You Didn’t Really Mean That, Did You?- Answering the Hell Question, Part 4

October 12, 2008

(This is the last in a four part series of posts dealing with the age-old question “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” This answer was originally developed as a reply to an email I received. Today’s post deals with the objection of “Hell does exist, but I don’t see how a loving God could send people there, therefore he doesn’t [or at least not forever].”)

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” -John 3.18

So, then, let’s return to the question, “Does anyone get sent to hell (for eternity)?” or, rephrasing it in terms of what was just said, “Will God (eventually) justify everyone?” To say “Yes” to this question is to assume one of two things, either everyone will profess faith before they die, or God will not hold a lack of faith against people. But I think it is easy to disprove the first assumption, so we must be assuming that God will just overlook people’s lack of faith, and if he doesn’t then he is responsible for sending them to hell.

Can God overlook a lack of faith? Numbers 14.18, “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” To think God can overlook our sins is to play down the severity of our sins. Romans 6.23 says “For the wages of sin is death.” Psalm 1.5 says “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” Our sin is so awful to God that we cannot even stand in his presence. He is so holy that he must be separate from all sin. It is for this reason that he could not even look upon his own son when Christ took on our sins on the cross (Matthew 27.46, 2 Corinthians 5.21). As JD Greear from The Summit Church in Raleigh, NC said, we find hell so severe because we don’t think that trampling on God’s glory is that a deal.

Thus, if God can’t overlook a lack of faith, then isn’t he still in some way responsible for sending us to hell? Certainly not. John 3.18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Jesus here clearly tells us that the responsibility for a person’s condemnation is on them because they have not believed. Yet, if you are a Calvinist like myself, believing that “No one can come to [Jesus] unless the Father who sent [him] draws [them]” (John 6.44), then how does God escape responsibility here? Because, the only reason we are cut off from coming to Jesus in the first place is because of our sin (Psalm 51.5, 58.3, Romans 3.10-12, 23, Ephesians 2.1-3), which is necessarily our responsibility since “God made [us] upright” (Genesis 1.31, Ecclesiastes 7.29). Therefore, no matter how we turn, the responsibility for hell falls solely upon our rejection of God and our hardness towards him. As CS Lewis so famously said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” It is us who sin and make ourselves unworthy of God’s presence, and the punishment of hell is the natural end of this.

To close, though it is mostly clear from all else we’ve said here, hell is an eternal punishment. Just look at 2 Thessalonians 1.9, “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” Some people will argue that the Greeks had no word for eternal, which is right, but the word that is used here is ‘aiōnios’, meaning ‘without beginning and end,’ which is what the English word ‘eternal’ means. So, Paul is warning of an eternal punishment, as do Jesus in Matthew 25.41 and Jude in Jude 7.

As a note, there is simply no evidence anywhere, anywhere that God will offer up redemption to man after this life passes. In fact, Revelation 20.11-15 accounts for us that the final judgment will be passed upon the dead for what they had done, ergo, since dead people don’t do anything after dying it would seem fitting that this argues towards our point.

Therefore, in the end, we must conclude that hell is real, God is good, and man is ultimately the one responsible for his own condemnation. Of course this is not exhaustive on the debate, as it has brewed for two millennia with ceasing yet, but hopefully it is extensive enough of a treatment on the subject to be of help. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.


You Didn’t Really Mean That, Did You?- Answering the Hell Question, Part 3

October 11, 2008

(This is the third in a four part series of posts dealing with the age-old question “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” This answer was originally developed as a reply to an email I received. Today’s post deals with the wording of the actual question from the email, which was “If God is good then why would he send good people to hell?”)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” -Ephesians 2.1-3

I believe that in order to properly deal with the question of “Does anyone get sent to hell (for eternity)?”, I must first return to what the actual text of the original question you posed says: “If God is good then why would he send good people to hell?” The word I want to point out, and what I think affects our whole perspective on this thing, is the word ‘good.’ How could God send good people to hell? This is certainly a fair question if our conception of ‘good’ is the same as God’s, that we have Christ’s imputed righteousness in us, cleansing our sins so that we may be declared not guilty by God (2 Corinthians 5.21, Romans 3.23-26). If indeed we are ‘good’ because we have received Christ’s blood by faith and been justified by God the Father, then it God would not be good/loving in sending us to hell because he would have no grounds for doing so and would thus be in conflict with his perfect justice.

