Predestination Vs. Free Will


Strong & Courageous

Feb 16, 2018

Predestination Vs. Free will


I had the opportunity to preach the message in church this last Sunday.  One of the main points was the issue of God’s predestination of those who will follow him and how it relates to humanity’s free will. How can it be possible that both attributes be present and in play at the same time? For some people, this is irreconcilable. How is it possible that God unilaterally predestines humanity and we are totally free to make the myriad of choices that we embrace on a daily basis?  They seem on the surface to be mutually exclusive so either one or the other is correct but not both.

I would like to dig deeper into the subject to reveal that a “yes and” answer is better than an “either or answer.”

First, we see in the bible, that there are attributes for both predestination and free will. Ephesians 1:11 says “ In him (Jesus) we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” So we see the aspect of the predestination of God is in play without question.

Concerning free will, we see throughout the Old Testament that God enters into bilateral covenants with the Jewish people. If you do this good thing, I will bless you, but if you do poorly, there will be consequences. Much of the historical aspects present reveal how Israel shows their ability to exercise free will.

An interesting scenario concerning this dilemma is present the story of Judas betraying Jesus. The question arises, did Judas betray in order to fulfill biblical prophecy and therefore did not have any free choice in the decision tree? Again, the best answer is that both aspects were in play. Yes, Judas made his choice and God knew in advance, what was to take place.

Frank Turek, who is a well-known speaker on college campuses, was asked the question on how to reconcile the apparent contradiction in free will and predestination.  His reply involved the following story. Suppose you wanted to watch the Super bowl, but had a schedule conflict, so you decided to tape the event and watch it later. Before you could return home, you ran into a friend who excitedly told you the outcome of the game. He says to you that it was an amazing game and the eagles ended winning the game by 8 points. So now that you know the outcome of the game, does that eliminate the free choice of the players on the field for each and every play? The student paused in amazement, then realized that yes their free will not violated.

The key issue is the aspect of time. The DVR recording has taken place in the past. Even though the players have free will in the present tense, while historically looking into the past, their choices have already been made. This gets to the very heart of one of the attributes of God himself. Christians believe that God exists outside of time.  Before the universe came into existence and time began, God was already present, because of His eternal nature. Therefore, the DVR question of historical context and free will at the same time ceases to be in conflict.

If this apparent conflict has been a roadblock for you, it certainly does not need to be.