When people hear about “Predestination,” they have a habit of cringing. The idea that God is all-powerful, that nothing happens without his say-so is scary to human beings. It seems to hurt our human dignity, to take away some of our freedom. We prefer to think of God as a benevolent Santa in the sky who only comes around at convenient times, like Christmas, to check some boxes off our wish list. We want to be the ones who choose our own salvation, who are the masters of our fate, who are the captains of our soul. But no Christian, when the rubber meets the road, really believes this. In prayer, in the trials of life, and in salvation God alone is in charge.
To begin with, who prays to a God who is not all powerful? Would you really ask God to grant you something that is out of his power? Of course not. Whenever we pray for something, we are asking God to exercise his authority over the world in a way that will surely make an impact on the freedom of others. Do you pray for God to guide the doctor’s hands when a friend goes in for an operation? What about their freedom of will? Do you ask that God would bring someone to repentance? What about their choice in the matter? Do you ask that food or money be provided to someone in need? How many butchers, bankers, and businessmen have to be guided by God to answer that prayer? A man may deny God’s absolute control in the rest of life, but the man on his knees believes in predestination.
But this doctrine is central to the Christian life in areas other than prayer. There are times when tragedy strikes, when disaster befalls us or those we love. In such times, where do we go? As Christians, we go to God for comfort. We go to him because we know he can deliver us from these situations, or if he chooses not to, that he can and will use them for the good of those who love him. A God who has no more control over a situation than we do, whether that situation is war or weather patterns, is hardly a comfort. He can be no more than a fellow-mourner, not exactly a savior, a deliverer.
Salvation itself is the place where the sovereignty of God comes out strongest. If sin means anything, it means we are dead. We are trapped in a pattern of living that hurts us and hurts others. Like a druggie, we can’t break the habit. As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In that moment, when we were dead in our sins, God came into the world and took our place and freed us from that death, that addiction. Once dead, we are now alive with the risen Savior. There is no way we could have saved ourselves, and surely no Christian will claim there is. No, Christ saved us when we couldn’t do it ourselves. And for that, we should be grateful.
God’s sovereignty, his providence, is not something that should make us nervous, but something that should make us rejoice. We should rejoice that he is a God who answers prayers, who provides for us when we need it most, and who rescues us from death. Any lesser God would not be God at all.