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Does God have a 'second best' for you because You have failed in his first plan?

The bible declares that God is all powerful and has the power to influence our decisions. Paul tells the Philippians church that they should work out their salvation with fear and trembling and then he goes on to tell them that ‘It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose’, Philippians 2:13. God is in control of all things and He uses the evil intentions of people to work out His good purposes. The story of Joseph is a good example. His brothers did an evil thing in selling Joseph into slavery , ‘but God intended it for good to accomplish the salvation of many souls from famine’, Genesis 50:19-20. The cross of Jesus is another example, the supreme example where wicked men’s intensions were used for the salvation of the world.

God rules over everything and can use evil to accomplish his primary purposes as is demonstrated in the death of Jesus Christ. But some reject this notion of God’s power and ruling and they act and live their lives as if this is not true.

Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne in their book Guidance and the voice of God talk about the strange heresy known as God’s ‘second best’ due to the rejection of God’s ruling power. Some Christians would have probably heard or perhaps live their lives according to this teaching of God’s second best for your life. This teaching teaches that if God wants them to follow a particular course of action (marry Mary or go to Iraq) and they choose not to do it, then they are committed for the rest of their lives to God’s ‘second best’. God initially had something better for them but they blew it so consequently they’ve missed out on God’s best and now have to settle for his ‘second best’. People who live and think this way automatically believe that they are now outside God’s perfect plan for them. Is this how you feel because you have messed up so badly?

This view is a mockery of how the Bible portrays who God is and also this view has some errors to which Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne help illuminate.

Firstly, there is the misunderstanding of sin and its consequences. The ‘second best’ theory seems to assume that there are only relatively few decisions that might place us outside God’s will. However, our wrong decisions are not limited to a few areas (like marriage and carreer). We choose to rebel against God in hundreds and thousands of ways throughout our lives. Does each of these mistakes take us further and further away from the perfect plan? By the end of our lives, we are somewhere up around the ‘10,000th best’?

Most importantly, the ‘second best’ heresy denies the power of God. According tot his view, once I have chosen my course of action, God is powerless to redeem the situation. He cannot rewrite the script. In fact, he is no longer a God with plans; he is a God with hopes. He is unable to achieve his goals without my indispensable cooperation, and is depoendant on me making the right choices. He becomes subject to the whims and follies of human sinfulness.

This view of God is a far cry from the true biblical picture. As we have seen with Joseph that God is able to use bad decisions for good and yet his primary purposes still remains. Or for example take Peter, the great apostle as some would call him; did he not deny Jesus and yet when Jesus came to him, did Jesus tell Peter that ‘because of your denial you will now live outside of my perfect plan for you. Peter you will now be living a second best existence’. No, we see Jesus entrust Peter with the church and as Jesus promised Peter when they first met that he would make Peter a fisher of men; Jesus fulfilled his promises. But because of the view we have of God we are prone to react like Peter that is to wallow in self pity for ourselves and go back to our old ways because we’ve failed so badly. Jesus wants you to know that there is no failure which is so bad that his cross has not paid for. You only need to trust God and bath in his grace and generosity.

God is able to restore the years which the locust have eaten. God is able to restore all of the bad decisions you have made and heal all of your sins and take away all of your guilt. God is able to use all of your bad decisions for your good and in fact he is using it for your good because God works all things for the good of those who love him. If you are trusting in Jesus today, God is working everything to your good. All of your sexual failures, your pride, immorality, He is working it all for your good and wishes you to forsake them and come back to him so that He may restore you and make you abound in his generosity. For He is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose. 

So I beg you my brothers and sisters, forsake any notion that you can only live your life as God’s second best because you have failed so badly. It is a travesty on who God is and God who is your Father is wanting you to know that He is sovereign and able to use all of your failures to your good. Forsake this ‘second best’ heresy and cling to the God who is able to restore and repay you for the years which the locusts have eaten. 


Material  reliant on Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne book 'Guidance and the voice of God'.


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