Concerning Divine Sovereignty & Human Free Agency

It is as natural as it is mistaken for us to think that God’s sovereignty and our responsibility are mutually exclusive. That is, we are inclined to think that the only way our freedom of will can be preserved is if God does not interfere with its exercise. Or, to look at the other side of this dilemma: if God acts sovereignly in a situation, and works through our desires, we think that we cannot be held responsible for what then takes place. The case of Judas, though, completely exposes our fallacious thinking. God did act sovereignly in delivering up Christ, and Judas did act freely in betraying him. As Augustine observed a long time ago, the Father gave up his Son, Christ gave up himself, and Judas gave up his master. The Father and Son acted righteously. Judas acted wickedly. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility, it turned out, were not mutually exclusive, or mutually limiting, but both were there and both were fully real. And it is in this strange conjunction of things that th crucifixion did not remain just another crucifixion. It became the cross.

It is, then, also quite mistaken to thin, as some have, that God had to improvise his plan along the way, that he had not foreseen the hostile reception that awaited Christ, and that he had to make adaptations to it. Once he saw what the actual situation was, the argument goes, he devised a new plan that he then wove through the events as they were unfolding. But this reading of the Gospel accounts could not be more mistaken. The truth is that God’s “definite plan” (Acts 2:23) was fixed in eternity and was never subject to revision. It was because of this plan that the second person of the Godhead was incarnate. It is why he was compelled to go to Jerusalem and to the death that awaited him there. This was his mission. It was the purpose for which he had come.

– David Wells, God in the Whirlwind, p. 134

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