I come today, the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, to talk about one of the most troubling aspects of God’s plan. It is perhaps one of the most troubling aspects of our knowledge of God himself. What in the world is God doing; and what is going to happen at the end of all this, when the time comes to tie up loose ends?
God manages to remain—in spite of all of our efforts to explain him—inexplicable, paradoxical; and we so often find ourselves trying to hold two conflicting ideas of God in our mind at the same time.
Well, along with Paul, I decided a long time ago I better get used to that; and Paul underlined it in a short statement he made in the Book of Romans. (We’ll come to it more than once; I’m just going to read it to you now.)
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if [And, oh, this is a big “if”.] you continue in his goodness: otherwise you also shall be cut off” (Romans 11:22 AKJV).
This sentence has rattled the cages of many an amateur theologian. Why do I say that? Well, because of something else Paul said.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3 AKJV).
God will have all men to be saved, yet some will be cut off? If it is God’s will that all men be saved, why do so many end up lost—at least from anything we can see: the fruits of their lives, the scriptures that apply to them. And many of them, perhaps most of them, are lost through no fault of their own. What do you do with this?