Even though the title question seems to emerge from an airtight syllogism, we cannot afford to decide such an important theological issue on the basis of logic alone; because such simple logic is totally silent to the character and purposes of God. Certainly the character and purposes of God fall far beyond our capacity to understand them (Rom. 11:33-36). Nevertheless, we are also not totally ignorant because we can see what God has revealed about His nature and purposes in His one, only, and unique son, Jesus the Christ. Through Jesus we see God’s goodness and the primacy of His goodness. We also see that because of His goodness God has predestined a place to dwell with us, who are His image-bearers, in perfect justice, which is the right order of all things through righteous relationships of holy-love. And He predetermined that this place of perfect relationships would stand in Christ, and Christ alone, forever. This eternal realm is the kingdom of God and His glory.
A person stands in Christ and therefore in His kingdom because he or she chooses, under the all-sufficient light of God’s grace, to repent and surrender him or herself in uncompromised humility wholly to Christ. A person remains outside the kingdom of God only because he or she stubbornly and arrogantly clings to the delusion of his or her self-sufficiency. And the only one of these two people you will ever find boasting of his or her decision is the rebel.
God knew before all time the decisions we all would make in the light of grace afforded each of us because of the faithfulness of Christ. But just because He had such foreknowledge doesn’t mean He had destined us to our choices; for to do that would contradict His goodness and subvert His purpose of a just kingdom of holy-love. God predetermined to create us and the cosmos to be His kingdom fully aware of those who would resolutely rebel against Him; and He allowed for such rebellion because His love can have it no other way and still remain His love. This meant that with such great love would also likely be great suffering.
But ponder long and deep this love of God; God’s love loved so much and so powerfully that it completely took all the suffering upon and within itself and then consumed it. It is as John teaches in his gospel account:
“In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of humankind; and the light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:4-5).”
In one sense God because of His love created a universe with the risk His love would go unrequited and incur suffering. Yet even as I admit this again here, I--as I well hope you do, too--realize how simple minded it is to speak of risk at all in the context of God’s love. God’s love is so powerful it can recover its losses without compromising its nature; so love proceeds in its purposes insensible of any concept of risk or threat of risk. This is the power of God surpassing all understanding; this is truly God’s glory.
Because of Jesus’ faithfulness in going to the cross and taking upon himself all the suffering—past, present, and future—born of unrequited love, and carrying it to the grave, and on the third day vanquishing it once and for all by being bodily raised from the dead and ascending to the right-hand of God (i.e., to reign King over His kingdom), we all stand forgiven (I John 2:2); suffering and evil no longer have any lasting power except what we grant them.
Therefore, in the light of such a love as God’s love, the very idea of God purposely creating people to be damned is ridiculous. The God who is love created a universe by means of His love, because of His love, and for His love, and in His love; and God’s love is prevailing in Christ, forever.
So the only question remaining for any of us is, “Who is my king?”
“The appointed time has been fulfilled and the kingdom of God has drawn near; repent and believe in the good news! (Mark 1:15)”