Spiritual Robots (?)
A robot is "a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts of a human being--a mechanism guided by automatic controls."
Actually and obviously, there is no such a thing as a spiritual robot. It is for this reason that a question mark appears with the caption of this article.
There are, however, theological and doctrinal concepts related to the sovereignty of God and the predestination of mankind that would, in substance, make man a mere "mechanism guided by automatic controls" --something like a phonograph on which its owner may choose to play a vulgar record at his pleasure, or, he may choose to play a pure, inspiring record at his pleasure with neither the phonograph nor the records having any choice in the matter. Following are a few quotations from theologians in which the above concepts are in focus in greater or lesser degree.
"Predestination, we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself what He would have become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others. Every man therefore being created for one or the other of these ends, we say, he is predestinated either to life or to death."
"Scripture nowhere implies that our choice has anything to do with our salvation."
"God could save all if He chose because He is sovereign and His will cannot be frustrated. Only a limited number Will be saved, therefore, God did not wish to save the rest."
"God decreed that the non-elect should choose the course they follow."
Now the Scriptures, as well as sound reason and logic, are against such robot concepts of man. If God created some men for eternal life and some men for eternal damnation irrespective of their own will or choice, then He created something like robots and phonographs with living souls. And if God actually did so, then He is the Author of sin and wickedness, and is responsible for creating some men helplessly wicked and then burning them forever for being just like He made them and wills them to be. God would then be ruthlessly unfair and a respecter of persons in the greatest possible degree-something the Bible declares, and we believe, to be untrue. No sane human parent would stoop so low as to build a mansion for one child and a fire for another one just because he found pleasure in doing it that way--and divine love is greater than human love.
If mankind is saved or damned irrespective of his own will or choice, then the conditions for salvation given by divine inspiration are just that much wasted breath on the part of Deity. There are actually hundreds of "ifs" in both Testament related to man's responsibility and responses to God which involve choice the need to be made. Examples: Deuteronomy 30:17-19 and I John 2:24.
It is sometimes argued that if salvation conditional, then it is not a gift. No grateful person will deny that the food we eat, as we as our other possessions, are gifts from Got even though we must do something to be recipients of the same. The manna in the wilderness, which was a type of Christ an salvation, was a gift from Heaven even though Israel needed to do something to receive benefit from it. Israel did not sit down and say that since the manna is a gift God must gather it, mete it, put it in their mouths and masticate it, swallow and digest it so they could be strengthened by it. In spite of all that they needed to do to receive benefits from the manna, Jesus declared was a gift from His Father. This writer has been working all his adolescent and adult life-time for the food, clothing, comforts, an conveniences of life, and yet he humbly and gratefully acknowledges that all he possesses is a gift from God.
If God determined beforehand what would have become of every individual and predestinated them to be that way irrespective of their choice or will, why should proponents of these theological errors concerned whether people are saved or do And why should they oppose those who, keeping with their theory, must have been predestinated to expose their erroneous concepts? Or why should they be concern about the end result of anything?
A look at some Bible characters and what God has to say about them will give us a proper concept of how a just and fair God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11b).
In the Triune pre-creation counsel, Deity purposed to create a being "in our own likeness" with an intellect, a will, and the power to make choices along with the determinate purpose that this wonderfully and fearfully made being should enjoy life if he chooses to obey and suffer death if he chooses to disobey.
God's sovereign purpose and ideal for Adam is stated in the terms "in our image, after our likeness," and God's will for Adam was expressed in the words "thou shalt not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If "the sovereignty of God" means that will is always fulfilled regardless, then Adam could not have eaten of the forbidden fruit and could not have lost the image and likeness of His Maker. Because Adam chose to disobey, God's will for Adam's obedience was not fulfilled, but God's ultimate purpose and counsel to bring death upon Adam for choosing to disobey was fulfilled (Genesis 2:17 and Genesis 3).
Because of God's foreknowledge of man's choice of death, included in His pre-creation determinate counsel was the purpose to provide salvation for Adam and his fallen race through the obedience, suffering, sacrifice, and blood offering of His beloved Son. Unlike disobedient Adam, the Son was obedient to death, and the pre-creation counsel and purposed redemption was fulfilled (Acts 2:23).
God's will for both Cain and Abel was that the typical blood offering should be used in their approach to Him. God's will and purpose to save those who come to Him by way of His foreordained formula was fulfilled in the experience of Abel, and God's will and purpose to reject those who refuse His formula was fulfilled in the experience of Cain. God's continued concern and will for Cain's salvation is clearly in focus when, after Cain flew into a fit of anger because his bloodless offering was not accepted, God tenderly and graciously offered to accept him (the same as Abel) if he would use the same sin-offering approach.
Cain was also assured that even if he refuses to do well now, the sin-offering (note: the Hebrew word for sin as used here is translated sin-offering over one hundred times elsewhere in the Scriptures) will continue to be at his will-door desiring to be used for his acceptance. God further told Cain that he can "will" and "choose" to rule "Him" (the sin-offering) out of his life. Cain chose to rule the sin-offering out of his life and to identify himself rather with "that wicked one" (I John 3:12). God's will to save Cain by way of the shedding of blood was not fulfilled, but His predetermined counsel to reject those who reject His purposed way of salvation was fulfilled.
The record of Jacob and Esau and the nations they fathered gives us another vivid example of God's election and predestination based on His foreknowledge.
God foreknew that Jacob would be a man of solemn vows (Genesis 28:20-22); that he would be a man of the altar (Abel's method of acceptance and worship of the true God--Genesis 35:1-5); and that he would faithfully serve and fear the God of his fathers (Genesis 31:42). God also foreknew that Esau would be an immoral and profane person (Hebrews 12:16) --a "red-pottage," here-and-now person who would reject the God of his fathers and despise true and lasting values of life.
God foreknew that a profane man like He foreknew Esau to be would not be suited to head a nation that would be a peculiar treasure unto Himself and provide the people He needed to make His power known in the world. He did, however, foresee that person in Jacob, the purposeful, vowing, God-fearing man. Therefore in His foreknowledge, before the two "children" (Romans 9:11) (two nations and two manner of people--Genesis 25:23) were born, it was said that God hated (loved less) Esau and loved Jacob, and that the elder one would be servant to the younger one. That "the elder should serve the younger" was referring to the two nations fathered by the two boys, rather than the two boys themselves, is evident in the fact that this was never a reality in the lifetime of Esau and Jacob, but was a reality in the experience of the two nations that later developed through their posterity.
Even though Isaac "willed" to give the blessing to Esau, and Esau "ran" to get some venison for the blessing service, God overruled and His foreknown, elected man of the altar received the blessing (Romans 9:16).
In the final analysis, God's pre-creation counsel to make an intelligent being with the power of choice, provide salvation for all mankind, save and bring to heaven all who in faith come to Him by way of the blood of the Lamb and who meet the conditions of holiness, and His pre-creation counsel to consign to the lake of fire those who refuse His way, will have been fulfilled according to Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.
If those suffering souls in the fires of hell were there by divine decree apart from their own choices in life, they could justly point the finger of condemnation at an unfair God in all eternity.
The declaration of Revelation 16:5-7 will vibrate in all eternity both among the redeemed and the lost. "...Thou art righteous, 0 Lord, ... because thou hast judged thus."
Spiritual robots? No!
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for it ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:10,11).
Aaron M. Shank