God’s power is infinite; He is omnipotent – all powerful. (Re 19:6) There’s nothing He wishes to do which He’s unable to do, and since God is good, He will do what is good, everything which is appropriate for Him to do.
This does not mean every imaginable task which can be formulated is doable: no, God can’t make a rock so big He can’t lift it, because the task is inconsistent with the nature of omnipotence. Rather than being distracted by nonsense, we ought to focus on the revealed nature of God.
Clearly, in creating the universe, time and space, God tells us a bit about Himself. He spoke the entire universe into existence; Earth and Heaven, the sun and moon, creating trillions of galaxies, expressed almost as an afterthought. (Ge 1:14) What might tax His strength, strain Him, even in theory? It is inconceivable.
God is outside of space and time, defining and establishing all possible dimensions, and well beyond them. He fills all things. (Ep 4:10) Every aspect of His creation obeys Him perfectly (Ps 119:91), following the purpose He assigned and aligning with His decrees; He’s holding all of it together. (Col 1:17)
We rightly extrapolate from God’s limitless power in the physical universe to the metaphysical: God is unlimited in His ability to work in and through the human will (Pr 16:9): He is utterly sovereign.(Da 4:35) Nothing happens outside God’s control (Ep 1:11); it’s all by His permission, for a glorious, ultimate purpose. (Ro 8:28)
Our free will operates within this sovereignty as God restrains us according to His purpose. (Pr 16:1) Even the most brutal, torturous death of the one, perfectly innocent Person, the worst crime ever committed by mortal man … God Himself was the willing victim, and He ordained it for His glory. (Ac 4:27-28)
A key purpose of this doctrine, in addition to moving us to eternal worship, is to establish our hearts in trusting God, that we not be anxious, frustrated or fearful. Worry and fear is acting out the lie that God’s unable, or that He’s not good. If we’re able to pray for something, and it’s good for God to do it, God is able to perform it, and He will (1Jn 5:15) — no matter what it is. (Ep 1:19)
Christ asks how we can believe in God when we’re more concerned about Man’s approval than God’s? (Jn 5:44) The implication is we can’t: before we can believe in God we must be seeking God’s kingdom and pleasure first and foremost as a manner of life. (He 11:6) If we’re out to please others we aren’t servants of Christ (Ga 1:10); and if we aren’t obeying Christ we aren’t seeking Him – we’re His enemies, headed for destruction. (Php 3:18-19)
This follows from the fact that esteeming Man’s approval above God’s is to trust unfaithful sinners more than the Holy One; it’s believing in Man rather than God, disvaluing God by serving the creature more than the Creator. (Ro 1:25) So, preferring the praise of men is unbelief in God by definition.
This begs the question: what other conditions preclude us from having saving faith? Any disposition to sin intentionally, on purpose, means we don’t fear God (Ro 3:18): we don’t revere Him as our King. This also is to mistrust Him, to reject Him, to disbelieve in Him. Salvation is far from such a heart. (Ps 119:155)
Is believing in and trusting God even something we can decide to do? Is this subject to the power of our will at all? (Ro 9:16) Believing God exists is certainly a necessary first step, but that’s not the same as believing in Him, trusting Him, receiving Him as He has revealed Himself to be. (Jn 1:12-13)
Suppose a man stretches a tightrope across Niagara Falls and balances a wheelbarrow across the raging torrents. To cheering spectators he yells, “Do you believe I can push a man across in this wheelbarrow?”
How do you respond? Can you make yourself believe? Is this an act of your will, like scratching your nose? Maybe you figure he can, so you nod in subtle agreement, but then, pointing directly at you he commands: “Get in!”
Ah! Now we’ll see if you believe! Perhaps you’d be willing to risk your life, but if you’re shaking like a leaf … if you have any doubt at all (Mk 11:23), any hesitation at all (Ja 1:6), any fear at all, this isn’t trust, belief – faith: Faith is knowing you’re safer in that wheelbarrow than anywhere else in the universe – perfectly secure, chill enough to fall asleep. That isn’t something you can just will yourself into knowing. Faith in God is a miracle: it’s supernatural assurance. (He 10:22)
Consider, if placing saving faith in God is an act of our will then it’s a work; for if an act of the will isn’t a work, then nothing is a work. Acts of our will are works by definition.
However, believing on God saves us from sin (Ge 15:6), yet no work can save anyone from sin. (Tit 3:5) Since no work can save anyone from sin, experiencing saving faith in God can’t be our work; so faith can’t be an act of our will; this must be the work of God. (Jn 6:29)
Yet God commands us to repent and believe on Christ (Ac 17:30), so how can this not be an act of our will?
Well, God requires us to beperfect(Mt 5:48); this isn’t an action, but a state of being from which our actions originate, and one clearly beyond our reach. (Pr 30:29) God’s command doesn’t imply our ability; it’s righteous for God to demand perfection of us: He can’t rightly accept anything less. (Eze 18:20)
The reality is that faith and repentance aren’t things we do, or actions we take, but characteristics of our state of being as we’re transformed by God; they’re two sides of the same coin (Ac 20:21) – both are gifts of right beliefs, affections and desires, a new heart, a Godward disposition. We don’t do faith, we have faith … to trust and obey God when our blind heart is healed to see and know Him more as He truly is.
