Keeping an open mind to God’s word while we’re engaged in well-meaning doctrinal review is crucial for believers. Although scrutiny can catalyse differences, it doesn’t make it unnecessary. Differences can be healthy by showing us complementarity or safety lines.
Having said the above, in this exercise to ascertain God’s ultimate heart desire for humanity, let’s depend on the Holy Spirit to enlighten us through the scriptures.
What’s God’s ultimate heart desire for humanity?
The answer—is revealed in God’s two-fold purpose for breathing Life (Christ or Light) into Adam and Eve. The two pronged intent is: For humanity to have freedom to worship (talk and walk) with Him as His image bearer and from that vantage, till the ground as its caretaker (Micah 6:8, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Genesis 2:15).
Although Adam and Eve eventually lost God’s image through their disobedient choice (Genesis 3:6) and plunged humankind into darkness, God’s heart desire for humanity to worship Him didn’t change. In due time, His only Son (The Lamb sacrificed from the beginning) was sent as the Light—to light up humanity who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:79).
However, because it was by choice humankind rejected God’s life freely breathed into our first parent (Adam and Eve), it’s also by choice that we’ll have to receive God’s free gift of life being offered to us in His Son.
But, given humanity’s gross depravity, are we able to choose life? Yes!
That’s what Christ’s atonement did — it tore the veil —making it possible for humankind to turn to the Light through the preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:19, Matthew 27:51, Romans 3:25, 1 Corinthians 1:21). Therefore, it’s proclaimed, ‘whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:15).
God’s active desire ab initio was and still is salvation (His life to dwell in humankind Genesis 1:26, 1 John 4:14-15, Romans 10:13). It’s contrary to Calvinist predestination doctrine which portrays God as a trickster — engaged in offering a larger segment of humanity His Light — while He had predetermined by His sovereignty for them never to accept the Light. This blind spot is part of the fundamental error governing Calvinism. The scriptures to show how God have negated the rest of His attributes and used just one — “sovereignty” to act against every other thing He represents is yet to be provided.
True sovereignty of God works within the framework of His other characteristics like love, justice, patience etc. His sovereignty in perfect harmony with the rest of His attributes is displayed in His willingness to save humanity despite we were fallen. Herein, we’re shown godly sovereignty that’s not divorced from who He is. Because God’s sovereignty operates within His attribute of justice, He made the provision of His Lamb from the foundation of the world knowing He’ll never work against His own attributes. So, God’s Lamb is pivotal and inevitable since the Adamic sin that affected all of humanity had to be paid for.
Ironically, John Calvin’s discriminatory interpretation of predestination doesn’t resemble his namesake’s (John, the apostle) inspired scriptures in John chapter 1. Here’s what it says, ‘the Word or Logos was in the beginning with God as God and He created humans and the Word is the light of or for humanity (John 1:1-3, John 1:4). Notice, the Light is not for some predestined people.
‘The mission of the true Light, is to give light to everyone’ (John 1:9). The essence of John the Baptist’s ministry further solidified this truth: “God sent him as a witness to testify concerning the Light, so that through him all (not some) might believe in the Light” (John 1:6-9).
As John the Baptist made good of the ministry of being a witness to the Light, oppositions and distraction arose from the people who wanted to know who he was and his mission. But, he kept his focus on God’s heart desire and stated it repeatedly in an uncomplicated manner: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (humanity)” (John 1:29). For all intent and purposes, this clearly speaks of Christ’s general atonement for humanity and not limited atonement for specially predestined people (1 John 2:2, Isaiah 53:6).
Let all who want to praise the glory of God’s grace reflect again and again about His sovereignty alongside all of His other attributes. As we do, hopefully, we’ll eventually acknowledge that there’s no way God’s other characteristics would’ve been dormant for sovereignty to act independently. God is self-sufficient in wisdom and counsels Himself wisely! (Isaiah 40:13).
The Scope of the Light’s Mission
The Light’s mission was to all of humankind and not to any special people (Neither the Israelites nor a certain predestined multitude). Even the Israelites as part of humanity and by genealogy Jesus’s own people also refused to recognise and acknowledge the Light (Him) (John 1:10-11). But, because the Light (The Word) came as a fresh start for humanity, as many as received Him, those who believed in His name He gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of parental decision but born of God (John 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:23).
