Does free will exist?

Updated: 4/9/2024

Does free will exist given that God is sovereign?

Free will

There are many discussions about whether free will exists and if so, how can that be compatible with a sovereign God?

Some argue that if God is indeed all-knowing, He should surely know what the future holds and therefore we must do what God sees will happen. Therefore, if He knows every action we make, aren’t we simply robots going along with His script? No, because if we were robots, why would God “script us” to sin? God would be the author of evil when, in fact, He only allows evil. God is sovereign yet we still have free will; the two are compatible.

Though I won’t talk about them, there are three views related to this concept: Arminianism, Calvinism, and Open Theism.

In this post, I argue that God’s sovereignty and free will are mutually compatible. Here is my thinking:

  1. God is all-knowing, omnipotent, and therefore must know the future (perfect foreknowledge).
  2. People have to use their own God-given mind to make their own choices voluntarily (free will) in accordance with what God already sees will happen. Just because God sees something will happen, and it must happen, doesn’t mean He is responsible for wrongdoing as we are the ones who freely chose to do wrong.
  3. However, since God will’s must be done, these two concepts must be intertwined.
  4. Is God’s sovereign will and our free will somehow the same or is it that God’s will is that we have free will and He can override our free will at any time to accomplish His will?

This verse refers to predestination/foreknowledge by nature:

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (New International Version, Isa. 46.10)

“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13.8).

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2.10-11).

Verses that refers to God’s election:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood” (1 Pet. 1.1-2).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephs. 2.8-9).

Finally, this verse basically says that your life is already written:

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Pslm. 139.16-17).

If God is completely sovereign, how can we have free will? We would only be able to do whatever God has ordained us to do and nothing else, right? Well, since God gave us a mind, body, soul, etc., we are responsible for our actions and do have free choice. We can choose voluntarily to do good or evil. However, God’s will is somehow still part of our free will. We know that God is still sovereign based upon the Bible verses above (e.g., Isa. 46.10 and Pslm. 139.16-17). Therefore, we have both a sovereign God and free will.

We can conclude that it appears God’s will and our free will are somehow the same or His will is to allow us free will with the ability to override it at certain times in order to accomplish His will? Much like the abstract nature of the Trinity, we cannot understand how the two may be the same or how they are totally related. In other words, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. More info about these concepts can be found here:

https://jesuschrististheking.com/new-content-november-11th-2022/

 

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