What about Choice, Free-Will,
and Good Acts?
In this article which is kind of impromptu, I have not tried to answer every point the person brings up, nor have I tried to answer each point fully. What I have done was to just try to be a little helpful. The basic idea the two people (Diane and Susan) have is that the good go to heaven due to their choices and suffering in this life and the bad go to hell because they were not as good as the good person. Let us see how this all comes out, shall we?
Susan wrote: If Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, etc. are all going to heaven, I'll take Hell!! It makes no sense. There has to be eternal punishment for rejecting Christ. If not, aren't we all really wasting our time on this earth seeking His word and putting it into practice in our daily lives? The thought of no Hell for the wicked sends chills up my spine. ICK!!!
Tony's reply: Are you saying you are without sin? Are you saying you are better than everyone else? The only thing different between you and Hitler and Dahmer is that God chose you and gave you grace to be believing and withheld it from them.
Diane answered: Hold it, I have questions again? The difference is that the blood of Jesus is covering my sin, because I have invited Him in. He says He will knock on the door, but I have to answer the door. If I don't answer the door, are you suggesting that He breaks in.
Tony's reply: The thing about Christ knocking at the door is from Revelation 3:20. It is not a personal invitation to all unbelievers to open the door but it is Christ knocking on the door of a Jewish synogogue in Laodicea (see Rev.3:14). Christ is standing at the door of their ecclesia and is knocking on their door. If any believer in the ecclesia hears his voice and opens the door, He will come in to the ecclesia toward that one and sup with him. The verse literally is this:
And to the messenger of the ecclesia in Laodicea write: . . . Lo! I stand at the door and am knocking. If ever anyone should be hearing My voice and opening the door, I will also be coming into [the ecclesia] toward him and dining with him, and he with Me. This verse has nothing to do with unbelievers.
Diane wrote: And for this Chose thing, WHY me? Why wouldn't He give grace to Dahmer. It would certainly help us out here on earth, not to have such evil going on.
Tony's reply: Why did God choose Jacob over Esau (Rom.9:11) It is all based on God's choice, not on acts, but of Him who is calling, it was declared to her that the greater shall be slaving for the inferior. Why didn't He give grace to the Pharisees and Sadducees. God even had them crucify His Son by His specific counsel and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). Why didn't God give Joseph's brothers grace not to sell him off to Egypt and lie to their father almost killing him for the grief it caused? Joseph said to his brothers you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. But the important thing is that God meant it and there were hard things that both sides had to bear all those years. Were they robots? No. They are clay in the hands of the Great Potter who forms them for specific purposes in life.
God chose you for a specific reason. He has not chosen all but all will come (Eph.1:10) and believers will be used to bring in the rest of mankind.
Diane wrote: Also, how do you explain the fact that, the Lambs blood had to be placed on the door by the Hebrews. God didn't place the blood on the door, but told them His Word and they themselves had to take the step to put the Blood on the Door or they suffered the plague correct? We are but robots in this world? We have no free will or choice?
Tony's reply: Did I say we have no will or choice? We make choices every day. We also have a will. We have the will of the flesh and the will of sin and death operating in us. Our will is enumerated beautifully in Romans 3:9-18. What does James say about who wills what?:
Come now, you who are saying, 'Today or tomorrow we will be going into this or that city and should be spending a year there, and we will be trafficking and getting gain'who are not versed in that which is the morrow's, for what is your life? For a vapor are you, which is appearing briefly and thereupon disappearinginstead of your saying, 'If the Lord should ever be willing, and we shall be living, we also shall be doing this or that.' Yet now you are vaunting in your ostentations. All such boasting is wicked. (James 4:13-16). What is James saying? He is saying that if you believe you have a free-will to do what ever it is you want whereas in reality what you WILL do is all based upon what God wills in the end. Otherwise, by you saying that I will do such and such is just wicked boasting. Call it robotics or whatever you want. I prefer to call it the loving sovereignty of God.
Also, you might find it interesting to note that the head of each house placed the blood on the lintel of the door and the whole family inside that house was protected. Each person in the house did not have to individually place blood on the lintel to protect themselves. Christ's blood was shed for all mankind.
Diane wrote: now I find that doctrine more hateful then the Hell doctrine. You have made me some being that just exist to be manipulated. I believe that the Lord loves me so much that He gave me the choice to serve Him or not, eat the forbidden fruit or not, follow Jesus or not. If you are giving us a God that has made me a robot, a piece on a chess board with no choices, then why do I bother to get up in the morning. I may as well lay in the bed and wait for God's next move. And why would a person find more Love for your God then my God who lets me have a CHOICE? I don't understand this?
Tony's reply: There is such a thing in the Bible as absolute and relative. The Bible says that we plan and work out things in our minds and hearts but the actual doing of those plans is of the Lord. I am not saying we are robots. God changes us by His love and working with us and in us. We all make choices every day. Those choices are not causeless, so in the absolute sense they are not free. There are choices and plans that we can think of and want to do, but these are not free from cause. Everything we do is caused.
