Continued from Part 2
One universe or many, one or all were created and placed within the confines of time. Before the universe(s) was (were) created, God decided what he was going to create. According to Samuel:
If therefore God works in time, we presuppose that he purposed to do so before time.
And if he purposed to work in time, he decided what he wanted to do. He did not leave it to chance.
If there are any works done by God, then there was a decree for the doing of them. It is proper to a Cause by Counsel, and such we conceive God to be, to deliberate and come to conclusions before he acts. Rashness and thoughtlessness are defects and do not commend a rational agent. Therefore if God does all, it is because he purposed to do all. The alternative would be that what he does is something he neither knows nor has considered.
So God deliberated before he created. An unlimited number of universes to us is not unlimited to God. He could see them all with all their infinite and minute differences.
So now let’s go back to the idea of free will. Samuel allowed for free will among mankind, uninfluenced by God, who only determined the end result or event. But that logic does not follow. To determine the end is to determine the choices. The example he gave was that none of Jesus’ bones were broken while he was dying on the cross, which was God’s predestined will, although he says God did not influence the soldiers’ actions. If that is a legitimate example of the point Samuel was trying to make, then the logic fails since the soldiers were then NOT free to choose to break Jesus’ bones. Samuel’s view of free will is not free will. So is it possible for God to achieve his ends and still have mankind free to choose without God’s influence or predestination? Yes.
All of existence as we know it and all the universes we do not know were there in the mind and deliberations of God. He could see them all. They are still there in the mind of God. All of them. All the possible choices you could have ever made. All the choices made throughout history. Even the choices made that meant you would never have been born. He saw them all. And he allowed these choices to be freely made. He allowed free will in all mankind in all choices in all of time and space. He allowed free choice in reaction to his own actions within his world.
Yes, God gets free will too. He acted freely within his creation and his creation acted freely within his creation. There is interaction between men and God on occasion. He acted freely and people acted freely in response to him. Then he looked at all the possible universes which resulted from this interplay and saw the one in which the freely made choices of mankind resulted in the universe which achieved his ends and that’s the one he chose.
Once he chose, he, in effect, chiseled all of time and history in stone. It became unchangeable because it had already occurred. He created a universe fully formed. Every act, every accident, every drop of rain could not be changed because God had seen it fully completed in his mind before he created it. There is no unfolding of history as if the future is yet to be determined. It was determined before it ever began and yet it was entirely by free will. We are still acting freely because that is what God saw when he chose this universe. It is predestined because God saw it from beginning to end before he created it and chose the universe which would accomplish his purposes.
How do I back this up? See II Timothy 1:9.
He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in [Messiah] Jesus before time began. (HCSB)
God had a purpose before time began, that is to say before creation itself. His grace was given to us before time began, that is to say before creation. And yes, that is well before any of us were born. In order for him to have a purpose, he had to have decided on a plan and how to work it out. In order for us to receive grace, that had to be part of the plan and he had to know who was going to receive that grace which means it was part of the plan too. It all existed in his mind and, frankly, that is still where all of creation resides. It is the mind of God which gives everything reality. But God had to choose his plan and once he chose it, he announced which universe would fit his purpose.
Samuel called this choice a decree. As he pointed out, we talk about the decrees of God as if there were many decrees but there is one decree. It’s simply a decree with many subpoints covering everything that can, will and does happen throughout history. It boils down to one choice, one decree.
Our catechism puts a plural word upon this act of God, calling it his decrees. This is not in respect to God decreeing [mulitple decrees], for in him it is one eternal act as we shall learn. It is one decree in respect to the things decreed, which are large in number and uncountable by us.
I maintain that it is at this point, after free will has been allowed to work in all possible universes and God picked one to create, that predetermination and election come into play. God created the one universe in which we live knowing exactly what we would freely choose. When he chose and called that one universe into being, the choices he foresaw became choices already made. God stands outside of time and time is irrelevant to him. He sees all of time at the same time.
At one perfect and eternal view, [God] clearly sees all things that are to be without seeing them as following one after another. They all stand before him at once. For in seeing himself, he sees all things.
I love that last line. “For in seeing himself, he sees all things.” All of reality exists in the mind of God and in seeing himself, he sees all he has or could have created. Having our existence in the mind of God means we are never forgotten, never overlooked, never taken for granted. Because he is all and complete in his entirety to himself, we never pass out of his watchful and loving heart because he could no more forget us than he could forget himself. Think about that for a minute and take in how vastly and powerfully you are loved.
The idea that God could condemn people to unbelief without emotion as he chose the elect and unelect falls before such love. It screams out the verse:
The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
II Peter 3:19 HCSB
To be continued in Part 4