Ephesians 1:11 “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,”
Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
There is an age old debate within Christianity concerning the sovereignty of God and humanities free will. It goes back to Augustine and Pelagius in the fifth century. It resurfaced with Calvin and Arminius during the Protestant Reformation and it rages on today between Calvinists and Arminians. Luther wrote a treatise on it called “The Bondage of the Will.” This debate becomes very important in theologies that emphasize hell because as hyper-Calvinists teach, taken to the extreme, God predestines some to heaven and others (perhaps most) to hell.
Likewise, it has deep ramifications in the salvation of individuals. If salvation is a choice then mankind must fear that they will not be able to keep their salvation over the long haul… and therefore must always be in fear. If salvation is by the sovereignty of God then one can rest assured because it is not up to them and they can rest and trust solely in God. I would go so far as to say that if salvation is up to the individual no one could be saved. As I stated a couple of posts back, humans participate by apprehension, i.e., they apprehend what God did in Christ
The above quoted passages are two that speak strongly of the total sovereignty of God. God is sovereign in all things. In fact, it is so unpopular to think that God creates evil that all of the modern versions of the bible have substituted the word calamity for the word evil in Isaiah 45:7. If you look at the Hebrew word rahaah it definitely means evil and Young’s Literal Translation backs it up. The fact remains that both of the verses do in fact point to the absolute sovereignty of God in all things. Therefore, those that take the bible literally must see that God is sovereign in all matters… after all, God works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of his will. That pretty much establishes God’s sovereignty and eliminates any eternal choice for humanity.
So, how can it be resolved? I think that it is resolved nicely by the fact that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself not counting sin against anyone (2Cor 5:19.) All have been reconciled to God. This is why the ministry of reconciliation is so important. The gospel preacher should be proclaiming the fact that humanity is reconciled to God. People do not need the sinner’s prayer or the four spiritual laws. They simply need to be told that they are reconciled to God through Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to convince them of the fact and rest in it.
Rather than make this post too long let me list some bullet points that explain some of the questions you may have:
- What about hell? Well, evangelical-orthodox teaching about hell is not all that sound when considering the biblical record… see post1 & post2.
- Human choice effects our lives drastically, and what-ever we sow we reap but here in this life and not eternally.
- If humans are eternal beings then, evil in this life is for a specific time and not eternity and can have a greater purpose.
- Ultimate reconciliation is to the praise of God’s glorious grace (Eph 1:5-6.)
So you may ask if there is ultimate reconciliation why preach the gospel if everyone is reconciled by Christ? That’s a good question but consider this. There is great benefit in realizing that one is reconciled while here in this life. Predominantly, it gives one peace with God.