Determinism and Free Will

Please note: this thread is updated by my “Predestination and Free Will” thread.

Implication of determinism: God is responsible for evil.

That God is responsible for evil is an implication of determinism, depending on how you understand determinism. If He is responsible for determining everything, He is responsible for evil. This is not a view I take — it is a view I present and then answer.

It’s easy to miss that, considering it’s a long thread.

1. A lot of evil we feel drawn to prevent, but do not have the willpower to choose (see segment directly below on free will) to prevent it, unless we ask God for His strength – so, why don’t we ask God for His strength?

2. We learn and grow from it. Suffering builds character – See Romans 5:3-5 (not Nietzsche). See also 1 Peter 4:12. “In the 1955 episode ‘The Big Freeze,’ for example, Kent admonishes citizens to get out and vote for the city’s next mayor, rather than rely on Superman in and ‘save the election’ from a gangster crook who is running for office: ‘Sometimes, Lois, it’s not wise for the people to depend on Superman to keep their own house in order.’” (p. 515, “The Superhero Book”, Gina Misiroglu, Visible Ink Press, 2004.)

For prophecy to be possible, the future already exists, and the past still exists to the future (this is what God means when He says “I AM” – He is past, He is present, He is future – He transcends all of it). From that standpoint, and from the standpoint of God’s providence and sovereignty – is it really possible that we choose freely and are responsible for all of our thoughts and behavior? A brief review of what the Bible has to say about free will…

Free moral agency of man—ability to choose
Resulted in sin… Gen. 2:16, 17 Recognized by God… Gen. 4:6-10; John 7:17
Appealed to… Is. 1:18-20; Jer. 36:3,7

Freedom—unrestricted action
A. Of the unregenerate, limited by: Sin (John 8:34) Inability (John 8:43) Satan (John 8:41, 44) Bondage (Rom 6:20) Deadness (Eph 2:1)
B. Of the regenerate: Made free by Christ (John 8:36) Freed from bondage (Rom 6:18, 22) Not of license (1 Pet 2:16) Not of bondage again (Gal 5:1) Not of the flesh (Gal 5:13)

A few musings…

1. We must learn responsibility and judgment – otherwise we will never know mercy and love (God)…. which is the entire point of our existence. Job 19:29, Romans 11:32.
2. We cannot shake the feeling that we make choices and we cannot shake the feeling of regret when our choices are unwise – therefore, we operate under the assumption that we do chose, and we are responsible… even if we don’t understand how it can really be possible, from the standpoint of God’s sovereignty.
3. It is really hard to fathom, as we go about the daily routine, that God creates every moment, down to the tiniest detail. If you ever truly consider it – you will really be scratching your head at some of those details. But know this: like the best of authors, no detail is wasted. [ God is in control at every level, much like letting go of the shopping cart as it rolls and then grabbing hold of it again, has the ability to create within every moment, did and does not create evil, and can turn evil circumstances to His benefit. ]
4. Does the fact that there is sin (from the perspective of predestination) not conflict with God’s being pure and good and holy and Love? Or do we misunderstand where God is coming from? [ This is a tangent: For, how can He be all-knowing, and at the same time be ignorant (untouched) of all our sin? He knows all about it – but He transcends it. It does not influence Him to do evil. A lack of ignorance does not equate to impurity, otherwise “all knowing” would equate to “completely evil”. He is immune to the muck… ] …His wish for us is that we rely on His strength to become as immune as He, made complete in Him, like a true soul-/mind-mate, and come to know Love and Strength in His eyes. If we are really responsible for all of our sin (except that He already said “I love you no matter what, I would die for you,” when crucified), then there is some perfectly super-reasonable explanation (given above and below) as to how that does not contradict God’s sovereignty and perfection.
5. *puts on nerd glasses* Are there parallel universes in which we make different choices than we make in this universe, or are there possible futures from which we choose only one? And can we go back in time and change things to prevent something we have already gone through? – no, no and no. God gets it right the first and only time. But an interesting little tidbit is that prophets are time travelers – at least the ones that get to actually experience parts of the future, and/or are taken to meet people who have lived in the past but are no longer on earth (or anywhere else in the universe-as-we-know-it). The experience of a prophet is mediated by God, who brings the experiences of at least one other time and place into the mind of the prophet. Of course this has implications for the materialism debate… perhaps at a later date.
6. Something that is hard to understand is that the past, present, and future are signed, sealed and delivered – but God is active in every moment. When God brings the future into a mind accustomed to feeling itself as being in the present… He has not changed any part of the signed, sealed, and delivered package. The mind thinks: time1 (“now” without knowing “future”) plus time2 (“future” before it has been placed in “now”) must equal time3 (but how can you have “now” with “future” above and separate from “now” without “future”? – not to mention a “future before it has been placed in ‘now’” above and separate from a “future after it as been placed in ‘now’”?) (and then the brain has a cramp) – but, see… the mind is confused about time. There never was a ‘now without future’ and there never was a ‘future before it has been placed in now’ – the “now” included the future all along (there’s no juggling!), and the future had been placed in “now” all along (from the standpoint of our Creator, transcending past-present-future time). It is as illogical to worry about how God can still take an active role in this signed, sealed, and delivered universe – as it is illogical to worry about whether or not we can still actively experience “now”. Oh, how beautiful it is – how beautiful is the One who Is!!!
7. Perhaps somewhere in there lies the explanation to how free will is possible despite God’s sovereignty? Maybe we can add to this assertion: “It is as illogical to worry about how God can still take an active role in this signed, sealed, and delivered universe – as it is illogical to worry about whether or not we can still actively experience ‘now’,” by following it with the assertion that it is as illogical to ask whether or not our free will (in this “now”) is possible within God’s sovereignty, as it is illogical to ask if we can actively experience, and God can take an active role in, a signed, sealed, and delivered “now” (please see number 9).
8. *adjusts pocket protector* What if some mad scientist or other assorted weirdo (loved by God) decides to translate this gobbledygook into practical math or something and tries to time-travel (via his/her mind, of course) – will (s)he take over the world? Well, considering his/her travels must be part of the signed, sealed, and delivered package in order to be successful – any sort of reign (s)he might enjoy will only be temporary, and will ultimately work out “for the good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). So striking it out on your own not only misses the point, but is an act of futility — and why settle on temporary? Why not get to the point of why we even exist?
9. Please do note that there really is only one “now” (one grand moment) – that which is composed of the past, present, and future, without dividing it into different seconds, minutes, days, or hours. And there really is only one “place” – that which is composed of the entire (in)traversable universe, without dividing it into different inches, feet, yards, and miles. So what God is doing when He puts the “future” into a prophet’s mind – is equivalent to what He did when He snatched Peter away from the eunuch and placed him at Azotus (Acts 8:39,40). *calculates something on the slide ruler*

