Rosalind writes –
We embraced the doctrine of Ultimate Salvation for every man in 1969. Since that time we have encountered a number of different understandings in relation to this wonderful revelation. Increasingly we are becoming alarmed at the knock-on effect of this belief. In many quarters it arises from a lack of antithesis, a lack of true understanding of sin and its consequences, a complacency and a ‘God is in control’ mentality that fails to properly recognise what happened in the Garden of Eden. Only today we have read from one American web site the following:-
God MADE the serpent, God MADE him with a beastly nature, God MADE him subtle, God MADE him the Devil and Satan, God MADE him a liar and a murderer from the beginning!
And from the same article:-
After every battle I may say, Thank you, Mr. Devil! for helping to make me a Son of God.
What blasphemy. We tremble that men who say they are followers of Jesus Christ can believe such things. The truth is God does not need a Satan to accomplish His purposes. If He turns the Devil’s works round to His ownadvantage, that is merely to demonstrate that Satan will always “bite the dust.” “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Note, “destroy”, not “use” his works.
To quote from ‘The God Who is There’ by Francis Schaeffer:-
There is no Law behind God, because the furthest thing back is God. The moral absolutes rest upon God’s character. The creation as He originally made it conformed to His character. The moral commands He has given to men are an expression of His character. Men as created in His image are to live by choice on the basis of what God is. The standards of morality are determined by what conforms to His character, while those things which do not conform are immoral.
God can know about things that are not actualised. For example, He knew all about Eve, but she was not actualised until He made her. The same thing can be true in the area of morals. When man sins he brings forth what is contrary to the moral Law of the universe and as a result he is morally and legally guilty. Because man is guilty before the Law-Giver of the universe, doing what is contrary to His character, his sin is significant and he is morally significant in a significant history. Man has true moral guilt.
So Adam was able fundamentally to change the course of history.
When Adam and Eve, who were created in the image of God, disobeyed the Lord they defaced His image.
In the Garden of Eden, it would have been better if Adam and Eve had obeyed God.
It is absolutely wrong to say that we would never have understood God’s mercy if there had been no fall. It is alwaysbetter to obey God.
Because Adam fell short and disobeyed, so Jesus stepped in to take the consequences of that sin – it would have been better if He had not had to die.
Judas betrayed Jesus and as a result, Jesus died. It would have been better if Judas had not betrayed his Lord. Judas had a choice, that choice bears consequences, we reap what we sow. Matthew 26:24 says of Judas, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
When we discovered the true meaning of the Tree of Good and Evil and that it was (in the Hebrew) the Tree of Soft and Loud, unfallen in a perfect world, then we began to understand that God wanted to teach the human race everything to do with His character without the consequences of disobedience. Evil, as we understand it since the fall, did not exist. Evil or fallenness can only come about as a result of turning away from God, it did not exist as an entity in itself.
As we proceed through life we are faced with decisions daily. There is always a choice. If we choose a wrong path due to disobedience, we reap the consequences. This is the knock-on effect of the disobedience committed in the Garden of Eden. That sin caused the Creator, the God of the Universe to have to submit to being killed. He loved us so much He willingly gave Himself, but the enormity of what we as humans caused Him can never be measured. That God should have to die for our folly, our disobedience, our questioning and rebellion, should be forever before us. Our thankfulness should have no limits and our desire to draw others into that bond of love and gratitude should be a driving force within our hearts.
It would have been better if our God had not had to die.
It would have been better if we had not sinned.
It would have been better if our Creator, King, Lord and Father could have shown us His nature of perfect love, without us falling. He would have taught us about His grace and mercy without us having to sin first. He is full of grace and mercy, it is part of His character, He does not have to have the negative in order to teach the TRUTH, it stands by itself as it is God Himself.
It is unthinkable to believe and trust in a god who would deliberately create Satan as liar, a being to deliberately tempt man so that he could use this being to bring us adversity in order to bring us back to himself better people. It is unthinkable to imagine that our Creator would do such a tyrannical thing. (This abomination was also on that same web site.)
In Adam we did turn our backs on Him, we did fall, and we did do that dreadful and wicked act. We are guilty before our God and Creator and we are in rebellion.
We quote again from Francis Schaeffer concerning ‘the scandal of the cross’:-
The true scandal is that however faithfully and clearly one preaches the Gospel, at a certain point, the world, because it is in rebellion, will turn from it. Men turn away not because what is said makes no sense, but because they do not want to bow before the God who is there. This is the ‘scandal of the cross’.
Don’t let us minimise it and create a new gospel that removes antithesis and removes from God His own character. He deserves our everything and that means a recognition of what sin has done to His universe and how the consequences affect the past, present and future. It is wrong to say about the condition of man and the world, ‘God is in control and so all will be well’. Yes, God is in control and so we can trust Him utterly and fully. But with that as our foundation, we must face this world as it is with its sin and depravity, confront sin, confront our own twisted natures. Then when we are convicted of our sin and repent, we regret our wrong choices and wish that it had been otherwise. But Paul says in Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”. However, this doesn’t mean that the things working together are necessarily good. It still means that it would have been better for the good to have happened without the wrong having to be done. “Shall we continue in sin that grace many abound? God forbid!” Romans 6:1
We must recognise the price that our Saviour had to pay in being wrenched from the Godhead and submitting to a life where He would suffer all His life and then die bearing all the load of sin that we have been responsible for. May our Lord save us from taking Him for granted and making what He did for us less than what it was.
It would have been better if our Lord, our Creator, had not had to die.
Yes, the Lord will eventually draw all men to Himself but He desires that man becomes what He originally intended, namely in His image. Because the fall did happen, God uses the consequences of sin in His plan for the ages. But man is culpable and responsible for his own rebellion, many resist Him and His love because they do not want ‘to bow before the God who is there’. This declares with incredible power the wonder of a God who will, in the end, be able to draw all men to Himself. If He had organised a plan in which He created Satan in order to do this then He isn’t the God of love that the Bible declares but a sadistic tyrant who plays around with his creation for his own pleasure. Such a god is anathema to us.
The God of the Bible is able to break down the strongest opponent through His tough love, that is the wonder, that is the glory of our God. He will have all men in relationship with Him eventually but only because each one will have seen his part in nailing the God of the Universe to the cross and will bow down before his Creator in awe and thankfulness having seen his own unrighteousness in the Light of His presence. As Francis Schaeffer puts it:-
The Christian view is that when a person casts himself on Jesus Christ as Saviour, at that moment he has passed from death to life, from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. It means to be acquitted from true guilt and no longer be condemned. This is an absolute personal antithesis.
In this matter, Rosalind and I stand in the tradition of historic Christianity. In this day in which people are constantly encouraged to abandon evangelicalism for other ‘gospels’, we believe it is essential to stand firm in the faith entrusted to our fathers. Let Isaiah have the last word, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” (53:5-6)