Dear Nice Person
He's got judgment confused with punishment
I love your writings, and am thrilled that you are spreading this
glorious and wonderful gospel that Christ has come to reconcile all to
I am interested in your views on free will. I totally believe in the
reconciliation of all but am a bit confused about some of your logic
with relation to free will.
Firstly, even in general life I would argue there is no absolute free
will because all the decisions are determined by so many external
factors. However, I hold that there is an element of free will. I agree
that no one can come to the Father unless the Father draws him. My
understanding is that God is drawing all. The will of man will not
ultimately affect the will of God, but the fact that through a myriad of
reasons people either do not understand or even hear the Gospel can stop
them coming into life right now. God in his sovereignty gives this
measure of free will. I understand your viewpoint, but something seems
logically to not add up.
Look, you have said yourself that it would be better to leave the
unbeliever in their ignorance than teach them the evil teaching that God
tortures people for eternity, but then you say that anyone who has come
to Christ has been foreordained to come to Christ in the sovereignty of
God. So have they been foreordained to hear a lying and deceptive
gospel? I do not think so. So are we supposed to believe that the people
in the apostate church all around us are the called-out ones? And then
why would God choose to not elect people from whole nations who have not
heard the Gospel (or who have heard a perverted form of the Gospel)?
You have also said that those who do not believe in this life are
robbed of eonian life. Therefore, they will be punished (though not for
eternity). But why should they be punished for something they cannot do
anything about? If they are not chosen, then they are stuck with being
sinners and so cannot escape the Lake of Fire. (I recognize that you do
not see this as an eternal state.) It is really like saying that God
will send people to age-lasting punishment just for being disabled. They
cannot help being disabled and can do nothing about it, but God punishes
them for it anyway.
This is how I see it now. I am open to correction:
1. Yes, I believe that all will be made alive in Christ.
2. I believe that the Father is drawing all to Him.
3. I believe that not everyone responds to God due to a myriad of
reasons—upbringing and many other things.
4. I believe that God chose those whom He knew would respond to a pure
5. I believe that many will go into eonian correction and refinement
for sin), because the price of sin has already been paid and our
salvation has already been purchased full and complete.
6. I believe that salvation is by grace, through faith. Salvation
is not by the work of
I became a Christian in 1978 but I have only known the true gospel for
three years. I am totally thrilled with discovering this glorious truth,
which is the gospel. I cannot believe I ever missed it.
Thank you for everything.
Thanks for the great
letter. Yours is an easy and sincere spirit, which is a refreshing
change of pace from some letters I’ve been receiving.
There is no element of free will in the universe. We do not have a
"limited free will," as I’ve heard some teach. Limited free will is a
contradiction of terms. To be limited is to be restricted, and to be
free is to be unrestricted. I now ask: what is unrestricted restriction?
I’ll tell you what it is: it’s impossibility.
It is only in those places in scripture where humans are exhorted to
make decisions that the thought of freedom comes in. But it does not
logically follow that just because God exhorts us to do things, we have
the ability to do them, "for it is God working in you to will and to
work for the sake of His delight" (Phil. 2:13).
Here’s another good verse: "A man’s steps are ordered by the Lord"
(Psalm 37:23). Steps are the smallest of things. And this: "In Him we
are living and moving and are" (Acts 17:28). Note the progressive
restriction of human will.
You seem to go against your own ideas of a limited free will be
saying that there are a myriad of reasons people either do or do not
understand or even hear the Gospel. Who is the Author of all these
reasons? God is. Apart from Him, nothing can exist.
You write: "God in his sovereignty gives this measure of free will."
But you do not have a scripture for this, and you never will find one.
This is your idea, not God’s. I say this respectfully. I appreciate the
fact that you are open to correction. You are a very mature believer. I
know that you don’t want to hold to anything that opposes God’s thoughts
on any matter. God’s thoughts on the matter are this: "He is operating
all in accord with the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). What is to
be excepted from that "all"?
"So have they been foreordained to hear a lying and deceptive gospel?
I do not think so."
But it is true. People are foreordained to hear a lying and
deceptive gospel. Why should this be so hard to believe in light of a
verse like Romans 9:18, that whom God will, He is hardening?" Or have
you not also read in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 that God Himself "will be
sending them an operation of deception, for them to believe the
falsehood." God does indeed raise up deceptions, and then causes people
to believe them. Why? So that His purposes may be fulfilled. In this
eon, in order to demonstrate His vast love and mercy and grace, God
requires both vessels of honor and dishonor. That vessels of dishonor
are also saved for eternity spares God of any potential wrongdoing or
unrighteousness in so dealing with these people.
"So are we supposed to believe that the people in the apostate church
all around us are the called-out ones?"
Who said anything like that? Just because people are foreordained to
be vessels of dishonor doesn’t make them called-out ones. Called-out
ones are members of the body of Christ. I can assure you that vessels of
dishonor are not members of the body of Christ. This does not mean, of
course, that they are not eventually saved to live with God for
"And then why would God choose to not elect people from whole nations
who have not heard the Gospel (or a perverted form of the Gospel)?"
Because He needs vessels of dishonor to effect His purposes.
"You have also said that those who do not believe in this life are
robbed of eonian life. Therefore they will be punished (though not for
eternity). But why should they be punished for something they cannot do
They are not punished, they are judged. Judgment is a setting right,
and it will be for the benefit of the one judged. Please read the Q&A
section of my website for an answer to this difficulty you’re having
with judgment. The question you ask—"Why should they be punished for
something they cannot do anything about?" is nearly word-for-word the
question of the objector of Romans 9:20. Take heed!
"It is really like saying that God will send people to age-lasting
punishment just for being disabled. They cannot help being disabled and
can do nothing about it, but God punishes them for it anyway."
Again, you are mistaking judgment for punishment. Punishment only
satisfies the inflictor, while judgment is remedial in nature and works
toward its object’s reform. Now wake up and smell this coffee:
We’re all disabled! Which one of us is not disabled? We were all
disabled in Adam. And yet we all suffer; we suffer for something we
didn’t do. But we’re learning about God through it all, so don’t
complain. If you’re going to complain about mortality for the disabled,
then you’re going to have to complain about immortality for the same
group of people. Why? Because both mortality and immortality come to the
disabled beings, namely, us.
I have empathy for you in your trials, which I omitted printing to
protect your privacy. It is truly miraculous that you are able to say
you are glad for your trials, because they have brought you to the
truth. Those being judged by God at the great white throne will say the
very same thing. These people are no more responsible for their trials
than you are for yours. When judgment comes, it is not a matter of "who
is responsible for getting me into this mess," but rather God using the
"mess" to teach humanity His wisdom, grace and love.
Keep the faith, dear brother. That you ask these questions tells me
you care about truth. The same cannot be said for many.
Yours in grace,