SALVATION – How Many are Saved? – Greg Albrecht
SALVATION – How Many are Saved – Who, Where, When and Why?
When you responded to a question I had, you included the following statement: “I hope and believe in my faith that many more have and will accept God’s invitation, but because it’s ultimately our choice, some will reject him, even after he pursues us relentlessly.”
I would like your thoughts to my following questions:
1) Can any human be eternally responsible for rejecting God’s offer of eternal salvation while tainted with human nature?
2) Why do you think any human, after being saturated in a world of sin and misery and then experiencing death and released from human nature, would choose to reject God’s offer of eternal salvation and consequently, eternal death? (This second question is designed to lead to the following question.)
3) Isn’t there a reason why God created humans to be spiritually fallible and malleable before eternal life, whereas, God created Lucifer (and presumably all the angels) to be perfect with immediate eternal life, where apparently one-third rejected God’s Love and chose eternal misery?
A brief summary of views on this topic goes something like this, in terms of a continuum:
1) On one extreme, there are those folks (called five-point Calvinists) who believe that God has predestined every human being who has ever lived and who is alive right now to either be lost, doomed and damned to hell, or to be saved, eternally abiding with God. Given that view, no human choice is offered – the decision has been made.
2) Moving along the spectrum are those folks who believe that heaven and hell are destinations for all people, the determination about that eternal destination will be based on what happens, what is believed, and how one behaves, in this life, before death. Moreover, these people believe it is possible, in fact for those who describe themselves as evangelicals, it is morally necessary, to “evangelize” a person, cause them to now accept Jesus, and thus, by those human efforts, be saved from eternal conscious torment.
3) The next gradation is generally the perspective I embrace. Salvation is the gift of God. Salvation is offered to ALL mankind, equally and freely, for God does not play favorites. However, when one surveys the history of our world, even more telling, when one surveys the world at large today, it seems to us that some have a better “chance” of accepting Christ than others – most notably, those who live in places where the overwhelming religious perspective wars against the grace of God. So how is God “fair” given this perspective of reality? We don’t know how he is fair, but the gospel tells us that he is, that he loves all humanity equally – thus, we conclude that there are things about God we cannot see or perceive on this side of eternity. Imagine that!?!
Our view then is that whatever God determines to do whenever he determines to do it, however he makes himself known, he will, and thus little children who grow up hating Christianity as their religion ingrains such hatred into them will one day have an equal opportunity to perceive and, if they choose, embrace the love, mercy and grace of God. Thus, we hope that MOST will accept Christ, but we are short on the details – in fact, everyone who speaks to this topic is short on the details for God has not revealed those details, however concrete and dogmatic some may be. This view is also called Christian universalism – but be aware when the word “universalism” is used by those who say they follow Christ they often mean it in a negative way. Which introduces the fourth view in this summary –
4) Universalism. This is a view held by many, including a denomination called “Unitarian Universalists” – the Unitarian for their belief that God is one, not three – thus they deny the trinity, and the Universal part – their belief that God will save all mankind, regardless of what they say or do or whether they like it or not or whether they choose it or not. As with five-point Calvinism, the problem with this view, in my opinion, is that it takes away human choice, it denies humans the God-given right of acceptance or denial, embracing or rejecting. The fact that God gives human choices is quite clear in the Bible.
Why would someone reject God? In brief, I believe people reject God because they believe they are better than God. That is, they are religiously programmed to believe they must earn God’s favor, and if they are told they cannot, then they believe that nothing God gives them freely has any merit and they want no part of it. They wish to earn what they “deserve.” Of course, religious legalism and performance-based faith has a fairly easy time convincing people that God’s grace is just a crock, because they are hard-wired from birth to believe such a thing – humans don’t want a handout. They don’t want to be obligated to anyone, not even God. They don’t want to be dependent on God, or better said, they don’t want to admit that they are dependent. They prefer to live with the illusion that they are independent of God and they are captains of their own destiny.
- God made us the way he made us – tainted with human nature as you say. The only other way would have been to create us as robots, so that we are programmed to always do the right thing – that would have removed suffering and evil and pain from life …. but obviously God did not.
- “Eternally responsible” – I see the eternal responsibility as cruciform – that is, the Cross of Christ took responsibility for the forgiveness of ALL, thus the path to God is wide open and available to all. But the Cross of Christ does not remove human choice – choice still remains. The father in the parable of the Prodigal Son did not prevent his son from leaving home and living in a hell hole, knowing full well that his son was headed in that direction. He did not try to rescue him from the horrible consequences the son was suffering, having made the wrong choices. But the father always loved him, and while the parable does not address it, somehow the son “came to his senses” as one translation calls it, and decided to go home, where the door was wide open – always had remained that way.
- Your reference to Lucifer, Satan, demons, the one third reference who decided to reject God – even on that level choice was given, and again we know very little about it for little is revealed so the best we can do is speculate.
- Why indeed has God done what he has done in the way he has, and why is he continuing, and why will he do or not do something in eternity future? Why oh why? We do not know, but as Christ-followers we do know, and believe, that God is better suited at making such determinations than we are, and we rest in Christ, assured that whatever is done is by the love, grace and mercy of God, who is eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit.