KATIE WRITES: A friend of mine at school is an atheist. She grew up in a Christian family, but struggles with a lot of questions that she wants answered. Yesterday, she told me that she was confused why her family always said, “We have free will,” but then other times said, “God has a plan for your life!” I told her that it was a tough question and that I didn’t know the answer. Any help?
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Dude, that’s deep. Major respect for your friend right there.
I think the heart of it is that God didn’t want us to be His puppets. He didn’t want us to just automatically do whatever He said, because that wouldn’t be true worship of Him–and as God, He deserves true worship.
So He gave us free will.
Free will and God’s plan aren’t opposites. Actually, they’re kind of interwoven together. God sometimes lets us make mistakes, lets us sin and exercise our free will to pursue our own passions of the flesh. He knows everything that will happen and the consequences of saying or doing something wrong, but because He wants to bring us back to Himself, He lets it happen. He lets us mess up. (Because, let’s face it: if we’re not relying on Jesus, we are GOING to mess up.)
And, if it’s His will, He will bring us back to Him through it.
Like everything else, free will is one of the gifts that He has given us. In order for Him to be truly praised, we need to worship Him from the depths of our hearts and actually mean it. Ultimately He has predestined all of our elections, and He alone can cause us to choose whether we want to follow Him or not.
But even if one decides to become a Christian, we still have free will. We will mess up, for sure, in both small ways and big ways. And every time, if we are truly saved, God will bring us back to Himself.
Gahhh I think I just bled some of my brains out. Hopefully my point got across and I answered the question. If my Calvinistic theology is a bit off, guys, just let me know. Hope this helped, Katie 🙂
Also, THE REASON FOR GOD by Tim Keller is an *awesome* book to read in a situation like this, both for your friend and for you.
I like how Rachel said that God’s plan and our free will are intertwined. We truly do have free will, but since God knows the decisions we are going to end up making ahead of time, it would only make sense for Him to have a plan for our life! Hopefully that sheds a little light on it. 🙂
Lol I wrote this last night. Must’ve been tired! Doesn’t shed much light on this subject. 😂
Personally I believe in free will (I realize that many on here are going to disagree, but if I’ve learned anything from free will vs. predestination discussions it’s that they’re pointless. All they do is cause contention, and no one ever releases their POV) and so the whole “God has a plan for you” idea seems to contradict what I believe. Honestly I’m not sure entirely how they can be compatable, nor do I think anyone can know for sure (it’s just one of those mysteries we’ll discover the answer for later).
The way I’ve always viewed this dilemma is by equating “God’s plan” with His omniscience. God, by definition, is all knowing: He knows what’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day, there is nothing He doesn’t know. But humans still have a free will: God created us with the ability to either accept or deny Him. Due to His omniscience, God already knows what choice we will each make, but the choice itself is still in our hands.
Another way of looking at it is to realize the ambiguity of the word “plan”. God calls each of us to fulfill a purpose, this would be His plan for us, but whether or not we choose to accept that purpose is up to us. Just like construction workers have blueprints laying out the design for a building, God has given us guidelines for our lives which we can either choose to follow or to reject.
As for your friend, I can understand where she’s coming from so I’d like to offer you some comfort. You say she claims to be an atheist, and I’m guessing this is due to the many questions she has. I too was raised in a Christian home, and I too had many questions about God. I’ve actually recently declared myself an agnostic, which I think would also more actually describe your friend than te term “atheist”. An agnostic realizes the inability to know whether or not God is real simply due to the fact that to KNOW that He exists would require one to know all things, in all places, at all times, therefore, by definition, becoming “God” himself. What I’ve actually come to realize is that, realize it or not, every Christian is an agnostic. A Christian cannot experience true faith until he recognizes his inescapable agnosticism.
May I disagree on the fact that everyone is agnostic? Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon?(Maybe you have, actually, but that’s beside the point). So agnosticism is basically the idea that if you haven’t actually seen the Grand Canyon, then you can’t be sure it exists. But we all know that you don’t have to see the Grand Canyon to know it exists. We see brochures, vacation site ads, we hear people talking about it; and without having seen the Grand Canyon, we can be 100% sure that it exists! Same way with God. There’s so much overwhelming evidence in this world of a divine being who is all-powerful and all-knowing it’s hard not to believe He exists!
Thank you Seth for your input! My atheist friend says a lot ” Why even try to believe in anything? I just don’t want to guess.” She is also very angry with God because she doesn’t understand why He would let horrible things happen like the Holocaust, genocide and war. She thinks her Christian family is really shallow and that they only believe because nothing ever bad happened to them, like genocide. She says that they’ll not want to be a Christian anymore if God allowed terrible things happen to them. She calls it a naive faith. It’s really sad, but I know that she is searching.
The sad thing is, there ARE many people that do have a “naive faith,” and as soon as something bad happens, they fall away. Remind her of Job, in the Bible. He had everything taken away from him; yet he remained faithful, and was given more than what he had in the beginning! Also, Jesus Himself says in His Word that we WILL have tribulation in this world.These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
By the way, that reference is John 16:33.
That is one of my favorite verses! And you are absolutely right. Thanks! You always make really good comments.
Aaw shucks. 🙂
I understand where you’re coming from, but your example is flawed. Unlike God, the Grand Canyon IS visible. You CAN go and check to make sure it’s real. Unfortunately the same is not true with God. Sure you can look at creation and conclude that there must be creator, but if evolution has taught me anything it’s that other perspectives are at least possible. Can you really say that you’re 100% sure that God exists? Keep in mind that to do so you’d have to be able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I’ll just let you know right now that you’d never be able to prove God’s existence. It’s just not possible. All you can do is say that “it’s more than likely”.
In answer to your confusion, by definition, “God” is an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being. To prove anything (in this case the existence of God) you would have to know all things, in all instances, in all places at the same time, therefore becoming, by definition “god”.
No, I can’t prove to you that God exists, but hopefully I can help. 🙂 God Himself must prove to you that He exists. So I guess the greater issue here might be, If God does exist, would you want to know Him? My point with the Grand Canyon was, there comes a point where there is so much evidence for a certain thing (or in this case, a certain being), that it would be hard not to believe in that thing. Personally, I’ve seen what God can do. He IS real to me! He graciously brought my Mom through a cancer journey, and implemented some events that were nothing short of miracles! The fact is, He is pursuing you, and He loves you, no matter what your life looks like!! Do you mind giving the reason you became an agnostic? Please don’t feel like you have to if you don’t want to!
You can know that God exists if you read and study the Bible . The Bible is books and letters written at different times in history. The Authors didn’t know each other. Yet it tells of things in the Old Testament of things that hadn’t happened yet , but later it happens EXACTLY the way it was written hundreds of years ago. The best example is the 70 weeks prophesy. It tells of several thing that are supposed to happen and they all do culminating the death of Jesus Christ exactly the year they said it would happen. Plus it describes exactly the way Christ was to die , hundreds of years before crucifiction even existed. How is it possible to know the future before it even happens . It s because their is a supernatural God orchestrating it all.
Generally the term Agnostic refers to one who believes that there is a god, but believes that the truth of God is unknown and possibly unknowable. Most agnostics therefore don’t trust the Bible as the source for spiritual truth. I don’t think Biblical Christianity is compatible with this view.
True Christianity acknowledges that humanity is fundamentally flawed because of sin, and therefore has no ability to find spiritual truth. The only way we can know God is if he reaches out to us. We must live by faith because we don’t have the same direct relationship with God that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. We can’t know God exists in the same way they did. Many Christians claim to know things like how the universe was created, taking sides and firing shots at the other side. As I’ve been researching and trying to form my own opinion about creation, I’ve realized something I think is important: none of us can actually know what happened. None of us were there! It’s still fine to have your own opinion, of course, but endless bickering over (relatively) small issues like this is pointless. If by Agnostic you mean recognizing that we can’t know everything about God, that’s completely true; I’d just reevaluate the use of the term Agnostic in this context.
I use the term “agnostic” loosely. Personally I claim to be an agnostic theist, someone who acknowledges that we can’t know for sure whether or not there really is a God, but who has faith that there is regardless. This is what I meant when I said that Christians must be agnostics.
OK, that makes sense. 🙂
God does have a plan,(a perfect plan) but if we choose to use our free will to go against that, we are going our own way and not God’s .Therefore we do not receive the blessings we would have received if we had decided to do God’s will rather than our own.
Anyone have any Bible verses to go along with this?
I think of Jeremiah 29:11, Proverbs 16:9, 19:21, and Ephesians 2:10.
We do have free will. But God has a plan for us as well, this is told in Jeremiah 29:11. He gave us the choice whether or not to follow Him.
Simple and to the point. 🙂
Yes, God does have a plan for our lives. The free will comes in when we decide whether or not to follow that plan. And even before that, whether or no we chose to believe Him, like @disqus_XM5QHF0vAP:disqus said.
Heheh, I saw this question on Revive last night and thought about trying to answer it, and then it shows up here. It’s that good ol’ predestination vs. free will debate. And I must say, it’s quite difficult to wrap your head around both God’s sovereignty and the free will He has given us.
I think @disqus_9fu5eZbiDm:disqus summed it up very well, so I won’t add much (well, I’ll try anyway. Seems to be a difficulty for me… :P). We have to understand the different uses of “God’s will.” (Oddly enough, I explained this in the Sr. High class this past Sunday.)
Firstly, there’s God’s revealed will, which is His Word. He has revealed His will to us through His Word. Secondly, there’s His “hidden will,” which is His plan. God’s not usually in the business of revealing His hidden will (that’s kinda why it’s hidden). Thirdly, I would add what I would call His “desired will.” I made that up, so bear with me. What I mean by His “desired will” is basically what He likes.
God does not like evil. He doesn’t like sin. In other words, that’s not His “desired will.” Even so, it is His “hidden will,” (His plan), because He’s going to use it to bring about good and therefore bring about His glory. The best example of this is in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sin. Scripture says, “the Lord was pleased to crush Him. (Isaiah 53:10)” WHAT?! You’re saying that God LIKED the brutal murder of His One and Only Son?! No! “On the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied” (In Christ Alone). It was the Lord’s plan that Christ would pay the price for sin and thus satisfy the wrath of God. But God was not happy that the Innocent Holy One was crucified by the hands of the guilty.
So that doesn’t exactly address the issue of free will/predestination, but it does address the other issue that the friend had (the age old, “why do bad things happen?” question). Rachel did well in the other explanation. And I didn’t do well in “not adding much.” 😛 This issue could really take so many directions, so there are plenty of things others can add!
That’s similar to how it’s explained in the book “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung. Some of the terms are different, but the basic gist is the same. =)
Good, that means I wasn’t completely off! 😀
XD your comment was great! =)
Of course, the one affectionately known by disqus as “user @disqus_9fu5eZbiDm” is really @disqus_9fu5eZbiDm:disqus
Hey look, it’s me, being all confused about Disqus and somehow showing up as a guest! Not entirely sure what happened there. O_o
I thought the Reb didn’t allow guest comments! What…?
here I am sounding like an idiot but what is this revive thing? I have seen it mentioned a couple of times…
I only joined yesterday, so I’m new to Revive! It’s a website for us Rebs (I think there are about 65 of us at this point) to discuss, share prayer requests, etc. Sorta like a Facebook, but just for us! Here’s the link, if you’d like to check it out: http://www.revivingtheredeemed.org/index.php?r=user/auth/login
hey thanks! I just quite being lazy and looked it up. my account is waiting for approval! 🙂
do you know how long it takes to get approved?
Yeah! You’re on Revive!!!!! 😀
Great explanation, Nathan!