However, I think very few people have this conception of ‘good’ in mind when posing such a question. Instead, what I believe is commonly meant to be a ‘good person’ is someone who does things which are nice and which appear ‘good’ to men. Yet what is it that God says about man’s inherent ‘goodness’? Isaiah 64.6, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Our ‘goodness’ is no more than “a polluted garment” to God (literally, in modern language, a used tampon). But, isn’t God pleased when we do things that it says are good in the Bible, even if we don’t have faith in him? Hebrews 11.6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Thus, we must see that what we esteem as ‘good’ is of no value to God, and so it is no matter if we think a person is good or not, what matters is whether they have been justified by the blood of Christ.


You Didn’t Really Mean That, Did You?- Answering the Hell Question, Part 2

October 10, 2008

(This is the second in a four part series of posts dealing with the age-old question “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” This answer was originally developed as a reply to an email I received. Today’s post deals with the objection “I don’t see how a loving God could send people to hell, therefore hell must not exist.”)

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” -2 Thessalonians 1.9

Now, let us first deal with the question of “Does hell exist?” The denial of hell is currently a very popular position, particularly among the emergent camp of Christianity and from people like Brian McLaren. In fact, I would argue that the doctrine of hell is one of the top issues that Christians need to be given sound instruction on these days in light of this trend. To deny the existence of hell is simply something that we cannot do and not, at the same time, deny the authority of Scripture, for Scripture speaks so plainly on it quite often (Matthew 5.29, 30, 10.28, 23.33, 25.41, Luke 12.5, 2 Thessalonians 1.5-9, 2 Peter 2.4, Revelation 20.11-15).

Of course, the objection which arises to this type of analysis is that when Christ and others spoke of “hell” as a place they were just being symbolic and therefore those passages are useless. But to that I would say, What is hell but being “away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1.9)? For us, though we may not realize it, the greatest gift is to be fully in the presence of God and the greatest torture is to be fully away from his presence. Thus, the first, wherever it may take place, is rightly termed ‘heaven,’ and the second, again, be it a literal fiery furnace with weeping and gnashing of teeth or not, would be rightly called ‘hell.’ This also takes away the argument that this current life is what hell is, since in this life on earth we know we are neither fully in God’s presence nor fully removed from it.

Therefore, our conclusion on the first question, Does hell exist?, must be “Yes,” and so, the one remaining question must be then “Does anyone get sent to hell (for eternity)?”


You Didn’t Really Mean That, Did You?- Answering the Hell Question, Part 1

October 9, 2008

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” -Matthew 25.41

I’m sure that anyone who’s been a Christian for any time has either asked or been asked the question, “How could a good/loving God send someone to hell?” I have heard this question numerous times, as well as listened to a number of sermons concerning it, and have always had a reply in my mind which I believe is true to Scriptures. However, I recently received an email asking if I could prepare a response to this question that the emailer could share with some one in their Bible study who asked, and so for the first time I wrote down an extensive handling of this query. Since it seemed appropriate I have decided to share my reply here as well, and so over the course of the next four posts I will be answering the question:

How can a good/loving God send someone to hell?

The first thing we must do in approaching the question of how could a good/loving God send people to hell is to realize that there are actually two questions being asked here. The first question, which I believe is the easier one to deal with, is “Does hell exist?” This can be seen by the statement “I don’t see how a loving God could send people to hell, therefore hell must not exist.” The second question is “Won’t God just eventually save everyone?” This is attached to the statement “Hell does exist, but I don’t see how a loving God could send people there, therefore he doesn’t (or at least not forever).” It is these two questions that I will address.

One comment, technically there is a third question, that being “Is God good/loving?” But, in the context of a Christian questioner, I do not believe we can even ponder this question. In either context we get both a contradiction in the Bible and a God who is no god at all. If God is not good then he cannot be God because God is the creator of all, he determines what is good and what is evil. There is not a morality that exists outside of God since if he were subject to something outside of him then he could not be God. This also would contradict 1 John 1.5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” If God were not loving we again have the same problem since what is loving is derived exclusively from the character of God and for him not to be loving would be a contradiction of 1 John 4.8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Thus, we cannot allow for this question to be a Christian objection to hell.