All quotes below are taken out of The Zondervan NASB Study Bible, 1999.

Proverbs 20:24 “Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, How then can man understand his way?” (NASB note: see notes on 3:5-6; 16:9)

Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of a man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” [NASB note: verses 1, 3-4 (see notes) also emphasize God’s control over men’s lives (see 19:21; 20:24; Ps 37:23; Jer 10:23)]

Proverbs 19:21 “Many plans are in man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.”

Psalm 37:23 “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way.” (Ichthus: see all of Psalm 37)

Jer 10:23 “”I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” NASB note: Only the Lord can direct people’s steps.

Proverbs 16:1 “The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” NASB note: God must give the ability to articulate and accomplish those plans.

Proverbs 16:4 “God has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.” NASB note: God is sovereign in every life and in all of history (see Eccl 7:14; Rom 8:28). Even through wicked men God displays His power (cf. Ex 9:16), and all evil will be judged (cf. Ezek 38:22-23; Rom 2:5-11).

Eccl 7:14 “In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.”

Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” NASB note: “foreknew” Some insist that the knowledge here is not abstract but is couched with love and mixed with purpose. They hold that God not only knew us before we had any knowledge of Him but that He also knew us, in the sense of choosing us by His grace, before the foundation of the world (see Eph 1:4-5; 2 Tim 1:9 and notes). Others believe that Paul here refers to the fact that in eternity past God knew those who by faith would become His people. “predestined” Predestination here is to moral conformity to the likeness of His Son.

Exodus 9:16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” NASB note: Paul quotes this verse as an outstanding illustration of the sovereignty of God (see Rom. 9:17).

Ephesians 1:4-5, 9,11 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him. …also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,” NASB note: “chose” Divine election is a constant theme in Paul’s letters (Rom 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5,7,28; 16:13; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4; 2 Thess 2:13; Titus 1:1). In this chapter it is emphasized in the following ways: (1) “He chose us” (here); (2) “He predestined us” (v. 5); “also we have obtained an inheritance” (v. 11). “before the foundation of the world” See John 17:24.

