Q. As you know I have a prison ministry. In recent weeks I have been talking about the Gospel to an inmate who claims an affiliation with Islam. This man is showing a great interest in Scripture and I believe that the Holy Spirit is convicting him. However, there is an issue in Christianity (actually Islam believes this too) that hinders him from accepting the whole Truth. In his words, ” If God knows everything that has or will happen throughout history … if he knew that not everyone would be saved and some people would end up being tortured in Hell forever, then why did He create them anyway. I’m thinking that makes Him guilty of premeditated murder.”
I tried to explain that God’s knowing about something and him affecting the outcome are separate issues. I tried to explain to this man that God gave each person a free will and those who go to Hell will do so because they rejected the ransom paid by Jesus. All he needs to do is trust in that payment and stop holding himself responsible for making things right with God. However, he cannot get beyond the one sticking point. Any suggestions how I can better explain it?
A. This guy has an excuse, not a reason. God gave man free will to sin or not. The first man sinned, causing our ability to avoid sinning to be impaired from then on. God is just and righteous, so He couldn’t over look man’s sins. A penalty had to be paid. But He’s also merciful and loving, so He gave His own life to pay for our sins so we wouldn’t have to die because of them. Man couldn’t help sinning, but now he could choose to accept God’s pardon to avoid the death penalty. Now the only ones who have to die are those who reject the pardon.
As you said, there’s a difference between knowing what’s going to happen and making it happen. 2 Peter 3:10 says that God doesn’t want any of us to perish, but for all of us to come to repentance. But that’s not His choice, it’s ours. So who’s the killer? God who provided the pardon so we can live, or man who rejects it at the cost of his own life ?