Two perspectives06-05-2020 - Posted by Andre Piet
I received the following email last week and this time it seems worth sharing with a wider audience. Because the questions that are addressed may be recognizable to many.
This is a topic that has been bothering me for a long time.
For I wonder why the proclamation of the good news is so important when God does everything according to the counsel of His will. I believe from the Bible that God works the will and work in us. Yet very often there is the call to repentance and to call on Jesus as your Savior. Doesn’t this indicate an action from within man? But it also says “we will not boast in ourselves” then this does not fit together. Sometimes I think, did Jesus, in this time of grace, pave the way to make this choice ourselves, and that his time window ends when Jesus returns? But then you could boast again … This is always difficult for me when I look at the people who are dear to me, I want nothing else than that God opens their eyes, but doesn’t God operate in us to will as well as to work? I sincerely hope that I have been able to convey it a little bit, it is an ongoing battle in me and I hope that your answer gives me clarity.
Fascinating questions. Let’s take a closer look at them.
For I wonder why the proclamation of the good news is so important when God does everything according to the counsel of His will.
I couldn’t answer this question better than as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 1:21:
For since, in fact, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom knew not God, God delights, through the stupidity of the heralding, to save those who are believing.
God has delight in sending a message that is utterly ridiculous and stupid in the eyes and ears of the learned world. That is his approach as standard. Noah had to build a boat in the middle of the dry land. Israel’s army at Jericho consisted of trumpeters. Samson defeated Philistines with a jaw bone of a donkey. Gideon went into battle with torches and pitchers. And last but not least: the Messiah achieves the final victory by dying on a wooden stake.
The Evangel does not present a to-do list to man. Nor is it reserved for scholars. Although intellect is not necessarily an objection, it is certainly not an advantage. The preaching of the Gospel is stupid and stupid because its truth is utterly improbable. But that is precisely GOD’s humor: He has something made known (heralds) which is a stumbling block for the Jew and a folly for the Greek.
I believe from the Bible that God works the will and work in us. Yet very often there is the call to repentance and to call on Jesus as your Savior. Doesn’t this indicate an action from within man? But it also says “we will not boast in ourselves” then this does not fit together.
Indeed, these are two opposite perspectives. Let’s zoom in on it. GOD is like a potter who molds and shapes his creatures and makes us listen to Him. He opens eyes, ears and hearts. Who else? Nobody made themselves. But that naturally also means that He also makes the one who does not listen to Him. After all, He also hardens whom He will (Rom.9:18).
GOD had sent Moses to go to Pharaoh with the call “let My people go”. But beforehand Moses had been told that Pharaoh would not listen (Ex. 4:21). For it was GOD himself who raised Pharaoh against Him for the purpose of demonstrating his strength through a mighty adversary and thereby spreading his name all over the world (Rom.9: 17). That is why GOD hardened Pharaoh’s heart when it threatened to collapse under the pressure of the plagues. This is GOD’s perspective.
Pharaoh resisted GOD’s will (“let My people go”) but expressly not GOD’s (hidden) counsel or intention. Just as Proverbs 16:4 says:
Yahweh has made everything for its own outcome, Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Of course, this perspective raises the question of what GOD has to say about Pharaoh’s disobedience. It is Paul himself who also raises this question (Rom.9: 19). And the simple answer is that we creatures are potter’s clay and that GOD has its purpose with every creation. Regardless of whether it is a “vessel of honor” or “a vessel of dishonor”. A Moses or a Pharaoh. One serves as an ornamental vase and the other as an ashtray. But note: no creation is for nothing.
At the same time, there is also the human perspective. GOD’s word comes to us. And then the call sounds “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”. That is GOD’s will. I can respond to that or not. From our perspective, that is a choice and an activity. Does this contrast with what we just saw, namely that GOD is the one who operates in us to will as well as to work? Yes, it is a contrast, certainly. But it is like first and second in a choir. This creates harmony. These are two perspectives that are both completely true. Compare it to the discussion that the two figures below have.
Two perspectives. But a fight about who is right is of course unnecessary. It is not either-or but and-and. And that brings me to the last point that comes up in the mail:
This is continues to be difficult for me when I look at the people who are dear to me, I want nothing else than that God opens their eyes, but doesn’t God operate in us to will as well as to work? I sincerely hope that I have been able to convey it a little bit, it is an ongoing battle in me and I hope that your answer gives me clarity.
The writer of this letter experiences both perspectives as “continuously difficult”. That is because she thinks she should cross out one of them. And that creates a dilemma because she recognizes that both are completely Scriptural. Rightly so. Therefore, one would leave both perspectives. The field of tension is therefore healthy. Only those who think they have to choose will experience constant struggles.
And therefore: GOD is the one who both closes and opens eyes. Everything in His time: perfect and for everyone! And that truth we may proclaim!