Is Your Free Will God’s Will?
The bigger question for free will is, what's its purpose?
Of course, we have free will - it's the source of humanity's greatness and its worst mistakes. In my humble opinion, I think it is fairly absurd to debate the existence of freewill. Rather, the focus should be on purpose.
Father Everman - the man who taught me about the Word and brought salvation into my heart - said that there were two sides to the idea of free will. One: God gave us free will to choose Him. Two: God gave us free will to NOT choose Him.
Now in my later years, and after all my reading of scripture, apologetics, and listening to numerous bible study lectures, I finally understand enough to form an opinion. It begins with the most eloquent description of the same revelation, crafted by C.S. Lewis:
God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good, it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata - of creatures that worked like machines - would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free.
God freely gives us his wisdom, if we ask for it. God willingly gave up his life in exchange for the forgiveness of our sins, but we must accept it. God will bestow his Holy Spirit to dwell in us, but we must open the door.
As we know, there is no reward for parrot faith and rote belief. To reach the real rewards of faith we must strive beyond robotic acceptance of remission. I've met so many people who assume that they lead a righteous living but are only equipped to parrot creeds on holidays and trace the dotted lines of what they think Christian society expects of them. I believe that the attainment of salvation is not that easy. Free will is a double-edged sword. It allows us to chose, but it also reveals the truth based on our choices.
I reach for the Apostle Paul:
Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. -- 2 Timothy 1:9
Short and sweet. With free will, God gives us the ability to meet the challenges and dangers of life, but also to recognize the spirit of love - the "the spirit of a sound mind, quietness of mind" that can only be achieved by a free thinking mind. Paul learned - first hand - the value of the challenges and dangers of life. He also learned the great value of his faith in Christ from the changes that came to him personally. So naturally, as Paul writes to Timothy as a humble teacher - not as a dictator, to be watchful of this life, one will use Scripture to give life meaning. Thus, it is as Matthew Henry says:
It is not enough to ascend to the sound words, but we must love them.
I believe that free will works in us to trust the Covenant that Jesus left us. He wants us to rely on Him - not exclusively through his strength - but from the strength of the Holy Spirit that we have freely allowed into our lives. He wants us to believe - not solely by His sacrifice, but by our personal experiences that lead us to Him. In my confession, I recognize (accept) that He is in control of everything - including my "free" will. He causes what faith I have; He massages my hope, and He nurtures my love. My little mustard-seed of faith exists because God Himself has given it to me to grow and prosper in my own heart. But it is mine alone; my own to make - warts and all.
As it should be.
Long long before we started scratching out a living on this good green Earth, God foresaw the power of our humanity and the power of rational thinking. At the same time, He knew our struggles. He knew our pain. Why else would he come down to Earth to die like that? Why else would he give us the chance to kill Him like that? Rational free will in the hands of humans - yikes! That's real power. And it's one heck of a testament for love, isn't it? He freely gave us our inheritance, then released us to experience our freedom knowing that we'd return to Him when we need Him most.
There is no debate about our free will. Of course, we have it. Our debate is on its purpose. Make no mistake - our free will is granted by God’s will alone. But he leaves the rest of it up to us. And yes - that also means he allows evil.
But we'll have to hold that one for another post.