Do We Have Freedom Or Are We Predestined?
Human beings do have the freedom of choice. God created mankind in His own image, and that included the ability to choose or reject Him. Adam and Eve exercised their freedom to distrust God and our world today is the natural result to that decision.
Freedom In The Old Testament
God appealed to Israel to make 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.
The command to serve the Lord does not preclude choice. Joshua gave a similar message to the Israelites, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Any worship to God that is not voluntary is useless. God sets before men life and death and calls them to choose life, but He does not interfere with their contrary choice, nor does He protect them from its natural results (Ezekiel 18:31, 32; 33:11).
Freedom In The New Testament
We see the same principle of accountability and the freedom of choice in the New Testament. Christ says: “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36).
God will have us answer for our actions: “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 ( 2 Peter 3:9).
While Salvation is offered freely to all, sadly, not all accept the gospel invitation “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 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 our freedom of choice. 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).
How Can Sinners Ever Choose What Is Good?
It is only through the grace and power of God that sinner can choose what is right (John 15:16). It is His goodness that leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4). The Holy Spirit gives the believer “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). And He gives the new nature to all who seek it so that they will be “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
There are no limits to God’s love and mercy. There are none to whom He refuses the benefits of redeeming grace. “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” (John 3:16). Salvation is God’s work but, there is one condition—belief in, and willing cooperation with Christ. All what the sinner needs to do is to have a daily relationship with the Lord by study of His Word and prayer to allow the Holy Spirit to change his heart. Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
In His service,