Sunday, May 08, 2005

God's in control

I believe that some people have misunderstod my last blog post. My argument is not against the sovereignty of God not His power over the circumstances of our lives it is against the idea that God wants to make our choices for us. I believe that God created in us His image. The nature of man in it's atomic essence is defined in terms of the ideal, we're defined in terms of God. The reason we can say man is imperfect is because we have a pre concieved concept of what perfection would look like in a man. our nature is to do good, not evil. Our "sin nature" is deeply rooted in a beutiful concept called free will. The Bible says "we are... created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do" ephesians 2:10. God has placed our circumstces before us. He has has given us the options. He has given the control to us to choose. This capacity to choose makes Man an amazing creation, which God loves and adores. God has power to take this choice away but could not without completly changing our nature.

God is in control. God places us in situations, puts choices before us, sends people into our lives to influence us. We have no power over God! He will get the job done with us or without us but has chosen to use us. We are not predestined to sin, we are created to do "good works." We choose to sin, we choose to be sinners. God has placed faith in us and waits for us to do things for Him.

Remember that the Kingdom of God is here and that God is in control. He is the King. He is a gracious and powerful king! Those who choose the Good will enter the Kingdom.

8 comments:

Chris P. said...

"God has placed faith in us and waits for us to do things for Him."

I respectfully disagree with the above statement.
It is true that we make choices, but these choices are foreknown by God. The Scriptures tell the story of a God who has implemented a plan
of redemption that is, "undoing" the rebellious choice made by Adam and Eve in the garden. We read of many instances in the Bible where men have made choices, mostly sinful ones, and God then undoes the predetermined results of that behavior. So two men make a choice ,one comes to belief in Jesus, and one does not. If God does nothing to undo the decision of the unconverted man, and He has complete foreknowledge of that decision,; then isn't that the same as predestination ? God engineers every circumstance of our lives, and we arrive at decisions that He knew beforehand.
Another thought; the scriptures tells us that no one seeks after God. Psalm 14:1-3 Psalm 53:1-3 Romans 3:10-20 Our nature is not to good. Only the man who has been reborn seeks to do good.
Prior to our conversion, in our "free will" choices, we are only free to choose sin. All of our choices are made to benefit ourselves, even the "good" choices.
Salvation means for the first time we actually have what can be called free will.
Joshua and Moses both told the people to make choices, i.e. choose life and blessing, and choose to serve the Lord. They then turn around and tell them that they will not be able to stick with it. Thus indicating the need for redemption through Christ. Deut 30; Joshua 24:16-22

God has a plan, and we are created by Him, and for Him to participate in that plan; which is why even the works of the Kingdom (Eph 2) are predestined.

Just an FYI I am not a calvinist and I don't preach Calvinism. I only go by what I read in the Word.
These are merely questions that I have regarding the free will issue.

Maryellen said...

There is a saying in some Christian circles " Once saved always saved!" I don't believe it is in the Bible, but I'm sure those who raise that call can point me to the verses that support it. We all know some people who for a while, sometimes a long while, talked the talk and walked the walk, even led other people to the saving knowledge of Christ, but then for one reason or another fell way. Some, glad to say, came home, as the prodical son, others died in their rebellion, even cursing God. Were they saved anyway? I guess my real question is this, and I am afraid to ask: could a person who was not on God's "in list" think they were saved for a while, but in fact they were only fooling themselves?
If I believe what the heretics believe, does that not make me a heretic? If I enjoy worship which has been deemed "Mystic New Age" am I not counted among those who embrace the Mystic New Age. Wes, can you a young man attending a "weslyan" seminary shed some light on this matter for this old lady, who by the way, graduated from Roberts Weslyan College in Rochester NY (ever hear of it?)

Danny said...

Originally posted by Wes

My argument is not against the sovereignty of God not His power over the circumstances of our lives.


First off, you should see my anecdotewww.communityoftherisen.blogspot.org as it relates to your posts in some ways.