Ahhh this sounds familiar: check out my, @disqus_oMHOgFTIn3:disqus, and @calebnorman:disqus’s responses at: http://www.revivingtheredeemed.org/index.php?r=space/space&wallEntryId=8933&sguid=bf1b1669-54cc-4747-82da-9e7f1de4449e
FYI I am not interested in debating predestination vs. free will…I already did that at http://therebelution.com/blog/2015/03/why-should-we-try-to-change-the-world/#.VTuvEyQhfD8 you’ll have to scroll wayyyy down though. =)
Ayyy! I thought I heard this somewhere else; in which case, I will abstain from comment. =)
I have struggled immensely with understanding this topic recently. This has always been a pet peeve for my dad, and so I would have discussions with him about this topic. Until recently I disagreed ( or at least wasn’t sure if I agreed) with his point of view.
You see, my dad believes that God doesn’t have a plan or even will for our lives, or at least not in the way most people think.
He says people commonly uses verse like Jeremiah 29:11, believing that this verse refers to us, when really it referred to a specific people, at a specific time. Of course we can still learn a lot about God’s love for us with this verse, but it is not a promise to us now that God has each day planned out.
We would also talked about God’s will for our lives. Most of the verse I found (if not all) about God’s will for us, end up saying that we are to follow Gods word and do what is right. To follow God’s will we must follow his word.
Finally there are verses like Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” To me this really sounded like God has a plan for us that He was going to help us complete. But my dad helped me realize that yes are so many good things for us to do to serve Him :). Some times I so still wonder about this verse, maybe he does have a few special things for us to do. Then I started asking myself why I wanted so desparately for God to have a specific plan for me. Why did I care so much. Why did I want so much for God to have a plan for me like he did for the amazing people in the bible? I realized I wanted his help to do amazing things for my own glory.This made me have a revelation. This world is not about me, but about God! He doesn’t need me to do anything for him (as much as I may want to:). I know that I can do nothing that he couldn’t do himself and that is okay, because that is not why He made us. He made this world just like he did so that we would have the opportunity to choose, or reject him. What he wants is our hearts! He loves us.
One day, those who have trusted in God will meet with him in heaven, according to his plan, because of his unimaginable grace. God is so good.
Sorry about such a long post. I would love to answer any questions you might have for I know most people will probably disagree with what I have just said.
To sum it up though I would tell your friend that we do have free will. That is why God made this world, so we would have the opportunity to choose and follow him. For those who serve God, his plan is that one day we will meet with Him in heaven 🙂
I also often hesitate to use Jeremiah 29:11, except for the fact that it is almost repeated in the New Testament, with a specific clause: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)” So IF you love God and are called according to His purpose, He has a good plan for your life, and thus you can claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise for you. But I agree that this promise is not directed to everyone.
If you join the ideas of God (1) being omniscient (all-knowing) and (2) working all things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, then it follows that He has a specific plan for you! For more passages on God’s plan, see Psalm 139:16, Proverbs 16:9, and Ephesians 1:11-12, for starters.
The fact that God has a specific plan for each of our lives assures us that nothing is out of His control, and nothing in our lives is purposeless. God’s having a plan does not glorify us, it glorifies Him! 🙂
I can see where you are coming from and it is a prevailing Christian thought. However I think this verse is often taken out of context (not on purpose of course). If you continue to read up to verse 33, it will start talking about Gods Plan of salvation.
The “All things that work together towards good” passage is not referring to the circumstances of our daily lives, but to Gods plan of salvation.
Here is an example my dad gave me to help explain this:
Because of free will, there are such things in life as net negatives. If a mans daughters are raped and murdered he may go on to counsel people who have gone through similar situations, or forgive the rapist who may turn to the Lord because of this fathers love and mercy. But the fact is that this daughters are dead, and all the good that they could have done, will now not happen. This situation is a net negative. ALL things are not working towards good in these circumstances. In these circumstances good things CAN come out of it, but over all, what happened was because a wicked man used his free will to do something terrible. I can’t believe that this evil thing was something God wanted to happen.
Fortunately, I think “all things do work together for good” is referring to Gods plan of salvation. For in the end they will be in a place filled with joy. With no pain or sorrow. We will be in a place where everyone has chosen God, and there will be no more evil. We will be with our King! Our souls are so much more important than our lives, “for this world is not our home, we are just passing through”. (from the song “This World is Not My Home 🙂
God doesn’t have a plan for the details of our daily lives, but a plan whereby our soul can be saved. Even this rapist can be saved if he repents and is baptized. God is the perfect judge, and through Gods perfect plan there is no more condemnation for our sins because, it has been removed through Christ’s blood. We are all sinners.
That’s a very good point, Rebekah! You’re right to look at the context. Check out the verses with which Paul builds up to that point. Starting with verse 18, he’s introducing the point of present sufferings compared to what is to come. This is on a global scale, pointing to salvation, as you said. Then, verse 23, “not only the creation, but we ourselves [Christians] …” await the final stage, when all is said and done and we are in Heaven. Then he transitions with “Likewise…” into the few verses directly preceding verse 28, relating this issue of present sufferings (verse 18) to our lives as Christians (“The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” He “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God,” because “we do not know what to pray for as we ought.”).
These verses are talking about saints, so those who are already saved. Also, “those who love God” (v. 28) has to refer to Christians as well. Therefore, this is not about that which leads up to salvation, but what occurs after it (primarily, “all things” that occur after it). Don’t miss the transition in verse 29: “And we know… (28)” “FOR… (29).” We know that all things work together for good, because we’ve seen it take place in our own lives, according to the predestination of God (verse 29). So Paul gives the reason for our assurance of that fact, and then He moves on (“What then shall we say to these things?”).
I can say that I definitely disagree on the issue of net negatives, for a plethora of reasons. But it pins on a correct understanding of this passage, so I won’t try to debate that. 🙂 The only reason I wanted to explain Romans 8 is because it’s such an important and foundational doctrine to Christianity and to understanding God Himself. So we can agree to disagree. Thank you for challenging my point (seriously, I’m glad you did)! 🙂
Thank you Nathan! I love a good discussion too 🙂 I agree that this is important to talk about because it does shape how we live our lives.
I would say that the whole chapter of Romans 8 is talking from the start about how we are sinners that can be saved not by works of law, but the gospel. As we groan in our earthly bodies, the Spirit helps us in our weakness to wait until God’s plan to bring us to heaven is realized. Nothing can separate us from Gods love 🙂
Thank you again Nathan for this discussion. I really enjoyed it!
On the point does God have a plan for us, if God spoke one word and created everything from the billions of cells in a single plant to the trillions of starts in are universe and said it is good, if God had a plan for our salvation from the fall of man to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus as both Son of God and fully man to the whole plan of salvation I think it is no stretch to believe that when God says he has a plan for us and we don’t know what it is, to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know if that helps but its a hard question to answer.
I totally agree with you Joshua that God can do anything He wants! His creation is so amazing and beautiful and magnificent 🙂 Just thinking about it makes me stop and wonder.
I guess it is not that I don’t believe He could have a plan for our lives, but I no longer think that there is a reason He would. Let me explain.
God is our Father in heaven. Think about your dad or imagine yourself as a father. If you had a son lets say, would you find it necessary to plan out your sons life? Would you pick out where he should go to school, what sports he should play, or what job he should get? Would pick out the young woman he should marry? Probably not. My guess is that your main concern as a father would be that your son would grow up to be a man who loved the Lord with his whole heart. You would probably also want him to be happy and successful and would give him the wisdom you had learned over the years, but in the end would let him learn from his decisions.
God tells us we are his children. We are not his robots. If he wanted us to do anything He could easily make us do it. He could even make us really want to do whatever God knows we should do, but that is not the point. I think God wants us to be happy. I think God wants us to follow his instruction manual so that we might be happy. However I don’t think God has picked out stuff for us to do.
We can make wise decisions by following Gods word, or we can make poor decisions when we forget it. Of course He wants us to be wise and do what is right, but most likely we will not be taking the road away from Gods plan if we decide to work at a school instead of a church (God can use us anywhere for good! 🙂
God gives us free will and He wants us to live our lives for Him. I don’t know of any verse that says He has a plan for our lives other than this.
Thank you for your post Joshua ! Now to get back to homework… 🙂
Ok I know this video is long….. but I thought this sermon was REALLY good! (Gosh I hope I am remembering the sermon correctly!)
I think the first thing that we have to understand is that we cannot fully understand God’s will, it would be like an ant trying to understand Issac Newton’s laws, it can’t be done. We have free will to a degree in that we don’t know the future so every choice feels like are own, but God has said in psalms that he directs are ways like water in a stream. So the answer is yes to both.
Gosh, looking at y’all’s posts it seems like there’s a different view of this topic for each person out here almost!!! That’s not necessarily a good thing, guys! We should all be able to agree on what the Bible says, right? Have you not heard that God determined it long ago? God planned long ago what He now brings to pass.
Well…I was hoping (just for giggles) that someone would get mad at that and go BLAH BLAH BLAH YOU’RE WRONG THAT’S NOT BIBLICAL MYEH MYEH or something lol…in which case I would have said, oh gee, I forgot my scripture references! Sorry: Isaiah 37:26 “‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass.
But y’all are smart and didn’t fall for it. XD
I think most of the people here are trying really hard not to debate, because it’s such a debatable topic. I know I have mostly been tryiing to avoid it with all but one comment. 🙂 An invitation is just too hard to pass up!
Something to think about with predestination vs. free will: If God predestined us, why did Jesus have to die for our sin? God is not in the business of creating puppets. He creates souls that can chose between right and wrong.
*resisting the urge to debate…resisting the urge to debate* XD
Go ahead Josh! I’d really like to hear what you have to say! 🙂
Did you see my other comment? I want to, but I don’t have time. XD =)
I don’t have the time either, but I’m out of town and have nothing going tonight, so here goes!
I did! 🙂
I’m done resisting!
Exactly. The character of God just doesn’t work that way. So true. And please do @josh_whatshislastname:disqus, it’s good for Christians to settle important principles like this, bc it’s not about who’s wrong, it’s about knowing what we believe in is true and has solid evidence.
It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I don’t have time. =P I’m prepping for another debate my “team” and I are having on Revive. =) (not to mention school, piano, my life….XD)
@disqus_clxqoYwM08:disqus do you know what Revive is?
I’ve must say, you’ve got a pretty awesome debate team!!! 😀
I haven’t seen anything about your debate on revive! How’s it gonna work?
Do you have an invite to the debate space? I’ll bet you’ll see all the info you want over there, but I haven’t been on Revive for a day and a half, so…
I don’t think I do but I’ll check again.
I just asked Sam if he can send you an invite 🙂
He sent it 🙂
Haha okay. Yeah this time of year, if you’re not completely swamped and busy, you have not yet stepped into the Real World. 😀 Oh cool, love debate!!!
Jesus died to bring Himself glory. We walk into dangerous theological ground when we begin to judge God’s actions by our understanding of His motivation. Romans 9 is clear that God does choose, and whether or not we think it is fair or makes sense is inconsequential. So, whether or not there is a reason behind it doesn’t change whether or not it is true in Scripture.
However, to address your question. Jesus died for our sin to provide the atonement as just punishment for our sin, just as God had predestined Him to do (Acts. 2:23). He died for our sin for the same reason God does most things, to bring Himself glory. His mercy is shown to the elect through the atonement, which glorifies God. Any questions?
Yeah, I’m not @josh_whatshislastname:disqus , but I still thinks this needs saying! The idea of an atonement and predestination are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. Out of curiosity, can you elaborate on why you thought they were?
