E is for the Existential Sphere

Anyone taking a careful study of the Scriptures will eventually find that it says very big things about God in terms of what he predestines and enacts which clash with our modern notions of “free will.”

God is said to be behind the evil befalling a city (Amos 3:6), makes peace and creates woe (Isaiah 45:7), ordains all things whether good or bad (Lam. 3:37-38), determines seemingly random things (Prov 16:33), predestines all the parties and their actions at the cross (Acts 4:27-28), and even predestines certain individuals to salvation  (Romans 8:28-30).  He does all of this and yet commands us all to repent (Acts 17:30), to love our neighbors and Him (Mark 12:30-31), and preach the gospel to all the nations (Mark 16:15).

There has been much discussion on this doctrine and it’s various consequences.  If you want to pursue higher, accredited research, it’s all out there for the taking.  What I simply want to discuss is the very common question of “If God’s predestined everything, why should I do anything?”  I will offer the disclaimer that the following is simply my personally crafted answer that, in itself, is not to be regarded as doctrine but only as a lens to more clearly view doctrine.

Let’s take your sum total of all your past and present physical sensations, memories, feelings, and decisions lump them into a term called the “existential sphere.”  This sphere contains everything you know or experience up to this point in time but not into the future.   The Scriptures above would, if read carefully, indicate that all those things were already determined by God.  Let that soak in for a while.  Your idea of a free will simply cannot exist with this frame of thinking.

But let us also consider three important points:

1.  You are not God.

2.  You don’t know anything that has been determined outside of your existential sphere.

3.  God has determined both the means and the ends of any action.

In the writing of this post, I had the sensation of needing to go the bathroom and then acted on it by using the toilet instead of the floor.  It is my argument that God predestined it in such a way where I could choose it without necessarily needing to know what will happen in the action of it or if he predestined it to begin with.  In fact, because I am not God, I simply did not know if the toilet would flush (which it did) or if in the middle of it the phone would ring and put me into a difficult bind (which actually did happen).  I did not have to sit at my desk and go “Man, really would prefer the toilet to the floor.  But I’m not sure which one God has predestined.”  I simply chose to use the toilet and it worked out.

Did I ultimately determine my needing and the fulfilling of using the toilet?  No, not at all.  But I did choose it with regards to what I wanted within the confines of my existential sphere. I had a desire which God put there, the choice to fulfill it which God put there, and experienced a favorable outcome which God also put there. I exist within an existential sphere because I am not God and I, as all humans do, can only operate within that sphere.

In the same way a person cannot wait for the gospel to be spread without an action because God is said to have predestined that action in the first place.  How silly would it be to say that choice did not matter, when in fact God predestined our choices (the means, even if it doesn’t involve us) and their outcomes (the ends).  Choices would be the only things that matter!

The trick is to realize that God’s predestination of any action, even in the midst of one undertaking that action, is completely outside of his existential sphere.  All that he has in the experiencing of that predestination is a promise in Scripture.  On the other end, one should not assume that because an action has not been taken that God has not necessarily predestined it.  All he has in connection to the action is the decision yet to make it.  So he can wait, which God has predestined, and can take action afterward if indeed God has predestined that action.  Once again, will really does matter.

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One Response to “E is for the Existential Sphere”

  1. […] been laid before us in the Bible.  This doctrine also helps to be understood in the light of the existential sphere, but that is worth more than a whole post on its own.  Further, and more easily digestible, (not […]

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