Does God pursue only those that he knows will accept him or does he pursue even those that he knows will never accept him as saviour?

(Elyse) #1

Does God pursue only those that he knows will accept him or does he pursue even those that he knows will never accept him as saviour?

(Matt Western) #2

That’s a really great question. To help the discussion, would you be able to define what you mean by ‘persue’?

I have a feeling this is a question of the free will of man vs the Sovereignty of God discussion, but rather than assuming anything, maybe some more information would open up the conversation as a friendly discussion? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: .
Is there a particular area of the question you ask that is bothering you personally?

Personally, I think the simple Gospel as per Ephesians 2:8-9 is: God initiates first (Grace), we respond (Faith), and Salvation is the result (not of works lets any man should boast).
John 3:16 says ‘whosever believes’, and ‘God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ 2 Peter 3:9.

If the question is ‘Does God give saving faith to some, and not others’ no I don’t think so because it eliminates a genuine response (We love him because He first loved us: 1 John 4:19).

We all struggle with these questions of balancing the free-will of man vs the Sovereignty of God, and my questions which I’ve pondered a long time to doctrine that is too strongly on the side of the Sovereignty of God, and not enough towards the free will of man is.

  • How could God in eternity past have fixed a persons destiny so that they are unable to believe?
  • Based on the above, How could God rightly judge a person and send them to hell for not believing something that they were incapable of believing.

Maybe this thread (and there are many others on the forum) might be helpful? I don’t understand it fully and am learning as well, as are we all.

(by the way, a very warm welcome to the RZIM community! )

(Lindsay Brandt) #3

Hello, Elisa! That’s a really great question. My first thought when I read your question was God’s patience with people and nations in the Old Testament. People mostly like to point out the judgment he enacts in the Old Testament, but I do not think that people usually realize how many chances He gave people to repent and turn to Him, even knowing that they would not, before He brought judgment on them. One of the more clear examples of this is when He was bringing the Hebrew people out of Egypt. He’s all powerful. Why go through sending Moses back to Pharaoh over and over again and the trouble of sending the ten plagues when He could have just pulled the Hebrew people out of there straight away? God was working through the plagues, all that He did in Egypt, in order to show Himself as the one, true, sovereign God, but He was also giving the Egyptians, even Pharaoh, a chance–several chances–to repent. That looks like pursing to me :). In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes this to his readers: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance” (Berean Study Bible). Also, the inclusiveness of Jesus’ invitation through his sacrifice, despite his knowing some would reject him, would point to an affirmation that God does, indeed, pursue those he knows will never accept him as savior. If I can think of anything else, I will let you know, but I hope this is a good start.

In Christ,

(Stephen Wuest) #4

I would rather leave alone, the actions of God that I could never monitor, even if I wanted to.

NIV 1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. (1Ti 2:3 NIV)

I do see clear evidence that God wants all people to be redeemed. And Jesus says “Seek, and you shall find.” I think that the Scripture presents us with a picture of deciding, where our individual free will is in the middle of the ever-present willingness of God to redeem us. The Scripture gives us examples of the kindness of God, that is clearly quite “resistible” by us.

NIV Proverbs 1:24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you-- 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. 30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (Pro 1:24 NIV)

I see God universally calling out to all mankind. It is not that God fails to persuade some people, and specially pursues other people. Our free will is right in the middle of God’s kind providence, to listen to his calling, or to reject it.

There are things that we can do. And things that only God can do. The amazing thing about God’s kind providence (read “sacrament” if you wish), is that God requires us to assent, before he can do what only he can do.

(Lindsay Brandt) #5

Hello, Stephen. Thank you for your response. I don’t think anyone here is debating that someone has to accept what God is offering in order for God to save that person. You are absolutely correct. God does not force Himself or His salvation on people (you are also correct that God’s kindness is resistible), but I’m not seeing where that question was asked. I may be missing something. I read everything, but looking at the first question, I think that, at least for me, is a different question.

