Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“In Control… Not In Control”

     The Bible unapologetically presents to us the enigma of two seemingly contradictory truths, namely, that God is in control of His creation, and that He is not in control of His creation.

     “God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:3; 11).
     “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).

     In the ultimate sense, and in His amazing wisdom whereby He coordinates all things to fulfill His ultimate purposes, God is indeed in control.  Therein we rest our hearts in the assurance that creation is safe in the providence of its Creator.  In the temporal sense, however, we must be careful to not assign “control” to many of the things that presently happen in a world that lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19).  God does not determine, nor is He responsible for that wickedness, as James’ aforementioned statement plainly declares.  No more grave and deceptive darkness can descend upon us than to assign the origin of any sin to the Lord whose character, nature, and way forever exists in pristine righteousness.  “As for God, His way is perfect” (II Samuel 22:31).  He did not tempt or lead Lucifer to originate the first sin, nor does He tempt or lead anyone to commit any sin (Ezekiel 28:15).

     This presents a dilemma to our limited understanding that cannot be perfectly reconciled.  How can “all things” work according to God’s counsels when all things do not directly occur by His heart and hand?  Many ways to illustrate an answer may come to our mind, and some may offer a ray of light.  At the end of the day, however, we must accept the fact that created beings cannot completely fathom the ways of an infinite Creator, whose “thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).  Furthermore, we must be careful to explain ourselves when we affirm that “God is in control” lest anyone should think that we mean He causes sinners to sin.  Failure to wisely express our rhetoric in this matter leads to misunderstanding in the minds of those with whom we seek to share the Gospel.

     There is no shame or weakness in the honest confession that we seek to lead people to faith in a God we cannot fully understand or explain.  On the contrary, the truth of the Gospel demands that we answer as many questions as possible, but that we also stand ready to admit, “I don’t know.”  Indeed, we seek to lead people into a relationship with One far greater than themselves.  By definition, they cannot fully understand the ways of God.  Those who respond to the Lord Jesus Christ will accept this exaltation of the Divine and humbling of the human.  Those who won’t, won’t.  Let us therefore offer as much light as possible, while acknowledging that some things, such as the present consideration, remain in a necessary enigma that reveals bright and necessary light about God, and about ourselves.

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

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