Question: Do not say, I have free will. I did not chose be born, born with Gods curse on me from the minute of my conception. Therefore, all the pain, suffering, unfair things that I must endure, I inherited because God's choice that this is the way things were going to be! PERIOD! I don't want to be born a cursed sinner with a life of "hell" and THEN, the promise of eternal suffering because two people disobeyed, of which I had NOTHING to do with! The implications of this decision on Gods part, know how much every living creature would suffer and die is beyond my greatest desire to defend God. It is unfair beyond belief!! Don't say that is why He sent Jesus. Jesus as savior is loaded with problematic realities. It is all After the fact that God chose 99.9999999% of people to be Born as creatures with something he says he hates, they hate, and ONLY HE COULD HAVE A WORLD WITH A DIFFERENT OUT COME. After Gen. Chapter 3, everything from that on is a moot point. Gods decision to curse everyone and everything from that one wrong by two people to affect forever the lives of yet unborn billions, is a the greatest disaster to befall mankind EVER! And all before we had one iota to do with it. How can one trust a God like this!
Answer: Let me begin by congratulating you. Although many people voice this complaint, you have an exacting grasp of both the problem and the jeopardy for humankind. Furthermore, you have correctly identified Genesis 3 as the turning point in God’s dealing with our sin! What this means is that I largely agree with your statements. For instance, I agree that our free will has obvious limits; none of us chose to be born—especially with a curse upon us from our first breath. Additionally, this non-optional existence comes with its share of sorrows as part of God’s plan. Furthermore, we are all in eternal peril because of the misdeeds of two people whom we have never even met. And finally, God has plainly declared that this very situation is the formula for death (Rom. 5:12)—and yes, this is the greatest disaster to befall mankind—ever! So, you have a firm grasp of your peril, but you show disdain for the cure. In fact, you do not even want me to say that this is why God sent Jesus…as if that phrase itself were a curse. The problem is, this is exactly why God sent Jesus (John 1:29)—so I must say it! Your peril is real, and only Jesus Christ can redeem. What else could a man say who has read the New Testament?
If you do not change your mind about Jesus Christ, you will perish with a head full of truth and salvation within your grasp. But I can’t make you grab on to it. What puzzles me is, considering the things that you know very well, having Jesus save you is the only reasonable solution. So why haven’t you chosen to take God up on his offer of salvation—the easy and only solution to your woes?
You are obviously mad at God—and who would blame you? Hey, look at what I do for a living…and sometimes I get mad at him! But our anger or our joy is (frankly) beside the point. The sovereign God of the universe has decreed that certain conditions exist, and we are “stuck” with them. Since no amount of complaining will make God change his mind about this (Num. 23:19), and since complaining can only rob resources from the job at hand, wouldn’t it make more sense to find your rest in him first…and deal with your unresolved issues later?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, ESV)
It usually takes some time before our heart knowledge fully aligns with our head knowledge, but what does this mean concerning your question? Since you already know a great deal about what I’m going to say in response, knowledge will not likely appease your anger. Resting in God will…and it will open a few more learning gates, too. That being said, you will never be able to trust the God of the universe until you stop insisting that the universe run on your terms.
Following are seven facts-of-life concerning God and the universe. These might merely reinforce some of your negative feelings, but perhaps the details will take the edge off a few of your objections. I suspect, however, that most of your resistance to God’s ways will be found in fact-of-life #1, which is as follows:
- God is not fair—he is sovereign (Dan. 4:34-35). This is not to say that God is unfair, which is your accusation. It is just that sovereignty trumps fairness; it is above fairness in a way that will not allow fairness to come into consideration. So calling God unfair is a logical “category error.” Look at it this way: if those below a sovereign had the power to determine how a sovereign should behave, he would be a sovereign in name only—which would make him no sovereign at all. Making God answerable to what human beings consider “fairness” would kill his sovereignty.
I would not like it if every decision I made as a parent had to pass through a group of local children to ensure that I was acting fairly within my household. That even sounds strained, doesn’t it? But that’s what you’re asking God to do when you call him “unfair.” Just as small children do not understand the higher workings of parental “sovereignty,” so humans do not understand the highest workings of the Divine. Therefore, it is unreasonable to criticize God for not conforming to a lower standard. But note this well: at some point redemption makes everyone uncomfortable. That might be too bad…but it is not unfair.
- God is infinitely holy (Isa. 6:3), so even the smallest sin is an infinite offense to him. How could we, the finite, ever approach God, the infinitely holy, with even the hint of sin? We simply cannot. And whether or not you think this is fair, the fact remains: Adam’s sin fouled our blood, making it forever offensive to the hyper-holiness of God (Rom. 5:12). Adam’s is the first sin that Jesus died for…but not the only one. We all have our own transgressions, too—from the least of us to the best of us—and these would kick-in if Adam’s weren’t first in line. As such, you are complaining about Adam’s sin affecting us, when there is no practical difference between his imputed sin and our volitional sin. One or the other will send us to hell.
I agree with you that God’s creating a volitional people was tantamount to creating a sinful people…but tantamount is not equivalent. A willful act was still required before a person could be condemned, and humanity jumped in with both feet. Adam sinned and we sin. Yes, it’s awful that we sin…or that we are somehow compelled to sin through Adam…but we cannot retroactively clean ourselves, so we must either take God’s remedy or die forever. Again, what’s the problem? Grab onto God’s offer of salvation! (John 3:16).
- Redemption through Jesus Christ is the only remedy for sin (Eph. 1:7). You understand this very well. Indeed, it seems to be your main complaint. But I beg of you, do not allow God’s mercy to become the thing you hate. That would be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in that you would be making a concerted and continual effort to fight the Holy Spirit’s witness of Jesus Christ—and in this day, you would also be fighting the testimony of God’s completed Scripture! Among those who know the gospel yet do not respond, willful disobedience and a hardening of the heart are the primary causes (Mat 12:22-32)—not cleverness or wisdom.
