Here are some answers from several different speakers all addressing the mystery of God’s omnipotence and our free will. See more from Redux University here.
Eleonore Stump is a renowned Author and Christian Philosopher at Saint Louis University. H. Wayne House is an Author, Theologian and Bible Scholar at Faith Evangelical Seminary. Ken Wytsma, Founder of The Justice Conference, is an Author and Pastor and serves as President of Kilns College.
Eleonore Stump :: Is God’s will set in stone?
“Why would we think that God would decide everything that he was going to do and not pay any attention to the relevant facts, which are what you’re going to do?” asks Dr. Eleonore Stump, Philosopher, Author and Professor at Saint Louis University. God is not a fixed being who’s every decision is already made up. Rather, God is perfectly capable of perceiving and responding to our actions. The real question is whether or not God exists outside of time, which many people (including Dr. Stump) believe he does.
Eleonore Stump :: Why does God allow suffering and evil?
Medicine can be a helpful analogy in our search for the purpose of suffering. While chemotherapy is a horrible thing to suffer through, there is a redemptive purpose behind it. That doesn’t make chemotherapy a good thing: it’s still a painful, horrific experience to endure. But in the end it brings us to a greater state of health and wholeness. “Our God is a consuming fire of love, and he will do anything – including suffering crucifixion himself – to get us home,” says Dr. Eleonore Stump, Philosopher, Author and Professor at Saint Louis University.
H. Wayne House
H. Wayne House :: Our Will vs. God’s Will
“Every decision we make is part of God’s plan,” says Dr. H. Wayne House, Author, Theologian and Bible Scholar. While we can act in ways that are counter to God’s law, we cannot act in a way that is counter to God’s will. If he doesn’t want us to do something, he has more than enough power to stop us. “God allows us to make decisions that he knows will accomplish his purposes.”
H. Wayne House :: What is the extent of free will?
Our idea of free will may not be as ‘free’ as we think it is. “Every decision you make in life is impacted by any number of other things: where you were born, who reared you, what you studied, what you read, who influenced you, what happened in your life,” says Dr. H. Wayne House, Author, Theologian and Bible Scholar. “Every decision of God is made unencumbered by anything other than God. Every decision I make is encumbered by hundreds of thousands of possibilities.” When we talk about ‘free will,’ have to realize that God’s definition of ‘free’ is much broader than ours.
H. Wayne House :: How much control does God have over us?
“Beginning to end, it’s all absolutely under the control of God,” according to Dr. H. Wayne House, Author, Theologian and Bible Scholar. “I don’t mean that he does everything, but there’s nothing outside of his control.” If God is sovereign, there is nothing good or bad that happens unless it is within the bounds of his will. “Anything that occurs, occurs either because he does it or because he allows it to be done, when he could alter it to be otherwise.”
Ken Wytsma :: How do I know if hardship is from God?
If it’s possible that God may use suffering or hardship to teach us, how do we know if he is or not? “You put your hands out and say, ‘If this is from you God, I’m willing to receive it,’” says Ken Wytsma, President of Kilns College and Pastor of Antioch Church in Bend, OR. But it doesn’t stop there: we have to wait on God. Whether the hardship is God teaching us or not, it should bring us to a place of total reliance and dependence on God to sustain us while we’re in the pit and ultimately lead us out.
Ken Wytsma :: How do I know what God wants me to do?
Hearing God’s will in the midst of a difficult decision requires that we have already established a good prayer life. “We don’t do a good job of cultivating that intimacy before we need it,” says Ken Wytsma, Pastor of Antioch Church in Bend, OR and Founder of The Justice Conference. And when we don’t know what God wants us to do, we have to turn to wisdom to help us make our decisions. “In the absence of a direct word from the Lord, you step back into wisdom.”