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Bible Dictionary: Define Free Will, Definition of Free Will


While the phrase, free will, may not appear in Scripture, the concept is there.

John 7:17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

There is a kind of Christian fatalism that says that we have no free will. It has come up from the translation of predestination, which isn't a particularly accurate translation. This word, predestination, would be better translated as "appointed ahead of time."

Romans 8:29-30 For [those] whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, [those] whom He predestined these He also called, whom He called these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love, having predestined us to adoptions as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved

And, Scripture is clear that it is an appointment that was made based on God's foreknowledge, not randomly. He knew ahead of time what we would do, who would be faithful, who would not be faithful, etc., so he appointed some ahead of time for being conformed into the image of Christ. There is no Scripture that in any way indicates that anyone is appointed ahead of time to Hell or to being unfaithful. Only those who would be conformed to the image of His Son, whom God knew ahead of time, did God appoint. And just because someone is appointed does not mean that they will faithfully fulfill their responsibility. Now, many are appointed, that is, set, by God into ministries and offices in the Church. This is done by the laying on of hands of the presbytery and by prophecy--that is, if the order of Scripture is being followed. However, they are not all found faithful in fulfilling their responsibility. Husbands are set into an office in the home, yet some are not faithful to fulfill that office. They may choose not to fulfill the office of husband and father.

It's not that we can choose to believe, that is, have faith. Faith/belief comes by hearing the utterance of God. It is the gift of God lest anyone should boast. But we do have a will. Scripture says, "in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." When He speaks, doesn't your own mind also try to direct you in a different direction? You can direct your mind to acknowledge Him or to acknowledge your own mind. Otherwise, God would not say to acknowledge Him if you had no choice in the matter. When you acknowledge His Voice, faith comes as God's free gift to you. There are many commands to "take heed" in the Bible. To take heed is to direct your mind toward something. This is a direction of the mind and God doesn't force you to do it.

Atheism is fatalistic. If everything started with a big bang, then everything is the result of the way that the particles moved since the giant explosion. If that were true, then what you think has nothing to do with your will but it is like billiard balls that were hit and that travel around a table. It is just a product of the Laws of Physics. However, the Good News is not fatalism in any sense. The Atheists sometimes say that if God foreknew then they have no choice. They just want to be free of guilt, but God says they are without excuse in Romans 1.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Last updated: Sep, 2013
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