- Life comes upon you unbidden and it lasts forever (Mat 25:46). You are powerless to create it or to stop it. Sure, it is possible to kill the body—this iteration of it, anyway—but we are more than just a body. Our real essence, that which currently inhabits a body, will last forever. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to find out what God wants us to do with our essential personhood—not what we insist that such a God should want if he were thinking straight.
Many philosophers teach that we do not have everlasting natures, and considering the Christian imperative, I can see why. Materialism insists that matter and energy account for everything and that there is no supernatural dimension. So, when life ends…life ends. Some cults teach annihilation as a way around everlasting torment—that certain categories of persons will cease to exist while others continue. But the Bible will have none of this—and neither will nature—because even in the absence of philosophy or the Bible, people seem to understand that we have an existence beyond the physical world. Nonetheless, anti-supernatural philosophers, false religious teachers and their ilk have talked people out of the obvious (Rom 1:18-22)—that we are soulish creatures who possess self-awareness, a sense of history, hope for the future and other extra-materialistic characteristics. As such, we will go on…and on and on and on…. It makes more sense to experience eternity on God’s terms.
- God created everything for his glory (Psa. 19:1-6). Therefore, carping at him militates against the primary purpose for the universe. Before creation, God was perfectly complete as the Self-Existent One, having fellowship within the Godhead and having no external needs. Yet there was one type of the glory that could not be realized without an external creation—the glory given by the creation itself. So God created a universe that would speak to his power and glory—and this includes us, human beings.
- We humans have free will. (1 John 3:23; John 5:40). Our free will has limits, of course. For instance, none of us can determine the time or place of our births or the course of our lives as infants. After that, however, we are increasingly able to affect our lives and the lives of others through conscious actions. God has made us as moral free-agents who can choose to love him or choose to hate him. Neither God nor the devil makes us do anything. We always ultimately choose for ourselves—and this is entirely fair! (Remembering, of course, that God is under no requirement to administer fairness, but it sometimes exists collaterally as good.)
But are we truly volitional? Again, let us take our answer from the obvious. You can pat your dog, curse God or run out into your yard. Go ahead—try it! Nothing will stop you. You are free at any time to think any thoughts or perform any activities that are within your capabilities. But since you could either do them or not do them at any given instant (reminiscent of Schrödinger’s cat), neither outcome is predetermined.
If God insisted on a particular outcome for the world (as your question posits that this might be a better thing for him to do) that would be him interfering in the free will of humankind, and thereby defeating his purpose for creation—and logic demands that God cannot work against his own purposes. So, you cannot have it both ways: you cannot have God create us as free moral agents who are able to choose whether or not to love him, and also make us love him or force a positive outcome. Such a notion is illogical at its core, and God cannot “do” anything illogical because anything illogical works against his nature. Since forcing people to love him would change the very nature of love (which is also part of God’s essence [1 John 4:8]), we are stuck with our volitional lives and their probable detritus.
- God deals in justice and in mercy—there are no exceptions (Rom. 2:5; Eph. 2:4-5). A just God must punish wrongdoing, and every human ever born is a wrongdoer (Rom. 3:23). What this means is by the time we even realize that we are in court, we have already been found guilty! And who could blame you for hating that! But that is indeed our situation, so I feel that the shock is warranted. It forces us to ask, how can a condemned person stay out of jail? Only by God’s mercy.
People misunderstand God’s mercy, and the most common mistake is to “claim it” without admitting guilt. Mercy is not for those who claim any degree of innocence. It is only for those who have been officially declared guilty. So, if a defendant said to the judge, “Your Honor, I am innocent of this crime—and I throw myself upon the mercy of the court!” That would be nonsensical. Mercy is only for the guilty—and the defendant is claiming innocence.
But this is how the average person approaches God. He just doesn’t think that he is guilty…and he suspects that God’s mercy will somehow make him innocent of sin. But this is not how God’s mercy works. Only a guilty person may legitimately plead for mercy. So, if that same defendant said, “Your Honor, I am indeed guilty—and I throw myself upon the mercy of the court,” the judge might adjust the sentencing. That’s what God does—he adjusts the sentencing—but only for those who admit their guilt before appealing to his mercy.
The redemption of humankind through Jesus Christ (Fact-of-Life #3) is God’s mercy. Just as the sovereign God of the universe determines how he will administer justice and mercy, so he determines the nature of that mercy. He had determined before the foundations of the world that humankind would be redeemed through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:20). And every fan of fairness should appreciate this: his mercy is available to all. This means that any soul who abandons his own futile efforts at appeasing God and rests instead in Christ’s substitutionary death for his sins, has received God’s mercy, which is evidenced in his jail sentence being changed to one with no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
God did not make arbitrary decisions about creating and running the universe. Every particle, every idea and every methodology must be consistent with the core of his being. The problem is that what we see does not line up with the core of our beings…and certainly not with our preferences! But think about it for a minute. If God allowed us to run the universe, wouldn’t we wind up with a world that looked like a monkey running a balloon factory? Many people would think that it was fun, but what would we have? Latex, a monkey, some air…and probably a lot of popping. But God wants more for us, so he takes his ideas to where they must go and in the manner that they must go to get there. Any alternatives to God’s methodologies are fanciful notions that could never produce God’s will.
Are we still at loggerheads? You originally asked, “How can one trust a God like this!” But now that we have considered God’s true nature, the necessity that the universe works in the way it does and the remedy that God has put in place for all of these human-caused problems, are you ready to say, “How can one not trust a God like this!” I pray that you can—because eternity is not an option.