Do we have free will?

God created humans with free will because He wanted His creation to have a relationship with Him that is prompted by love, and not fear. The fact that God did not destroy Satan when he first rebelled proves the existence of free will. And the fact that there is sin in this world proves also that humans have free will.

In the Old Testament, God appealed to Israel to make the right choices and then held them accountable for the choices they made “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” (Deuteronomy 30:19).  God didn’t predetermine or predestine the outcome of their choices.

And in the New Testament, we see the same principle of accountability and the freedom of choice “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10 ). Again, God does not predestine our choices. Jesus showed that sinners can choose to rebel against Him, “You refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). People can decide what action they want to take “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).

While Salvation is offered freely to all, sadly, not all accept the gospel invitation “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14; 20:16). And salvation is not forced upon us against our will. Sinners are called to “repent” and “believe” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 1 John 3:23). Every call to repent is a call to exercise the freedom of choice.

But how can sinners ever choose what is good? It is only through the grace and power of God that they can choose what is right (John 15:16). It is the Holy Spirit who gives the believer both the will and power to do good “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Holy Spirit gives the new nature to all who seek it (Ephesians 4:24). Salvation is God’s work but we use our freedom of choice to accept it.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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