GOD IS FREE
You have probably heard the joke about the 500-pound gorilla. What does
a 500-pound gorilla do? ANYTHING HE WANTS TO! This is a part of what we
talk about when we mention the freedom of God.
To define freedom in relation to God we would want three aspects for
a. God cannot be hindered. No matter how late you sit up thinking of
a way to mess up his plan, there is no way that you ever will. He has an
overall plan for all of time and all of mankind. He has planned in all
the dumb things that you might come up with to thwart His plan.
b. God cannot be restricted. You can't build a fence around Him. You
can't set up a force field around Him. You can't set up a situation where
He can't do what is correct.
c. God cannot be controlled. Not even Abraham when he was dealing with
the Lord for the sparing of Sodom was controlling Him. Abraham was flat
pushing his luck, but was not controlling God. There is nothing that we
can do that will control God. We can't get Him into trouble with our prayer
life. We can't set up a situation where He must act because of our command
GOD CAN DO LITERALLY ANYTHING HE WANTS TO!
He is His only limit. He can do whatever he wants, whenever He wants.
His desires, plans and will are the only control that is placed upon Him.
He is free from the creation and His creatures. He is independent of
us and all that we do. In relation to this I was reminded of a fact of
life that is constantly plaguing our household. We are not independent
of our belongings. The more nice things that you get, the more things you
have to fix. There are times when my list of things to fix is longer than
things I want to have!
Again, I would like to think of the animal world for a moment. The animals
of the field are active only on the prompting of their instinct.
They cannot rise above their environment. They are limited to activity
within the confines of where they are. They cannot decide to move into
town and rent a condo - they are limited to live in those areas where they
can walk and run.
Man on the other hand can in his activity rise above his environment
if he desires to do so, and has the time, energy, and talents to do so.
Man can determine his own activities up to the limits placed upon him by
His creator. Man is free for the most part within those limits.
What are some limits that God has placed upon man that would limit his
a. Government, and the laws that usually come with government. These
are established and ordained by God. Rom. 13:1
b. Natural laws of nature certainly control us to a point. I cannot
determine to fly to California for the winter unless I have money for a
ticket. I can't just walk outside and fly there on my own.
c. Conscience sets certain limits upon the individual. There are things
that my conscience just won't allow me to do. The conscience may be formed
partially by our environment when we were growing up.
d. Marriage sets a certain set of limits upon the individual. Someone
has suggested marriage isn't a noun or a verb, but that it is a sentence.
I won't comment on that.
e. Economic and geographical limits may hamper some activities the man
might desire to do. I have many things that I would like to do, but without
the finances, I am limited. Man is free to do as he desires within these
God on the other hand has none of these limits!
Believers are free within the same limits. God however gives the believer
a little bit of liberty that the lost do not have.
a. We can fellowship with God in prayer and share our burdens with Him
as well as seek His help and counsel.
b. We have the Word of God that gives us freedom from guilt. It also
gives us a certain set of restrictions that the lost do not have.
c. We also have church leadership placed over us and they may set restrictions
upon our activities through the ministry of the Word and discipline, if
d. The Lord, His Word and will should also set some of our limits as
God on the other hand has no limitations.
DEFINITION: God has the ability to rise to any level He desires above
In short you might say, "If He'd rather do it Himself -- He can most
surely do it Himself! To show this we need to look at a few references
(Take time to read these: Job 23:13, Dan. 4:25, Ps. 115:3).
APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE:
1. It refutes two wrong concepts of God.
a. FATALISM: The idea that fate is the force that determines the outcome
of all things. This would be the idea there is a plan that is in effect
and there is absolutely nothing that can change that plan, and that it
will take place as planned.
If your room mate trips on your dirty clothes laying on the floor -
that is fate. Nothing could have been done to avoid it. If your room mate
dies due to the fall, that was fate. She would have tripped there even
if the dirty clothes hadn't been there.
b. PANTHEISM: God is locked in nature and can do nothing except within
the laws of nature. We know this to be in error for we know that God has
done things outside the laws of nature in the past. The miracles of the
Old and New Testament are good examples of this.
