This post is a continuation of the Jesus Who? series. If you have not been following along, I recommend going back to catch up via the following links (Jesus Who?, Ignorance and God – Part II)
While we cannot fully know the mind of God, we can speculate that a loving God who does not wish for any to perish would create a world that minimizes the number of lost souls.
Because God knows the hearts and minds of every individual he created, He would know how each would respond in every potential situation. He would also know any who, under no circumstances, would ever choose to follow Him. I know that I am not, but if I were God, these individuals would be the ones that I would choose to place in history as role players to further the cause of salvation for those who choose to believe. Nobody’s life is meaningless from God’s perspective, but He cannot make everyone choose to love and follow Him without restricting individual freedom of choice.
Similarly, I believe that God’s omniscience and sovereignty give Him the ability to place individuals who would respond positively to an acceptance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice in the living conditions necessary for the cultivation of each one’s faith and spiritual development. I do not claim to have a full understanding of how God works, nor that I understand the mind of God. But it seems to me that an almighty God with perfect and complete knowledge of all things past and present, real and theoretical, would have the capability to do so if He chose.
It may not be possible, however, for God to save every individual who has the potential for saving faith. It seems highly likely that in at least some cases, the conditions that lead one person to embrace Christ eliminate the possibility of someone else’s conversion. Here is where God’s election comes into play. Out of the trillions of possible life scenarios involving free moral beings that He had at His disposal when He created the physical universe, He chose a subset of individuals with faith potential to manifest in reality. I believe that this subset would include the highest percentage of created beings possible to magnify His glory to the maximum degree.
Each individual is chosen by God before the foundation of the world, not based on anything that is done or not done by the individual, but according to God’s plan. Because God values mankind’s freely-made decisions, however, His plan would include placing individuals, whose choices bring about the desires of God, in the time and location suiting His purpose. God’s purposes are paramount, with the decisions of mankind being the means through which He obtains His goals.
The Bible describes God as the builder of a house, with the house being the church and Jesus the cornerstone. With Jesus as the foundation, the Rock on which to build His church, God’s purpose is to include a multitude of individuals from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, coming together to bring honor and glory to His name (Revelation 7:9),
The designer of a house selects the specific materials to use in the construction of the house. As the designer of the physical universe, God chose the materials to use. The manifested universe included not only the natural elements and building blocks of life, but also the souls of every individual that He created. Each soul element included the inherent properties of each, including emotional and personality traits, as well as the results of freely-made decisions in any given situation throughout potential lifetimes from which God had available from which to choose.
Had God desired, He could have created a universe where every nuance, every action, thought, and event is explicitly under God’s divine control. Had He done that, He alone would be directly responsible for everything that happens through all time. Some people believe that this is true. But I think that such a world would undoubtedly be better than our current situation. A good God controlling even the thoughts of individuals would never allow even a hint of evil. There would be no sin and no need for punishment of any kind. Life would have been heaven on earth.
But He did something of greater magnitude and grandeur.
God orchestrated the entire timeline of human existence as an elaborate design, fitting individuals together like an intricately completed puzzle. The resulting creation brings God the greatest glory possible because it features free moral beings willfully acting out God’s wishes and desires uncoerced.
Next time, we will wrap up this discussion and look at a few situations where individuals have no physical capacity to behold the glory of God and have no basis for a meaningful response regarding salvation in Jesus’ name.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay