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Christian Living

Freedom in Jesus

Our Right Standing with Christ Frees Us from Rules, but Don’t Abuse This Freedom

Jesus’s sacrificial death releases us from the obligation of Old Testament laws. We have freedom in Jesus and don’t need to follow rules. Instead, we follow Jesus.

Yet we need to guard against getting carried away with our freedom. The Bible has much to say on the subject.

Free in the Spirit

Paul writes to the church in Corinth that Jesus (the Lord) is Spirit. Through his Spirit we have freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Free in Christ

Paul reminds the church in Galatia, that Jesus has set them free, free from sin. Therefore, they aren’t obligated to be weighed down by being slaves to rules and regulations.

Free to Do Good

Yet some of the people in the church in Corinth overreach when they pursue their freedom through Jesus. They claim that they had the right to do anything, but Paul points out that not everything is beneficial. Not everything is constructive.

Instead of doing whatever they want to do, they should seek to use their freedom to do good for others (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

Free to Love One Another

In similar fashion, Paul writes to the church in Galatia. He reminds them that they are free through Jesus. But this doesn’t give them the freedom to pursue self-gratification, that is, to indulge in human desires. Instead, they should use their freedom in Jesus to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Free to Live

Peter also confirms what Paul says, writing that we are to live as free people (that is, not under the law or bound by rules). We must take care, however, not to use this freedom in Jesus as a cover for evil living, that is, as an excuse to sin (1 Peter 2:16).

We have freedom in Jesus to do what is right and to benefit others. Click To Tweet

Freedom in Jesus

We have freedom in Jesus to do what is right and to benefit others, not out of obligation but as a response to what Jesus did for us.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

An Example of Predestined Free Will

God Already Knows the Outcome of the Choices We Will Make

People debate the issue of free will versus predestination. That is, do we make our own decisions or has God predetermined the outcome? The answer is yes. Both have an element of truth to them. And they can comfortably coexist without being in conflict.

Consider Reading a Book

Though this analogy breaks down if we carry it too far, consider reading a book.

We read through the book chronologically, page by page. The people in the story move forward in their journey through time, minute by minute, day by day. At each step they face decisions.

Do they fight or do they flee? Do they answer with wisdom or foolishly? Do they react to external forces in a way that makes their situation better or worse?

As we read along, we see the decisions they make. We may agree or disagree with their choices. We may implore them to do the opposite of what they’re about to do: to not walk through that door, to answer their phone, or to apologize while they have the chance.

Yet at each juncture, they decide the next step on their journey. Their destiny resides with them. Their reaction to what confronts them sends them down one path or another.

In this way, we live their lives with them, decision by decision. They have free will to choose their fate. Sometimes they react well and other times they flounder.

Yet in the big picture, the book has already been written. The author knows each decision that each character will make at each juncture. The author knows the ending, and it will not change. In this sense the story proceeds as though each step, as well as the ending, was predestined.

Free Will Versus Predestination

The tension we feel between free will and predestination is one of perspective. God, who lives outside the space-time he created, gives us free will to make our own decisions. In this way, we control our destiny.

Yet viewing our lives in totality, from beginning to end, our omniscient God knows the decisions we have made and will make. In this way, just as a book already written, he knows the end that our decisions will bring us to.

Pray that we will make the right decisions to produce the best possible, God-honoring outcomes with our lives. Click To Tweet

Though this might cause us to claim that God has predestined our outcome, in truth, he simply knows the end of our story.

We can receive this understanding with resigned futility and do nothing to determine our future. Or we can embrace this as an opportunity to pray that we will make the right decisions to produce the best possible, God-honoring outcomes with our lives.

Each choice is ours, and God knows each decision we will make.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God’s Sovereignty At Work

In the story of Jonah, we see God’s sovereignty at work, with God exercising control over nature. Here’s what God does:

Furthermore, God’s sovereignty allows him to show mercy towards the people of Nineveh and not destroy them as he had originally planned.

However, God does not exercise control over Jonah, allowing him to do what he wants, when he chooses,and how pleases. Jonah has free will—and God does not interfere with that even though Jonah’s choices cause him a lot of grief.