And to repent, to stop believing lies, to have faith and start believing truth, God must intervene: He must give us repentance and faith so we can identify and dismiss the lies as we acknowledge the truth. (2Ti 2:25) So, while God may command us to be a certain way (1Pe 1:15-16), this doesn’t imply that we’re actually able to obey; our will is broken and corrupt. (Je 13:23)
Faith is rooted in the divine nature from which godly action springs (Ja 2:18): what we need in order to believe in God is a new nature (Ga 6:15), and we just can’t decide to have one.
Our inability to align with holiness lies in our being in a state of unbelief and enmity against God (Ro 8:7); in this state we deliberately choose patterns of disobedience which further enslave our will. We are, in our broken state, eating the fruit of our own way and being filled with our own devices. (Pr 1:31) Engaging sin leads to deeper bondage, the continual weakening of our ability to resist sin and choose good. God isn’t responsible for this condition, for our inability to choose good: we are.
Alienation from God is the result of our own ignorance and blindness (Ep 4:18), which comes upon us as we reject the light (Jn 3:36) and respond inappropriately to God. (Ro 1:21) In blindness we make more choices which alienate us even farther from God (Ps 73:27), leading to ever deeper sin and bondage (Ro 1:24), such that we’re continually becoming more irrational, confused, deceived, believing more and more lies about God, others and ourselves. (2Ti 3:13)
We can no more escape this spiraling descent into bondage and corruption through the effort of our own will than a rotting corpse can raise itself up from the grave (Ep 5:14), or the non-existent can conceive and birth themselves (Jn 3:7), or the wicked can give themselves new hearts (Ez 18:31) – yet God requires this of us.
God isn’t cruel to command the impossible – He does this in mercy, as a promise: if we hear His command, humble ourselves and seek life from Him (Ps 119:107), trusting He’s faithful(1Co 1:9), He quickens us (Col 2:13), conceives us with the truth by an act of His own will (Ja 1:18), and gives us new spirits and hearts (Ez 36:26) which delight in His Law. (Ro 7:22)
God frequently tells us to be careful in our choices (De_30:19) because they have consequences. (Ga_6:7) He asserts that we have a will, that we are conscious, and that we have a responsibility to choose the good and refuse the evil. (Is_7:15) There is a moral law, and we violate it at our peril.
To all of us, each and every one of us, this is self-evident, that we have the ability to make choices: that we are conscious and aware of the options of both good and evil choices before us, and that we have an obligation to make good choices.
Atheism, however, asserts that only matter and energy exist, and that matter and energy are not conscious. This implies there is no consciousness, thus no free choice, and no good or evil. This implies that our perception of free will and moral choice is merely an illusion in our brains, implying that we are no more than mechanical robots, programmed by evolution to act as we do. Atheists assert this because it is implied by atheism, not because there is any actual evidence for it.
When accepting proposition A implies conclusion B, and B is false, we know from the logical contrapositive that A is also false. This is called proof by contradiction. In other words, the fact that atheism implies we are not conscious, and that we make no voluntary choices, and that there is no moral reality, conclusions which we know by experience to be false, proves that atheism is false.
It is true that while we are alive in our body we are intimately linked with our brains, which operate with chemicals and electricity, but we are not merely our brains: we are more than bodies. We live through our bodies and think through our brains, but our thoughts are not merely impulses in our brains any more than we are merely our bodies. In other words, we are intimately connected with Nature, but we are not merely of Nature: we are eternal, made in God’s image.
Our ability to think and to choose, to understand Nature, something Nature by itself cannot do, proves we are above Nature, that we exist outside of and apart from Nature, such that we can look at Nature as an outside observer. This is the foundation of epistemology, the science of knowledge, that enables us to perceive, understand and know the living God, and the universe He created.
Christian Universalism is the teaching that all people will eventually be saved and enter Heaven. It sounds nice, the typical fairy tale happy ending to eternity, but is it true?
All people certainly would be saved if everyone earnestly sought salvation from God (1Ti 2:3-4), but even though all are invited to do so (Re 22:17), very few are willing to come, and none on their own initiative, apart from the drawing of God. (Jn 6:44)
Christ tells us to strive to enter Heaven, that many will seek to enter their own way but won’t be able to (Lk 13:24), that the way to Heaven is narrow, obscure, hidden, and that very few will find it. (Mt 7:14)
Further, Christ teaches that there are certain types and degrees of sin that are never forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (Mt 12:32)
Since God is eternally merciful to those who repent and yield to Him (Is 55:7), it would appear that the problem with universalism isn’t that God is unloving or holds grudges, but that Man refuses to repent, even from the flames of Hell. If God waited for men to repent on their own accord, He’d wait forever. (Ps 81:15)
Man is incapable of transforming himself (Je 13:23); not even infernal torments convince the wicked that it’s reasonable to repent and seek God. (Pr 27:22) The only hope any of us have is the irresistible grace of God; God is able to work in the human heart according to His will (Php 2:13), moving in us to seek Him and obey Him.
It is perhaps a mystery why God does not choose us all; one must look to God’s purpose in Creation to find the answer. (Ro 9:22-23) Evidently, God will be the most glorified in the way He chooses (Ps 46:10), and this is enough for me.