Originally posted by Wes

It is against the idea that God wants to make our choices for us. I believe that God created in us His image.


I really like the idea that God does not want to make our choices for us. I’ve always enjoyed the way that John Eldredge puts it: “In an attempt to secure the sovereignty of God, theologians have overstated their case and left us with a chess-player God playing bout sides of the board, making all his moves and all ours too.”1 God risked so much in creating us.

He risked his love for us. He poured out his heart and soul into his creation and he can be found in it everywhere. His fingerprints are still all over. He is much more than a chess player trying to win as many people as possible before the universe “ends.” There is a lot of mystical ideas within this. I like the way that John quote Jesus saying, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56).

In other words, entering in a relationship with Jesus is both Jesus entering into us and us entering into a larger “ultimate reality.” Each of as individuals holds the spirit of God within our “temples of God” (i.e. ourselves). At the same time, as a community of God we are being built up together in Christ as a whole body. Therefore, Christ is working in each one of our lives individually and we are working together as a body to do the work of Christ. It really is an amazing and unique ability that we have in Christ.

Willard has the right idea when he suggest, “The ‘interior castle’ of the human soul…has many rooms, and they are slowly occupied by God, allowing us time and room to grow. That is a crucial aspect of the conspiracy. But even this does not detract from the reality of the ‘kingdoms among us.’ Nor does it destroy the choice that all have to accept it and bring their life increasingly into it.”2

Willard first notes that there is an aspect where we must give up our free will and let God enter into our “interior castle.” As this free will becomes increasingly more as God desires it will actually become our will. As we move farther and farther away from ourselves and let God permeate more and more into our lives, God will move in ways we never imagined possible. At the same time, as we move farther away from ourselves and let God move into our individualized circumstances, God moves us closer as we remain in him as a community.

Thus, I do not see a problem between free will and divine omnipotence. Willard notes that God gives us a choice to let God enter into our “interior castle.” It is a choice to let God move into our will. God will never force himself upon us. But once he does enter and we give him free reign over our bodies he actually pervades our spirit and God’s will becomes our will. Some may see this as an impossibility, but I see it as reality itself.

Here it is also suggested that we should be “defined in terms of God.” This to me, however, suggests God, in some mystical way, the “ideal man.” I would disagree with this notion as God is in no form man. Could I suggest an alternate model that we should be defined in terms of our connection to God. When that connection is open we are as we are meant to be, when that connection closed we are closed off from God.

I would also agree that our “preconceived notion of perfection” is somewhat presently slanted in protestant dogmatism. There are some aspects of this that are true. I’m not a proponent of “original sin” or “sin nature.” I am, however, a proponent of man’s ability to continually sin in the here and now and sever a connection to God in this constancy. Instead of using such confusing words as perfection I choose to define the Edenic relationship to God as the model of how things were originally supposed to be.

As I know Rob Bell often mentions and a good youth pastor teacher that I used to listen to when I lived in Santa Maria stated, “Too many people begin their study of God’s word in Genesis three.” In reality, our study should begin in Genesis One. If we really believe the Bible to be true than we should realize that Genesis One was not some utopian dream that can never happen. In saying this we are saying that existence in Genesis One and Two was altogether impossible. Instead, we should strive in the tradition of Godly men and women to try our best to be God’s people to a broken a fragmented world. We should strive to create things in the way they were originally meant to be.

It was also suggested that our nature is to good and not evil. In this present age I would suggest that it should be a particularly Christian nature to train how to be “good.” And not just “good” in the sense that we will one day make it into heaven, it should be taught that we should live a Christ like life in the here and now. We should train the people around us to love as Christ love: to give it all away and pour out our lives as God poured out himself into his creation.

I would be interested in hearing an expanded version of why you believe that sin nature is rooted in free will.

Works Cited:
1. John Eldredge: Wild at Heart
2. Dallas Willard: The Divine Conspiracy

WES ELLIS said...

I'd like to respond generally to some of your comments.

