Man's Free Will
by Heath Rogers

Some people teach that God has willed or foreordained everything man will do. However, the Bible teaches that God created man as a free moral agent and holds him responsible for his own actions. Consider the following points:

1. God desires all men to be saved. The Bible plainly states that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but wants all men to be saved.

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4).

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

If God desires all people to be saved, and man is without a choice in the matter, how is it that some are lost? The only answer in harmony with what we know about God is that man has free will and is responsible for choosing to be saved.

Heaven's invitation is extended to everyone. "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). What kind of a God would offer eternal salvation to people who were not capable of choosing to receive it?

2. Man is addressed as a free moral agent in the Bible. God set a choice before the children of Israel. "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" (Deut. 30:19). A choice implies free will. Otherwise, how can it be said to be a choice?

In the New Testament, Stephen accused the Jews of his day of resisting the Holy Spirit. "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Acts 7:51). How can man justly be held responsible for resisting if he has no choice?

3. Jesus invites everyone to follow Him. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Why would Jesus extend an invitation to all if He did not intend for everyone to enter His rest?

Jesus taught that discipleship was a matter of human choice, not just divine calling: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me'" (Matt. 16:24, emphasis mine - HR).

In light of these plain passages of Scripture (which could easily be multiplied), why would a person believe that man has no free will? Because taking that position relieves man of personal responsibility and allows him to float through life without having to give heed to the will of God. In short, that is the easy way out. The Bible never calls upon man to take such an approach to his salvation.

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).

"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

Do not allow yourself to be swept into eternity unprepared because of belief in this false doctrine. God has given man free will, and He holds us responsible for our choices. Why not make the right choice and obey the gospel today?