Agreed, but, even as humans, with finite minds and being of finite form, I think God has given us the privilege of knowing glimpses of His character. Don’t you? And I agree, God does, for us to accept or reject but not alter, or sometimes not even understand. To address my question??? Right I agree with all that. I may not have formatted my statement clearly, my apologies. I am literally SOOO confused. Why did anyone ever have to come up with the Internet??? I love good, fave to face discussions where I can understand what they’re trying to say and state my intentions clearly. 😛
Sorry if I’m being unclear, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I too 10x prefer face-to-face, in person discussions. You can speak so much more freely and clearly!
I guess what I don’t understand is when you say, “God’s character doesn’t work that way”, what does that mean? How do you know?
I think we would both agree that we base our understanding (or as you very aptly described it as “glances”) of God’s nature from the Scripture. Neither you or Seth provided verses (at that time, Seth and I have been talking since) to back up your statements, even though I’m sure you have some! So, in answer to Seth’s question, I responded with several Bible verses saying that unsaved man always is enslaved to sin and unable to do what is right, which would mean @disqus_zxr2krNx5O:disqus (with all due respect to him, as I hope he knows) was incorrect in his statement that man always can choose to do right or wrong. I read your comment “Exactly” as an agreement with Seth. That was what I was trying to respond to.
You never asked a question in your comment, so there was none for me to answer. I was trying to answer Seth’s question above, and I’m sorry if I was unclear. Am I still?
It’s fine I’m a little slow sometimes. Again, something face-to-face would clear up. 😛 When I say God’s character doesn’t work that way. I mean that I don’t believe it lines up with the Attributes of God. Again, an excellent book by Tozer. I’m saying that God, throughout the course of history since the beginning of time, has shown that He is unchanging. And all that He does is out of love, whether we, with our finite minds and limited resources, can connect the dots or not. I am not even going to reply to the whole disagreement because I have my doubts as to whether online disagreements settle anything any way. Face to face arguments are far more potent for several reasons. First of all, you can detect what tone the opposer is using, and whether his motivation is love or pride. If you’re interested in it, we can talk on the phone, that is the next best choice in my opinion, I don’t have time to use typing that will probably do no good. Know what I mean? Sincerely, -me.
No, I understand! I’m afraid my parents probably wouldn’t approve of me discussing with someone I don’t know (personally) over the phone, but I really appreciate the offer. I wish I could meet with you in person, cause you seem like a really nice person I could learn a lot from! Thanks for your time! See ya around!
Okay, thank you. I try to fill my life with things that make a change, and online arguments (usually) with few exceptions, don’t make the list. And your welcome. And thank you again, yes, I believe we could both learn a lot from each other.
Seth, I don’t know to what measure we have free will. I believe we certainly have some, but the Bible is clear that it is certainly limited. Rom. 8:7-8 is clear that unsaved man keep God’s Law. Rom. 3:9-12 is clear that unsaved man, even if we say he has the will to do good, will never do so. Eph. 2:1 is clear that man is dead in sin (clearly implying we are unable to make ourselves do good). So, there’s my motivation for saying that man cannot do good (unless God overrules man’s free will). What is your Biblical basis for your statement that: “He creates souls that can choose between right and wrong”? Can you interpret the verses I listed through your worldview?
I was trying to avoid this discussion, but when I saw this, I figured I might as well jump in, since @disqus_clxqoYwM08:disqus asked for a response anyway! I’m not denying that man has any free will at all. I’m simply pointing out that those verses above seem to contradict your statement that man can choose to do right (I’m assuming you’re also speaking of unsaved men when you say “souls”.)
Hey good stuff! 🙂 So here’s my interpretation of Romans 8: 7-8: We have to take the verses in context. If you start at the beginning of Romans 8, it’s evident that the passage is comparing “walking in the flesh” vs. “walking in the Spirit,” and how walking in the Spirit delivers us from the power of walking in the flesh. I believe it’s saying, if we choose to walk in the Spirit, “…the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” But if we choose to walk in the flesh, we “… Cannot please God”; so even if someone does a “good thing,” and is walking in the flesh, being carnally minded, that won’t be good enough for God. You can do all the good things you can think of, but if the Spirit is not in you, then you won’t meant Gods standards. Our wisdom is like filthy rags to God. That brings me to Rom. 3:9-12. I believe this passage is basically saying “All have sinned and fallen short.” It’s not saying nobody can do a good deed. But even if someone does do a “good” deed, not one person is a good person. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit in us to bridge that gap. Eph. 2:1; This verse is describing the condition of the “Old Man” before God makes us alive with Christ. For me, none of those passages support predestination. They are just stating how, in order to be truly accepted into the Kingdom by God, you must have the Holy Spirit. If you don’t, you will fail and your flesh will rule your life. But we still have a choice whether or not we accept the Spirit. Rev. 3:20, Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Maybe I’m taking this verse out of context, but doesn’t it mean that we have to make the first move in allowing God to do a work in our lives? A bit lengthy 😛
Alright, I agree that the context of Romans 8 is speaking of walking in the flesh vs walking in the spirit. But in those verses, Paul clearly says that those walking in the flesh cannot do what is pleasing to God. If man can indeed choose whether or not to do good or bad, then we can do what is pleasing to God, right?
Seth, I don’t mean this rudely, please understand what I’m trying to say here! I tend to sound blunt, and I don’t mean to, but I’m not interested in what Paul is basically saying. I’m interested in what Paul actually said. And Paul clearly said, “there is none who doeth good, no not one.” How could it get any clearer? No one does good. No one can, in their own free will, simply override our slavery to sin and just “do good”. It is contrary to our sinful natures to do so. Without the regeneration of Jesus Christ, we will never choose to do good.
I’m not trying to prove predestination. I was trying to prove that man, in his sinful state, will always choose to do evil, not good, unless God sovereignly intervenes. Yes, taken to its logical conclusion, that would lead to predestination, but for this particular argument, I’m asking to simply look at the words of Scripture. They’re pretty clear!
Rev. 3:20 in no way contradicts this. The only people who will hear His voice (remember Rom. 3, that there are none who seeks for God) are those who God specifically seeks out, since none of us are looking for Him naturally. First of all, we have to hear His voice and open the door, but what would cause a man who Paul has already said does not obey God’s Law or do any righteousness accept God? The Bible claims we are haters of God, not just mislead people! The only reason we would ever open the door is if we are already chosen by God to do so, as stated in Rom. 9:16. It doesn’t depend on us, but on God who shows mercy.
That said, I have the utmost respect for you Seth! Please don’t read into this any degree of anger or frustration, because believe me, there is none from my end! We are all sinners who have found grace from Jesus Christ and are trying to know Him better!
Yes very good points! I read Rom. 9:16 in the NLT version, and it does say that God shows mercy to some and hardens the hearts of others (like Pharoah). Then it says (in my own words here), ” Why would you, a mere man, question God who is all knowing?” So it really doesn’t matter if we believe in Predestination, or free will, because God has the power and the right to utilize both to bring Himself glory, so why should we question his methods? 🙂 yeah, I don’t claim to have it all together! I am absolutely willing to change my view on the subject if I find that the opposite view is more Biblical. Thanks for making me dig into this!
Hey, I love having a discussion with other Christian teens! It’s amazing how many just don’t care, don’t know, and aren’t interested.
But, there’s an important distinction in v. 16 from what you said! Paul didn’t say “Why would you”. He said “Who are you, o man, who would answer against God?” It seems (to me fallible human mind) that the point Paul is trying to make is less, “What’s the point of even wondering?” and more “Who are you to ever claim God is not fair”, the argument seemingly presented in (I don’t have my Bible in front of me, so I think it’s this) v. 14-15. Anyhow, what Paul seems to be saying is that it may not make sense to us as mere men, but God does what He pleases!
It’s good for iron to sharpen iron! I agree, we as fallible, small, frail, weak humans (was that enough adjectives? 🙂 can’t understand all of God’s tools, or even any of them perfectly! Thanks for being willing to discuss!
Yeah I definitely wasn’t meaning that Paul was saying we shouldn’t even wonder. Maybe I didn’t have the best choice of words. 🙂
No, I figured that was what you meant! I just wanted to make sure. I tend to be a little nit-picky! Sorry ’bout dat! Your choice of words was fine!
No no don’t apologise! 😀
Okay then, I won’t! I’m nit-picky and proud of it! 🙂 Jk
By the way, I’m speaking of unsaved men. When we’re walking in the flesh and in slavery to sin (dead to sin), that is when I believe we can do no good by our free will. Only after we have been made alive in Christ are we able to act contrary to our sin natures and walk in the Spirit! As long as we are unsaved, we are walking in the flesh, and thus cannot keep God’s Law and please Him.
Also, quick tack on. If you believe God allows man to choose to do right or wrong (all the time) how do you explain Is. 10:5-16, where God pronounces that Assyria has been “commissioned” (not that they decided to do so, but that He commissioned them to), that they didn’t intend to do so, but it was God’s plan for them to, and that they were simply a tool in His hands, no different from an ax or a staff. If that is the case, does it not appear that God is wielding the Assyrians as an instrument of judgment against Israel, even though them doing so caused them to sin by torture and murder in Israel? How do you explain this passage in regard to free will to do right or wrong?
Hey Isaiah, this may have been unintentional, but your comment comes across very combative. It’s the sort of aggressive tone that turns a discussion into an argument.
Now, I know you said at the end that you didn’t mean to be argumentative, but anytime we find ourselves tacking qualifications on to the end of our comments we should stop and re-evaluate.
We need to be careful, especially on the Internet and especially around controversial topics that tend to spin-off into unproductive, angry arguments anyway.
In this case, Joshua made an argument for a position you disagree with (which he has every right to do) — and you responded with a comment that could easily make him think you are upset with him and/or think he is dumb.
Hopefully that isn’t true, but the fact that he or anyone else reading could easily interpret it that way means that you should have thought more carefully before hitting “post.”
Yes, I need to be more careful in this area. I completely understand where you’re coming from. Yes, when you’re reading the letters on a screen it’s hard to understand that persons facial expressions/tone of voice, etc. Hence, it’s easy to misunderstand. My apologies two you both.
She thinks that IF there was a God, why would such bad things happen. The thing is she is very compassionate and caring. She is just grieving for the people that were victims of the Holocaust, genocide, war etc. She thinks that because those things happen, there must be no divine intervention let alone the intervention of the God of the Bible.
God has a plan, we can choose to follow it our not. We can choose to follow Him, or do our own plan, but His is better
I think this idea of God having a plan for our lives is a bit off-putting to non-believers. They already have plans and desires to pursue. Why would they want to give that up to surrender to some invisible person they don’t know? A true desire to follow God’s will is something that comes through a relationship with him, not something that attracts people to God in the first place. For that matter, a lot of believers don’t really want to do what they have been called to do if it means giving up too much or going too far outside their comfort zones. So why should we expect of others what we struggle to do ourselves? And really, God’s plans are for his children. Passages like Jeremiah 29:11 that refer to God’s plans are intended for Israel and for the future of those who choose (of their free will) to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
I tell people God provides the melody (his will) and we chime in on the harmony (free will), but we’re writing the song of our lives together, discord and all.
I recommend that you read God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message by Ray Comfort. It is not a big book, but I think you will find it helpful in preparing you to give a biblical answer to your friend.
I love Ray Comfort! I haven’t read that one yet though…I’ll have to look it up.
Hey Josh, welcome to the Reb…and nice name! XD
That is a very good question.
Free will is given to all. God’s plan for us is salvation for all through Jesus Christ. We use that God-given free will to choose whether we want to accept that plan or not.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to
be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
God will never impose His will on you. He gives you the choice. You either choose doing things your own way or you submit to God’s will and submit that free will to Him.
