Is What Is What Ought To Be?

How would you answer this question? Many Christians are perplexed by the implications of such questions. Atheists often pose similar questions that throw them for a loop. Well, if the answer puzzles you, I hope that there will no longer be any reason for you to be stumped by it after you have read this brief article.

The Christian answer clearly is “yes,” and “no.” How can that be? Well, the fact that the matter can be viewed from two perspectives is precisely what confuses some. They look at it from one alone, and therefore, come up with a less than satisfying answer. What are those two perspectives, and how do they clear up matters that otherwise might be confusing?

There is God’s perspective, and there is man’s. From God’s perspective, of course, what is, is what ought to be. How could it be otherwise? He is sovereign and His will is fulfilled in His providential working in history—both history in general, and in the history of each person.

But there is Man’s perspective. Of course, we fail to do God will, and thus bring upon ourselves heaps of trouble. But the question remains, how can what is be what ought to be, and what ought not to be, at the same time? The answer is that man sins against God’s expressed commands or (in other words) His written will.

What is, is what ought to be from the perspective of God’s decretive will. What He decrees, is, and will be. What is not, is what ought to be from the perspective of God’s directive will. As a sinner man disobeys the expressed commands of God. To fail to distinguish between what God does from what he commands us to do (and we fail to do) is the crux of the problem. When you recognize this fact, there should be no confusion, and no hesitation in answering “yes” and “No” should anyone pose the question to you.

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