Molly, good question. I know there's a bunch of different things to look at with this topic. Seems to me some of the issues are; our choices within parameters God sets; the creation of vessels of honor and dishonor; the order
of "all men made alive"; God doing His
good pleasure; God working all things according to His will
; if we sin we have an Advocate with the Father; different positions/responsibilities within
the kingdom; what is the prize being discussed since salvation is by grace not works
; (although I personally don't live my life for rewards) there does seem to be a system of rewards for obedience
- (so works and "running" are to be obedient and/or obtain rewards, including peace, joy, etc. in this lifetime
? that's more so how I see it); and ultimately, in the final analysis, anything we do is only through the power of God enabling and empowering us. There's probably at least a couple hundred others....
Your post reminds me of something I had actually intended to look at some more, so will do so briefly, and others can add to it and develop it further if desired.
Seems we have 1. unbelievers a) heard, rejected/hardened, and b) never heard or understood, "innocent" [babies, etc.] 2. believers/saved, wide range including a) unfaithful/"worldly", not walking according to the "high calling", b) faithful, mostly living according to the light they have, not fully matured, c) overcomers, specially "fired"/salted, developed for service at the throne - (rule and reign with Christ as Paul says, or does that include all believers, again as Paul said, priests and kings - I don't know that with that reference he was specifically addressing the overcomers
). [Also, I don't believe the "God is no respector of persons" negates all this, although He does love everyone and ultimately has a perfect plan for everyone - but it may not all look the same right now
So no, I don't fully grasp it...I just have 2 main things I hinge it all on here - WE'RE SAVED BY GRACE, AND GOD IS IN CONTROL. Many of the intricacies above, I really think most of us are learning as we live day to day in this walk of experience of good and evil He's placed us in.