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Volume 13, Issue 5: Doctrine 101

Cosmic Luck

Patch Blakey

How do most modern Christians view luck? By luck, I mean an occurrence or event that happens without any purposed, independent, outside cause; blind fate; an impersonal force that works for good or for bad in a person's life. There may be a consciously epistemological sense in which they would decry such luck as heathen, unbiblical, superstitious.

The Bible does indicate that there is a sense in which luck or chance does occur. For example, in the Old Testament when King Ahab led Israel in battle against the Syrians contrary to the advice of God's prophet, the Scriptures state, "And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness" (1 Kgs. 22:34). The prophet Michaiah had predicted the death of Ahab in such a battle, and in a vain attempt to cheat the prophecy, Ahab disguised himself and went out to battle. But by chance, "at a venture," he was killed anyway in fulfillment of the prophecy.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ indicated that luck is operative as well, specifically in regard to the sun and the rain, "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mat. 5:45). The difference between biblical luck and the type of luck that I defined above is that biblical luck is personal, directed by the hand of the sovereign God, who does all things "...according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself" (Eph. 1:9). Christians call this latter type of luck providence, to distinguish it from the impersonal purposeless type of luck.
But don't most Christians still believe in an impersonal form of luck, despite their vociferous denials to the contrary? For example, how do most modern evangelicals believe they are saved? They will assert that their salvation is through no work of their own, but through faith in Jesus Christ. I would agree. But why is their faith exercised? They may say because of grace. I would also agree. But is this grace available to all equally? To this, many modern evangelicals would strongly assert the affirmative. If this is so, then why do some who have heard the gospel turn to Christ while others reject Christ? The response would be that because of their own free will they have either chosen to accept or reject the gospel message of salvation.
At this point, I must ask: If salvation ultimately comes down to an exercise of the individual free will of a person, what distinguishes between those that are saved and those who reject Christ? If it is not due to the personal intervention of the sovereign God through the impartation of divine grace, then where does it come from? It must either come from within the person himself, or from without. If some say from within, that is, a person may choose either option equally, this amounts to insanity since their will is "free" from all influence, including the God-given grace and their own reason. But who would want to claim that they were saved as a result of their own insanity, their own personal luck? If we say from without, then they are forced to admit that they were saved by impersonal luck.
Let's spell this out again in detail. If the gospel was preached the same to two sinners, and grace was equally available to both, and the Spirit of God was working equally on both to draw both to salvation, and one accepts and the other rejects Christ because of an exercise of their own free will, which is equally present in both, then the only option is to assert that modern evangelicals believe in blind impersonal luck. Why one should chose to believe and another chose not to believe is unexplainable, without any divine cause or purpose. Salvation just happens to some and not to others.
If this is so, then where is the love of a personal God? Why do Christians assert so forcefully that it was God who saved them when it appears to be more the case of blind cosmic luck? In fact, given such a theological position, it would seem far more consistent if Christians were to assert that Christ didn't die to save anyone because God really doesn't love anyone enough to save them. Such Christians could consistently admit that Christ made the way of salvation possible for all, but only blind luck saves anyone. However, this would then shift the locus of faith from Christ to cosmic luck, "Thank your lucky stars that you're saved!"
Thankfully, blind luck is not what the Bible teaches. Scripture does teach, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). The Bible also states, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins"(Mat 1:21). God does love His people, and He did send Christ to save them, and all of those for whom Christ died will be saved. None will be lost.
Also, thankfully, many of us modern evangelicals really do trust Christ for our salvation despite our inconsistent and unsound doctrine. Sadly, though, ideas have consequences; they produce results that have outward, definable characteristics. Christ warned His disciples against the bad doctrine of the religious leaders, "Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Mat. 16:12). If your doctrine is inconsistent with Scripture, the question then is, do you feel lucky?

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