Monday, April 28, 2014

Wovenist Answers, Does God Choose Some For Hell Pt 3

In the last post, we posed more problems than solutions, but today I want to try to tackle the solutions to our issue. We have this conflict, the scripture seems to communicate an idea of God choosing, God ordaining and even predestining some for heaven, and by the same nature, some for hell. We know that God is love and God loves people, so how does He work this? Is God neutral or passive in salvation, just allowing man to choose or not to choose? Even if He does, we are still stuck with a God who created people who He knows will reject Him. No matter how we slice it, God chooses for some to go to hell, either actively or passively. Eternity is in God's hands, so how do we deal with these seemingly contradictory facts?

The aspect in which everything hinges is time. The way we view time and the way we have begun to limit God in time has caused most of our issues. We assume that God experiences time as we do, linear and progressive. We say that God sees the future and God knows the future, but those statements are incorrect. For God, there is no future. God exists in every time period at the same time, and is able to be, act and move in all time periods. To say that God predestined is only true from human perspective, from where God sits, we are predestined, justified, glorified all at the same moment. God exists in this eternal nature and there is only now for God. Before we continue, let me explain how I know God must be outside of time.

First, imagine a river flowing. Every river has a starting place. Now, a boat is going to begin floating the river and it will begin at the beginning. There must be a place to begin if the boat is going to make progress down the river. Now, let's imagine the river never had a beginning, it is eternal. If this is the case and the boat has to start at the beginning of the river to move forward, would it ever make progress? There would be no place for the boat to begin to make progress down stream. If God is inside time, then when would He begin to move forward? Either time had a beginning or God had a beginning, but not both. I believe that God is eternal and never had a beginning, which means time is subject to God. God is not subject to time.

So, God exists outside of time and has orchestrated all of time. He created man, was at the fall, created the nation of Israel, brought Christ, crucified and resurrected Christ, began the church, called forth those in salvation, justified and sanctified them all outside of time. Everything happened in His plan, He put together the good and salvation, He stayed His hand and allowed evil to happen, He let blessings and curses all happen in His creation for His purpose. Everything is put together to make this picture we call life. Nothing happens that is not part of His will and His purpose, and He is completely just in everything He does. Every atheist who rejects Him, every Muslim and Hindu they are all part of the world that He laid out and orchestrate and it's the best it can possibly be. Every sinner that goes to hell does so because that is the best plan for His glory and for creation. I don't understand it, but I don't have too. It's all part of the tapestry that is woven together, and it fits perfectly. We can doubt it, we can argue with it, we can hate it, but it's scriptural and it's a reality. People are predestined not because of what they did and didn't do, but because of who they are and how they fit into this plan. Each person who goes to hell does so because they 100% deserve to go to hell, and there is no other option for them. Even if God didn't predestine or ordain them, they would still choose to go to hell, because that is who they are. There is no “going to be” or “they did because” to argue. In this perspective of God, people just are. There is no past or future, they just are who they are. Sinners are sinners, saints are saints, there is no changing or becoming or choosing from God's point of view, they just are. They get to choose and they choose to be who they are, God makes them who they are, they are predestined because of who they are, it just is.

This is a difficult thing to understand for us, because things are always changing for us. Time moves, people change, we can change our mind, change our bodies, change jobs and locations and all sorts of things. We change. To an eternal, timeless God, we do not change. We just are, and it's final. If you are saved, you have always been saved and you will always be saved when you see who you are outside of time. The progress is meaningless in eternity, it just is. I have no doubt that many who are very concrete will reject this premise because it's so contrary to the way we think. We want to think “everyone has an opportunity to change” and that is true inside of time. Outside of time, that change is already done, already accounted for, they already are.

Let's use a very imperfect example. In the original Star Wars movies, we see Luke Skywalker, he begins as a farm boy. He becomes a pilot, a rebel, a student and in the Return of the Jedi, he finally becomes a Jedi. If you buy the action figure from Return of the Jedi, Luke is already a Jedi. All the choices he made, all the things he does, even if you have never seen the movies are complete in that action figure. He already is who he is. If you want the movies, he goes through the process, he learns and makes mistakes and makes choices and stumbles and changes and finally reaches his goal. The journey is not less of a journey, it's not less important, Luke becomes who he is, but the end is the end, he is a Jedi. Watch the movie 100 times, Luke will always become a Jedi. It's an imperfect analogy, but work with me.

So, the choices and all the things we do inside time, they matter. The choices we make, the things we do, the story is being written inside time. We can't interact with God outside of time, but God loves us, so He comes to us inside time. He talks with us, we pray and praise and fellowship and have communion with God. He loves us inside time and makes Himself available to us. We have opportunity to choose and to act and react. We take this journey that is shaping who we are. When we are inside time, the future is not written. Outside of time, God is already there, but inside time, we are not. We still have opportunity to share our faith. We can plead with sinners, we can share the gospel, and it will have an impact. There is still power in the word, we pray that God will change people's hearts. We have will and choice and evangelism is real and powerful and wonderful. Time is changing and we can work to make the future, inside time, it's not written.

I know that many of you are going to say “that doesn't make sense, if God already knows and already sees, how can we change anything”. It's not that we don't choose outside of time, it's simply that we have already chosen. If you take a trip into the future, you will find your future self who have already made choices and already come to the consequences either good or bad. That doesn't make the choices any less important, or change your ability to make those choices, it just means they are in the past for your future self. God is the ultimate future self, what He sees is what we haven't done yet. He will see what we choose to do now, and because it's already fixed from His vantage point doesn't make it any less meaningful for us. God has put us on the perfect path in the perfect place at the perfect time, but the choices we make are still meaningful.

Inside and outside time, it's a hard concept, and an even harder one to try to explain in a blog. I could write (and have and probably will) pages and pages of Biblical examples of how this works. Let me give you a few quickly. When God was going to destroy Israel and make a great nation from Moses, Moses pleads with God, and God changed His mind. The Bible states elsewhere that God doesn't change, so He doesn't change His mind. So, did the Bible lie when it said God changed His mind, or when it says He doesn't change His mind? Neither, God is fully capable of acting with Moses inside of time in a temporal way and change His mind, while eternally, in His eternal nature He doesn't change or change His mind. Time and time again, we see this happen. The most incredible expression of God inside and outside time is Christ praying to the Father for the cup to pass from Him. God the Son asking the Father to change His will, but them submitting to His will. This is God inside and outside of time. It's a complex issue and it's hard to fathom, but it's something that brings together all the concepts of scripture, weaving a complex nature of a complex God in the complexity of creation for something as complex as salvation. It's simply beautiful.

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