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Introduction and Bible Study Index

Foundations For Our Faith Ministries

Free will
The term "free will," when used in a biblical context, is a phrase that is often used in relation to salvation, and has also been associated with much controversy. Simply put, the biblical concept of free will says that everyone has the ability to either accept or reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life; thus, each of us has the ability to accept or reject the gift of salvation. The controversy associated with the term free will generally centers around two arguments opposing the concept of free will. The first argument is that the term free will cannot be found anywhere in the Bible; therefore, it does not exist. The second argument, which is similar to the first, is that the Bible does not teach that man has free will, but, on the contrary, the Bible teaches that God elects, or chooses, those who will be saved and those who will be separated from Him for eternity. In examining the validity of these arguments, we will ask and answer six basic questions:

1) What is the definition of "free will"? 2) Is "free will" actually spoken of in the Bible? 3) What is Gods will for mans salvation? 4) How do we reconcile the biblical concepts of election and free will? 5) What responsibility do we have for other people in their free will decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ? 6) Why did God give us free will?

There may be other ancilliary issues related to the biblical concept of "free will", but if we can reasonably resolve and come to conclusions regarding the above six issues, then most, if not all, other related issues that may exist
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should fall into line with our conclusions regarding these six issues. In addition, following the discussions on the above questions, we will review some of the major passages that are used to attempt to deny that we have freewill, and we will show how these arguments are incorrect. Let us first begin with properly defining the term free will.

Definition of Free Will


Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines "free will" as follows: 1: the power asserted of moral beings of willing or choosing within certain limitations or with respect to certain matters without the restraints of physical or divinely imposed necisity or outside causal law: spontaneous will or partially causeless volition 2: the ability to choose between alternative possibilities in such a way that the choice and action are to some extent creatively determined by the conscious subject at the time. (Note: the bolding/underlining of words is of authors choosing) Based on the above definition, noting in particular the highlighted sections, the term "free will" refers to the ability of a person to be able to choose for themselves. The term "free will" points to the assumption that a person has the ability to independently make choices in their life as opposed to an external force making decisions for them .

Is Free Will Actually Spoken of In the Bible?


Now that we have defined the term free will for our discussion purposes, we will move onto the next question to be answered, "Is the concept of 'free will' spoken of in the Bible. To begin with, the term "free will" cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. Does this now mean we can stop our discussion and come away with the conclusion that humankind does not have "free will" since this exact term is never used in the Bible? We can, but then we must also say that we do not believe in the "Trinity" or the "Rapture" since these terms also cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. In searching for the truth about "free will", we must apply the same logic as we do with other christian terms that are not found in the Bible, that is, we find biblical support for these terms based on the definition of the term and not the term itself. Therefore, we will perform our biblical investigation on the concept of "free will" based on its basic definition: ones ability to choose. Does the Bible talk about a person's ability to choose, and, if so, do they possess the ability to choose? Let us first take a look at what the Old Testament says about our ability to choose. In Chapter 3 of Genesis we have the well known story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". In chapter 2 of Genesis, we read "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (NKJ: Gen 2:16-17) Adam was specifically instructed by God not to eat of this tree, that is, it was God's will that Adam not eat of this tree. However, Adam, along with his wife, chose to eat of this tree against Gods will. Furthermore, the argument cannot be used that the both of them only ate the fruit since they were deceived because we read in the first book of Timothy, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." (NKJ: 1Tim 2:14) Adam chose not to obey God's will, and God allowed him to disobey even though it was against His will. Adam was created with the ability to freely choose
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for himself the directions he would take in his life even if those choices were contrary to Gods will. In the book of Dueteronomy, chapters 29 and 30, God, through Moses, renews his covenant with Israel. In God's covenant, Israel is given the choice of blessings if they continue to follow and worship Jehovah (God), or curses if they turn from Him to follow and worship other gods. At the conclusion of this renewing of God's covenant, God says through Moses, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." (NKJ: Duet 30:19) God's will was that the people of Israel would follow Him, but he gave them choice, or "free will", to choose to follow Him or to follow other gods. God loved (and still loves) Israel, and His desire was that they follow Him and be His people. Nevertheless, God allowed Israel to make their own choice. God's desire is for us to sincerely and freely love Him, and not to be preprogrammed robot-like creatures exhibiting a fabricated and insincere love. In the book of Joshua we have God making a covenant with Israel through Joshua, and again Israel is given a choice of serving God Jehovah or the gods of the land. Joshua exclaims to the gathered nation of Israel, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (NKJ: Joshua 25:15) After all of Israel proclaims that they chose to serve the Lord, Joshua mirrors back to the Nation its chosen direction, "So Joshua said to the people, 'You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.' And they said, 'We are witnesses!'" (NKJ: Joshua 25:22) The Lord, through Joshua, wanted to make it clear to the nation of Israel that they had made a free choice to follow Him and Him alone. Their choices had been laid out before them, clearly and concisely, and they were given a choice between Jehovah and the gods of the land. God deeply wanted His people to worship and follow Him so He could bless them, but the final decision was 100% in the hands of Israel. God's will for us, and his gift of choice, can be clearly seen in chapter 33 of Ezekiel where God says, "Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'" God does not will that anyone should perish in Hell, but that everyone should be with Him for eternity. In this verse we can see God almost pleading with Israel to turn from their evil ways. God is asking them to use their ability to choose, their "free will", and to come back to Him. This verse would make absolutely no sense if man did not possess the ability to choose for himself. If man did not have the ability to choose, and God was to make the decision for man, then all of Israel would have turned from their evil ways and followed Jehovah. For that was God's will. However, as we see later on in the Bible, Israel does not turn, and God is forced to bring tribulation upon the nation of Israel. This was not God's desire or will, but it was the direct result of Israel's choice or "free will." Therefore, from an Old Testament perspective, we see "free will" or choice being given to all of us in our relationship with God Jehovah. Each person was given the right to choose whether they would serve the one true God or the false gods of the land. God's ultimate desire was that all the hearts of Israel would turn toward Him in worship and praise so that He could pour out his blessings on the nation, but, as strange as it may sound, Israel was given the right to choose, and their choice actually superseded God's will. Clearly, the Old Testament teaches a doctrine of free will.

