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“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Matt 6:9-10
Some believe and teach that everything that happens has been scripted by God. In other words, it is part of God’s will. Calvinist theology, for example, teaches this and claims it is the reason God knows the end from the beginning, He authored everything, even those who will believe the gospel and be saved and those who will reject the gospel and be lost. All that happens is part of God’s plan/will, and our free will may not really be free, our part is scripted by God. The argument behind this belief is that God is sovereign and therefore must be in charge of everything that happens. In other words, the claim by some would be that if God is not in charge of every detail, He cannot be sovereign.
Unfortunately, this belief would include God scripting Satan’s temptation of Eve and Adam, their sin and the ensuing fall of humanity. God would have also scripted that all of humanity would inherit Adam’s Sin nature at birth that leads to the acts of sin that lead to death, with humanity having no choice in the matter. This position would also require the acceptance that God scripted every murder, genocide, world war, rape, child molestation, and any other sin that is possible plus every disease and cause of death. Some argue this makes God responsible for sin and I agree. This is one of many reasons why I have chosen to disagree with this belief.
However, I will admit that if God has scripted everything, even our choice to agree or disagree with this extreme take on God's sovereignty, is not really our choice, it is God's will. Taking this position to the extreme, if all the evil we see in this world is part of God's will, shouldn't we just rest easy and accept it? Afterall, the church prays for God's will to be done on a regular basis. If nothing is outside of God's will, why does the church battle against evil?
If you doubt that some believers think and teach that God scripted everything and thus planned all sin and evil, watch this short three-minute video from a well-known and popular preacher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMZrbzLHjs4. Here are a large number of quotes from several well-known teachers who believe the same: https://atheologyintension.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/2376/.
Here is another reason I disagree that God must have scripted everything to be in Sovereign control.
In the Lord’s prayer that Jesus taught us, we are asked to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. This means that what we see here is not God’s will. For a fact, we know that there is no sin in Heaven. Thus sin is not part of God’s will for the earth. To know if something is God’s will, we just need to look at the life of Jesus and consider what things will be like in Heaven. God wants us to pray that His perfect will that is absent from all sin, be done here on the earth as it is in Heaven. No sin, no pain, no suffering and no death. Death is an enemy of God according to scripture not part of God’s plan or will that we are to pray comes to earth. Can God use death in His plan, yes? He can and does but he is not behind death, He destroys death. He even uses His enemy death at times to spare the righteous further evil here on earth – Isa 57:1. He also has used death in the flood to protect a remnant of believers to bring the Messiah through. Noah and his family were the only believers left. If all believers were wiped out, there would be no place for the Messiah to come through. God's ultimate plan is to save us and Jesus had to come. So God’s will even in the flood was to keep the door open to bring Jesus. Saving those He so loved was the ultimate purpose, the reason he sent Jesus - John 3:16.
We are also told to pray that God’s Kingdom would come Here to earth, thy Kingdom come. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit according to God’s word. Righteousness is right standing with God that brings peace between God and us and leads to the joy of the Lord that is our strength. This is God’s will for you believer, and it all starts with the establishment of your mind and thoughts in His righteousness – Matt 6:33.
By what we know will be in Heaven we know that all the pain, suffering and death are not God's will for us. We live in a fallen world and know these things will happen. When we are born again, we remain here to tell others the good news, to be God's ambassadors and a part of the solution. We know that the Kingdom is in our future. God has qualified us to minister the Spirit of the law and serve up life. He has not qualified us to minister the letter of the law and serve up condemnation and death - 2 Cor 3:6. He has also fully qualified us to participate in the inheritance of the saints - Col1:12.
Can God use man’s sin to accomplish His will and purpose? Yes, He has no other choice since all men are sinful. But this does not make God responsible for man's free choices. God used man's selfish sin nature in Acts 4:27-28 to accomplish His will when it describes all those who came against Jesus, resulting in His crucifixion. In the view of those who crucified Him at the time, Jesus was going to take something from them (their power, protection, peace, money, etc). For those with this perspective and a hard heart, God allowed their selfish nature to accomplish the crucifixion that had to be. God knew exactly how things would play out before Jesus was even born.
