Free Will: What Does It Mean Based On Scripture?

“Free Will” is a term that is commonly brought up in bible discussions, but what does it mean? Calvin said that it was a term that he didn’t want to bring up in conversation. In fact, Calvin wrote in “Institutes”: “Man will then be spoken as having this sort of free decision, not because he has free choice equally, of good and evil, but because he acts wickedly by will, not by compulsion. Well put, indeed, but what purpose is served by labeling with a proud name such a petty thing?” “But how few men are there, I ask, who when they hear free will attributed to man do not immediately conceive him to be master of both his mind and will, able of his own power to turn himself toward either good or evil…If anyone, then, can use his word without understanding it in a bad sense. I shall not trouble him on this account…I’d prefer not to use it myself, and I should like others, if they seek my advice, to avoid it”.

Nowhere in the bible does it say that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s control. Neither does it read that we are allowed to be free to do right of our own volition without God’s power.

Absolute freedom that is totally out of God’s control is not possible. God maintains and directs all things providentially in this universe by Himself. So the challenge is to interpret the word “free.” If we were able to be “free” to make our own choices, then we would be equal to God in respect to our will. God will know our choices before we make them, but does that mean we are not free to make choices? Absolutely not.

Acts 4:27-28 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

God Bless

Brian Mason

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Terminology Tuesday: Determinism

*Any theory that sees all events, including human behavior, as the necessary result of prior causes. Naturalistic determinism sees all events as part of an inflexible and unalterable chain of cause and effect in the physical universe. Theological determinism sees all events as being directly caused by God. Many theologians (although there are notable exceptions) reject both naturalistic and theological determinism because both theories seem to contradict the possibility of human freedom of choice, which in their view leaves humans morally not responsible for their actions.

*Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki &, Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 38

God Bless

Brian Mason

Why did God Let The Serpent (Satan) Into The Garden Of Eden?

Atheists love to bring up this argument stating that it would be wrong for God to do so, knowing what would happen. The first question I would like to ask the atheist is “from what moral standard would you be coming from?” If you present the argument as it being wrong for God to do so, then you must be coming from a moral standpoint.

Adam had a good grasp of what right and wrong was. He was an adult and had the free will to chose whether or not to take a bite of the fruit that Eve presented him with. It all boiled down to the freedom that God gave Adam to choose. The freedom to choose opens up the door for sin to entering; you make that choice.

God knew that Adam would sin. Adam and Eve were not automatons. They were tempted and the rebellion nature came through.

It was God’s will to allow Satan into the garden. Do you not think that even as parents we allow our children to do things that we know they will fail at, why would God be any different? It is by our failures that we grow and learn.

God Bless

Brian Mason

Terminology Tuesday: Free Will

*The ability of an agent to make genuine choices that stem from the self. Libertarians argue that free will includes the power to determine the will itself, so that a person with free will can will more than one thing. Compatibilists typically view free will as the power to act in accordance with one’s own will rather than being constrained by some external cause, allowing that the will itself may ultimately be causally determined by something beyond the self. Hard determinists deny the existence of free will altogether. Most Christian theologians agree that humans possess free will in some sense but disagree about what kind of freedom is necessary. The possession of free will does not entail an ability not to sin, since human freedom is shaped and limited by human character. Thus a human person may be free to choose among possibilities in some situations but still be unable to avoid all sin.

God Bless
Brian Mason

*. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 46-47.

Terminology Tuesday: Compatibilism

*The theory that human free will is consistent (compatible) with God’s sovereign prerogative to determine or will all things that are to happen. In order for this to be true, compatibilists usually argue that human freedom is only analogous to God’s freedom and not identical with it. More specifically, human freedom is limited, whereas God’s freedom is absolute.

* Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 28

God Bless

Brian Mason