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What is Gods Will For Our Salvation?


But what does the New Testament say about "free will" or "choice?" To answer this question, we must first address the third question that was posed in the beginning of our discussion, that is, "What is God's will for our salvation? The New Testament provides us with a very clear perspective on God's will for our salvation. In the book of I Timothy we read, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (NKJ: I Tim 2:3-4) And in II Peter we read, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance ." (NKJ: II Pet:3:9) To clearly understand the concept of "free will" or "choice" in the New Testament, we must first understand the will of God towards our salvation. As can be clearly seen in the prior two verses, God's will for us is that we ALL be saved and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Why then do any of us at all have to worry about going to heaven? If God's will is that we all are to be with Him through eternity, then we have nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. Unfortunately for some of us, God has given us the right to make our own choice--"free will." And the amazing thing about our ability to choose is that God respects our decision and will not countermand that decision. He has given us complete and ultimate authority over our own salvation. The work was already completed by Jesus Christ on the Cross, but the decision to accept Him as Lord and Savior of our lives, and to receive the free gift of salvation, is entirely in our own hands. This is the only place in the entire Bible where God's will is superseded by mans will. He will faithfully and continually reach out to us and give us every opportunity to come to Him, but the final decision is ours. Some may say that the gift of salvation is only offerred to a select group of people already prechosen by God, but this is clearly an incorrect biblical view since salvation is offered to everyone. This is very clear from the Scriptures: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (NKJ: John 3:16) "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NKJ: Romans 10:13) "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (NKJ: I John 2:2) "...as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith." (NKJ: Romans 12:3) "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (NKJ: I Timothy 2:5-6) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (NKJ: John 1:29) Based on the above verses, it is very clear that the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross was done for and made available to all of us. And, since everyone has the "free will" to either accept or reject the Lord, and the free gift of salvation, they will have no excuse when they appear before the Lord, for we read in the book of Romans, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that
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are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." (NKJ: Rom 1:20) Conversely, if we did not have free will, then we would have an excuse when we appeared before the Lord, that is, the decision would have been made for us, and we could argue that we never had the choice to accept Him. But obviously we do have choice because God says that we will be without excuse.

How Do We Reconcile Election and Free Will?


It appears to be clear, from our prior discussion, that everyone has free will; however, some will point to the fact that the Bible also teaches that God elects, or chooses, those who will inherit salvation. Now, if God chooses those who will inherit salvation, then this would appear to contradict the concept of free will. This leads us into our fourth question, How do we reconcile election and free will? At first glance, this appears to be an unreconcilable difference, that is, the concepts of free will and election. However, this problem is quickly resolved when we understand the Biblical definition of election, which becomes apparent in the following two verses: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NKJ Rom 8:29-30) elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (NKJ 1Pet 1:2) Based on the above verses, we can see that Gods election of those that He will call into the kingdom of heaven is based on His foreknowledge of those who will receive His Son, Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior. The word foreknowledge refers to knowing something before it happens, and the Bible tells us that God knew all of us even before He created the earth, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, (NKJ: Ephesians 1:4-5) He saw our whole lives, and everything we would ever do before time even began. Gods decision to elect those who would spend eternity in heaven with Him is not based on the roll of a pair of holy dice, rather He chooses, or elects, us based on His knowledge of who will ultimately believe in and accept His Son. Said another way, those of us who have chosen, or will choose, to follow Jesus Christ did not do so because God chose, or elected, us first, rather our choice to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior caused God to choose, or elect, us to be His children. God has or will choose us because He foreknew that we would ultimately choose Him. Biblical election is based on Gods foreknowledge, and not on what some would say is an arbitrary selection by God. Based on the foregoing, it should be clear that biblical election, as defined by the Bible, is in complete harmony with the doctrine of free will.

