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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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God Is In Control?

Posted by admin in January 1st, 2018
Published in Uncategorized

I love my church. And I love my pastor. I really appreciate our young pastor’s preaching and teaching. His sermon on Sunday focused on all the details that had to come together in order for Christ to be born in the appointed place at the appointed time to the appointed people. Miracles really–every single detail. But there was one thing our pastor said that I have been mulling over and over in my head: God’s will is always accomplished and God is in control of all things. This I’m not so sure about. And for all of you Twila Paris fans, please hear me out.

Every time a human being is murdered – God’s will is not being done. Each time a person chooses to lie – God’s will is not being done. When a woman is raped or a father is killed by a drunken driver – God’s will is not done. When a helpless baby is aborted or a spouse cheats or a man beats his wife or a child is molested – NONE of these are God’s will. In fact, countless times around the world in thousands upon thousands of lives, God’s will is not being done daily. Sin is never God’s will. And in those moments when humankind chooses not to obey God, without a doubt, God’s will is not done. This might be the reason Jesus told us to pray to the Father, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” i.e. Pray for His will because it is not being done.

So, where am I going with this? Not a great blog to start the New Year. Maybe. But here’s what I think. I believe that even when God’s will is not done in my life, He somehow, sovereignly turns it for my good. That if I surrender my life to Him and ask Him to live in me and through me, He is able and willing to take the worst circumstances of my life and use them for His glory and for His purposes.

I think that is what happened with Joseph. I honestly do not believe God’s will was for those terrible brothers (after discussing his murder), to sell him into slavery. God’s will could have been accomplished in and through a plan that did not involve sin. Who knows how the story would have played out? But nevertheless, God ran the endgame and fed His people during a time of famine through Joseph’s eventual rule. I don’t believe it was God’s will for Potiphar’s wife to lie, or for the wine taster and the baker to forget their promises to Joseph. But the story of Joseph illustrates that even when the worst of circumstances block, hinder, waylay, and reroute us, as followers of God we can say with Joseph, “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for he brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people” (Gen 50:20). So, yes. Eventually God’s purposes were fulfilled, but I do not believe this was His perfect plan.

Dallas Willard stated it much better than I, “What is ‘the kingdom of God?’ It is the range of God’s effective will, where what God wants done is done. It is, like God himself, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:17). The planet Earth and its immediate surroundings seem to be the only place in creation where God permits his will to not be done.” Semantically, I guess you can say that if He permits His will NOT to be done, then He is ultimately in control. I’m getting dizzy.

But here’s the main thing: It all points back to God’s Redemptive Power. When that individual hurts me and abuses me; when that person in power refuses to do the right thing; when that spouse is unfaithful; when that search committee doesn’t hire; when that son leaves the teaching of Scripture; when that criminal steals; when the Earth moans and groans with pain, I know I can say with all certainty, my God is able to work all of these things to my good according to Romans 8:28 and He is able to redeem the worst that life throws at me and though His will is not being done here on Earth, I know there will come a time and a day when His Kingdom will reign forever and ever and ever. And therefore I hold on to His promises and I pray, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!” And I wait for that day, but that day isn’t here yet.

When I say that I don’t believe God is in control, I don’t mean that in the long-term way. He will ultimately be in control. But think of it this way: we have very clear traffic laws in the USA that govern how we should and shouldn’t drive. These are excellent laws that protect people and are enforced as often as they can be, but they are not in control of drivers who decide to disobey them. God is in charge and watching and waiting and loving and fulfilling and caring and wooing–He has a plan. But right now in our fallen world He is not in absolute control and that is how sin is still able to function here on this planet. We are living in a Kingdom that has hostile occupants and though our King is Ruler and Sovereign, there are rebels in the land that wreak havoc and certain parts of the Kingdom are held by hostile forces. He’s coming. I’m sure of it. But right now, it’s a promise not a reality. What is a reality? That God will have the last word and that as I cling to Him and hold tight to His word, He will see me through to the end. II Timothy 1:12, “Still, I am not ashamed; for I know Him [and I am personally acquainted with Him] whom I have believed [with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in the truth of His deity], and I am persuaded [beyond any doubt] that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day [when I stand before Him]” (AMP). Peace.

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35499. prgjohnson said,
January 2nd, 2018 at 11:50 am

Great words, Teri! I totally agree. God’s will does not include the horrific things that people do to other people.

