Why do we do what we do? Do we have free will to make choices, or do we simply do what God makes us? Or as Piper puts it, "Why do we will what we will?" This will be just a quick survey, but something to consider and seek wisdom from God in. Here are a few verses for consideration.
And those whom he predestined He also called, and those whom He called he also justified, and those whom He justified he also glorified. Romans 8:30
- God has begun a work in us, doing all the work of bringing us into salvation.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
- So we are working and have a clear responsibility, all the while God works in us. The "will" we have to do good, comes from God, he works to generate good choices in us that result in actions. Obviously there is ambiguity here and the mystery of relationship between human responsibility and God's will is beyond our full understanding.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, Ephesians 1:11
- God's will is foremost; this gives us great comfort in knowing nothing is outside the "council of His will". This verse is like Romans 8:28 in significance for believers. Suffering and evil in our lives is not outside the sovereign hand of God, nor is it necessarily directly from him. In all things God is working for good for us(Christians), for his will.
So the verses above are some background info for my example which is found in Jonah chapter 1. In this first chapter of the book of the prophet Jonah we see that the Lord has asked him to preach to the people of Ninevah and call them to repent. What is interesting about the story, in relevance to God's sovereignty is what transpires in this first chapter. Jonah flees from the "presence of the Lord" and boards a ship for Tarshish. The ship then begins to be put in peril in the midst of a storm; apparently God knew where he was. (Psalm 139) So Jonah has clearly disobeyed God, and now the ship and all the men on it are in danger. While Jonah is sleeping, running from God is hard work, the men pray to their false gods to no avail. They go wake up Jonah and tell him to do the same. The men then cast lots to see whose account has brought the storm, and it falls to Jonah. He explains the nature of God, "the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land" that he is running from and the men are afraid. After some quick deliberation they throw Jonah over the side, upon his request, and the storm calms.
What happens next is a testament to God's sovereignty as the mariners on the ship begin to for the first time worship and pray to the one true God. (Jonah 1:14-16) Next he is, by the sovereign appointment of God, swallowed by a whale. This is special because it foreshadows our Lord's time in the heart of the earth.(Matt. 12:40) Jonah's will was seemingly not in line with God's, yet many important things transpire through this. This is only the first chapter yet we see quite a few examples of God's sovereign will being accomplished even through a lack of human cooperation.
So Jonah exerts his will on the situation and yet God is still all the while in control, not caught off guard. Again there is no exact understanding of the relationship between our responsibilities and "will" as humans and God's "will" based on his sovereignty. What we do know is that we are responsible for our actions, and God's will, will be done.