Question of the Month: August 2011

date Aug 14, 2011
author Voddie Baucham topics & issues Evangelism, Theology

Can you please explain God having control of who is chosen to go to heaven and if there is grace involved in that? Why would God choose to send any to hell and how is that biblical? - Anonymous

"Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29) who despises, and is angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11; Mal 2:17; Pr 6:16-19; 1 Cor 16:22).   His justice demands that the wicked be punished (Is 13:11), and his infinite holiness, perfection, and righteousness demand that said punishment be infinite as well (Matt 25:41; Jude 7).   And though God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:23; 33:11), he is glorified in the execution of his justice.

In fact, the very question, "Why would God choose to send anyone to hell" implies that doing so is "unjust".  How can there be injustice with God?  How can God allow sin to go unpunished?  And how can we question the justice of hell for those who sin against a holy God on the one hand, and question the justice of the very God who IS justice on the other?  There is no justice without hell!  He will indeed judge the living and the dead. (2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5)

However, in his matchless grace, he has set his love upon his elect.  Not all sinners get what they deserve; some are rescued from God, by God, to the glory of God:   

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." (Ephesians 1:3-10)      

Man is Dead in Sin and Cannot "Choose" God On His Own     

Man can no more choose God than an Ethiopian can change his skin, or a leopard change his spots. (Jer 13:23)  Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44-45)     

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.  Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.  The venom of asps is under their lips.  Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)  

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8)

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind." (Eph 2:1-3)

God Controls More Than Just "Who Goes to Heaven

"O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you." (2 Chronicles 20:6)

"But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does." (Job 23:13)

"I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2)

"Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps." (Psalms 135:6)

"Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand; I work, and who can turn it back?"" (Isaiah 43:13)

""Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'" (Isaiah 46:8-10)

"At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"" (Daniel 4:34-35)

"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11)

Salvation is All of Grace

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:16)  

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)    

This is most assuredly Biblical   As you can see, I tried to let the text talk here since the question was, "how is that biblical."  I could have referenced much more, but I hope this makes the point.  We don't really have a problem with the text of Scripture; we have a problem with our presuppositions.  We think far too much of ourselves, and therefore believe that God somehow owes us something.  The question is not, "how can any go to hell?" but "how can any go to heaven?"  All have sinned.  All deserve hell.  None deserve heaven.  Salvation is all of grace.

VB

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