The Will of God

free will

(Another unorganized post…)

What is God’s will for you? It is for you to decide! God gave us a free will so that we would not be robots and it would be possible for us to love. He does not desire for us to use our free will to ask him about every decision we make and then do what God says (because he doesn’t always tell us what to do). That is called choosing to be a robot. It is choosing to be what God did not design you to be. We have a relationship with God. Of course we should communicate with God about all things in life. He loves to give us input because he is very wise and happens to know all things. We create a problem for ourselves when we assume that God has a will for every little thing we do in life. Having someone make all your choices for you is called immaturity. This is why we renew our mind and gain an accurate understanding of God’s heart, because we are then able to make decisions that are aligned with his heart.

God’s will is that you will.

Matt Spinks explains that following God’s will is like floating down a river on a raft. You have to try to get out of his will. It’s effortless.

“Forget about trying to find His plan for your life – your life is His plan! Neither your location nor your timing matters – He has dawned His eternal day. You are His moment; you are His location! “…worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there … It’s who you are…” (John 4:21:23 MSG).”

God doesn’t always have a will for us (2 Samuel 7, Acts 5, Romans 14). He didn’t give us freedom so that we would use it to ask him what to do for everything. That defeats the purpose

“The “will of God” is not like a funnel, desiring to control your every move with precision. It is like Revealing to you that there were more options than you could imagine and empowering you to freely choose.”

“God willing we will…” Well, we could do it or make it happen outside of God’s will too. You can’t say this and then when it comes about conclude it was God’s will.
James 4:15 – James was giving an arrogant people who thought they were self-sufficient a humbler way of speech, not giving a way to talk for all people.

“Not my will but yours…” Luke 22:42 – This is really an interaction of two natures, not Jesus not knowing what his Father’s will was (which is the way it is used today lol)

Asking God what to do in every situation is called control (and he doesn’t want it). Never talking about decisions with God is called independence (and it’s an illusion). Conversing with God about things that matter to his heart is called relationship (and it’s lots of fun).

“If it’s your will, then…” – This basically shows that the person saying this doesn’t know Jesus. Rather, the person only knows about him. To such people Jesus said, “depart from me; I never knew you.”

What would this sound like in human relationships?
Say a man feels like eating Mexican food on a certain night, so he decides to bring the matter before his wife: “Honey, if it’s your will, then let us eat Mexican tonight.” And then he walks away. He’s thinking, “I did my part. Whatever happens will happen, and the will of my wife will be revealed through what she does.” – This is a monologue. It is weird. What would a normal person do in this situation? He would ask her a question! “Would you like to eat Mexican tonight?” “What would you like to eat tonight?” Just because he doesn’t know what his wife is thinking at this moment doesn’t mean that he despairs of finding out her thoughts until she takes some action while he passively does nothing. He interacts and relates with her.

Yes! It’s okay to ask God questions. And he loves it when you do. He desires to answer you. He’ll answer in his own way that we may not be used to (just look at how Jesus answered people’s questions all throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), but he will. “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Not saying we completely know God’s every thought at all times, but we share in it; we have the mind of Christ

Paul prayed in Colossians 1:9 that they would be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, so obviously it’s possible and not only that but also desirable.

Ephesians 1:9, 5:18
Matt 26:39; James 4:13-16; Rom 12:2; I no longer call you servants but friends, because you know my business. Praying in Jesus’ name is according to his will
God’s ways were higher than ours until Jesus raised us up to heavenly places (Kris Vallotton)

“Love God and do whatever” – St. Augustine

Casting lots in Acts was the last time from then on that that method was used to determine God’s will; everything was revealed by Holy Spirit from then on.

“The will of God” isn’t something that is but something you do.

God still works in the same “mysterious ways” that he always has. But they are not so mysterious anymore; we have the mind of Christ.
Isaiah 55:8-9, 2 Corinthians 2? (and the OT Scripture it quotes)

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Also see:

http://frankviola.org/rethinkingthewill.pdf

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God, the Freedom Freak

control

I made a nice list of phrases related to God, control, and freedom that you don’t have to agree with anymore, why you don’t have to, and better alternatives to each.

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You have heard it said, “God made you just the way you are.” But I say, God recreated us as new creations, just the way Jesus is.

If you mean he made you as his beloved child, then yes. But if you are referring to things like disease and depression (anything negative), then no. This only pertains to your true identity in Christ as a new creation and nothing that is part of the fall. God doesn’t make you sick or depressed. He heals you.

