When I get discouraged about my sin, the sin in this world, the ongoing existence of Satan’s sinful work, and begin to question the goodness of God’s plan, one of the things I do to get my head and heart realigned is consider alternative worlds to live in. Here are a few that I have considered and none of them are very hopeful:
1. God is Sovereign & Man is Not Responsible
2. God is Not Sovereign & Man is Responsible
3. God is Not Sovereign & Man is Not Responsible
4. God is Responsible & Man is Sovereign
5. God is Sovereign & Man is Sovereign
In reality these worlds do not exist, not in human experience in any coherent way, and not in Scripture. We live in the best world possible that displays the glory of God revealed in the Cross of Christ. If I can believe that the Cross of Christ is the very best that God can do to show how loving and how holy he is, then I can accept the inclusion of evil that is necessary for Jesus’ demise. If the triune God wanted to show how merciful and forgiving and how holy and just the Father, Son, and Spirit has always been and will always be, then who am I to judge failure against God’s plan? God is Sovereign and Man is Responsible. Therefore, it is not correct to say, “we don’t have a choice.” It is also not correct to say, “our choices are absolutely free of God’s control.”
We must submit to the paradox of scripture: God is in control of the choices that we freely make. There is no other easy way around this other than to say that, either:
1. Our choices have absolutely no purpose in God’s universe – and therefore, we cannot be justly held responsible for them; or,
2. Our choices have absolutely full power outside of God’s purpose in the universe – and therefore, He cannot be successful in accomplishing His free and sovereign will.
This may be a hard road to follow for our heads and hearts, but church history is filled with saints who testify to the sweet joy and peace that comes from believing this. When I see the suffering of Christ, and then look at the suffering of the saints, God’s plan to put Christ on display through the inclusion of evil makes sense. Consequently, I can have hope in God again. I can also believe that I am living in the best world possible to put Christ on display, by looking at the lives of those who suffer and hope in God at the same time. From her moving booklet, Hope . . . The Best of Things, Joni Erickson Tada is a witness to living in the best world possible. May you be encouraged today as you hear her faith in God:
“I sure hope I can bring this wheelchair to heaven. Now, I know that’s not theologically correct. But I hope to bring it and put it in a little corner of heaven, and then in my new, perfect, glorified body, standing on grateful glorified legs, I’ll stand next to my Savior, holding his nail-pierced hands. I’ll say, “Thank you, Jesus,” and he will know that I mean it, because he knows me. He’ll recognize me from the fellowship we’re now sharing in his sufferings.
And I will say,
“Jesus, do you see that wheelchair? You were right when you said that in this world we would have trouble, because that thing was a lot of trouble. But the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. It never would have happened had you not given me the bruising of the blessing of that wheelchair.”
Then the real ticker-tape parade of praise will begin. And all of earth will join in the party. And at that point Christ will open up our eyes to the great fountain of joy in his heart for us beyond all that we ever experienced on earth. And when we’re able to stop laughing and crying, the Lord Jesus really will wipe away our tears. I find it so poignant that finally at the point when I do have the use of my arms to wipe away my own tears, I won’t have to, because God will.”