John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

2 Timothy 1:9 “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,” NASB note: God’s plan to save lost sinners was made in eternity past (see Eph 1:4; 1 Pet 1:20; Rev. 13:8).

Romans 9:11-23 “for though the twins (Jacob and Esau) were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her (Rebekah), ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (NASB note: Jacob I chose, but Esau I rejected).’ What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He 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 does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.’ So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,”

NASB note: (18) The first part of this verse again echoes Ex 33:19 (see v. 15) and the last part such texts as Ex 7:3; 9:12; 14:4,17, in which God is said to harden the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. “on whom He desires” Cannot mean that God is arbitrary in His mercy, because Paul ultimately bases God’s rejection of Israel on her unbelief (see vv. 30-32). (19) Someone may object: “If God determines whose heart is hardened and whose is not, how can God blame anyone for hardening his heart?” (20) “who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” Paul is not silencing all questioning of God by man, but he is speaking to those with an impenitent, God-defying attitude who want to make God answerable to man for what He does and who, by their questions, defame the character of God. (21) The analogy between God and the potter and between man and the pot should not be pressed to the extreme. The main point is the sovereign freedom of God in dealing with man. (22-23) An illustration of the principle stated in v. 21. The emphasis is on God’s mercy, not His wrath. (22) No one can call God to account for what He does. But He does not exercise His freedom of choice arbitrarily, and He shows great patience even toward the objects of His wrath. In light of 2:4, the purpose of such patience is to bring about repentance.

Romans 11:5 “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.” NASB note: The grounds for the existence of the remnant was not their good works but God’s grace.

Romans 11:7 “What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;” NASB note: “hardened” Because they refused the way of faith (see 9:31-32), God made them impervious to spiritual truth (see notes on Is 6:8-10)—a judicial hardening of Israel.

Romans 11:28 “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;” NASB note: “beloved” Not because any merit was passed on from the patriarchs to the Jewish people as a whole, but because God in love chose Israel and that choice was irrevocable.

Romans 11:32 “For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”

Colossians 3:12 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” NASB note: “chosen of God” Israel was called this (Deut. 4:37), and so is the Christian community (1 Pet. 2:9). Divine election is a constant theme in Paul’s letters (see note on Eph 1:4), but the Bible never teaches that it dulls human responsibility. On the contrary, as this verse shows, it is precisely because the Christian has been elected to eternal salvation that he must put forth every effort to live a godly life. For Paul, divine sovereignty and human responsibility go hand in hand.

1 Thess. 1:4 “knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;”

2 Thess. 2:13 “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”

Titus 1:1 “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,”

1 Peter 1:20 “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you…” NASB note: God knew before creation that it would be necessary for Christ to redeem man (cf. Rev 13:8), but He has revealed Christ in these last times. Or the Greek for “foreknown” may also be rendered “chosen.” Then the meaning would be that in eternity past God “chose” Christ as Redeemer.

Revelation 13:8 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.”

Exodus 33:18 “And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’”

Exodus 4:21 “The Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.’” NASB note: “I will harden his heart.” Nine times in Exodus the hardening of the Pharaoh’s heart is ascribed to God (here; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8; see Rom 9:17-18 and notes); another nine times the pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart (7:13-14,22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,34-35). The pharaoh alone was the agent of the hardening in each of the first five plagues. Not until the sixth plague did God confirm the pharaoh’s willful action (see 9:12), as he had told Moses he would do (see similarly Rom 1:24-28).

Exodus 4:17 “”As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.”

Isaiah 6:8-10 “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ ‘Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.’” NASB note: Isaiah’s prophetic commission will have the ironic but justly deserved effect of hardening the callous hearts of rebellious Israel—and so rendering the warnings of judgment sure (see vv.11-13). See also Jer. 1:8, 19; Ezek. 2:3-4). Verses 9 and 10 are quoted by Jesus in the parable of the sower (Matt 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10). See also Rom 11:7-10, 25. “hearts…ears…eyes…eyes…ears…hearts” The a-b-c/c-b-a inversion is called a “chiastic” arrangement, a common literary device in the OT. “ears dull…eyes dim” Israel’s deafness and blindness are also mentioned in 29:9-14; 42:18; 43:8. One day, however, the nation will be able to see and hear (29:18; 35:5).

NASB note Mark 4:11,12: “mystery of the kingdom of God” In the NT “mystery” refers to something God has revealed to His people. They mystery (that which was previously unknown) is proclaimed to all, but only those who have faith understand. In this context the mystery seems to be that the kingdom of God had drawn near in the coming of Jesus Christ. “so that” Jesus likens His preaching in parables to the ministry of Isaiah, which while it gained some disciples (Is 8:16), was also to expose the hardhearted resistance of the many to God’s warning and appeal.