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35500. Noel Horton--Another Viewpoint said,
January 3rd, 2018 at 7:32 am

Teri, you raise an important question; one that has plagued humanity for millennia: how can evil exist if God is good and omnipotent? I suggest that the argument above compromises God’s attributes (i.e., His goodness, omniscience, sovereignty, and/or omnipotence). While it’s good for the finite to wrestle to understand the infinite, our efforts to comprehend risk misrepresentation of the Almighty. There are excellent resources explaining how God’s goodness is not compromised because He ordains evil to exist. Here are two: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-it-make-god-evil-to-ordain-evil and https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/is-god-less-glorious-because-he-ordained-that-evil-be

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35501. admin said,
January 4th, 2018 at 7:25 am

Hi Noel and thanks for your comment. Actually, I am very familiar with John Piper. In fact his book “Spectacular Sin” (just the title alone) causes me to choke a little. I’d like to keep the discussion focused on what Scripture says and not what Piper says. So please, can you show me examples in the Bible where God ordains, approves, sanctions, or condones sin? Sin is never God’s will and the definition of sin actually means a violation of God’s will. Does our Omnipotent and Loving and All-Knowing God take the evil things of this world and turn them for good? Yes! But redemption is much different than ordination. Sin is never, ever God’s will. The purpose of the blog was not to ask the question, “Why does evil exist?” The purpose was to rejoice that in this evil, fallen, broken world our powerful God can take the worst things in our lives and turn them for His glory and our good when we surrender everything to Him. God indeed has a plan for this planet, but to say it has already been fulfilled is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture. The fact is Jesus conquered death and yet we still die because the Last Trumpet has not yet sounded and Jesus coming again has not yet occurred. But I anxiously await the day when Jesus rules and reigns over all the heavens and earth and sin and death and rebellion are no more. That is our hope! That is our promise!

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35503. artandsoulfoto said,
January 5th, 2018 at 11:02 am

Such a good post Teri. Thanks for your thought-provoking and illuminating words.

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35505. Noel Horton--Another Viewpoint said,
January 5th, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Isaiah 45:7 “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things”. (KJV translates “calamity” as “evil”)—God ordains calamity.

Amos 3:6 “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (KJV translates “disaster” as “evil”)—God ordains disaster

Deut. 32: 39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” –God ordains death, which is our enemy

2 Sam 12:15, 18 “…And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David…On the seventh day the child died” –God ordains sickness and death

Exodus 4:11 “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” –God ordains disease and handicaps

2 Kings 17:25 “And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord. Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.” –God ordains destructive animals

Job lost his children, property, and health through the evil of satan. Yet satan had to get God’s permission to inflict these evils on Job, and the loss of Job’s property, livestock, and servants was perpetrated through sin. God was not the author of this evil, yet He ordained it for His purposes.

2 Corinthians 12:7 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”—A messenger of satan, but controlled by God

Gen 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”—God knew Joseph before he was conceived, and He was in control [i.e., sovereign over] all the events of his life, including his being sold into slavery, his being falsely charge with trying to molest Potiphar’s wife, and his being forgotten and left in an Egyptian prison.

Psalm 105:16-19 “When he [God] summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.”—God ordained Joseph’s testing, and sins were committed by those who unwittingly carried out the testing that God ordained. God could have blocked the sins, but He ordained them that Joseph’s faith might glorify him, and that many lives might be saved.

Acts 4:27-28 “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”—God predestined the murder of His Son. Some could say that while God planned Christ’s suffering, He didn’t plan the sin; however, Christ’s sufferings would not have occurred except by the sin; therefore, even the free actions of men were ordained by God (Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief)

Matt 26:24 “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” –God ordained Judas’ betrayal of Christ but did so without compromising Judas’ freewill

Rev. 13:8 “and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” –God didn’t plan Christ’s death as a way to fix things after man sinned. Christ’s death and resurrection were a part of the plan before the foundation of the world. God made the world knowing we would sin. He could have prevented it, but He didn’t. He created the world, and by extension He ordained all the sins that would be committed my mankind, so that He would display His glorious power and sovereignty over everything. God chose for sin to exist.

Does it show that God is more powerful by preventing evil from occurring or by causing evil to accomplish His good purposes? Clearly, it is the latter; however, since God could have prevented any evil from occurring, He ultimately ordained it for His purposes.

We need to come to accept that God can will that sin be without Himself sinning. We do well to bow in silence before our great and awesome God when He reconciles the seemingly irreconcilable without compromising His goodness or holiness. The fact that we do not fully understand these things speaks all the more of His infinitude and our finitude.