John 8:33-36 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
I tend to look at this debatable question this way: God forces no one to love and accept Him or His Son, Jesus. After the fall of man in the garden, a free will choice, God’s predestined plan was to send His Son, Jesus as man’s mediator, between man and God. God’s predestined plan for those who accept Jesus is to be conformed to His likeness and to be sanctified, made Holy in His image. If you are going to purchase a home you are given a contract with the purchase price. You either accept, reject or counteroffer. You have the free will to do that. God’s plan of salvation has a predetermined price, the death of His Son, and it is freely given to us. In our free will that God has given us we either accept or reject God’s plan. There are no counter offers. As far as knowing if God exists, I spent 23 years abusing alcohol and drugs and God freed me of that oppression when I accepted His Son, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior. I stand up as a witness to what God can do in a person’s life if you believe in His Son. Who can argue with that? Jesus said, “And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.” Acts 1:8 God gives us freedom to accept or reject His predestined plan….the choice is ours by free will.
Was the question asking about predestination or God’s plan for the Christian’s life?
This is a great discussion. Thanks for letting me be part of it. I did not get saved until I was 42 so I appreciate you young people that are seeking and searching for answers in your Christian walk. You all are light years ahead of me growing up as the son of a Baptist preacher. I believe that there will be people in heaven who are saved but never followed in obedience the plan God had for their life. They will be there but not receive their full reward.(I Corinthians 3:10-13) I got saved in 1993 but did not surrender completely to God’s will for my life until 2008. That resulted in giving up my position as a Hobby Lobby store manager to become a custodian at Davie High School in Davie County, North Carolina. The attitude we should have for God’s plan for our lives is found in Philippians 2:5-12. Paul said, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God,he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” Surrendering to the will of God is an act of humility and obedience with Jesus as our example. We can choose to do that or not do that. That is our free will. Why should we do it? Jesus gives us the answer in John 17. Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” We follow God’s plan because it brings Him glory and when we bring Him glory we get to share in that glory. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings
in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17 Following God’s plan I believe is what you call “Do Hard Things.” Below are several versions of Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Those good works might just be “hard things” but they are the hard things that are going to bring God the most glory. When we follow God’s plan to bring Him the most glory, we share in that glory. The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, scourged, and left for dead and yet he said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 Paul went on to say in the next chapter, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NIV In other words he said, I can do hard things through him who gives me strength. May God bless all of you young people who are seeking God’s will for your life and I pray that all of you will submit to God’s plan…for it really is the best plan that you could ever imagine.
Our free will was in bondage after the Fall. We can not come to God by our own reason, will, strength or choice. We were left with only one thing to choose; to sin. Our original sin disrupted God’s original plan for us. But now in and through Christ God has freed us from the bondage of sin. Our free will is no longer enslaved. We can now through abiding and living in Christ choose to follow God and live our lives to bring glory and honor to Him. As Jeremiah 29:11 shows For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Our God is love and he wants to prosper and bless us. He wants to see us succeed but also to glorify, honor and depend on Him. We have free will now to choose right or wrong and to make plans but we should wholly put our trust in Him and depend on Him for the outcomes. We should follow His plan because we can trust it’s the best one for us.
After 4 months I finally succeeded in uploading a profile picture!!!!!!!!!!
thanks to all the people who gave me instructions way back at first…
Lol! Congrats…I think! XD
I like how you do your user name! I’d steal it, but that probably wouldn’t be very nice 🙂
Think about it like a barn roof. (this is an example my dad gave me when I got into a spiritual debate that was way over my head) it slopes at the top and if you’re on one side you can only see the side you’re on. If you’re on the other side, you can only see that side. But God is hanging out over the barn and he can see both sides. We will never completely understand, good news is we’re not supposed to. God has everything in control. (now for my personal opinion, we have a free choice to FOLLOW God’s plan for our lives, at least this is my take on it. could be wrong, but like i said, I tend to hang out on the free will side of the barn) Hope this helps!
I don’t know the answer to this question. I’m going to talk to my Pastor and I’ll try to get back when I know the answer…
I just looked at my profile and realised that I have people “following me”
what does that mean!!!!??????
XD it means that they can see your posts on their Disqus homepage. =) You should try following people back! Try scrolling over someone’s profile picture and hitting “follow”!
can they see all your personal information?? It’s a little unnerving that you can’t control who follows you. And I noticed ur following me… 🙂
Well, unless your profile is private, everyone can see your bio, username, when you joined, and a couple other things. If you want to make your profile private, no one can follow you or see your info (I think).
Do you mind if I follow you? I pretty much follow everyone I come across lol but I can unfollow you if you want! =)
no , that’s fine. I just want to be sure that it’s not like you have all my info (though you seem safe :)) . I’ve had some internet scares, so I’m just trying to be cautious. Make it even and I’ll follow you too. lol!
No, I don’t! Sorry, I know I’ve told you a lot, but I want you to try tagging yourself: @lianaseager:disqus I can see what I think is your last name…you might want to change that! =)
What do you mean, make it even?
I just changed it (my name) 🙂 Meaning I just started following you. Sorry, bad choice of words.
and thanks for the info too! you took a load off my mind. Thank you!!
No prob! =)
Hey, one more thing – I think you can remove followers – if you go to your profile to your followers and hit the X next to their name, you can remove them. =)
if I did that just to try it out, could I undo it?
Yup! I think you can remove followers, too (but why would you want to???) XD
Maybe I’ll try it…
can I follow you? Just thought I’d ask, before I assume 🙂
can I follow you too? I kind of want to see how this works…
ok. sure 🙂
Josh is right you can undo a follow. 😉
Aha, the age-old question!! I’ve had an interesting time with this one. When I first joined my co-op, quite a few of the older kids loved debating about it, so needless to say, I got interested. I ended up going on a bit of a ‘Bible quest,’ in search of the answer to ‘is it predestination or free will?’ I scoured everything – every passage I could find, every relevant commentary we owned, every concordance and Bible dictionary I could lay my hands on. And after weeks of searching and thinking… I was still confused! And then a Pastor at church made a throw-away comment in a sermon, that actually struck me and made everything make sense. Here’s what he said: “Is it predestination or free will? The answer is ‘yes.’ ”
It’s both, and the interaction in neigh on impossible to flesh out. I think it’s something that, while an explanation of sorts may be contrived, kinda has to be taken by faith. Like the Trinity. It’s something about the way God works that can’t be fully explained.
Katie, your atheist friend probably won’t like that, but there’s a reason Christianity is called a faith. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a STACK of logical evidence for our faith, and enough to persuade anyone in whom God is working. I’m not trying to say we need to take this whole thing by faith. But there are select things where explanation just won’t satisfy every last question. After all, if we could fully understand God… He wouldn’t be God.
You are awesome. 😀
Thank you! Um.. any particular reason I’m awesome this time? 🙂
It was just very well said! Plus, it was pretty much what I was thinking, so you’re awesome for reading my mind. XD
Haha, OK! Thanks. 🙂
I really like the last sentence of your comment… it’s something that is very important to keep in mind 🙂
Thank you @a_haylie:disqus!
Very well said!
Explanations don’t have to be taken on faith. That’s precisely what makes them an explanation!
This is a touchy subject. God has complete control, but we are accountable for what we do because we never face unbearable temptation “but with the temptation He will provide a way of escape.”(That’s somewhere toward the start of 1 Cor.) However in our sin we’ll never be able or even want to fight it.”Because of thier unrighteousness God handed them over to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Rom.1) “So that sin might become utterly sinful.” (Rom. 3?)
But then God shows us our sin and how He paid the price for it, He changes our hearts and makes us love and trust Him. Amd that’s the only way I could ever be saved, because I’m so broken (and downright evil) that i could never choose him.
So true. If my salvation was based on my unaided “choice” between God or sin I would have absolutely no hope. I am just dry bones with no power at all to make myself alive. “No one seeks God” (Romans 3:12). However, through God’s redemptive grace he “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” (Ephesians 1:4). The Spirit of God blew over these dry bones and made them alive, “so then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy”
This is a very hot issue and I recognize and respect that many of the other commenters on this thread will have a different opinion, but I hope everyone will look closely at the Scriptures on this question and not just “go with the flow” (Romans 9 has particular relevance to this issue)
God gave us a choice to either follow his plan for our lives or totally ignore him. That’s free will. Btw its great that your friend is asking questions!
Yeah, it’s great that an atheist is wanting to know more about Christianity.
God has a will for our lives. However, I disagree with the phrase,”God is in control.” People like to say this when they dont see a healing happen, or their marriage falls apart. Some people may disagree, and thats ok. There is a difference between God being sovereign and in control. If God was “in control” the serpent would have never entered the garden in the first place. That phrase often gives us an excuse to discard our faith. Sickness and divorce are from Satan, not God. When we dont see the marriage restored we say “God is in control,” and don’t continue praying because we simply dont have enough faith (like the disciples that couldnt heal the demon possessed boy). I’m not saying this is true of everyone, just that it has been true of many peoples lives around me.
Sorry if I got a little off topic, but I think this leads too an answer. Free will is real and is the reason Adam and Eve could eat of the forbidden tree. God’s will is His plan for our life, but by free will we can choose our own will. God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat the tree. God isn’t in control of everyones lives and the things that happen around them. Christians (including myself) like to say “God is in control of our lives,” but what they mean is they are choosing God’s will for their life not that he is their puppeteer.
I hope this helped. This has grown my faith incredibly. However, I do not know all of the answers. I hope I dont confuse anyone or have gone on too much of a rabbit trail here. 🙂
I see what you getting at but I agree with the saying that God is in control because we do get to choose what we want and sometimes we make the wrong choice but God is the one who gave us that time or intersection I guess. I have had an experience which will prove that God is in control. My dad grew up in not the best household, and ended up not going the right direction with his God given gifts. But right now and for the last seven years, God has been in control and has been leading my Dad back to His path so that my Dad can fulfill God’s plan for him. God is in control but sometimes we make the wrong choice and end up going the opposite way but God will put obstacle in our lives to make us turn back and go back. And there is something that He will teach us through that wrong decision. Ultimately God leads us back to His plan for us even though we might have gone around it for the last _____ years. This is just what I think and it says in Jeremiah 29:11.
I totally understand what you mean! Perhaps I am just uncomfortable with the word “control.” I had a friend of mine who was lead into deception by the concept that our lives are chess boards and God moves us around like pieces of a game to do what He wants. I wish there were two different words for the word control. I am definitely with you in the fact that God orchestrates things in our lives!
This is one of the most often-debated and complicated issues of the Christian faith. As a result, many great Christians have sought to understand and explain the relationship between the ideas of free will and God’s will. It’s not an easy question to answer, and we’ll never understand it completely, but we can give some explanation. Ultimately, it all hinges on the reality that God is eternal, and that He uses humans to fulfill His own will.
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, from the perspective of the demon Screwtape, puts it this way:
“[A human] supposes that [God], like himself, sees some things as present, remembers others as past, and anticipates others as future… if you tried to explain to [a human] that men’s prayers today are one of the innumerable coordinates with with [God] harmonizes the weather of tomorrow, he would reply that then [God] always knew men were going to make those prayers and, if so, they did not pray freely but were predestined to do so. And he would add that the weather on a given day can be traced back through its causes to the original creation of matter itself– so that the whole thing, both on the human and material side, is given ‘from the word go.’ What he ought to say, of course, is obvious… how… that creative act leaves room for their free will… is no problem at all; for the enemy does not foresee the humans making their free contributions in a future, but sees them doing so in His unbounded Now. And obviously to watch a man doing something is not to make him do it.”
