Thursday, July 2, 2009

7/3- Predestination and Human Responsibility

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

7/3- Predestination and Human Responsibility

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of thine can be thwarted.” Job 42:1,2
The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”

Calvin: [Against the Libertines who held a pantheistic determinism that made God the author of sin]: [they are saying] that man has no free will, any more than if he were a stone…The first of these three wretched consequences is that there would no longer be an difference between God and the devil, for indeed the God which they made for us would be an idol, worse than the devil in hell. The second is that men would no longer have any conscience to avoid evil, but as beasts would follow their sensual appetites without any discretion. The third is that everything would have to be judged as good, whether it be lechery, murder, or larceny; and the most wicked crimes that one can imagine would have to be considered praiseworthy works.

For Calvin how human responsibility and divine sovereignty interact is a great mystery. The human will is in bondage to sin. It is a free will, but we always choose to sin. Yet our will is free in that it is not coerced or made to do what it does not wish to do. Luther and Augustine said the same basic thing.
There is a sense in which God’s plan cannot be thwarted, and yet we are responsible for our actions. For example, it was prophesied that the Son of Man would be betrayed, yet Judas was surely held responsible for his actions. Caesar Augustus issued a decree thousands of miles away from Jerusalem to have people return to their hometowns. He did this freely. Yet, God used this to allow Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. Moody used the illustration of a boat going to England. The passengers on the boat can do anything on the boat- play shuffle board, dance, sing, but they still end up in England. Yet this illustration, while illustrating our will and God’s will are done at the same time, and God’s plan will be achieved falls short of reality. God’s will is done with us, through us, and sometimes despite us.

Prayer: Lord, help us to see the truth of your purpose and our responsibility at the same time.

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