Greetings from the historic city of Bamberg, Germany - what a marvelous place. It's me, André from Düsseldorf. I won't ask if you remember the burgers we shared along with Vicki and my wife ... 😉 First of all, a late thank you for your study series of the Proverbs... What I like about them is the heart of God as a father, longing to pass on wisdom, and his joy concerning any of his children son who are growing in wisdom. On another note, "for something completely different," as Monty Python would put it, regarding the subject of heaven and hell, I was struck me yesterday as I read Mark 14:21: "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Now it sounds to me as if most of the people -- even if they don't find their way to God -- will end up "better" than simply just not having been born, if they don't find their way to God. Of course it may be that I am reading too much into this, but I found it interesting that Jesus points it out this way, because you could argue that this is true for everybody who is not saved, not especially for the traitor. What do you think? -- André
Hello, André! I definitely remember you, brother. And the burgers. And the unique décor. Nice to hear from you. I’m on the island of Tobago another two hours, then it’s back to Trinidad for our CSM/AIM teaching. Homiletics went great last weekend in Jamaica. Possibly the most important unit in all of our curriculum. Vicki remembers you, too :-).
Glad you got a lot out of the Proverbs series. And I too like 15:19… (Almost exactly the same as my English version, easy to understand.) Maybe I value efficiency too much (probably so), but still the Lord is a God of order, and discipline is highly commended in the Bible.
About your question. Judas would so harden his heart that he forfeited his chance, and probably even his ability, to respond to truth. He crossed the line, passing the point of no return. (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter herein.”) But this is not the case for others who still have their free will intact, along with the ability to respond to the light.
I regard Judas as a special case, not like the average human being who fails to seek God. For one, Judas will receive extra strong punishment at the judgment, before he is destroyed (Matt 20:28). For the vast majority of mankind, they will never have the access Judas had to the truth — the Truth (John 14:6). Not to say they won’t be judged (it will be the same triple-punishment of 2 Thess 1: privation, punishment, destruction).
As for whether it would be better for most of mankind not to be born, I don’t know how we can assume this. After all, even if they never heard the gospel, they lived; they had a chance to know God. If they rejected him, ignored the light, that was their choice. We simply don’t know what hypothetical world would have been best. It may well be that only a world in which the majority reject God would be suitable for the greatest number of sentient moral beings to choose him.
About the lost (not the case of Judas): We might consider the connection with 2 Peter 2:20-22. Last, I'd encourage you to consider what the good is. We think of the good as only ending up in the right place after the last judgment. But surely a lost person's entire life isn't bad, is it? It may end in punishment and annihilation but that's simply atoning for the sin. At the end of it all he's back to zero (not +1 but not -1, either.)