What is “free will”?
In essence free will is an autonomous decision. The word undetermined added to free will emphasizes that it is a choice made without pressures and influences that are able to completely overwhelm the choice-whether they be good or evil influences.
Evil influences may seem overwhelming at times, but God always gives a way of escape from the influence at some point prior or with the influence.) The way of escape is provided by God Himself through His sufficient grace.
It works like this: God, by His sufficient grace makes it possible for a spiritually dead person, in an evil world-full of corrupt pressures and influences to make a choice for salvation with an undetermined free will. God gives sufficient grace to that same person after being brought to spiritual life (now saved), to continue making choice after choice with an undetermined free will.
With an undetermined free will comes responsibility. God warns us to beware lest we should choose the same path as Esau who failed the grace of God by allowing bitterness (blaming God instead of believing God) to take root in his life, producing the fruit of immorality and an ungodly mindset. God judged Esau, holding him responsible for his sin, completely rejecting him.
Without undetermined free will there is no human responsibility for any decision made or action taken throughout the history of mankind. Man can then blame God and/or the devil because he did not have an autonomous choice in the matter.
I am so glad our church has free will in its name. We unapologetically and proudly preach undetermined free will, a foundational theme interwoven throughout all of Scripture.
God in His wisdom decrees that undetermined free will is more important than perfection. He could have chosen to give mankind an eternal innocence. Instead, God chose to give man an undetermined free will.
The undetermined free will gift examined through the eyes of history, however, seems more like an evil benevolence. Man’s undetermined free will has produced a huge cesspool wrong choices resulting in pain, suffering, and death…on billions of people.
However, looking through God’s eyes, a believer receives an eternal perspective. God will, in the world to come, correct all wrong choices and the resulting evil. He promises eternal life to those who choose His plan of redemption. Those who refuse His plan of redemption He judges with eternal death.
Either way God showcases the riches of His glory, His power and wrath, making His name known around the globe; and thereby, proves His wisdom to all creation, both now and in eternity to come. Giving man an undetermined free will accomplishes the very purpose of God.
Garden of Eden
Undetermined free will, for mankind begins with Adam and Eve. God plants the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. He tells Adam not to eat of the fruit or he will die. The prohibition gives man an undetermined free will choice to obey or disobey. It is man’s choice and he is free to accept or reject the command.
God does not have to plant that tree or to restrict Adam from it. No purpose for the tree is stated. Why would God plant a tree in the paradise garden that produces death?
The question is answered with God’s vantage point. As God looks through His foreknowledge telescope into the entire future of mankind, He decrees that undetermined free will is more important than a perfect mankind.
God knows that Eve will choose to believe the serpent instead of God; and that Adam will use his undetermined free will to knowingly disobey. God knows that the innocence of this first couple will be violated and their newly acquired sin nature will be man’s heritage from generation to generation. God knows all the evil that will result and compound for thousands of years.
Yet God also knows the plan of redemption He will provide and exactly those who will choose it. He knows the anguish of emotional and physical pain He will suffer as He offers Himself on the cross. It is worth the suffering to God because through believers choosing Him and His responding transformation of them, He will make the riches of His glory known throughout history and eternity.
Also, He knows exactly who will not choose His plan and how He will have to endure with much longsuffering, their evil existence. Regardless, He creates them anyway to use them as an antithesis, through their wrong choices and His responding judgment, to show His power and to make His name known around the globe.
Cain and Abel
Undetermined free will continues in the first children as Cain and Abel also inherit their dad’s sin nature. Abel accepts sufficient grace to believe God. He chooses God’s plan of redemption and evidences his belief by offering the correct sacrifice. Cain refuses sufficient grace and rejects God and evidences his unbelief by keeping sin in his life; and when God refuses his offering, Cain murders his brother.
God knew that Cain would choose murder, causing death to his brother Abel. Why didn’t God stop Cain before he made the wrong choice? Why didn’t God resurrect Abel immediately? God has a plan that goes far beyond the present. Abel, though he lost his life here on earth receives everlasting life in heaven; Cain, though he kept his life here for a comparatively short time, receives eternal death in hell.
God places more value on undetermined free will than He does on perfect choices. In the end God adjudicates the wrong choices and rewards the right ones.
Copyright © 2019 by Dean Sanford. All rights reserved.