Evidently, God laced the apostolic ministry of John with His heart’s desire for humanity in a way that explained predestination. Pursuant to God’s desire to save all of humanity, John both faithfully and plainly proclaimed the remarkable action God took, ‘Out of His fullness, grace upon grace has been poured out to humanity’ (John 1:16, 4: 42, Titus 2:11, 1 Timothy 4:10). Unlike God’s “law of commandments” given to the Israelites by Moses as their culture, grace and truth (Christ Jesus or the Gospel) is given to humankind as a culture of Light or Redemption (John 1:17).
In Ephesians chapter 1, Paul stated repeatedly that God predestined humankind to redemption. To be holy and blameless through believing the gospel—God’s good pleasure for humankind. A pleasure He determined for humans in Christ from creation. This gospel (The Light—God’s Son) came to reveal His Father to all of humanity. Why? Because no one has ever seen or can see the Father except by seeing His Son (John 1:18).
How can the general atonement of Jesus Christ be entered into?
John stated the answer, “Make straight the way for the Lord” — meaning, believe in the Lord or repent — not from all of our sins but from the sin of rejecting the Light (John 1:23, Mark 1:15, Acts 3:19). Why do we refuse to come to the Light or His atonement? It’s because our hearts and deeds are evil and the devil uses it to blind us (John 3:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4). It has nothing to do with us not being predestined.
How do humanity that love darkness come to the Light? Jesus’s sapid explanation showed both His Father’s role and humankind’s. ‘… God takes the initiative to teach all to come to Christ, and everyone who hears, learn or agree with God accepts Christ (John 6:45). So, verse 45 of John 6 clarifies (John 6:44), ‘before anyone can come to me, they must first listen and agree with my Father’s persuasion’. Those who agree to come to me are those taught or persuaded by God and great will be their peace as spoken by the prophets and I will raise them up at the last day (Isaiah 54:13).
Whilst it’s the church that’s chiefly used by God to persuade humankind, He also directly persuades humans — including babies in their mother’s womb. Patiently, God endures with humanity so all can heed His persuasion! (2 Peter 3:9, 15). God is not devilish to be busy drawing (persuading) people He had predetermined never to accept His persuasion.
It’s clearly stated, ‘God sent the Light to humankind not to condemn us but to give us Light’ (John 3:17). This offer is to everyone everywhere (Mark 16:15). Why? Because He loves humankind (John 3:16). His desire (Predestination) is for everyone to enter into the Light of eternal life in His Son. It’s not a reserved privilege for a few elect, no! Those — few (Multitudes) who respond to God’s persuasion to go to Christ just as Jesus had to agree with God’s predestination to go the cross will be chosen or elected to abide in Christ as a new creation (Matthew 22:14, Luke 22:42, 2 Corinthians 5:17).
Encouraging reason why every human should come to the Light or Christ’ Atonement
While it’s true that when we come to the Light the darkness in our hearts and evil deeds will be exposed to us, we need not be shamed or afraid because Christ made the atonement on the cross on our behalf and resurrected to give humankind life abundantly (John 10:10). If we accept His atonement, its effect doesn’t leave us with our sin, sins and shame (1 John 2:2). He translates us to light and helps us walk in the light (Matthew 5:14, John 8:12, 14:26, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 32:8, Romans 8:14).
Consequently, the only reason any human will be lost perpetually is the rejection of the Lamb of God and not because they were predestined to damnation (John 3:18, Mark 16:16). It accounts for why the Prophets of old prophesied that Christ is the Messiah and the Apostles vehemently insisted that redemption is found in no one else but Christ Jesus, the light of humankind (Acts 4:12).
The True Gospel
The gospel does not become good news because He’s received. In and of Himself, He’s good news to humanity. That’s why He’s not limited to any socio-political cum religious and ideological enclave. Irrespective of the religion and culture we’re born into, God is daily drawing everyone to Christ, the Light of Humankind.
Through the Church (All those who’ve accepted God’s persuasion to believe in Christ and follow Him), the gospel is being displayed and preached to all humans that God, our Creator, has the welfare of each one of us at heart, to this end: that we should be saved in Christ (Mark 16: 15). This is the theme of the book of Acts. It isn’t a narrative of God conscripting some predestined folks.
God has never been in the business of forcing humanity to worship Him else, the rich young ruler and King Agrippa would’ve been conscripted. They freely and unwisely rejected God’s persuasion (Mark 10: 17-22, Acts 26:27-29).
Jesus himself, John, the apostle and John the Baptist including the other apostles and prophets pointed to this conclusion: everyone is invited to Christ Jesus, why? Because God doesn’t desire for anyone to go to hell (The unavoidable place for those who reject Christ’s atonement).
No human was predestined to go to hell to satisfy God’s cosmic pleasure. Far from it! (Ezekiel 18:23).