What Responsibility Do We Have For Other People in Their Free Will Decision to Accept or Reject Jesus Christ? Based on our discussion to this point, it should be fairly clear to the reader that we all possess a free will to chose to accept or reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, that is, to choose to live eternity either in heaven with the Lord, or separated from Him in torment. This leads us to our fifth question, What responsibility
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do we have for other people in their free will decision to accept or reject Jesus Christ? As we have previously discussed, salvation is a personal choice. A choice that each one of us will make. A choice that each one of us will live with for eternity whether it be in heaven with the Lord or in eternal separation from Him. As Christians, we are called to witness to unbelievers, but we must always realize that we are merely a tool that God uses to reach out to the unsaved, just as a pen is merely a tool in the hand of a writer. When an unbeliever, through our sharing of the gospel message, comes to the Lord we must understand that their conversion was accomplished by the Holy Spirit working through us and in the heart of an unbeliever. Our role is that of assisting the Holy Spirit, but it is His work and not ours that brings the unbeliever to repentance and to a saving belief in Jesus Christ. When the Holy Spirit reaches out to a persons heart, some will choose to heed His call, and, unfortunately, others will choose to reject the call of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, it is the individual choice of each person to either accept or reject Gods free gift of salvation through the work of His Son. We are accountable for witnessing to the world and preaching the Gospel, but we are not responsible for another persons personal choice regarding the Lord. In the book of Jonah, we have prophet Jonah who is sometimes referred to as the reluctant prophet. He received this nickname because of his extreme reluctance to follow Gods will and preach to the Ninevites. God calls Jonah to go and witness to the people living in Ninevah. Jonah at first jumps on a boat and heads in the opposite direction of Ninevah. Jonah had no intention of preaching to the Ninevites for they were a people with a long history of extreme cruelty towards other nations, including Israel. Jonah did not want to witness to them because he knew that God was a gracious God, and if they were to repent, then God would forgive them. Instead, Jonahs desire was to have God punish the Ninevites for their past sins. When Jonah is finally delivered to Ninevah, he preaches a rather unsavory message to the people, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! (NKJ: Jonah 3:4) To his surprise, they repented and were saved from Gods wrath. After the Ninevites repented, Jonah was actually distraught with disappointment. God used Jonah to deliver His message to the Ninevites, but, as can be seen, Jonah was merely the tool, and it was God who worked in the hearts of the Ninevites to bring them to repentance. In direct contrast to Jonah, we have the prophet Jeremiah, sometimes referred to as the weeping prophet. Jeremiah received his nickname due to the fact that his heart ached for his people, the Jews, to turn to God, and he would weep for his people. God called Jeremiah to witness to the southern kingdom of Israel, referred to as Judah, after the fall of the northern kingdom, referred to as Israel. Jeremiah had a heart for his people and desperately wanted them to return to following God Jehovah. He preached fervently to his fellow kinsmen, pleading with them to repent and return to their God, but to no avail. Unfortunately, the nations heart had grown cold toward their true God, and they had taken to worshipping the gods of the land, which ultimately lead to the nation being conquered and taken into captivity. What a contrast we have in these two stories. In Jonah, we have a prophet who is hoping that Gods message will be rejected, and that God will destroy the people to whom he is preaching. But the people receive Gods message, repent, and are saved. Whereas, in Jeremiah, we have a prophet who loves the people to whom he is preaching, and desperately desires that every one of these people receive the Lord and be saved. However, they reject Gods call, and the nation is taken into captivity. One prophet hates the people to whom he is preaching, and his message is received. The other prophet loves the people to whom he is preaching, and his message is rejected. It all comes back to the fact that it is the Holy Spirit, working through us, who reaches out to a persons heart and knocks. The choice of whether that heart opens the door or the door remains locked is solely the responsibility of the owner of the heart. We are only the messengers of the message, not the sender, and, as
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such, we are not to take responsibility for the receivers choice as to how they respond to the call of the Holy Spirit, rather we are only called to faithfully deliver the message. The biblical fact is that many people walked with Jesus, heard His message, saw His miracles, and yet chose to reject His message. As God said to Samuel when the people did not want to be ruled through him, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me. (NKJ: 1Sam 8:7) If people would reject the message of salvation presented by our Messiah Himself, then what guilt should we have if some people reject the message of salvation from our mouths? We should, as Paul wrote to Timothy, Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (NKJ: II Timothy 4:2) However, we must also realize that this is where our job ends in that we can evangelize and minister to an individual, but, ultimately, it is their decision, and their decision alone, to accept or reject the message and gift of salvation.

