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“Tit for Tat?”

Updated: Dec 17, 2022

Rethinking God's Providence and the Divine Scorecard!

By Richard Allen – December 12, 2022

Right off the bat, I want to thank my daughter and her husband for engaging me in a conversation on “how God guides, directs and chastens His Children.” To be honest, it’s a broad subject with serious implications for the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. Their astute observations and concerns were the catalyst for this week’s Blog.


Let me also say that this subject matter has fascinated me for almost 40 years, during which God taught how He dealt with His children through various lessons. The first lesson came from reading the Old Testament book of Job. As a young believer during the 1970’s, I had more questions after reading Job than I had answers. Why would God allow a righteous man to suffer? Was it fair that Job turned out to be the “battleground” in a war between God and Satan? Satan’s basic accusation at God was: “Does Job serve, love and fear you for nothing? No way, Job is just a mercenary – he fears, worships and serves you God because you have granted him favor, protected him and given him an abundance of stuff in this life.” On the surface, it sure appears that Satan had a valid point about Job and his service. Furthermore, he tells God: “If you take away Job’s possessions, he’ll curse you to your face” (Job 1:11).


The secondlesson came from a great book that was put into my hands in the mid 1980’s that challenged my defective views of God’s Will and guidance in our lives. That book: Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Garry Friesen and J. Robin Maxson, is one of those rare books – when rightly understood – is transformative and life altering for those who profess to know Christ and follow the teachings of Scripture. If I were to give a brief description of the book, it would be to direct your attention to the actual subtitle above: “A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View” – that is, a Biblical Alternative to the traditional view of how God reveals His Will for us and directs our lives by His Providence. The definition of Providence from Meriam Webster is:

“God’s divine guidance or care. God Himself being the power sustaining and guiding all human destiny.”


The book’s basic premise, that the Will of God as revealed in Scripture, is actually two different types of Will:


God’s Revealed Will, and God’s Secretive, or Sovereign Will. Both these kinds of God’s Will are Biblically expressed by a verse from Chapter 29 of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy:


“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).


This verse states that God reveals His Will through His written revelation, that is the Word of God – yet God often has a Secretive and Sovereign Will that may appear to run contrary to His revealed Will.


The big take-a-way for me was: I am not responsible to figure out God’s Sovereign Will or purpose, but rather to follow His revealed Will in Scripture! As I’ve explained before, using King David for an example, God had a Sovereign Plan for David’s son, Solomon – the son born to David by Bathsheba – to become the covenant heir and ancestor of Jesus Christ! While this Sovereign Will was true, David was only responsible to follow God’s clearly revealed Will: “Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not commit murder; Thou shalt not lie!” All of which David disobeyed – and as a result, suffered life-long consequences! But not withstanding, God’s purpose in Christ was still fulfilled through David’s disobedience and sin. What’s even more amazing is that at the end of David’s life, when he was old and feeble, it was Bathsheba – who had been the wife of Uriah, whom David had killed in battle – now working with Nathan the prophet, to secure Solomon as the rightful covenant heir of David’s royal lineage (1 Kings 1:11-31).


The thirdlesson came about from another passage of Scripture as God engaged me in dealing with this subject, was from a passage in John Chapter 9 where Jesus healed a man who was born blind, sitting at the pool of Siloam. What’s most fascinating is Jesus’ disciples’ questions and assumptions as to the cause and effect of this man’s suffering:


“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).


The assumptions of Jesus’ disciples made total sense. Like most of us, we want to see cause and effect, and often times attribute cause and effect where it may not even belong. Whereas most of us “rationalize” our own failings, we “attribute” cause or blame to others. “If this guy is in physical distress, it’s probably because of his parents, either their negligence or abuse – or even God providentially bringing judgment upon them for their sinful behavior.” We see life through the lens of Crime and Punishment, pure and simple. Like most of us, I had never considered there might be a third reason for suffering: “That God’s works might be displayed in Jesus healing him.” As I reflected on this, I realized that much of the same could be said of Job’s suffering – he suffered that God might be glorified through him.


As I matured in the faith and learned more of God’s Word, I started to realize that many things didn’t fit nicely into my “cause and effect, crime and punishment” categories. And looking at my own failings as a believer, I finally figured out if God were to keep score, none of us would be considered innocent. We are all guilty criminals – struggling with sin and the desires of our own fickle hearts. One verse that says this better than I could, is found in Psalm 130:


“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 13:3).

This is why my subtitle above is: “Rethinking God's Providence and the Divine Scorecard!”


So bear with me for the next few Blogs as we’ll look at this subject of how God deals with His sinful Children – in both guiding and chastening us by the providential events of life. As we look ahead, we’ll be asking and hopefully answering some troublesome questions, all relating to God’s Will. Through our trials and suffering, we see how He guides us while we’re walking with Him along life’s pathway. Here are samples of some views we need to look at Biblically and the questions we need to consider. I Will not pretend that any of these answers are easy or simple, but they are worth our asking. In many cases you’ll see that they can be Biblical, or somewhat Biblical, in their appearance.


Views on God’s Will, our trials, suffering and God’s guidance – along with some questions they pose:

  • Does God have a Divine Scorecard or better yet Balance Sheet, where our Assets and Liabilities are weighed -and God responds with appropriate judgment or blessing? Is this true for Christians and unbelievers?

  • Tit for Tat, that is, when we receive God’s judgment or blessing in this life for our good and bad behavior, in the end all things Will even out. This view is also refined to say that good and bad things happen sequentially, and it’s often stated as “waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop,” or believing that something good Will be followed by bad.

  • You reap what you sow! This view appeals to the moralists who are “self-made men and women,” it parallels Job’s original theory (before he suffered). But is this always true? What about the Patriarch Jacob, or Peter?

  • If things are going well in life, it must be a sign of God’s blessing and approval on my life, right? The opposite is also true. If things are going poorly, it’s a sign of God’s judgment or chastisement for my choices or actions.

  • Some people feel that if God gives them an open door to a certain decision – it must be His Will. Likewise, if He closes doors – it’s a clear indication that He doesn’t want me to pursue that course of action. Is this Biblical?

  • We need to Lay Out a Fleece to determine God’s Will. This can also be a test in which we ask God to affirm or reject what He wants us to do. “If you want me to date this girl, let her answer the phone on first ring.”

  • If God gives me peace in making a decision, it must be His Will that I do it. Likewise, if God doesn’t give me peace, it’s a clear sign that He is forbidding a certain action or decision. Again, is this true?

  • Do strong feelings that God has laid something on my heart, mean that it is His Will? Can God, the Holy Spirit, direct us by this means? Should I trust emotions or feelings as Divine Guidance?

You should all be able to see from the points above, that we can play these mind games with ourselves and others – and sadly, with God. Is this how God really operates? As we confront these questions and view them Biblically, we will be forced to look at the things God’s Word does say about reaping and sowing, and God’s final judgment against sin. For those of you who read my six Blogs on the Patriarch Jacob, you should all be able to recognize that God deals with His Children (like Jacob) by Grace, and not Works. If He were really keeping score, none would be saved. We do have a merciful and faithful High Priest in our Lord Jesus – who knows our frame and knows that we are but dust. All praise be to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us, that we would no longer be like children tossed back and forth by every wind of doctrine, but firmly established in the in the Word of God!


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