If we come to the Bible without a heart that is fully convinced of God’s overwhelming love that truly wishes none to perish, then many scriptures will seem to underscore our belief that some are born evil and some are born good—or rather that some are redeemable and some are not.
This has been one of the, if not THE, most harmful doctrines in history. Some define it as predestination, that some are “predestined” to evil and some to good. While God knows everything in our future and nothing we do in our lives is a surprise to Him, (He is, after all, omniscient) we have to take the sweep of the Bible in its entirety, not just stop at a few verses to underscore our own prejudice and vindictive nature.
The overriding story of the Bible is Messiah—One who comes to die for ALL. John 3:16 says it so clearly: “For God so Loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But don’t stop there. The point is driven even further with verse 17: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
(For those of you up on your “isms,” I am not referring to universalism so let’s not go there. The focus is God’s boundless love.”
In his article titled “How I Know God Wants Everyone To Be Saved,” Renowned Baptist Pastor Tom Malone tells a beautiful story of how John Wesley, evangelist and founder of the Methodist church, answered those who questioned his heartfelt belief that God desired ALL to be saved.
One day when he had preached to a large open-air crowd, Lady Huntington and other royalty went up to him and said “Mr. Wesley, we would like to entertain you for tea.” So he went to tea. But just before he went into the home of this royalty of England, someone handed Wesley a little dirty piece of paper, which he stuck into his long Prince Albert coat.
While being entertained at tea, one of the royalty said, “Mr. Wesley, we think you went a little too far today in your preaching. ”
“Why do you say that?” Wesley asked.
“Because you made the statement that God would never refuse anyone. You went so far as to say that Jesus would take people whom the Devil was even tired of. You said the Lord would take the Devil’s castaways.”
“Yes, I believe that,” he answered. As Lady Huntington continued talking, John Wesley reached into his pocket, got the note and read it.
“We are just two old, sinful women, two soiled doves of the London underworld who heard you preach today. We have lived in sin all of our lives. We heard you say that Jesus would take even the Devil’s castaways. Hearing that and believing it, we have trusted Him and have been saved.”
Mr. Wesley folded the note and looked through the glass of the large and beautiful doors. Out there he saw two old women with their rags gathered about them, standing shuddering in the cold. After reading the note to Lady Huntington and the other royalty, he said, “There are two people out there who have been away from God all of their lives, who have lived in the very gutters of this city. The Lord saved them today.”
The story of “Les Miserables” illustrates the opposite poles of belief on this topic so well. On one hand, we have the character representing Justice (Javert) who believes if someone ever breaks the law that one is a sinner and will always be a sinner. Contrast this with the character who represents Grace (Jean Valjean) who believes and has experienced the power of undeserved favor (grace) and redemption.
Grace is what God offers through Christ, for all. The door is wide open to all. The door of grace is open to you, regardless of your past, your family tree, what labels you have been given, what has been done to you, or any other factor.
Jesus represents the most inclusive plan of salvation ever!
Jesus is our example. Not once in His life did Christ say anyone was not worthy of salvation. Whether prostitute, liar, thief, or full of demons, all who came to Him desperate for salvation were received and received salvation. No one was ever “not good enough” or “beyond redemption.” The only limitations are in our own limited, prejudiced minds where we create our own image of a God who picks and chooses. (However, try to come to Him on your own merit, like the rich young ruler or the religious leaders, and your pride will stand in the way of receiving His free gift of grace.)
But He did have harsh words for some. Those who made others feel unworthy of heaven were called “brood of vipers,” “hypocrites,” and “graves full of dead men’s bones.”
This harmful, demonic tradition–the wrongful interpretation of the concept of predestination–is not God’s heart. He cannot and will not make anyone receive His love, but the way is open to all.