Besides, how can God make something out of nothing if He is locked inside
of nothing. That would say that God does not exist.
2. God has chosen to limit Himself in several ways that we need to consider.
a. He has limited Himself to operate within the laws of nature for the
most part. It is only on special occasions whereby He sets the laws of
nature aside. (He is free to do so at any time, it should be emphasized.)
b. He has limited Himself to work with mankind. He is locked into completing
that which He has started with man. His plan of glorification and His side
plan of redemption are on course and must be completed.
He has also limited Himself to work within time, which was a new experience
for Him when He created.
c. He has limited Himself also in the area of working through man. He
has chosen US to be His ambassadors to the lost world around us. Meditate
on that one for awhile! THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE LIMITED HIMSELF TO MESS
AROUND WITH US! To trust us to do a good job!
The saddest part of this point is that very few generations have actually
done the job that they were given to do. The missionary effort in many
generations has been miserable at best. Today we are seeing the decline
of missions and very little is being done about it. The Third World countries
are becoming the prominent hope of missions in the future. These countries
are sending out more and more missionaries each year while the major countries
of the world are sending fewer and fewer.
3. The freedom which God possesses is our guarantee that all will come
to pass as His people have prophesied through the ages! If He were not
free to do as He pleases, then He would not be free to do as He has promised.
4. This doctrine has application to the local church. Not only is God
free to do as He pleases in His own realm but He is free to do as He pleases
in the realm of the church.
Example: If a pastor has a rich family over three weeks in a row some
of his members may decide that he isn't being fair. They have never been
to the pastors house. Jealousy can crop up. It may be that the rich man
is a new Christian and this is how the pastor has decided to disciple the
Do not fall into the trap of judging people on surface observation.
God may lead the pastor to do many things that you do not understand. Example:
God gives gifts as He so chooses. He may give one person several gifts
and another person only one. I spent some time in a church that had a pastor
that was an excellent preacher but a mediocre teacher. Not that he was
bad but he wasn't as good as others. When this pastor would see gifted
teacher beginning to have a ministry in the church the pastor would get
jealous and run the teacher off.
GOD CAN DO AS HE PLEASES IN THE CHURCH! God gives gifts as He pleases.
God gives looks as He pleases. God gives brains as He pleases. God gives
money as He pleases. God gives personality as He pleases. God gives homes
as He pleases. God gives cars as He pleases. God gives abilities as He
pleases. God gives etc. as He pleases.
5. God decides to take some believers home much sooner in life than
others. It is His choice, not ours.
The following quotation comes from the days of the Boxer Rebellion in
China. All foreigners were fleeing for their lives and many Christians
were being martyred.
"Before giving a brief account of our deliverance on that awful journey
in 1900, I wish first humbly to submit the following, for well I know there
will be those who will read these pages whose dear ones were NOT delivered
but whose lives were given up for Christ in glorious martyrdom for His
"When in Canada, following the experiences now to be recorded, we were
faced with the question, put in various ways - 'How can you say as you
do, that it was by God's power and grace that you were all brought through?
If this were so why did He not deliver the hundreds of missionaries and
native Christians who were even then being done to death throughout China?'
Truly a vital question, which could not be lightly set aside! Humbly and
prayerfully we pondered this 'WHY' in the light of Scripture. In the twelfth
chapter of Acts we read of Herod's succeeding in putting James to death
by the sword, and directly after comes the story of how Herod was hindered
in carrying out his intentions to kill Peter who was delivered by a miracle.
Then who could read that marvelous eleventh chapter of Hebrews with its
record of glorious martyrdoms and miraculous deliverances without being
thrilled! In face of these and many other passages, while still unable
to answer the 'WHY' we saw our Almighty God used His own prerogative to
glorify His name whether in the glorious martyrdom of some or in the miraculous
deliverance of others." (Goforth, Rosiland, "GOFORTH OF CHINA"; Wheaton:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1937)
6. This point of application may encourage you. God can change any of
the attributes or talents that you have for the better. (He may change
them for the worse also - I used to have dark curly hair, but now am on
the gray, fringe area, so to speak!)