Now, that sounds very confusing, so I’ll elaborate a bit. It’s all dependent on the reality that God is eternal and is not bound by time. The Bible makes this very clear, saying things like “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) God is not bound by time. As a result, He doesn’t have a linear view of time like we do. We see things as either past, present, or future. But God sees all of time equally vividly, as if it were happening right now. To God, the future isn’t some nebulous thing to be anticipated; it is as vivid and clear as our present. The implications of this are very significant to this question of free will vs. God’s plan. You see, God doesn’t make us do things in the future. Rather, He sees us doing those things as if they were happening now. And as Lewis put it, “To watch a man doing something is not to make him do it.” God has infinite, eternal knowledge, and thus He knows what we will do and say in our future because to Him, there’s not difference between what we are doing and what we will do.
But there’s even more to it than that. You see, the Bible also makes it clear that God has a plan for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” So if God has these plans, where does our free will fit into them? In order to understand this, we need to understand that a plan is not the same as a predestined future. God has a plan for our lives, but whether or not we live according to that plan is based on our free will. One of the beautiful things about God is that He chooses to build His plans on people. He involves human beings in His designs and plans, even though He knows that doing so often harms His perfect plans. God chooses to use people. Because of this, whether or not His plans come to pass is directly connected to the choices we make with our free will.
To put it more simply, think of it this way: God has a goal for us. He has a plan in mind for what we will do in our lives and the future that will come about as a result. His plan is perfect. But along the way, God places responsibility on us. He knows fully what choices we will make, because He sees them as if we are making them right now. He knows when we will make the wrong decisions. Nevertheless, He builds His plans around the choices we will make. Our choices determine what will happen to us, but ultimately God is in control of what will happen when we make those choices. If we make the right decision, God is in control of what will happen; if we make the wrong decision, God is still in control.
This is EXTREMELY COMPLICATED, and if you’re staring at your screen with a blank expression on your face blinking slowly, that’s OK. I don’t understand all of this either! I only know what the Bible says: that God will allow me to make my own decisions, but that He is completely in control of the results of my decisions, and no mistake I make can put me outside of God’s guidance and sovereign power.
An analogy that I have always found helpful is of a book that you have read many times. As the characters face choices, they still have their own free will to decide, but since you have already read the whole story, you know what their choice will be. That doesn’t mean you necessary approve of their choice, but you are already aware of their decision.
It doesn’t quite match up in all senses, but this is a very, very complicated issue, which we probably won’t fully understand until we reach heaven.
That is a good analogy, and one I’ve used myself. Of course, the difference is that God is the author of our story, yet still allows us free will. Therein lies the paradox of the issue.
We never will fully understand this issue, but being able to understand it to some extent is very helpful, especially in situations like the one the asker is in. Having an understanding of such complicated topics helps to make Christianity clear and tangible to other people.
I agree, and please don’t take my comment to mean that since we cannot fully understand a topic until we reach heaven, we should not even attempt to comprehend it. In fact, I would say that quite the opposite is true. We shall never be fully perfect until we reach heaven, yet that does not mean we should not strive for His likeness right now in this life. This is the same way I view issues such as this. Neither I or any one else may ever fully comprehend this issue, since we are finite creatures attempting to understand an infinite, omniscient, omnipresent God, yet in attempting to understand this better I believe we also begin to understand God a little better. That’s my view on it.
Don’t worry, I didn’t take your comment to mean we shouldn’t try to understand it. I was just more fully elaborating on the idea of why it’s important to seek understanding even when we’ll never fully understand. I agree completely with your view.
I love how you put it!! Very wise answer. Thanks!
Thanks, Seth. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too confusing. Even though… it is.
It wasn’t confusing to me. I thought you explained it very well!
Gotta love C.S. Lewis and “The Screwtape Letters”! Who wouldn’t like that book!?
Lewis is fantastic. Love his stuff. “Screwtape Letters” is a fantastic book. I love his ability to make things clear by presenting them from a fictional perspective. Storytelling really is the best way to teach.
Yeah, after avoiding Lewis for years, I finally gave in and read “The Screwtape Letters” and loved it. Now I’m just about to start “Mere Christianity”, and I look forward to loving that one too!
I still haven’t read Mere Christianity, but I’m hoping to do that as soon as my school year is out and I’m free to read on my own time. But I’ve read all his fiction stuff (Narnia, The Space Trilogy, The Screwtape Letters) and he has a masterful way of teaching truth through stories.
I think I’m the only homeschooler on the planet who hasn’t read the Narnia series! It sounds good though!
I forgive you ;). You’re probably not the ONLY homeschooler who’s never read Narnia… there are probably like 3 others out there.
Hmm, I’d love to meet them some time!
You’re not! =D I thought I was the only one until I met Ethan H. lol.
Wow! So I actually have met one, in person. And I shook his hand!
XD yup! Oh along those lines, did you get invited/will you be in town for Hannah D*****’s senior recital/reception?
No, I won’t be. When is it?
Late May…. =/ sorry you can’t make it.
Me too! 1. It’s a long drive, 2. I was never close friends with Hannah though, and 3. I’ll be in Italy at the World Championships!
Wow have fun at the world championships! You’ll do great! =D
Ha, thanks! I wish I was that confident! No, I have a great group of supporters (a few are going to Italy), so I hope to do really well!
It’s cool that you’re going to Italy – I’m actually taking some Italian classes through dual enrollment. (Buongiorno! Come stai?)
Umm, cool, I have no idea what you said! While African culture interests me tremendously and I’ll make an effort to learn it, European has never appealed to me. I have not studied any Italian at all. That’s really cool though! What’d you say?
Hello (in the formal setting)! How are you? =)
Nice1 Yeah, language studies and I just don’t get along. I figured that our after one year of Spanish. That’s a great skill to have though!
Yeah, that’s what I thought at first. Il mio primo semestre di Italiano was hard, but I kind of got it by the second semester.
Let’s see, “my first semester of Italian was hard”. Was I right?
*Ding ding ding ding ding * We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!!! Yup you nailed it! =)
I could answer in Spanish, how’s that?
Non parlo spagnolo…parlo italiano (un po’). Scusate! =P
Che…? That’s one of the three words I know in Italian…
But, I think you said “I don’t speak Spanish… but a little Italian.” And then what I would think if I didn’t know better would be, that you said “Excuse you.” But I know you said “Excuse me! =P”
I think… how close am I?
Very close – scusate in this case means I’m sorry haha. =)
Oops… haha. Me puedes entender?
Non parlo spagnolo, scusate! 😉
This is looking familiar…
Tiens, parlez-vous français? 🙂
Uh no lol. =P
Well, in that case…ciao! That’s about all I’ve got. XD
Cioa, signorina! Io dicero con tu…uh….later. XD
Haha! I do that a lot. XD á bientôt! 🙂
My auto correct really hates this. XD
You’re going to Italy?? So cool! *slightly jealous* 🙂
Yep, going to Italy! I’m really not a European traveler. I’d be much happier if it was in Montana, cause then I could go flyfishing while I was there. Anyhow, that’s where the competition is! I think a little jealousy is permitted!
My family went to Montana and Wyoming on vacation last year. I can’t believe we have all this beauty right here in the US! Indiana cornfields don’t quite compare to the Rockies or Tetons, lol.
Hey, Italy is still cool! And now you’ll be able to say you’ve been to Italy, and make other people jealous. 😛
Yeah, I suppose so. If my goal was to incite jealousy, I should be really excited! Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited anyway!
Yeah, that whole area is incredible. I want to go fishing there sometime! I’ve been trout fishing in CO, but I want to go to WY and do it too!
Haha. Ok, off to bed with me! 🙂 Ttyl!
I’ve been to Italy! Lol 🙂 it’s been a long time though.
Awesome! I went to Canada when I was a baby, but I really want to go again so I can actually have the full experience. 🙂
I know what you mean! I went to Alaska when I was five–I remember almost nothing. Although I’m getting to go again this summer, so that will be awesome. 😀 I’ve actually traveled overseas a LOT, but all before I reached my teens. I appreciate having the experience when I was younger, but I could appreciate it so much more at this point in my life, you know?
That’s awesome that you’re going to Alaska!! My grandpa LOVED to travel, and Alaska was one of his favorite places in the world. Hopefully someday I’ll make it there too!
Yeah, I totally get it. I went to Prince Edward Island when I was 1 year old, and I do not remember any of it. :/
Cool! Wow, that’s a shame. 🙁 Even though I was five, I at least remember bits and pieces…I mostly remember a comedian who gave me a kazoo, lol. XD I still have it! I’m nostalgic like that. 😉
That’s great. 😀 Funny the random things we remember from young childhood! One of my earliest memories is when I was just starting kindergarten, and my mom gave my sister and me each a pink place mat to put on our “school table”. My sister scribbled all over hers with crayons, and I thought she was SO immature for ruining it right away.
Come to think of it, I think I actually scribbled on mine a bit too. xD
Haha! That’s like the story of me growing up: “You’re SO immature” *goes off and does immature thing*
Haha! I am a homeschool graduate, but still haven’t read the Narnia series either, but there are some big Narnia fanatics that I go to school with, so I almost lost a couple friends. Thankfully they were kind enough to remain my friend anyway. 😉
Yeah, a young lady who is now my best friend during our first long conversation asked if I’d ever read them and was practically knock down stunned that I hadn’t! It was hilarious! She felt bad afterward, but she was practically in shock!
Haha! Yes, I get that kind of reaction a lot, because there happens to be several books that some people thing everyone should read and yet I haven’t, so if it is brought up in conversation and I say anything about it than I am bound to get some explosive responses. 🙂 I have learned that if I don’t want to put people in too great a shock than I just can’t say anything during those conversations. 🙂
Is that young lady who’s now your best friend named Lauren?
Oo, good guess!
It wasn’t really a guess…
I’m happy to know that she reads Narnia, at any rate 🙂
Oh, if I remember correctly, she’s quite a fan!
Pardon me, I’m just going to butt into this conversation and say that the Narnia series was a wonderful read, for a certain age (when I read it, several years ago). I can now report that I have thankfully advanced to a [somewhat] higher reading level, and have shifted my favorite C.S. Lewis books a bit. Sorry for the intrusion, I hope you’ll forgive me.
Ha, you caught me still online! I wondered about that. Since that conversation and one other, I don’t think it’d ever come up again. I knew you read much more advanced books, but I didn’t know if you were still a fan of Narnia! Never having read them, I don’t know what level they are!
Well… they’re good for all ages, but I guess they’re best for 8-12 year-olds. I mean, I still enjoy them, but I’m not as into them as I once was.
Yeah, that’s why I’ve never taken the time to read them. By the time my mom finally got over her fear/suspicion of C.S. Lewis, I had passed the age where I appreciated such literature much. I really don’t read much fiction or fantasy anymore.
How do you have a life without fiction?!
My reading life is pretty serious now! I’ve just lost interest in most fiction books. I’ll still enjoy an occasional historical fiction (Day of War was a good one), but that’s pretty rare. And my life’s pretty good! What time I have to read I have a long list of deeper books to read.
Ohhh, okay. Most of my reading is fiction, so it’s hard to imagine life without fiction!
You should try some deeper ones too. They can actually be pretty fun reading, believe it or not!
I have read some deeper ones. I just look for a lot of “deeper” fiction, too. (Although I’ve been disappointed lately…)
What are your favorites you’ve read recently?
Well, that’s the problem… I haven’t found good fiction recently! I’ve tried three big Christian fiction authors recently, one of whom I’ve loved all of the other books he wrote, and I came away from each of them thinking “Well, that was weird. Why did I just waste three hours of my life reading that?!”
“Can I have my three hours back?” I’ve asked that one before!
Yeah. And one of these was really creepy. If it wasn’t a “Christian book” I would have said it was largely a vampire story. I still can’t believe I read most of it.
Hmm, that is weird!
Yeah. (Don’t ever read Green by Ted Dekker!)
Yep, don’t intend too!
