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God, Not FatalismGod, Not Fatalism
by Edward Fudge


“Sometimes I feel like we here on earth are just pieces in a giant game that God is playing. He knows how my life will turn out. Does it matter if I, or any person, struggles to be close to Him, or serve Him? Does prayer really change things, or is everything already determined?”

    I appreciate the honest note and empathize with the genuine struggle. The best thing I know to say is that divine sovereignty and human freedom are both true, even though we cannot fully explain either reality. We really do make decisions, which make a difference.

    Divine sovereignty is not fatalism — “what will be, will be.” In the Bible, divine sovereignty is stated for the comfort and peace and joy and assurance of those who entrust themselves to God. It means that nothing can happen which is out of God’s final control, and that even the bad choices made by humans are not the last word. The greatest discussion of God’s eternal plan is Romans 8:28ff, and the conclusion to that discussion is: “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

“If God be for us, who can be against us?”
    Prayer affects God and he sometimes does things because of prayer that he would not do without it. Finally, we rest in the confidence that while we encounter the same problems, adversities and ills that affect nonbelievers, we face them with the knowledge that we are in the hands of a God who loves us, who has all power, and who finally will make right everything that has gone wrong through sin.

About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the LORD says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.”
When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, O LORD, how I have always tried to be faithful to you and do what is pleasing in your sight.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.
But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the LORD: “Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD. I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will do this to defend my honor and for the sake of my servant David.’”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah’s servants, “Make an ointment from figs and spread it over the boil.” They did this, and Hezekiah recovered!
(2 Kings 20:1-7 NLT)

To keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT)
      Used by permission. Visit the Edward Fudge web site for more articles. Title: "God, Not Fatalism"
      Author: Edward Fudge
      Publication Date: March 2, 2002


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