(My thoughts on this Communicating Better post)
To be Biblical, theology at least has to deal with the raw data of Scripture. Any system will have parts it sings with, and parts it groans and sings with — but where you find yourself groaning too heartily, you should take a second look at your system.
I think it's beyond rational debate that the Bible envisions man as by design a deciding creature. "The plans of the heart belong to man," Solomon writes (Proverbs 16:1a), and the word translated "plans" suggests "arrangements." A lot of decisions go into an arrangement: do this, then this, then either this or this, depending on what happens.... This is the assigned lot of man, and rightly so. All over Scripture.
God faces Cain with a choice between doing well and yielding to sin (Genesis 4:7). Through Moses, God presents Pharaoh with a number of choices (cf. Exodus 8:1-2). To the nation, Moses cries, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Fast-forwarding to the ministry of our Lord, we see many choices laid out, and the ringing command to choose rightly. "Repent," Jesus calls (Matthew 4:17); choose the narrow gate over the deadly broad way, Jesus warns (Matthew 7:13-14); come (Matthew 11:28), go (Matthew 28:19). Choices, choices.
Yet behind and over it all is the sovereign will of God, which is exhaustive and invincible, and which always has both the first and the last word.
So should we be reluctant to use the language of choosing and deciding? Evidently not. The Bible surely does it freely and frequently.
I think where we get hung up is in failing to deal wisely and believingly with Deuteronomy 29:29 — "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Part of the problem, then, is that we concern ourselves too much with the wrong side of the equation. We gum up a critical difference that this verse reveals.
On the one hand, it is absolutely true that we can't do anything apart from God's sovereign will. We can't live (James 4:15) nor breathe (Daniel 5:23), let alone plan (Proverbs 21:1) nor do (Proverbs 16:9b). His sovereign will is a sure thing, and it is a secret thing.
But how does that rubber meet the road? Does that mean we shouldn't do anything unless we know whether it's God's sovereign will? If that's our chosen path, then evidently it's God's sovereign will that we be useless, pathetic idiots.
We needn't worry about whether God's sovereign will is done or not. It will be! Hel-lo, it's God's will! And it's sovereign! It simply isn't in our power to stop it from being done (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30)!
So look at it this way. If you're leery about telling someone to choose to trust in Christ, or decide for Christ — what would you tell him? Do nothing? Is that Biblical? Tell him not to repent, not to come to Christ, not to believe in Him? Is that Biblical?
But God urges him to do all these things! Isn't that sufficient authority for you and me telling sinners that they should? Isn't Jesus' invitation sufficient grounds for our invitation? If the King Himself invites them to come, commands them to repent, urges them to believe — what greater warrant would you ask?
In fact, isn't it tempting God and rank unbelief to refuse to issue such exhortations and invitations?
And if they tell us that they did in fact decide and choose to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, is it a godly and helpful thing to jump all over them and mock them?
Judging by that last, really-superb meta, I think you worked that one out for yourselves pretty well.
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