Archive for May, 2016

I absolutely believe that God can time travel, and that he knows what the future holds. When he chooses, he has the ability to take human beings along. Peter, James, and John once witnessed a meeting of Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-31). Moses lived and died many centuries earlier, and Elijah was born a few centuries later than Moses. They talked about the crucifixion of Jesus which would soon take place at Jerusalem.

That meeting on the mountain may have been the origin of some of the prophecies found in Old Testament writings. If God chose, he could know the destiny of every individual, and if we were willing, he could take us down a different road. Our destiny is affected by our willingness to listen. We are taught that we can affect the length of our life by honoring our mother and father (Ephesians 6:2-3, Exodus 20:12).

The ultimate destiny of the forgiven is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, and become children of God (Romans 8:29-30, Genesis 1:26-27). If we are unwilling to trust God, there is a conflict of wills and no promise that we would ever change, even upon meeting him face to face. When a human being hardens their heart against God, further contact with God sometimes only worsens the divide. The Pharoah of Egypt could have set the Hebrew slaves free if he had been willing, but God knew beforehand what Egypt’s stance would be (Exodus 3:19-20).

Pharoah had already hardened his own heart long before word came from God to free the slaves. In Exodus 5:2, Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” God’s command had served only to make him more self-willed and determined. Please, do not get bogged down in some “predestination” doctrine by thinking that Pharoah had no choice in the matter.

The words “predestinate,” and “predestinated,” are each in the Bible twice, though the principle occurs in other places. On the other hand, the word “if,” is used over 1500 times in the Bible (counts and translations vary), plus similar words and phrases are used many more times. Many of the uses are regarding conditional promises of God that depend upon our choices. We are told that if we will listen, that some good will follow. For instance, if we confess the Lord Jesus, we will be saved (Romans 10:9).

There are some cases where God chooses to intervene in a more direct way to influence a particular person. When Saul (whose name was later changed to “Paul”) was persecuting the early Christians, Jesus changed his life by confronting him in person (Acts 9:1-6). That isn’t the way that God ordinarily chooses. Almighty God, who has the power to turn the heart of a king “wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1),” also has the self-restraint to allow freewill and choice. Though “God is not willing that any should perish (2nd Peter 3:9),” he is also not willing to force his will upon unwilling man.

In dealing with difficult subjects of the Bible such as predestination and freewill, which may seem to contradict each other, it’s best not to go to extremes. God has foreknowledge of events, but that doesn’t mean that he causes those events to happen. The fact that some things are said to be predestined doesn’t mean that everything is, and though humans, angels, and God have freewill, that doesn’t mean that we have uncontested freewill. The moves that we are free to make often involve a contest of wills with others around us. That is the normal situation at home, work, in school, church, or wherever.

A caution from Revelation 22:18-19 to those who teach that all things are predetermined by God; you should beware of removing the word “if” from the Bible. We are warned against adding to the words of God’s prophecy, or taking words away. Revelation 22:17 gives us a choice, “Whosoever will, let him come drink of the water of life freely.” We are not predestined to refuse to drink.

If…. If we had all sat down like reasonable, caring, human beings, and studied everything over, man could long ago have arrived at a much better understanding of the Bible, and of God. God would have been in that reasoning process. As it is, life is a great contest of wills, and man isn’t as interested in finding the actual truth as he is in venerating his own version of it.

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