Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let's Be Careful About What We Blame God For


Mat 25:34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Mat 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 

In my last article I looked at something inferred from the passage in Matthew 24 but something that was not the main point.  In this article I want to do the same thing.  The overall context is how to be prepared for the coming of the Lord at the end of this age and necessarily, for those who die before that event, making sure you are prepared to meet the Lord when you die.  But there is a very interesting couple of things said in passing in the verses above that at least get me thinking.

When speaking to the saved he says that the kingdom and in particular eternity in Heaven was prepared for them from before creation.  To the lost, when speaking of Hell and eternal punishment, he doesn’t say that it was prepared for them at all but instead for Satan and his horde.  I doubt this was an accident and while I won’t pretend to be sure of why he says this like he does I think there is a point to be made.

As far as I can determine the Bible never speaks of the damned as being a result of God’s predestination.  When someone sins and dies and is judged for their sin it is always presented as their fault; they are held responsible for their sin and at no time can God and election be blamed for sin.  James makes this point in the first chapter where he says, Jas 1:13  “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”   The Scriptures are clear that God commands all men everywhere to repent and to obey him.  It is never his will for us to sin.

But this is far different than God allowing us to sin for his greater purposes.  God is under no compulsion to stop us from sinning.  There are many who refuse to accept this but it is clearly taught in the Bible.  For example we read in Act 4:26  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'-- Act 4:27  for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.  The worse sin ever committed was to nail Jesus to the cross and yet it was God’s plan from eternity for this to happen for the salvation of sinners.  But I doubt anyone would seriously suggest that Pilate and the Jewish leaders can blame God for this.

So what has all this to do with Matthew 25?  It was God’s plan to have a people with him in eternity enjoying him forever by redeeming them from their sin.  If anyone is not there it is because they choose not to be.  Adam Clarke says it well when he addresses vs. 41 and Hell being prepared originally for Satan and his angels, “The devil and his angels sinned before the creation of the world, and the place of torment was then prepared for them: it never was designed for human souls; but as the wicked are partakers with the devil and his angels in their iniquities, in their rebellion against God, so it is right that they should be sharers with them in their punishment. We see here, plainly, why sinners are destroyed, not because there was no salvation for them, but because they neglected to receive good, and do good. As they received not the Christ who was offered to them, so they could not do the work of righteousness which was required of them. They are cursed, because they refused to be blessed; and they are damned, because they refused to be saved.” 

Many times the doctrine of election and predestination are attacked by some with the accusation of double predestination.  This is the idea that God looked at the mass of humanity in eternity and decided to send some to Heaven and some to Hell.  I won’t go into all the reasons why this is unbiblical.  But I will say that one reason I believe Jesus words the texts above as he does is because God is never seen as responsible for those in Hell; their sin is.  But God’s gracious election is always presented as the sole reason there are any in Heaven. 

Man’s “free” choice always results in judgment; God’s free choice always results in Heaven.  We will not in this life grasp very well how his sovereignty and our responsibility are worked out in his decrees but we at least must be willing to accept what he says about them and not try to deny biblical truth because it hurts our pride or because we can’t grasp everything that the infinite mind of God has done.  If Jesus can praise the Father for his election in Matthew 11 then I had better be able to do it as well.


2 comments:

  1. Nathan,
    Thanks for bringing clarity to this passage. I have not heard it explained this way before but it makes a lot more sense now. God's grace really is rescuing sinners from what they (we) all deserve and giving them (us) what they don't deserve-of course I've boiled it down quite a bit.

    Steve

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  2. Thanks for reading and making a comment Steve

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