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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The General Theory of Will-itivity

God has a general will that falls upon each of us. God wants everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Ezekiel 18:23 (ESV)
23  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

God desires all people to  walk with Him.

Micah 6:8 (ESV)
8  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

God also has a specific will.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
11  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

He calls us just as He did Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Simon Peter and Paul. Each of us has a specific will.

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God does not force us to do anything within His will. He has given us a free will and allows us to do things we never should have done. He allowed Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, Cain to kill Abel, David to be with Bathsheba and Peter to deny His Son. He has allowed me to do some pretty evil things as well. Should I expect that I will never be in His will again since I have sinned?

So we don't follow Him and miss His general will and His specific will for our lives.

Years ago I worked for a man who felt he had been called into the formal ministry. He even made a public commitment to that calling twice but he never went. I met this man when he was sixty-four years of age. Does this mean that he would never know God's will ever again in his life?

I know people think they can do what God wants at any time and come right back into His will. That isn't what happened with Israel after they had refused to take the Promised Land. They thought they could simply do God's will on their own time table. They were utterly wrong. God did not bless their commitment after the commitment time had passed. They were trying to do His will from the past rather than His will that was right in front of them.

God's will is always right in front of us. It appears to us that His will is changing because we have changed it but nothing can be farther from the truth. God, in His omniscience, knew exactly what we would do. He offers us His will even when He knows we will reject it. He takes those moments of disobedience prepares the path of obedience. He did all this before time began. Thus, He hears our present prayers before the beginning of time and answers them before they have been prayed by us. We still have to pray them or He couldn't have heard them before time began because we will never have prayed them. (All this starts me thinking I believe in Stephen Hawking's circular time!)

This all makes sense if we could understand things like God. We simply have a hard time realizing that the writer of the story knows the story before the story is written. The characters in our stories decide at the moment but all they will do has been known from the beginning. It is not fate because each moment is completely free.

Paul wrote:

Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

All things are determined by the past. Working for good applies to the present. We never receive anything that resembles a consolation prize from God. He always gives us what is best for us. It is best for us right now. God's will is for us to obey Him right now. The moment to obey Him passes with each moment we delay. We can't simply go back to what we once knew as His specific will and act on it.

God's general will never changes. His specific will for each of us appears to change because we may know what it is and not obey Him. Instead of making us go back to what we should have done, He often gives us a new opportunity that isn't the same as the one we disobeyed. We receive His will and walk in it with Him as that which does us good and has a hope and future. Thus no one ever receives God's consolation prize when he obeys God's will.

God's will is always in front of us. The question is whether or not we will walk in it.


Anthony Chia said...

When I started reading, I was thinking this one was looking like a good prose, and a good title to it, too, but from around the middle onwards, I began to consider I have a disagreement, here.

Before I express my view concerning the disagreement, let me say a few words on some points of agreement or "mixed" agreement.

First, on the Israelites missing the will of God concerning the Promised land, to me, one of the things it is pointing to, is that God considers two dimensions - corporately and individually. Some people are of the view that ALL Israelites will make it to Heaven (mainly due to a verse in NT, that has the word, ALL), but I beg to differ. Rather, it is the earthly Promised Land episode is pointing to, corporately, Israelites made it to the earthly Promised Land, and corporately, Israel will make it to the eternal Promised Land, Heaven. But NOT everyone made it to the earthly Promised Land, and NOT all Israelites will make it to Heaven.

Corporately, a people group will make it, but NOT necessarily everyone in the people group will make it, because of his free-will. That is why I always said salvation is personal, and there is only general corporate predestination but NOT general personal predestination (I am referring to GENERAL, exceptions are prerogative of God). Ultimately, each individual has to come into the salvation will of God. The adult generation (then) of the Israelites willed NOT to enter when God had laid out His will of giving them, corporately, the Promised Land. It was a shadow of the gift of salvation in the NT, as God made it clear (originally) they did NOT need to earn it through fighting for it; He Himself would fight for them.

A few individuals had wanted to walk in that will of God, but NOT the rest of the adult generation. Individually, Joshua and Caleb made it, and corporately, Israel made it, but those who refused the shadow of the salvation will of God did NOT make it the EARTHLY Promised Land (some of them might have made it to the Heavenly Promised Land, Heaven, but that is a separate story to be told!).

