Friday, April 25, 2014

Wovenist Answers, Does God Choose Some For Hell? Pt 1

Today we are answering concern number one, which is, does God arbitrarily choose some to go to Heaven and some to go to Hell?  If God predestines and election is unconditional like a Calvinist says, that means that God just chooses that some will suffer for eternity.  That doesn't sound like a loving God, does it.  Many will also say this doesn't match the character of God being just if He chooses some and condemns others.  What about man's free will, don't we have a say in the matter?

Let's examine the scriptural evidence against this position.  The scriptures flat out say in 2 Peter 3:9 and in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God wants all people to be saved, right?  John 3:16 says Whoever, right?  So it seems pretty case closed, God wants all people to be saved.  If God wants it, but it doesn't happen, it must be left up to man, that seems logical.  This is where many Non-Calvinists land, that Salvation is a work of man, only they wouldn't call it that.  The problem is, we bump into other scriptures.  Many, like Acts 13:48 says that those that are appointed to eternal life, they believed.  Predestination and election are talked about in Romans.  Romans 9 tells us about God choosing Jacob, Abraham and others.  It speaks openly about God being the one who chooses.  Many would argue that it's talking about people groups and not individuals, but if that were the case, and God choose a people group, wouldn't they all be saved?

Romans tells us that if you believe in your heart, you will be saved.  Acts 13:48 shows us that those who are appointed believe.  John 1:13 says those who believe are born from the will of God.  This poses a problem, because if those who are saved are saved by God and through His will, the verses we looked at say that God desires for all men (people) to be saved.  If no one comes to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, what is really going on?  How do we make these passages work together without doing damage to the text?  We can't simply ignore the passages that seem to contradict,
we can't isogete them away either.

First, we need to look at some basic truth and understand that sometimes the Bible contains figures of speech.  For example, the scriptures say that God wants, but that must be a figure of speech.  To want, you must be lacking something that you desire to have.  For God to lack is contrary to Christian theology, God does not have lack.  God does not want, He does not need, He does not lack.  When we see a text that says God wants, we need to understand what it's actually saying.  There is a truth being communicated in a way that is a figure of speech.

Lets look at the couple of examples.  In 1 Timothy 2, we are told to pray for all people, for kings and people in high places.  Christians were the persecuted and the down and outs, but God wants salvation to be available to rich and poor, free and slave, Jew and Greek, male and female.  All people, this isn't expressing a lack, that God wants people to be saved by powerless to do so.  God desires people from all walks of life to be saved, and this is exactly the case.  In 2 Peter chapter 3, we see the same phrase.  This usage is a little different, that God is waiting for all to reach repentance.  Does this mean that God is waiting until everyone is saved before He brings about the end of time?  No, but God knows when the time is complete and when the last man will be saved.  When the last man is saved, there will be completion and the end will come.  No one knows when that day is or who the last man (or woman or child) will be, but God does not want (ie will not) end time until time and salvation is complete.

We are still not any closer to answer our original question, does God choose for some to go to hell?  This is a complicated question, because nothing happens outside of God's control. A sparrow does not fall without His knowledge, Matthew 10:29 says not one falls apart from the Father. God has complete and ultimate control, if God knows that someone will spend eternity in hell, why even create them to begin with? In many ways, there are no answers for either theological side, it is a mystery to humans how a God with infinite love and infinite mercy creates people who He knows will betray Him and spend eternity in Hell. We trust that His ways are perfectly just and all He does is right. Even if they are not predestined, God knows those who will betray Him, as He did with Judas, yet still chooses to allow the tares to grow with the wheat. In the same way, God spared Lucifer, allowing him to roam the earth instead of destroying him at the moment of his fall, condemning him to the pit immediately, or not creating him at all.

Romans 9 gives us a little insight to why God allows some to go un-saved. Whether this is talking about a nation being chosen or an individual, some are allowed to act in opposition to God, never to be saved to show His mercy to those who are being saved, see Romans 9:22 & 23. If it’s individuals or nations, Romans nine tells us that there is a group set apart to be recipients of mercy and those who are set to be recipients of wrath. In the end, those who are on the side of the goats at the day of judgment will bring glory and honor to God, for He showed them patience, but will now show His justice and wrath in the punishment for sin. Does the fact they are condemned make God unjust? Not at all, since we all deserve to be in the place of judgment for our actions, chosen by us and acted out of our desire to do evil. Every one of those who are cast into Hell are cast there because they completely and totally deserve judgment.

So, in final answer to the question, does God choose some to suffer and some to not suffer, the answer in one sense is clearly yes. If God does know all things and know where each person will spend eternity, even if you discount every Calvinist teaching, God still chooses to create people knowing they will reject Him. God chooses to make these people regardless of their choice, giving them the opportunity to live life, to make choices both good and bad. He watches as they reject Him, turn away from His law and embraces sin, knowing this will cause them to spend eternity in hell. He loves them regardless. Those who will reject Christ, those who will never be saved are part of God’s creation, part of what He has given the opportunity at life. They are part of the tapastry that is woven together in creation. They will be part that reveals God’s full character of wrath and his judgement on sin. God allows each human to have life and to choose sin, and each human chooses sin. Each human breaks God’s laws, God allows them the freedom to sin. The question is not then if God chooses for some to go to hell, but does God choose those to spend eternity in Heaven?

In the next post, we will examine what the difference is between the sheep and the goats, why some accepts and some reject.  I hope you'll join me for pt 2.

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