Why Did God Give Us Free Will?


We finally come to the sixth and final question, Why did God give us free will? This is a reasonable question, and begs a reasonable answer. The following discussion on this question is based on a wonderful little book I read entitled Why Does God Allow It?! by A.E. Wilder-Smith. My summary may be adequate, but will definitely not do justice to the work of Mr. Wilder-Smith. I would strongly recommend getting a copy of this short little book (44 pages on small pages with large type) that might take 20 minutes to read, and I guarantee you will be blessed with his writings on this subject as I was. Why did God give us free will? Strangely enough, we must look for the reason in Gods love. Gods love is infinite, and we, as finite beings, can never fully comprehend His love, but we can understand to a lesser extent His love when we study His love in the context of human love. God loves every person that ever did or will exist, and He desires to have us love Him and to fellowship with Him. However, God did not make us like robots where He pushes the right button and we automatically love Him. No, He wanted a true loving relationship with us. To accomplish this, He created us with a free will to decide for ourselves. We possess the ability to decide whether we will accept Gods love and to love Him back, or to reject His love. This is the risk that God knowingly took in giving us a free will. And with any relationship, love cannot be forced or controlled, but must be patiently pursued. God pursues us for our love every day of our lives, but does not force His love on us. If we were not given the ability to hate as well as love, to sin as well as obey, to kill as well as to care, or to destroy as well as to build, then how could we truly have a system of true love? The existence of evil in a world created by an all-powerful and all-mighty God only goes to prove that He is a God a love, for He loved us so much He was willing to give us the ability to reject Him. As stated by Dr. Wilder-Smith, Thus, we conclude that God allowed the universe to be bombarded because the plan was to establish a realm of free choice. The bombardment was merely the confrontation with a choice to do good or evil. Only in this way could a realm arise which was capable of genuine love and virtue. The construction of a kingdom of love, a kingdom of perfect freedom, involved the built-in risk of a kingdom of hell. Without this true possibility of a free-will decision for heaven or hell, one can never establish the bestthe perfect kingdom of love. (page 32) After the human race made a shambles of Gods perfect creation, what were Gods options? The Scriptures tell us that even before the foundations of the earth, God knew that the human race would make wrong decisions and would go down the road of slowly destroying Gods perfect creation. And knowing this, He, even before time began, carefully mapped out a plan of redemption for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Gods
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foreknowledge of the fall of the human race, beginning with Adam and Eve, however, does not necessarily mean that He was responsible for the fall. As Dr. Wilder-Smith states, In fact, quite the contrary is the case. Man was given a truly free will, and with it came the possibility of real love and virtueor real hate and sin. This fact decides forever the creatures genuine guilt in the face of the Creators love and righteousness in making in His own image, that is, capable of in-dependent choice and, like God, capable of real love. (page 34) The next question that arises is that if God saw in advance how His creation would turn out, why did He proceed with His creation? Lets take a look at our own lives in an attempt to understand Gods purpose. We make such decisions every day of our lives, that is, choosing to proceed in certain life directions that are mixed with joy and sorrow. Take for instance pets such as dogs and cats. Most people make the decision to bring pets into their lives for the joy that they bring us, knowing that one day they will die, sometimes after being sick for a period of time. We know that this will bring deep pain into our lives, but the years of joy that a pet will bring outweighs the pain that will come when they leave us. As so with God, He created all of us with free will, knowing that some of us would turn to Him in love and fellowship while others would turn away and reject Him. The joy of fellowship with those who would come to Him in love outweighs the sorrow God will have for those who reject Him. Dr. Wilder-Smith states, We shall escape the trials and sufferings of this life at death, but our character of love (ennobled through our trials) will continue to live forever. So whichever way we look we must admit that the creation, if it produced the possibility of love, is quite worthwhile, even if suffering may be involved. For love is the greatest of all virtues and far surpasses the misery which the freedom to love may entail. (page 35) What would God do with a creation that was largely rejecting Him? Dr. Wilder-Smith states, God saw mans wrong choice which would lead to chaos and anguish long before the choice was made. When it did come, however, He did not disgustedly dismiss and destroy the object of His love as one might expect of someone treated unjustly. Instead, through loving patience, He tried to salvage what He could out of the ruins. (page 37) Being the loving God that He is, He is patient with us, pursuing us in love, and desiring to salvage all those who would ultimately come to Him. We read in the Scriptures: Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that Gods kindness leads you toward repentance? (NKJ: Romans 2:4) God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NKJ: I Timothy 2:4) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) Gods love for us is shown through His patience and lovingkindness towards us: a sinful and rebellious creation. He so desires to have us truly love Him and to fellowship with Him that He holds back any wrath that we deserve, and replaces it with outstretched patient and loving arms. Gods original creation of this world and of us was perfect. However, His desire to have a system of true love lead Him to provide us with a free will that would ultimately allow some of us to reject Him.

