Are we God’s robots?

Wholesome thinking tells us that God rules from heaven and we rule on earth. Strange, but fact!

The different views between God’s autonomy and man’s free will is an age old debate.  There are many ‘heavy’ theological and philosophical books about it.  Is there an easier way to understand it, using ‘wholesome thinking?’

#  The issue is: 

If God is sovereign with the ultimate power to decide what people must do and what not, man has no free will.  For example,

  • A man marries.  Then he begins to abuse his wife and leaves her and the kids, so that they are destitute.  Was that God’s doing?  Of course not.  God didn’t give husbands the right to abuse or reject their families.  Scripture commands husbands to love their wives and not to embitter their children. 1
  • When a person hates, loathes, or even kills someone else, was it God’s will?
  • What about Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, or Robert Mugabe?  Were their deeds ordained by God, or did they decide themselves to be so cruel?  If God ‘froze’ their free wills, then the whole Bible makes no sense.  That is because:

#  The Bible has no value if we do not have free will.

If God ordained everything and man has no free will; if God does as He likes and we have no say in it at all, then we don’t need a Bible.  Then we live and die and that’s it.  Logically the Bible is then superfluous.  But we do have a Bible with careful instructions on how to live.  It tells us that we have to make choices concerning God almost daily.

#  God proved that the universe belongs to Him, but we can reject Him.

God shows us in Genesis 1 that through His creative will, the universe was formed.  If He made it, it belongs to Him.

  • He is like the owner of a firm.  He knows what he wants to accomplish in the firm.  The people who work in the firm have the fullest right to leave if they don’t agree.
    • Similarly God is the Boss, the Owner of His Firm.  He decided He wants to establish an eternal Kingdom of love and peace.  People who agree with His goals and are willing to ‘work’ for Him and become part of the ‘Firm.’  Those who want to leave, may leave.
  • He is like a governor of a country.  He wants all people to obey the laws so that they can have a righteous state.  But whether the citizens obey depends on each individual’s free will.
    • Broadly, we have the same situation in God’s Kingdom.  There are two opposites: God is Ruler in heaven over all, and He is sovereign.  But man is sovereign on earth and has the right to decide whether to fit in with God’s plans or not.

Conclusion

No one can deny we make many choices in daily life based on what we want.  We decide what to buy, where to work, who to marry, et cetera.  If God controls all that, we are all robots, but we are definitely not.  Wholesome thinking tells us that God rules from heaven and we rule on earth. Strange, but fact!

References

1. Ephesians 5:25-32; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:1-6

How to know that you are not programmed, but have free will.

Some evolutionists argue that people act as they are programmed.  They insist that people cannot decide on their course of life, because they do not have a free will.  Therefore God cannot judge them.  So to deny free will is to attempt to evade accountability.

#  Accountability

God holds people accountable for their deeds, ‘He [God] repays a man for what he has done; He brings upon him what his conduct deserves.’ 1  Obviously that can only happen if man has a free will.   There are two factors that clarify the issue of free will: death and Scripture.

# Death

God put Adam in a beautiful garden.  There were enough fruit trees to satisfy his palate.  Just one proviso restrained him: don’t eat of one specific tree, or you will die.  If Adam and Eve did not have free will, God would not have given them a choice.  God knew the devastation that Adam’s free will would bring, but He did not influence him or prevent his decision.  They decided to disobey and eat from that tree.  So death became part of life.  Death is a powerful testimony to the reality of free will.

#  Scripture

There is another powerful proof that free will is fact.  In the Old Testament God doesn’t emphasise that the devil corrupts people.  For example, Cain killed his brother Abel, but it is only in the New Testament that we read that Cain belonged to the devil. 2   Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit emphasise the devil’s influence on people?  It is because each person will individually give account to God of what we did while alive.  We cannot blame the devil, because he has already been sentenced for his free will decision against God.

#  Freedom to choose

God gave man a free will and nobody can interfere with it.  The history of individuals throughout the Bible testify to man’s free will.

  • Judas had a free will and decided to betray Jesus. 3
  • Peter betrayed Jesus, but by his own free will he came back to Jesus. 4
  • Demas used his free will to leave Paul, since he loved the world.

Conclusion

It is not necessary to write book after book on the question of free will.  The Bible tells us we will all give an account to God.  There is only one difference.  On Judgment Day the follower of Jesus will have a record of forgiven sins.  He will stand washed white by the blood of Jesus.  Unbelievers refuse to accept that privilege.  They want to pay for their own wrong decisions and accept whatever comes.  Unfortunately it will not be to live in the presence of Jesus eternally.

References

  1. Job 4:11
  2. 1 John 3:12
  3. Matthew 24:14-16
  4. John 21:7-19
  5. 2 Timothy 4:9

Atheism has an escape route

Some atheists complain that it is unfair of God to condemn unbelievers Israelitesto hell. In the Bible there is an example of this type of illogical reasoning.

In Numbers 20:2 we read, “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink.'”

They conveniently forgot that they cried out about the slavery.1 Worse, when God wanted to take them into the promised land of milk and honey, they refused to believe God could do it. By their own actions they ‘inherited’ the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They complained, but forgot that they caused it.

Atheists do the same. Let’s look at it. A requirement for the eternal Kingdom of Peace is obedience to the King. Man cannot obey, but by God’s grace and mercy, He sent His Son Jesus, who paid the penalty of death to nullify God’s decree of, ‘The wages of sin is death.’  One can escape the penalty (hell), if one accepts by faith that Jesus paid it. 2

Jesus does not come with a price tag. Faith in Him is free for anyone who will believe. So there is no excuse not to become part of God’s eternal Kingdom. There is no excuse for anyone who willingly chooses to reject God’s gracious free offer. God cannot be blamed for people’s decisions to reject citizenship in God’s country.

Still, why hell for unbelievers (rebels who refuse to acknowledge God)? It is because there are only two eternal destinations and no other alternatives. One is the new heavens and earth where God is the Ruler. The other is the lake of burning sulphur, where the devil is the ruler.  God’s people will be with Him on the new heavens and earth. The only alternative is with the devil in hell, ‘…into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ 3

Did the Israelites have reason to gripe about what happened? No! They decided to disbelieve God. Do atheists and other people have reason to accuse God of being unfair? No, they decided with their own free will that they are not interested in God and His plan for man.

Conclusion: Griping and whining about the ‘Cosmic Tyrant’ is useless, since He has provided an escape route from hell. The example of the Israelites is a wonderful lesson: don’t grumble if something is your own doing. Atheists could do well to learn from that Biblical example.

References

1. Exodus 3:7; 4:31; 12:33-36

2. Colossians 1:22-23a

3. Matthew 25:41

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