Wandering in Wonderland, part 3- A Scriptural Defense for Focusing on the Destination

August 12, 2008

Over the course of the last two posts I have attacked the emergent position that we should be focused on the journey and not the destination in the Christian life. I have argued that this leads to meaningless statements about “the right thing” and “a better way,” particularly when combined with the emergent attack on identity. I have also discussed that I feel that it is that living-in-the-now approach which has caused for emergents to avoid standing on biblical truth when it comes to issues which are divisive and not popular among a majority of people.

However, the one thing I need to do is offer a defense from the Bible of why we should focus on the destination. Now, take note, I do not intend to argue that we shouldn’t focus on the journey, as I have already conceded the importance of doing so in the first post (and besides, only free grace theologians would argue for this position), but instead I wish to show that this is a “both-and” issue.

First, let’s look at Hebrews 11.13-16:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Now, in this passage, which is referring to the faith of the patriarchs, what does the author of Hebrews say? He says that the patriarchs made it “clear that they are seeking a homeland.” So, their focus was on the destination, on the homeland, the “things promised.” And what was the reaction to this? We’re they rebuked for having an improper focus? Far from it. Instead, we are told that “God is not ashamed to be called their God” and that per their expectation “he has prepared for them a city.” Then it seems as if God is actually rewarding their faith in him, their focus on the destination, with a “heavenly” country. Not bad, huh?

But then you may argue, “Well, that was the Jews and the promised land, not us.” To that I would say look two chapters later at Hebrews 13.13-14:

Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

This time it is certainly being directed at believers in Christ, as this comes just two verses after a commentary on what Christ did for us. Also, this passage parallels the image given in chapter 11 of the city that has been prepared. Thus, it seems pretty clear that it is a good thing for our focus to be on the destination, the completion of God’s promises.

Where else can we turn for support of this? How about Romans 8.18-25:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Where is our hope? What do we seek? It is the redemption that is to come. For this we wait, with patience yes, but wait for it nonetheless. Or take 1Corinthians 9.24-27:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

We run to obtain the prize. We train to receive the imperishable wreath. This is an excellent illustration for what we need do. Yes, it is important that we “discipline [our bodies],” but we do not do so aimlessly. We are to focus on the journey because we are striving for the destination. We also see this echoed in Philippians 3.13-14.

Therefore, I think we have adequately shown by the word of God that as much as we are to focus on executing the journey in a manner which is honoring to God, our reason to do so is because we are “eagerly [awaiting] adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.” I don’t think it could be any clearer. If we lose the goal, then the journey, however good it might make us feel, is completely worthless.


Wandering in Wonderland, part 2- A Quote by Dan Kimball Adressing Emergent Motivations

August 10, 2008

In discussing the topic of emergent motivations and whether or not we should be concerned with “the destination,” I think it would be nice to post a quote by someone who is so closely linked to the debate that he even has a book out entitled The Emerging Church, that being Dan Kimball (for the distinctions/relation between “emerging” and “emergent,” at least in my own use, check out the “Emerging vs. Emergent” tab above).

Now, I know I have not always agreed with everything Dan Kimball says, but in this ever growing divide between orthodoxy and “generous orthodoxy” I think it is important to know who you can trust to maintain the integrity of the truth, and I believe Kimball is one of those people.

The following quote comes from a message Kimball delivered at the recent Shift youth ministry conference at Willow Creek Community Church. What makes this even more impressive a statement is the context in which it was delivered: Kimball’s remarks came two days after Brian McLaren got up and spoke about the fact that “Many of us [theologians] have been increasingly critical in recent years of popular American eschatology in general, and conventional views of hell in particular. Simply put, if we believe that God will ultimately enforce his will by forceful domination, and will eternally torture all who resist that domination, then torture and domination become not only permissible but in some way godly.” So, what did Kimball have to say in response to this?:

“This is what I’m just concerned about a little bit with some of the things that are going on today. The church is waking up to the fact that we have to be involved in global social justice issues. And that is fantastic. We should be repenting (and saying), ‘I can’t believe we did not think of this. This is the command of Jesus and what we should be about.’ And we need to be so involved in all of this because the kingdom is about life on this planet here and not just about when we die.