God gives Jonah the freedom to mess up—or to do what is right.  That’s God’s sovereignty at work. That’s how God rolls.

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s new book, Dear Theophilus, Minor Prophets: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Can Free Will and Predestination Coexist?

We have the right to choose, but God knows our decision

Some people insist that God gave us free will to make our own decisions, that we hold our future in our hands. Others claim our future has already been set, that God charts our course, with the outcome predestined.

Which is it?

Both.

Creation and the Timespace Continuum

Let’s start at the beginning. Actually, let’s start before the beginning. Before God’s creation.

God is an eternal being without beginning or end. He exists outside our spacetime reality. When he created us and the space we live in, he created time, too. Consider the spacetime continuum. If he made space, he had to make time, because the two are inseparable.

To him there is no past or future. I suppose this means he sees everything as a present, existent reality.

However, our existence unfolds as we move through the time he created for us to live in. Because we are bound by time, we see our future as unknown, something yet to be determined. Therefore, the question of free will and predestination seems to us as an either/or proposition. But to God, it isn’t.

God, who exists outside of time, doesn’t have the constraints we have. Click To Tweet

Our Perspective of Time

God, who exists outside of time, doesn’t have the constraints we have.

Though our minds are finite, and our reasoning has limits, here’s how I reconcile the two. God gives us free will to choose. But he already knows what those decisions are. Because of his awareness, one not bound by time, he knows our future as if it is the present.

What we see as an unknown future, he sees as a known reality. To God our future is foreknown. In essence, it’s predestined. It will happen for us in our future even though it’s in the present for him. It’s known in advance, predestined, because he sees the outcomes of the free will that he gave us.

Though God allows us to choose our future, he already knows what those choices are. Nothing we do surprises him. In this way, our future is predestined, even though we have the free will to choose it.

And since he already knows what will happen to us in our future reality, he works things out for our best (Romans 8:28-29).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Don’t Help Me, God: Instead Make Me

As I read the Psalms in the Amplified Bible this week, a curious phrase jumped out. The writer says to God, “Make me understand the way of your precepts.”

Notice, he didn’t ask for assistance by saying, “Help me.” He was direct; he implored God to “Make me.”

The NIV reads, “Cause me to understand the way of your precepts.” That’s not as strong as “make me,” but it’s still much different than “help me.”

I’m dismayed to admit that while I often ask God to “help me,” I’ve never once implored the Almighty to “make me” do anything.

Saying, “help me” suggests I’m in charge and merely want God’s assistance. Saying, “make me” acknowledges his power and relinquishes control to him, letting him be in charge instead of me.

I think I’ll reform my prayers. Instead of asking God to help me, I’ll allow him to make me. I expect a profound difference.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 119, and today’s post is on Psalm 119:27.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Free Will and Predestination

A theological conundrum is the concept of free will versus predestination. While the Bible teaches that we have the ability to make our own choices (we have free will), it also says that things are predetermined (predestined). Which is it?

It is both, presenting us with a delightful paradox. Though my mind somewhat grasps this as a holistic, unified truth, I am woefully unable to articulate it.

It helps a little to consider that one understanding of “predestined” is to “foreknow.” Another helpful consideration is to realize that God —who created time-space, exists outside of time—likely seeing the past, present, and future as a singular reality.

However, it is the book of Daniel that gives me the most help.

A prophecy is given about evil king Nebuchadnezzar. Because of his prideful arrogance, he will be struck with insanity until he acknowledges God (free will) and for seven years (predestination).

Free will and predestination are not mutually exclusive concepts, but opposite sides of the same coin.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 4-6, and today’s post is on Daniel 4:25.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God as the Master

God as the Master

The next word picture for God, is him as the master and we as his servants.

With God as our master we see him as being in charge; he is the boss and directs our activities.

Extending this image to us, there is a need to follow directives, to listen to him and obey him. We do have a choice (free will), however, and can choose to not obey, but that would make us to be an unfaithful servant.

Also, there is also the reminder that we can only truly serve one master: God or something else: be it money, things, a job, a person or relationship, amassing power, attaining prestige, or even leisure.

[Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:24, 1 Samuel 3:10, Matthew 25:21]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.