… we need to see God’s love in the light of His other attributes. God is love, but he also is just and holy and He regularly pours out His wrath because of sin."
Francis Chan in “Erasing Hell”.
The idea which Chan, here, articulates is often times used against the Scriptural teaching of the reconciliation of all. Let’s take a closer look at this.
The Bible says: “God is love” (1Joh.4:8.16). Love is the essence of God’s character: All that He is, is characterized by love. The psalmist says: For there is only a moment under His anger, But a lifetime under His benevolence.” (Ps.30:5). Something similar is seen in Isaiah 61:2: only a day of vengeance of God is proclaimed, but a year of good pleasure of the LORD is announced. Vengeance and pleasure relate to each other as one day to one year. Those are biblical proportions and ratios.
What is more: the placing of God’s love in opposition to his righteousness and holiness is not found anywhere in the Bible; as if one attribute of God, at times, prevails over another. God is ONE. God’s love is always the motive of His actions. As a father loves his child and, therefore, judiciously disciplines it, so too, does God lovingly discipline His creatures, the work of His hands. Yes, even behind painful interventions lies God’s love. His love corrects. Precisely because He is love, He also is righteous, that is, He does right and He puts everything right and He brings all to a right conclusion. God’s love is no less real, when He is angry, than when He demonstrates His kindness. The one activity serves the other.
At the conclusion of Romans 11, when Paul came to the end of his reflections of God’s ways with Israel and the nations, he comes to this revelation:
… God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all.
As Paul had stated in an earlier chapter, all of Adam’s offspring were made sinners (Rom.5:19). This was not on account of man’s free choice, no, it was inevitable. Equally inescapable is the fact that in “the last Adam” all people will be made righteous. GOD has imprisoned everyone into disobedience with a purpose: “to have mercy on all.” Sin and disobedience are not accidents, but were in the script. Everything is going according to His plan! Therefore, a good outcome is guaranteed, in advance. GOD is the One who temporarily locks up all to disobedience in order to have boundless mercy on all! As it is true in the one case, so it is in the other: the scope is universal. As the apostle Paul wrote down these things, he bursts forth into a hymn of praise to GOD:
O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser? or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid him? seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!
As everything finds its origin in GOD, so also everything finds its destination in Him. As Paul teaches elsewhere: death will be abolished as the last enemy, and Christ will return the Kingdom to His God and Father, “so that God may be all in all” (1Cor.15:26-28).
Translation: Peter Feddema