Israel Folau and “God’s Plan”

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Israel Folau and “God’s Plan”

2 May 2018 Hits:7253

A few weeks ago, Wallabies superstar Israel Folau caused an online furore stating that gay people will go to hell unless they repent.  His comment was in response to a question from an Instagram user, Mike Sephton, who asked: “what was gods [sic] plan for gay people??”  His comment has since been deleted, but Folau replied to him before the comment was removed: “HELL … Unless they repent of their sins and turn to God.”

The background of this exchange is worth noting.  Two weeks before the post, Folau tore his hamstring quite severely in the opening minutes against the Brumbies and was told he would be on the sidelines for a month. Naturally, he found missing three or four games so early in the season to be disappointing and frustrating, but, by his admission, he “accepted the news and started looking ahead.”

That afternoon he posted the following on Instagram, referring to James 1:2-4: “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, because the testing of your faith produces endurance … so that you may be lacking in nothing.”

The question about God’s plan for gay people was asked in the thread of that post.  Folau later wrote, “My response to the question is what I believe God’s plan is for all sinners, according to my understanding of my Bible teachings.”

I want to make it clear that this blog is not written to criticise Israel Folau.  I’ve not met him, and I don’t stand in judgement of him.  I also uphold his right to free speech, to state what he believes the Bible teaches, and to answer questions as he sees fit.  He is a Christian man and, as such, he is my brother in Christ.  I encourage you to read his follow up piece, “I’m a sinner too,” in which he humbly gives some helpful context to his earlier comments.1

What I want to address in this blog, however, is where I differ from Israel Folau about “God’s plan.”  His answer went straight to addressing sin, and so the plan of God for sinners is hell.  My question is, “Is hell God’s plan for people?”  The simple answer is “no.”

Do I believe in hell?  Yes, I do.  But hell is NOT God’s plan for people – forgiveness, salvation and reconciliation are.  That’s why the apostle Paul wrote these words to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people … [because] this is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).  It appears that God’s plan is for His people to be deeply committed to praying for others “to come to a knowledge of the truth”.  God’s plan for people is to know the truth, not go to hell!

In another letter, the apostle wrote, “this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.  And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.  And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.   So, we are Christ’s ambassadors…” 2

There’s some great truth in these verses about God’s plan for the human race.  “Reconciling” (in the original Greek language) was an accounting term that referred to the correct exchanging of money.  If you’ve ever visited a foreign country, you’ll no doubt have had the experience of exchanging Australian dollars for the local currency, and you’ve checked to make sure you haven’t been short-changed.  That’s what God has done for every human being “through Christ”.  His plan was not to short-change us because we are sinners; in fact, while He was counting out righteousness (right relationship with Himself), He was NO LONGER COUNTING PEOPLE’S SINS AGAINST THEM.  How sad it is then that so many Christians today are known as sin counters.

The apostle also says that those of us who have been reconciled to God through Christ, have now been given the message of reconciliation as though we were Christ’s ambassadors.  If you are a Christian, your central message is that of reconciliation. You are Christ’s ambassador, that is, a person who is respected as trustworthy and knowledgeable to communicate the opinion of the one they represent; in this case Jesus Christ. 3 If God doesn’t count sins, why should His people?  If God’s plan is reconciliation why should any of us communicate His message as hell?

Sadly, people in Australia read comments like those from Israel Folau and, once again, hear a message from a Christian that is not a Christian message at all.  God’s plan for people is not hell.  God’s plan is reconciliation. After all, that’s the wonderful message He has given His people to share with the world.  It’s good news not bad.  It’s a message that attracts and does not repel.  Let’s get the message right!

 

[1] https://www.playersvoice.com.au/israel-folau-im-a-sinner-too/#oHXjioBHOeQuoX8Q.99

[2] 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

[3] http://biblehub.com/greek/4243.htm

 

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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11 replies on “Israel Folau and “God’s Plan””

Elizabeth Birdsays:

I agree that God would like everyone to turn to him for salvation. I think Israel believes that too, but his answer to the question about God’s “plan”
for sinners was rather clumsy, and not thought out properly.

Steve Bryarsays:

Excellent article Rob and nails it on the head as to what God’s plan is for each of us.

steve turnersays:

great word Rob, thanks

Shanesays:

I believe that Israel Folau clearly meant that if gays don’t repent and accept Jesus . He only did not word it that way thinking that it’s a given that the person asking the question would understand what he’s saying. Look at the following from 1 Corinthians 15:27 “ For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. “ Now Paul is clearly talking about everything being put under Jesus’s feet but he takes it further to explain that the father who put it under The sons feet is exempt . Now if Paul didn’t explain that the father is exempt, we’d still understand it . Likewise Israel Folau is under the understanding that the person asking the question would know that he means that people that continue living a lifestyle that is considered a sin in God’s eyes will end up in hell as the bible states.

Elizabeth Ryansays:

Hi Rob,
I agree that God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell but that’s not what Israel was asked. He was asked what is Gods plan for homosexuals. He is right for saying what he said and he said unless they repent so he added that clause.

Geoff & Daphne Ackland. (Toowoomba Queensland).says:

Thanks Rob,
My wife Daphne and I just want to thank Israel for his faithfulness and strength in the Lord. Please be encouraged and we are confident you will never surrender. Unfortunately, the cost of following Jesus may cost you everything – but one thing. And I know you are well aware of what that Crown it?

Blessings and all power and provision to you and yours, through the Provision and Presence of Jesus our Lord, Who is our ultimate bench-mark in all things.

Geoff & Daphne (fans and eternal kin of Israel).

Kameng Kapaksays:

Absolutely God’s greatest plan for all human race is to secure the eternal place that God has prepared for us. I so blessed with what Folau is doing cos he is a good ambassador for Christ and I pray that God will bless his ministry.

Zoe Constantinousays:

Looks like a sin is a way of looking at things. Its not right nor is it wrong. It is with a trained conscious
that we perceive things. It is about your relationship with God, how well do you know Him and his ways. If you are busy doing your own things you will neglect him. The person who asked the question is also a part of God’s plan. One thing to remember is: God doesn’t like sexual immorality outside of marriage. Inside of marriage people can be immoral as well. Celebacy while married is something to consider??

John Koukourassays:

Sadly for Folau he may have got some of his meanings and interpretations through his close family member and teacher – his Dad. Other articles I’ve read claim that he was going to take down his post on Instagram but was conflicted and persuaded not to by his Dad who is a pastor no less in their church. I suppose that the central message of pure love and forgiveness from God to ALL of us is often made very complicated by some of the supposed “learned” preachers. God gave us a brain to think and weigh up the information being blasted at us from every direction but sadly if someone wishes to deliberately deceive and lie to you it is near impossible to guard against it. That’s probably why the ascetics removed themselves from society and went into the mountain caves to live quietly, meditate and pray without distractions, “noise” and temptation. These days it’s pretty hard to achieve this type of “quiet” – you certainly dare not go without your iPhone.

tina waelensays:

well I am of the understanding that the only being that has the right to judge us is god, so what right does this 30 have,

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