But the biggest question is, what was God’s will in this situation?
His ultimate will was to save humanity that he so loved and to accomplish this, Jesus had to be crucified, defeat sin and death, and rise again. Yes, God uses humanity’s inherited fallen sin nature to get His will done, but He does not script or make man commit acts of sin.
God is responsible for the fact of our free will. We are responsible for our acts of free will.
The Bible tells us God tempts no man and temptation always comes before sin. God simply knows what is in the heart of man and how our fallen nature will react in any situation and uses all things for our good and ultimate victory in Christ.
How Could God utilize our fallen nature to choose life over death?
The fact that our fallen nature is selfish is a great motivator in many of our decisions. When we look at the story Jesus told of the prodigal son, with a fallen nature like us. We see the son's decision to leave his father and to return to his father were both selfishly motivated by his fallen nature. Even his return was not selfless out of love for the father. In other words, the son's fallen nature led him to run from the father and later the same fallen nature led him to run to the father for his own protection from death. Each decision was based on the son's perspective of his situation at the time, what he thought would most benefit him. He returned despite the fact that he knew his return would be a blatant admission of his great error and the destruction of his pride. A clear view of life over death is what motivated him to selfishly humble himself and make this decision to leave the pig pen. We see this same process unfold in fallen sinners who repent. It is all about self. We also see that the father did not care why the son returned, he was just thrilled to have his son back from the dead. There was no judgment, condemnation, and guilt on behalf of the father towards the son, just overwhelming love and a party because he changed his mind and returned. The father in this story is the best description we have of God the Father's heart and attitude towards the lost and ultimately towards those who return to Him. God knows intimately how our fallen nature works. He knows it is selfish and out to protect itself, just like the prodigal son. I believe he can and does use this nature to accomplish His purposes in those with a broken heart and those with hearts that are still as hard as steel. Those with a hard heart were allowed to crucify Jesus. Those with a broken heart stood at the foot of the cross in despair. We all have the same nature as the prodigal son. This selfish nature is the greatest motivator, the number one reason why fallen humanity who is not seeking God, can still make the choice to return to our heavenly Father to save ourselves. This choice happens, if and when our perspective changes and we see the bigger picture. When a person ceases comparing themselves to others and sees himself in truth with regards to God's perfect law, accepts their fallen condition and heeds the conviction of the Holy Spirit of their Sin nature (John 16:8-9) that leads to death. They then begin to understand that only God holds the life their selfish nature so strongly desires. Life over death is the most significant motivator for a selfish nature that exists, even to decide to return to the one we may have run from all of our life. I venture to say that the vast majority of sinners who have prayed for salvation did not do so because they were initially seeking God. They did it for the same selfish reason as the prodigal son when they became aware of their dire condition. They came to the realization that God has laid before all the choice of life or death, and they decided to choose life.
Even God's law was given out of His love for us.
Many are not aware that even God’s laws reflect His will and love for us. All laws, God’s and man’s, have a Spirit, the intent, the reason the lawmaker wrote the law. Romans 13:8-19 and Gal 5:14 tell us the one thing that fulfills all of God’s laws is “love.” This irrefutably tells us that “love” is the Spirit of all God’s laws. God even tells us that we are qualified to minister the Spirit of the law “love” and not the letter of the law in 2 Cor 3:6. The reason God could not just tell us to love and expect us to listen is that we have an inherited fallen nature from Adam that leans towards unbelief and rebels. It would be a contradiction for God to command love or punishment and death if you did not love. Love must be a choice. Therefore, the only solution was to give the letter of the law with consequences to keep man’s sin nature in check to a certain degree until the permanent solution in Christ was available for humanities access. The law was given out of love to protect us from each other’s fallen nature and to lead us to Christ where we are safe and sound in Him – Gal 3:23-25. Since our fallen nature is selfish, it wants to sin, but our fallen flesh also cares a lot about not suffering the consequences of the law. If there were no consequences, we would violate the law at light speed every minute of every day. Laws must have consequences, or they will be ignored by fallen humanity. Even the consequences of the law were written for the fallen man's benefit. This is another example of how much God so loved the world, even those who are still lost. We know this because the law is not for the believer, the righteous. The law is for the unbeliever, the unrighteous - 1 Tim 1:9. The law demonstrates God's love even for those in unbelief. It creates great motivation for the sinner when they examine it closely.
