Why did God give us just one way to heaven? Why create men only to send them to hell forever?
We often look at salvation as a means to get to heaven. But that is not the complete picture of salvation, according to the Bible.
Salvation refers to the restoration of man into an eternal relationship with God that starts on earth and goes on into eternity. It is not something we receive after we die nor is it primarily about a place we wish to go to after we die.
To understand why the Bible teaches that there is only one way to heaven, there are a few things we must remember about God, who is one in being and three in persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
1. The state of humanity: God is eternal and, by nature, is holy, righteous, merciful, and just. He is also sovereign and creator over all things. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. Therefore, when Adam and Eve, whom God created in His image and after His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), rebelled against him, they violated the laws that God gave them to operate within.
Because of their sin, they became corrupt by nature and estranged from God. They, and all of humanity after them, have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin and our broken relationship with God, we are all condemned to suffer the eternal wrath of God in hell.
2. All fall short: Because of who He is, God will not compromise on the righteousness that He demands from us.
Because of who He is, God will not compromise on the righteousness that He demands from us
None of the man-made religions can supply man with the perfect righteousness that He demands. All of them say we must clean up our lives before we can be made right with God; they all require us to do something to earn salvation.
Because we are sinners by nature, however, everything we do is tainted by sin. Before a holy God, all our “good” deeds and works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
3. Salvation through the cross: Since man fails miserably to satisfy God’s righteous demands, God, on His initiative, sent His beloved Son to be the perfect sacrifice. There is only one way to Him, because there is no one righteous, not even one, except God Himself (Romans 3:10-12).
Everything that man makes or does to try and reach God is as corrupt and depraved as himself. Apart from Jesus Christ, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The second part of the question deals with the dilemma that God creates people only to send them to hell. Here are some things we need to understand.
The triune God does not need to create anything or anyone because He is complete. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit love and mutually glorify each other and, therefore, there was no essential need for creation.
Yet, the triune God chose to create man to be a recipient of the love present within the Trinity. Creation itself is an act of grace and is not ultimately done to fill hell with people. God is love. He loves everyone and does not delight in the death of the wicked.
Along with God’s love for humanity, there is another equally important teaching we need to acknowledge. God has allowed evil to exist, even as He planned the creation of humankind. He did so, so that man knows the value of God’s perfect love within the darkness of sin. It is evidence of God’s sovereignty extending to everything He does.
The triune God chose to create man to be a recipient of the love present within the Trinity. Creation itself is an act of grace
God could choose to save everyone out of His benevolence — or destroy everyone. He does not owe man salvation. Yet, He chooses to save some and pass over others for destruction (Romans 9:14-18). God is sovereign and does so according to His purpose and will (Proverbs 16:4) — both in the salvation and damnation of humanity.
What then should we make of the situation where God has predestined some to go to hell?
As we balance God’s love, sovereignty, and His actions that lead to His glory, we cannot make a statement that pictures God as cruel for creating people whom He knows and has predestined to go to hell. This error occurs when we emphasise the love of God too much at the expense of His sovereignty.
We also must not go the other way: emphasise His sovereignty at the cost of His love. This then causes us to become insensitive and fail to love, care, and share the gospel with all.
We would do well to remember that we are finite creatures who do not know the bigger picture of what God has done and is doing. We are to acknowledge that He does all things for the honour and the glory of His Son and His name.
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