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“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:4,5).

MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO HEAVEN. At almost every funeral service, the speaker comforts the family by saying that the deceased (no matter how irreligious or immoral) is now at peace with God. Somehow we find a way to believe that, in the end, all of us will find our way to heaven.

If God is an objective reality, that reality is independent of our personal preferences. Whatever is the truth about God, we must be prepared to accept it. And we ought to decide what the truth is by consulting God’s revelation of Himself and not our own opinions.

When we consult the evidence, what we find is that God is a God of grace. This is good news, to say the least. God wants to save us from our sins, repair the damage sin has done to our character, and then have us enjoy eternity with Him (John 3:16).

But the evidence also indicates that God will not take away our free will. He will not force us to accept His salvation. Instead, God makes salvation available to all (John 3:17), and grants the gift to those who accept it on His terms (John 5:39,40). If we reject the gospel, we won’t share the same destiny as those who obey it.

God “will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:6–11). Having given us Christ, God has put the choice in our hands. Will we surrender and submit to our Savior?

“I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, ‘All will be saved.’ But my reason retorts, ‘Without their will, or with it?’ If I say, ‘Without their will,’ I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say, ‘With their will,’ my reason replies, ‘How if they will not give in?’ ” (C. S. Lewis).

Gary Henry — +

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