Thursday, June 3, 2010

Discerning God's Will Together Part I

Do things that happen that are not God’s will?

Are their things out of Gods’ will?

Can anything exist or take place against God’s will?

Do things happen that aren’t necessarily God’s will? 

This is a question that has plagued people since the beginning of creation. In reality, this question exists because evil exists. The most common way to ask this question was immortalized in a book called “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People.” Unfortunately this is a bad book with no valid, scriptural, and useful answers. It aimed at the mark and horribly missed.

There are two major reasons this book missed the mark. The first reason is the incorrect assumption that there are good people. The argument is that since these are good people they did not deserve, or it is inconceivable, or it is incongruent that evil things would befall “good people.”

Well, as Ray Arnold said in Jurassic Park, “hang on to your butts;” there are no good people. Says who? Says God!

As the Apostle Paul was making his argument that the entire human race had sinned against God thereby falling short of God’s glory, he concluded that the Jews were no better off. He concluded his three chapter treatise on the sinful condition of the entire human race by proving that even the Jews, God’s chosen people were guilty sinners. Paul’s amazing conclusion was that all are sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, and that there were no good or righteous people on earth. Listen to Paul’s conclusion:

“None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV)

Paul quoted this passage from Psalms 14:1-3. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David wrote an amazing Psalm that testifies to the fact that there are no good people by God’s standards. As a matter of fact, David, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit gives us an anthropomorphic expression (he assigns human attributes and function to God who as Spirit [non-corporeal] has absolute and perfect knowledge being omniscient) telling us that “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

The second major problem with this book is the fact that God is somehow either lacking in knowledge, power, or ability. This problem has led men to conclude that God is not omniscient, or that He does not know things in advance. A false and blasphemous system of theology has developed called “open theism” that advances the proposition that God does not know the all of the future and that He merely reacts to it. In other words, God did not know that the car would run the traffic light and broadside your car severely injuring you. However, He has the power now to make something good come out of this accident that He could not foresee.

Other false theologies develop that God is powerful but limited in His power. It has been taught that God is limited by sin, or by Satan, or even by man.

In the Middle Eastern cultures of Abraham’s day through the time of Christ men believed that when good things happened to you, such as health, prosperity, and children is was a sign that God was blessing you. However, conversely, if you lost your health, wealth, possessions, or were barren then these were signs that God was displeased with you.

We see this “line of thinking” in the oldest book of the Bible, Job. Job, in rapid succession, lost his crops, livestock, children, and his health. His closest friends came and sat with him in mourning for several days. Then in turn, each one counseled Job to repent of his sin in order to have the bad removed from him and the good restored to him by God.

Mankind simply finds it inconceivable that God would either allow or direct bad things to happen to members of the human race. The reason for this error in thinking stems from an incorrect understanding of God. The majority of the human race (those who even think about God) have concocted a “God” who is in some type of cosmic or galactic warfare with Satan, his minions, and evil who either is incapable of stopping evil or who has things happening around him that are somehow out of his will. Of course, there is a conflict, a horrible spiritual warfare going on around us which we are part of. The problem is that is not being carried out the way many modern teachings portray it.

The prevailing opinion of God is that he wants only the best for the members of the human race, especially His children. The prevailing opinion is that of “spiritual entitlement.” In other words, since I am God’s child I deserve a life with no problems.

Now, it is true, God desires to give to His children the very best. Since there is nothing better than God, God designed a means by which He could give Himself – the best that could be given – to those whom He has adopted as His own. If God were to give to us anything else then God would become an idolater; since anything else would be superior to God; thereby making that “thing” an idol. Since God is not an idolater the best and only thing that He can give us is Himself.

This is where we miss the mark in this discussion of why do bad things happen to good people, or is there anything outside of God’s will? Remember we began with several questions: 

Do things that happen that are not God’s will? Are their things out of Gods’ will? Can anything exist or take place against God’s will? Do things happen that aren’t necessarily God’s will?

Stay tuned tomorrow; Lord willing, I intend to go further into this discussion. I want to demonstrate scripturally where we miss the mark in this discussion. I also, Lord willing want to answer these afore mentioned questions.



