Universalism + Free Will = One Very Strange Bird

The feedback I have received for my Optimism Out of Control thesis, even from objectors, has been extremely valuable.  The hard questions of others have driven me to pray for God's leading and to God's word for confirmation of the good news that truly Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind.

THE MOST CURIOUS OBJECTION>> However, of all the objections received the most curious is from those who also claim that all mankind is finally saved, yet who hold to man's free will, while objecting that God willed the salvation of all mankind by his gracious sovereign choice.

ME>> Wow!  I just do not get that.  The great confidence we believers have that Christ will be finally victorious in the salvation of all mankind is rooted in the fact that the Godhead willed it to be -- in spite of our rebellion!  God has prophesied in his Word that he will accomplish his mission to save of all his people.  We can have great confidence that Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind because GOD HAS WILLED IT TO BE!  GOD'S WILL IS THE GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL HAPPEN!

I am happy to receive this good news as well as happy to part ways with traditions that place the security of salvation in the hands of human decision.  There is no security in taking anything from God and putting it in the hand of man.  This is the difference between mere pew sitting religion and true relationship with Christ.

Unfortunately, however, brokenness has followed us even into the fellowship of those concluding that Christ does in fact love all.  As already mentioned, parting ways with tradition will likely land one in a miscellaneous bucket with some very unbiblical ideas.  For example, I've encountered some holding to reincarnation as an alternative to Hades.  How is this different from Hinduism which also believes Jesus is god and all will be saved?  Yet Hebrews 9:27 says otherwise.  I've encountered others who place more weight on human presupposition and tradition than the exegesis of Scripture.  How is this different than any man-made religion?  Jesus spoke directly about this in Mark 7:13.  The most curious combination of all is to claim that all mankind will be finally saved... because of time plus the free will of man!  God's offer of forgiveness, plus enough time is their winning salvation recipe.  Where is the grace?  Universalism plus the free will of man has got to be the strangest bird of all time.

Imagine a father with ten unruly children.  Not one of the children wants to go to bed, yet the father has determined that it is bed time.  So the father begins his work to round up the rowdy bunch.  One is turned with a simple plea while another with persuasion.  A third heads upstairs with a warning and yet another with a threat.  Several more hold out and receive spankings and discipline of various sorts.  One refuses to sleep even when forcibly placed in bed.  The point is that without the father's intervention, no one wanted to go to bed.  However, with degrees of intervention each eventually found himself in bed.

Alternatively, you could imagine a dad who sounded the bed time bell and all ten children neatly put themselves to bed while dad watched TV.... in your dreams!

Or if that illustration does not compute consider God as the quarterback throwing the football toward righteousness.  Then Satan calls the next play, tempting Adam and Eve to intercept the football with the plan to run the ball toward the opposite goal... that is to be god themselves.  Of course the whole game is all on God's sovereign football field so that He can send the Holy Spirit to tackle the rebel runners and recruit us to his own team. The point is that until the Holy Spirit tackles our deceived and unchanged hearts, we continue to run full speed away from God toward the goal line to be our own god.

The cross shows us in no uncertain terms that the unregenerate heart of mankind has no love for God.  We are unruly children with no desire to rest in bed or pursue our Heavenly Father's goal line.  No one who is unchanged will love God because we cannot love God without a changed heart.  A change, that only God can effect, is needed in our hearts to enable us to begin to love the Lord.  Furthermore, God has intended this by design so that he alone is praised as the savior of each individual and all mankind.

Perhaps Acts 4:27-28 (WEB) will help us

27) For truly, in this city against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28) to do whatever your hand and your council foreordained to happen.

So yes, we make decisions.  You or I may decide to go left or to go right.  However, just because we make decisions does not mean that our will is free to love God!  Instead our will is limited to decisions that proceed from our nature.  A bear is a bear by nature and so behaves like a bear.  Likewise an unregenerate sinner is a self-lover and God-hater by nature and even if filled with worlds of religion we still hate God.  So in the case of Acts 4:27-28, all mankind, including ourselves by association, crucified the Lord Jesus Christ because we hate God by our nature.  Our will was not free to Love God, but instead our unregenerate nature was exposed as hating God... to the death.

Furthermore, we also see that behind our will and decision to kill Christ was a more primary and powerful will.  God himself ordained the crucifixion of Christ.  God himself willed these terrible events!  Why would the good God do such a thing?  God purposed to expose our heart of sin for what it actually is: enmity toward God.  He needed to do this so he could then conqueror our hatred of him and heal us with his overwhelming love and grace.

Even if we consider the baseball diamond of salvation it is God's will that has won the game, not our own.  On first base we see that God predestined his people to salvation from before the creation of the world.  Human will was not involved at all in that decision, but only God's will.  On second base we see that God chose to die on the cross, even though Peter and all our self-righteous pride refused the idea.  Human will was not involved at all in that decision either, but only God's will.  On third base we see that Jesus asked the Father to forgive us, even though no one was asking for forgiveness.  Again human will was not involved at all in that decision, but only God's will.  Finally, arriving at  home-base we see that the Holy Spirit raised us from spiritual death to spiritual life.  No one was willing or able to receive grace, but God makes each one willing at the time of his choosing.  God hits the home run and freely wills to free our wills!

Rejoice that God has freely willed to begin, continue, and perfect our salvation!