Passages Incorrectly Used to Attempt to Refute Free Will


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Those who would try to say that we do not possess free will, and that God chooses those who will go to heaven and those who will go to hell, will point to various passages in the Bible that may appear, at first glance, to indicate that we do not possess a free will. But, as we will see, careful review of these passages will show that such an interpretation is incorrect. 1) God has prepared some of us for glory and some of us for destruction (Romans, Chapter 9) In the book of Romans we read, What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will? But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, Why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (NKJ: Romans 9:14-24) This passage is probably the key passage referred to by those who would claim that we do not have free will as proof that it is not us who choose to follow God, but God who chooses us. They will point to this passage to say that God, in His sovereignty, will select some of us, and give us the ability to come to and believe in Him, thus giving us the gift of salvation and eternity in heaven with Him. In contrast, others He will select and deny them the ability to come to and believe in Him, thus sentencing them to eternity in hell, apart from Him. According to the book of John, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJ: John 3:16) God loves all the world, and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world so that whoever would choose to believe in Him would have eternal life. Furthermore, as we have previously discussed, Gods desire is that everyone be saved (cf. I Timothy 2:4, II Peter 3:9); thus, if God is choosing who will be saved, then its great news for everyone in that we all will be saved. However, we know this is not the case, in that not everyone will go to heaven. God is sovereign, and He chose to send His son into the world to provide a means for us all to go to heaven. It is our decision to become one of Gods elect based on our decision to either accept or reject Jesus Christ. Based on Gods foreknowledge of our decision from the beginning of time, He chose those who would ultimately accept His Son, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (NKJ: I Peter 1:2) Thus, some of us were prepared for destruction, based on our decision to reject Jesus Christ, and others of us were prepared for glory based on our decision to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. One of the keys to understanding this passage is found when we look to the original Greek language used for the two separate uses of the word prepared in the passage above. In Greek, verbs can be active or passive. An active verb indicates that the subject is performing the act; whereas, the passive verb indicates that someone
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or something other than the subject is performing the act. The verb form of the word translated prepared relating to the phrase prepared beforehand for glory is in the active form meaning that God is the preparer for those who are made for glory in that they have accepted His Son, Jesus Christ. He will justify, sanctify, and glorify us for an eternity to be spent in heaven worshipping Him based on our decision to receive His Son as our Lord and Savior. Whereas, the verb form of the word translated prepared relating to the phrase prepared for destruction is in the passive form meaning that God is not the preparer, but we are, that is, in our choice to reject His Son we are rejecting the path to salvation and condemning ourselves to an eternity apart from God in hell. God created all of us. Unfortunately, we are born into this world as sinners, and our eternal destiny, as sinners, is to be apart from God in hell. Through His Son, God reaches out His hand to each and every one of us to come to Him, and spend eternity with Him in heaven. Those of us who take His hand, He actively pulls us off our path to Hell, and leads us to Himself. However, those who choose to reject Him, God passively honors their choice and allows them to fulfill their destiny to be apart from Him for eternity. God actively participates in the pathway to salvation, but passively participates in the pathway to hell . Thus we see in this passage Gods sovereignty in that He is a holy and righteous God who cannot be in the presence of sin. He has provided a way to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, available to all and whoever accept Him as their Lord and Savior. But, though God loves all of us, He will ultimately reject those who reject His Son: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NKJ: I John 5:11-12) He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (NKJ: John 3:36) Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (NKJ: I John 2:23) Some of us have been prepared for glory since the foundation of the earth based on our ultimate acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior based on Gods foreknowledge of our acceptance, while the rest were prepared for destruction from the foundation of the earth based on their ultimate rejection of Jesus Christ.

