The future


Does God know what will happen in the future?



Does God know what will happen in the future?



Yes. The future is as present to God as the present. The past is present to him as well.

If God did not know the future, then his knowledge would be something capable of being improved, which would be an imperfection.


God is outside of time. So yes He does.


Hi Cecilia,

When Moses asked God His name, God answered Yahweh, which means “I AM”.

To God everything is in the present. So what is future to us is present to Him.

What made you ask the question?



the past, present and future are always in front of God (so to speak).


He does. He still gives us free will to do as we wish during life, just that he knows what we’re going to wish (sounds a bit Big Brotherish doesn’t it!)


Thank you for the replies and sorry for the delay in responding.

Okay, so we are all agreed that God knows the future. So, scenario. Person comits mortal sin, and doesn’t repent or come to confession. But God knows that in about six months the person will realise and come to confession. But before that can happen the person is run over by a bus and dies.

Why does that person go to hell? God knew the person would finally confess, but realises the drunk bus driver just ran him over before he got chance.



If God knows the future he also knows all about the drunken bus driver. In any case, a resolution to go to confession mitigates one’s sins, although I wouldn’t want to risk my salvation for six months on that idea alone, would you? :wink:


Hi. Thanks.
Yes, but even though God knew about the bus driver, He also knew about the change of heart that would occur in the future.

Why would the person who was run over go to hell whereas a person in the same position who wasn’t run over until after he confessed not go to hell. They are the having the same experience?

Thank you. C.


No, they are not having the same experience. No doubt the one who got run over would be getting nudgings from the Holy Spirit to take care of his situation much sooner. Also, an act of perfect contrition removes mortal sins. St. Francis de Sales reassured a woman that her husband, who she knew had commited a mortal sin, had died in the state of grace even though he had jumped to his death from a bridge because as he fell he made a perfect act of contrition.

This is the problem with hypothetical questions–they don’t take into account all the ramifications of reality. It is up to God to judge who goes to hell and who doesn’t, and he is infinitely just and merciful. We can be assured that no one who belongs in heaven ends up in hell.


I feel like I’ve annoyed you with this hypothetical situation. Sorry, but I was just wondering what people thought.

But I still feel like I have a question. I am talking about a person who is in a state of mortal sin and has not confessed, not repented, not made a perfect act of contrition, and suddenly dies. If God knows everything and realises that if the bus driver were not driving in that way, that person would finallly confess, then why does that person go to hell?

Thank you. All the best. C.


You didn’t annoy me. :slight_smile: It’s just that hypothetical questions are made up situations that don’t usually reflect reality. And that is very important to remember when dealing with deep theological questions.

God knows the person will die as a result of being hit by the bus. This does not at all let that person off the hook for maintaining a healthy spiritual life, anymore than a unrepentant smoker would have the right to be angry that he got lung cancer. We are responsible before God for our actions.

He doesn’t do it all for us, we have to respond to his grace or suffer the consequences (and considering his grace is constantly being poured out in the sacraments, we who know better have no excuse).

We are not puppets but free agents with a will of our own. God treats us like we are, so we’d better be careful about presuming upon his mercy as if we can go on mocking him forever without paying for it.


But I still feel like I have a question. I am talking about a person who is in a state of mortal sin and has not confessed, not repented, not made a perfect act of contrition, and suddenly dies. If God knows everything and realises that if the bus driver were not driving in that way, that person would finallly confess, then why does that person go to hell?

There is only one reality. God, being ever present, is aware of all that will happen. Now things that don’t happen, for lack of a better phrase, won’t happen. While I am empathetic to the scenario you put forward it is similar to the question, “Could God make a wall that nothing could go through and a canon ball that nothing could stop and what would happen if they hit each other?” This is a self contradicting statement. The idea of someone without any grace repenting in a future that they don’t have is like asking, “Well I died in a state of grace, but in six months I would’ve committed adultery, killed a man, and kicked my puppy, so where do I go?” It is the things we do that God (who is ever present so even the things in the future for us are the things we “do” to Him) than how we would behave in situations that never arise, that is probably for our benefit too.


A person can only enter Heaven if he has sanctifying grace at the moment of death. Someone who dies in a state of mortal sin does not have sanctifying grace by definition.

If the person dies in mortal sin, regardless of unreal situations (what would have happened if the person had not died, etc.–these are “free will counter-factuals” by the way) he will go to Hell. Why? He is in a state of mortal sin. That is the reality that really is.

If you are asking why God wouldn’t prevent someone from dying if he were in a state of mortal sin, then there are several possible answers.

  1. It could be that God does do this. None of us is able to know that any particular person has died in a state of mortal sin.

  2. It could be that God knows that a given person would never repent under any circumstances.


At a minimum, we know the following things:

  1. God wills that everyone be saved.

  2. No one ever has to commit even a venial sin much less a mortal sin.

  3. Everyone always has the opportunity to repent of sin up until the point of death.

You may want to read up on different theories of how God’s knowledge applies to salvation. Look for information on: Predestination (Be careful to read Catholic theories of predestination), Middle Knowledge, etc.


Realize that your hypothetical situation is exactly that. We have no evidence that God ever allows somebody to die in mortal sin if they would have repented after X days or months or years.

But let me ask, if you were God how would you do it? Would you prevent all these people in mortal sin from dying? Or would you let people in heaven based on what they would have done, not on what they have actually done?

And what about the reverse situation? Suppose a person dies in God’s grace, but God knows that in the future this person would have committed a mortal sin and not repented? Should God send that person to hell for what he would have done, rather than heaven for what he had actually done?


Hi folks,
So, does God already know whether or not I’m going to heaven?


Clearly, based on the discussion so far, he does.

Does that mean you can’t change your destiny? No. If you do change your destiny, God will still know whether or not you’re going to heaven.

I was once told that God’s foreknowledge is such that he knows the outcome of our lives based on the path we choose. He also knows which path we will choose, but he doesn’t put us on that path – it’s not a script that he knows; it’s more like a “choose your own adventure” book. :wink:



The “bus crash” scenario is very interesting and scary to me.
If I had died a few years ago, I would have been damned.

While I am a life-long Catholic, I have committed some grevious mortal sins in the recent past, and I thank God daily that He preserved my life long enough for me to repent and re-affirm my faith and trust in my salvation.

I feel I was very lucky, and I don’t know that I deserve it.
So it goes both ways.

I believe that all of us touch other people in different ways.
Perhaps my God allowing me to live a little longer, I am destined to help someone else achieve salvation. And if I had died in my sin, that perhaps the reason is that had I lived, I may have adversely affected someone else.
So you see, God desires that the maximum number of human beings be saved, and only His all-seeing eyes can see how every single person in the world touches and interacts with every single other one.

Again, though, praise Jesus and God that I am still alive today, and am now committed to doing my best to stay away from sin!


It’s not that God knows what will happen in the future. It’s that the future exists for God every bit as much as our “now”, and the past. It is all fully real and fully present to God.

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