Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Rom 2:4
The Bible says that when God created Adam, He formed him from the dust of the earth all right, but then He breathed His breathe of life into Adam, and Adam became “a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
In other words, God did not create a robot. Robots are beneficial, but they are also dangerous. I read recently that a newly-created robot – an advanced species – killed one of its handlers. It grabbed the man without warning and slammed him onto a metal plate, crushing him to death instantly.
Robots are dangerous because they have no mind of their own; rather, they are digitally pre-programmed to do certain tasks which, if the program has no hitches in it, they perform to perfection.
But when God created Adam, He gave him the greatest gift of all – a will, and a conscience. That means he set him free, free to will and to do. The Bible says that God made man to be like Him: He said,
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26)
God has a will, He has a mind, and He has a conscience. These are the components that constitute freedom.
When men therefore make choices in life, they do so out of the freedom that God has given them. Of every other creation God gave Adam power or dominion over them. But He did not put anything or anyone to have dominion over man. The Bible says that even angels are there to minister to us!
Man has so much free potential to please God.
Because of the nature of Adam’s sin, the first thing that man is required to do in pleasing God is to repent. Again, that is to be done in absolute freedom. If God ever wanted to have everyone saved by force, He wouldn’t need to do much. He would only have to come down to cloud level and say, “Before I finish what I am about to say…” – and in the blink of an eye, every church would be packed to the steeple.
But God is not like that. He gives us the freedom to choose to repent. He has given us a free will, and He is never going to take it back.
Out of the goodness of God’s heart there comes not law, but grace. God’s love for man is revealed in the freedom that He has given to us. Freedom to repent.
But the universal human cry is: What can soften a man’s heart enough to make him want to repent? That – living a life of repentance – is the greatest miracle of all.
Let us end by looking at the next few verses:
“5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath…” (Rom. 2:5-8)
We do not know much about heaven, and it is probably not for us to want to know all that is hidden up there. At present, though, we are here on earth. What should be of greater concern to us is how we ought to use the wonderful opportunity of freedom that God has given us on this earth to strive to please Him – to please Him by obeying Him.
May God help us. May He help us to willingly, lovingly obey him.
[Dar es Salaam’s ‘Central Park’]