In view of the fact that God knew that so many people would end up lost (Matthew 7:13-14), why did God create mankind? Why would He put so much creative energy and wisdom into beings that would inevitably betray Him, abandon Him, and, for the most part, ignore Him? The same question seems to apply to us when we weigh the dangers and risks of having children, getting married, starting a business, buying a home, or going on vacation. In spite of the potential catastrophes, we still go through with it. We believe the rewards outweigh the dangers and open ourselves up to creative disappointment. No doubt, the rebellion of our world has disappointed God to no end. Yet even with His foreknowledge, He still gives each and every person a chance, “not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Indeed, He knew Adam and Eve (or at least somebody along the way) would sin, for 1 Peter 1:19-20 states that Jesus Christ was foreknown before the foundation of time. This lesson will seek to answer the question of why God created us, in spite of our inevitable unfaithfulness.
Playing It Safe
One of the most common quandaries that Christian philosophers face is the question of whether or not God should have just played it safe and sent us straight to Heaven before we could have a chance to sin. Others have propounded the possibility of God simply making us into “machines” with no free will. The “great thinkers” of mankind have asked, in sheer disrespect for the ultimate wisdom of God, “Why, if God so loved the world, did He not simply create us without free will? If He knew we would sin, then why set us up for failure?” Yet, the most profound response to this error is to look at how God has not set us up for failure, but has given us every opportunity to succeed. We may have free will, which leads us to choose sin at times, but we also have:
· The Bible, which has the power to save (Romans 1:16), and is a guide unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17);
· The church, which serves as a spiritual organization of followers who assist each other, watch our for each other, and pray for each other. We build each other up, and people do not see the beneficence of the church in God’s plan of salvation, then they are not giving Him (or other Christians) enough credit;
· An Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1), who speaks on our behalf and confesses us before Him (Matthew 10:32-33);
· A Propitiation (1 John 2:2), Jesus Christ, who underwent excruciating physical and spiritual trauma that we might live;
· Grace, which acknowledges our weaknesses and gives us forgiveness before the Father.
· We are not set up to fail, but set up to succeed. It is because people choose the broad way (Matthew 7:13) that they fail. With just a little effort on our parts, we have just as much ability and potential to choose the narrow way and live as we do to laze our way down the broad way to condemnation.
But for the sake of argument, what if God chose to play it safe? Should God have taken the position that He would not create mankind if there was any chance of even a single soul being lost for eternity? It is unlikely that any person, even the one asking the question, would answer ‘yes’. Even people who balk at God’s authority, and use this as evidence of His inexistence, would never want their free will taken away. Would any Christian? Would any atheist? And even from a practical perspective, the vast majority of people marry and have children, even though both of those things carry with them great and tremendous risks. In marriage, there is the potential for your mate to hurt you (Malachi 2:14-16). Children could grow up and despise you (Proverbs 10:1). A child could die during birth, taking with him the mother. He could bring you much grief and pain from disobedience and rebellion. Yet we still bring children into the world. The fact that God knew we might choose sin only proves His love for us (in that He was willing to take the risk of tremendous suffering on His part so that we might have the opportunity to exist). In light of this fact, should you not feel a deep sense of remorse and guilt every time you hurt God by acting disobediently? We should thank God every day that He believed the potential of some people spending eternity with Him was worth the risks of condemning others to Hell.
If God had chosen to make us soulless automatons, what benefit would that be to anybody? He would not be allowed to derive pleasure from our willing obedience, and we would not gain the satisfaction of choosing righteousness and conquering evil.
Set Up For Success
There should not be any risk when it comes to salvation. God has done so much to make success available to all people – it is our own faults that we fail so often. Some people truly resent the fact that God created them with the potential for sin. Others even take it to the point that they say, “Well, this is just how God made me. If He didn’t want me to commit this sin, then He shouldn’t have given me free will.” But that is a very defeatist attitude. It assumes that God has made salvation too difficult to accomplish, and free will too unpredictable to manage properly. Consider, however, the fact that the terms of salvation are very clear (Mark 16:15-16). It is no mystery that salvation is open to all who accept the commands. “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). The sacrifice of Christ is so powerful that it can get past free will indiscretion. Not only that, but the love of God is so dramatically potent (John 3:16), that nobody has a good excuse for missing out on eternal salvation. If you go to Hell, it is not for lack of effort on God’s part.
