God and Free Will - Does God Destroy?
God and Free Will - Does God Destroy? This is an important question as we view the character of God. This page continues from
- Questions for the Skeptic, Part 2
God and Free Will
God cannot claim to have made us really free if He kills us for exercising our freedom of choice. Do we really have a free will if God says "Obey me or I will kill you"? If you tell your children "You can play with your toys but if you touch these decorations I will punish you" are you allowing them to completely follow their free wills? Of course, in that case, we are placing restrictions on them for their own good because they are not yet capable of making the best decisions on their own. When our children are grown do we restrict their liberty or do we punish them for going against what we judge to be best? If we did, how would it affect their attitude towards us?
God will discipline us for our own good but there is a big difference between discipline to help and blotting out of existence.
Saved From Who?
If, in the end, Jesus fills the role of destroyer of the wicked then, in a sense, He died to save the world from Himself because He is the One who finally kills the wicked. Does that make sense?
God is Not of This Manner
"And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village." (Luke 9:52-56)
Pleasing to God?
If Jesus finally destroys the wicked is that act of killing others doing what pleases God?
"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:29)
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Eze 33:11)
This verse is asking the question "why would you make such a choice - that leads to death?" But, in a sense, the answer to the question "why will they die?" is because (in the standard thinking) God will kill them.
The natural result of sin is not death by natural consequences if God ultimately kills the lost.
What Difference Does it Make?
We tend to act like our concept of God. By beholding we become changed. But what does beholding God as the final executioner change us into? It was the medieval church's concept of God as punisher (in the extreme) that changed them into people that could justify using the stake and other torture methods all done in the name (character) of God. This was to, hopefully, get them to recant their wrong beliefs and be saved from eternal hellfire inflicted by God.
The Medieval system burned people because they were trying to save them from a God who, in their understanding, was going to burn them in the end anyway if they didn't recant. And a never ending burning - far worse than anything they could possible impose.
Our understanding of God's character will tend to affect our thinking and, ultimately, our actions. If we see God as personally destroying the hopeless cases, what might that lead us to do?
Miracles Performed by the 144,000
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." (John 14:12)
I believe the 144,000 as "servants of God" (Rev 7:3) "having his Father's name written in their foreheads" (Rev 14:1) will be miracle workers in the last days. Who is more likely to be willing to help and heal others:
- someone who believes God's attitude towards sinners was reflected by Jesus who "healed them all" (Matt 12:15, Luke 6:19)
- someone who believes that within months or a few short years at most God is going to kill them anyway?
Who is the Destroyer?
Scripture indicates that it is someone other than the Lord who is the destroyer:
"For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. (Exo 12:23)
"Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." (1 Cor 10:10)
What Are the Natural Effects of Sin?
Is the wages of sin "death by the hand of God" or "the natural consequence of sin's effects"? (Remember the death that is the "wages of sin" is not the first death, because even the righteous suffer that.) The natural consequence of sin is that, ultimately, it separates the sinner from God who is the source of life
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isa 59:2)
"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (1 John 5:12)
Is This a Dangerous Theology?
When you came to understand that God does not burn the lost forever but rather that they die the second death as a consequence of sin and are then eternally separated from God and simply no longer exist, did it make you look more favourably on God? What is the danger in this?
Some people will object that God can do whatever He wants including to kill people if He wants to. While
God is sovereign
(see the discussion), He has limited Himself in some ways.
For yet more questions about God and free will that will help you in considering this question of whether God destroys, please
go to Part 3