“But my subtle fear is that we don’t then swing the pendulum so much that we forget that there is life after we die and that we do have to still remember that there is an eternity with God and an eternity apart from God.”

These are surely pertinent words, and awfully brave things to say in front of a room which has been digesting the social gospel/universalist biases of people like McLaren and Shane Claiborne. I am thankful for people like Kimball who, though I may disagree with them on some issues, they understand the importance of submitting to God’s revealed word in the Bible and being disciples with a big enough a pair to live out Titus 1.9: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.


Wandering in Wonderland- A Commentary on Emergent Motivations

August 9, 2008

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“- so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

(Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

Continuing on the idea which I have been developing about the emergent attack upon identity, I would also like to point out that in fighting against identity the post-modern ideologies of emergent also seem to be fighting against ultimate ends as well.

In as much as emergent weakens identity by erasing lines of distinction and fuzzing out moral clarity, they also destroy purpose by viewing as their ends some sort of vague spirituality. In fact, all one needs do is listen to Rob Bell in his stage production Everything is Spiritual and you will hear the emergent drumbeat that the gospel is Jesus coming to tell us that we are living in an “integrated, holistic spirituality” and that we don’t need to seek anything or anywhere else.

What?

Or, maybe we can see how Rob Bell handles the question “How do you learn to redeem yourself from a mistake? How do you learn to overcome that on the inside and continue being a compassionate person?”:

“I think that many people pick up along the way that life is about destination, so they are taught it is about arriving, it’s about having all the answers, it’s about creating a nice box that you can sit in and defend. But my fundamental understanding is that life is a journey and journey is a fundamentally different way to understand life than destination. And on a journey all I am responsible for is the next step, and that’s all I’m ever asked for is the next step. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t have to defend it all. I don’t have to have it all nailed down. And if you can shift from destination understanding to journey it frees you to take life as it comes, let it be what it is, and then do the next right thing.”

So, to the poster boy of emergent, the “next Billy Graham”, we see that an “integrated, holistic spirituality” is not about the destination, but instead it is about the journey and about being “free” to “do the next right thing.” Those words are so devoid of any meaning that it is almost laughable. But what should you expect? These words, though completely useless towards anything, particularly for a Christian, are also so dainty that they are sure not to offend anyone or polarize any conversation that they occur in. Which, of course, is the point.

Now, I’m as big a fan of Jack Kerouac and On the Road as anybody else, and I agree that Christ teaches us to be concerned with the journey and what we do in this life (Matthew 25.34-36, 28.18-20), but the thing we must recognize is what Lewis Carroll says in the opening quote, which he summarizes more succinctly like this: “When you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” To me, this is the error of emergent. They have become so focused on “the journey,” so focused on “compassion” and social justice, that they are open to taking any road to accomplish this, including roads which deny Christ.

In order to maintain peace those within the emergent circles have bent on the sin nature of homosexuality (either openly like Campolo or passively like McLaren). They have bent on the necessity of the substitutionary atonement (embracing the “cosmic child abuse” view of Chalke). They have bent on the existence of hell (through universalism like McLaren or by arguing that Hell is a state of living on earth like Bell). At any fork in the road where emergent would be forced to choose one way or the other, inevitably alienating some, they always try to take both. They do this because in the end, emergent is truly not concerned about the destination, they are not concerned with where you’re going. The only thing they ultimately care about is how you intolerant you are and how many trees you kill along the way.


Every Generation’s Battle- John Piper on the Correct View of Scripture

August 2, 2008

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” -2 Timothy 3.16

But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” -John 20.31

“The Battle for the Bible” often times is used in Southern Baptist circles to refer back to the period of debate in the 1970′s when the claim of Scriptural inerrancy was questioned strongly and evangelicals had to make a decision which way to go. Should we deny inerrancy and move more towards the liberal theology of many mainline denominations or should we uphold inerrancy and cement ourselves as the true conservative position in the church?

Today, more widely, the Battle for the Bible has come to mean the struggle over inerrancy along with debates over appropriate hermeneutics to use, how much authority does Scripture have over our lives, and is the Bible the only spiritual text which reveals God to us. It is in light of this type of continuing debate that leaders such as Albert Mohler comment that every generation must decide if they are going to stand on the authority of Scripture or not, every generation must fight the Battle for the Bible.