So, can God be sovereign, in absolute control, and not in charge of every detail? Absolutely! To be sovereign is defined as independent holding the power of the ultimate decision, control like a King, not micromanagement and control of every detail - see here. Think of a wealthy man who owns a vineyard and hires people to run it - Luke 20: 9-19. He tells them what to do and how to do it, leaves them in charge and goes to another country and they make a huge mess of things. Is He still in control of the vineyard, even though He is not there? Absolutely. He made a sovereign decision to place the vineyard under their control. He is fully aware things will not run as good as they would be if the He were present. It is a sovereign choice the owner made. In the same way, God made a sovereign choice to place humanity in charge of earth knowing things could/would go wrong. The Bible is very clear that man forfeited his control to Satan. But God is still in sovereign control of the overall situation. In His sovereignty (ultimate control), He could decide to destroy the earth and all of humanity or choose to save fallen humanity as He has done. He is the only one who can make this sovereign decision. If you think about those two options for a moment, you clearly see Gods overwhelming love for us in His decision.
God is in our sovereign King of kings, and He is for you and not against you. He even uses all things, including the sins of humanity for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose. His desire is that all come to a saving knowledge of Christ and he calls on all believers to share the good news with the world.
Man's free will and God's Sovereignty
The earliest church fathers are a great resource for us. We can learn many things from their writings to defend our faith. For example, we learn the fathers believed and taught that Jesus was God. Therefore, we can refute with evidence claims like we see in the Da Vinci Code that state the church made Jesus into a God in 300 AD. This is great evidence to support the case of Christ. If you are interested in what the early church fathers, those directly after the Apostles taught about God's sovereignty and man's free will, here is a great in-depth article with many quotes from the fathers. The early church fathers strongly voice their belief that man has free will to choose or reject salvation even though they also teach that God is sovereign, and of predestination and election. In other words, they do not teach God's sovereignty, predestination and election at the price of mankinds free will. Why would we do any different? Go here: http://nagasawafamily.org/article-free-will-in-patristics.pdf
An in-depth study on God's will using over 50 verses. This study clearly reveals that there are three and maybe four wills in conflict here on earth:
Other studies that apply:
Do Not Let the Holiness of God Blind You to the Love of God
God Does Not Pay the Wage of Death, Mr. Sin Does
Jesus Entrusted Himself to No Man Because
My Sheep Hear My Voice, and I Know Them
You Will Inherit Death or Life, You Decide
God is More Concerned with The Death of Man than Mankind's Sins
Death is an Unintended Consequence of Gods Law
Christians Are Not Qualified to be Ministers of the Letter of the Law
What is the One Unforgivable Sin?
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE.
Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR BELOW LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE AS A MEMBER OR VISITOR
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.
VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.
VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.
Thanks for your post. I disagree that this was the position of the church before reformed theology. If you read the writings of the early church fathers, they very strongly voice mans free will choice when it comes to salvation. If anyone would know what the Apostles believed and taught, it would be the earliest church fathers, not Augustine in 350 AD. They do reference predestination and the elect but not at the expense of free will. We know that predestination and the elect are true because they are in the Bible. However, this does not mean reformed theology's view of these points is correct. Here is a great in-depth article with many quotes from the early church fathers if you are interested. These comments will not accept links so Google: human free will and God's grace in the early church fathers Mako A. Nagasawa
Blessings, Michael Edwards
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