Why, thank you! I’m afraid you don’t know me very well though…
You’re welcome! (And I will continue in blissful ignorance for now 🙂
OK, so I know this conversation was a long time ago, but I just have to say: Green is lame, but you absolutely NEED to read Black, Red, and White. They’re AMAZING. Fantastic Christian fiction. Green was supposed to be a sequel to those three, but it was just weird and awful. Don’t read it. But DEFINITELY read the first three.
OK, rant over. Now go read Black.
Okay, thanks. I wondered how the Circle Series was so highly recommended. I’ve regained hope for humanity’s choice in Christian fiction! 😀 Really, I’ll check them out 🙂
You’re forgiven. 🙂 Seriously, no need to apologize! Yes, I’ve kind of moved on, too. (But I’m still mad about the Prince Caspian movie!)
I know!! To be honest, I’ve forgotten most of the contradictions between the book and the movie, but I’m mostly mad about the romance they sneaked in there. Totally uncalled for. Yuck and ick. 🙁
Yes! Yick! And I think they ruined Peter’s character. He turned into a wannabe ruler with delusions of grandeur. 🙁
Beautifully put! *Was I the only one who cried after watching “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” for the first time??* [Secret revealed to the world]
I think that’s something my sister said after she watched it… Well, I didn’t cry… but I don’t, like, ever cry. Basically unless I try to connect with the characters, I see it as a story and nothing more, so I don’t really get affected by movies.
I’ll talk to you later! It’s 9:30 my time.
Yep, I gotta go too. See ya ’round!
That happens a lot! If they could take romance out of 90 percent of movies, I would be a happy camper! Then they could just take out all the bad languag, and I would be overjoyed!
YES! Not that all romance movies are bad, but most of what passes for “romance” is really just shallow *ahem* physical attraction. Bleh! And yes, it’d be great if they just dropped all the language, too!
So I’m no the only one mad about the Prince Caspian movie! Some parts were okay, but with other parts I was thinking, Wow, did they even try?? I mean, what on earth was going on with Susan and Caspian? Where did THAT come from?? Also, I was kinda disappointed how Edmund, Peter, and Caspian always had to be in some sort of petty squabble. Someone needs to tell the producers of the Narnia movies that needless character drama only takes away from the plot! C.S. Lewis did fine already; don’t try to add to it!
Ok, mini rant over. 🙂
Yes. I kinda thought that Edmund stayed out of most of the squabbles, but what was up with Peter and Caspian?! . And then in Dawn Treader even Edmund got in on the fight… WHY?!?
No, I haven’t read them either and I’m homeschooled. 😁😁
Wow, there are a few of us!
How did you like The Space Trilogy? I read the first one but didn’t go to the bother of getting the other two from the library…
The Space Trilogy is great. The first one is BY FAR the most straightforward… the second is very allegorical and weird but still great, and the third is heavily philosophical; it’s a new take (or I suppose old take…) on end times fiction. Think… dystopian but written in 1945. Personally I love all three, but the first is the easiest to read.
So if I thought the 1st one was a little… weird… I probably shouldn’t try the others?
The first one is definitely weird, but the storyline is somewhat straightforward; it has a clear progression with a clear conflict and resolution. The other two have much greater depth and a less easily defined conflict-to-resolution. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read them. Reading them isn’t easy, but it’s definitely valuable in my opinion. They have great messages and values behind them, they’re just complicated.
Okay, thanks 🙂
You quoted The Screwtape Letters! And that made perfect sense…
For those whom He foreknew… (Romans 8:29)
“Before the foundations of the earth He knew you, and it’s not because He looked in some crystal ball, or down the corridors of time and saw you in the future.
The bible never speaks of a crystal ball, and it never speaks of corridors of time or God looking into a book that talks about the future… it never does. It never talks about God looking into the future.
God does not know the future because He’s looked ahead and seen it… God knows the future because He’s Lord over it, and directs every molecule, every fiber of being, every bit of matter towards the purpose He has ordained.
That is a God my friend.
Not a god who looks into the future and then reacts, not a god who makes choices based on choices of other men He’s seen in the future.
A god who is The God and Lord and Author of the future.”
God knows what we are going to do, but lets us chose it. Am I explaining that well?
That would have been so much easier to type, thanks for the clarification.
Thanks. That was how my youth Pastor had explained it.
I have not looked at the other post, but spot on, if I do say so myself.
Kings James (KJ) Bible has 73 Books..
Revise Standard Version (RSV) Bible has only 66 Books..
7 Books are missing…
Which Bible is true Bible..?
Hi, sorry I’m just seeing this… I’m not sure what your questions is, so tell me if I need to clarify my response.
I personally prefer reading the King James Version or New King James Version. My KJV Bible does have 66 books.
PLEASE be careful when choosing a Bible. There are many false versions of the Bible out there. Some have
fewer than 66 books, some have more than 66 books.
As to which Bible is true… the original Hebrew Bible would be the most accurate. But the oldest and closest English version (I believe) is the KJV and it should have 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament). Hope this helps! 😉
The KJV and the RSV both have 66 books.
There is no word “Sword” in Holy Book Quran, where as it is mentioned
more than two hundred times in Bible.
Jesus said “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t
come to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34
AlQuran protect human life :
“ He who kills a soul unless it be (in legal punishment) for murder or for
causing disorder and corruption on the earth will be as if he had killed all
humankind; and he who saves a life will be as if he had saved the lives of all humankind.” ( The Qur’an, Al-Ma’idah, 5:32)
May God Bless You, and Give You Guidance…Worship Only One Almighty God Without Any Partners…..Follow Your Greatest Commandment….
Hi Shah Imran,
I don’t have the time to go into the details of the verses in the Qur’an that promote violence and abuse, right now. However, the verse you mentioned about Jesus was in fact His words, but you quoted them out of context. In that verse Jesus was clearly talking about belief in him.
As the two of us are divided now because of Him, families and close friends are divided because some accept His teaching while others do not.
In referring to physical violone, Jesus said this: “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”
He said that when his disciple and dear friend, Peter went and attacked someone who had come to bring Jesus to be arrested and later crucified. Jesus told Peter to stop, and then went up and healed the injured man.
I encourage you to read the whole story. It’s quite interesting! 😀
For those whom He foreknew… (Romans 8:29)
“Before the foundations of the earth He knew you, and it’s not because He looked in some crystal ball, or down the corridors of time and saw you in the future.
The bible never speaks of a crystal ball, and it never speaks of corridors of time or God looking into a book that talks about the future… it never does. It never talks about God looking into the future.
God does not know the future because He’s looked ahead and seen it… God knows the future because He’s Lord over it, and directs every molecule, every fiber of being, every bit of matter towards the purpose He has ordained.
That is a God my friend.
Not a god who looks into the future and then reacts, not a god who makes choices based on choices of other men He’s seen in the future.
A god who is The God and Lord and Author of the future.”
As I agree with Paul Washer, as I am answered by the Lord
Well, that’s a tough question. I believe the answers are all throughout the bible of people who God had big plans for who never fully fulfilled them because of their free will: Saul. God has a plan but often we are too blind to listen. God will bring His plans to pass but it is up to us on whether or not He’ll use us or someone who is more willing to be used.
In Saul’s case, he began well but didn’t fully trust God and when he made a big mistake (offering the sacrifice when he wasn’t a Levite) God couldn’t use him. So God picked David who was willing to be used.
Both men had great potential but it was because of Saul’s free will that he died in battle and that David went in with Bathsheba.
You see God has a plan for everyone but often we miss it and God is forced to use someone else.
Another verse that might help your friend understand is Proverbs 16:9 (a man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps)
This simply means that God is powerful enough to make our free will choices line up with His enormous plans!
Hope this helps! Praying for ya!!!
I realize that this is a kinda old question at this point but I just wanted to weigh in. You ask how can we have a free will if God has a plan for our lives. The way you are using the term “free will” it appears that you mean the ability to do whatever we want. I will assume that definition in the following paragraph.
The plain answer is that we cannot. Free will is not something we have. I realize this may sound rather extreme but let me explain. To have a free will (as you seem to mean it) would mean that your will, desire to do, think or be, would be free; i.e. it would not have any limitations. This is simply not the case. You cannot will to become a millionaire and the fact that you must work for it and even then might not succeed is proof of your limited will. You cannot change your circumstances at will, sometimes you can but other times you can’t. You cannot change others at will, my sisters will right now that I let her on the computer is limited by my will to let her have a turn. So lets clear that up, no person has a free will. Neither do any angels have a free will nor do demons. (Ok, I will let my sister on…)
However, the word “will” only refers to your desire or decision to do something, and, therefore, the term “free-will” only refers to your freedom to dream. It does not relate to your actual ability to enact those desires. With this in mind, your inferred contradiction no longer exists as God may simply manipulate your circumstances so that regardless of you desired outcome you do indeed see His come to pass. The ability to desire or decide to do and then accomplish anything is one way to define Sovereignty. Only God is sovereign. Only He can make a plan and no one contradict it. It is true, as you infer, that no two wills can be sovereign at once.
That is why I would contend that our will only holds sway as God’s will permits it. That is, that, in a similar to way to how a CEO delegates tasks and responsibilities to those under him and they exercise control over those realms, God gives us authority to exercise authority over certain things. I may desire to change a word or phrase in this answer, as I often have, and I have also been granted the ability to change that word or phrase. So, how much does God allow us to enact our will free or otherwise? Only as much as we can without contradicting His plan.
One last thing and that is in reference to God’s plan and its nature. Many people are fond of quoting Jeremiah 29 “For I know the plans I have for you…” as the end all regarding God’s will. It is not logical, and neither is it consistent with the rest of scripture to contend that this is God’s will for all people. Rather, it is His will regarding Judah, and, I would hold, it is likely similar to His will regarding the church. This is not true regarding all mankind, but, rather, Romans 8 and especially 9 teach that God has seen fit to raise up some to be objects of His divine wrath. Romans 9:17-18, “For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this reason so that I may display My power in you and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.” I would not tell an unbeliever that God plans good things for them as we have no guarantee that this is so, and, if/when proved wrong it would breed distrust in God. It is true that God may be watching over them but, as was the case for the Judah at one time, He may be “watching over them for harm and not for good” (Jeremiah 44:27). Everyone is a part of God’s plan and all will bring Him glory. However, only those who accept His gift of salvation by faith alone will likely enjoy their part in His plan.
I realize this may bring up many other questions regarding God’s will and ours and this is, as many tell me whenever I have to bring up this section of theology, a controversial subject. I do not accept, however, as many (not on here) have told me, that we cannot know the answers to these questions (exception would be why God chooses as He does, that is hidden from us). Study long and hard and I believe you can/will find a position which is comprehensive and coherent enough to account for almost all if not all of scripture. Quick tip, current Christians maxims are rarely helpful can often be quite counterproductive in this pursuit.
Whooa, I just posted this and got a look at the full length. Sorry about that! 🙂
Wow, very good! Your sister is right, we do agree on a lot! That is one of the best written answers on this topic I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying something, cause I don’t usually agree readily!)
Wow, thanks a million! I just had to up-vote your reply. lol
So, would you say we are free to act as long as we are in the sphere of authority to act that God has given us? God is not directly moving my actions, but instead moving circumstances to change my actions? Am I reading that right? That’s an interesting PoV that seems to make pretty good sense.
Somewhat, and it is at this finer detail that I get to some difficulty. Yes, we are free to act within our sphere of authority. However, God may not always leave your actions within your sphere of authority, and, therefore, no, I would not say that God only moves your circumstances as He is free to adjust your actions as well. What gets difficult is when we consider the actual question of free will. Correctly defined, free will only, as I said, pertains to our freedom to dream. Is that truly free? In the unbeliever I would have to say no. He is a slave bound to another’s will although it would seem that, similarly, he has some freedom of choice in how he carries out the others will. For us, I have some difficulty in answering whether or not we have a free will for this reason. Phil 2:13 one of my favorite verses, says that God adjusts our will itself and works that we carry out that new will. In this case our will is still heavily influenced.
