A License to Risk

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Daniel 6, Psalm 112-113

Sovereignty

My manipulative subconscience frequently tells me that my sins are inconsequential because God is sovereign. It will say, e.g., “I should have prayed about that situation before I jumped into it,” and then respond to itself, “Don’t worry. God is sovereign, even when you do not seek Him first.” Although it is true that God is sovereign, His sovereignty is not intended to give us an excuse to sin or to take sin lightly. Rather, it is intended to give us an excuse to take risks for the sake of the Name – even when our “risks” are nothing more than faithful acts of obedience.

Conspiracy

As the new king of the massive Median-Persian Empire [1], Darius recognized that Daniel “possessed an extraordinary spirit” and decided to give him charge over the kingdom [2]. Jealous officials, however, feigned interest in Darius’ interests in order to destroy Daniel. Knowing that Daniel worshiped God, they convinced Darius to issue an injunction prohibiting anyone from praying to any god or man besides the king for thirty days – punishable by being cast into the lions’ den [3].

Risk

When Daniel heard about the injunction, he could have used God’s sovereignty as an excuse to obey the statute and disobey the Lord. He could have said to himself, “Surely the Lord did not call me into this position merely to lose it so quickly? What is thirty days anyway? Isn’t the exile about to end and I’ll have plenty of time to pray then?” Yet, he did not. Rather, he took a risk by continuing to honor God – praying three times a day, kneeling towards Jerusalem [4] and giving thanks to God [5].

Praise

When the officials caught him, they turned him over to Darius, who was forced to throw Daniel in the lions’ den. Daniel was calm as he faced his punishment, while Darius was distraught [6] – he fasted, refused entertainment and could not sleep [7]. Yet, Daniel survived and even Darius recognized that his survival was due to God’s sovereignty: “ … He is the living God and enduring forever … His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed … His dominion will be forever … ” [8]

Prayer

Lord, You are sovereign. Yet, we often use your sovereignty as license to sin rather than trust. Prepare us to take risks of obedience, as we trust you, believe in you, and put our faith in you. Amen.

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[1] At sixty-two years old, Darius reigned over the Median-Persian Empire, which was the largest kingdom ever known at this point in world history, stretching to the Atlantic Ocean and past modern-day Libya, east towards India and north towards Turkey. Its massive expanse required efficient organization and, thus, Darius appointed bureaucratic officials (e.g., Daniel) to keep the kingdom intact.  |  [2]  Daniel 6:3 NASB  |  [3]  Daniel 6:7 NASB  |  [4]  He faced Jerusalem because it was a reminder of God’s promises to Israel, a reminder of the prophecies of Jeremiah and a reminder of the presence of God.  |  [5]  See Daniel 6:10  |  [6]  Daniel 6:16  |  [7] Daniel 6:19  |  [8] Daniel 6:26-27

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2 Comments to “A License to Risk”

  1. God alone initiates salvation. He always turns toward man first and seeks him, as when God walked in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). Man does not seek God or turn to him without God first calling man to Himself (John. 6:37, 44; 1 John. 4:10,19).

    Second, God’s initiative does not exclude man’s free response, but demands it (Catechism of the Catholic Church [Catechism], nos. 154, 155, 2002; Philippians 2:12, 13). In other words, God wills that man be free to choose His grace or reject it.

    Third, salvation is extended to each and every human person, not limited to just some, and one can fall away from grace (Hebrews 2:1-4; 6:4; 2 Peter 1:10; 3:9; 1 John 5:16, 17).

    Furthermore, it is imperative that once one is touched by grace, he perseveres in charity lest he forfeit the free gift of salvation (Lumen Gentium [LG], no. 14). Within the confines of these principles, Catholics have sought to understand the mystery of predestination.

    Though opinions and formulations have varied among Catholic theologians, with these principles left intact, there is room for legitimate speculation.

    The only proper framework to understand predestination must be rooted in the notion of a communion of persons in love. Why? The nature of God as Trinity is this very kind of communion and God created man to share in that “blessed life” (cf. Catechism, no. 1).

    • Michael, Thank you so much for your comment and follow! Yes, opinions about predestination are varied across the board – not only among Catholics, but also among all denominations of the Protestant faith. As with all theological considerations, the proper framework is love. Although we may disagree on the interpretation of various passages about predestination, as a lawyer, I love varying perspectives on the texts – especially the primary texts in the Bible. Having grown up with a primary focus on free will (never having heard of “Reformed Theology” or Calvin or Edwards, etc.) and now finding myself on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have come to appreciate what my pastor (Tim Keller) often preaches – namely, that we are 100% free and responsible and 100% bound under God’s sovereignty – a mystery that we may never fully realize this side of heaven. Thanks, again, for reaching out. Having not been a part of the Catholic Church, I have much respect for its authority and pursuit of godliness. Thanks! Bethany

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