BIG IDEA: God chose us before the foundation of the world and at the same time, we have free will, but we need not be anxious about predestination. Yes, the idea of God’s foreknowledge is important to consider, but our understanding of this truth will never be complete nor is it a matter of salvation, therefore it need not cause us anxiety. Rather it should give us permission to live out our lives in the full knowledge that God has chosen the best possible plan out of his deep love for us. Love that is not naive, cold, blind, nor sentimental. It is TRUE LOVE.
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
SCRIPTURE to CONSIDER: Ephesians 1:3-14
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,  so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (ESV)
- A paradox: The facts that God chose us and that we have free will are not contradictory. They are, however, paradoxical like the Trinity (God is both one and three persons).
- God’s relationship to time and space is not the same as ours: in the same way that we simplify explanations about how the world works for children, God has simplified how he works for us because we lack the ability to fully comprehend him.
- A possible explanation (Molinism/”Choosing a Plan”): There are an infinite number of possible plans in which God could accomplish his will. God chose to create a world that has beings made in his image, who can make real choices, who are governed by the laws of nature, but are also free to transcend those laws and act on a higher plane.
- God chose a plan in which beings would have the ability and opportunity to make real choices; in which every one of these beings would —by choice — turn from relationship with him; in which the only way to restore those relationships, God the son would have to humble himself and die on a cross; in which many, despite his sacrifice, would never turn back to him, but will instead be eternally lost. But God also chose a plan that requires his intimate interaction with us, his creation.
- God’s sovereignty: It is not just an idea, it is the reality in which we all live. God was sovereign in choosing the plan and in the plan he chose he is sovereign over all. With his powerful presence he comes alongside all of creation, not only in matters of salvation, but also in the working of history, nations, and in every decision you make.
QUOTES to CONSIDER:
- “As a good and loving God, God wants as many people as possible to be saved and as few as possible to be lost. His goal, then, is to achieve an optimal balance between these, to create no more of the lost than is necessary to attain a certain number of the saved. But it is possible that the actual world (which includes the future as well as the present and past) has such a balance. It is possible that in order to create this many people who will be saved, God also had to create this many people who will be lost. It is possible that “had God created a world” in which fewer people go to hell, then even fewer people would have gone to heaven. It is possible that in order to achieve a multitude of saints, God had to accept a multitude of sinners.” – William Lane Craig
- “There is no attribute of God more comforting to His children than the doctrine of Divine Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all.” – Charles Spurgeon
- Reduced anxiety: under God’s sovereignty, we need not be anxious about whether God’s plan is the best plan. If there was a “better way,” God would have chosen it. (Romans 8:28)
- Use your free will to choose this day whom you will worship. Will you worship God and Christ Jesus? You make that choice every day, in every decision.
- Don’t worry about messing up or missing out on God’s plan for your life because the plan that God chose for you is saturated in his love. Your missteps have been accounted for, and they will be redeemed to more love. (Matthew 10:28-31, Acts 17:24-27)
- Know God better: read the Bible, think about him, pray.
- Share your knowledge with fellow Christians and those are not yet Christians.
- Do good works that line up with God’s character and grace.
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Questions to Consider:
- Do you get anxiety about the question of how God’s sovereignty works?
- How might a fuller understanding of his sovereignty alleviate anxiety for you?
- How should sovereignty change the way you live your life? Should it change at all?