Example of the above situation in which our actions are no longer a part of our authority, would be Pharaoh. God’s plan required that Pharaoh rebel.
Alright, then, I agree with you. I’m not really sure about a believer’s free will, but I agree implicitely about your statement regarding an unbeliever’s.
So, topic change. You’re 19, what do you want to do as you get older?
Well, I am studying Electrical Engineering right now at Cedarville University so that is presumably in my future. Besides that, I want continue to develop as an evangelist, get married, attend an online seminary, and possibly work my way into the pastorate. I might forgo the latter, however, as I find the alias of an electrical engineer might prove useful to someone with the background of a pastor.
How about you?
I don’t know what path I’ll take to get there, but I’d like to work in African missions. Not sure what the next step is to get there, but that’s what I’d like to wind up doing.
I think pastors who also work day jobs make some of the best pastors because they have a much better grasp of the struggles faced in the workplace and so on. Don’t let that stop you! 🙂
Cool, the church over there is exploding right now from what I’ve heard. (Sorry, no pun intended on exploding). The question of how to get there is definitely a good/hard one. I know I spent a lot of time praying and wrestling over that one last summer as I neared fall and knew I was going to be taken almost completely out of the mission field for four years while I gained my degree. I am not as completely out of the mission field as I expected as we have evangelism teams such as CU-Outreach where we head out to nearby colleges and universities and basically do street evangelism but I still miss the opportunities afforded by working day by day next to people who often had lives which were falling apart.
Yeah, it’s really easy to say “this is where I want to end up”. Not so easy recognize what the first step is. I imagine that’s the same with any life path you choose though.
So, there’s evangelism teams there? Is it a secular college?
Yes, there are evangelism teams at Cedarville to multiple secular colleges. Specialize in Muslims? head to Wright State University where they abound. Prefer handling the post-modern mindset? It is rampant at Ohio State University where anyone will happily discuss anything but believe nothing. Central State University isn’t to notable, I haven’t heard anything unique so probably your average mix of beliefs. I go to Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio where I talk to a lot more people like those I am used to talking to at work. Cedarville, however, is not a secular college. It is one of the best remaining Conservative Christian Universities in existence.
Okay, cool! That’s a great opportunity, and having other like-minded people to back you up is great!
Oh it has been great. Our leader just graduated from Cedarville and went to work for Honda as an Electrical Engineer. Oh how I wish I could spy on him in the lunch room and watch him work. Anyway, I have to go to bed. While I am old enough that my mom no longer tells me to I am still human and need 8 hours of sleep every night like everyone else.
See ya round!
I’ve got to head to bed now as I am tired and have church tomorrow. However, it has been nice talking to you and I hope we can talk again soon. Feel free to look me up on facebook under the name Joseph Richardson. I have my graduation photo as my profile picture and the cover photo has a bunch of people with a green “car” in front of them. That “car” is a prototype and won’t look normal by any stretch but that should help you to identify me if you want.
I’m not on FB, so I’m afraid that won’t work! But I look forward to running across you again on here sometime!
I spent a lot of time hammering out that theology. Some of R.C. Sproul’s material was helpful but the primary thing that got me to this conclusion was simply that no other viewpoint could satisfactorily account for all of scripture.
Same. I haven’t read much from Sproul, but what I have made sense. And I would agree that this is one of the few consistent points of view that I’ve seen on the subject.
We are limited on our will/desire because of government and law..
God has a plan for each and every one of us, and it is up to us whether we will act in accordance to his plan or not. Everyone is born with agency. “We must be tried, tested and proved to see if we will choose the right and do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us” -Delbert L. Stapley.
There is evil in the world. Anything evil is not of God. God had a plan for the people that bombed the twin towers. They chose not to follow his plan, and the results were disastrous. God didn’t make them do it. The devil didn’t make them do it. The Devil may have prompted them to do it, but no one can make you do anything. We can allow ourselves to be guided by God or by the Devil. It is your choice.
We can choose to obey the laws and rules we are given. We can choose to pray. We choose to be obedient or respectful to our parents and those around us.We can choose to do anything we want, but all choices have consequences.
Have you ever fought the urge to yell, or snitch an extra piece of pie when no ones looking, or… you know, just chosen to do the right thing despite how tempting it is? I know everyone has in some way or other, and that is the use of agency.
But, according to the bible, nothing can escape from God’s plan, so how could we just walk away from his plan? (This is not a shot, I’m very curious about this)
Why do you think we are here on earth?
I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you more easily if I know more of where you’re coming from.
Everything that God needs accomplished will be accomplished, in some way or other. There are things he needs you to do that no one else can do as well as you. There are some lives that you may be able influence in a way no one else could. If you were to choose not to follow the path God has designed for you, you may not be able to influence those people for the better. That isn’t to say they wont receive the good influence that they need– they just wont receive it in the way that you could give it to them. You could help them much more efficiently than anyone else could.
Think about these scriptures:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV Matthew 6:24)
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (KJV Joshua 24:15)
If you look way back to the very beginning of the Old Testament, you see the example of the Israelites, just newly saved from Egypt. They constantly complain though, and need strict laws to keep them in line. God punishes them on several occasions because of their lack of obedience. They were showing through their deeds that they loved the things of the world more than they loved Him (If ye love me, keep my commandments. [KJV John
14:15]) I know that God wouldn’t force us to do bad things.
God is righteousness. The Devil is wickedness. We can allow ourselves to be influenced by either one, but neither can force us to do anything.
I hope this helps answer your question
Please explain this verse!
ISAIAH 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
You said anything EVIL IS NOT OF GOD. That is a blatant lie. Please explain this verse!
ISAIAH 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (All of this debunks the stupidity of evolution. The phrase, “I create evil,” is rendered according to the following: the Hebrew word used here for “evil” is “ra,” and is never rendered “sin,” but rather “calamity, diversity, distress and trouble.” This “evil” is meant to be directed by God at the enemies of His People.)
Swaggart, J. (2005). The Expositor’s Study Bible (p. 1181). Baton Rouge, LA: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.
Free will is difficult to understand… I think about it as if we can choose what we want to do, but we have been made in such a way that we always choose what is next in God’s plan. My pastor said that it’s like if he were to put a piece of chocolate on the floor, he would know that his two year old would go and pick it up and eat it. I’ve found Proverbs 16:9 and Romans 9 on the topic; does anyone know a verse where it specifically says that we have free will?
There aren’t any verses that say that per se`, and I think that is why this issue is often difficult to work with. We often try to “balance” (I would say we rather overrule) scriptures such as the ones you mentioned with the “fact” that the bible also talks about free will. As I discuss below in my reply, we also tend to confuse the definition of free will with sovereignty and thereby further obscure matters.
Back to your question, it does often speak of human responsibility and I think it is from these verses that many people derive their beliefs regarding free will. However, as Romans 9 points out, responsibility does not imply free will. It is therefore scripturally false to say that if we are responsible we must also have free will.
I too would like to hear someone give me just one bible verse that preaches free will (and we must mind our definitions) so I can actually compare scripture with scripture. All to often, I find that we accept free will from our Christian culture and balance it with God’s sovereignty from the Bible. This is also why I recommended that anyone who wants to find a definitive answer ignore current Christian maxims as they seem to always smack of man’s reason and I have never seen someone support them with bible verses. It is always arguments we hear all over but I have yet to find in the Bible.
I was re-reading what you wrote below, and I really like how you explained free will in that we have the want to do things without the ability to do them. That’s Proverbs 16:9! So we have the responsibility to obey God, but we do not have the free will to plan our own future. It seems as though God has to control, or at least know what we will choose, every moment of our lives, whether I pick blue or red to wear today, because little things add up to big things, and one choice can have an effect on a lot of a life. That Proverbs verse says that we plan what we want to do, but God is really the one acting in the background deciding whether it happens or not. Thanks for sharing with me- it sounds like you’ve learned a lot on this.
sorry im late. I just got back from hearing my dad preach. what I mean is we are not predestined. God has plans for us. He may know that we will be saved, but he did not decide it. We have free will. Think of it like this, your dad tells you you have to go to work with him, you didn’t decide that you will, but you know you will. I hope that cleared it up.
I had to write an essay on this in school this year. We have free will and God knows what we will do. When we have to make a decision we ultimately make the decision but, God knows what we will choose. We are not puppets but the director of our lives does know the things we choose.
In that case isn’t He no longer the director of our lives but the observer?
That’s what I was thinking…
I have already commented on this but I came across a interesting observation by William Barclay. He said that all things are sovereign in the hands of God except the fear of God in a man’s heart. In that all men have free will and make a choice that decides their eternal destiny.
Still… “For he (God) says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:15) It sounds like God is sovereign, even over salvation. We do have to make an individual choice to follow God, however… He just decides who will make that choice. Am I right? This might be an entirely different discussion.
Pardon my very late response to this. I never received a notification from Disqus for this comment!
You’re right, to a point. Discussing the essence of the gospel is not a substitute for evangelism. I’m not suggesting theological discussion to displace evangelism and missions. But fortunately, we’re not compelled to only do one or the other!
According to your statement, it would seem to condemn the council that Paul and the other apostles held in Acts 11 to discuss the gospel. As Christians, an understanding of the gospel is pivotal to a proper presentation of it to the lost and pivotal to a Biblical worldview.
What is your suggestion then? That we ignore theologically hard questions? No, rather let us try to study Scripture, come to conclusions on the hard questions, and continue to share the gospel with the world!
Your argument is based on the concept that we will either “debate the essence of the gospel” or share the gospel with the people in the unreached places who have never heard. I’m someone who wants to do both. The gospel is important, as is a correct understanding of it.
So, since I have trouble seeing from your comment, what is your suggestion?
To top it off, if you think ALL Calvin did was “debate the essence of the gospel”, you’re missing some of the many helpful things Calvin did for the Protestant Reformation as a whole.
So I personally think that any questions about free will come through a misunderstanding of time and God’s place in time. namely that God is outside of time. thus God sees the entire timeline of our lives before him, so he knows what will happen, but to him it has already happened as much as it will happen. we are inside time, we are at a specific point, thus we can not know the future and have free will about our choices. Fate cannot exist inside time, however God occasionally gives visions of the future to people. for these people they get a glimpse outside of time, and thus they don’t have complete Free will, but they still have some about how to get to that point
think of it like this gods has a perfect life for you but you need to chose the path that leads you there because there is sin in our life there are many paths for you to chose so chose god’s path
sorry god has its not gods has
A few thoughts: I would say that God has a plan for our lives, but we have the free will to follow the plan or not.
My guess is that God had a best plan for Adam and Eve to live their lives. But using free will, they chose not follow it, and something different happened. We can do the same. However, God in his infiniteness can see all and every result of each of our choices. His purposes will stand. And God is still sovereign. But I think that specifics of the plan can change.
Another way that I heard this dilemma explained is this: We as humans think of free will and God’s plans as an either-or choice. We live in a 100% reality. But maybe it’s a 200% reality thing, and it’s actually both-and. God transcends our reality, so maybe there’s some way for both to exist at the same time, but we just can’t see how.
Finally, I don’t think the Chrisitan life is about following God’s plan at all. (Sacrilege! Stay with me. . .) The Chrisitan life is about following Jesus. It’s a relationship.
Actually, I did a study on the word “follow” in the Bible. In the NIV, it never talks about following God’s plans. The most common use in the Old Testament has to do with following God’s Law, and the most common use in the New Testament is following Jesus. We don’t follow a plan; we follow a Person.
