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God's Will and Plan

Feb 21, 2007

Many people have stumbled on the issue of Free Will and God's Sovereignty. This issue has divided Christians since the beginning. It was even one of the dividing points between the three original denominations of Judaism: Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (or Essens). Josephus tells us this in Antiquities of the Jews, XIII, 5, ix:

"At this time there were three sects among the Jews, who had different opinions concerning human actions; the one was called the sect of the Pharisees, another the sect of the Sadducees, and the other the sect of the Essens. Now for the Pharisees, they say that some actions, but not all, are the work of fate [predestination; God's sovereign choices], and some of them are in our own power, and that they are liable to fate, but are not caused by fate. But the sect of the Essens affirm, that fate governs all things, and that nothing befalls men but what is according to its determination. And for the Sadducees, they take away fate, and say there is no such thing, and that the events of human affairs are not at its disposal; but they suppose that all our actions are in our power, so that we are ourselves the causes of what is good, and receive what is evil from our own folly."

In other words, the Essenes believed in the absolute sovereignty of God in all matters. The Sadducees believed in absolute free will in all matters. The Pharisees stood in between the two views, saying that SOME things were fore-ordained, while other things are done by man's free will. Each of these views is reflected in various denominational teachings today.

In my view, all three of the views have some merit but also lack understanding of one particular thing that the Apostle Paul brings out in the Book of Romans.

It is the difference between God's WILL and God's PLAN. These are the two English words that have been used to translate the two Greek words, thelema and boulema. Paul uses the word thelema in Romans 2:17, 18, saying,

" (17) But if you bear the name 'Jew' and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, (18) and know His will [thelema], and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law. . ."

In other words, the thelema of God is expressed in the divine Law, which tells us the mind and character of God in all things. When we read, "Thou shalt not steal," we might add also, "This is the will of God, for it expresses part of the character of God."

The other word, boulema, is an entirely different concept, dealing with the actual outworking of God's will in history. The word is used in Romans 9:17-19,

" (17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.' (18) So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. (19) You will say to me, then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will' [boulema]?"

Pharaoh resisted God's thelema-will, but he could not resist the boulema-plan. That is the essential difference between the two words. The will of God to Pharaoh was "Let My people go, that they may serve Me" (Ex. 9:1). But the plan was to harden Pharaoh's heart until 10 plagues had taken place.

God revealed both the will and the plan to Moses before he even went to Pharaoh. We read this in Exodus 7:2, 3,

" (2) You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. (3) But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt."

Verse 2 expresses the will of God; verse 3 expresses the plan. Verse 4 gives us the resolution between the two, saying,

"When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments."

In other words, the will of God was to be fulfilled eventually, after being resisted for a season. The will of God will always be fulfilled--but not until TIME has been given for resistance to occur. Thus, the mathematical formula is: W Rt = P. Or, the Will of God, plus Resistance Time, equals the Plan of God.

Pharaoh thought he was in control of his own resistance, not knowing (as Moses did) that God had hardened his heart. From Pharaoh's perspective, he had free will, for he did not recognize the sovereignty of God.

Some point out passages like Exodus 8:32, where it seems to say that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, in order to take the responsibility off God's shoulders. But it is clear from Exodus 9:35 and 10:1 that this is not true:

" (35) And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses. (1) Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart' . . . ."

This tells us that Pharaoh hardened his own heart as a response to God hardening his heart beforehand. God always takes credit and responsibility for His own actions. Yet He also holds men somewhat responsible for their actions, AS IF they had at least a measure of free will. So how could both God and man be held responsible for the resistance to God's will that we have seen in the world since the first sin occurred?

The answer lies in the biblical laws of liability, which are also an expression of the mind and character of God. These laws hold people responsible for their actions according to their level of knowledge and authority. God, who has all knowledge and is sovereign over all, thus holds Himself responsible for His own actions. It is for this reason that God is responsible--by His own law--to save the world and to put an end to the resistance that has caused the disharmony and enmity in the first place.

