This is an interesting and somewhat vexing question which many people have struggled with over the centuries given two seemingly contradictory positions in the Bible which appear to be at odds with each other. However, with God, nothing is illogical, and everything can be deciphered through the help of His Holy Spirit, who will "teach you all things
". You do not need a doctorate in Theology to be able to understand the word of God, although that may help, as the Spirit is able to guide us in all things.
This question suddenly struck me a few days ago when I was walking down beside the river and realised that I believed that we are not free agents at all, but that we were chosen of God before the foundation of the world, and therefore that we do not have free will at all! That led me to do a little searching and seeking of the word of God, and through that, I now believe we have both free will and are chosen of God before the foundation of the world. How can that be?
Let me explain with the use of scripture and my own insights gathered from seeking the word of the Holy Spirit. When I sought God for some divine revelation on this matter, I received it almost as instantly as I requested it, and it came back in the form of Ephesians chapter 1, verse 4:
"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:" - Ephesians 1:4
The key point here is "chosen us in him". These were the words that I received back from the Holy Spirit in answer to my request. If the Lord has "chosen us in him before the foundation of the world", how then can we say we had free will, if our destinies were already chosen out for us, and what does that say for the rest of creation and those who were not created for an equally glorious destiny?
I think the answer lies in one of the messages that Christ gave to his disciples in the form of a parable about the rich man and Lazarus:
"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." - Luke 16:31
I think this goes to the heart of the matter about free will and our destiny. God foreknew those who would respond to his call, and those who would not, regardless of what messages, prophets or miracles He sent them. Knowing this therefore in advance, the Lord "chose us in him" before we were ever born, and can therefore shut the eyes of those who shall not see, and harden the hearts of those who will not believe.
"And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." - Mark 4:11-12
"For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." - Matthew 13:15
"Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." - Romans 9:18
The problem that many people have is that there are several other passages which seem to run counter to the doctrine of predestination, and that God desires all men to be saved, and for none to perish:
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." - 1 Timothy 2:4
If this be the case, how then can the two doctrines of free will and predestination stand side by side? As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, how can God judge or find fault with anyone if He has chosen beforehand those who should be saved and those who will not.
The answer lies in that foreknowledge of all things. God sees all things and knows all things in advance of them happening, so knowing these things in advance, He knows who are His, and those who are not.
"The Lord knoweth them that are his." - 2 Timothy 2:19
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." - Romans 8:28-30
"(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)...As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." - Romans 9:11,13
He chose those who He knew were of Him, and would respond to His call. So knowing this in advance, how can any man say, 'Why did you make me like this?', because God foreknew you. So, no one who wasn't meant to come to God will come to God, and those who were meant to come to God shall come to God - and none will be lost.
So, when you came into the world, your destiny was already chosen, based on God's foreknowledge of you, and He will call you out of the world if that is your destiny. For God does not need any one to tell Him who should be saved and who should not. He already knew before the world began, and before He created you. Yes, He wants all men to come to Him and be saved, but He knew long before He created anyone, those who were His, and those who were not.
But could God not have made all men to come to Him? Yes, but where then would be free will? The Lord made you that way, or not, for His own purpose and glory.
"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." - Romans 9:16
Therefore, God has made some vessels for glory, and other vessels for destruction, based on His foreknowledge.
"Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory," - Romans 9:19-23
Let us not forget that the Lord made Satan, the devil, and that Jesus, the son of the living God called him the "father" of lies and a "murderer from the beginning". Those who are not with God are against God, and are of their father, the devil.
Everybody has a choice to come to God or not, and God foreknew those who would, and chose them accordingly.
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." - John 8:44
"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." - Matthew 12:30
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" - Matthew 25:41
Even with the Lord's foreknowledge, He still made Satan, knowing that He would bring great misery. Why? Because He gave him and the angels free will, just as we humans too have free will. However, God also knew those who were his from the beginning, and will call them out of the world. But just because you were called, does not mean you are chosen.
"For many are called, but few are chosen." - Matthew 22:14
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:" - 2 Peter 1:10
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" - John 10:27
So yes you have free will, but you were either chosen or not chosen before the world began. The good news is that you have it in your power right now to choose your eternal destiny! For Jesus said;
"I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." - John 8:12
By Steve Moxham
September 15, 2013
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