Tony continues: Believers worry about these types getting into heaven. Actually it is we that we have to worry about because God chose the offscouring of the world, He chose the most un-loving, un-kind, the stupid; all to confound the wise and the strong.
Diane: Now that I agree with, this stupid human being is one of them, but again, until I humbled myself at His feet, I had NO blessings or good in my life. If He chose me, need I humble myself at His feet?
Tony's reply: If He chose you all you need do is just believe.
Diane wrote: do I have to obey His word? I may just do as I please and count on Him to fix it all.
Tony's reply: Actually, if we do wrong, God disciplines us. So I doubt you will continually do wrong knowing how painful the discipline will be in the future. So your choice to do wrong is curbed by His choice to discipline you.
Diane wrote: The way I have witnessed Him working, is I mess up in my will, everything goes wrong in my life, no peace or joy, then finally on my face to Him, I admit that I am stupid and a sinner, and only His ways are Good, and I give Him control and things go well, but He doesn't force me, ever. He lets me stumble in my stupidity and learn a lesson and then, after I give my will and choice back to Him, He fixes my mess, but I first have to give it to Him. He doesn't take my will, but blesses me when I give it too Him.
Tony's reply: This is all subjective. We need to keep with the Scriptures and find out what is actually going on behind the curtain of our lives. If you say you give your will over to God then you are saying you have no will of your own but only God's will. You say you first have to give whatever it is to Him but you do this knowing full well the consequences that will ensue if you do not. So your choice to act a certain way is not causeless nor free from His influence.
Diane wrote: Are you saying that I have been fooling myself with all of this for years? No matter what I do or don't do the end result is that He controls me? Even the Angels choose to serve Him don't they?
Tony's reply: I guess you will have to answer that question for yourself. Pray the Ephesian 1:16 prayer for wisdom in this (not that I have all wisdom!). The Angels do not choose independently to serve Him. They were created and formed by God to fulfill a specific function in His universe and they will do that. The Bible says that According to His will is He doing in the army of the heavens and with those dwelling on the earth. And no one will actually clap with his hands and say to Him, What doest Thou? (Dan.4:35). You can call it robotics if you want. I surely never would. I call it the loving direction of our most loving Heavenly Father.
Diane wrote: I must surrender to Him, give my will over to His will. Now I can see that He promises to complete the work He began in me. That work He began in me requires my cooperation. I must have some part in it or as I said, just lay in my bed and as far as that goes, why would we witness to people or even bother to teach the gospel, if what we do doesn't matter since He will find His way to those that He chooses?
Tony's reply: Ahh, Good question. We witness to people because we do not know which one it is that God has chosen. Paul went from city to city as the greatest evangelist even though he did not know who it was God had chosen. Yet Paul knew that unless they hear, the chosen will not believe, so the heralding of the good news is part of God's plan to save those He has chosen.
Look at these verses:
And a certain woman named Lydia, ...revering God, heard, whose heart the Lord opens up to heed what is spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14)
I have appointed Thee for a light of the nations; for Thee to be for salvation as far as the limits of the earth. Now on hearing this, the nations rejoiced and glorified the word of the Lord, and they believe, whoever were set for life eonian (see Acts 13:47,48).
So we see from the above verses that all hinges upon God to #1 open the heart and #2 set the individual for eonian life. The preaching is still needed. If no one preaches the gospel to them, they will not know that they are set for life. But the gospel will be sent to them for if they are set then it must occur.
Diane wrote: What is His purpose for choosing some now and let the others go till the judgement? Tony, I am serious and not trying to be disrespectful but this is SO confusing.
Tony's reply: Just as the case of Jacob and Esau thus also the believer as told in Romans 9:11-24. But in the end all receive mercy for it is written, "God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all" (Rom.11:32). That is God's reason for doing what He does. It is all a matter of favor. That is what grace is all aboutunmerited favor. Even though they go to judgment, He has not forgotten about them. He loves them more than you or I will ever know and has wonderful plans of reconciliation for them all.
Diane wrote: Our motivation in His spirit has always been to win the Lost, tell the world about Jesus. Now is the time for salvation. It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement. And when I speak of Death it is of the flesh. One flesh we get and one death to that flesh. There is a difference in the two of course; spiritual death and flesh death, and the scriptures deal with both. The whole point of the disciples going to their death for the Gospel. WHY would they die in the flesh, if they knew that people had another time to accept Christ?
Tony"s reply: They died in spite of knowing God is going to save all mankind. You mean to say that the only reason they would die is due to God eternally tormenting people? That certainly doesn't sound like much to die for.
