May 28, 2015

Grace, Sovereignty and Free Will

by Beverly Kay

Thinking about God, life and love has always been a part of who I am. Steeped in Scripture in a family that encouraged me to think, ask questions and look at all sides of a situation I grew up a practical theologian. Often I don’t have the academic terms of reference for what I believe, but for me a belief has very little value if it doesn’t truly have an effect on how I live. As I listen to others, or read books, what is said will either ring true in my spirit as lining up with Scripture or there will be an uneasiness that leads me to dig and discover where the fine line of balanced Truth really is. Sometimes that is a short journey. Some things I have wrestled with for a long time. The balance between God’s Gracious Sovereignty and the free will of the human soul is one of those long term struggles. I see the differing sides of the issue, but my heart seeks the balanced Truth, not the easy proof texting that often takes place in this discussion.

Lately, because I work at the reader’s advisory desk at our public library, I have found myself reading a lot of fiction. My goal is to help other readers who want to read something beautiful, real and wholesome. Sometimes that is a challenge, but I have often been pleasantly surprised! Historical fiction is my favourite, especially when the author digs long and hard to present things as honestly and factually as possible even though their main characters are usually invented. I have found that most authors write from their own theological and philosophical frame of reference. Anything less would be a challenge for truly gifted writing flows from the soul and speaks to others.

I just finished a book that began its story in WWII London, England just before the blitz. It was the story of choices, living with the consequences, striving to redeem oneself and the ultimate reality that all along God’s grace was giving opportunities to stop and choose something beyond our own selfish will. My soul resonated with some of the statements made by the main characters, and as I read the conversation with the author segment at the end, I saw why.

The author was asked, “In your mind, does fate or providence determine the outcome?” My heart sang, “YES!” to the core of Meissner’s response. “I believe we’ve been given a free will to choose and that God in His providence sees all and knows all but doesn’t do all.” She gave an example from the book when the oldest sister was reflecting back on a key choice she had made, realizing that at this turning point the she had been given an opportunity by God NOT to make a choice that would prove disastrous, Meissner makes this summation: “God doesn’t make the decision for her; she does. That is the terrifying beauty of free moral choice.” The other reality that was emphasized by this story is that each of our choices affects not only ourselves, but also people around us.

As I pondered this viewpoint, I came to rest on these two thoughts. The first is that God in His gracious sovereignty has opened to us the opportunity to join Him on the Way, to embrace the Truth and receive His Life through Jesus our Saviour. He knew exactly what we needed for salvation and redemption and He provided it all. But scripture makes it very clear that it is ONLY those who believe and receive His Son: walking in the Way, living in the Truth and sharing in the Life that are given the right to be called sons and daughters of God. He has given us the open door, we have to choose whether we will co-operate with His Grace and receive all that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Secondly, as we daily choose to live the Life, speak the Truth and walk in the Way, we are being instruments of God’s grace in the lives of others. As we allow God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done in and through our lives, then we are truly salt and light. We share in the ministry of God’s reconciliation and grace; we open a door to give another the opportunity to choose God’s Way, Truth and Life over their own blind, selfish desires. God cheers us on, encouraging us to choose “His good pleasing and perfect will” over our own, but the choice is still ours to choose. May we daily choose Life and Truth over death and lies, and encourage others to do so as well. Grace in the Journey my friends!  

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