God’s Law includes God’s plan, When we follow God’s Law, we follow His Plan. Bible is full of God’s plan and Jesus is the center of Bible. Morever, Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Amen to that, too. However, God does teach us that he has plans for us.
Well the idea of ‘free will’ is nonsense really.
The definition is a bit blurry, but I assume most people’s idea of it is: we are ‘free’ to do what we want to do at any given time – assuming it’s physically possible.
Trouble is, we’re not free to choose what it is we WANT to do.
I maybe be ‘free’ to choose vanilla over mint ice cream, but if my brain is already ‘programmed’ to not like mini ice cream, then I’m never going to choose mint ice cream.
So to the question on this page…
If God has a plan, then that means either:
1. No one can do anything different than what God already set up and forced to happen in our brains/environment – he basically is the one making ‘choices’ for us.
If this is true, then it may LOOK like I’m ‘choosing’ the vanilla ice cream, but I’m only ‘choosing’ it, because God already chose to MAKE me choose it.
2. It means humans can change his plans. His plans are changable, by humans (at least).
If this is true, then God had plans, and then made humans who went and changed his plans.
It may be unpallateable for Christians to think God MAKES OUR CHOICES FOR US….but what is the alternative?
The alternative is, our desires/urges are based on RANDOMNESS. ie: God didn’t choose to make me dislike mint ice cream….he basically threw some dice to decide.
But the thing is, even when you throw dice, the result is predictable (if you knew the exact position, angle, speed, etc of dice when thrown).
So can God create something truely by random? If he does, how does he make it random? And if he doens’t create something by random, including our souls/brains, that means he’s entirely in control of them.
It is your freewill to choose vanilla ice cream, or any other ice cream for that matter, because if it was up to God, you would probably not be choosing ice cream at all. I like you philosophical questions, but, they are all rhetorical. The answer is Faith. Through faith the relevance of rhetoric is extinguished, becomes meaningless, because you will have all the answers you will ever need. Even those fo which you never posed a question.
Yes but I was talking about our desires, which are not chosen. Yes, if I have two different types of flavour of ice cream on offer to me, I maybe be ‘free’ to ‘choose’ whichever I want.
But I don’t choose what it is I will desire more. The ‘desire’ for one over the other (or neither at all), has not been a choice I made.
So I’m only ‘free’ to choose what it is I was ‘programmed’ to desire most at that given situation.
So did God give me that desire (to prefer one ice cream over the other) or did it happen randomly?
You can’t say you ‘choose’ what it is you ‘want’ to like. Think of some food you find horrible. If you like every single item of food in the world, then think of something else that you know would taste awful in your mouth.
Now try and ‘choose’ to like the taste of it. It doesn’t work. Our desires are not chosen.
Our choices are simply based on whatever our greater desire is at any given moment.
You could sit there in front of me, with one ice cream you like, and one you hate, and then you could proceed to eat some of the ice cream you don’t like to prove me wrong.
But that wouldn’t prove me wrong. Because in that moment, you would desire to eat the icecream you don’t like, to try and prove me wrong MORE than the desire to eat the ice cream you like, and not attempt to prove me wrong.
And in this hyperthetical case also, you didn’t ‘choose’ to want to prove me wrong, that desire was out of your control, you simply did what you wanted to do most at that given situation.
Did god give pedophiles the desire to want little children ?
Yes he did. Problem?
We are all different, and so like different things and think differently. It is our choice how we lead our lives in that sense. But if we act wrongly, then bad outcomes may occur. Living well can get us the correct goals, which God hopes for us to reach.
God is real, but free will is a myth. Gods plan is a myth. God got bored with us a long time ago and no longer has any real interest in keeping to promises he made. If you disagree, then you accept that Gods plan is for children to starve and die every day. For innocents to die in wars that are started to keep the rich rich and the powerful powerful. For bad things to happen to good people? Well I am not good people. I actually love God, but I am able to accept that God has failed us and worse, given up. We are only the old pet that he has yet to find the courage to put down.
I’m sorry that you feel this way, Ludlum. I’m sure there may have been many things that have made you feel abandoned or hated by God. But in this case I am glad to say that you are wrong. God has a plan, and He has not given up on us. And there are several reasons why we both can know this for a fact.
Four hundred years. That’s how long the Israelites waited to hear something – anything – from God. They lived, they suffered oppression, in years before had even suffered slavery, and they died. From their perspective, God had abandoned them.
Then came Jesus. He taught that we were not made for this world, and He – the ONLY innocent person on the planet – was whipped, beaten, pierced, mocked, and hung on a tree to die. For us. And His bride (the church) has been tortured, persecuted, and killed. This suffering – His and ours – was meant for another purpose.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). And in 1 Peter 4:13 we are told to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
Why can we rejoice in sufferings? Because they remind us not of God’s giving up on us, but the opposite – His grace toward us! There is not a single person – child or adult – who is innocent; we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and so death and eternal punishment would be the right thing to give us (Romans 6:23), yet God offers us salvation, sending His own Son to suffer so that we could walk free.
God allows bad things to happen. But those things are a result of sin (Romans 5:12), and God uses them for our eternal good and His glory (Romans 8:28-30). One of my favorite quotes is “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.” (RC Sproul, Jr.)
Since you say you love God, I would invite you to hear what He has to say by taking a look at the book of Romans as well as 1 Peter. I will pray for you, my friend. God loves you, even if it may seem unlikely. Soli Deo gloria!
Beautifully written! I’m going to copy and keep this even as a reminder to myself. Thanks!
You are saying that there are no good people in the world. So people who put in time and money to help the STARVING children in Africa are not good? If god has a plan for everyone than why do people get raped, murdered, or worse? If god is real why doesn’t he try to help some people? Maybe the victims of Hurricanes or other natural disasters. I see that they are helping each other and no super being or crap is evaporating the flood, rebuilding the houses or making food appear. I see a lot of suffering and not a equal amount of goodness to counter act it. If god truly loves each of us equally, why does some people have better fortune than others if they worship the same god and spend equal times praying. And to the above, why would god send lightning to kill the person for sharing his opinion? Didn’t god say to respect everyone?
Also, If god allows bad things to happen as a sin then you are telling me all the starving children are sinning. If you respond with you will pray for me, please don’t as it will do nothing if I die of anything and if I get murdered I will know I caused a sin somehow.
One more thing, if I accept gods plan for me, I will likely end up dying of starvation, murdered or something fun like that.
Read isaiah 57:1 a beautiful piece of scripture that says why the a righteous person may die young to be spared from evil later. Also God is helping with starving children,hurricanes, raped woman and all other evil you called out. His part in helping is he made you,me,and the others that make up the church. So maybe stop being the voice of why God don’t reach down and thump the evil in the back of the head and go be the hands and feet of Jesus exactly what he called us to be. I’m not going to cast judgement over you for that’s what God said was his job. But at least read the words in his plan before you throw up your hands and yell where’s God when he’s already made a move to heal the sick and rescue the hurt his plan A is you and guess what he don’t have a plan B. So you can throw your hands up or you can be the hands and feet of Jesus for the world to see his work in you. May God bless you all. Please receive this without judgement or disrespect. I find myself forgetting that I’m his plan sometimes as well saying to myself wish you would have showed up on this one only to hear back” I DID YOU WASNT LISTENING”.
Also to live is Christ to die is gain i will with joy lay down my life for Christ reaching out a hand to one of his children if called to. Trials and tribulations make you partners with Christ. What PART of Christ would you not want Joy,freedom,life,love,healing,treasures in heaven,and way more sounds better than getting 7 McNuggets in a 6 piece meal count me in!
I dont know what happened to you I feel the Holy Spirit telling me to let you know God does love you and he still has a plan for you if you’ll trust in him and he still cares about you don’t give up on God I know you feel like you’re all alone I used to feel like I was all alone but the real person making you feel like all these negative things about God that’s the devil devil wants to keep you down and you’re right bad things happen to good people cuz we live in a fallen world but what defines you it’s how you deal with it sometimes hardest thing to do is to trust in God when the world is going against you and he does love you
You cant hear the holy spirit or God’s voice. He won’t talk to us because we are supposed to have faith that he exists. If he talks to us in any way then faith is taken out cause we will know that he exists and knowing isnt having faith. So dont say that you can hear anything from the divine because they wont interact with us. At least not until we die and move on to the afterlife.
Really? Your experience or lack of it does not make it a fact. It is by faith that we receive the Holy Spirit, it is by faith that we “hear” God’s voice, it is by faith that we recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit, not by arguments and debates. And you can do it too, if you want to. Please don’t tell others what they can or can’t do, for they can do all things through Jesus Christ.
Can’t hear the Holy Spirit but you can feel the Holy Spirit and sometimes you can hear the Holy Spirit if the Holy Spirit chooses to let you hear him that is extremely rare though
Now that being said God bless you
lol. you said the “Holy spirit” is telling you something? you might be hallucinating or something is in your ear. try getting it checked by a doctor.
It’s not the same as hearing you feel the Holy Spirit saying something to you and hearing the Holy Spirit I’ve heard of that happening before and they weren’t crazy now that being said you shouldn’t believe everyone that’s okay I can hear the Holy Spirit I haven’t personally ever heard the Holy Spirit I just felt the Holy Spirit
Your entire discussion demonstrates that you have free will. No bolt of lightning has come down to punish you for expressing it. It is your freewill choice to believe what you want to believe. As parents we may have plans for our children’s lives but, more often than not they exercise their freewill and follow other plans. God is our Father and he has a plan for us but, we exercise free will to be outside that plan, follow a different one; therein is the problem: we end up confused, uncertain and debating with ourselves, trying to convince ourselves that we are right. It is irrelevant if you convince others or gain support for your argument, it is what is in your heart that matters. Most of us stray and suffer, then come back and follow God’s plan.
Claymore, yours is a very belligerent and frankly fearful response, in my opinion. Though you are right that I have the right to hold such an opinion, I have no intention of asking or expecting others to be ” convinced ” to support my argument, nor do I hope to gain support. I simply state my view. What you FAIL to consider, is that I am not making such a comment out of bitterness or a greed for a better hand of cards, I STATE my opinion because God, the God I believe in, and wholeheartedly love, created me to be who and what I am, but God has also made it abundantly clear to me that this is where we stand. You are not required to accept it, but if you accept the existence of God, you must accept the possibility that of the few who are given ” information “, not everyone will get the information they want or hoped for. God gives what you NEED, not what you want.
that is an opinion or belief that you made up, God’s ways are higher than our ways, God’s thoughts is higher that our thoughts, if you’re saying that you have figured out God’s thoughts then you’re probably at the same level as him, wow, you’re a God, there is suffering for a reason, can you imagine if God gave everything to you in a silver plotter? will you know humility? will you know how to be happy in small things? will you know how to appreciate having only a single bread to eat because you know there are others who don’t have bread to eat? you’re opinion is that of a spoiled brat.
I think these two separate statements can be looked at innertwined. God has a plan for your life when you use your free will to do His will. When you choose to serve God you walk with God, and through this you find the purposes/plans He has for your life as a new creation in Jesus Christ.
You just blew my mind!!!!!! I latterly just exploded!!
Have look at this post on God as the planner.
Some posts seem to delve into philosophy, without fully understanding it. Most of the time Faith and philosophy can be mutually exclusive – not always though.
It is like fire and water, they don’t mix. Either water extinguishes the fire or the fire is such that it evaporates the water. However, we need fire to boil water, in which case they add value to each other; that is your conundrum, does the mix add value to your life and Christian walk, or confuse you.
You have free will to choose to accept Jesus as your Lord & Savior. When you do, his plan for your life is accepted