For our generation, I think the time is now. Look at the landscape: teachers like Rob Bell invoke trajectory hermeneutics to liberalize Scripture into accepting current moralities which are specifically opposed in the Bible; in their book The Lost Message of Jesus, Steve Chalke and Alan Mann refer to God’s crushing Christ for our iniquities (Isaiah 53.5) as a form of “cosmic child abuse”; Brian McLaren (the liaison to evangelicals for Barack Obama) runs around the country questioning the existence of hell and a literal second coming, at times even proposing a sort of universalism; multiple denominations are facing splits due to some ramifications of a refusal to stand on the clear Scriptural teaching that homosexuality is a sin. In all, our post-modern, post-Christian, emerging landscape is covered with major rifts which all center around the denying the inerrancy or supreme unique authority of Scripture.

To this effect, and to start our battle smartly, I want to give you guys a link to a wonderfully thorough handling of this material conducted earlier this year by John Piper. Over the course of 5 messages Dr. Piper argues what the Scriptures are, what we mean by their inerrancy and authority, why we should believe their message, and how this should inform our behavior. These messages are well researched and I believe will prove very beneficial to you as you begin to pick sides in this current Battle for the Bible.

This is important, please realize that. If we lose the Bible we lose God’s revelation of himself and any way of resting our church on the true authority of His Word over the broken philosophy of man. Put on the full armor, take up arms, and fight!

John Piper- Why We Believe the Bible


Why is This World Accursed?- A Sermon by John Piper

June 19, 2008

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” -Romans 8:18-25

Last week at the Resolved 2008 conference, John Piper gave an excellent message on why it is that there are so many disasters, natural and not, that occur in our world. He also touches the ever so controversial issue of human suffering. Dr. Piper has such an amazing heart and his passion for pursuing and preaching the things of God is so evident in all of his messages. This one is no exception and is especially pertinent for us to observe in the wake of this weeks flooding in the Midwest. I encourage you guys to take a few moments and spend time in listening to John Piper’s words for us in this never-ending world of suffering. Enjoy!

John Piper- The Echo and the Insufficiency of Hell


I Choose Hell- CS Lewis and God’s Role in Condemning

March 11, 2008

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.” -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce

So often people ask of the doctrine of predestination, “Well, if you believe that God chose those whom will be saved before time began, then doesn’t that necessarily mean that God chose everyone else to go to Hell?” My unwavering answer to that question is “No.” No, I do not believe that God “chose” those who are condemned to Hell, and the reason why is what is expressed above: the choice to go to Hell is a self-choice of the individual, one which chooses to deny service to God and thus is condemned in its own sinfulness.

This is one of the major issues which is at stake in the argument between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Without spending too much time myself in explicating my position here, I will tell you minimally where I stand and then point you to a (highly academic) source for further detail on what I fully believe.

When it comes to the issue of predestination and the condemnation of souls to Hell, I believe that we are all, from birth, totally depraved, wholly incapable of choosing God (i.e. choosing to do that which is righteous); not because God has made us this way but because we have inherited the original sin of Adam. Because of this we are all deserving of Hell. This is our own choice, at no point has God forced our hand and made us choose to sin, but instead it is ingrained in every bit of our human nature to do that which is opposed to God’s will. Moreover, the only way to avoid Hell is to be counted among the elect of God, those whom He has predestined for eternal life in Heaven. Therefore, the act of predestination is an act of God to save those whom He desires from the natural result of their sins and setting them apart to be glorified alongside Christ in Heaven. However, at no point has God played a part in the condemnation of a soul to Hell. One ends up in Hell because out of their depraved nature they chose to sin, and God’s electing grace simply passed over them.

I know this is a hard doctrine to deal with, either because it seems too complicated or just plain unloving, but I encourage you that if you seriously put the time into searching out God’s will and His character in election then you will be rewarded with a peace about what He says. As well, it is important to keep in mind this other quotation of Lewis from the same book:

“Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both…. What concerns you is the nature of the choice itself: and that ye can watch them making.”

If you find all of the talk of predestination and free will to be a stumbling block just keep this quote in mind. It is wonderfully and greatly rewarding to study the deeper aspects of God’s character in theology, but remember that Christ’s call for us is to simply “go” and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20) and if you are faithful to do this you will certainly not be disappointed!

Grace be with you.