“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
I love a good allegory! Something about a brief fictional story can really drive home a point without the encumbrances of all the emotional attachment to the truth of a real-life situation. Since Jesus used parables to illustrate spiritual truths, I figure I’m in good company.
I also like discussing hypothetical situations. Even though the conversations can sometimes get a bit bizarre, discussing hypothetical situations can really help in exploring what we truly believe and why.
Lately, though, I’ve felt convicted about using a hypothetical situation to make an authoritative statement about the character of God. It’s something I’ve heard done a lot, and have sometimes done myself. However, I’ve become convinced that these theoretical statements do not always glorify God.
Let me give you three examples of hypothetical statements about God’s character that are fairly common in evangelical circles, and use them to illustrate why I see them as an issue.
Had you been the only person on earth, Jesus would have still died for you. He loves you that much.
How do we know that and why is it relevant? Since I’m not the only person on earth, it doesn’t really matter what Jesus would have done if I was. More importantly, how can I make authoritative statements like this based on situations that do not exist and about which the Bible does not comment?
What I do know is that when there were only two people on earth in need of redemption, God chose to wait several thousand years, until there were a lot more people on earth, before sending Jesus to die for the salvation of the entire human race.
However, the fact that He waited does not, in the least, take away from His infinite love for Adam and Eve, nor does the fact that He died for the sins of the world minimize His love for me personally.
Had you been the only person on earth and Jesus knew that you would reject him, he would still have died for you. He loves you that much.
Really? This one makes the same hypothetical assumptions as the previous, but adds that even if He knew I would reject Him, He would still have died for just me.
Frankly, I don’t think so. This one just doesn’t ring true, even in the hypothetical reality of the discussion. We minimize the incredible sacrifice of Christ when we make statements like this. Do we really think that Jesus would have left the glory of Heaven, dwelt among men, and died on the cross, just to make a statement…knowing His tremendous sacrifice would be of no benefit to anyone?
I feel silly even debating such a surreal hypothesis, but that one just doesn’t make any sense! Jesus didn’t die just to die…He agonized over that decision in the Garden…it was not an easy choice for Him. He acted out of love…for our salvation…not just to make a statement.
I would gladly give my life to save my child’s life, but I would not give my life just to prove a point…and I don’t believe Jesus would have either.
Had God changed his Mind and given Jesus the option of not dying for you, he still would have. He loves you that much.
In this statement, not only are we creating an alternate reality to try to prove a point about the nature of God that may or may not be true, but we are actually changing the nature of God to adapt to our hypothetical situation.
Had God changed His mind… Really? We’re going to presume that the Father loves us less in order to prove the Son loves us more? We’re going to treat the mind of God as something that changes, and the plans of God from the foundation of the world as though they shift with the breeze, for the purpose of illustrating a point about our presumptions of God’s nature?
Had God…given Jesus the option of not dying for you… The statement assumes that God didn’t allow Jesus to make that choice…and the assumption does not match the truth of the reality.
Here’s the reality. God did allow Jesus to make that choice, and Jesus chose to die for your salvation! How could such a trumped-up hypothetical situation possibly compare to the gloriously true reality of Christ’s love for you?
Folks, God does not live in a hypothetical situation, or an alternate reality. He lives and works in the grit and grime of the here and now. He doesn’t tell us what would have been if. He tells us what was, what is, and what will be.
God did not lift us up to the reality of Heaven. Rather, He came down to experience the reality of earth, and lived in the filthy misery of a world under Satan’s dominion populated by humans who, for the most part, do not follow God’s will.
And in the midst of the harsh realities of this world, He demonstrated His love for us in a much more beautiful and practical way than could ever have been done in any hypothetical reality.
The God of truth does not need our hypothetical alternate realities to illustrate His true nature…He already did that in the harsh reality of a wooden cross.
What are some other hypothetical statements we should consider abandoning?