I was just now reading a FAQ on predestination from Mark Driscoll, which at one point reads:
"Augustine taught that everyone is going to hell except for the predestined elect and that God does not predestine people to hell, but, rather, only predestines some people to heaven.
Augustine’s position was in effect a very positive celebration of the saving work of a gracious God who worked through Jesus Christ for the good of the elect as it focused on those who are saved, while not seeking to provide any definitive reason apart from sin for those who are eternally damned."
Regardless of whether Mark or I agree with his position, these words evoked in my mind an image of all humanity on a downward slope (headed toward Hell), sliding on their backsides down to destruction, conscious and terrified of their ultimate destination. According to the Bible, God's election would be His plucking of people from this slope, and placing them instead on the upward slope of salvation, leaving the rest to continue their descent.
But that isn't quite right, Biblically.
This image that popped into my head is accurate in that the slope is downward for all humanity (as we are all sinners, deserving and headed toward Hell), and that God chooses whoever He wants to save.
The image of people sliding unwillingly toward Hell is the problem. Humanity is not a group of people desiring God but sliding uncontrollably into sin; instead, we are from birth a people of willful sin, hatred of God, and therefore deserving Hell. Sinners are not resisting their descent along the slope; they are sprinting.
"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." (Romans 7:24-25)