Bible Study Discussions with Gary Panell
Question: What does the word destiny mean in the Word of God?
Answer: Actually the word destiny is not found in the Bible. You may be referring to predestination which is in the Bible. When you get into this subject you have to talk about the free will of man and God's providence or foreknowledge. Now there are verses about these subjects.
It does seem that there is a careful balance in the Bible between the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. A Christian that would swing too far to one end of the pendulum or the other will no longer have the balance that the Word of God teaches. Let's look at some verses to illustrate this point.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:3-6) [Actually we have a Bible study on this subject of predestination. It can be found in our Ephesians Bible study, part one.]
No one has all the answers to this subject, and we won't have all the answers until we get to heaven, but it is important to study it. To illustrate the balance there is between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man listen to the illustration A. W. Tozer gives:
"An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.
On board the liner are several scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.
Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. We do not know all that is included in those purposes, but enough has been disclosed to furnish us with a broad outline of things to come and to give us good hope and firm assurance of future well-being.
We know that God will fulfill every promise made to the prophets; we know that sinners will some day be cleansed out of the earth; we know that a ransomed company will enter into the joy of God and that the righteous will shine forth in the kingdom of their Father; we know that God's perfections will yet receive universal acclamation, that all created intelligences will own Jesus Christ Lord to the glory of God the Father, that the present imperfect order will be done away, and a new heaven and a new earth be established forever.
Toward all this God is moving with infinite wisdom and perfect precision of action. No one can dissuade Him from His purposes; nothing turn Him aside from His plans. Since He is omniscient [all knowing], there can be no unforeseen circumstances, no accidents. As He is sovereign, there can be no countermanded orders, no breakdown in authority; and as He is omnipotent [all powerful], there can be no want of power to achieve His chosen ends. God is sufficient unto Himself for all these things.
In the meanwhile things are not as smooth as this quick outline might suggest. The mystery of iniquity [evil] doth already work. Within the broad field of God's sovereign, permissive will the deadly conflict of good with evil continues with increasing fury. God will yet have His way in the whirlwind and the storm, but the storm and the whirlwind are here, and as responsible beings we must make our choice in the present moral situation.
Certain things have been decreed by the free determination of God, and one of these is the law of choice and consequences. God has decreed that all who willingly commit themselves to His Son Jesus Christ in the obedience of faith shall receive eternal life and become sons of God. He has also decreed [decided and made it sure] that all who love darkness and continue in rebellion against the high authority of heaven shall remain in a state of spiritual alienation and suffer eternal death at last.
Reducing the whole matter to individual terms, we arrive at some vital and highly personal conclusions. In the moral conflict now raging around us whoever is on God's side is on the winning side and cannot lose; whoever is on the other side is on the losing side and cannot win. Here there is no chance, no gamble. There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made. By the mercy of God we may repent a wrong choice and alter the consequences by making a new and right choice. Beyond that we cannot go." (The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer)
When Christ appeared to Saul on the Damascus road, when he was going to further persecute Christians, (later he was called Paul) He revealed to him: "'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' (Saul said: 'Who are You, Lord?' and He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
"to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'" (Acts 26: 14b-18) Do you see here both God in His sovereignty reaching out to people, but they have a choice to make, they can continue to serve Satan and remain in darkness or they can turn from their sins, by repenting, and can become a child of God by faith in Christ! What is your choice? Your choice will determine where you will spend eternity.
Will you right now say to God the Father, "I am repenting of my sins and turning from them, I want Christ to save me from my sins and make me a child of yours, in Jesus name I pray, amen?" It is as simple as that; if you pray this prayer and mean it, God will answer it and save you!
Yours in Him,
Gary T. Panell
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Keywords: destiny, fate, predestination, free will