Symproto

Immediate Reward and Punishment

Oct
23

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. (Matt. 5:45)

 

“None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain.” (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)

Is it not true of the wicked also? Were the wicked to be immediately punished for their deeds, then they would learn to be righteous, not for the sake of righteousness itself; rather to avoid the immediate punishment, thus losing our free will.

“But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 4.)

“God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15,2.)

“The commandments given to man may be viewed as questions because man is free. I obey not because I must but because I will. The Lord wants me, even me, to be his companion. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ (Amos 3:3.) As I hearken and obey, as I quickly respond, I show my desire to be in agreement with Him.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Question, 7.)

If God were to reward or punish immediately, there would be no room for development; and after all, is that not why were are here in the first place?

 

Free Will

Sep
27

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that is was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4.)

If we are to interpret the word light as Christ or the Gospel, and darkness as Satan or evil, does this change the way we read these verses?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12.)

Good vs. evil has been since the beginning and continues today on earth:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev. 12:7-9.)

What was the war in heaven fought over? Is it not free will?

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; (Moses 7:32, Pearl of Great Price.)

God has blessed us with free will, so that we may learn to choose the good, not by compulsion or constraint, but by choice proven through our obedience to His commandments:

But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God. (Novatian, Concerning the Trinity, XXIX.)

And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that “many are called but few are chosen”: and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world; and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15, 2.)

Why is free will then so difficult, particularly for the righteous followers?

Life in this universe is full of polarities and is made full by them; we struggle with them, complain about them, even try sometimes to destroy them with dogmatism or self-righteousness, or retreat into the innocence that is only ignorance, a return to the Garden of Eden where there is deceptive ease and clarity but no salvation. (England, Eugene, Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel, pg. 3)

None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain. (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)