Muddled Musings on Free Will


Free will–I’ve thrown the term around, but it’s really a little hard to define.  Does anyone truly have complete free will?  Not really.  Of course we are limited by physical things–we can’t simply will ourselves to fly like a bird–but we are also limited by our characters.  Just as God cannot sin or be unjust, we don’t have the capability to be perfectly holy, no matter how much we will it. 

Within certain physical limitations, we all have free agency to make decisions in our natural lives:  whether to take this road or another, whether or not to obey a command.  However, when it comes to our spiritual lives, perhaps our will is not so very free as we think.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.   Rom 8: 29-30

“Foreknew”  means not only to have knowledge ahead of time, but also to have power over that knowledge, and of course, predestined means that God determined how it should end.  So according to this passage, God knew before I was born who I was and what I would become, and he decided to save me.  Before he called me, he knew the outcome.

Another thing that stands out in this is the “he also.”  It’s almost like an “of course.”  God made a decision, so of course, these things followed.  Because God knew me before I was formed in the womb, he also went through the rest of this process.  Because he foreknew, he predestined and called and justified and glorified.  And do you notice that all the verbs are past tense?  To God, it’s done!  He has finished.  Of course, to him, everything is done.  To God, there is no future, because he has already seen it. 

But what does that do with free will?  If the future is already written, which it surely is, how can I say that I have free will?  It’s already been decided! 

Perhaps the key is that WE do not know the future.  These verses are written from God’s point of view.  He knows what’s going on, of course, and what will be in the future, but we do not.  And since we lack that vision, we must live based on the limited view that he has allowed us.

So when I “decide” to follow Jesus, is it really my decision?  Technically, God made that decision ages ago!  Yes, I choose it now, but did I really have a choice?    If *I* am the one who decides, then that makes me in control of my salvation, doesn’t it?  And that doesn’t agree with Eph 2: 8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

We really don’t even have the power to make a decision without God’s enablement, since it is in him that we “live and move and have our being.”  So the decision is his, or rather it was his.  It’s already been made.  God is sovereign.

Conversely, if I DID make the decision to accept salvation, then does that put me (rather than God) in control of whether I am saved or not?  And if I am the one who made the final choice on my salvation, am I also able to sin my way out of salvation? 

Just some ponderings for consideration, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Go ahead and point out the flaws in my logic–I’d appreciate the input. 



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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14 Responses to Muddled Musings on Free Will

  1. Anonymous says:

    This causes so much controversy in the church, that i tend to avoid the subject.  As John MacArthur basically says, it’s all there, just believe it, and don’t worry about it.  Whether we are predestined or not, we are still called to spread the Gospel to everyone!

  2. fwren says:

    He knew you would decide to follow Jesus ~ yes, but still let you decide (or think that you decided ~  ~ I can’t put it into words either) ~ like she said up there ~ just believe you are saved by His grace, period.  Good grief, girlfriend, do you realize this is MONDAY morning and it is WAY too early in the week to be thinking this hard???    I know what you mean though ~ you can go around in circles on this if you want to ~ we just know that He knows and that needs to be enough, I think.

  3. homefire says:

    @fwren – Well, this is a carry-over from the sermon yesterday, which I have been thinking about ever since….  Normally, I wouldn’t be pondering quite so deeply on Monday morning! 

  4. Anonymous says:

    @homefire – How could that sweet little head of yours, with that darling little tuff of hair pointing straight heavenward, not just take everything at fresh value and let go with GOD? You’re wanting folks to comment on your pages and I’m usually so scared of your pages because just like this blog, they are way to over my head!!!Have a beautiful, sunshiny day, serving HIM with all your heart, whether He knows you will or not, just do it!