Looks for example: We had a girl in our 4th and 5th grade class that
was UGLY. Some one really beat her with a big UGLY STICK! In fact we all
suspected that she took ugly pills on the side. We called her flea bag
and she didn't argue with us usually. BAD! (No, we were not nice to her.)
One evening in my Senior year of High School this beautiful girl in
a neat car pulled up beside me and told me she wanted to talk to me. We
talked for some time before she said who she was. GUESS WHO????? (She never
mentioned how she had been treated as a youngster - she was nice to us!)
Money for example: Mr. Anderson, I have been told, of the Hyles Anderson
college in the Chicago area, dedicated himself and $2000 to the Lord's
use and seven years later he was a millionaire serving God and giving and
giving and giving.
Personality for example: Many ministers that I have been privileged
to know were at one time quiet, withdrawn and shy individuals. Now they
are outgoing servants of God.
7. Ryrie has one application and I would like for you to consider it
for a moment. He suggests that God can never become indebted to us. He
does as He chooses. In short, no matter how great you are, He is not obligated
to bless you or do anything for you!
GOD CAN DO AS HE PLEASES! GOD CAN DO AS HE WANTS! GOD CAN DO AS HE DESIRES!
In closing this section we must consider some questions that Isaiah
"Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counselor, hath
taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught
him in the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him
the way of understanding?" Isa. 40:13-14
Of course the answer must be a resounding, NO ONE!
GOD IS SELF-CONSCIOUS
Personality begins to appear in a child as they become conscious of
themselves. One of the traits of a growing child is the different levels
of self awareness. Most parents will say that the baby begins to take on
personality very early in life. A baby will cry out of instinct however
it isn't long before the baby becomes aware that it is them that is crying,
and then they become aware that mom comes when they cry. Soon they have
mom and dad trained quite well.
Another item of maturation is the idea of babies playing with their
feet. They have no idea, for sometime, that those things belong to them.
They just play with what is handy. Those two feet stick up, so why not
play with them. Many children react when they realize those funny looking
things are theirs.
Man is for the most part conscious of himself, but not necessarily completely
conscious. We are not aware of many things in our lives. We may have personality
traits that have not surfaced as yet. We may have talents in areas that
we haven't explored as yet.
God is conscious of Himself in a most complete way. Ex. 3:14 "And God
said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto
the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." God is that He is,
and He knows that which He is.
There is nothing about God that He does not know. There is no personality
trait that will emerge in the next 100 million years that He did not know
I Cor. 2:10,11 states, "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;
for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what
man knoweth the things of a man, except the spirit of man which is in him?
Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but he Spirit of God." This text
shows that man cannot know God completely. It does show, however that GOD
KNOWS HIMSELF COMPLETELY.
APPLICATION OF THE DOCTRINE:
1. We are dealing with a God that knows all there is to know about Himself
and we can be sure He isn't going to change His mind because He just found
out that He is a just God.
2. If He is totally conscious of Himself, then He is totally conscious
of me. That should put me at peace about who I am. I am that which He has
made me. I am just exactly what God wanted me to be this day, at this hour,
at this moment.
I'm going to pick on the ladies for a moment or two and try to bring
these two items together into one big application.
It is not only aimed at the women, but to the men as well for this may
help them to help women that come to them for counseling in their ministry.
I have known of seven or eight women that have walked out on their husbands
in recent years. These are Christian women. I have heard of others as well.
Their reason for leaving is, "I need to find myself."
I find in talking to the husbands that the wife does not know who she
is. She doesn't know what her identity is. This line of irrational thought
is very frustrating to the husband that has just received total responsibility
for caring for the family from a woman that he has known for a number of
years, which suddenly doesn't know who she is.
Most of these women are unsatisfied with being who they are so they
set out to find themselves. They think by going out into the world they
can make themselves over into what they want to be.
I tend to think that part of this is due to the media telling them that
the housewife is a foo foo that is foolish for fooling with food for fuddy
duddy hubby. The media demands that women be professional businesswomen,
and a total knockout looks wise, or she is a flop.