History and Freedom
Christians love the pun: History is His story. History is just another word for providence. If ‘
’ were a wooden ship, the Father’s
hand is on the tiller, the Son, Jesus, is Captain and the Holy Spirit is the
wind in her sails. History has to do with God’s sovereignty in all things.
However, if God is sovereign how can there be any freedom? Providence
The first couple of chapters of the Bible provide an historical record of God creating creation, summarised in Exodus 20:11 thus, ‘For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.’ Therefore, history began with seven historical days, days in which God spoke and things that were not became things that are! Those days are about what God did. They are His story. He controlled history for at least those first six days. However, what happened after this? Like the Medes and Persians of old, some attempt to rewrite history. Revisionists try to expunge the name of the Sovereign from all records. They try to deny the historicity of the Bible and come up with theories on how creation came into being. Which is it? If God were in sovereign control then how come human beings have freedom to make up their own ‘histories’ of creation?
The God of history gave human beings freedom, otherwise known as ‘free will’. When God made the first man, Adam, He gave him the freedom either to believe and follow what God says, or not believe it and thereby go his own way. By choosing the latter Adam and his posterity, (which includes you and me), are conceived, born and live in a state of unbelief until and unless God converts us. Christian conversion is believing in God and the works He has done through His Son as He is revealed by the Holy Spirit in the sixty-six books of the Bible.
God’s sovereignty in history and humanity’s freedom is seen in the following, ‘[Jesus], being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.’ Acts 2:23-24. In this historical event God sacrificed His only begotten Son. The instrument He used was men exercising their free will. These men are accountable to God for their actions. God did not make them do it. They wanted to. They did it freely. Thus God even works evil for good! (
From supernovas to dying budgies and receding hairlines every historical event is under the sovereign control of God. For, ‘He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.’ Psalm 147:4. And, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.’ Matthew 10:29-30. ‘I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?’ Benjamin Franklin, 28 June 1787.
What shall we do with God’s sovereignty and humanity’s freedom in history? We ought to keep them in proper tension and ‘Let God be true but every man a liar.’ Romans 3:4a. Let us climb aboard the good ship ‘
and seek to do His will on Earth as it is in Heaven. Providence