Chris:
you have great ideas. honestly God waiting for us to do things is a personal belief of mine that is difficult to argue. It is simply part of my understanding of God's nature. Look at the story of jonah. God had to do some persuasion but it seems safe to say God was waiting for Jonah to listen to Him.
you said "...He has complete foreknowledge of that decision,; then isn't that the same as predestination?" I believe you are trying to view God in terms of man inapproapriately. God sees everything as present He is not bound by time. is that still defined in a traditional sense "predestination?"

Maryellen:
I don't believe in once a Chrisian always a Christian. I guess I may be sort of an existentialist but I believe you can change yourself. if following Christ is a decision than what would make not-following any different.

Danny:
I love your thoughts! you asked for expansion on why "sin nature" is rooted in "free will." Well, you have to choose to sin don't you. If you couldn't choose to sin than it wouldn't really be a traditional form of free will. would it?

Ashley said...

Great post Wes. I think what I misunderstood in your pervious post was how you defined the phrase God is in control. I think I have always thought along the same lines you do, but I just got a little confused with what you had posted before. Great post and great mind.

Pastor Art said...

The conflict-debate exchange of words concerning this extremely important issue reveals the depths of our hearts. We place words in Yahweh’s mouth based on our maturity and trust and fear.
As we grow naturally the relationship and intimacy between parents and their offspring reflect different dynamics. We start out guiding our children with rather narrow guided parameters choosing most if not all activities. This is done out of necessity since infants have needs based upon dependency with no ability to provide for themselves. As children grow receive instruction gain wisdom from attempting to use this instruction. Through failure, restoration, more instruction … our children begin to be confronted choices. The wisdom gained in their maturing process aids them. As adults our children begin to make independent choices … but how many of us hit ourselves in the forehead and think that is what my father would or now what would my father or mother for that matter do at this point. For those of us who still have them living in this world with us we call them when unable to clearly understand or need more wisdom.

Now as much as this is incomplete in its scope and detail the idea of childhood to adult patterns I hope are clearly implied here. Let me in the same incomplete way turn this to spiritual application. This struggle for understanding between control and freedom is not a fresh or new conflict. The ideas were present among the Church Fathers in fact one of the first divisions stemmed from this - @400AD Pelagian and Augustine.
Their debate exposed the true issue; the nature of Yahweh our relationship as His creation to Him now and at creation. Are we fallen from perfect or are we completely debauched unable to respond beyond our predeturmed personal election unknowingly decreed in the secret counsel of an unknowable unreachable other?
I know that this is over simplified and blogs are not Theological Journals but as Paul tells us in Eph.4 the Father’s goal is that we, “All attain to unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of them Son of God, to a mature [emphasis mine] man, to measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result we will no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness..” we as children in Christ need to mature beyond the playpen of the Kingdom and start the process of saying and doing what we see the Father saying and doing mature and useful fearless because we are adults in Him and understand His nature and cloth ourselves in that nature. Maturity in nature or in the Kingdom is achieved when the individual acts unrestricted with wisdom understanding goal and purposes and weaknesses and responding accordingly. For a more comprehensive look into my thoughts, but by no means excusive click to temple corners and read the last two posts.
Pastor Art

Ashley said...

I've been thinking about it, and the more I think about it I think the better way to word this all in a less confusing manner would be God is in Control; God is not Controlling. At least it helps me!

WES ELLIS said...

Ashley, Good wording. That's the basic Idea I'm getting at. the predestination debate just came naturally. I really don't like arguing my beliefs especially when they are really unknown and there will not be a concrete conclusion. The purpose of these last wo blogs is simply a response to an inappropriate way to view God. He's not out to take complete control of all our decisions. God deights when good choices are made, that's the beauty of free will. All of our choices are "spiritual" they directly effect our relationship to God. We are taking part in the healing of The world. God is using His people because He has faith in us.

I hope these last two posts didn't become devisive and cause discord between us. Thank you all so much for all your thoughs, you guys are all so intelligent.