Is it Gods will if he wants what is best for us to let a persons children turn their back on their mother when she needs their support?

I read your post today with added interest.

Have a good day,

Pilgrim Mommy said...

I'm looking forward to your posts on this subject. This is a delicate topic, because we've all been hurt in life and wonder why. I vividly remember when the light bulb went on in my head, as it were, about God's absolute sovereignty over a very painful situation. It completely changed how I viewed my trial and pretty much everything that happens in my life. Not that unbelief never rears its ugly head, but there is a rest and peace from Him that I had never known before, because the goal isn't "my best life now", the goal is knowing and treasuring Christ. (Philippians 3:7-8)

WhiteStone said...

I'm waiting for more. I'm with Pilgrim Mommy on this one...knowing God's sovereignty, even in the midst of sorrow and pain, gives me peace.

On the other hand I find myself at a loss for words when a fellow cancer patient, a Christian, tells me "God WILL heal me! I'm holding to that. I will not think negative thoughts. God WILL heal me." It sorrows me that she clings to a promise that has never been given to her.

Lisa said...

Since we are ALL given free choice, then YES, I firmly believe that things happen outside of God's will. He allows us to make our own choices about things that He knows aren't good for us. We have to learn. And the fact that we live in a fallen world also means that "bad things happen to good people". " rains on the just and the unjust alike..." Matthew 5:45

Gregg said...

Yvonne - thank you for reading, especially since it might have brought up a painful memory. I will answer that question in up coming posts, but suffice to say, what you really needed more than your chilren's support was God's full support.

Ps 27:10 gives us great comfort and promise, that even if my father or my mother, in this case, my children abandon me, the LORD will take me up.

On a human level we do turn to family, including adult children, but ultimately the best that we need is God Himself, who is to be treasured and desired even above family connections. God may have desired to use what was in your children's hearts at that time to remove that avenue of support in order to reveal to you himself in even a greater, more magnificent loving, kind, merciful and gracious manner.

To answer your honest, heart-felt and painful question, when one truly knows God and has drunk deeply of his character and natgure God is ultimately and infintely better than the support of children. This is learned by hard, long, sometimes painful walks with God experientially.

PM - it is a very delicate subject. I am learning just how convulted the thinking is in regards to God, his will, our role, etc. I know you have shared your painful experience in your blog and yes, you are right, the goal is not "our best life now" or our immediate happiness. We have been called Paul says in Phil 1:9 that we are called not only to redemption but to suffer.

For whatever unknown to us reason God chose to use your situation to bring to a point of treasuring him more than that which you lost. We would not have designed it that way but it seems that our God did.

Whitestone - knowing a little tiny bit of your situation with cancer I count that comment as an honor. Yes, God gives peace even in thsoe horrible painful situations becasue he is sovereign over everything including cancer.

Yes, how it breaks my heart to see people claim promises that were never meant for them. How it breaks my heart to see people "waste" their cancer, their divorce, their job loss, the death of a child, etc. Whitestone - the greates gift you could give someone in that situation, other than the full, true, and biblical gospel is an article written by John Piper called, "Don't Waste Your Cancer." You can get it by simply plugging that title into your browser or by going to the Desiring God website.

It is a serious sin to cherish this world and this life more than we cherish God and his glorious character. I am not advocating we walk out in front of a bus, I am like an old Irishman, if I knew where I was going to die, I would never go near the spot. But the bible says to die is gain.

Lisa - I hope you will stick with my posts. The bible does not teach that we have free will.

Adam and Eve possessed it, used it, and lost it for themselves and for all of their progeny. If we are able to act outside of God's will then we would be equal to God. Quite frankly it would mean that we are greater than God.

I will address one or more posts in the near future to the issue of "free will."

arlee bird said...

I'm looking forward to your future posts on these topics. This is confusing stuff to me and any clarification is helpful.



I once heard a preacher say something concerning man's free will. He said, "I believe in the free will of man, I believe the only free will man has is the freedom to sin and turn his back on God". I'm not sure how theologically correct his statement was but it made since to me at the time.

Brother Gregg, You've got some of my favorite bloggers commenting on this subject and as always your counsel to them is sound and Biblical. May God give you wisdom as you teach on a most difficult topic.