First, while the following may not typically satisfy the unbeliever who asks the question, we need to consider this:
“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:20-24)
This gets into the nature of God, who is all-knowing, all-wise, and sovereign over life and death. Do we really have a right to question God on the way we are made? Even so, there is an important idea stated in this passage that helps inform us about the issue: God has shown His patience and wrath toward those who perish so that He can show forth His grace and glorify His people. The wicked do perish, and while God would rather that they all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9), He will not allow that fact to keep Him from being able to glorify His own. He is a God who glorifies. He took the risk, at least in part, because glorifying people is worth it to Him.
God created humankind with free will and the capacity to choose love. He did this so that He can glorify, but we make a mess through our abuse of the freedom and choice to hate God and others. Should that fact have kept God from creating those whom He can glorify? Not at all.
Why should those who freely choose to love God be prevented from being blessed, saved, and glorified just because there will be those who choose not to love God? If people choosing not to love God should have prevented God from making the human race with free will and the capacity to love, then the idea of the negative, obstinate, hard-hearted who would have had no desire for God would have wielded more influence over God’s decisions and will than the fact that it is in God’s nature to bless and glorify free will creatures. Evil should not be allowed to suppress the good. For God to keep from doing good because He knows there will be evil would be to let the concept of evil have the final say in what ought to happen. This is not God’s mode of operation.
I can only conclude that the provision to bless and glorify His image-bearers is extremely important to God in the scheme of things — more important than letting the fact that many will perish stop Him from doing what He loves and wills to do. Allowing the knowledge of unbelief to keep Him from creating those whom He can glorify together with Him would be giving too much credence to rejection. Is Yahweh a God who allows the negative to trump the positive, the evil to overcome the good? Apparently not. Let’s not forget, either, that God has made this salvation and glory available to all by His grace.
Every parent knows that bringing a child into the world runs a risk. The child can bring great joy and happiness, or the child can bring much sorrow and pain. Parents desire to have children that they can bless and care for. They know they will have times of great difficulty. They know there will be growing pains. They patiently work with their children through the hardships to bring them up. Parental desire to bless their children doesn’t change even as they grow up and move out. Yet that risk is there that the children will finally rebel, reject parental love, and turn their backs on the blessings and love that come through the family. Even so, knowing this risk and possibility, people keep having children and holding on to the desire to have a family they can bless and keep in close fellowship. The potential for the love and joy is great enough to take that risk. There is goodness in being able to bless someone. That goodness and love is in the nature of God, and this motivates God to bless and glorify a special people, even though others will have turned their backs on Him to be lost.
Likewise, every potential friendship runs the risk of causing great pain and heart-ache. Yet, we believe strongly enough in the love, the fellowship, and the joy that comes from it that we are willing to run that risk of loss. Should we let the fact that some may betray us cause us never to seek out friendship, fellowship, or love? Should we let the fear of loss keep us from the potential of love and joy?
Why would God create people whom he knew would reject Him and therefore be forever lost? It would seem, at least in part, that the answer lies in the fact that God, in His goodness, love, and grace, has strong motivation to bless and glorify free will creatures made in His image. Yet to make free will creatures He can glorify also meant making free will creatures who would choose to reject and hate Him, which puts them in a very bad position. Bear in mind, also, that even if we never fully understand this, that does not put us in a position to deny God.
God’s offer and desire is to glorify us, but He won’t force us to accept. Will we be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction or vessels of mercy prepared for glory? As Moses told the people of his day, “So choose life in order that you may live” (Deut. 30:19).
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