A gracEmail subscriber asks, “Did God create some people to be saved and others to be condemned based on his own good pleasure and totally apart from their choices and conduct?
* * *
The Bible makes it clear that God is predisposed to save people, not to condemn them. He does not desire that anyone perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He desires that all people be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). He sent his Son to save the world, not to condemn it (John 3:17). When the end comes, God will save so many human beings from among all people groups and nationalities that they cannot be counted (Rev. 7:9). These are all saved by God’s grace, because of what Jesus did for sinners, not because of their own good performance, achievements or merit. God’s love and grace does not begin on judgment day, or even during our lifetimes, but in eternity past (Rom. 8:28-31; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; Rev. 13:8; 17:8). God’s eternal love was not based on anything he saw in us in advance; it flowed out of his own gracious purpose (2 Thes. 1:9). Those who are finally saved must give God all the glory. They do not get what they deserve, and they do not deserve what they get.
No one will be condemned apart from his or her own choices and performance. Condemnation arises because people love darkness instead of light (John 3:19). No person finally lost can truthfully say that God made them be lost. Does God have the “right” to create some people to be lost? Paul said that he does — and we cannot argue with his point. “Who are you, O man, to complain against God? Doesn’t the potter have power over the clay to make whatever he wants? What if he made some vessels for honor and others for destruction?” (Rom. 9:20-24.) We must say, “Of course he does have that power.” Paul is putting us in our proper place. God is God and we are not. But Paul does not say that God actually created anyone to be lost, even though we could not complain if he did.
Scripture is not symmetrical here. That some are finally lost is not any part of God’s “good pleasure.” That phrase translates a biblical Greek word, eudokia, which always refers to God’s gracious work of salvation. It never refers to people’s condemnation. God loved his human creatures so much that he gave us the ability to love him in return. In doing so, he also enabled us to reject him and break his heart. How can anyone intentionally and willfully reject the loving heavenly Father? Surely it is the mystery of iniquity. Those who are finally lost cannot blame God for that fact. They must take all the blame for themselves.