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Luck:  Do some things happen by chance? 

Gary Googe Jun 15

In 1981 I graduated from a seminary where nearly everyone believed that nothing happened by chance, but that it was all controlled and predetermined by God.  They didn’t seem to like to talk about this concept as it relates to sin and evil, but that’s where they stood in their beliefs.  They believed that all that happens is predetermined by God.  The Bible does teach that God is the sovereign ruler over all, but not in the way that they taught it.  They had dual and different definitions for a lot of words.  Regarding God’s sovereignty they not only believed God selected and predestined some people to spend eternity in Heaven, but that He also selected and predestined others to spend eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire.  In their minds “free will” [because they had their own definition for it] really isn’t free because God controls and predetermines literally everything, every single detail and decision of life.  To them, God doesn’t permit man to determine anything.  Therefore, to these people free will really isn’t free. 

There are good and right things to be said and believed about what the Bible teaches on predestination because a form of predestination [the correct one] is definitely taught in the sacred Scriptures. 

Romans 8:29 

29 For whom he [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [Emphasis added] 

What must be decided is how the word predestined and the subject it represents are defined in the Bible. Just as there are right things to be said and believed about it, there are also wrong things to be said and believed about it. Perhaps you’ve read my article on this subject called Predestination:  Does God predetermine who’s going to hell? If you haven’t, I hope you will soon.  But what about this thing called luck or chance? We have a situation in the Bible story of Ruth where this subject comes up. 

Ruth 2:1-3 

1 And Naomi had a kinsman [MODA = acquaintance] of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. 

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. 

3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap [MIGREH = by chance] was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred [MISHPACHAH = family] of Elimelech. [Emphasis added] 

Here the Bible tells us that “by chance” Ruth, a very poor woman, ended up gleaning in a part of a field owned by a wealthy man named Boaz.  The Scripture does not say this happened providentially, but “by chance.”  This is the idea that is conveyed there in the above passage.  In other words, God did not cause this to happen.  That’s not to say that He couldn’t have done that, but He didn’t.  Using the word hap the Scriptures simply say something like—it just so happened that she worked in Boaz’s field. Even though we know by reading ahead how all this turned out, we need not read anything into what the Scriptures say about it.  We just need to realize that while there are some things God has chosen to control in life, there are many other things [most things] that He allows to happen as they may.  What a fabulous testimony this is about the greatness of our God! Even though He has given man free will, He is still able to ultimately bring about His desired end.  Making us all like robots would have been much easier for Him.  Again, what a marvelous statement this makes about the greatness of our God! 

Then we also have in the Bible statements on this subject of “luck” or “chance” that make us do some wondering.  The book of Ecclesiastes was penned by Solomon.  But it has some statements that were made by Solomon as he saw things in his years of rebellion against the authority of God’s Word.  For instance, are these next statements he made to be believed as ones that are true?

Ecclesiastes 1:1-2 

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. 

2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. [Emphasis added] 

Is all in one’s life truly vanity or did it just seem that way to him during that period of his life? 

Ecclesiastes 1:18 

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. [Emphasis added] 

Do wisdom and knowledge always produce grief and sorrow? There, also, the outcome of one’s life is very much in accordance with how one chooses to use his wisdom and knowledge.  Scripture does not tell us grief and sorrow are always produced by the possession of these things.  On the contrary, it is because of ignorance or one’s lack of application of these principles of wisdom that misery is produced. 

Then we have some other comments by Solomon on this subject. 

Ecclesiastes 9:11 

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. [Emphasis added] 

In this case, Solomon’s words are correct.  Timing is important.  Furthermore, God has chosen not to control all the choices and events of life.  Many things DO happen by chance and this verse provides documentation for that belief. 

Lastly, we have the case of the parable of the Good Samaritan that sheds some light on this subject for us. 

Luke 10:30-34 

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 

31 And by chance [SUNKURIA = a concurrence of events – or coincidentally] there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 

Please note that here it is our Lord who says these things happened by chance. 

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. [Emphasis added]

So, it just so happened that this occurred as it did.  Again, quite unlike some people believe, God has chosen not to control all that happens, all the events of life.  Human freedom and the free exercise of will do occur daily.   

Conclusion—  

Man’s volition from the time of the Garden of Eden does operate freely.  Man’s own decisions which he freely makes DO make a difference.  Scripture clearly tells us this.  Here’s an example of it. 

Joshua 24:15 

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. [Emphasis added] 

God has always held people responsible for the decisions they make.  In fact, this is one of the great lessons of life.  To a great extent we will all be a product of our own decisions.  Here the apostle Paul makes an important statement about this. 

Galatians 6:7-9 

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. [Emphasis added] 

The eternal future of all those who freely choose to accept God’s provision for their salvation has certainly been predetermined by God, but not the choice they made to accept the gospel message. 

Again, Romans 8:29 

29 For whom he [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [Emphasis added] 

It is Satan himself who is the author of all false teaching.  From the start, he’s claimed God is not fair, even though we know otherwise.  Man does have a choice in where he’ll spend eternity.  What has your choice been in that? Graciously God offers each of us the Savior He’s provided.  If we choose to put our faith in this provision He has made, we will be saved.  If we choose not to, we will spend eternity in hell and the Lake of Fire.   

John 3:18-19 

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. [Emphasis added] 

Where will YOU choose to be in eternity? The decision is completely yours to make.  Be sure to make the right one because you’ll live with the consequences of that choice you make forever. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added] 

If you’ll put your faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the sole basis for your salvation, you’ll be saved today and forever. 

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