I got caught up in an unfruitful conversation with Calvinist believers a while back, & it left me questioning, how could anyone believe that a perfect, loving, heavenly Father would intentionally inflict or allow pain in the lives of His children, because it would somehow bring Him glory? Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, if even sinners know how to give their children good gifts, how much more so will our Father Who is in heaven give to us!
If you’re unfamiliar, Calvinism says that God chooses some to come salvation, but not all. This “pre-destination” theory says that even before birth, some are called to be saved & go to heaven, while others are destined to spend eternity in hell. If that’s the case, then what about free will? What kind of loving God would put a person on this earth, with the purpose of never coming to know Him? This theology says that God CAN do miracles for whomever He wants to, but He only chooses to do so for some & not others. It says that because “God is in control,” that He brings or allows the bad things that happen in our lives, to teach us something & bring glory to Himself. According to Calvinism, God’s sovereignty means that ultimately, the responsibility for us receiving from Him is solely His, & we are simply supposed to pray & have faith as we wait to see if it’s His will for us to receive whatever it is we are believing for.
There are many religions, & even non-denominational pastors, within the realm of Christianity teaching this way of viewing God to their members. How can people whose life’s work is literally to study & teach the Word, miss what God is telling us about Himself, salvation & all that our salvation encompasses?
What Bible are people who believe that way reading?! Every version I’ve studied says that it is Gods will that NONE should perish, but that ALL should come to know Him through Christ (2 Peter 3:9), & that ALL of the promises of God are for EVERY believer “yes, & amen” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20)! Furthermore, if we believe that God is good, He is not a liar, & the Bible is His Word- God speaking to us- then how could we believe that the bad things come from Him or that it is His will for bad things to happen? If He has told us that He is good, & nothing but good in His Word, then to blame Him for the bad things that happen in this fallen world is to call Him a liar- but He cannot lie!!
Bible verses that show us it is God’s will for All to be saved:
- …All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God -Psalms 98:3
- That Your way maybe known on the earth, Your salvation among the nations -Psalms 67:2
- Turn to Me & be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, & there is no other -Isaiah 45:22
- For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He even gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
- This is good, & pleases God our Savior, Who wants all to be saved & come to knowledge of the truth -1 Timothy 2:3,4
- The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. -2 Peter 3:9
Bible verses that tell us God is good:
- The Lord, the Lord God, merciful & gracious, longsuffering, & abounding in goodness & truth -Exodus 34:6
- Good & upright is the Lord -Psalms 25:8
- The Lord is good to all, & His tender mercies are over all His works -Psalms 145:9
- Every good gift & every perfect gift is from above, & comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning -James 1:17
- I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living -Psalms 27:13
- For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting -Psalms 100:5
- The Lord is upright; he is my rock, & there is no unrighteousness in Him -Psalms 92:15
- Your are good, & do good; teach me Your statutes -Psalms 119:68
- The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble -Nahum 1:7
Let’s get something straight about this “God is in control” thing- It’s actually not biblical!
Shocking thing to say, I know, & I know many reading this are reeling & shouting that I’ve blasphemed the Lord. But hear me out, pay attention:
In Genesis chapters two & three, God created Adam in His image & gave him Eve, then gave them authority over ALL things in the earth, then Adam & Eve fell in the Garden with the first incident of man disobeying God- the original sin. With that act of disobedience, they handed their God-given authority in the earth over to satan. This is why, if you pay attention, the Bible often refers to satan as the little “g” god of this world. What does this mean? Well, this is a fallen world, & God does NOT have full control over all things as the world & religion would like you to believe. Believing that lie takes the blame for the bad things off of satan (the father of lies) or ourselves, ’cause let’s face it- sometimes the bad things that happen to us are a direct result of our own choices or actions- our disobedience to God- & puts it on God- BUT again, God is good, every good & perfect thing comes from Him, & there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Yes, He does have to sit back & let bad things happen, not because it is His will for them to happen, but because He will not interfere with the free will He gave us, nor will He intervene where He has not been asked to. He is bound by His Word, & if we take the time to study the Word, we find that WE are the ones who are required to SPEAK & ACT in faith to take hold of the authority in the earth that was given back to us through Jesus Christ. God can only do in the earth, what WE give Him to do through faithful prayer & speaking & praying His Word.
