Thanks for the conversation we have had on this. I know some of you have been threatened by even asking that question and others have enjoyed re-looking at your believe and substantiating the reasons as to why you believe what you believe in this area.
These days I find myself looking at both Hebrew and Greek texts to see what was the root words used as a number of our translations dont give the correct context when using a different word.
Psalm 37 :23-24 is an important text in this topic. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD and he delights in his ways. Though he fall, he shall not be totally cast down for the LORD upholds him with his hand”
I come from the Calvanist camp and believe in the Doctrine of Providence, i.e. that God foreknows.
“When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things have ever been, and perpetually remain, before His eyes, so that to His knowledge nothing is future or past, but all things are present: and present in such a manner that He does not merely conceive of them from ideas formed in His mind, as things remembered by us appear present to our minds, but really beholds and sees them as if actually placed before Him. And this foreknowledge extends to the whole world and to all the creatures. Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others.”
God goes before his creation to prepare the way for which it is to go. Its not that we should go alone, He has been there before. The steps of the man are established by the LORD. He is also with us. I don’t believe my life is predetermined, I don’t think God has set something before me tomorrow that he knows I am going to do or not do. I don’t think my life is set before me and I have to play the puppet role out. God is not a creature of time. He is not constraint by time. God sees my life and knows what I am going to do from the beginning to the end. Therefore he has a foreknowledge of what I am going to do, although I have not lived that life yet. He is the alpha and omega. When I was in my mother’s womb He knew all my days. He is not going to determine my life and put barriers and boards where I cannot do anything but he knows my life before I was born. I believe I have free will but I believe God knows ahead of time my life. As I seek Him for the steps I should take, His Holy Spirit whispers in my conscious. Therefore I can see God with me day by day, opening the doors that I should go through, closing the doors I should not. Now I have a free will, I have choices to make. I believe He is with me in the present. I sure can see Him as I look back and thank him for his faithfulness and by faith I know He will lead me in the future. I notice it says He directs the steps of the godly. The godly are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they are walking and talking with God.
God has thoughts about my life, they are good thoughts, thoughts for good not for evil. Does God allow suffering in my life. YES. God knew from the begining of my life that my son would die. Whilst I do not believe he originates suffering I do believe he controls suffering. He told Satan very clearly he could do xyz in Job’s life but not ABC. Why does God allow suffering? Oh boy, I have read 6 books already and I’m slowly getting my head around this one, but on a very personal level, I have to say he has used it in my life to reveal more of who he is to me, he has brought me to a place of total recognition of my inability but in his and through his grace and mercy that allows my ability. I realise we have a distorted view of death as bad. Its not for the Christian who dies! It certainly sad but not bad for the Christians left behind because we have “hope”.