NASB note Luke 8:10: “mysteries of the kingdom of God” Truths that can be known only by revelation from God (cf. Eph 3:2-5; 1 Pet 1:10-12). See note on Mark 4:11. “that seeing they may not see.” This quotation from Isaiah (6:9) does not express a desire that some would not understand, but simply states the sad truth that those who are not willing to receive Jesus’ message will find the truth hidden from them. Their ultimate fate is implied in the fuller quotation in Matt 13:14-15 (see note on Mark 4:12).

Deut. 4:37 “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you from Egypt by His great power,”

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light;” NASB note: “chosen race” See Is 43:10,20; 44:1-2. As Israel was called God’s chosen people in the OT, so in the NT believers are designated as chosen, or elect.

Isaiah 29:9-12 “Be delayed and wait, Blind yourselves and be blind; They become drunk, but not with wine, They stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers. The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, ‘Please read this,’ he will say, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Please read this.” And he will say, ‘I cannot read.’” NASB note: “Blind yourselves…become drunk” Refers to spiritual stupor (see 6:10 and note; cf. 28:1,7). Vs. 10 quoted in part in Rom. 11:8. “seers” See 1 Sam. 9:9 and note; 2 Kin 17:13. “vision” see 1:1 and note. “I cannot” God’s word is a closed book even to the educated. Vs. 13 Quoted in part by Jesus to show the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt 15:8-9).

Isaiah 43:10,13,20; 44:1-2 “’You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And my servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.’” “Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” “The beasts of the field will glorify Me, The jackals and the ostriches, Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people.” “But now listen, O Jacob, My servant, And Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you, ‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant; And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.’”

John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” NASB note: “I chose you…bear fruit…ask.” Disciples normally chose the particular rabbi to whom they wanted to be attached, but it was not so with Jesus’ disciples. He chose them, and for a purpose—the bearing of fruit. We usually desire a strong prayer life in order that we may be fruitful, but here it is the other way around. Jesus enables us to bear fruit, and then the Father will hear our prayers.

Acts 2:23 “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,”

Psalm 103:19 “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.”

Psalm 75:7 “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.”

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”

Genesis 45:5-8 “Now to do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” NASB note: God had a purpose to work through the brothers’ thoughtless and cruel act (see Acts 4:28).

Acts 4:27-28 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” NASB note: Not that God had compelled them to act as they did, but He willed to use them and their freely chosen acts to accomplish His saving purpose.

Acts 17:23-28 “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you, ‘The God who made the world and all things in it since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all people life and breath and all things and He made form one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, even as one of your poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’’” NASB note: Thus a personal Creator, in contrast with the views of pantheistic Stoicism. He planned the exact times when nations should emerge and decline. He also planned the specific area to be occupied by each nation. He is God, the Designer (things were not left to Chance, as the Epicureans thought).

Matt 10:30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Ps 90:2 “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth an dthe world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Prov 8:23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. NASB note: “From everlasting” Descriptive also of Christ (see John 1:1; cf. Mic 5:2). “from the earliest times of the earth” Wisdom was already there before God began to create the world (cf. Christ’s statement in John 17:5).

John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

Micah 5:2 “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.”

John 8:58 “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’”

Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you’.’”

John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

Rev 14:6 “And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;”

Eph 3:10-11 “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

Ex 2:5-10 (example of God’s providence)
Esth 6:1-10 (example of God’s sovereignty)

Acts 22:10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’”

Luke 22:22 “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

Gal 3:8 “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’” NASB note: “Scripture, foreseeing” A personification of Scripture that calls attention to its divine origin (see 1 Tim 5:18).

2 Tim 1:9 “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,”

Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

Matthew 24:22 “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”

Isaiah 41:22,23a (NASB note: God takes the nations and their idols to court) “Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events (NASB note: events = predictions or accomplishments), declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome, Or announce to us what is coming; Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods;” (God knows they cannot deliver.)

Jeremiah 23:2-3 NASB note: “I have driven.” Although Judah’s sins and the sins of their leaders had caused them to be “driven…away” (v.2) into exile, the Lord Himself ultimately carried out the results of His people’s repeated violations of their covenant commitments.