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You have heard it said, “God has a plan for your life.” But I say, Jesus is God’s only plan for your life.

This phrase is based on some verses in Jeremiah 29. Keep in mind, Jeremiah was not prophesying to you. God was speaking through him to the Israelites concerning the specific circumstances they were in at the time, namely of a coming destruction.

Jeremiah wasn’t saying God had every detail of their lives laid out (as if God has already determined it), nor is he saying God has things he wants us to do down to every detail (as if God wills something specific for every situation in our lives – i.e. he doesn’t care if you wear your blue or black socks).

This doesn’t mean God is uninvolved in our lives and just watches as things happen, not caring how it all goes down. Far from it! His desire is to live in relationship with us, with the most intimate interaction. But that is only possible when we are free. It wouldn’t be much of a relationship if we merely did everything the other told us to do.

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You have heard it said, “You need to give God control of your life.” But I say, Holy Spirit has empowered you with self-control.

Guess what? God doesn’t want control over you. And even if you give it, God will reject it.

How pointless would it be if God had only created us so that we would come to a point where all we did was constantly ask God what to do and then do that? If he wanted robots, he could have made those. Instead, he made us in his own image – free and desiring.

(Note: sometimes God doesn’t tell us what to do when we ask him because he wants us to choose, not him.)

God never wanted puppets; he desires children. Although children do go to their daddies for wisdom, they don’t ask what to do for every decision they make. We were not created to suppress our wills and desires but to realize union with our creator, willing and desiring with him.

Yes, at times God does tell us what to do. And we would be plain stupid to not do what tells us to because we know that he has our greatest joy in mind. But these times are only to help us in our maturing process. God is building us up to be able to handle increasingly more freedom with unlimited options (and sometimes his suggestions are things we haven’t even considered yet, opening our eyes to more possibilities). But ultimately, God’s will is that we will.

It was typically the case that God would say ‘No, I don’t have a will for you; I want to know what you want to do.’ So you were put here to will and to make a difference. It’s not always the case that we should want to know what God wants us to do, but often that God wants to know what we want to do. In fact we were put here so that God could trust us and give us what we want to do. – J. P. Moreland

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You have heard it said, “Everything happens for a reason.” But I say, God may not have wanted everything that has happened to have happened, but he knows how to bring about good despite it.

Sure, everything that happens does have a reason for happening. But sometimes the reason is that we’re stupid and we make bad decisions. Like it says in Provers 19:3, “When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.” Bad stuff happens and people blame God. Or bad stuff happens, people attribute it to God, but are quick to add something like “don’t worry, God has a good reason for this and it will bring him glory.”

Just because something happens doesn’t mean God made it happen or that he even wanted it to happen. Romans 8:28 is sometimes twisted to mean that in all the apparently bad things that happen to us in life, there is always good in them. For example, there is good in earthquakes, tsunamis, sicknesses, deaths, etc. Somehow, God is glorified. But it doesn’t say that. God doesn’t work evil to bring good (e.g. make us sick to teach us a lesson), but God works despite the evil, which he is and always was adamantly against.

This doesn’t mean God is not involved in the world and its activities. It just means he only does good things. And I don’t mean that in a “God works in mysterious ways” way (a popular excuse for a lot of evil in this world that we have been empowered to deal with).

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You have heard it said, “God is in control.” But I say, God has all authority in heaven and on earth, and he has delegated it to us, his children.

God is not a control freak who exercises meticulous governance because he is worried about giving people freedom to make significant choices. God could control everything if he wanted to, but he doesn’t.

Say you had the power to control everyone that you came into contact with. Would you use that power? I wouldn’t. That would give me the most boring esixtence on earth because it is void of love, which can only be born between free beings.

God does, however, have all authority.

Our world is like a home. The parents (Trinity) have full authority, but that doesn’t mean they control everything that happens within the household. Their kids are still free to do whatever. The parents do give healthy limits to what the kids are allowed to do (because lots of things have negative natural consequences), but even with those prescribed limits the kids can still choose to ignore them. For example, a parent might tell a child, “don’t touch the stove!” when it is burning (likewise, God told Adam and Eve, “don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil – it’ll kill you!”, but they were still able to and did). The limits given are for their benefit, so it would be foolish to ignore them.

People are free to choose to do whatever they want.

Some might ask that if God is not in control, then how can we completely trust God’s sovereignty? But if God’s so-called “sovereignty” includes things like the holocaust, natural disasters, and disease, it’s not a very trustworthy sovereignty to start with. You don’t need a theologian to tell you that these things are evil and that there is no good in them. Jesus himself stopped a stoning, a storm, and healed every single person who came to him because all these things were not aligned with his will.

