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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Self-Limiting

When I was in the military (and, I assume, it's still the case today), the vehicles we drove had governors. No, they didn't vote in a political leader. While the engines these vehicles had were certainly capable of driving down the road at 70 or 80 miles per hour, an internal device in the engine governed the speed so that it would never exceed 55 mph. Capable, but self-limited.

On the system I helped design we are using resistors as heating devices. These resistors are capable of heating up until they burn up. It became necessary, therefore, to put in thermal switches, devices that sense the temperature of the resistor and turn it off when it reaches the switch's setpoint. Capable, but self-limited.

Meet God. God is capable of anything ... anything at all. Nothing is impossible for God. But God, in His wisdom, has inserted a self-limiting device. This device (if I can call it such) prevents God from working to His full potential. It's not that He's not able; it's that He limits Himself to this device. "What device?" you wisely ask. Well, the human being, of course.

Think about it. God wants to save everyone. Clearly not everyone will be saved. Why not? Well, not everyone is willing to be saved. Some refuse. They resist. They deny. They will not be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the kingdom. So God woos and encourages, urges and hopes, applies influences and all that, but He does not intervene. He could save everyone, but limits Himself to the will of His creature.

This limitation goes beyond salvation, of course. We know that God's aim is that His people would be "conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). This isn't a stretch; it's clear. And yet we know that God, while capable of carrying this out, does not. Instead, He limits Himself to the will of the Creature. If you're not willing to change, He's not willing to push it. If you're not willing to learn, He's not willing to make it so. If you're not willing to repent, He's gracious and merciful and doesn't make a fuss about it. He could -- He's capable -- but self-limiting.

These are just two quite obvious examples. In both salvation and in Christian living, God limits Himself. Instead of acting as King, as Sovereign, as the Lord of lords, He chooses instead to be servant and submit His will to the will of His Creatures. We all know this. It's quite clear.

If, however, you have been reading this and agreeing with the concept of a God who has limited Himself to the will of His Creatures, I need to point out that you're understanding of God is different than mine. The God I serve isn't limited by His creatures. He saves whom He chooses to save, producing the necessary alterations to their wills to bring them along. He supplies the faith they require to believe. He is at work in them to give them the will and power to do what pleases Him. His process of forming them into the image of His Son is not prevented by their wills. He takes His time, sure, but He is not slow nor is He deterred from accomplishing exactly what He intends exactly when He intends. The God I serve is not a self-limiting God, self-subjecting to the will of His Creatures. I don't really know that God at all.

3 comments:

David said...

Had me worried there for a bit. Thought you might have swapped over to the "99%" club.

Stan said...

The fact that you worried tells me that I've sufficiently stated my view and you knew it.

Dan said...

Whew!!!