Some verses I didn’t get to, found in the “Providence” (“divine guidance of men and things”) listing in the Universal Subject Guide to the Bible, found near the back of The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 1990:

A. Described as:
Righteous… Ps 145:17
Something mysterious… Job 11:7-9
Irresistible… Dan 4:35
B. Manifested, in the world, in God’s:
Preserving the world… Neh 9:6
Providing for His possessions… Ps 104:27,28
Ruling over the elements… Is 50:2,3
Preserving nature… Gen 8:22
C. Attitude of believers toward:
Acknowledge in prosperity… 1 Chr 29:11,12; Prov 3:6
Humble himself before, in adversity… Job 1:21; Ps 119:75
Remember God’s hand… Ps 139:10

The above subject guide listing is not complete, as it does not include the verses already covered in this thread.

But an interesting little tidbit is that prophets are time travelers – at least the ones that get to actually experience parts of the future, and/or are taken to meet people who have lived in the past but are no longer on earth (or anywhere else in the universe-as-we-know-it). The experience of a prophet is mediated by God, who brings the experiences of at least one other time and place into the mind of the prophet.
– from section 5 above.

I was just chewing on this a little bit … the aspect that prophets don’t travel through time… Time travels to the prophet (with the assistance of God) – although… it isn’t like anything changes (nothing “moves” – it was always there … remember the point in section 6 that “there’s no juggling”). Haha. Kinda neat.

I was perusing “Major Bible Themes” by Lewis Sperry Chafer (revised by John F. Walvoord) (Zondervan, 1974) and came upon the chapter titled “Divine Election” – some of it is relevant, so I’ll post it (from pages 232,234) here:

Divine election is not an act of God in time, but rather a part of His eternal purpose. This is brought out in numerous passages such as Ephesians 1:4 which states, “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” According to 2 Timothy 1:9 our election is “according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Because God’s plan is eternal, election as an essential part of it must also be eternal.

. . .

No one is saved against his will, and no one disbelieves against his will.

. . .

…in setting up a moral universe in which men have a choice to believe or not to believe, it is inevitable that some will not be saved.

Still another objection is that if some are elected to salvation and others are elected to not being saved, they are hopeless in their lost estate. Scripture clearly emphasizes that some are elected to salvation, and the unsaved are destined for their lot, not because men who desired salvation were unable to secure it, but always on the ground that those who are unsaved chose to be unsaved. God’s mercy is shown in His longsuffering, as in Romans 9:21-22 and 2 Peter 3:9. No one will ever be able to stand before God and say, “I wanted to be saved but was unable to do so because I was not elected.”

I like Sperry’s thinking, but I am having difficulty finding any Scripture which says there are some elected to not being saved. Anyone who can find such Scripture – please let me in on it. Perhaps (if) there aren’t any verses about being elected to eternal damnation, (it is) because God doesn’t want there to be that impetus/catalyst there for those who would be inclined to say “I wanted to be saved but was unable to do so because I was not elected,” and, due to that horrible misunderstanding, never seek out God. And perhaps there aren’t any verses that say “all will be saved” because if there were, people would pervert God’s grace even worse than some already have/do…? Just a thought.

As my old pastor used to say and no doubt still says… Guy asks how he knows if he’s one of God’s elect. Pastor tells him to just pray to receive Christ. Guy doesn’t want to. Pastor says, “Well, then you’re not one of God’s elect.” Guy says “But that’s not fair!” Pastor says, “Well, then pray to receive Christ.” And so on… My (old) pastor says it way funnier than I could ever write it (not that it’s funny if someone never gets to know God).

Adding to the “determinism” aspect of this thread, see Lamentations 3:37-38; Amos 3:6.

There are some whose names are not written in the book of life… those who willfully choose eternity apart from God. If they are alive during the Tribulation, they will worship the beast (Rev 13:8-10). Some will convert during the Tribulation (see Dan 9:27; Joel 2:28-32; Rev 7 and 11 and 14:6; 2 Pet 3:9). I know that God knows how to get through to a person, because He got through to me when I wasn’t even seeking Him out, when I had given up on His existence. So, it is very hard for me to imagine there being people to whom God can’t… or won’t… get through… and I think the Tribulation is a last-resort method He will use. But… hell is the consequence when you’ve run out of chances.

I trust God not to exclude anyone from this divine ledger, written from the foundation of the world, who has not had a chance to say “yes” or “no” to God, who is truth and love. But, imagine what heaven would be like if God forced people to hang around who wanted nothing to do with God (just out of the kindness of His own heart, so people don’t get mad about the unfairness of Hell). Do you think heaven would still be heaven? But — why would someone want nothing to do with God?

