Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

How Can This Be?

Deep thoughts about a deep topic.

John 8:58 (NKJV), 2 Timothy 1:9b (NIV), Titus 1:2 (NIV)

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 

Let’s finish up the previous point about predestination and free will. It seems common sense that they cannot both be true, yet the Bible is filled with references to God foreordaining things without interfering with anyone. Chapter 3, paragraph 1, of the Westminster Confession of Faith gives a good summary.

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.

How can this be? This is one of the most difficult topics known to man. Here’s some food for thought.

We know that God is outside of time. God has dominion over time; it’s part of His creation. John 8:58, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 are just some of the references. Modern physics supports this too.

Dominion over time gives God unimaginable power. Just as one example, He has “rewind” power. If anything doesn’t go the way He wants, He can just go back, make an adjustment, and try again. He can do this as many times as he needs to.

Think about what that means. God doesn’t need to control us like puppets; He can just use the rewind button until he likes the result. This isn’t how God does it. Just consider it as a hypothetical.

OK, so would this mechanism violate free will? God could get everything he wants without forcing anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. How does that fit with the concept of free will?

Of course, God is smarter than this. A series of redoes would be what I call “clumsy God syndrome.” Imagining Him using rewind to fix His mistakes is just an illustration to make us think. God knows us perfectly and knows what we will do with our free will. Free will does not mean that we’re unpredictable.

That’s the key. Does having free will mean you can surprise an infinitely intelligent God?

If not, then predestination and free will are compatible. And notice the precise wording in the WCF. “Nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures.”

Exactly.


Understanding that God really is Lord of everything gives clearer meaning to our confession of faith – “Jesus is Lord.” He not just Lord of parts of the world or of parts of history. He is Lord of all.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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