This week’s Gospel Rant is going to be a little heavy on theology; I apologize for that, but theology is something I believe in, so I’m going to go through with it. This is my answer to a question I get often regarding my beliefs on predestination. I welcome questions, comments, and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sin of Sin
The basic problem is as follows: In Romans 9:19, Paul presents a human objection to the doctrine of predestination. It is that, if all mankind is predestined to go up or down, how can man be held responsible for the sin he committed if God initially willed it? The verse reads: “One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist His will?’” (Rom. 9:19) and, in context, it occurs after a discussion of God’s sovereign election of the spiritual nation of Israel (Romans 9:6-18).
In Scripture, Paul’s answer is the same answer God gave to Job—“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” (Rom. 9:20). This answer, obviously, is true. We have no right to question the nature of the cosmos. This answer is meant undoubtedly to humble us and to force us to recognize our small stature in relation to God. But I think there may be another answer, one which might shed more light on the issue of human culpability—one which is also related to God’s sovereign act of creation.
NOTE: What I’m about to say isn’t delineated clearly in Scripture. The closest verse I’ve ever found to supporting my point of view is in John 8:58 when Jesus says “Before Abraham was, I am.” Past that, this is all human logic, which is dangerous; but you can judge for yourself how much John 8:58 supports or opposes me. (In addition, frankly, this issue is merely a tangent to the Christian life. I doubt it’s going to lead anybody to join a cult if they follow me in erring here; but still, I apologize if I’m wrong.)
Here’s the idea: time can be viewed as being constructed via two timelines, one from the perspective of God, and one from the perspective of man. The divine timeline, God’s timeline, all happened in one instant—Adam and Eve sinned, Christ died, and Christ returned to the Earth at the same exact moment, and God enacted every single event that was to take place on the Earth. All of history happened at once on this timeline. On the other timeline, the human timeline, we pass through time chronologically. Therefore, our timeline has only reached September of the year 2012. This doesn’t mean that everything before us hasn’t happened; it means merely that we can’t see it.
What does this have to do with human culpability? Well, although God made His divine timeline in such a way so that everything happened simultaneously, He made our timeline so that we have responsibility over our actions because we don’t know the future. If you knew that tomorrow you were going to cheat on an exam, you could arrange your life in such a way that the opportunity would never come to pass, or you would be strong enough to beat the temptation. Put another way, if you knew that tomorrow you would steal a car, today you could buy a car, thereby defeating your sin. However, as things stand, we don’t know what temptations we will face, so as each moment passes we are responsible for our actions at face value—no cheaters. In this way, God has made us responsible for our sin, although He has destined all things for their end.
There really isn’t any. Again, these blogs are test runs for me, getting my ideas out there and getting some writing practice. Now you can impress people at parties, I suppose (assuming they haven’t already thought of it themselves). Good luck!
Lord, thank You for Your sovereignty! Thank You for Your grace and the peace with which You surround us, and thank You for our friends and families. Help us to be a light to them, both to the unsaved and to the godly, and please keep us close to You. Lead us not into temptation, Lord, but deliver us from evil—You are the only good in our life, the only good light we will ever find. We love You and we worship you as such. Please grant us love for You, and in Jesus’ name,