only the chosen are called the elect (Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Rom 8:33).
Not only is election limited, but it is also positive. God’s elect will have their justice (Luke 18:7), and no angel or demon can bring a charge against them because Christ is for them (Rom 8:33). So it is wrong to see election as dual, as in “some are elected to life, and others are elected to death.” In fact, we don’t even use the word “election” that way in English. You would say “President Trump was elected to office,” but you wouldn’t say “Secretary Clinton was elected to defeat.” That’s not what the word means.
Thus it is not appropriate to say “God elects people to hell.” But, what if we pair reprobation with predestination? Is it right to say that reprobation is the other side of predestination?
Like election, predestination is used in the Bible with positive connotations. Ephesians 1 describes us as being “predestined to adoption,” and then later as “having been predestined according to his purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:5, 11). Romans 8:30 declares that “those whom he predestined, he also called.” Clearly in those verses, predestination is spoken of positively, not negatively.
Even the most negative use of predestination in the Bible—Acts 4:28, which says that Jesus was crucified according to God’s predestined purpose—highlights that in an extreme evil, God was still at work for his glory and our good.
Thus we wouldn’t say that “God predestined people to hell” at the very least because the Bible doesn’t say it that way. The Bible says that God predestines people to heaven, and elects them for salvation, but it never turns those phrases on their heads.
The reason those terms are one-way streets is because they highlight God’s grace, as opposed to man’s effort. Salvation comes from grace, and it is not of works lest any man should boast. So for anyone to be saved, it must be because of God’s electing purpose.
In contrast, hell is not described as the result of God’s electing purposes, but always as the result of our works. People go to heaven because of grace, and they go to hell because of their sin. Thus election is in light of God’s predestined plan, but reprobation is in light of our works.
To use an analogy, if you go into a grocery store at 9:59 pm, and you choose one apple to buy, and the store will throw the rest away at 10 pm, you know that those apples which you do not choose will be thrown away. Nevertheless, your act of not choosing them is not causal—you chose one for salvation, but it is not right to say that you chose the others for destruction. They are destroyed because they are expired, not because of your choice.
At the same time, it must also be said that God is fully aware of the outcome of a person’s life before he gives them life. The limitation of the apple analogy is that God knows whom he did not choose before he makes them, and yet he makes them anyway. We see this described in Revelation 13:8 and 17:8, both of which say that people worship the anti-christ because “their names were not written from the foundation of the world in the Lamb’s book of life.”
You see the nuance here. God was aware their names were not written in the book of life, and he created them anyway. Still, note the passive nature of this (“their names were not written”) as opposed to the active nature of election (“their names were written in the book of life,” Rev 21:27).
To be clear: God makes people whom he knows he will not save, and yet he still creates them and gives them life so that they can use their life for his glory even in their rebellion (Rom 9:17). This is the doctrine of reprobation.
The most helpful passage describing this is Romans 9:22-23, where Paul asks:
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory…
Here we see that both election and reprobation happen “beforehand.” But behind the parallel English words is this truth—in Greek, the “prepared beforehand” in reference to those who will be destroyed is passive (cf. Rev 13:8), and the “prepared beforehand” in reference to election is active (cf. Rev 21:27).
So election and reprobation both occur before creation, and both are based on God’s plan to display his glory in the creation and through the lives of his creatures. Yet they are not equal, and they are not opposites. Election is the rescuing of a person from their works, and reprobation is confirming someone in their works. Election is saving and active, reprobation is damning and passive. Election and reprobation are not akin to divine Duck-Duck-Goose.
The doctrine of reprobation is true, but it is not the same as the doctrine of election. The Bible does teach that God is sovereign over salvation, and God forms a soul for its destiny, but this does not teach “double-predestination,” nor does reprobation imply that.

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