There has been a lot of talk around the internet lately about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. I have not read the book, and fortunately, this post is not about the book. It’s about him being called a Universalist. In his promotional video for his new book, he asks the question, “How could a God who loves send people to hell?”
We as Christians cry foul because we do not want to think about our God casting people into hell for any reason. Yet, we somehow live with the idea there are those who are perishing and spending eternity separated from God. Yet we rectify this tragedy by saying it is we who have made our choice. It is humanity who has chosen to neglect God and therefore chosen to spend eternity separated from him. And, so we deny Universalism and deny anyone who claim this as true.
However, I have been slowly coming to the realization you either believe in Universalism or Calvinism, namely the the predestination of the Elect, or you do not believe in the absolute sovereignty of God.
We like to deny the existence of the Elect because we have a hard time reconciling the fact God would choose some and not others. For some reason we have this idea of a long line of people standing at the doors of heaven begging to God for passage into the great city and God is sitting on the judgment seat choosing some and looking other people in the eye who are banging on the door and telling them they have been cast away.
Yes, this is not a God of love. This is not a God who I want to follow. But, I am here to challenge this view of God.
The reality is this, there is nothing good in us. We are inherently evil and because of this we only have one choice to make and that is to flee the beauty of the Creator. The only choice an evil person can make is to do that which is evil. Our choice was made by Adam when he broke the perfect relationship between man and Creator and as such, the only option we have to make is sin. Separation. Evil. We have already chosen hell and God in his goodness and in a perfect demonstration of love decided to reach out of heaven and pluck us from the destruction we have already chosen. Why? Because he loves us.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will…
There is so much to unpack in the verse but know this, those he called, he loved. Those he elected, he did because he loves. Not because he is a wrathful God choosing some and not choosing others. No, he is God full of love who is reaching out of Heaven and grabbing us who are surely bound to destruction and is calling us ever towards adoption as sons; towards salvation.
Now in the face of God’s sovereignty I ask the question does man have a free will. I believe so, but our only choice is to sin. Because of the broken fellowship between God and man we can only choose evil and cannot choose salvation save for God choosing us.
Am I to assume, if man has freewill, the power of the Gospel can only penetrate some hearts and others are so hard the Gospel falls short of drawing them to salvation? Absolutely not! God is sovereign. No man, once brought into the presence of the Holy Spirit, can surely withstand the free gift of grace.
…and all who were who were appointed for eternal life believed.
You see, all who were called before time will surely believe.
So, God came to save everyone or only those who he had previously chosen. I personally believe there are many who have been chosen by God and some will surely perish (like Pharaoh who was a vessel fitted for destruction). And in believing God came to save some, I believe in a God who truly saves, truly redeems, and truly overcame the grave. If God came to save all, would not all be saved? Is God sovereign? If he did indeed come to save all and yet there are those who are perishing would you then say Jesus failed in his mission to earth?
No, he came to save some. In love we have been predestined to be sons and heirs to the Kingdom of God. He chose many. He will save them all. There will be none whom he came to save who will be able to walk away. No, my creator is perfect in plan and perfect in execution.
God either came to save some, or he came to save all. If not, God is not sovereign.