Free Will & The Sovereign God Within the Christmas Narrative

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by ArminianOnceWas, Nov 15, 2017.

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  1. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    As I prepare for Advent sermons, I am considering free-will vs the sovereignty of God within those narratives. I am aware that the topic is or ought to be elementary, however I thank God for the beauty found within His Word.

    Luke 1, the birth of John announced to Zacharias, the text makes clear that Zacharias and Elizabeth were past child bearing years, and likely not expecting (nor praying) for a child as indicated by their surprise to the announcement. In other words no one asked them for permission.

    Luke 1 and Matthew 1, the angelic announcement to Mary, nothing indicates that Mary was asked permission before God decided to plant the child in her womb. Seems like the triune God totally invaded her space.

    Growing up and spending all my life amongst free-will theology, the phrase "God is a gentleman and would never force Himself upon a person" was overstated. This statement at the very least implies that man's will is free and God will not overpower that will. Yet, even in the Bethlehem narratives we find the beauty of the sovereign God at work.

    From an old Christmas hymn:
    And we with them, triumphant, Repeat the hymn again:
    "To God on high be glory, And peace on earth to men!"
     
  2. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Howdy, Michael.

    Thank you for these thoughts.

    First, you are correct that the Lord does not ask for permission from people in exercising His providence; however, I would encourage you away from always thinking that the Lord "invades" a person's "space." Whilst it is most certainly true that he rules and overrules in the affairs of men -we think of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, etc.- pertaining to the obedience of His elect , he makes them willing in the day of his power. It is not an instance where people are "forced" to believe against their own desired, but rather a changing of their desired by the Lord such that they most certainly will believe/obey. He rules in the midst of his enemies. That is, he rules in their "inmost parts," making his enemies His friends, His people, and makes them willing in the day of his power (Ps. 110.2, 3).

    Secondly -and this is more of an aside: In the same way that He is sovereign over the thoughts and hearts of men, He is sovereign in the command of how He would be approached/worshipped. You speak of a "Christmas" narrative, but the Lord -in all His sovereignty- has never spoken of any such thing. He has -on the other hand- given us the Sabbath day, His Word, His ordinances as the means by which we would approach Him corporately, and this at least 52 times in a year. He would require more of us than a couple of "super-special" occasions, and also would take offense at us making up -by our own wills- some times that we deem "more important" than the explicit times He has given.
     
  3. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    If my point was not clear, I'll sum it up as the beauty of the sovereignty of God found in any and all God's Word is an encouragement to me. I think perhaps you are taking yourself a little too seriously here in your response and possibly trying to read more into it than what exists.
     
  4. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Dear Michael,

    Forgive me if my response came across a correction in regard to the free will/sovereignty matter. That was not my intent. I am thankful that you are encouraged by the expressions of God's sovereignty in the Scriptures. As for "taking [myself] a little too seriously . . . in [my] response," I would happily try to clear that up, if you would care to clarify/elaborate. No offense was intended.

    Sincerely,
     
  5. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    I appreciate your kind follow up but there is no offense taken. I don't think the context of my post demands (or evens finds appropriate) a treatment and debate regarding those Christians who at least acknowledge Advent (which can be in a wide range of forms) vs those who treat all seasons with the same regard.

    As far as the first paragraph, I am in complete agreement with you. However, when I used the phrase "invading her space" my intent was to do so in a near facetious way contrasting that to the theology that God can NEVER invade the free-will of man as I went on to mention.
     
  6. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    Well, Friend, my intent was not to be inappropriate. However, I would gently remind you that this is the Puritan board, a place of discussion, and you will find that if you bring up a subject that is arguably contra-Puritan, you may well receive discussion to the matter. My goal was -in keeping with a discussion on sovereignty- how we might consider that sovereignty in the Lord's proclamation of His divine will as to how He will be worshiped. It is also applicable from the understanding of men's wills, and their inventions, which is why I did not think inapplicable to address, and certainly not inappropriate, given the context of the medium.
     
  7. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    So based on your last post, the question is what the subject of the post is. A debate over the ecclesiastical calendar and it's observance or the Sovereign God. The subject I brought up was not regarding the treatment of Christmas. This is something that seems to have been on your heart that YOU desired to bring up, I can tell that it's important to you to be listened to on this subject but it is not the one I brought up. I am withdrawing from this thread now turning off alerts. I respect that you are labeled as a "Pilgrim" by this forum, thus you have a great deal of experience here and I am quite the freshman. Therefore I will acquiesce to your experience in this forum as my interest is not in discussing the validity of the church calendar.
     
  8. Joshua

    Joshua Administrator Staff Member

    The mention of “Christmas” in the title, the expression of preparing for “Advent” sermons, and the concluding quotation of a “Christmas” hymn mislead me. Truly I did not mean to hijack the thread, as I thought the conversation could easily allow for such, based on the aforementioned.
     
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