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.
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.
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