2) The ten plagues on Egypt where Pharoahs heart is hardened by God (Exodus, chapters 7 through 14) In the book of Exodus, God sends Moses to Pharoah to ask him to allow Israel to leave Egypt, and says that He will harden Pharoahs heart against Israel, And the LORD said to Moses, When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. (NKJ: Exodus 4:21) (cf. Exodus 7:3) Moses, at the direction of God, performs ten signs, bringing about ten plagues on Egypt. Then, as God said, Pharoahs heart is hardened after each plague. Those who would propose that we do not have free will have pointed to this passage in the Bible as proof of this since God Himself chose to harden Pharoahs heart; thus, not giving Pharoah the ability to choose for himself. At first glance, this may appear to be true, but a more thorough analysis of this passage will prove otherwise.
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First, we must remember that God is eternal and knows the beginning from the end. He possesses foreknowledge for all of time, including every decision we will ever make. He knows how we will react in every situation that will occur in our life, and will even at times control those situations for His purpose. However, though He may control various circumstances in our lives, the decision on how we react to those situations is our responsibility. To fully understand what is happening in this passage from Exodus, we must look to the original language in which this book was written: Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated harden can take on several meanings. In particular, it can mean to literally harden and it can also mean to confirm or make sure. If we take careful note of this passage, we will find that after each of the first five plagues, Pharoah is said to harden his own heart, that is, he willfully chooses to reject Gods signs. With the last five plagues, God is said to harden Pharoahs heart. So we can see that at first, Pharoah chose to harden his own heart five separate times. Properly translated, we are seeing that Pharoah chose to harden his heart, and then God confirmed his decision and made his selection sure. Pharoah basically said, God, I choose to ignore and reject your signs, thus, I reject you. God then said, if that is your choice, then I will confirm it and make your eternal destiny sure, that is, apart from me in hell. God foreknew that Pharoah would reject His signs, thus rejecting Him. And, based on Pharoahs hardening of his own heart, God knew that He would confirm that hardness; thus, God would harden Pharoahs heart based on Pharoahs personal decision to reject Him. Pharoah possessed a free will to either accept or reject the God of the universe. Upon his rejection of God, God confirmed his decision in his heart. Therefore, this passage completely supports the biblical doctrine of free will.

3) God calls those who will come to him, and those who are not called are not able to come Him Those who will deny that we possess free will believe that God calls to Himself those who will be saved. Conversely, they believe that those who do not receive Gods call will not be able to come to Him, that is, they will not be given the ability to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Receiving such a call from a sovereign God is said to be irresistible to those receiving the call, and they will ultimately all accept this call: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NKJ: Romans 8:29-30) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, calledto be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours (NKJ: I Corinthians 1:2) However, according to the Bible, Gods call will go out to all, but only few will choose to heed the call and become the chosen or elect of God, for as we read in the book of Matthew , For many are called, but few are chosen. (NKJ: Matthew 22:14) These are the words of Jesus Christ our Lord. The word many in this verse is referring to the many of all of humankind. Because God loves us all (John 3:16) and desires that we all be saved (II Peter 3:9, I Timothy 2:4), He will reach out to everyone with His call to follow after Him. Unfortunately, only few will take hold of His hand (Matthew 7:13-14) and receive His call to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.
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Simply put, God will reach out, or call, everyone. Those that heed this call by believing in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be chosen by God to spend eternity with Him in heaven, and those who do not heed His call will not be chosen. Do not let the biblical doctrine of predestination be confusing. Predestination from a biblical sense is based on Gods foreknowledge, that is, His knowing all of the future before time even began, of our acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is evident in the following verses: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (NKJ: Romans 8:29) elect (chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (NKJ: I Peter 1:2) The choosing, or election, by God of those people who will go to heaven is based on each individuals personal decision to either accept or reject Jesus Christ. Because of Gods foreknowledge of everything we will ever do in our lives, He was able to predestine those who would go to heaven even before the world was created, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself (NKJ: Ephesians 1:4-5) And further on in that same chapter of Ephesians we are told that our trust in Christ occurred first before our predestination, In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will , that we who first trusted in Christ (NKJ: Ephesians 11:12) Therefore, it is not Gods call that saves us, but it is what we do with His call.

