Is It True That Whatever Will Be, Will Be?
(A Biblical Study Concerning the Philosophy of Fate)
Fate is the philosophy that man’s future life is pre-recorded and cannot be altered, hence the saying, “whatever will be will be.” The dictionary definesfate as, “Prophetic declaration, oracle, what is ordained by the gods, destiny, fate. The principle or determining cause or will by which things in general are supposed to come to be as they are or are decreed.”
A question of great magnitude is, who or what determines, decrees or pre-programs human life so that it cannot be altered? The most common answer is, “a higher power.” This higher power, difficult to establish, is usually identified as the gods and goddesses of mankind or Jehovah God of the Bible.
The Gods and Goddesses of Mankind
The Pantheon of the Greeks (Zeus was their chief god) and Romans (Jupiter was their chief god) had within their clans those who supposedly had the power to program or pre-record the lives of mortals. “Very important but assigned to no abode whether in heaven or on the earth were the Fates, Moire in Greek, Parae in Latin, who, Hasid says, give to men at birth evil and good to have. They were three, Cloth, the Spinner, who spun the thread of life; Leucoses, the Disposer of Lots, who assigned to each man his destiny; Apropos, she who could not be turned, who carried ‘the abhorred shears’ and cut the thread at death.” (Mythology by Edith Hamilton, p. 43)
A careful study of these supposed deities shows that they were created in the image of man. Their total lack of self control (immorality, jealousy, vengeance, unbridled lust, drunkenness and other acts of violence) is a matter of record and no serious student of the history of mankind would place the destiny of man in the hands of such an amoral clan.
The only suggestion as to the “higher power” which pre-records man’s future life which merits any serious consideration is Jehovah God. Jehovah God is the highest power in existence. From everlasting to everlasting (Psalms 90:2), He is the creator of all that exists (Genesis 1:1), is all powerful (Genesis 17:1), all knowing (Hebrews 4:13), and ever present (Jerimiah 23:24). As the highest power in existence He has revealed Himself and His ways of righteousness to mankind through the Bible. Through the scripture man is furnished unto every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17), and given all things that pertain unto life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). The Bible, which is God’s revelation to man (I Corinthians 2:6-13 and I Corinthians 14:37), will be His standard of judgment (John 12:48), when all men will be required to give an account of their lives on the earth (II Corinthians 5:10). If we can find one example in scripture where man is free to make a choice in his spiritual life, the theory that man’s life has been pre-recorded and not subject to change is totally false.
The Testimony of God’s Word
God in the Bible, His revelation to man, teaches that man’s life is not unalterable, pre-recorded or predestined.
In the Old Testament it is revealed that man can choose whom he will serve. “And it if seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Furthermore, man can prolong his days upon the earth (Proverbs 10:27). Neither of these would be possible if the concept of fate was true.
In the New Testament man’s freedom of choice is also established. Jesus in his great sermon on the mount exhorted, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Man is invited to follow Jesus (Matthew 11:28 and Revelation 3:20). If fate seals man’s destiny in eternal condemnation, it would be a mockery to invite him to a better life which he could not attain. If mankind is governed by fate why admonish him to be faithful (Revelation 2:10), and warn him against wickedness (Galatians 5:19-23)? It is God’s word that produces faith not fate (Romans 10:17)! Man has the ability to “gladly receive” God’s word and be saved (Acts 2:41).
God Desired All Men to Be Saved
It is an undeniable truth that God desires all men to be saved. Paul wrote to Timothy, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4; see also II Peter 3:9). This salvation is offered to all men. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11; see also Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 6:17-18; II Thessalonians 2:14).
Results of the False Philosophy of Fate
The results of the doctrine of fate are two-fold. It removes responsibility for personal actions and it removes any incentive for seeking God and His righteousness.
The word of God teaches that a judgment day is coming when all men will give an account of the choices made in life on earth. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10; see also Hebrews 9:27; Matthew 25:31-34; Acts 24:25; Romans 14:10, II Peter 2:9 and II Peter 3:7). How can man be held personally accountable, by a righteous judge, for activities that were decreed by fate and over which he had no control? Man will be not be found guilty of the sins or unrighteousness of others, (Ezekiel 18:19-24; II Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27), only his own (Romans 2:1-10).
If man is pre-programmed, he has no incentive to seek God nor improve his quality of life as far as righteousness is concerned. The Bible, however, clearly teaches that man has a responsibility to seek God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Evidence for the existence of God is available to all (Psalms 19:1 and Romans 1:18-23). Man has the responsibility to seek after God (Acts 17:24-30: Matthew 5:6; Romans 6:16). This responsibility continues after one becomes a child of God (I Timothy6:11; II Timothy 2:22).
We should all be extremely thankful for the love, grace and mercy of Jehovah God who provides salvation for all men and encourages them to enjoy abundant life on earth (John 10:10), and eternal life in heaven (John 14:1-4).