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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is God satisfied with failure?

"Consider the billion people in China who know not the Lord Jesus Christ! Consider the countless hundreds of millions of Arabs (Islamic Muslims) who worship Allah and the prophet Mohammed. Consider the billion Catholics around the world that worship Mary and are trying to earn their way into Heaven through the keeping of the Seven-Sacraments and good works.
On and on, religion and more religion! Countless billions of people are trusting in their religion to save them instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, nine out of ten people in this wicked world are bound for a Godless, eternal hell. I have no doubts whatsoever that 90% of the people in this world are going to Hell. Why? For one simple reason friend, they do not have the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior." --Billions of People are Going to Hell! by James Stewart at http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/billions_of_people_going_to_hell.htm

The above quote is representative of the views of vast numbers of Protestant Christians around the world. Indeed, the principle that most people are destined for spiritual failure is probably the majority view within Christianity period. In fact, even most of those who reject the traditional notions about hell and embrace the idea of a Lake of Fire as the final destination for the wicked believe that billions of people will end up there.

Believe me, I know that I'm swimming upstream on this one! The threat of punishment has been one of the most effective tools in the handbag of the Christian preacher for hundreds of years. There is probably no way to accurately reckon how many individuals have found their way into the Christian Church because of messages like the one quoted above. If challenged in any way about the content, most preachers would resort to a classical line of reasoning: The end justifies the means. "If I've saved one sinner from hell, it was worth it," I can hear them say. Of course, the question that comes to my mind is "How valuable is that type of conversion?"

I want to forgo the traditional challenge to this teaching for the purposes of this post. Although I believe that asking how a loving God could permit such a thing to happen is a valid line of attack, I am also aware that those who espouse this view have a ready answer for the question. They say that God doesn't have anything to do with a person ending up in Hell. Indeed, most of them would admit that "He" wants everyone to be saved. In their view, we cannot hold God responsible for what happens to someone who insists on pursuing wickedness and sin. Oh well, if that's intellectually and emotionally satisfying to you, I'll leave you to it.

Instead, I want to attempt to look at the situation from the perspective of God as the Designer of the plan of salvation for mankind. If God truly decided before the creation of the world that the one who became Jesus Christ would one day have to die for the sins of the world (and I do believe that is true), then how could "He" be satisfied with such an abysmal failure rate for his plan?

Think about it! There are literally billions upon billions of people throughout human history, and up to the present day, who have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. Was Peter right when he said that there is no other name under heaven that can save us? (Acts 4:12) If he was right (and I believe he was), then what about all of those people? Is it consistent with the principles of fairness and justice that they end up in Hell or the Lake of Fire? Doesn't condemnation require at least some kind of awareness of what one has done to deserve it?

"Oh well, everyone knows right from wrong in their heart of hearts," some will protest. If we accept that statement as true, it still doesn't answer my question concerning their ignorance of the way to remedy their wrong! If they are entirely unaware of God's plan for their salvation, how can they be held responsible for rejecting it? It just doesn't make much sense does it?

"What about what Christ said?" some will protest. As part of his sermon on the mountain, Jesus told his disciples: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14) "There you have it! The majority of people are headed for Hell."

Let's all take a deep breath and actually look at what Christ was saying here. Notice that he is talking about two paths of life - one of them leads to life and the other leads to destruction. He is talking about folks on the path, not those who have reached their destination! All we have to do is take a look around to see the truth of this statement - the majority of people on this planet are currently on the wrong path. Even so, Christ's statement is one of looking ahead. In other words, if a person remains on one of those paths, he/she will eventually reach the designated destination.

What if something or someone (like Jesus Christ) intervenes at some point in their walk to remove them from the broad path? And is the end of our physical life on this planet the end of our walk? What about the resurrection of the dead? Could salvation be a matter of timing? Does the resurrection you happen to be a part of play a role in your personal salvation? Does God decide to draw some folks to himself now and others later?

For those who insist on holding on to the more traditional view (that the majority of folks are headed for Hell or the Lake of Fire), I have one final thought: If God really does want everyone to be saved and to understand the truth (I Timothy 2:4 - and I believe "He" does), then "He" must be extremely disappointed with the current state of affairs!

1 comment:

  1. When I was a teacher, if one or two students in the class failed a test over a particular section of the curriculum, I felt that I had been successful in carrying out my teaching responsibilities. In other words, the failures were the responsibilities of those one or two individuals. However, if many students failed the test over some section, I viewed the failure as my own. Large scale failure represented a failure on my part to adequately teach the material in question.