4) The Doctrine of free will contradicts Gods sovereignty There are many verses in the Bible that speak of Gods ultimate sovereignty and control over all of creation, including us: Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places. (NKJ: Pslam 135:6) The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. (NKJ: Psalm 33:11) There are many plans in a mans heart, nevertheless the LORDS counselthat will stand. (NKJ: Proverbs 19:21) A mans heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. (NKJ: Proverbs 16:9) The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. (NKJ: Psalm 103:19) God is sovereign over all, without controversy. Nothing in all of creation happens without God causing it to happen or allowing it to happen. He is eternal, knows all of time, and is never surprised (As a side note, the fact that God is never surprised should bring great joy to our lives. Every sin that we have or ever will commit, God knew about before the foundations of the world. When Christ died on the Cross, he died for every one of our future sins, and there is no sin that will ever separate us from God). However, in Gods sovereignty, He has allowed all of us to make our own decision regarding His Son. His desire is that we all would accept His Son and receive eternal life (cf. I Timothy 2:4, II Peter 3:9), but because of His desire to have true love and
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fellowship with us, He has placed the decision for our eternal destiny in our own hands through free will. The argument that humankind possessing a free will would be in opposition to Gods sovereignty has no merit. Through Gods sovereignty, He chose to give us a free will, that is, it was His sovereign choice to allow us the ability to choose and decide for ourselves how we will live our lives, including the decision to accept or reject Him. Free will is not in opposition to Gods sovereignty, but demonstrates Gods infinite love for us in that he desired to have us come to Him freely and not by force. God is the creator of all things, and He chose to create us to be able to choose Him. Take, as a simple example, a parent asking their child for a good-night hug before they go to bed. The parent very much desires to receive a hug from their child, but is allowing their child to choose whether or not to give them that hug. Now the child may choose to hug the parent, or they may choose for some reason, such as they are in a bad mood or just being rebellious, not to give their parent a hug. Since the choice is left up to the child, has the parent now given up their sovereignty over their child in this situation? I say assuredly not. The parent, in their position of ultimate authority over their child chose to allow them choice. Now, the parent could have chosen to order their child to give them a hug, possibly even with the threat of a spanking if they were to refuse, but that would not have yielded to the parent the desired response. The parent desired to have a true show of affection from their child rather than a false and unemotional physical action. In giving the child the right to choose, the parent risked that the child would possibly refuse them, but thought the risk well worth it in the hope that the child would willingly and lovingly run to them with open arms to receive their bedtime hug. You see, as we discussed in section VI of this study, God does not desire to have a false and unemotional relationship with us, His creation, but desires to have a true and loving relationship. To have such a relationship, God chose, according to His will and sovereignty, to give His creation, that is, humans, the attribute of free will, or, in other words, the ability to choose whether to love Him or reject Him. In the book of Genesis we are told, Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likenessSo God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (NKJ: Genesis 1:26-27) In this passage, we are told that God created us in the image of God. This, obviously, does not mean that we were created to physically look like God, but rather we were created in His likeness in that we were created as moral free agents. Unique from all the other of Gods creations, we have the ability to think logically, to make moral and ethical decisions, and to seek the face of God. The first man, Adam, an ancestor of all of us, was given the ability to choose to follow Gods instructions or to reject them. This is clearly seen when Adam chooses to take a bite of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), of which he was expressly forbidden by God to do (Genesis 2:15-17). Adam was not deceived into taking a bite of the fruit, And Adam was not deceived (NKJ: I Timothy 2:14), but knowingly took a bite of the fruit in opposition to the instructions given to him directly by God. Adams decision to rebel against God and eat of the fruit had dire consequences in that his fellowship and relationship with God were broken. Obviously, Adams actions were in complete opposition to the will of God. Adam, just like all of his descendants, was created with the ability to choose for himself, even when in opposition to the will of God. God loves us all (John 3:16), and desires that all of us be saved and spend eternity in heaven with Him (I Timothy 2:4, II Peter 3:9). Being fully sovereign over all of creation, God could have decided to force all of us to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and, thus, for all of us to be in heaven with Him for eternity. But that would have meant that we would have been no more than preprogrammed robots, void of any true love for Him. To try and put this into understandable terms, let us say that scientific research came up with a new microcomputer chip that could be placed in the head of new-born infants that would guarantee 100% obedience to the parent. Every instruction given by the parent to the child would be obeyed, every ethical and moral concept of
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the parents would be assimilated by the child, and every emotional response desired by the parent would be exhibited. This chip would yield to the parents a perfect child. However, with this chip, the child would never be able to think on its own outside of its preprogramming, and would not possess any spontaneous thought processes or emotions. In fact, they would just walk around with perpetual smiles on their faces, responding to each request of the parent with the immediate desired action and/or verbal response. Though the child would obey their parent, and even obediently respond with love-like emotion, there would be no ability to express true love, or even to have a meaningful relationship. Now, given the choice of having this chip placed in the head of their infant, what would most, if not all, relatively normal parents decide to do? I believe the answer is obvious-they would reject the insertion of the chip, and risk the chance of having a rebellious and non-loving child, for the hope of having a true loving relationship with their child. Our God chose not to design us with preprogrammed responses, but to give us a free will to choose whether to come to Him or reject Him. Only in this way could He ultimately have true fellowship with us. Our free will continues even after we have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and become a child of God receiving eternal life. Growing up, I had the most wonderful and loving father. I always felt secure when he was around. I specifically remember him training me on how to ride a bicycle. He would place me on the bike, hold the back of the bike with his hand, and then run beside me as I peddled. He would release me at times, and would gently give me instructions on how to maintain proper control of the bike. I would sometimes take his advice, which would result in a steady and successful ride, and other times I would try my own way. During those times when I would choose to not heed his instructions, I would wobble and get out of control, and, just before I was ready to crash, he would grab hold of the bike and steady my course. What wonderful memories are these. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses in Psalms that speaks of Gods loving work in our lives, The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand. (NKJ: Psalm 37:23-24) In this verse, I dont see a controlling God, maneuvering my every move like a puppet master, but, rather, I see a loving Father watching after His child. As my father did in helping me to learn how to ride a bike, God allows me to make my own decisions, offering guidance that can be heeded or disregarded, and allowing me to make mistakes along the way from which I can learn and become wiser and stronger. But always holding his invisible hand under me to make sure that, though I may begin to fall, I will never totally crash for He will always be there to catch me at the last moment. God is sovereign in my life, but He allows me free will to ultimately make my own decisions in lifes journey. Based on the above, it should be evident that the biblical concept of free will is not in opposition to, or a limit of, Gods sovereignty, but it is an expression of His sovereignty. However, even more important, the act of God giving us free will is an expression of His infinite love for us, and His desire to have a true loving relationship with us. In this section of our study, I have definitely not covered all of the incorrect arguments that are used against free will, but hopefully I have addressed some of the major ones, and have shown that such arguments, when viewed in proper context, are not scripturally sound arguments against the biblical concept of free will.

