I recently heard someone say that God is watching and waiting, to see what we are going to do and what choices we will make. This person went on to say that because God is so desperate to see people saved, He has made the road to Heaven broader than most think. He even went so far as to say that other specific religions can be pathways to Heaven. Perhaps I should also point out that this individual is actually a leader at a church, not too far from where I live.
It seems that many today have this warped view of God that boarders on Universalism. This view of God also paints Him to be a god of uncertainty. When we say things like “God is watching and waiting to see what choices we will make”, we are admitting that we have a wrong view of God.
The truth is, God is not on the throne scratching His head and wondering what we will do next, and He’s not a God that is so “desperate” to see souls saved, that He’s made the road to Heaven “broader” than what Scripture has plainly stated.Because it’s so difficult for our mere human minds to comprehend a being that exhaustively knows all things, including the future, it’s sometimes easy to view God and the things of God in the wrong light. This is why it’s important to stay in the Scriptures.
Scripture paints a quite different picture of God’s knowledge, justice and decrees than many today attempt to paint. He’s not a desperate God who’s waiting to find out what choices we will make. In fact, Scripture is quite clear that God knew from all eternity who would be saved and who would be condemned. We see an example of this in Acts 13:48—
“When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”
And in John 6:63-65—
“The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning those who would not believe and the one who would betray Him. He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”
Did God really only appoint certain particular persons to eternal life? Yes. How can this be? We can find the answer if we only search the Scriptures. First, it’s important to understand that the road to Heaven is narrow, and only a few walk this road (Matthew 7:14). The road to Heaven is narrow, because Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). There are not multiple roads (Acts 4:12). In other words, God has decreed that only those who walk this narrow road will be saved. And because God is all-knowing, He knew who would be on the narrow path and who wouldn’t, as we can see in Scriptures like I Peter chapter 1, verses 1 & 2:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.”
And Romans 8, verses 28 through 30:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Augustine of Hippo explains these verses found in Romans in the following way:
“Not all that were called, were called according to [God’s] purpose (secundum propositum): for this purpose is closely bound up with the foreknowledge and pre-determination of God: and he did not pre-determine anyone, unless he foreknew that such a one would believe and would follow his own call: these are those he also calls ‘chosen.'” (Expositio quarundam Propositionum ex Epistula ad Romanos, 394)
Augustine’s explanation of Romans 8:28-30, goes well with Matthew 22:14, where it states that “many are called, but few are chosen”.
Scripture is clear, that while the invitation to salvation is open to all (many are called), God—knowing all things past, present and future—has sovereignly decreed to choose for salvation, only those who would repent and put their faith in Christ. This means that God gives faith to believers, and effectually calls and draws them (John 6:44) according to His foreknowledge.
Theologian Jacobus Arminius puts it this way:
“God decreed to save and damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which He knew from all eternity those individuals who would, through his preventing grace (or prevenient/enabling grace), believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere…and, by which foreknowledge, He likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere.” (Works, Vol. I)
There is great peace and joy in serving an all-knowing, sovereign God. A God who knows those who are His.
Ephesians 1:4-14 says:
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Godʼs grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are Godʼs possession—to the praise of his glory.”
A clear view of Scripture lets us know that God is not a God of desperation and uncertainty, rather He is an all-knowing, sovereign God who exhaustively knows the end from the beginning. And as I Corinthians 8:3 says: “…whoever loves God is known by God.”