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Friday, February 19, 2016

"Jesus just stepped on my toes!"

Image result for free willWhether the question "Does man have free will?" is answered with "Yes" or "No," an age-old wild-goose chase is officially entered. I really enjoy eating goose, not chasing it.

I personally have never heard an air-tight defense for either answer to this challenging question. Though I obviously don't know everything, I do know that I don't want to dive into this fruitless debate.

A better question

I think there's a better question we can ask concerning man's will. A question for which we can find an encouraging, faith-building Biblical solution. The question:

"Who's will ultimately prevails - God's or man's?"

The hierarchy of wills

Look around at the world. Or stare into your own mirror. It seems as though man is currently winning the battle of wills with God. Is God letting man win this battle? Or is man more powerful than God? Or is God "the perfect Gentleman," Who will not step on man's tender little toes, even when it would be good for man if He did?

It's vital to remember that God is still working toward His ultimate goals. And it's also important to keep in mind that God is supernaturally patient (2 Peter 3:8-9). To look around and see what's currently going on and assume this is as good as it gets is being shortsighted.

I submit to you that God's will is infinitely higher and more powerful than man's. And God will eventually accomplish all of His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

But you must look into the future with the eyes of faith to see it.

God's will prevails in judgment

God, "the perfect Gentleman," judges humanity against humanity's will.

As Noah was putting the finishing touches on the ark, CNN polled people and asked, "Do you want to drown in the massive flood?". Not surprisingly, 100% of people polled did not want to die in the flood. But they all died, except those in the ark. God stepped on a few toes that day, and His will prevailed in judgment. (Note: He's not done with these people yet.)

Jesus said in John 5,

28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (Revised Standard Version)

Do you think those who are in the sleep of death will be happy to be raised to face Jesus in the resurrection of judgment? No. But God's will prevails over man's in judgment.

Raise your hand if you want to be cast into the lake of fire at the great white throne judgment. No takers? But an innumerable mass of people will be put into the lake of fire - those who are not found written in the book of life (Revelation 20:15). Again, God's will prevails over man's in judgment.

"So," you ask, "God strong-arms the rebellious into judgment? Does God use His almighty will for anythin' good?"

I'm so very glad you asked.

God's will prevails in salvation

Though sometimes God's judgment is necessary, there is also a time for God's ultimate will - salvation.

[God our Savior] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 - King James Version)

Many believe God will save all people and bring them to the truth. Many say God can't do this. Many say God won't do this.

Saul, the hyper-religious Pharisee, hated and persecuted the resurrected Jesus and His followers. With bad intentions, he headed from Jerusalem to Damascus to rough up some Christians.

Jesus met Saul on the way with His own set of intentions - a completely different, good plan for Saul's life. Jesus confronted him, humbled him, temporarily blinded him, and told him he was fighting a losing battle.

Jesus then overwhelmed Saul with grace, faith and love.

Jesus' foremost persecutor, who called himself "the worst of sinners," was changed by Jesus into one of His greatest ambassadors. Saul became Paul and wrote a large portion of the New Testament. God's will prevailed in the salvation of "the worst of sinners."

"Yeah, but Saul was the exception to the rule." Was he? Keep reading.  

Hyper grace

Paul later wrote about his life-changing encounter with Jesus.

13 I, who formerly was a calumniator [blasphemer] and a persecutor and an outrager: but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief.
14 Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I.
16 But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian.
(1 Timothy 1:13-16 - Concordant Literal New Testament)

Notice the word overwhelms in verse 14. This is the only occurrence of the Greek word huperpleonazo in the Bible. It's a compound word made of huper (from which we get hyper), meaning over or beyond, and pleonazo, meaning to superabound or to exist in abundance.

So we could say that the grace of Jesus over-superabounded Saul. It seriously overwhelmed him. He couldn't stop Jesus' grace. Definition of grace: Favor given to those who deserve the opposite.

Saul couldn't stop Jesus' undeserved favor, even though he deserved judgment. That's GRACE! And it truly is amazing. God's will prevailed in salvation.

"Yeah, but God had a plan for Saul. Like I said before, he's an exception to the rule."

Verse 16 tells us Saul was the pattern for those who would believe on Jesus, not the exception.

We are all saved by the same general pattern of Saul. We are ignorantly rebellious in unbelief, confronted by the supernaturally-patient Jesus, humbled, shown mercy, overwhelmed by His grace, reconciled to Him. That's how He accomplishes 1 Timothy 2:4.

But wait! There's more!

Image result for Billy Mays

"Hi! Billy Mays here! You'll not just receive Jesus' undeserved favor, you'll also receive - FREE of charge and with NO shipping and handling costs - faith and love!" 

Notice in verse 14 above that Jesus didn't just overwhelm Saul with grace, but with faith and love.

Jesus gives us the faith that is essential to believe in Him. And the love we need to properly relate to Him. Talk about gifts! Merry Christmas indeed! Four for the price of none - Jesus, grace, faith and love.

It cost Saul absolutely nothing in this transaction (which is always the case when you get a gift). Jesus did all the work. And Saul got this while he was on his way to persecute Jesus' followers. Yeah, Jesus stepped on Saul's toes, and His will prevailed in salvation!

Notice verse 15 - "Jesus came into the world to save sinners." This is part of His enormous, but doable, mission from His Father. ♪♫One sinner at a tiiiiiiiime, sweet Jesus!♫♪

He'll finish this mission. All sinners will be saved, even if billions of toes get bruised in the process.

Lost sheep are found

Image result for sheep being drug away image
"Hey Jesus. I've, uh, been looking for You. No, really!"
Jesus said in John 10:11, "I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
When Jesus goes after a lost sheep, doesn't He realize that maybe Fluffy just wants to be left alone?

Well, Jesus has bigger plans for ignorant little Fluffy. And He's got bigger plans for all of us. Yes, all of us have been ignorantly lost sheep. Jesus has rescued some of us. He will eventually rescue all of us because He "is come to save that which was lost" (Matthew 18:11).

Be encouraged by this story.

Then drew near unto [Jesus] all the publicans [tax collectors] and sinners for to hear Him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners, and eats with them."
And He spoke this parable unto them, saying, "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.'
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
(Combination of Matthew 18:13-14 and Luke 15:1-7)

Notice what God's will is - "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Have we not all been little ones? It's God's will that none of us perish.

Can you see from this story the value of every single sheep?

And the lost sheep was passive in his rescue.

Yes, Jesus can save you all by Himself, just like He saved Saul. He doesn't need your help. He'll lay you on His shoulders and get you where you need to be. Then He'll go back out to get the rest of the lost sheep.

That's why He's called "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20).


God's not concerned with being "the perfect Gentleman," Who never violates our wayward wills.

God, as Judge and Savior, will overrule us. He has to. If He didn't, we would remain lost sheep. And that's obviously not His plan for any of us.

God's will will ultimately prevail over man's. And we should be glad it does, because His will is good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2). He knows what He's doing, and He doesn't care if it makes sense to us right now.

God says in Isaiah 46,

9 ... I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure."
Rejoice in this!


P.S. So, does man have free will? I like Dilbert's final answer.



1 comment:

Hey, let's get the conversation going, post a comment.