Final Comments
Since the creation of the first man, Adam, we have possessed a God-given free will to choose whether to follow
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and obey God, or to reject Him. This is evidenced in both the Old and New Testaments. God created us with a free will in order that those who would come to Him would do so of a willing and loving heart. Only in this way, would God be able to have a true loving relationship with us. The joy that God would receive in having this true loving relationship with those who would choose Him far outweighed the fact that with a free will, some of His creation would choose to reject Him. Those who would choose to believe that humankind does not have a free will, and that God Himself chooses those who will come to Him and those who would not, must overcome the following--and what I would consider insurmountabletwo biblical truths: 1) God loves everyone in the world For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJ: John 3:16-17) 2) Gods will and desire is that everyone be saved The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (NKJ: II Peter 3:9) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJ: I Timothy 2:3-4) Say to them: As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. (NKJ: Ezekiel 33:11) There is no way around the simple truth that God truly loves us all and desires that we all be saved. Furthermore, there is only one way to reconcile this biblical truth and the biblical truth that not everyone will actually be saved, and that is the biblical truth that God created us with a free will. To those who, after reading this study, still struggle with the biblical doctrine of free will, as opposed to the doctrine of election, I leave you with one final question. In the book of Luke, when Jesus is making His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, we read, Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, (NKJ: Luke 19:21) Why was Jesus weeping? As we read further in the chapter, we learn that He was weeping because He knew the Jews would ultimately reject Him, their prophesied Messiah. His true desire, and will, was to have them receive Him so that He could embrace them as His children. This is made clear earlier in the book of Luke when Jesus says, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! . (NKJ: Luke 13:34) Wait, not willing, as in having a will of their own, as in a free will? The will of Jesus was to have the Jews receive Him as their Messiah, but the Jews would ultimately follow their own will and reject Him. His weeping makes sense if the Jews were exercising a free will in rejecting Him since their actions were contrary to the will of Jesus. However, if we do not possess a free will, and God truly chooses, or elects, those who will come to Him and those who will not, then it would make no sense for Jesus to weep since His will was exactly that of God the Father. Thus, the Jews rejection of Jesus would be in accordance with His will, and there would be no purpose for His sorrow. There is only one way to explain such sorrow in Jesus, and that is the existence of free will.
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Jesus Christ died on the Cross for all of us to provide us a way, the only way, for eternal salvation. We have been given a free will to choose for ourselves whether to believe in Jesus Christ, and to accept His free gift of salvation, or to reject Him. Before each of us is a choice on where we will spend eternity: in heaven with God or in Hell separated from Him. The choice is a simple one and so is its outcome, And this is the testimony that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NKJ: I John 5:11-12) What choice have you made?

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