  5. AngelAware says:

    You sound like my son, He is always talking about do we really have free Will. I should have him read this

  6. I’ve thrown this one around with my dad many times growing up… and here is where I currently stand.  I am open to correction ….I don’t believe life is a ‘choose your own adventure book’.Otherwise God would have plan a, b, c or d for our lives depending on the choices we make.  For me it has been dangerous being married to a non-Christian to think like that, from the perspective, have I chosen door D when I should have chosen door A?Now I know my sin and I am not trying to cover that up, but you get my drift?So…… I believe God knowing us as he knit us together in our wombs, knew our linage, our ancestry, our genetics, our predispositions, our likelihood of sin, correction and discipline.  He KNEW what we would choose through the entirety of our lives- thus allowing us free choice and free will, and allowing it to be predestined.So within all of this he also allows all to work forever for HIS good and glory despite our sinful hearts, if we chose to allow him to use our sinful choices, burdened souls and wounded hearts.Anyway, that is just where I am with it tonight lol.x

  7. BooksForMe says:

    Do you consider yourself a Calivinist/Reformed?

  8. gokellyjo says:

    This subject gives me a headache.  Seriously.  :)I have never – in all of my years as a Christian – been able to get my head around predestination.  If God predestines that some will serve Him – and others will not – then why do we evangelize or pray for unsaved loved ones?  Why go to the mission field?  I guess I believe that God so loved the world that He gave his only Son – I believe that Christ died for all mankind – not just those he predestined – but the whole world.  Now I have to go take two Advil.

  9. homefire says:

    @Papillon_Mom – @fwren – @viewinghuijia – So, seriously, is the answer to just ignore it?  When I can’t get my mind around it, just trust?   Maybe so.@AngelAware – Yeah, I’d love to hear his ideas.  I’m finding it quite overwhelmingly confusing.@BooksForMe – I never label myself, and try not to label others, so I honestly don’t know.  We heard a sermon Sunday on Romans 8:29-30, and it seemed to me that it raised about as many questions as it answered.  This was some of my thoughtful meandering, as I just couldn’t get the whole thing off my mind.@gokellyjo – I know what you mean about the headache.  It is just too big to really get a handle on.  About evangelizing, I think we must continue with that even in the face of predestination, simply because we may be the tool God has planned to use in order that Person X might be saved.  As for praying for the unsaved, I don’t know.  I wondered about that, too.  If we know that it’s already been decided, then what’s the point.  Why agonize over it?  But it’s one of those things I feel like I MUST do.  Hmmm.  What does it say about that in scripture?  I’m blank.@wherever_we_go – Your explanation sounds good, and maybe I should just leave it there and stop, but like I said earlier, if we are predestined, it just brings up so many more questions.  Like about those who are predestined to hell….  which I figured someone would be jumping on…I asked our pastor about that after church, and he gave me an answer, but I’m not sure I understood what he said.  The part that I understood went, “That’s hard…”   

  10. Anonymous says:

    @homefire – I wouldn’t say ignore it so much.  I studied for a long time and came to my own conclusions and then i just avoid debating it because it get so heated.  But i like how you said, “Just trust.”  I love that. 

  11. fwren says:

    I just tend to think that we are predestined for salvation if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior ~ and that yes, He knows who will accept Him.  Maybe that is just too simplistic though?  I do think there are many things we will never understand fully in this life ~ we are only human.  Maybe He wants to see who will trust Him, despite things not making sense.  Then again, He may reveal things to us at a later step in our maturity ~ we simply don’t know and just need to keep our eyes on Him and trust, I think ~ and now I am talking in circles ~

  12. @homefire – For me that is answered in my conclusion.  God knew who would respond to his call whose hearts where not hard.  Not so much that he gave people the number 1 or 2 and depending on which line you are in determines your destiny.That has settled it for me, for now.lolx

  13. Hutch5 says:

    I think you see both in Scripture~ I’m no Bible scholar so I won’t / can’t explain. I think others ahead of me put it well though. I always think of the verse that says, “God’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.” There are some things about God we  will never be able to understand. How He could predestined, and yet still give us a choice? But, that’s where faith steps in – – believing His Word, whether or not it always makes sense to our finite minds. :)good post though. thought provoking. and I like hearing others viewpoint. That’s the wonderful thing about the body of Christ – we can differ, yet still love each other and get along!! (well.. hopefully) happy wednesday to you!

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