Next, I just like to say, I like the ESV version of Rom 8:28 better. I once read it somewhere that the original Greek phrasing of the verse would demand that "For those who love God" be placed first in the sentence, as to emphasis. In other words, the author had wanted to emphasize it that the powerful promise that follows (in ALL things, God will make them good) was for a qualified people - those who love God. This ESV has it like that, in the front, when many other bible versions, have it at the back. In lite version of Christianity, it is often that the "we, to love God" is omitted, more worse still, in some hyper-lite version, the table is turned on God, like "if you believe God loves you" (instead of we to love God), God got to make it good for you - you got Him cornered! So, very sad-right?


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

Now, the part that I find disagreement is the circular time stated. While it does NOT support general personal predestination, because of its inclusion of the role of personal free-will, it nevertheless painted a picture of an epic movie of the entire mankind that has been filmed by God and now being screened by God. Now, as an actor in a movie already done, and now being screened, there just nothing you and I can do anything differently. You believe that?!

Scripture did NOT point to that kind of thing, and this kind of perspective can be used of, by the devil to spin yet another ultra hyper lite version of Christianity - whatever will be, will be. Please-lah, if it were so, why learn anything, why go to school, to church, why think of what to do with your life, kind of career, or picking a spouse, or why bother to look to the left and to the right before crossing the road. If by being responsible you cannot change a thing, being irresponsible, you cannot change a thing either! This is more worse than hyper-grace preaching of "since you do nothing to inherit eternal life, you cannot lose it, with anything you do!"

Think about it, it is untenable to argue with free-will exercising, everything is still fixed. Contrary belief like the butterfly effect, will have it that a mere missing of a beat in the flapping of the butterfly wings, in a spot, will have effect around the world! If everything is still fixed, it is nothing short of a movie already directed and now being screened. That's what happens in a movie making, every cause and effect must be taken into account and attended to, in order that filming can proceed until the end. Now, if you can still edit, re-shoot a scene, remove some screenshots and put in a few others, it means the movie is NOT completed, and is still being directed.

Yes, a closer picture to both what the bible is painting and what is happening in the world is that we are movie BEING made. God has a theme in mind, and has fixed some outcome He wants to see, but the rest of it, free-will and creativity are given to us all. Yet He is still the producer and the director, but one that does real-time and impromptu decision-makings all the time, on the set, as time progresses, CHRONOLOGICALLY.

God set us in a chronological time set, and so, unless otherwise shown in Scripture, God's interactions with men can be expected in the Kronos time frame. No need to be ultra-speculative in this. Scripture painted that God did fix certain things in the future, and so, we know He can and does look into the future. And event like The Flood showed us that God does NOT double-back into the past, and so, even as I say we are movie BEING made, God as the director does NOT go back and cut off some screenshots and retake them. Our producer God is the ALL talented, ALL able and resourceful, ALL wise, ALL confident, and ALL holy God; He is capable of real-time juggling of factors, constraints, and interests generated by men exercising their free-will. God does NOT throw the towel in, He continues to overcome whatever men throw up from their selfishness, haughtiness, and wickedness. These same things, we saw Jesus practised it, and we are called to do likewise - to stay steadfast in holiness, continue to press on, and continue to overcome, so that together with Director-God, we make the movie He wants to watch.

Some may think I paint a lesser God, but I believe it pleases God more when we have diligently studied His Word with meditation, and uncovered the hints He left in His Word concerning Who He is, rather than our broad-stroke speculation of Who He is, apart from the revelation He has given us, even if we got it right. There is no price from God, so to speak, for things, He has not hinted, hidden in HIs Word, or revealed of, by His Spirit; and no penalty for getting them wrong, too!


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

I am quite sure that there will be many things we will know we got it wrong when we get to Heaven, meaning we are NOT shut out of Heaven, for them. Pure speculation (these are speculations without some basis or hinted to, in the Word) falls under this. There are things that we have to get them right, failure of which, forfeit us, our eternal dwelling in Heaven - these we must be alert to and be diligent on.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions