GOD'S WILL IS SOVEREIGN. His is the only "free will" in the universe. That
has been pounded home in this magazine [Unsearchable Riches] for over 85 years,
but it cannot be overemphasized. Man's will is a complex mixture of several components, not
one of which is under sewn's independent control. In the final analysis, God is in
complete control of our lives, for "out of Him and through Him and for Him is all:
to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!" (Rom.11:36). We (and all else), are created
out of God, and "in Him we are living and moving and are" (Acts 17:28).
He is the "One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His
will" (Eph.1: 11).
The greatest "decision" of our lives, to
believe God, came about because of His choice. For "in grace, through faith,
are you saved, and this is not out of you; it is God's approach present not of
works, lest anyone should be boasting" (Eph.2:8,9; cf Eph.1:4; Rom.8:28-30; 9:9-18).
These are unequivocal statements of God. As to our experience in faith, His declaration is
equally definite: "...for it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to
work for the sake of His delight" (Phil.2:13). If our wills are thus controlled
in these great "decisions," should we quibble about man's part in the lesser
Think on the decision of Joseph's brothers,
mean-spirited, jealous men, who sold Joseph into Egypt. Later, as they were trembling
before Joseph in Egypt he reassured them: "And now, you must not grieve, and it must
not be hot in your eyes, that you sell me hither, for to preserve life the Elohim
sends mew before you" (Gen.45:5). The will of the brothers to eliminate Joseph
was caused by Elohim!* [*Read the story in Genesis chapters 37-45.]
THANKING AND GLORIFYING GOD AS GOD
An early section of Romans discusses
the conduct of mankind, and this section climaxes with the finding that "Not one is
just -- not even one" (Rom.3:10). One of the major charges is that
"knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him" (Rom.1: 21). The key
phrase here is the words "not as God." Thus we have italicized the words in the
quotation, "as God," but what do they mean? The context defines them. "For
His invisible attributes are descried from the creation of the world, being apprehended by
His achievements, besides His imperceptible power and divinity..." (Rom.1:20). So we
should glorify and thank Him as Creator, Who creates and sustains the universe with power
Recognition of God as Creator is apparently fading.
Science flits from one theory to another, but it seems not many of the intelligent today
attribute the creation to the Creator.
Now let us consider His power and divinity. The Greek
word translated "power" in the CV, has been assigned the standard equivalent
ABILITY. "Divinity," the qualities pertaining to God, bring to mind His
PLACERship. Thus He has the ability to place His creatures in the right place and at the
right time to carry out His intention, and ultimately His will. His will is that humans
recognize and glorify Him as God. The counsel (intention) of His will determines the
degree to which all humans believe and follow His will. Our will should be to accept thank
and glorify Him as God; as believers we have the great advantage over the unbeliever of
believing His Word which reveals His will.
Unbelievers and those without His Word have
consciences and "reckonings between one another." By nature, they may be
carrying out some, at least, of the demands of the law (Rom.2: 14). They may fear God,
recognize His power, and even to a limited extent "glorify and thank Him as
God," even though knowing only what nature itself manifests to them.
Failure to fully recognize God as God is costly, for
it adversely affects the quality of human minds, the objects of their worship, even as
conduct (Rom.1:21-32). Perhaps every generation is shocked by what it perceives as
declining morality and increasing violations of the instincts of humans, and if so, I am
no different for it seems to me that "God is giving them over" to
"uncleanness, dishonorable passions" and "to a disqualified mind, to do
that which is not befitting" (Rom.1:24,26,28,29) at an increasing rate.
Could believers participate in any of these? That may
be rare in the more flagrant offenses. But failure to glorify and thank Him as God seems
almost universal if we include a recognition of His deity as a criterion. Let us quote
from the book THE PROBLEM OF EVIL AND THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD by A. E. Knoch, page 121:
"God's will is not only ignored by the world
today, but even His saints set it aside, or water it down to a mere wish. How few there
are who hold that the universe is being operated according to the counsel of His will! It
has become the fashion to say that will means wish, and the margins of some Bibles do not
hesitate to change it to desire. We are assured that God does not will all mankind to be
saved, but merely desires it and since man wills otherwise, He is quite powerless and
impotent before the superior force of human determination. God is He Who is operating in
us to will (Phil.2:13), yet even those who teach a "fun surrender" insist that
our own will is to be the means of honoring Him. The truth is that man's will is always
opposed to God's, and the saints are safe only so long as they accept His will, as
revealed in the Scriptures, and reject their own."
DOES HIS OPERATION INCLUDE EVIL?
Obviously, if we accept God's statement that He
operates all in accord with the counsel of His will, then He must be operating the evil,
for it would surely have to be included in all. Admittedly, that puts a severe
strain on the faith of even the most sincere and earnest believers, for, consciously or
not, they jump to the false conclusion that God must therefore sin, and no believer will
stand for that. The answer lies in a study of the meaning of the words evil and sin.
Such a study will show that evil has no moral bias, that God can and does operate evil,
and does not sin in the process.
Evil is here, all around us. News reports are
concerned with little else. God must have created it for all is out of Him. And
it surely was not unforeseen, for He provided its remedy long before sin's entrance, with
the blood of the cross of Christ, "foreknown, indeed, before the disruption of the
world" (1 Peter 1:20). God boldly and openly says that He creates evil. Listen to His
words through the prophet Isaiah: "I am Yahweh, and there is no other. Former of
light and Creator of darkness, Maker of good and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh make all
these things" (Isa.45: 6,7). The counsel of God's will says that we must suffer evil,
that He may ultimately bring about His will of universal good. Evil is temporary; it will
end when it has served its purpose.
Without minimizing the untold groans and travails of
His creatures, yet expecting the future deliverance of our bodies, our hearts still can
sing when we see God's character cleared from the confusion of misunderstanding, and when
the earnest questions about God's failure to stop the evil in the world can be answered.
Evil has a purpose, just as all of God's creations. He wants us to know good, to
be able to return His love, and to perceive that He is accomplishing His purpose by
subjecting us to vanity "in expectation that the creation itself, also, shall be
freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of
God" (Rom.8:20-22). God planted a tree in the garden which first and foremost gives
us the knowledge of good, and does so through the knowledge of evil. That is implicit in
the name of the tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
MAN'S WILL - ITS PROBLEM AND THE
Early in this article we mentioned the complex
mixture which goes into the human will. The components are succinctly described in
Ephesians 2:1-3. "And you, being dead to your offenses and sins, in which once you
walked, in accord with the eon of this world, in accord with the chief of the
jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of
stubbornness (among whom we also all behaved ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing
the will of the flesh and of the comprehension...."
So the human will may be made up of a combination of
these: (1) influence from Satan or his workers; (2) influence from the flesh, a
complicated mix of heredity, often influenced by the condition of one's body at any given
time (e.g., hunger); and (3) one's evaluation (comprehension) of an environment or
situation in which one finds himself. It is clear that we are by no means in control of
our wills. God controls all the factors. If we had all the facts, perhaps with a
super-super computer we could predict accurately a human's response to any situation. God
has all the facts, controls them all and has the ability to predict the response (which
may range from deeds of benignity to malignant sin), and is doing just that with billions
of His creatures constantly!
We all have walked in accord with the above
influences. "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest (being
attested by the law and the prophets), yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ's
faith, for all, and on all who are believing..." (Rom.3:21,22). Jesus Christ's faith
has changed the whole picture and will have universal effects. Now there can be no
question of God's righteousness. The evil is justified! The sins of mankind justified!
God's own righteousness is for all and even now reckoned to believers! And new factors
have entered the make-up of the wills of believers. God's spirit is given to the saints,
sealing us "with the holy spirit of promise" (Eph.1:14). The Scriptures have
been completed, for it was granted to Paul "to complete the word of God"
(Col.1:25). We now have all that we need to know about God's will as revealed in the
Scriptures. "So that, if anyone is in Christ there is a new creation: the primitive
passed by. Lo! there has come new!" (2 Cor.5:17).
In place of influence from without from the
"chief of the jurisdiction of the air, the spirit now operating in the sons of
stubbornness" we have, through Christ's obedience, through hearing the evangel of our
salvation, on believing also, God's own spirit within us. The flesh is no longer the
dominant influence. Our comprehension is not confused by worldly, contradictory
impressions which often do not represent the true state of, affairs, but is directed to
God's Word and the revelation of His will in the gift of His Son.
A RENEWED MIND
Now, perhaps beset by corruption and deterioration
of our bodies even as by evils without we may be encouraged by a renewed mind, recognizing
that God has a purpose in evil, that it will play a part in His becoming All in all.
Consequently, we will regard our distresses as momentary light afflictions, producing for
us a transcendently transcendent eonian burden of glory (2 Cor.4:17,18). Thus, even now,
while groaning in these bodies and horrified by events outside, in the midst of it all, we
can indeed glorify and thank Him as God!