The theme of chapter two of Conversations About God by Graham Maxwell is what went wrong in God’s universe, in other words, what is sin and how did it mess everything up? After the lecture, Maxwell took questions from the audience mediated through the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church, Lou Venden (1984). Edited by Jon Paulien.
Lou: Did God give Satan a chance to repent? After all, you’ve said that questioning God wasn’t a problem. God welcomes our questions. How did things go too far?
Graham: Did Satan get a chance to repent? There’s no text that says he did. But don’t you think that the God we know and trust would give Satan ample time? Has He not always been this way? Isn’t God unwilling that any of His children should perish (2 Pet 3:9)? According to Peter, God is so patient that some people will wonder if He’s ever going to come (2 Pet 3:-10, see also Romans 2:4). So we have a consistent picture of this all through the Bible. God always waits and waits, granting us every opportunity to repent.
In fact, on the authority of the prodigal son story, I would say that had Satan repented, God would have fully reinstated him into his original position. Remember that when the prodigal came back he said, “If you’ll just let me in as a hired servant, I’d be very pleased.” And the father said, “We don’t have any second class sons in our family. You’re either fully home or not.” The father even gave him a blank check at the local bank when he gave him that ring. The father was so generous it really bothered the older brother. So I would say that if Satan had repented, the God of the prodigal son story would have taken him back and fully reinstated Him.
Lou: Here is a question we discussed in the previous chapter, but perhaps we ought to touch on it again. “If God knew that Lucifer would be such an instigator of trouble upon the human race, why did He create him?” I think this is a question that baffles many.
Graham: As we touched on in the previous chapter, I don’t like to limit God’s foreknowledge. So I like to believe that when God created Lucifer, He knew that Lucifer would cause all the trouble. But God also knew what He would do about it. So as He created this magnificent person, He said, “I know this is going to cost me, and I’m willing to pay.” And I think that is truly wonderful, that He would go ahead, knowing that Lucifer would one day cause all the trouble.
Does that make God responsible for sin, then? No. God has never created anybody imperfect. His creations are perfect. Lucifer had no bent to evil whatever. He allowed pride and then sin to rise up in himself. God created him perfect, but He also created him free. And this is important. It means that when we say we love God, it isn’t because we’re programmed that way, it is a free choice. But that freedom means we can also choose to rebel. We can also say to God, “We hate you.” Adam and Eve demonstrated that. When they sinned in the garden it was because they were free to sin.
Lou: That means Satan didn’t go wrong because of some malfunction in the way he was made, like an automobile that has to be recalled. He was perfect. But with that perfect freedom to make choices, all kinds of consequences were possible.
Graham: Yes. But God is in no way responsible. In fact, that leads me to something really wonderful about God. He has paid the price for this rebellion as if it were His fault. He has assumed the responsibility, even though it was not His fault. I think it’s because freedom means so much to God, He would rather go this costly way. He would rather not take some shortcut and program us so we would all behave, like robots. We could have been programmed to line up and say how much we loved Him. It would be like listening to a recording or watching a video with actors pretending to love someone. And that wouldn’t please our intelligent God.