Many are the proponents that will side with man having free will, and why would they not? Many if not most of us would like to think that we are free to make our own choices. Then there are those who believe in election, and many in both camps say that the two are mutually exclusive.
The two camps on the issue of how we come to Christ are free will, and election. They are not mutually exclusive and in fact one cannot be without the other. I used to argue for free will, as I at that time (and still do) believed we have the freedom to choose our own actions and make our own decisions. I now say that both camps can and do coexist and actually work together if we understand what the Bible has to say about this issue.
A Closer Look At Free Will
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me
Notice how these verses are worded, if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, if anyone hears my voice. If implies that we have a choice – a choice to hear the Lord, and to accept and serve the Lord – or not.
Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved
Again we see the word if; if we believe in the Lord Jesus we shall be saved, not when, if. We have free will to accept Christ or refuse Him.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live
A choice is herein presented, choose life and blessings in God, or choose death and curses. That choice is still applicable today – choose Jesus and everlasting life with Him, or choose to refuse Christ and suffer the consequences of that decision, eternity in hell.
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves
Here we see that God simply acted on the people’s own choice. Those that chose to ignore God and instead worshiped idols made of the hand He gave up to their own fleshy natures and the sins of the related cultures they were living in and chose to follow.
To say that man does not have free will borders on being preposterous. Free will has been given man since day one in all things. We have only to look back at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to see that this is true.
Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die
Adam and Eve were presented with a choice, obey God and reap the benefits or disobey God and reap the consequences.
The prophet Jonah obeyed God, but he first made a different choice and he disobeyed God.
The Apostle Peter denied Christ before whole heartedly serving Him as one of the Apostles.
The Apostle Paul persecuted the Church of Christ like no one else, even killing people – then became an Apostle of Christ and wrote much of the New Testament.
Choices – it is all about choices – God will NOT over-rule your choice.
If there were no choices open to men, all of humanity would follow Christ. There would be no Islam, no Satanic cults, and New Age beliefs would not be growing at the phenomenal rate that they are. There would be no great falling away as the Bible says will happen in the last times and is in fact happening today as you read this – apostasy is in full swing.
A Closer Look At Election
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren
2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began
Obviously we are chosen, and two of the above verses make it crystal clear that we were chosen even before the world was created and the third verse strongly implies that.
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you…
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…
In the first two verses Jesus tells us that He chose us; that the Father draws all who are chosen to Him. We are predestined to belong to God or we are not.
Predestination and Election
Some people mistake the meaning behind predestination and God’s election of His followers to mean that we have no choice in the matter. Predestined does sound a lot like we have no choice in the matter – but such is not the case. Election does not and cannot invalidate free will!
When the Bible speaks of God predestining us to eternal life as His, He did not as some think decide who will follow Christ and who will not. The Bible also speaks of God “foreknowing” – God foreknew ALL people, therefore He also knew what their decision would be concerning Him! God merely acted upon the decision He knew we would all make. We must remember God is outside of time, existent in the past, present and future – all things are known by Him at all times. If you truly believe this (and you should) then how can you not believe that God could and does know your decisions and simply acted(s) upon what He already knows your decision to be?
Lets take a much simpler example: you have been dating your future spouse for a couple of years. You decide to ask said person to marry you – knowing in your heart that this person will without a doubt say yes – you buy the ring and plan out your proposal. Does this negate that person’s choice in the matter? Of course not! Yet you still “foreknew” the outcome.
Again – your own children. Often we as parents see our children faced with a particular decision, and often we know what that decision will be (although unlike God we are wrong sometimes) and plan accordingly, good or bad. Does this take away the child’s/young adult’s free will to make this decision? Of course not! Yet you as the parent being intimately and lovingly intertwined with your child “foreknew” the outcome – it is the same with God and each one of us, only God as our loving Parent is never wrong!
Putting It All Together
We have looked at election and free will separately – now lets look at them together.
The Bible says that God foreknew, predestined, and elected us. Some feel that this takes away the possibility of free will or our choice as to whether or not we will follow Christ. Still more feel that this is unfair, that only those God chose can become His and all others are left out in the cold. Based on just those words it does seem that way until we take a closer look at what the Bible has to say in complete context.
As the verses above show we have a choice, and at the same time God chose us. When God chose us He already knew what our decisions would be. Most Christians believe in the ultimate power of God; God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, so why do people struggle with the idea that God who knows all things already knew what decision each of us would make in regards to whether or not we would choose Him?
God does not decide if we will choose Him, He gave each one of us the power to make that decision! If God indeed did choose each of us who follow Him, what meaning would that have? That is not even a logical supposition. If such were the case then evangelism, preaching the Word, and the Apostles mission would all be meaningless and without merit. Jesus time here preaching the Word of God would have been completely unnecessary.
Why would we be given the command to preach the Gospel to all people if said people had no choice? Lets take it a step further even – if no one has free will how and why did Satan happen? Let me share a secret with you – we as human beings have no need of Satan to be selfish, rotten, deceptive, and even evil.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
It is a baser part of our humanity. Any honest Christian will tell you they have and do struggle with looking out for number 1, and others who don’t know Christ – well you figure it out.
The bottom line is all things considered we have a choice. God is not interested in having a bunch of mindless robots – God did not look down from eternity and say, “you will follow me, you will not follow me”. The whole idea behind us following and putting our trust in Christ is centered and grounded in the choice itself. Our choice is what lends credibility and meaning to the people that worship God. God knows that He is surrounded by people that freely choose to love and worship Him. God cannot be like Satan who uses deception to entice people to fall away from God, God uses tender-hearted love to reach out to us and save us even in the midst of our worst sins. But, yes there is a but – we need to be listening and willing to accept what God offers. God is a gentleman, and therefore will not force Himself upon us – He desires that all be saved, but it is still our choice to make.
Think of it this way: how much would it mean to you if the only reason your spouse married you was because you chose that person to do so? Isn’t your spouse special to you because that person freely chose you to be their beloved?
God did choose you and loves you – because God knew you would choose Him!
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