Ask OldTimer

Election vs. Free Will

The Question:

There has been one thing that has been bothering me lately and the more I read on it the more confused I get. IT is on election and free will. Now I honestly believe there are both. The Bible says it so I believe it. But to me it seems contradictory. How can we be predestined to be saved yet say in the same breath that we have free will whether or not to be saved? I know we will never completely understand and I understand and accept both things Election and free will, I have studied them and all that but I just don't see how they go hand in hand as the Bible says they do. I accept that they do but I would like to be a little less confused. I also am thinking what if a non-Christian comes up to me and asks me about it how am I supposed to explain it? How would you explain it???

The Answer:

I Timothy 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, WHO WANTS ALL MEN TO BE SAVED and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

First of all God wants ALL men to be saved, and He has devised a plan whereby all COULD be saved if they so chose.

John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.”

Jesus was very clear that God loves the WORLD, not just a select few, and sent His Son to be the savior of the world. And the invitation is to WHOEVER will come and believe in Jesus. Jesus wasn’t sent to condemn the world, or even a select group who had been chosen to be damned. He was sent to the whole world – and His sacrifice is sufficient for all men to be saved, if they make that choice.

Ephesians 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

This plan was predetermined before the creation of the world. It was then that He chose us, He predestined or predetermined our adoption through Jesus. This is God’s will – to make us His own, to freely give us this grace and acceptance through Jesus.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of  sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

And this predetermined plan included redemption through Jesus’ blood – our being bought back from the slavery to satan BEFORE MAN EVER FELL! Also this predestination included forgiveness of sins through God’s grace lavished upon us.

Ephesians 1:9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

Paul and those with him learned this mystery – the predestined plan of God from before the creation of the world – which included not only their salvation, but also the ultimate plan of bringing all things in heaven and earth together under Christ.

Now some teach that predestination means that God predetermined who would be saved and who would be lost. But here it says the ultimate plan of God was to bring ALL things under Christ - which certainly would include everyone, wouldn’t it?

Ephesians 1:11-12 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of  his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Paul then talks about his own election or choosing in Christ. Notice that it says “predestined according to the plan of him”. The PLAN of salvation for all men is what God predetermined or predestined, and He made a place in that plan for ALL, not just a select few.

Ephesians 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.

Paul had confirmed that he and those with him were included in this plan. Now he confirms that the Ephesian believers were ALSO included in this predestined plan when they heard the gospel and believed on Jesus. He does NOT say, “you were included because you were predestined to be saved”. No he says that they were included when they believed the gospel.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Now who did God foreknow? Just a select few, or does God know us all? He knows us all – and His foreknowledge is without limit. And as we’ve seen, the plan of   salvation was designed for ALL men. And all men receive a call from God. IF THIS CALL IS ANSWERED by a repentant heart, then whosoever answers falls right into the plan of redemption. God foreknows us all. He calls us all to repentance. IF we answer His call, then He justifies us, and then glorifies us.

In a nutshell, then, God has predestined or ordained that ALL of us become His children. However, we also have a choice in the matter. If we answer His calling, we become "elected" or “chosen”, and therefore become what God predestined we should be. If we don't, then we miss our calling, election, destiny, etc.

I think where people get all tangled up is when they ask, "Does God know ahead of time who will accept His call?" If the answer is no, how can God be all knowing (omniscient)? If the answer is yes, does His foreknowledge affect the results of who will accept and who won't? If it does, then how do we have free will? If it doesn't, then we DO have free will, and apparently His foreknowledge does NOT affect whether we receive Him or not.

God’s foreknowledge of our choice does not influence our free will to chose. But if we refuse, I believe that God keeps on calling us. I believe that He gives us chance after chance after chance to become what He predestined us to be!

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