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35506. admin said,
January 5th, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Noel Horton: Oh my! In his Commentary on Isaiah 45:7, Calvin stated, “Fanatics torture this word ‘evil’, as if God were the author of evil, that is, of sin; but it is very obvious how ridiculously they abuse this passage of the Prophet.” Noel I am sure you are not trying to abuse this passage. But Calvin’s words are a good warning here. Amos 3:6 – we all understand that God can and does ordain disaster…especially in cases of disciplining, punishment, trials and testing. Absolutely. But again, disaster is not sin. Deut 32:39 – of course God ordains death. No doubt about it. Jesus holds the keys of hell and death. When I was formed in my mother’s womb God appointed the number of my days. OMW! For the life of the Believer, God holds, controls and ordains our times in His hands. I am not an Open Theist and I do not agree with Clark Pinnock at all. Noel, aren’t we all looking forward to the day when death is no more? 2 Sam 12, Ex 4, 2 Kings 17 – none of these Scriptures state that God initiates sin, condones sin, or ordains sin. Does He use disease and sickness to execute His judgement? Yes. Sometimes He even chooses to fulfill His will through such means. Not one of the Scriptures you have cited states that God WILLS sin. God did not create sin! Sin is always a violation of God’s will, not a result of His action. Free will was given to Adam and it was through free will that Adam chose to go against God. I think you have missed my entire point. God the Redeemer takes our sins and those committed against us and He turns all things for our good when we surrender to Him. Your comments about the life of Joseph are almost word-for-word from my blog, so I know you comprehend what I am saying. But I hope you can understand, God does not sanction sin or command us to sin or endorse sin of any kind – that is contrary to His character and Who He is. I will go to my grave declaring, “There is no such thing as ‘spectacular sin’!” As I stated in my blog “Sin is never God’s will. And in those moments when humankind chooses not to obey God, without a doubt, God’s will is not done.” Noel, I agree that God is beyond what you and I in our finite minds can comprehend, but His Word makes it very clear Who He is and that His character is unchanging. He does not sin and He does not ordain sin. This is the second time you have reminded me of the finitude of our understanding and dear brother I would ask you, as you hold tightly to your view of God, to remember your own admonition as well. Scripture is our arbiter on these important issues as I am sure you will agree. So please let me restate, that none of the passages you have cited above support your premise. They are good illustrations of my point that God uses all things. He is so powerful that He can use the ugliest things of this world to accomplish His purposes. But still you have not given a Scripture that states God ordains, sanctions, or commands sin. As Calvin states very clearly, “The Lord does not inspire wicked men, but He uses them for His purposes.”(Calvin’s Commentary on Isaiah).

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35514. Noel Horton--Another Viewpoint said,
January 8th, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Teri, I completely agree that “God does not sanction sin or command us to sin or endorse sin of any kind – that is contrary to His character and Who He is.” In some respects I think we are looking at a difference in semantics. However, although it is not explicitly stated, I believe the passages above support that that God can will that sin be without Himself sinning and without compromising any of his attributes. Thank you for letting me post them and express another viewpoint.

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35515. admin said,
January 9th, 2018 at 7:44 am

Noel Horton: Every spring since 2012 I have taught a graduate-level course called “Semantics.” I’m teaching it online these days for my master’s students in Vilnius. Day one, after the preview of the syllabus and course calendar, the lecture begins with the definition of semantics–What is the meaning of meaning? How do we know what a word means and who decides its meaning? I love this class and I really enjoy teaching it. Roman Jakobson said, “Language without meaning is meaningless.” That is one of my favorite quotes. Based on my experience and understanding of “semantics” I have to disagree with your statement, “I think we are looking at a difference in semantics.” We are not. We are looking at a difference in theological doctrine. In my humble, but very strong, opinion this sentence is never true, “God can will that sin be…” And my point from the very beginning and the sole purpose of the blog is simply that God never wills sin. By its very definition, sin is NOT God’s will. Your quotes from Piper often do not distinguish clearly enough between what God ordains and what He allows. (Please note here that I believe ordaining and redeeming are very different). It is no less miraculous and no less mysterious and no less difficult to comprehend in our finite minds, that God’s redemption is powerful and the historic record of all that He has turned for good and for His purposes is breathtaking! God did not ordain or will the Fall or the Holocaust or Joseph’s captivity or the killing of the unborn or the slow starvation of the 7-year-old boy in my city by his parents–none of these were God’s will or ordained by Him. But here’s the good news: God has promised (and He has done it countless times) to take all the sin and evil of this world and turn it for His glory and our good when we as Followers of Jesus yield and surrender our lives to Him. Jesus came and died for my sins; Israel is established as a nation; the Hebrew Children were fed; Christians across the nation are pooling time and resources to help with unwanted pregnancies and now my city’s social services are having a complete revamp. All of these things anchor my heart to God as I await the Day when Jesus will come and make all things new–He will make all things the way they were supposed to be. He will Redeem everything–that He has promised and that He has ordained. Blessings! And thanks for weighing in.

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