I attended a funeral service and a prominent minister in South Africa made the following statement: God is inclusive and not exclusive. This got me thinking, as he did not qualify what the statement meant.
Did he mean that all religions were inclusive as God is inclusive and not exclusive?
Secondly, did he mean that God loves all people and that all are going to heaven?
Thirdly, is it possible that God has changed from the Old Testament? He elected Israel and Israel was responsible to evangelize the heathen nations. In the New Testament, do we find God or does God find us?
These are some of the thoughts which I contemplated after the service.
This has led me to understand that God is a Covenant-keeping God. John M. Frame shares the following insight: “As Lord, God dwells with human beings through covenants. A Covenant is like a treaty between a great King and a lesser King, in which the great King describes the relationship, imposes law, and promises blessing to those who obey the law, and curses to those who don’t. in the Bible, God made covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, and with Christ. It is only through this Covenant relationship that we can have fellowship. In other words, we are either in Covenant or out of Covenant. God’s grace came through Christ. This grace is God’s free favor towards sinners on account of Christ.
One must always remember that God was gracious before one transgression was committed. Michael Horton mentions this concept in his Systematics “God would still be gracious and merciful in His essence even if there were no transgressions. In fact, God’s gracious and merciful character does not require that He show mercy to anyone. Rebellion of such a high creature against such a Holy God deserves everlasting punishment. God remains gracious and merciful in His essence, even though the exercise and object of His mercy is determined in absolute freedom. In other words, God is not free to decide whether He will be merciful and gracious, but He is free to decide whether He will have mercy on some rather than others”.
This is fascinating because we often view God from our earthly worldview. God does as He pleases. He is totally free. I don’t think God could be defined as inclusive or exclusive. God is love, grace, righteous, just to name a few of God’s attributes. So we know God through His Covenant.
His grace is undeserved, and mercy is the opposite of what we deserve.
Finally, the Covenant begins in grace and the law follows grace and this law is birthed in love.
Dr S Ward