God Is in Control, But Our Actions Play an Important Role

God Is in Control, But Our Actions Play an Important Role

Section 1: God

Week 4: God Is Sovereign Over and Active in the World

Day 5: God Is in Control, But Our Actions Play an Important Role


Josh. 24:1-15


If everything is determined by God’s plan, it sounds like we have no choice but to do what we do. That concerns many because it seems to reduce us to nothing more than slaves to God’s will. So the question we need to consider is: how do we reconcile our freedom and God’s all-encompassing plan?

An Illustration from our Planning Process

When I was in high school, before I called a girl, I tried to work through every possible way that conversation could go. If I opened this way, what would she say? What would I say in response? Would it lead to an awkward pause? Would I panic and hang up? Yes. Better go another route. What if I start off with a joke? Even worse. What if I tried this…?

On it would go until I saw a path that would lead to a relatively smooth conversation. In each possible conversation I tried to picture how she would respond to what I said and how I would respond to what she then said. I was planning out the conversation ahead of time. But, once the conversation started, we were each actually responding to what was being said the way we naturally would.

God’s Planning Process

What if God’s planning process were similar, though obviously on a much grander scale? By virtue of his omniscience, before he created the universe, God was able to consider every possible way events could unfold. He knew if he started with this set of laws and that set of initial conditions, and if he created people with these personalities and they took certain actions, and if he took certain actions in response, he’d end up with a world that looked one way. If he changed any one of the various pieces of the puzzle, he’d end up with a world that looked different.

In that way, God knew what every possible world would look like, determined what the best possible world would be, and created that world.

Our Choices Still Have Meaning

Admittedly that means our world is determined by God in the sense that events will inevitably take a certain course and that course was specifically chosen by God. But our choices in this world are not forced upon us. They flow naturally from who we are. We don’t simply choose what God wants us to choose in a given set of circumstances, as if we were mere robots. We also choose what we want in those circumstances. And things don’t actually happen until we choose to act.

The bottom line is our choices and actions are significant. It’s true that God knows what we will do in advance and he has planned accordingly. But the fact remains that our actions are a necessary component of the unfolding of God’s plan. God’s sovereign plan doesn’t play out in reality until we make a free choice.

Reflection Questions:

What has God been teaching you throughout this study? What changes has he been leading you to make in response? Have you made those changes?

Challenge:

If there are any changes you have not yet made, commit right now to make them and develop a plan to put them into practice.

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