Because He lets us go our own way – even if that means chaos in this life, and hell in the life (death) to come? Why do we get mad at God when we ourselves make the wrong choice? If He didn’t give us that responsibility, we would complain that we weren’t free enough (no, we wouldn’t, because we’d have no concept of freedom, which only comes with that gift of responsibility). If He didn’t give us that responsibility, we could not choose… we could not choose God, who is love and truth. God doesn’t love us because we deserve it. He loves us because He is love. But His love isn’t the kind of love that smothers… He won’t manifest His love for you if you don’t want Him to. The alternative is hell. God knows if a person has not had ample opportunity to know what they are rejecting – He isn’t going to send anyone to hell unjustly. To choose hell is to trample in the mud the freedom to choose God’s love and truth.

It’s like God arranges for you to receive (for free – you don’t have to do anything to earn it) one hundred trillion dollars (life; eternal life) – a condition of which is that you can’t spend the money (live; live eternally) if spending it consistently breaks the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) or God’s royal law of love (Matthew 22:39) – and so you refuse the winnings (choose the opposite of life and eternal life) because you like your spending ideas better, or because you know you don’t have the willpower to spend the money that way, without God’s help, and you don’t want God’s help (why not? …receiving help from God is like becoming a super hero! Do a study on spiritual gifts…). Yet, you think it is God who stinks, ‘cause He won’t just give you the money anyway. Well… you’re alive, aren’t you? So the ball’s in your court…(John 10:10).

You will never go to hell unless you choose it, and you choose it by rejecting God (who is goodness, love, etcetera). A God that only gives you one option (to love Him) is a dictator. So, God gives you two options: love, or hell. The presence of evil proves He is not a dictator — He doesn’t have to allow us to choose poorly… except for the fact that He is love, and so it is impossible for Him to act against His nature and force wise, loving choices out of us. The only people God ever sends to hell or punishes — chose it.

He will not forsake you unless you forsake Him first — and His forsaking you (if and only if you reject Him) is because He won’t force you to love Him. Love must be chosen freely, and freedom is not forced.

Think of it like this. Consider all that is good and right and just. If you choose it, at any cost, it may be difficult, but worth it. If you reject it, for whatever reason, you must do without it. It is no different when talking about choosing or rejecting God. All that is truly good, right, just — comes from Him.

God did not screw up humanity. Humans make their own bad choices. God is omnipotent, but He cannot go against His own loving nature and force humans to freely make loving choices. The humans of Noah’s time were not just slightly impure. They were “full of violence”. Noah and his family were the only ones following God at the time. Same deal with Sodom and Gommorah (sp?) — Lot and his family were the only ones following God. Following God clearly does not equate to perfection, if you are familiar with Lot’s and Noah’s families. Kind of says a lot about how bad it had gotten outside their families. And when it gets that bad again, because instead of accepting God’s forgiveness people choose to sink lower into the muck, there will be a final judgment (but… not a flood), and the ones like Noah and Lot and their families will again escape it (via the rapture).

Maybe you need to watch this:

http://www.fathersloveletter.com/fllpreviewlarge.html

I choose His love. What do you choose?

There are two types of determinism referred to in this thread — the fact that the story already has an ending, created from beyond linear time (we might think of it as “being”) — and the fact that God is active in this story, within time (from our perspective, that feels like “becoming”). But God does not become. He Is. Hence: “I AM”.

Predestination verses:

Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-5, 9, 11; 3:10-11; John 1:1-3; 8:58; 17:5, 24; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; Isaiah 41:22, 23a; 43:10, 13, 20; 44:1-2; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 17:23-28; 22:10; Psalm 90:2; 139:16; Genesis 45:5-8; Proverbs 8:23; Micah 5:2; Exodus 3:14; Luke 22:22; Galatians 3:8; Matthew 24:22; 25:34

All other verses in the original list of verses above had to do with the omnipotence/sovereignty of God, and not predestination directly.

Add this verse to the list:

1 Peter 1:1b, 2 “…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

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About Maryann

Maryann Spikes is the past President of the Christian Apologetics Alliance and now coordinates the CAA Catechism. She blogs at Ichthus77, and loves apologetics and philosophy. In particular she loves to study all things Euthyphro Dilemma and Golden Rule. A para-educator (autism) for five years, she holds a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University, an AA in Humanities via Modesto Junior College, and moonlights as a freelancer. You can follow her on Twitter @Ichthus77, connect with the Ichthus77 community on Facebook, or look her up on Google+.
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