A God Who Is Too Scared…
The god who we find in the Bible is not one who is afraid of taking risks, who is too afraid to stick his neck out for us. Rather, the God of Christianity is a Master who is busy loving us in ways that we will never understand. He wants the best for us always, even when we are too shortsighted to see that it is best. Perhaps this is where we need to focus: if God truly knows what is best for us, then it is best for us to experience temptation, trials, and suffering in this world, and to make a free will decision to follow Him. God cares about us deeply:
· “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29);
· “He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41);
· “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37);
· “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:13).
What if God had decided that the risks were too great for His preference? What if He did not create the world, but in a moment created our souls in the heavenly abode? Just imagine how we would feel if God told us, “Well, everybody, I did have this great plan for you about giving you free will and letting you live in a world in which you could choose to follow Me because of My love for you and the sacrifice of My son. But it was too risky, and I didn’t think that most of you could handle it.” Would any of us be attracted to a god who was fearful and unwilling to give us the benefit of the doubt? Would we be so appreciative of His love and our time in Heaven if we did not have to work hard to get it? How does eternity with that god sound to you?
On the contrary, our God commands us to be courageous and reject fear (Revelation 21:8). God is not governed by fear, nor is He distracted from His plans because of the foolishness of man. In His mighty, awesome wisdom, He has set up a plan for salvation that is available to all people, without the fear that we might all reject it.
How Has Our Free Will Hurt God?
We tend to be very preoccupied with our own problems regarding our free will that we forget how much it has hurt God. Some people are frustrated because free will has opened up the door for human suffering, war, crime, hate, disobedience, rebellion, and every other sin. When pondering the question “Why do good people suffer if God is so loving?” most people place the blame on God, arguing that His love should prevent good people from experiencing pain in this world. But here are some observations:
· First, it is not God’s fault that good people suffer. Never think for a moment that God wants Christian families to lose children in birth, or see their homes burning down, or to lose jobs. Good people suffer because of sinners. People are murdered because of murderers, families are torn apart by adulterers, and diseases happen because of sin entering the world (Romans 5:12).
· Second, why would a truly loving God intervene at every catastrophe? It is very clearly stated that He brings on both the evil and the righteous (Matthew 5:45). It would be unfair for God to bless only good people, since our definition of “good” is based only on human standards. We are all evil in the sight of the Lord, for all have sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23). So how do we determine who see catastrophe in this world and who does not?
· Third, the fact that good people suffer, only makes them long for heaven more (Romans 8:18, Philippians 3:7-8). It makes them appreciate the blessings of God when they do fall, and leads them to keep their souls fixated on the goal of eternal life, not worldly comfort (Philippians 3:13-14). Without any suffering in this world, we would have no motivation to leave or put effort into our heavenly pursuit.
By focusing too heavily on how free will hurts ourselves, we lose sight of how much it has hurt God. Consider the cost that He paid for all the sins that we choose to commit! Because of free will, God has had to put up with unrighteousness almost since day one. He is ignored by people, blasphemed, ridiculed, and scorned. “They did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer” (Romans 1:28). “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Romans 10:21). Even though He came in the flesh to bear the guilt of the sins of His own creation, Jesus Christ was not received by His own (John 1:11).
His Eternal Purpose
No matter how much we think we could have “done it better”, the plan of God was divinely ordained and eternally considered. “In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11). God’s purpose in creating mankind and saving us is eternal. It was not an accident on His part after realizing that free will was a flaw. It was not a hobby that He thought up on the spot. Rather, the whole thing is a grand plan. So why did God create mankind even though He knew most people would reject Him? He did it because He loves us, and wants us saved. Giving us the opportunity to choose Him and go to heaven is worth it – for all of us.