I have heard many excuses as to why God cannot possibly save all men (and women) and it seems to me that these same opponents are often inconsistent with their own positions. Most (perhaps almost all) Arminists posit that God will not violate the free will of a human being. He can’t, or rather, won’t do it.
Modern Christianity teaches an imputed righteousness. So instead of the rotten jerk you really are, God decides to cover you with Jesus Christ and now sees a righteous person instead of you. God had to do this because he cannot stand to look at us. We are repugnant to him, altogether worthless. So instead of God changing the individual and curing the disease itself, he pardons the sinner while leaving the disease still eating away at the soul. I believe most Christians call this ‘Justification’ and they separate this from “Sanctification”, which more or less is spoken of in terms like this: "God convicts the sinner of his sin and slowly changes him over time. He never will completely conquer sin. He will sin until the day he dies, though he will sin less and less and he grows in his walk. I certainly don’t have an issue with Sanctification… Sanctification, appears to me, very similar to how all humans learn in many facets of life, not just the Spiritual aspects. So it makes good and total sense.
Now, If we sin until the day we die and at the same time maintain that God does not violate our free will… How does one come to the conclusion that their sin nature is changed when they die? That would be God violating the free will of the individual and making them perfect, and if God does this at death, then why cannot he do this for everyone at death? I believe the whole matter is faulty. That is, that God waves a magic wand and eradicates our sin nature is God when we die.
Jesus clearly said some will receive few stripes, some many… To think I am going to escape punishment because of some imputed righteousness isn’t, to me, taking Jesus at face value. Being honest with myself, I am both obedient and disobedient at times in my walk with God. I have peaks and valleys. I have times where I delay my obedience, perhaps like in the case of Jonah. But the bottom line is this: Sometimes I know what I ought to do and don’t do it. Other times I know what I ought not to do and sometimes do it. I am still learning to be righteous and working out my salvation. If I were to die now, I fully expect to receive some lashes for things and I deserve every last one of them.
Luke 12:47-48 - “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Yet, this isn’t hopeless.
Job 5:17-18 - ““Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.”
Proverbs 3:11-12 - “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.”
These verses and MANY more lose their true value in Modern Christianity.
All this to say, I believe all who do not reach perfection in this life (not sure anyone reaches it in this life, though perhaps some) will have varying degrees of punishment/learning taking place in the afterlife. To say that won’t be the case for believers, is essentially to say God violates the free will of a subset of people. George MacDonald said “God will never let a man off with any fault. He must have him clean.” I agree with MacDonald. It is the only method that makes sense. God waving a magic wand and making me sinless (hence, taking away my free will) makes this entire life rather pointless.