Chance or Fate?

Pastor James
October 12, 2023

Whether UCSD was your first choice or just a backup plan, you are here. Do you think you are here by random chance or by fate?

The belief in fate goes like this: “If I am to die today, it will do me no good to eat, for I shall die anyway. Nor do I need to eat if I am to live many years yet, for I shall live anyway.” As you can see, what you do doesn’t matter in the end if fate rules your life.

You may find the idea contemptible. So, do you believe you are the captain of your life, and you alone control your own destiny? Do you believe you can do whatever you put your mind to, and nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams? That’s an inspiring and exciting idea. But it requires much courage from those who embrace it. Think about the staggering ramifications of each decision you make. Your being here rather than somewhere else for college may have a huge role in determining your future job, the socio-economic class you end up in, and even your future spouse!

But what about tens and hundreds of minor decisions we make every day, quite mindlessly often? We expect major decisions to have a huge impact on us and our future. How about you deciding to drive to a store at this moment and not one minute later may result in a fatal accident. If everything depends on you, even the smallest decisions you make can have enormous consequences.If so, how can we not be paralyzed about making any decision? This is why existentialistphilosophers spoke of the unbearable burden of being absolutely free.

So, are we left with only these twooptions—the inescapable Fate or the unbearable freedom of our autonomy? TheBible offers a third option: God’s predestination and human responsibility. Manyequate predestination with fatalism, which is a gross misunderstanding. Fate isan impersonal force; predestination is decreed by a personal God. Fate gets itsway regardless of what we do; predestination doesn’t negate humanresponsibility. This is possible because God predestines not just the end butalso the means (i.e., human decisions and actions).

Consider what Joseph said to his brothers,who sold him as a slave out of jealousy, which eventually led him to be Egypt’sprime minister so he could prepare for a world-wide famine: “As for you, youmeant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that manypeople should be kept alive” (Gen. 50:20). Their action was “evil,” but Godused it to save Joseph’s family. Likewise, Jesus’ death was predestined by God tosave sinners, but Peter charged “Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with theGentiles and the peoples of Israel” with the guilt of crucifying God’s Son (Acts2:36, 4:26-28).

That means we cannot use God’spredestination as an excuse for not doing the right thing. While Godpredestined all things, it belongs to His secret will. Some of you may say, “MaybeI’m not predestined to be saved,” and don’t heed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenyou do that, are you not presuming to know God’s secret will? The fact that youare reading this may be part of God’s predestination to save you!

The doctrine of divine predestination isnot an easy one to grasp or accept. But if God is God, can He be anything less?I think we all have the sense that the outcome of our lives is more than just asum total of our efforts. Often, we find ourselves in situations where we didnot intend to be, yet still feel that they were “meant to be.” But that is notby chance or fate. Let us humbly acknowledge that there are forces at work inour lives, which are beyond our will and efforts. If God should oppose you,what can you do? But the Bible says, “God causes all things to work togetherfor good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”(Romans 8:28). If you believe in Jesus Christ, you can have the security ofknowing that all things will work together for your ultimate and eternal good!We urge you to put your faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.