I believe that all of creation, no matter what it is, is not inherently good or holy like God is. If an angel is left to itself, without the sustaining power of Christ (Heb. 1:3), it will become corrupted and evil. If a human is left to himself, he will sin and thus destroy himself. But if God sustains that person with God’s own holiness and power, that person can live a perfect life. This is what will happen to us in Heaven. We will continually be perfect because God’s debt against us was wiped away by the life, death and resurrection of Christ; but also because God will forever be sustaining us within His righteousness.
This leaves us with the fact that God can actively move away from somebody, thus leaving them to their own sinful destruction. I believe this is considered the hardening of the heart. So God actively keeps people from believing in Him and they ultimately go to Hell while being completely responsible for their own sin and judgment, and God being the One who hardens their hearts for His own purposes and glory.
“What shall we say then? IS there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it (salvation) depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then He has mercy on whomever He will, and He hardens whomever He wills. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:14-24).
It’s pretty straightforward to me. As much as I don’t understand it at times, and sometimes I’m guilty of not wanting this plan, God’s will stands and it is perfect.
Evangelism and Missions
Because of the evidence of Scripture, we have to conclude that:
1. There are elect individuals destined for Heaven.
2. There are individuals hardened and destined for Hell.
3. We do not know who these elect individuals are.
Therefore the Gospel call must go out to everybody of the world (2 Tim. 2:10). The only way for those elect to come to Christ is through the plan of God found in evangelism and missions. God’s purpose is that we, as the elect, go out to the ends of the earth to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything in the Word of God (Matthew 28:18-20). Because there are an elect and there are “vessels of wrath”, we cannot presume upon God’s will and stop evangelizing. This is one of the biggest mistakes of people who hold these truths. We are called to go out to the ends of the earth proclaiming Christ. And we shall.
I believe the difference between evangelism and missions is the evangelism is proclaiming the Gospel to lost individuals whereas missions is proclaiming the Gospel to people groups and tribes; to whole groups of individuals without the Word. And we must do both.
Charles Spurgeon once said something along these lines: “if a stripe were painted down the backs of the elect, then I’d go around lifting up coat-tails.”
We do not know who are those that God has chosen, so we must preach to everybody, pleading with them to repent and believe upon the finished work of Christ. And those who do, and finish the race, prove that they were chosen before the foundations of the world.
I, therefore, must believe in double predestination in the sense that God actively does something to allow people to go to Hell. Romans 9, and the many examples throughout the Bible (Matthew 13:12-16 is just another one; there are tons!) that teach about God’s electing and God’s hardening. I mean, even if God left somebody in there sin and didn’t do anything is still doing something. If I was witnessing a murder, but didn’t do anything, I still made that choice to do nothing, which is doing something; it’s neglecting to help. But God actively hardens hearts and Jesus spoke in parables to keep people from knowing the truth.
Ask yourself, if God wants all to be saved, and He knows who will not choose Him, then why continue to create those humans that will not choose Him? Why go through all the trouble of being patient with their disobedience and then they end up going to Hell? I think vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory” sums it up pretty well. Let’s hold true to what the Bible teaches, no matte what.
Verses to Dig Deeper
1 Thess. 1:2-5
2 Thess. 2:13
2 Timothy 1:9
1 Peter 1:1-2
1 Peter 2:9
1 Cor. 1:23-24
2 Timothy 2:24-26
1 Peter 2:8
John 6:44; 65
Those are just a few of the many verses that I have time to write down. Know God. More importantly, be known by Him. Pray. And study His Word. The truths are beautiful.