Sin and Death and Divine Selection
Until we understand the revelation of God concerning the present state of sin and death, and the purpose of God with the earth and humanity, it is normal to find great difficulty when contemplating the fate of "pagans", deceased children, and those with various types of extreme disabilities etc.
It is necessary firstly to completely put away the false teaching of the present possession of immortality (i.e. "immortal souls", a pagan doctrine which came from Egypt) before we can comprehend the Bible and the world around us - link to 'mortal'.
Once we have done this, and have come to realise that man is mortal because of sin in the beginning, we can look at the subject in a much clearer light. Man sinned, man is mortal, man perishes. It is as simple as that. And if this were to be the end of the matter, the book would be closed on what would appear on the surface to have been an unsuccessful exercise.
But thanks be to God this is not the end of the matter. God has a purpose with the earth, and He has declared it throughout the Bible. One notable example is in Numbers 14v21 - "But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD". This glory will be revealed in immortalized men and women who will have been redeemed by the Sacrifice of Christ.
It is impossible to believe that anything God does can result in failure. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done"..."God..calleth those things which be not as though they were" - Isaiah 46v10; Romans 4v17. Therefore we can understand that although sin marred the original Creation, this must have been foreseen and allowed for, and used as part of the Divine plan for the earth and the redeemed.
It is absolutely necessary to look at things from the point of view of God. Only in this way can we hope to understand the true facts concerning sin and death and divine selection. The first Christadelphian (John Thomas) summarised it thus:
"Men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost. God-manifestation, not human salvation, was the grand purpose of the Eternal Spirit. The salvation of a multitude is incidental to the manifestation, but it was not the end proposed" - 'Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come' - January 1858 page 84.
It is not logical to think of "pagans", deceased children, and those with various types of extreme disabilities etc. in isolation. We must also take into account those who live out perhaps their whole lives believing in pagan falsehoods as taught by the apostate churches. And also those who have no interest in God. The fate of all of the above is that of all mankind in its natural state - "death by sin"…"the wages of sin is death" - Romans 5v12; 6v23. Outside of God's calling (see below) "time and chance happeneth to them all" - Ecclesiastes 9v11. "Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish" - Psalm 49v20.
They have lost nothing. What is true of them is true of all of us in the natural sense. God graciously grants us (for a limited time, and some more limited than others) life upon the earth which He has created. He does not need to do this, and we cannot complain - "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?" - Romans 9v20.
What of the objection that some might have gained salvation if given the chance? The testimony of Scripture is that this is impossible. As shown above, God knows all things, and this includes knowing not only who are capable of submitting to Him, but also those who actually will do so. Consider Jeremiah 1v5; Romans 8v28-30; Ephesians 1v4,5,11; 2nd Timothy 1v9; Revelation 17v8.
All who come within this ambit are protected from the time of their conception. This indeed is an integral part of the purpose of Creation…"all things are for your sakes" - 2nd Corinthians 4v15. But this is not Calvinism. The two principles of Divine prescience (foreknowledge) and freewill exist side by side.
The words of Paul in Romans 9v18-24 are a direct allusion to Jeremiah 18v1-10, where the figure of the potter and the clay is set forth. And Paul continues - "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" This result is a combination of the two principles of foreknowledge and freewill. In v20 he quotes from Isaiah 45v9 to prove the sovereignty of God before showing that freewill is also an operative principle of the Divine plan(see below).
A good illustration of these two co-existing principles is found in Genesis 18v19, where God testifies of Abraham:
"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him".
On the opposite side God knew beforehand what type of a man Pharaoh was, and used Him to show His glory:
"And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth" - Exodus 9v16.
The above two principles are amply demonstrated in the Sacrifice of Christ. Jesus voluntarily placed the will of His Father above His own - "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done". And the outcome was "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God", which involved in the process Peter's indictment of the Jews - "Him...ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain". - Luke 22v42; Acts 2v23.
Besides those who are foreknown and specially called who prove to be faithful, there will be others who will either knowingly reject, or outwardly accept the Truth - though with hearts that prove not to be steadfast with God. They will be judged and found unworthy when Jesus Christ returns to take account of all those who are responsible - link to 'judge'.
A comment must be made concerning the terrible suffering we see around us such as the ghastly murder and injury of millions of men, women and children by tyrants who will stop at nothing to stay in power. Sadly, such is inevitable in this present fallen state, when the true God of the Bible is either disregarded or unknown. It is man's doing, and it reminds us of why David proclaimed "let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great; and let me not fall into the hand of man" - 2nd Samuel 24v14.
Terrible things committed by evil people were "too painful" for the psalmist to contemplate "until (he) went into the sanctuary of God; then understood (he) their end" - Psalm 73v16,17. Yes, judgment will come upon the wicked, suddenly or by the normal outworking of sin, resulting in eternal death. If any have at least a basic knowledge of God's truth, they will also be subject to individual judgment at the return of Jesus Christ. Felix "trembled" when Paul spoke to him of "judgment to come" - Acts 24v25.
Again we have a reference to the potter and the clay - "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" - Romans 9v22,23. Concerning "vessels...to honour" and "vessels...to dishonour" link to 2nd Timothy2. Jesus Christ stated "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily" - Luke 18v7,8.
If we are pliable in the hands of the Divine Potter, we may yet be revealed "unto glory" and not "to destruction" - Jeremiah 18v1-10.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" - Ecclesiastes 3v1 - and sadly the present time is one of sin and death. But the Creation is soon to be delivered, and God's righteous rule in Christ is soon to be established. This future blessed time (now very close at hand) is worth striving for in every way.
"For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever"…"But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" - Psalms 9v18 & 37v11. Concerning Jesus Christ we read -
"In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth...His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed"-Psalm 72v7,17. The gracious promises of God are life-changing, and all three may be viewed commencing here - 'promises'.
We hope that the above scriptural facts will be of some assistance. Should you have any questions or comments, please contact us: