Apologies in advance for those who don't like reading novelettes. But in light of some issues regarding my "share" yesterday about God's will, this commentary had to be written and posted. I think the MAIN POINT of that post got missed entirely: Christians are not guaranteed a bed of roses in this life and under this sun. If interested, read on. If not, hide the post. I understand not everyone on my friends' list is an evangelical Christian believer, nor is everyone a theologian. But I hope even those who do not share my faith will read it. At least it might help explain a few things. This only scratches the surface. Volumes COULD be written.
First, a mea culpa: I should know better by now than to post things to make a spiritual point that are either badly worded, not thoroughly fleshed out for the sake of understanding, or theologically imprecise. So - here's the clarification for those who are interested. If not, hide this one from your feed, or read one of my humorous posts, scenery shots, or music shares.
The original post was about God's will. Among the things said in the poster I shared - "God's will was for the Apostle John to be exiled, the Apostle Paul to be jailed, and for Jesus to be executed." This ignited a kerfuffle in the comments, and in my view, it's because the subject of the will of God gets grossly misunderstood by non-believers and even believers at times. Here's some basic Christian theology that has been orthodox doctrine for 2,000 years.
God is sovereign in His creation. He has a divine, eternal, GOOD purpose that will be realized in its entirety. We have to get this straight first of all:
God, as Creator, has the ABSOLUTE RIGHT to do what He wants with His creation. He also has the absolute right to DEFINE right and wrong, good and evil. His creation has NO right to alter what He has determined. What "rights" we have - we only have by His divine grace and gifting. We have no right to sit in judgment on God. You can try, but it will be futile.
We as finite human beings can only understand what He has chosen to reveal. "We see through a glass darkly." Many things in this fallen world (including our own fallenness) get in the way of understanding His will, His Word, and His revelation. Scripture says even faith is a divine gift. We understand truth only through His enabling and revelation. Since we are finite and NOT omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent - all divine attributes - we take what He has revealed and wrestle with it in our lives.
So, what does this mean? The statements made in that poster ARE true, although taken alone by themselves without any illumination, it's easy to see why some balk. Per Scripture, it was the eternal purpose of God to redeem a people for Himself. His purpose included the first advent of Christ when he came to earth as a man, walked among His creation, and eventually died on the cross for the sins of His people, and rose again from the dead for their justification. This was Gods' purpose BEFORE He even created the universe. That means God knew precisely what would happen in this world before He created it, including the fall of man, human sin, and the need to deal with it.
His solution was realized in His Son - who came to earth and bore God's wrath for sin, to rise again from the dead, and to redeem His people. So in that sense, it WAS God's will for Jesus to undergo what He did. Jesus did not do it because He was forced. He did it willingly, although in His humanity, He said, "Let this cup pass from Me, yet not My will, but Yours, be done." Regarding Jesus' life, He said in John 10: “No one has taken it (my life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again." But in accordance with the divine purpose, He humbled Himself and obeyed the Father's purpose. And He ACCOMPLISHED His Father's purpose. Which, by the way, leaves us quite an example. The servants are not greater than Our Master.
Nothing happens in the lives of God's redeemed people that He does not allow. He takes things that happen and uses them to work toward His eternal purpose. Before anyone points to all the terrible things that have happened throughout human history and tries to use that as ammunition to disparage Him, Christian believers and Christian theology, it would be well to remember that God Himself suffered what we suffer in this life. Pain, illness, temptation, sorrow, grief, joy, laughter, etc. Yet without sin. Our Creator gets it. He understands it, and us. He lived it and walked it. He is our example of a life well lived in love and service of others, as well as righteous living. A life of complete faith and trust in the goodness, holiness, righteousness, and sovereignty of the Father, and complete obedience to Him.
This is tough sledding. There is a mystery between the sovereignty of God and the "free will" of man. Tension is there between the two, and I will not pretend to be able to understand it entirely. Somehow He fulfills His absolute sovereignty and His GOOD purpose, and does so through fallen human beings - redeemed and unredeemed alike. In the course of history on this earth, horrible things have happened. Sin (beginning in pride) is the root cause. Yet His purpose in allowing it is a good purpose in His perspective and determination. In the end, evil people who did evil things in their lives will stand before Him and give account. They are responsible for their evil actions and choices and will be held accountable. Those of us who have been redeemed by Him are accountable too as His ambassadors. In the end, in eternity, it will all become clear to us. We will see His goodness, why things happened the way they did, what eternal good He brought out of it, why it matters, and there will be no disagreement with His divine decrees. "Every mouth will be stopped."
All this is in the pages of the Bible if you care to study it out. If you choose to do so, I pray that the Holy Spirit will walk with you in it, and open your understanding. I'm still studying, still praying, still trying to understand with His help - and still believing.