In a post over at The Christian Post, Pastor Dan Delzell theorizes that God wants everyone to go to heaven, but that millions won’t make it because, frankly, they refuse to believe:Really?
What does happen is that millions of people choose to continue living their lives without Jesus Christ. It's their choice, but not God's choice for them. His choice for them was the cross. His desire for them is eternal life in heaven.And
And so while Christ died for all, there are those who are not willing to "die to self" and live for Christ. In other words, they refuse to invite Jesus to sit on the throne of their heart. They would rather keep "self" on the throne.
I’m afraid that the Bible contradicts this theory. The Bible tells us, first, that none can withstand God (2 Chronicles 20:6; Job 23:13 and 42:2; Proverbs 21:30); that God’s purposes will be fulfilled (Isaiah 14:27 and 43:13 and 46:9-10; Lamentations 3:37); that God is sovereign and rules over all things (Psalm 103:19); that He does as He pleases (Ps 115:3); and that He even directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
By saying that man has the ability to refuse what God wants means He is not sovereign – that He has no right of power over His own creations – something demonstrably false (Romans 9:21).
Pastor Delzell apparently believes human beings have the power within themselves to seek after Go:
Whoever wants to become part of the "elect" can repent of his sin and believe the good news.Yet, again, the Bible tells us the opposite: that all human beings are thoroughly unrighteous (Romans 3:9-10); that no one seeks after God (Romans 3:11; 1 Corinthians 2:14) unless God Himself draws them (John 6:44, 65); that unless and until God draws us, we cannot please Him (Romans 8:8); that we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1); and that we are totally alienated from God (Colossians 1:21)
That anyone actually believes in God is actually a sovereignly-provided gift from Him – it’s no doing of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). And this gift was bestowed upon a specific group of people ‘before the foundations of the world’ – before creation itself (Ephesians 1:4 and 2:10)
The members of this specific group are usually called ‘the elect’; they are a people predestinated to be called children of God (Romans 8:29-30).
Now, as far as predestination (or election), Pastor Delzell makes a very interesting statement in response to an argument:
"Wait a minute Dan. Doesn't the Bible teach that God predestines some people to hell, and that He even makes this determination before they are born?"Predestination as a doctrine means that God chose certain human beings (again, before creation; before there were any human beings) to be the beneficiaries of salvation. The act of choosing infers that at least one thing is accepted and at least one thing is rejected by the chooser. So if God chose certain people to benefit from salvation, obviously, there are other people who have not been chosen to receive that benefit. At the end of time, humanity will have two ‘choices’ of destination – heaven or hell. Which one you’re going to has already been determined by God in predestination (election) – the elect will go to heaven; the non-elect will go to hell.
Absolutely not! The doctrine of predestination in the Bible is only for believers, and it is there to comfort us with the assurance of our salvation. Scripture does not teach that God predestines some people to hell. Man's human reason came up with that unbiblical and unloving doctrine. (emphasis mine)
Predestination is not ‘only for believers’, as Pastor Delzell maintains; it is for both believers and non-believers. To his credit, the word ‘predestination’ is rarely used in reference to non-believers – the word used for them is ‘reprobation’.
I will also credit Pastor Delzell for the following statement:
Every single person who sincerely turns to Christ for salvation is granted this free gift. Their sins are forgiven.This is true; however, it must be qualified, and that qualification is in the word, ‘sincerely’.
In order to ‘sincerely’ turn to the Lord, one must be regenerated spiritually. The only way one receives spiritual regeneration is if the Holy Spirit provides it. Since we can see all around us, on any given day, people who ‘deny’ Christ and ‘refuse’ to turn to the Lord, obviously this spiritual regeneration is provided by the Holy Spirit on a selective basis; this is why you actually do hear about and see people who have said:
"I turned to God in repentance and faith, but He rejected me. He didn't want me. I wasn't good enough."Contra Pastor Delzell, there are plenty of people who say this very thing; they are the ones who didn’t have a ‘sincere’ turning to the Lord, and the reason they didn’t have that ‘sincere’ turning is because the Holy Spirit did not regenerate them.
Now, if the Holy Spirit’s regeneration is selective (as observation shows us), to whom does He provide this regeneration? Those whom God chose ‘before the foundation of the world’ to be saved and to be given to His Son as His Bride – the elect.
Now, there are quite a few other Scriptures which more fully explain and reinforce this idea – that the Holy Spirit’s regenerative work – as well as Christ’s atoning work on the cross – has a limited application (again, contra Pastor Delzell – and many other pastors); this is not ‘[m]an's human reason’ which ‘came up with that unbiblical and unloving doctrine’.
But that’s fodder for another time.