The argument is as old as the Bible. Do we really choose to believe in God, in Jesus? Or does God choose us, extending mercy to some, and hardening the hearts of others?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18)
I prefer to avoid thinking about confusing and contradictory concepts—they make my head hurt! However, the tension between predestination and free will concerns me a great deal. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death.
What image comes to mind when you think about heaven? Do you imagine clouds and harps and winged seraphim? I get a vision of green hills, blooming flowers, and abundant wildlife (as C.S. Lewis described at the end of The Narnia Chronicles). Or perhaps you anticipate a vast crowd of people, friends and family waiting to welcome you.
Our assurance of heaven is a great comfort, especially when we lose someone we love. We can be confident that we’ll see them again and that we’ll spend forever together.
But what happens when that person we love has clearly rejected God’s offer of Himself? Heaven isn’t the only possible destination. The Bible clearly says that those who reject God’s offer of Heaven consign themselves to Hell—a horrible place devoid of God’s loving presence.
How do we cope with the loss of someone who didn’t choose God?