There’s been an awful lot of hot air (or should that be text?) generated on this site regarding the prescience of God, and the old conundrum, ‘Either God is benevolent and loves everyone, but powerless to prevent tragedy from befalling those He loves, or He is omnipotent, but doesn’t care. Either way, it’s a ghastly picture of God, and it isn’t one I would want to subscribe to.
So what are we to make of this God? Does He care, and is powerless, or is He omnipotent, but leaves us to our own devices? What does the Bible say?
According to the Bible, he is prescient, omniscient, omnipotent and all-loving. Yet the vast majority of human experience would seem to show otherwise. Why would that be? I think this is a subject every serious Christian has wrestled with at some time.
I’ve made my peace with the issue, as have countless others, as we have experienced His love and seen His love in action, but to the unbelieving, and there are many of them, they cannot reconcile this God with the one we proclaim.
So I propose a little thought experiment.
Before the beginning of time, all the many billions of unborn souls approach the throne of God, at the instigation of satan. God surveys them, then says, ‘What is it you want?’ He knows, of course, but He needs them to say it.
‘What’s going to happen to us once we’re born and become these beings called humans?’
‘What exactly do you mean?’ asks God, although He knows. 'Why do you ask what’s going to become of you once you’re born and become human?’ They mill around uncertainly, then God says, ‘This is what’s going to happen. I created you for fellowship: to be with you and converse with you and teach you all the unknowable things in the universe.’
One of the unborn souls steps boldly forward. ‘What if we fail to meet your expectations? You are God and set very high standards!’
‘Not really,’ says God. ‘All I want is to be your friend and constant companion. In return I will give you a life of bliss and complete contentment.’
‘What if we don’t want to be your friends?’ asks one bold soul.
‘Why would you not want to be friends with the One who created you for the express purpose of loving you?’
‘Because if we fail, we’re going to go to hell.’ He points with his thumb over his shoulder. ‘He told us.’
‘No, that’s not how it works. He’s going there because he rebelled, but you can work with me and make the earth a beautiful place to live, and live as I’ve instructed you, and you never have to go to hell.’
‘But what if we fail?’ asks the same bold chap.
‘I’ve already made a plan for that,’ says God. ‘I’ve decided that I’m going to send my precious Son to die, so that if you do fall, He will take the blame for your fall, and you will still be in fellowship with Me and, once you’ve died, you get to spend eternity here.’
‘But we like it here now!’ says this chap, a bit querulously. ‘Why do we have to be born?’
‘You have to be born, because I want you to make a conscious choice to be my friend. If you stay here, you can’t do that. There’s nothing here that could make you grow and become what I want for you.’
When they hear that, some of the souls turn around and leave God’s throne. They accept His word and wait their turn to be born. The others are not so accommodating. ‘We don’t want to be born! Why should we be born, just so we can suffer, then die and go to hell?’
‘You have to be born because that has been my plan all along. Whether or not you go to hell is entirely up to you. I’ve made the plan to sacrifice my beloved Son; that’s how much I love you. You have to realise, however, that birth is not a choice: you are going to be born. What you do with the life I give you is entirely in your hands.’
‘How is it in our hands?!’
‘Because I’ve given you the freedom to choose. I lay before you now life and death: choose life.’