Diane wrote: They could have saved themselves, by denying Christ as Peter did the first time and then be able to tell MORE people about Jesus? Could it be that they chose to die in the Lord BECAUSE this is their only chance. Tthere is not another time to believe and trust in Him, just this time and then the judgement.
Tony"s reply: Actually, Diane, they didn't choose to die. That choice was made for them by their killers and by God. In the Bible there is no such thing as a first chance or a second chance. It is all based upon God's choice and not chance.
Diane wrote: Separation from God or whatever word you choose to use, whatever the place that unsaved end up, cannot be so easy as sleep or unconsciousness, since the disciples chose to be hung or killed rather than chance going there by denying Christ. They must have believed that the suffering after death was worse then the tortures they went through on this earth. That would not make sense would it, to die for something and not have to?
Tony's reply: There is nothing in the Bible as to what went on inside the mind of all those who died for Christ, so all such talk is mere speculation. They personally knew for sure that they would not lose their salvation, for, the Lord Jesus Christ assured them that they would each be sitting on a throne in the kingdom. So they certainly didn't die due to threat of hell.
Diane wrote: After all, God will be all in all so let's take it easy here and get in to heaven eventually.
Tony's reply: That is an ad hominum argument or appealing to the human, argument to substantiate your claim. Actually I believe God will be All in all someday yet I try my darndest to be well pleasing to my Lord and Saviour. If we disown the Lord by our lives He will disown us the right to reign with Him but we will not lose our salvation. Besides, God needs only so many chiefs. Everyone else has to be indians. Not all can be chiefs. So it is all dependent upon His grace since He already knows who it is who will be reigning with the Lord in His kingdom so He "is working all in accord with the counsel of His will" (Eph.1:11).
Diane wrote: There is some kind of punishment so severe to come to those denying Jesus, that the mouth of lions looked easier to deal with. We all sit in our comfortable houses, with our many Bibles and there are Christians still today being killed. We would be foolish to give up this temple if there were another time to be saved. How many would die in the Lord if they believed they had a second chance to bow to Him later? After all He has stated that we are forgiven all sins. He who will save his life will lose it, he loses it to an awful place. What is he losing? What does that mean?
Tony's reply: The Bible says that God's fury affliction and distress is for those who do not love the truth. It does not say that it is eternal. I surely would not want to suffer those things personally. But I certainly do not worry about the possibility of it happening for we are told being now justified in His blood we shall be saved from indignation, through Him (Rom.5:9). Yes, there will be indignation but we are saved from it. Others who are not saved from it must endure it. But, the good news is that God loves those whom He disciplines!
Tony wrote before: Are you like the Pharisees? Remember the parable of the workers who worked all day and the master, at the end of the day went and got more to work only for an hour? He paid them the same as the ones that worked all day. So what if you work all this life for God? God can do with His what He wants and will do so.
Diane answered: What if we murdered those that were working all their life, would they then get to heaven also? Does that occur to you? Yes a person on his death bed is ushered into the Kingdom, if they believe. Why didn't Jesus tell BOTH of the thieves that they would be in paradise? Why only the one that confessed Him as Lord?
Tony's reply: Again, this boils down to #1 God opening up the one thief's heart and not the other as He did Lydia and #2 whether one is set for life eonian or not. The one thief was, the other was not.
Tony wrote before: If that is your true idea of love for your fellow man then heaven will be your personal hell and I pity you extremely that your love is so lacking.
Diane answered: We can love and have mercy for others and still believe they are lost, belonging to their father the devil. And tell me, should we also love the devil? Do you understand that there is evil in this world and we should love the sinner but not the evil?
Tony's reply: We should love and pray for all of God's creatures. I certainly do understand what you are saying. We should love the sinner but not the evil the sinner does. But we should not be as the Pharisee praying in public who says "I tithe, I do this and do that, I am not like this sinner."
Tony wrote before: Those people you mentioned will be changed. God will put in them a new heart and will fill them with His Spirit. Who are you to say that God is wrong to do this after He has set them straight for what they've done in this life.
Diane answered: If that were to happen, it would be so wonderful, but when I read the Bible and the OT, God did show anger. He hates sin, and was pretty tough on the evil. Jesus is the same yesterday and forever, yet we read of destruction, disease and much torture to those in the OT. If He can show His judgement to man in our flesh as He often did, then why not to the evil in the spirit world? We don't understand all the ways of God? As a child am I supposed to decide what is good and what isn't? Who am I to judge that God's way would be good or bad? Perhaps the destruction of all that is evil is necessary to His perfect world. Have you ever considered that God being all in all, means God being All in those not destroyed by their own evil, in other words He will be ALL in All someday because All the evil is finally gone, All in all that remains?
Tony's reply: That is a blessed thought indeed! All in all that remains. All that remains will be all humanity who died in Adam. All the evil will be gone but as you say, God loves the sinner, not the sin. He does not throw the baby out with the bath water.
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