When you say “I would rather leave alone, the actions of God that I could never monitor, even if I wanted to” are you saying that we cannot monitor whether or not God pursues those who reject Him? I thought I should make sure I am understanding you correctly.



(Lindsay Brandt) #6

Hi, again, Elisa. Here is the story of God and humanity: Humanity, from the very beginning, rejected God. Sin in and of itself is a rejection of God in pursuit of something the individual wants more, especially because it denies His lordship over our hearts and lives. However, after humanity rejected God, God refused to leave them in that state, and the entirety of the Bible is about God working His sovereign plan of salvation out to pursue reconciliation with a humanity that had already rejected Him. Not one of us can say we are without sin, and, therefore, not one of us can say that we have never rejected God. When God broke into the timeline of human history in the person of Jesus Christ, it was in pursuit of a fallen humanity who had already rejected Him. Therefore, the answer to your question is that God does indeed pursue those who have rejected Him. I would love to speak with you more, Elisa, and I am praying for you.

In the Love of Christ,


(Stephen Wuest) #7

The problem I have is with the wording of the statement. “Pursue” has overtones in English. But it is not the concepts that are commonly used in Scripture, to describe God giving us revelation, offering us covenants, communicating with us, or offering all sorts of hidden help to those who seek him.

I do not perceive (I cannot monitor) how God speaks with other people. Scripture only includes revelation of how God interacts with humanity in general, and how he has interacted with some specific individuals. But how he interacts with each individual, every day, is beyond my knowledge, and is not revealed in Scripture.

The problem I have with “pursue” is that the fringe Calvinists believe that it is only God who is active, to cause us to choose to believe. In this view, individuals essentially have no free will. “God does it all.” And characterizing how god interacts with every individual, in this way, abuses all the language of Scripture that deals with our personal choosing, and personal responsibility.

(Elyse) #8

Thanks so much to everyone who gave insight. Very helpful. I’m not sure if any of you have heard of or read literature by Elizabeth Elliot, she was an author and evangelist who at one time lived in remote wilderness with a tribe of people who had never heard of Jesus until missionaries went there.
So my question is, the people of the tribe that died before they had knowledge of Jesus and therefore had no opportunity to accept him, are they going to hell?

(Lindsay Brandt) #9

Ah, I see. That helps my understanding in what you meant a great deal. For myself, even in school (which I am currently finishing up), studying Calvin, I have never seen the word “pursue” brought up as you mention. If there were any implications of that here, I would not use it. However, context makes all the difference when using a word, and how that particular word has been used in the question was in the context of someone’s rejection of God. Therefore, I don’t think it carries the meaning or the overtone you referred to here. In the Bible, we are able to see God’s heart for people, not simply black and white actions. However He speaks to each individual is not going to deviate from His unchanging character that is presented throughout Scripture and His clearly expressed heart cries for people through the prophets in the Old Testament. Though the word “pursue” is not actually used, that does not mean it is not possible to see it implied in God’s expressed heart cries, Scripturally. God did not simply let Israel turn away from Him and leave them to themselves. For the longest time, through the prophets, He tried to persuade and convince them to turn back to Him. In a manner of speaking, that is pursuing. Israel had rejected Him, and He clearly came after them through the prophets. However, I must stress that this manner of pursuit was an act of trying to persuade, not an act of forcing them to turn to Him, because that is not in His character, nor is that biblical just as you said. But you bring up a good point. Thank you, Stephen.

In Christ,


(Lindsay Brandt) #10

Hi, Elisa. There is another thread, “My Question: Salvation” in which this question is being discussed. I am just unsure of how to post it here, but I’m going to see if simply copying and pasting the link works. My Question: salvation

(Stephen Wuest) #11

I would rather use the word “covenant” than “pursue.” Divine covenants have real structure. There are requirements for the human participants, and for God. If we keep our requirements, there are blessings. If we don’t there are curses involved.

I think that this is a more realistic structure in which to think about our relationship with God. And I think that it is healthier to think about God’s love and kind providence, within the context of covenant.