Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sovereignty & Free Will

More thoughts after yesterday's post. The post yesterday really had a lot to do with God's sovereignty & our free will.

Struggle is hard. It's hard to go through, it's hard to talk about and for some reason we feel the need to know why it happens or who caused it that we can blame. Ultimately though, the why & who doesn't take away the pain and reality of the harshness of tough times. We should care a lot less about the why & who and more about figuring out the how. How to get through this, who to turn to, what to learn from it, what to focus on.

There are so many different 'doctrines' / 'teachings' to describe why things happen, how to prevent them from happening, and how to get them to go away if they do happen.... and I don't think any of these teachings/ philosophies are completely correct. I believe that most popular teachers out there are way more extreme than the Truth is. Yet at the same time I believe the Truth is way more extreme than most of us think it is. Weird.

I believe there's some Truth in the majority of christian doctrines out there. I believe there's good in each of them. That's why people follow them - because they recognize SOME truth --- but whenever humans get ahold of things, we distort it. Especially when the doctrine and power it gives us (because of a following) becomes our idol. People are attracted to extremes. We like the bold statements and don't like grey areas. This need for extremity causes us to distort the Truth.

I am sure the only Truth is the Word and I know that so many times it is watered down and taken out of context. Which makes finding the Truth even harder.... I do what I can to look at different resources to find out the Truth....but ultimately, I just don't have a lot of the answers.

I write down questions every morning during my quiet time - just whatever is swirling around in my head. It's AMAZING to me how quickly God sends me information for me to look at, digest, take to Him in prayer to His word to get some answers. Literally it's usually the same day I write down the questions that He gives me the first information. WOW! but many times it's longer as well....

Instead of writing down all the questions daily I think about... today I just want to write down things I am thinking and things I DO believe to be the Truth. Sorry for all the hodge podge of thoughts. Sort of all over the place but that's my brain some days:
  • God is sovereign. The Bible is clear about that. Nothing is out of His control. He can always intervene & always change things.
  • But many times He won't. He's a just God and because of our free will, we sin and those sins have consequences. Not that He is "punishing" us but our sins take away from the abundant free life we could have with Him. Our sins do keep us from blessings.
  • We'll always sin. but I know that because of Jesus dying for my sins - I will not be judged for my sin. I will not be eternally condemned, separated from God like I deserve..... because of Jesus. But I do believe the sin I commit DOES have consequences.
  • I do believe however that God will even use those consequences / situations for my good though. To teach me, to grow my faith, to strengthen me, to have compassion for other's suffering, to be empathetic when others struggle. It's not that He GAVE me these things to help build me --- it's that these things happened to me (for numerous reasons) so He will use them for good. He would have grown my faith in other ways if this bad didn't happen - but since it DID happen, He's making the best of it for me.
  • Everything from God is good. He is so good. God can't cause bad to happen - but He does allow it.
  • The devil is where bad originates, comes from. But the devil can only 'do' what God permits. He has power here - but only because God allows it because again He's a just God. He is not SO sovereign though that He MAKES us do things a certain way. We are not robots. That's how much He loves us. He wants us to choose Him. He wants us to desire Him. He wants us to desire to be obedient, to live a godly life. He will bless us obedience. but He doesn't want to force us to love Him. Forced love is no love at all.
  • Not everything that is bad in our life is because of something we've done. The book of Job and his story is a perfect example of this. Babies born sick & dying young are an example.
  • Bad things/ struggles DO sometimes happen as a direct consequence of our sins..... but sometimes they are the result of a bigger picture fallen world that we have to be a part of. We just sort of get picked up in the tornado of the fallen world and the bad in it.

Phew!! So those are my thoughts for today.

This sovereignty/ free will leads into the doctrines of healing and our ability to use God's power to get rid of struggle / bad in our life. But that is an animal I have no desire to even try to confront today or anytime soon.

The most important thing I have learned from these past months on this topic in my heart is just.... that no matter who you believe caused the events in your life. No matter why it's caused or who is to blame.... that is secondary to the most important thing which is our hope in God and His love for us. We can have faith that He loves us. We can have faith that He can turn anything around for the good. Romans 8:28. We can have faith that His ultimate will, will in fact ultimately be done. Our sin will make us detour - but He'll always be able to bring us back to the path. Our sin detours might keep us from living as blessed a life as we could have ---- but our detours in no way limit God. We can't ever drift off so far that we are lost causes. The shepherd will always protect and work things out for his sheep to be gathered back to him. He will give us the free will to decide how to get where He wants us and when.... but He can perfectly orchestrate anything. We don't have to get this all. I clearly don't get it all (some days I feel like I don't get ANYTHING)... but we don't have to worry and try to figure it all out.

We won't ever fully understand the balance and workings of His sovereignty & our free will at the same time. BUT I know that God loves me. I choose to believe that. I know that God will eventually turn mourning into gladness and sadness into joy. I know that there is a place I'm going to that has no sickness, no pain, no death and no sorrow. I know this earth is only temporary. And forever is a lot longer than now :)


Allison said...

That blog was mighty deep as usual. About sovereignty vs. free will: I've heard it once taught that on a chart, the intersection of free will and sovereignty intersect outside of our knowledge. We'll never understand it with our finite minds.
Catch you later,

Randi Jo :) said...

thanks for your comment as usual Allison!

I really don't have a lot of experience with any Bible teaching. Don't have a lot of knowledge of different philosophies or even just knowledge of these biblical terms.... so I love when you all give me statements like you did that sort of 'sum it up' for me.

I agree that it's out of our knowledge. We can't explain or completely understand it all! and that's okay! I love the way you put it! Thank you!!

Even though I won't have all the answers - it sure does feel good to get it all out and write down my thoughts ya know!? :)

have a great day!

Monday through Sunday said...

I LOVE how hungry you are!! :)

:..Rebekah..: said...

I did some major studying on this topic a few years ago. After reading some things in scripture (mostly Romans), I started to question what I had always been taught. I had never understood God's part in my salvation. I wrestled and wrestled with it, prayed, and read everything I could get my hands on. He was faithful and taught me, showing me balance. God is so faithful to teach us when we ask questions and desire knowledge. I can so relate to your passion and your hunger for the truth. I would love to get together in person to talk with you. We'd go on for hours, I bet. :)