Thursday, December 3, 2009

Will We Have Free Will in Heaven?

The agnostic blogger I mentioned a few posts ago just made an excellent argument that I would like to address here. I said: "Inherent in the power to choose is the power to choose evil. There's no way around it. To say that God could have given us free choice and also made it impossible to choose evil is like saying that he could have made 2 + 2 = 5. It is intrinsically impossible."

He replied: "I think you just proved that Heaven cannot exist!"

On the face of it, he certainly seems right, and a few months ago his response might have stumped me. If God can give us free will in Heaven while still making sin impossible, he could have done it on Earth. And if we don't have free will in Heaven, why do we have it here, with all the evil and suffering it entails?

This is actually a question that I've already given some thought to in the past few weeks, in an effort to reconcile the Calvinistic-leaning and Arminian-leaning Bible passages in my mind. I've arrived at a conclusion, although I am by no means saying that this is the full answer. I'm only saying that although the blogger made a good point, it didn't put me into checkmate. There is a theologically accurate way out of the logical dilemma.

Not only will we have free will in Heaven, but we will be perfectly free; however, we will not choose evil. How can these two things coexist, particularly given my earlier argument? Because a redeemed believer is a completely new creation that exists only by virtue of having surrendered the will and let God fill him or her. This also leads to perfect freedom, which I discuss here. When God fills us, he changes our hearts and minds, so that we want to do his will. If we desire to do his will, that means we will not sin. Why would we do something wrong if we are not tempted? However, this gift of a new heart is contingent on surrendering the will freely, because God did not create robots.

So every person in the world has a will and can choose to rebel against God. But since we are born into original sin, nobody can choose to fully obey him. Sin in our hearts makes it impossible. However, we can surrender to him when he draws us to himself--that is, we can give ourselves to him and let his Spirit fill us. And when we do, he changes us from the inside, which means sin loses its grip.

Everybody in Heaven has a completely surrendered will, which allows Christ to fill them and work through them. And because their hearts and minds have been renewed, they have no desire for sin, even though they started out with the same propensities for sin that we all have. They have lived through the curse, and sin no longer has any power over them.

So on the one hand, God works through us when we surrender the will, but on the other hand, this sets us completely free. God's sovereign grace and perfect human freedom meet at the apex of absolute surrender. And that is how we will spend eternity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Benefits from Our "Perfection"?

I read a blog today where the author announced a very painful development in her life, and it struck me how apologetic she sounded. The whole post was about how she expected to be judged. A reader commented by saying that she wondered if Facebook does more harm than good because people are always bragging about their perfect lives. I also have a few perfect Facebook friends, so I thought that was a good subject for a blog post. I told Rick, "You know how some people try to seem perfect on Facebook by talking about everything they accomplish, the gourmet meals they've prepared, and how well their kids are doing? That's going to be the subject of my post."

Rick stared at me blankly. "They're trying to be perfect? I thought they were just being boring."

So maybe this post is only for those of us who are tapped into feminine culture, where we often feed our own insecurities by accepting the image of perfection as the reality. When we look at that woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan, we know that she's been airbrushed. So why do we always forget? Why did I think, "Wow, Demi Moore is really thin. Not fair," until Yahoo! news brought to my attention that someone had butchered her airbrushing by cutting off her hip? Did I really not know that she was airbrushed until then? (Of course she still looks great, airbrushing or not.)

But the more important question is why we do it to other people. If we can deceive someone into thinking we have it all together, who benefits? We know the truth of it. All we've done is made the other person feel bad and participated in an endless cycle of pride, insecurity, and deception.

If we could just break free from that and be transparent, maybe people who are hurting would speak up before the problem gets out of control. "Perfection" creates a barrier between us and other people, but transparency is a point of connection. It is a bridge between us and other people that enables them to be real. It tells them that we're not too "perfect" to understand. We've shared all the struggles that define the human experience, right?

John Wesley said, "Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart." The condition of our hearts is all that ultimately matters anyway, so we might as well take off the mask. Are we just silver plated or silver straight through? God wants to bring all our flaws and impurities to the surface, so he can deal with them. 

And that is the beauty of transparency--it shows the power of the cross in a flawed human being. On the one hand, we are fallen, but on the other hand, our hearts are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor. 4:16) Why not let people see this process, so they know it's real?