GOD’S STORY Part 10 Unpacking our Free Will
I believe wholeheartedly that we who have given our lives to Jesus have free will. But I’d like to suggest we need to undertake the unpacking of our free will. We start by looking at what those who follow Jesus have inherited: We have a renewed mind, with the ability to see truth from deceit, light from darkness, life from death. Without this ability to see clearly, people have not got the full range of choices and so haven’t really got free will. Without Jesus, we are accountable to the devil, who keeps us ignorant and provides no freedom at all.
Here at Preparing the Bride, I’m telling GOD’S STORY. Presumptuous?! Not when simply looking at scripture, because scripture is the unfolding of God’s story to us who read it.
How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? We learn GOD’s Story. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked.
Choice comes through clarity of mind
The LORD gives us the ability to know right from wrong from birth (Romans 1). But we choose to follow or to turn from Him. When we follow, we have the ability to see Truth and therefore to make an informed choice that is not available to those who are not born again.
That’s how I see it. But how does the LORD see things? Let’s try unpacking our free will: how GOD has designed humanity, how He leads us, and how He holds off destruction for a time.
GOD gives us freedom
Does GOD insist we obey constrictive rules OR does He give us room so that we can unpack our free will “at will”? Yes, I think He does the latter.
First, allow me to begin with the fact that the LORD knows the way we will choose, and He accounts for that in His bigger picture. (Job 23:10) He knows the choices we will make, and yet we do have the freedom to make our choices and experience the consequences.
Next, I ask you to imagine the LORD as a music producer: He knows the ultimate sound that will come forth, but He enables the composer, conductor and the instrumentalists to engage with one another and with Him to create a symphony of sound. In other words, He knows the ultimate outcome. He knows what will transpire in the meantime, and He waits for us to interact amidst His cues in a way that inspires, moves, motivates us. He knows — we discover. That’s our personal and societal journey. He knows not because He manipulates, but because He knows us, our character. How many of us as parents are more often predicting how our young child will behave. Sometimes we are surprised; but more often, if we know our child, there is a high level of prediction as to how s/he will behave in a particular situation. How much better does our father in heaven know, predict our behaviour and attitude. In fact, when we give our lives to Him, we commission Him to change us into His likeness. So first, He knows us, next He knows the end from the beginning, and ultimately He’ll enable us to fulfil our desire to be “like Him”.
Finally, the LORD has His absolute red lines: He has limits that will not be crossed. When Satan was allowed to mess with Job, the LORD said, “but do not take his life…” (Job 2:6). Similarly, there will come a day when the bowls of wrath will be full (Revelation 16:1) and then Jesus will return to judge the earth (Revelation 16:16-17). Jesus didn’t know when that time would be, but GOD the Father knows. (Matthew 24:36)
This is GOD’s Story, not mine
Ultimately, it matters not a bit what I think or have worked out. In the sovereignty of GOD, He holds the earth and everyone in it in His hands.
What does His omnipotence mean within this conundrum of our free will and His omnipotence?
Omnipotence is having unlimited authority and power. GOD has the power and authority to make choices and He has chosen to give us the freedom to make our own discoveries and our own choices. Whatever we choose will hold consequences. In His Story, GOD chooses to teach us and to shape us through our own choices ,experiences and consequences. That’s how it works under His sovereignty.
Character over Circumstance
In my experience and from observation as well, I see GOD always seems to choose our character development over our situation or circumstance. It seems so long as we survive, GOD would prefer us to grow spiritually, rather than to have an easy ride. He does grant us the desires of our hearts, though we sometimes confuse our will with our heart. Even when someone significant in our lives actually passes away, that experience grows us too. We can rest assured the loved one is in His presence and in His will now. And that passing will catapult our growth: both ours and others’ around us.
Always, GOD takes our commitment at our word and gives us opportunity to shine! We are allowed to make our own choices: whether to prosper in our growth or to hide from our challenge, we always have a choice.
When we follow His ways, our character will grow, and in that I believe He takes particular delight.
At the End of the Age… or at least at the end of the Day
Natural and scientific laws operate without GOD’s ongoing attention, because He designed them that way. Within those laws human beings exist and we are responsible for the rest of the earth: the other living creatures, the seas and landscapes. He brought us into this universe in order that we would relate to Him and to one another. Genesis 1 makes that crystal clear.
Since the Fall of man, His plan to bring us back to Him has been unfolding. He is patient, kind, wise, full of goodness and He awaits the appointed time for the grand unfolding of His new heaven and earth.
It is His timing and not ours. It is centuries long, even millennia. We might interpret this as a lack of interest or a lack of power on GOD’s part. But His fragrant love, His service to us as revealed particularly through Jesus, His never-ending devotion and guidance reveals to us that our actions do not dictate the times, seasons, conclusion to this Age — though they do impact our own lives.
The sovereign will of GOD is like the globe: all encompassing, grander and greater than our individual circumstances, but nevertheless everlasting and ever engaging.
GOD uses reason but encompasses it with His sovereignty and so we live, move, have our being in Him, if we so choose, for we are His offspring (Acts 17:28)
Every blessing and Amen.