Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reader's Asking the Tough Questions / Ask Your Questions Now

New-Think received 2 new questions regarding Christianity yesterday. They will be answered in the order they were received.

Michelle asks: How much control do we have over our own lives? If God knows and predetermines everything, do I really have a choice in what I do?

Great question Michelle! I like the way you think! If you weren’t married, I would snatch you right up….oh, wait.

Anyway the answer to your question is that ultimately we have no control over our lives and we are God’s robots. No, not really, but that is the conclusion of a lot of folks who haven’t studied and thought deeply enough about this topic.

You have begun your questions with the assumption that God knows and predetermines everything. This assumption is totally in line with scripture therefore I will begin at this point to answer your question. No doubt there are many New-Think readers who will balk at this assumption. If so…speak up and we can discuss this at length.

Yes, you are accountable for what you do. Let’s take the account of Pharaoh during the time preceding the exodus. If you read Exodus 9:8-17 you will see that the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart then a few verses later he brings judgment upon Pharaoh for what he did while his heart was hardened. This passage is special because God tells us why he did it….he usually does not reveal his ends. In verse 16 the Lord says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” The Lord’s means are allowing the disobedience of Pharaoh. The Lord’s end is that he is glorified. In fact this is God’s primary purpose in everything he does. God’s primary purpose in all of human history is to glorify himself. He even does so in man’s disobedience.

From Pharaohs perspective, he had a choice to make. In fact in other similar passages it says, “Pharaoh hardened his heart.” So did the Lord harden his heart or did Pharaoh do it? The answer is yes. Both.
This makes sense only when you view humans as the means to God’s ends. Take prayer for instance. The great scientist, mathematician, and Christian, Blaise Pascal has said of prayer, “Prayer is God’s bestowal upon human beings of the dignity of causality.” You see it is only hard to understand how God can be in control and man can still be accountable for his actions if you assume that everything works the way you see it working in the natural world. The bible tells us our prayer is effective. Jesus even said that the reason we don’t have a lot of things is that we do not ask for them. God uses our prayer to bring our needs before himself. Could he do it without our prayer…YES. But, he has chosen to enter into communion with man. That is why prayer is so important, it is where natural man TRULY interfaces with a supernatural God. And it is only this way because that is the way God designed prayer. People who don’t think prayer is important do not grasp this fact. A Christian, praying in good faith, is serving as the conduit between the supernatural world and the natural world. AMAZING!
The fact that he knows what we will pray before we pray it does not contradict the effectiveness of our prayers. God is in control and he is using us as means to his ends. The same principle applies to missions. If God is in control and preordains all things as scripture says he does, then why bother telling others about Christ? God will save whom he will save, right? Well, for one thing, the same God who claims to preordain everything told us to go forth and make disciples of all nations. You can either claim the bible is internally contradictory and reject it, or you can confess, as Job did,

1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."

The Lord’s ways are high, oh so high, above man’s. The Lord’s knowledge and wisdom are high, oh so high, above man’s. We must take the Lord at his word and confess, God you are in control AND I am accountable for my actions.

I have not exhausted this topic..not even close…if you have more questions, please ask.

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