Is redemption a Pyrrhic victory?

Monday Musings for February 04, 2019

Good morning, Musers,

I hate it that some people will be lost for eternity — and I hate it on a number of levels. First, it’s horrible to think about it. Second, I suspect that more people will have been lost than will have been found… and I find that ratio disquieting. Third, it’s the toughest “sell” in Christianity — that a God of love would condemn even one human.

But condemnation is the counsel of the Bible — and if I’m honest, it’s also the counsel of my heart. It’s just that on some days I wish that universal salvation were true.

It’s not, of course — it can’t be… so I am “stuck” with redemption… just like I’m stuck in a messy world… and just like I’m stuck with an even messier process to fix it — and make no mistake: redemption is messy. But since the only way out is through, redemption is also a necessary process in this world of sin.

Today’s questioner challenged God’s redemption on the grounds that there will be so many lost souls that God’s “win” will be a Pyrrhic victory… and that, therefore, universal salvation would be a better choice.

Now, it’s true that the price of God’s glory is high — the volition of humankind — and that many will fall rather than give God his due. But God’s victory cannot be Pyrrhic because the kingdom of God can take the hit. In fact, it was designed to take the hit.

Remember the parable of building a tower? (Luke 14:25-35). It’s a foolish man who doesn’t count the cost. He runs the risk of spending his resources without completing the project — and being mocked because of it! But God is not like that. God is omniscient, so he knows what everything costs… and God is infinite, so he never runs out of resources.

Like that tower, redemption is a project that has challenging phases. For instance, I don’t think it was a pleasant thing for Jesus to die on the cross… although strangely, it was a joy to him (Hebrews 12:1-2). But crucifixion was designed to be painful, and Jesus suffered when he died.

Furthermore, I don’t think that God enjoys being insulted by his creatures — which is what happens when we ignore him (Romans 1:18-20)… and I don’t think that God is jumping up and down when he dispatches death, Satan, sin and sinners into outer darkness. But redemption won’t be complete until after all that. When God creates the new heaven and new earth, only then will we be sure that the messiness of redemption is behind us.

Redemption is a process… the point is that God doesn’t wave a magic wand… and I think today’s seeker was hoping for a little magic. I too hate it that people perish! … but this is why I take comfort from the Great Commission. It tells us to engage the mess.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV)

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