The Back Page -Conundrums/Conundra


Light acts like a wave, but also like a particle. How can it do both? Hard to understand, but we tend to use light anyway.

The Bible asserts that God is sovereign. It also teaches human responsibility. How can God be sovereign and I be responsible?

God “works all things after the counsel of his will.” “The king’s heart is like channels of water in Yahweh’s hand; he turns it wherever he wishes.” Sounds like God is firmly in control. The Westminster Confession puts it this way: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass.”

But the Bible speaks just as clearly about our responsibility for the choices we make. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life.” “The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose [or “plan” or “will”] for themselves.” Very real choices with just-as-genuine consequences.

The Bible says that sometimes God acts (or does not act) based on what we first do (or do not do). God encouraged Hezekiah: “Because you have prayed to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that Yahweh has spoken against him—‘He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there.’” “Because you prayed.” Had Hezekiah not prayed, Sennacherib might have come. Jesus responded to the entreaty of blind men by touching their eyes and saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”

We dare not blame God’s sovereignty, or his making us the way we are, or his putting us in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, for our own failures. That is what Adam attempted in Eden: “The woman you gave me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Adam tried to blame Eve, and then God for giving him Eve, for his own sin. Today, if anyone refuses to repent and believe the gospel, it will be his or her own fault, not God’s.

Light is wave and particle. God is sovereign and humans are responsible. As we look above the door leading to salvation, we see a sign reading, “Whosoever will may come.” Once we have entered and look back, above the door we read, “Chosen before the foundation of the world.” Both are true, and neither is false.

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