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Do we have Free Will? Friday Q&A

I'm the Little guy

I guess if you are crazy enough to ask for Bible Questions, you will very shortly come up with the one we are going to wrassle to the floor today.

Ok – so since you know I am wrasslin’ -  you know – I'm not sure who is going to come out on top.

The question came in via email, so I will not announce who sent it in, but you can ID yourself if you care to. Here it is:

God offers the gift of salvation to EVERYONE because He wants everyone saved, but it's each person's choice.  So what say you--about the other argument, that God has already ordained/appointed who will be saved and who won't?--referencing Acts 13:48, "...and all who were appointed for eternal life believed".

Let me start by saying there are great Christian minds on both sides of this argument, and I am not talking lightweights here either.

If I remember my reading, this is the main issue that kept John Wesley at arm’s length from the man who brought him to the Lord, George Whitefield.

Is every man’s fate sealed from creation, and is evangelism simply a matter of obedience, or does every man have a free will, with a best destiny, desired by the Creator, but not unchangeable.

OK – so no matter what I say, someone will disagree, and I am ok with that. I hope you are too.

Let’s start with a couple scriptures (admittedly standing alone and not in context)

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Then a little further down the page:

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you ~ 2 Peter 3:14-15

Here is another important verse for consideration:

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Or arguably the most famous verse in the Bible –

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

There are plenty more verses where these come from, yet we must deal with some of the predestination scriptures as well, such as the one mentioned above:

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48

Or this from Jude

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out (before ordained KJV) for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 4

Or Paul in Romans 8

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; ~ Romans 8:29

As with the free will scriptures there are plenty more that lean this way as well.

So here are a few things to think about.

First, God is was bigger than this wonderful theological box that I built in my basement to keep Him in. I just can’t get Him in there as hard as I try (and believe me, I have tried to fit God in a box.)

Some one recently told me that the western mind cannot be satisfied with a breach in logic, so it tries to solve every apparent discrepancy with an air tight argument, but the Hebrew mind is OK with ambiguity.

You know what – I am ok with ambiguity.

Where do I stand? I heard a preacher say (and I honestly don’t remember his name, it was on a CD at someone house, so I never saw it written down) anyway he used a phrase that flipped a light switch on in my understanding.

He said God who know all possible outcomes for every decision you could ever make…

WOW – so God’s foreknowledge is not simply – He knows all my decisions before I make them (and by the way – I am ok with that too, since He is not bound by time – like we said 2 weeks ago) but He knows every choice I might make, and can follow each of those rabbit trails to their ultimate consequences.

Even if that does not answer the question all by itself, it will certainly give you something to ponder for a century or two. (LOL)

My statement of faith – I believe that God knows the end from the beginning, and that everyman can choose Him. I believe that even men who have never heard the gospel have enough evidence in creation that they can follow and God will provide a way for them to meet Jesus.

I also believe that we – the Church – must preach the good news to every man, woman, and child, and give them their best opportunity to repent and believe the gospel.

I sure hope that helps.

What do you think – am I way off base? There must be one pure bred Calvinist here to dispute – I would actually love to here a well reasoned Calvinist response. If you want to blog it, and link, or just go to town in the comments section, I welcome my Predestination brothers to join in.

Just don't forget the rules:

Be polite.
Be honest.
Be gentle.
Be friendly.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon

Thanks for pondering these big ideas with me.


Do you have a question? Head over to the side bar and click on the Friday Q&A banner, and we will take a whack at it.

0 thoughts on “Do we have Free Will? Friday Q&A

  1. Larry Who

    Actually, I agree with you. God foreknows everything before it happens. Yet, at the same time, I'm not bogged down with not understanding every verse in the Bible.

    Whitefield and Wesley were so adamant in their disagreements over grace, eternal security, and predestination that they refused to talk to each other for years. One time, the two sent letters to each other which were carried on ships passing each other and going the opposite direction in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Both letters started out in this way: "...God has shown me you are wrong and I'm right..."

    These were the top two preachers of their day and they acted like children. Hmm! Sounds like some of us today, right? But eventually Whitefield and Wesley reconciled. So, there's hope for us, too.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Larry - God has shown me that you are wrong and I am right! - Oh wait - we were agreeing weren't we.

      But seriously it is sad to see division over things that are so clearly - well - unclear.

      thanks Larry!

  2. livinginobscurity

    I was raised a Reformed Calvinist and questioned my youth Pastor about this very subject. I do not remember now what he said about it, but God led me out of that affiliation to teach me what was necessary to embrace the call on my life. that really has nothing to do with the topic. I agree that predestination comes in because He knows the end from the beginning as you stated. If that were not so, He would have not provided the answer of Christ before the first sin was ever committed. The provision was there before man was even created.Just because God knew before hand who would choose His provision and who would choose their own, does not mean He doesn't need us to present the Good News to those who have not yet made their choice. He predestined all to accept His provision in Christ, Unfortunately, like the angels that chose to follow lucifer, some will choose to reject His provision, and this He too knew from the beginning.

  3. bennetta faire

    WOW, paint me amazed!! I guess there truly is NO Stumping the Prof!! Thanks for working so hard on this, Ben--I'm always astounded, gratified and fed by what you serve up. Maybe as I grow older, I'm getting "a little bit Hebrew"--(as opposed to "country" or "rock 'n roll") the ambiguity satisfies me well today. God bless you BIG--your front row hand-waver, Cj

    1. Ben Nelson

      Oh - it's not too hard to stump this chump - I just dance well. LOL thanks for your kind words - these questions are a bit of fun, gets us all thinking.

  4. cshowers

    Hallelujah! I agree with what you've stated, Ben, but you know I always have to add my 2 cents worth. I'm okay with the fact that the omniscient God foreknew those whom He had predestined to serve Him, just as I also believe that He has set before each person life and death, His blessings and His curses, and that we must each choose. Because He is omniscient and I'm not, I don't have to understand anything that He hasn't revealed to me, and this too is okay. After all, He has all of eternity to reveal His wonderful mysteries to us. 😀

    God bless you, brother!


  5. Heidi Viars

    Hey Ben, great post ... but I need to learn to read your posts in order 🙂 ... Sometimes I don't check in for a while and I read them latest first ... I must change that 🙂


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