Why SPEAK? God created human beings in His image, & if we look at Genesis chapter one, we see repeatedly, “God said… & it was… God said… & it was.” He is a being, Who speaks, & what He says happens. THAT is the image we are made in! We speak, & we will have what we say- our words have power!
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.Proverbs 18:21
Why ACT? Because we walk by faith, not by sight, & faith without works is dead. Our actions must match where our faith lies, not what the world shows us.
for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises]2 Corinthians 5:7
For just as the [human] body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works [of obedience] is also dead.James 2:26
Jesus took on all the problems, sickness, disease, every punishment for our sin, every hindrance to our prosperity (Isaiah 53:5)- He took it all on Himself, to set us free from not only the laws of religion, but the natural laws of the way this fallen world’s system works. Believers are called to live a supernatural life in Him, through the authority He has given back to us (Mark 16:17,18), by speaking words of faith, by speaking THE WORD in faith, & by acting in obedience to the Word & to God!
What Salvation Means
To understand what salvation means, it’s best to look at the word “salvation” in the original language it was written in. The Greek word for salvation in the New Testament letters to the church is soteria: deliverance, salvation, & comes from the Greek sozo: to save, heal, preserve, rescue. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it: “…to save, to keep safe & sound, to rescue from danger or destruction… to make well, heal, restore to health… to bring safe forth from the peril of this hour.”
This, then, means that our salvation is the promise that God will keep us safe & sound, we have been rescued from danger & destruction, we have been made well, healed, restored to health, & God will bring us safe out of the perils of the day we are living in!! Basically, all that we need to live our lives in health with all of our needs provided was included for us in the gift of salvation. Read that again if it’s not sinking in for you. 😉
I know, I know- you knew someone who had faith to be healed or delivered or had some other physical or financial need, & they didn’t receive what they believed for. BUT did that person have revelation of their authority in Christ? Did that person pray “Please God, if it be Your will, heal me, deliver me, provide for this need?” Or did that person take a stand in faith, using the authority they have to speak words of life & healing, to speak healing or delivering scriptures over themselves or speaking & obeying scriptures about finances & receiving, truly believing that it is ALWAYS God’s will for us to walk in divine health, healing, & prosperity, claiming the promises of God for themselves? Did that person check their own heart, asking God to show them where there may be any unforgiveness or disobedience to Him they need to rid themselves of? In Matthew 6 Jesus makes it very clear, that if we do not obey God & forgive others, then God will not be able to forgive us & answer our prayers. More often than not, lack of understanding of our authority and/or holding onto sin or unforgiveness are the hindrances to receiving. Every promise is for every believer yes & amen, but every believer has a responsibility to respond in obedience to the demand of the Word & the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s not on God whether or not we receive, it’s on us!
THIS is the problem with religion- religion tells you it’s all up to God, He’s in control of it all, & whatever will be will be. Religion says that both the good & the bad come from Him, because He’s in control & has His reasons even if we don’t understand them. And this way of thinking & believing is what has so often pushed people away from God & caused them to lose faith. Sure, there are bad things in this world we won’t have all the answers for, but at the end of the day, we can rest knowing that they didn’t come from God, He didn’t cause them to happen, & they are certainly not His will. He CAN & WILL turn the bad things around to bring good out of them & glory to Himself. BUT if we want Him to be in control of something, we have a responsibility to give it to Him in faith, to take a stand in the authority we have in Christ, to live in obedience to Him, & to make sure we are not holding on to sin or unforgiveness. While you are asking “where is God in this?” He is waiting for YOU to do something about it so that He can do what you need Him to do! It is OUR responsibility to remove the hindrances & take our authority back, so that we can receive the fullness of all that our salvation encompasses, not just in the next life, but here & now, in this earthly life!
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up & thrown into the sea,’ & it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen & have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, & if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.Mark 11:22-25
To continue learning about what salvation really means for you, click here.
-Walking by Faith & Finding the Blessings, Gerri