I should have known when we embarked on our “Tough Topic Thursday’s” that there was no way a single blog post on any subject would be sufficient! Today we will dive into the topic of freewill. This might get a little heavy, but stick with me; we need to lay the groundwork for the next week or two on this issue.
So many have questioned why bad things happen to good people or why a loving God allows evil in our world. To understand the answers to questions like these, we first have to understand the concept of freewill. Let me state first and foremost that God is sovereign over the outcomes in our world(Psalm 103:19; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 4:27-28); He is in control and no matter what occurs on earth, He is able to bring His overarching plan to pass. God is all powerful (Jeremiah 32:27; Revelation 19:6 ) and can bring anything He desires into reality. However, He chooses to give humans freewill and to work with them in bringing about His plans.
God could have simply caused every human to love Him and to obey His every command. A great philosophical question arises from this: “If a person has no choice other than to love another, is that really love?” Love as we understand it is always a choice. Therefore, if we are to truly love God, we must do so by our own choosing, of our own freewill. The same can be said of obedience; to obey, one must have the option to disobey. Computers have no choice as to whether or not they obey their programmer’s commands; therefore they are not obedient, they are simply acting out what they are programmed to do. Because of freewill we can choose whether or not we will obey God, thereby allowing us to be obedient or not.
We know that humans are not like computers because if we were, God – as the programmer – would always know what we will do. Yet many times in Scripture we see that God is surprised by the choices that humans make (Isaiah 5:4; Jeremiah 3:6-7; Jeremiah 3:19-20). Let’s be clear that God has not lost control at this point; humans have simply exercised their freewill to cause the flow of God’s sovereign will to alter the path to its definite end. The final result does not change because God will see to it that His will is accomplished; however the circumstances leading to the goal might get modified, God is powerful enough to easily accommodate any change of events.
The best analogy I have heard that helps me wrap my head around this is that of a game of chess. Consider yourself to be on one side of the board with God on the other. He will win, every time, regardless of your skill or cunning. He anticipates your next 3 million moves and has already come up with a strategy to counteract each of those possibilities. Based on your past history and your personality, He also knows which move you are most inclined to make next. However, since you have freewill, he does not dictate that move; so if you should happen to make a move other than the one you were most likely to make, He’s already accounted for that too. This only proves His power and glory are far greater and awesome than we could ever imagine.
God knows everything there is that can be known; this is why He is able to so accurately predict your next move. When faced with a decision, until you actually make the choice, there is nothing to be known. God can predict and even nudge you in a direction. However, the law of freewill implies that until an action is chosen, the action cannot be known. Therefore it does not diminish God’s glory in any way that He does not know, with 100% certainty, what your decision will be.
Next week we will deal with less philosophy and more with the implications of freewill on our daily lives. If you have questions on anything I’ve covered here, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment below.
Question: Do you believe in freewill or do you think everything is pre-ordained to happen?