One thing you may have heard me preach from the pulpit and elsewhere is that faith produces behavioral results. In other words, what we believe affects everything we do. If you believe that your car is not safe, you likely won’t drive it anywhere. If you believe your car is perfectly safe and will magically transport you to a mountain of riches once you hit 95 miles per hour, you’ll likely be trying to find a long, flat stretch of road pretty quick. In fact, every single thing that we do is anchored to some kind of belief. It is because of this that theological questions are the most important, and probably the most powerful. What we believe about God (or what we don’t believe about God) has the power to govern all other beliefs we hold, and therefore, influence all of our behaviors, and even emotions. This is why Paul firmly teaches us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
Struggling to answer theological questions is essential to healthy Christian growth. Of course, there’s a risk that you may arrive at the wrong answers, but if you skip the struggle you miss out on maturity. Ponder how much power theological beliefs have over us by considering this question which was recently asked by one of our youth: “If God is past, present and future then he would know your decisions, so technically he should know where you are going, so what’s the point of us living here on earth to suffer?” Not answering this question properly leads to a belief that either God is pointless, or that life is pointless. Both of those beliefs will produce dangerous behaviors, and very possibly a life of misery. The question is probably impossible to answer fully with finite human minds, but we can at least approximate a reasonable one. First, let’s look at a problem within the question itself. Just because we know something is going to happen doesn’t mean that we can’t derive good, or enjoyment from it. For instance, I know how my children are going to respond to a variety of morally ambiguous situations. Just because I know ahead of time how they will behave doesn’t mean that I am not either pleased or disappointed when they do the right or wrong thing. Now let’s look at a second perspective regarding the question. We were made for God’s pleasure (Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11) and for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). Since we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), it is safe to assume that he, too, experiences pleasure when he sees us make right decisions,or feels displeasure when we make wrong ones, or feels pleased when he sees us follow him. And he is definitely glorified when we do the right thing, especially when it’s sacrificially hard to do. This holds true even if he knows the outcome ahead of time, because Satan doesn’t know the outcomes, and neither do most men. Finally, he created us to have relationship with him (Leviticus 26:11-12, Deuteronomy 6:5) and to do good works (Matthew 22:39, Ephesians 2:10). Neither our good works, nor our love for God are diminished by his knowing what happens ahead of time. Seeing God from this perspective can give us joy, rather than misery.