Yet at the same time, God holds men responsible and judges them according to their own level of authority. It is clear from Scriptures too numerous to mention that God has always judged sinners--even Pharaoh, who clearly was unable to resist the divine plan, the boulema of God.

At first glance, this judgment appears to be unjust, and this is precisely the objection anticipated in Paul's statement in Romans 9:19,

"You will say to me, then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will' [boulema]?"

Yes, this is precisely the question. How could God find fault with Pharaoh and judge him and all of Egypt, in view of the fact that God had hardened his heart? The answer lies in the fact that God gave man authority in Gen. 1:26. God never gave man sovereignty, but He did give man authority. Neither did God give man ownership of the land (Lev. 25:23), but instead gave man stewardship.

This ownership is based upon the fact that God was the Creator. He created it; therefore, He owns it. Man's "ownership" is subject to God's greater ownership. Man's authority is subject to God's greater sovereignty. Man's will is subject to God's greater plan. As long as we recognize and understand the two levels described here, we will not have too much difficulty comprehending this great philosophical dilemma.



Appened by Thom Mills / Highcalling.

You should be aware that the following recording below complements and expands upon this weblog.

Recording
Fixed Price
Donation
 
What Does it Mean to be an Israelite? - Stephen Jones
In this recording Stephen goes over the conepts of God's Will and God's Plan in the context of biblical history.

Every wondered what it means to be an Israelite? Or have you ever wondered what happened to all the Israelite's and the "lost" 10 tribes. In this video, Stephen Jones gives you an outine of where the Israelites are and what it really means to be an Israelite. Total Lenght 2.5 hours on one video tape.
DVD - $25

In order that ll may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
Other recordings form this conference can be found at http://highcalling.randomize.com/tab2006-cc.html.

> sizeis

should be aware that the following recording below complements and expands upon this weblog.

Recording
Fixed Price
Donation
 
What Does it Mean to be an Israelite? - Stephen Jones
In this recording Stephen goes over the conepts of God's Will and God's Plan in the context of biblical history.

Every wondered what it means to be an Israelite? Or have you ever wondered what happened to all the Israelite's and the "lost" 10 tribes. In this video, Stephen Jones gives you an outine of where the Israelites are and what it really means to be an Israelite. Total Lenght 2.5 hours on one video tape.
DVD - $25

In order that ll may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
Other recordings form this conference can be found at http://highcalling.randomize.com/tab2006-cc.html.

ls / Highcalling.

You should be aware that the following recording below complements and expands upon this weblog.

Recording
Fixed Price
Donation
 
What Does it Mean to be an Israelite? - Stephen Jones
In this recording Stephen goes over the conepts of God's Will and God's Plan in the context of biblical history.

Every wondered what it means to be an Israelite? Or have you ever wondered what happened to all the Israelite's and the "lost" 10 tribes. In this video, Stephen Jones gives you an outine of where the Israelites are and what it really means to be an Israelite. Total Lenght 2.5 hours on one video tape.
DVD - $25

In order that ll may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
Other recordings form this conference can be found at http://highcalling.randomize.com/tab2006-cc.html.

> sizeis

should be aware that the following recording below complements and expands upon this weblog.

Recording
Fixed Price
Donation
 
What Does it Mean to be an Israelite? - Stephen Jones
In this recording Stephen goes over the conepts of God's Will and God's Plan in the context of biblical history.

Every wondered what it means to be an Israelite? Or have you ever wondered what happened to all the Israelite's and the "lost" 10 tribes. In this video, Stephen Jones gives you an outine of where the Israelites are and what it really means to be an Israelite. Total Lenght 2.5 hours on one video tape.
DVD - $25

In order that ll may get this recording that wish to get it, we will gladly accept a donation for the DVD. Please go to our website and http://www.highcalling.ca and contact us to make the donation for this recording.
Other recordings form this conference can be found at http://highcalling.randomize.com/tab2006-cc.html.

 


This is the first part of a series titled "God's Will and Plan." To view all parts, click the link below.

God's Will and Plan


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