In conclusion, God is a freedom freak who insists on our being free to make our own choices despite the possibility of our making grave mistakes. What a Dad!

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Also see:

Is God Sovereign?
http://escapetoreality.org/2013/01/04/is-god-sovereign/

A Simple Solution to the Predestination vs. Free Will Debate/”Paradox”

calvin-and-hobbes-on-predestination

Here’s a hot topic for ya.

Has God determined everything that has and will come to pass (predestination) or do people have the ability to make genuinely free choices that are not determined by God (free will)?

You might consider this to be irrelevant, but it is at least a big deal for many atheists, because they find it impossible to call a God who makes everything happen, including things like the holocaust, truly good. For many, that’s the only “Christian God” they’ve ever heard of, so they reject the idea. And If that’s all I knew I would do the same. So if people are hindered from having a relationship with Jesus because of a false doctrine, methinks that’s kind of a big deal.

The reason for disagreement between people is that there seem to be bible passages that imply both ideas. For example, “Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined…” (Romans 8:29) is used to support predestination, and “…Choose today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15) is used to support free will (emphasis in both verses mine).

It’s a good idea to look at the history of ideas claimed to be grounded in the bible in order to examine their legitimacy. If we see early church fathers writing positively about some idea, that should increase its credibility since many of them spoke the language the bible was originally written in, knew the authors personally and the circumstances of the recipients of letters, understood cultural factors naturally without having to study them like we do, etc. On the other hand, if there is no mention of an idea until hundreds of years after Jesus, that doesn’t automatically disqualify the idea, but it is a good reason to be suspicious.

Such is the case with predestination.

The idea only first emerged around 400 A.D. with Augustine and only became popular in the 17th century with the theologian John Calvin (the common notion of predestination is fairly synonymous with what is popularly called “Calvinism,” and I use the terms interchangably). On the contrary, all the early church fathers consistently upheld the freedom of human choice. That was their interpretation of the bible as a whole, including all the passages that people use to support predestination.

So we at least have grounds to suspect that Calvinism is merely a man-made doctrine.

Looking at the Greek of bible passages that are cited to support a doctrine is also a good idea. Thanks to the internet, to some degree everybody can do this themselves for free at websites like blueletterbible.org and biblestudytools.com.

The solution to this particular issue of seemingly contradictory bible passages turns out to be simple. It has to do with the English word “you.” This word can be used to refer to both individuals and more than one person. I can tell a friend “I love you” and I can also address all the readers of this post by saying “you are awesome!” In Greek, on the other hand, there is always a distinction between the “singular you” and the “plural you.” Potentially, we could do this in English too – just say “you” for individuals and “you all” for more than one person. Unfortunately, most popular translations of the bible consistently use “you” for both tenses of the Greek.

Every verse in the bible speaking of predestination doesn’t refer to individuals but to the Church. The idea of individuals being predestined does not exist in the bible. God has not determined every move you will make. Such ideas only became popular when Christianity began to become individualistic.

Incidentally, Augustine didn’t know Greek and even said he hated it. He only read the Latin translations of the bible, which had plenty of their own errors. He also came to believe in Jesus later in life, and his theology was heavily influenced by the pagan philosophy he was priorly steeped in for many years. It’s not surprising that he would veer from the consensus of the early church fathers and create his own new doctrine.

When I first heard this in college I thought, “well what if it’s not you all, collectively as a group, but each one of you all, individually. I asked one of my professors about this and he responded that the expressesion of such a concept in Greek using that word was nonexistent. In other words, when it says “you all” in the Greek, it always means “you all, collectively as a group.” There are other Greek words that would allow one to say things like “each one of you,” but the biblical authors never used them in reference to predestination.

Interestingly, you won’t find the doctrines of Calvinism in other parts of the world. The fact that it is predominantly a phenomenon of English speaking countries (especially North America) is telling. Its ideas are rooted neither in the bible nor in the history of the early Church but rather in speculations based on mistranslations.

So be at peace. Whom the son sets free is free indeed. You are free.

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Note: I avoided using scholarly terminology in this post for better readability (or rather used scholarly terminology but incorrectly, i.e. the way most people use the terms in conversation). Wikipedia has a pretty nice article giving an overview of all the different nuances in the term “predestination,” its history, etc. You can check it out here.

fatalism