Or God's Sovereignty?
Q. I have a question about our choice or God's control. If God controls everything, then how can a murderer be responsible for his own actions?
Yes. God controls everything.
Yes. The murderer is responsible for his own actions.
Yes, I know this is a frustrating answer!
Believers live in a world of paradoxes within their Christian faith. Sometimes skeptics see this as part of a list of contradictions. But, they are only contradictions if they can't see past mankind's limited three or four dimensional thinking.
Think of a helicopter hovering over a parade, for example. The newscaster inside the helicopter can see the beginning of the parade as well as the last float. But, bystanders alongside the parade can only see one group at a time. First they see the band marching by. Then they see the baton twirlers. Then comes the clowns, and the floats covered with flowers, and so forth.
On planet earth we experience linear events and linear history much like we view the floats in a parade. We have no ability to see the beginning of the parade as well as the last float at the same time. We cannot experience the age of cavemen and twenty-first century rocket scientists existing side by side. Our limited perceptions are like the parade's bystanders. We can only view one float at a time.
One who lives Outside of Time
Only God lives in the helicopter above life's parade. The Bible tells us that God is the "One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity…" (Isaiah 57:15, ESV). The Lord alone lives in eternity - outside the space-time dimensions which limit mankind.
Due to our brain's limitations it is a blessing that God leaves us with His written Word. Without it we would be confused as is the rest of the world.
Revealing the Future 2500 Years Ago
God reveals many things in His written Word that we might not know in our natural state. It proves the supernatural flavor of the Bible.
For example, God tells us that the whole world is subjected to the rulership of an extremely evil creature - Satan. 1 John 5:19 says that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (ESV). This evil one may empower Hitler or a terrorist bomber among others.
Back to the Future
Now, believing in Satan may seem quaint or unsophisticated. But, if we seriously consider and evaluate international news, for example, then we have to conclude that it is very likely there is an evil one ruling the planet. We learn about the existence of Satan as history unfolds.
For instance, why are the Jews always targeted and blamed for things that go wrong? Why does the Iranian leader fulfill bible prophecy by hatefully declaring that "Israel must be wiped-off the map?"
Have you read Psalm 83?
"They have said, 'Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more'" (83:4).
This sounds like the ranting and raving we hear daily from the current Iranian leader and his followers! Yet, it was proved to be written hundreds of years before Christ!
The Psalm goes on to list today's terrorist "bad guys": some of the Arabs (descended from Ishmaelites, Moab, and the Hagrites), some of those in Jordan from Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, some in Gaza from Philistia, Lebanon from ancient Tyre, Syria from Assyria, and so on.
The ancient book of Daniel mentions Syria as the King of the North (Dan. 11:40). Ezekiel 38:5 mentions Persia which includes modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Cush and Put from Ezekiel 38 encompasses Libya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
Middle East Conflagration
Daniel, Ezekiel, and Psalm 83 read like a current newspaper article concerning the Middle East once a student has identified the location of ancient tribes.
Ezekiel 39 even describes what can only be a nuclear clean-up task force! Read it for yourself and you will see. You can even read of the future battle with Russia and its Islamic allies (Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal).
War with China Coming our Way
We can read about the rise of the "kings of the east" - a two hundred million man army which will attack Israel (Revelation 9:16). This was so astounding to the apostle John that he cried out "I heard the number of them."
The apostle John could not imagine a 200 million-man army! But, we can. Look at China. Through their one-child policy they have birthed so many male children that they even brag about their ability to put together a 200 million man army!
Behind the Scenes
At any rate, the point is that it is pretty easy to see a behind-the-scenes evil ruler who: controls unbelievers (Ephesians 2:2), who accuses believers (Revelation 12:10), who is a murderer and destroyer (Revelation 9:11), who is intrinsically evil (John 17:15), who is a liar and perverts the truth (John 8:44), who entices people to sin (Matthew 4:3).
Why Won't God End It?
God clearly revealed these historical events in advance through His prophets. So why doesn't God put an end to all of this? Because He does not want to lose one soul who is predestined to believe in His Son the Savior - those who will rule the universe alongside Him. 2 Timothy tells us:
"If we endure, we will also reign with Him" (2:12, NASB).
Romans 8:29 tells us, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren" (NASB).
Finally, remember that while God knows things beforehand and currently permits evil (Acts 14:16), we are nevertheless responsible for our own actions. God will judge our words (Matthew 12:36-37). God will judge our motives (1 Corinthians 4:5). God will judge our works (Hebrews 6:10).
Bridges, Jerry. 1992. Trusting God even when life hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Jeffrey, Grant. 2006. The next world war: what prophecy reveals about extreme Islam and the west. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook.
Ross, Hugh. 1999. Beyond the cosmos. Colorado Springs: NavPress.