Back at school I learned how to produce computer programs with a range of different computer languages. Although the language changed, the same three fundamentals popped up all of the time.
Yes, there were also arrays, functions and so on, but every program was basically made up of a combination of three processes.
- Sequence - where the program would run each command in the sequence they were written
- Selection - Where a decision had to made based on a set of parameters
- Iteration - where the program ran a set of instructions in a loop
It occurred to me that these also occur in the bible. This struck me as I was writing elsewhere on the subject of predestination.
This teaching suggests that all matters have been predestined by God. Every person is predestined to either follow Him or not, and all outcomes are already set in concrete.
As such people have no control over events, particularly as relates to their call or otherwise.
Now, it is not the intent of this article to agree or disagree with this theology, but it was while considering this view that triggered my thinking about computer programming.
Computers are programmed to perform specific tasks. But computers are not sentient and so they have no control over what those tasks may be, nor can they change their tasks, except as laid out in the instructions of the programs they are running.
People on the other hand are sentient. They have been given the ability to make choices, such as whether to follow Christ or not, or whether to do good or evil, and so on.
It is particularly in the area of “Selection” under the programming model that the bible shows an immense amount of information, but let us first look at “sequence” and “iteration.”
Sequence and iteration
There are parallels to “sequence” and “iteration” from computer programming in the bible.
Look at the words Peter wrote, which is a clear example of “sequence.”
"For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter chapter 1, verses 5-7)"
He doesn’t jump from faith to love, but love is built through a sequence of intervening stages.
There are elements of “iteration” in the words of the writer of Hebrews.
"…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews chapter 10 verses 24-25)"
We are encouraged to stir others up to good and to meet together regularly, which is what iteration is all about.
It never ceases to amaze me how much the bible has relevance to our daily life, and in this computer programming model we see just one more example.
I happened to be reading these verses at the time,
"Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John chapter 8 verses 31-32)"
The two words that struck me in relation to this matter were, “If you.” I did a quick lookup in my bible and found that the words “if you” appear one hundred and twenty four times.
Think about this. “If you” represents a choice. It says, “if you do X then this will happen,” or “if you do NOT do X something else will happen.” In computer programming that is “selection.”
And in Christ it shows that the decision is in our hands to select one path or another.
No pressure to choose
Although Christ recommends we choose the right path, He does not force that decision on anyone. The decision is always in our hands.
Even the Holy Spirit who works with us and dwells within us does not force His will on anyone.
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. (Romans chapter 8 verse 15)"
There is no pressure on anyone to do the will of God. It is a choice that has to be made, and we are the ones given the power and authority to make that choice. We can choose good or evil, and reap the outcomes of whatever we choose.
So whether we are predestined to one thing or another or not, it is clear we have to make some significant choices. We are not forced into any position, but I say, “Choose Christ!” What will you choose?
Since retiring from work, John Lemmon now spends his time teaching, preaching and writing about the word of God, online and offline, answering God's call on him to “Speak to my people.” You can connect with John on Twitter (@JohnBLemmon) or on his website: freegiftfromgod.com/ or listen to his podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-free-gift-from-god-podcast/id1440682375