Simply by stating that God took a risk in creating us with a free will I have opened myself up to the label of Open Theist, just as John Eldredge did. While there are parts of open theism that I find attractive, over all I don’t believe it is what the Bible teaches. Mainly because I believe God does know the future and He understands the consequences of each and every action that we take.
If I am not an Open Theist, why do I say God risks? What I believe Eldredge is saying, and what I believe, is that God risks because He created us, along with the angels, with a free will. It was a risk, not because God did not know what was going to happen, but because He allowed us the power to do what we wanted. By giving us the power of choice God willingly laid aside total control and gave us partial control of His creation.
Genesis is clear that when God created the Universe that it was good, and even more amazingly that His creation of man was VERY good. We can assume that God’s intention for His creation was for it to always be good, and that people would always be very good. Rather than stepping in and asserting His will to prevent sin from happening God allowed people to do what they thought was best, and what God intended quickly became a thing of the past.
Throughout history God has provided people with the opportunity to choose Him, to do the right thing, but over and over again the majority of people have chosen to do what they thought was best. The reason God risks is because He allowed us to have a choice that is opposite of His will. What would happen was not outside of His knowledge or outside of His power to prevent. It was a risk because rather than controlling us God let us be in control. It was a risk because God would be hurt along with all of His creation.
If it was such a risk why did God take it? God did this because He wanted us to love Him, and He could not force us to love Him. Love is only love if it is chosen. To have a choice to love God means that there is also the possibility to reject Him. It was a risk to create people with a free will.
The language of choice runs throughout the Bible:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20, NLT
“So honor the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD alone. But if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” ~ Joshua 24:14-15; NLT
From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” ~ Matthew 4:17; NLT
Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. ~ Romans 6:16; NLT
It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. ~ Hebrews 11:24-25; NLT
So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning. And you won’t spend the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. ~ 1 Peter 4:1-2, NLT
God risks, not because He is unaware of the outcome, but because He has allowed people to choose things outside of His will. God risks because He suffers the pain caused by rejection and the defiance of His will.
There is much about God I don’t understand. He, for the most part, remains a mystery to me. One thing I know is that God has a great desire for us to love Him. Not just a select few, but everyone. For us to love Him God had to set part of His sovereignty aside and give us the ability to choose, to determine for ourselves whether or not we will love Him. This in no way weakens God, but rather it shows how much He loves us, for this is a great gift.
Here is the awesome part, even though God gave us this freedom, even though creation is not what God intended it to be, in the end creation will accomplish everything God wants it to accomplish. He will have a people who love Him more than anything else and all of His Creation will glorify Him in the end. Not even our free will can ultimately keep God from seeing His will accomplished.
We have been given the freedom to choose. Every decision that we face will have at least two options, God’s way or the World’s way. It is up to us to decide. Remember God risked much to give us this privilege. Choose wisely.