A kid, a carrot and a goat.

Two of the most conflicting doctrines of the bible for many are God’s Sovereignty and Human free will. How can both exist without robbing each other of their full force? But the Westminster and the London Baptist confessions solved this puzzle by assigning each their proper role, nearly 400 years ago.

Chapter 3; God's Eternal Decree; 1.
“God, from all eternity, did—by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will—freely and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass. Yet he ordered all things in such a way that he is not the author of sin, nor does he force his creatures to act against their wills; neither is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” OPC. Westminster Confession with Modern English.

In this we see God’s sovereignty. And his predetermining all that comes to pass. Since he is eternal with perfect knowledge, he created all, independently of anything or anyone influencing his will. And secondary causes, namely the reasons people freely choose what they do, are part of God’s perfect knowledge and therefore certain to fulfill their part in the choices creatures make.

So with childlike understanding we can see how this works.

A kid has a wagon to which he attaches his goat. We know goats have a mind of their own, and if any creature has a free will, it is a goat. So the kid ties a carrot to his cane fishing pole and dangles it in front of the goat. The goat wants the carrot so the kid steers the goat pulling the wagon according to the direction both want. If the kid dangles the carrot to the right, the goat trots in that direction. If the kid wants to stop, he applies the wagon brakes. If he wants to start up again, he releases the brakes and dangles the carrot in front of the goat in the direction he and the goat now wants to travel.

So in this we see the kid’s sovereignty, the goat’s free will and his genuine desire to choose what the kid wants him to do, even though the motives differ. And the secondary causes the kid uses to steer the goat to his predetermined destination. The kid opens doors and closes doors by using the brake. And he directs the goat who follows most willingly according to his nature and appetites. And according to the circumstances surrounding him.

And so it is with us, God sends and controls all the secondary causes that lead us freely to choose the destination he planned for us.


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