A friend asked me a great question the other day. She said, "is God in control of everything?" To which I said, "no!" Here is why...
The Curse of Calvinism
The extreme of that idea comes from Calvinism which sort of arbitrarily places the sovereignty of God ABOVE the goodness/love of God. Starting with that premise the theology that resulted looked like this: Since God is sovereign (ie by their definition in control of everything that happens) then
1. God chooses some for salvation and others for hell because he controls everything ultimately.
2. Therefore the atonement was "limited" because not everyone is going to be saved therefore he only died for the "elect" (those he chose/predestined to save).
3. They don't believe in supernatural healing, but rather God makes one sick to teach them a lesson... because God controls everything.
4. It makes God look a whole lot like the devil, and makes him responsible for evil too.
The Amazing Wisdom and Purposes of God!
1. All the primary definitions of God (God is love, God is holy, God is light, God is life) tell us that we can't separate his nature from his kingship. So in whatever way God "controls" things, it is never in violation of perfect, holy, life-giving love.
2. We never see God violating the free will of people. He will certainly influence them profoundly, but never against their will. Even when it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart, it was after Pharaoh hardened his own heart.
He rebukes the hardness of heart found in the refusal of people to believe. Why would he correct something if he was in control of it to begin with?
3. Jesus is perfect theology so we watch his life and ministry. Remember, according to Jesus NO ONE had seen the Father at any time except the Son. Therefore every person until him, including Adam was blind by comparison. Notice that when the storm came, for instance on the Sea of Galilee, that he rebuked the storm. If God is in control of everything it would include the storm and it would mean that Jesus was at odds with his Father.
4. The cross is the most amazing display of the wisdom of God. He violated no one's free will. Wicked hands killed Jesus. But at the same time, by counting himself, incarnating as the Son of MAN(kind), he was able to represent all mankind so that when he died, all died with him (2 Cor. 5), all were crucified with him. He was able to redeem all without violating love or their freewill. We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Romans 5). Now all we are called into is to believe what he has already done, not talk him into it. Our beliefs then shape our behaviors. Do you see the beauty in that wisdom without control and without force?
He Can Achieve His Purposes without Control
Essentially God has overall purposes that WILL get accomplished in spite of people. He can take what satan meant for evil and turn it around redemptively for good. That would mean that there is nothing evil that happens that God can't turn around... all the while being so amazing that he can turn it around without violating love or free will. Let that sink in.
Maybe this simple illustration will help. History is a giant ship and Jesus gets to steer the overall direction of the ship to its ultimately destination(s). So it will ultimately get where it is going. BUT on the ship, people have free will and some are playing, some are working, some are fighting. The captain Jesus is working to help the people be at peace, he is loving them in spite of themselves, working out minor disagreements, etc. But none of that will thwart the ship from getting to port. Isaiah 9:7, "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end."
How can he do that? Because he is God. He can and he will, and it will be without force. The kingdom is like a small seed that grows up into a great tree where all the birds come and build their nests. Again the kingdom of God is like leaven that was hidden in three lumps until it leavened the whole. It is secretly, often hidden, progressive and based on influence not control.
We have the great honor, as Bill Johnson would say, to be co-laborers with Christ in the work of the kingdom. Not by begging God to do it, but through daily living... the influence of our lives becomes seeds of the kingdom, our actions bring change into situations, and by simply believing Him. Paul said in Ephesians 3, that God would do exceeding abundant above what we can ask or imagine. We create an image in our hearts of a preferred future, and God comes and gives us favor and attracts resources and brings dreams to pass. He gives us the desires of our hearts.
That is why the dreamers are so important. We aren't waiting for God, he is waiting for us to ask whatsoever. Ask and you SHALL receive. The greatest impacts in history have been through people with a dream that God used to influence the world.
That is why irresponsible "end time" theology can destroy the dreamers and the believers from ever dreaming... because what's the point if God is about to destroy it all any minute and everything that he/we worked for is destroyed?
You have heard of the book the Harbinger? I am trying to encourage the world to be Hope-bingers!
Go on a hope binge! Over-do it! Get inebriated in faith, hope and love! Those are the ones God will work through to change the world without control, without force, and with faith, hope and love.
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