The subject of study in this article is something that has completely revolutionized the way I think about everything. It is a radical notion of what human beings really are, what the purpose of all life is, and who God is in relation to His creations, and I’m going to attempt to demonstrate the fallacy of a massive misunderstanding to which almost all of us have fallen victim. I was, at first, opposed to the notions that I’m about to explain, but as I sought the scripture to find any fault in it whatsoever, I only further delved into this new revelation about the nature of man. In this article, I will explore the Biblical truth behind the concept of “free will”. As you will realize after reading this, nothing I write is anything that hasn’t been predetermined by God the Father since the beginning of time. I’m not claiming to be one hundred percent sure of anything by the statements that I make in this article. This study is only the exploration of an idea, a scripturally based theory that was mostly popularized in Calvinist theology, and is meant entirely for your own discernment. This is an extremely advanced topic and you can’t expect to fully understand it simply by reading this article. May the Holy Spirit grant you wisdom and discernment, and personally reveal to you whether I write this in truth or whether this too is a misunderstanding of scripture.
It surprises many to discover that nowhere in the Bible does it say or indicate that God gave humans the ability to make original choices, which is what we have come to know as “free will”. Free will is defined as being the ability to act without the constraint of a predetermined fate, a concept that is not found anywhere within the original Hebraic context of the Bible. The concept of free will can be traced back to Plato’s writings, so we know that it is at least stemmed from pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, only to be later picked up by Saint Augustine and adopted into Roman Catholicism. But nowhere do the biblical patriarchs, prophets, or apostles teach that man has the freedom to make choices that can shape his own destiny, thus altering God’s predestined plan. So, let’s take a look at what the scripture does say. These are some of the most profound and radical verses in the New Testament.
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 for adoption to sonship 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.”
Ephesians 1:11, “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 this passage, although it doesn’t quite make sense when we try to rationalize this concept in human terms, it is plain-as-day English that God “chose” and “predestined” select people to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved, and He did this not only before they were born, but “before the creation of the world”. This means that, since time began, some were destined to be saved, while others, by default, were destined to be lost. Now, before making any prejudgments about the fairness of God in this matter, lets continue the study to unravel the mystery. In order to understand how this works, we must completely reevaluate what a human being is.
THE NATURE OF MAN
The passages that I am about to read clearly indicate what we, humans, really are, not what we often suppose we are or what we think we’re capable of. God is explicitly clear that mankind is always evil all the time, and that man is physically and spiritually incapable of doing anything good on his own.
Isaiah 64:6, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
Genesis 6:5, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”
The first observation that we should make is that nobody, not one human in existence, is exempt from this genetically inherited trait of being evil. It says that “all of us” have become unclean, “all our” righteous deeds are evil, “all have sinned”, and “no one” is righteous, “not even one”. That last verse from Genesis states that the heart of man is “only evil all the time”, and this is a statement that no one can escape, because it is one of the defining attributes of the human race. From these passages, such statements can be drawn: Since “all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags”, man is incapable of doing anything that can be considered good or righteous, and since mankind is “only evil all the time”, it is impossible for man to, of his own volition, choose good over evil when presented the choice. In order to understand this even better, I’m going to use a simple analogy: If you place two bowls in front of a dog, one filled with lettuce and the other filled with meat, which of the two bowls will the dog eat? The meat, of course, because that is the nature of the dog. Ten times out of ten, the dog will choose the bowl of meat. Likewise, a human being, when presented with two bowls, one filled with good and the other filled with evil, will always choose evil, because that is its nature.
Now, the argument becomes this: If we are only able to do evil and never able to do good, how are we then able to do things like donate to charity, feed the hungry, and sacrifice our lives for the ones we love. It’s no mystery that human beings are capable of doing good things, and do in fact display righteousness every single day. The fact that we often exercise our ability to do something kind or selfless for others seems to contradict what the Bible says about man being “always evil” and incapable of righteousness. What the Bible is actually saying is that man is incapable of achieving righteousness on his own. Therefore, whenever we do something good or righteous, it is not us who is doing it, but God through us. This is evident in this next verse from the Book of Philippians.
Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
This clarifies how it is not us who works for God, but God who works through us to accomplish His will. Now, in this next verse, Jesus confirms that God the Father is the only being in existence capable of being good.
Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good–except God alone.”
This proves that, if a man does something good, it is merely because he was used as an instrument for God to work through him, since “no one is good—except God alone”. This means that no good deed can be to the credit of man, because man, apart from God, is incapable of choosing good over evil, unless God intervenes and does good through him.
Does this mean that God specifically created man to be evil? No, because God does not create evil, nor does he inject sin into people in order to make them do evil. God initially made Adam and Eve pure. Only when their nature was corrupted by the serpent did sin become a part of their nature. This is why the tree that the serpent tempted Eve from was called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, because it was at this point when Adam and Eve ate the fruit that evil was added to their nature, an option that was not engrained in them when their nature was purely good, just as God had made them. From henceforth, every generation sustained the curse of original sin and every child since Adam and Eve, including you and I, have been born into a nature that causes us to sin. So, it is not God who makes us sin, but our inherent nature, a curse that began with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. God created humans pure and holy, but at the same time, He knew that they would sin, and that was His plan all along. It is not God who injects evil into them, but Satan, and it was God’s will for Satan to corrupt them, because that too was a part of the plan that he had designed from the very beginning. Remember, Adam and Eve did not screw up God’s plan, God’s plan just extended beyond Adam and Eve.
Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Since God knows the end from the beginning, we can deduce that God deliberately intended for Satan to corrupt mankind so that the entire history of the world could unfold and gather him not just his initial two creations, but an entire body of human beings, who are the children and generations of Adam and Eve that have stacked up over the course of millenniums. It’s difficult to understand what the reason for doing this is, because we begin to question, “If Satan created sin, and God created Satan, then doesn’t that mean that God created sin?” Let’s try to broaden our perspective to see what God is really accomplishing by creating beings that are capable of sin. To understand the ultimate purpose, we must look at where it all began and where it will all end, and then pinpoint the difference between the two in order to see what is being accomplished. Since Lucifer rebelled against God in Heaven, we know that Heaven, before earth was made, was also prone to flaw. By allowing earth to play out like a seven-thousand-year drama, God deals with sin by sending Jesus to provide salvation, and when God redeems those who Jesus has saved, he will have completely rid the issue of sin from existence. So, basically, before earth, Heaven was flawed, and after earth, heaven will finally be perfect for the rest of eternity. This is what God is achieving, the final and ultimate state of perfection in Heaven, because all of His creations will have personally witnessed and experienced the result of sin, thus, it will never happen again. When we ask why God creates things that are capable of evil, it’s because He is creating a Heaven that will be absolutely flawless, not by force, but by demonstrating to His creations, both man and angel, that He is a fair God. The creation of earth is this very demonstration.
THE IMPRESSION OF CHOICE
This misunderstanding of the fact that humans, without God, are incapable of being good is what creates the impression that we are making original choices, the illusion that we possess free will, and this is not an illusion that was created by God, but by human reasoning and philosophy in the attempt to rationalize the human struggle between good and evil. What we perceive to be us making the choice to do something that is considered good is simply God the Father doing good through us, and what we perceive to be us making the choice to do something that is evil is simply God stepping back and allowing us to be what we are naturally, evil, which is what we will choose in every instance unless God Himself intervenes. This is why early human civilizations, Greek philosophers, and pretty much all of us have come to think that we are making original, uncontrolled choices on our own. The truth of the matter is, by saying that we humans have free will, we are implying that it is within our ability to choose good, which is completely opposite of what the Bible indicates, that we can only do evil unless God does good through us. Since we humans are a part of God’s plan and His will in life, to say that we have the power to choose whether we go to Heaven or Hell means that we hold the power to change and alter God’s will. By saying that God has left it up to us to choose whether we worship Jesus or not, we are implying that God has given us the power to choose and alter the outcome of His plan for the future. In plain words, since we are a part of God’s will, if we could decide our own fate and choose what happens to us, then we would have a shared portion of God’s exclusive power to control what happens and predestine a set fate.
This is why free will can only theoretically exist with one being in all of existence, God. If two or more beings possessed free will, then no one would have it, since they cancel each other out. Let me demonstrate this point with another analogy that was inspired by a theologian by the name of Dr. Robert Morey. He likened it to an island that has only one man on it. This man is on the island all by himself. He can walk around naked if he wants, because there’s no one to oppose or tell him otherwise. He can choose any fruit he wants to eat and eat it. However, if another man with equal capabilities was placed on the island with him, he might tell the man to wear some clothes, or they might argue each other for who gets to eat which fruit. Thus, the first man has now lost his ability to do whatever he wants and neither of the two men have the free will to do anything that they please. This is why only God can possess the ability of free will, because if humans had any say in His process of decision, He would no longer retain sovereign right to do anything and everything that he pleases, since it would then be shared by humans.
So, now the even tougher question arises: If God “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” and “predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ”, as it says in Ephesians 1, does that mean that God also forcibly predestined certain people to go to Hell without ever giving them a chance to be saved? It would seem to be that way, but the fact is, these verses from Ephesians do not mention anything about choosing who goes to Hell, only who goes to Heaven. Let’s look at Judas as an example.
Matthew 26:24, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
This verse is referring to Judas, who betrayed Jesus, saying that he would face a terrible fate for doing so. The first line says that Jesus would “go just as it is written about him”, indicating that He had to die on the cross in order to fulfill the scripture. This means that God the Father had already predetermined that His Son Jesus would be crucified before the ancient scripture was even written, assumedly also before the creation of the world, when God decided all things. This proves that Jesus’ death on the cross was not what some consider to have been God’s plan gone awry because of human error, but like the fall of Satan, the fall of man, and all of the horrible things that have happened throughout history, it was all a part of a perfectly devised plan that God Himself predetermined before humans were even made. This means that Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was also a part of the plan that God predestined. So, by saying that Judas, the traitor, would carry a fate in which it would have been better for him to have not been born, we can only assume that Judas is going be sent to Hell, since the only thing worse than not being born is being alive in perpetual torment. If Jesus’ crucifixion was a part of the plan, then Judas’ betrayal of Jesus had to have also been a part of the plan, which in turn means that Judas would be sent to Hell in order to fulfill his predestined fate.
Now, before we accuse God of being unfair, let’s try to remember one thing. God is good, which means that He cannot do evil, and if He cannot do evil, than it is impossible for God to inject into a person the sin and evil that will condemn them to Hell. Let’s not forget the nature of man. If man’s nature is “only evil all the time”, then God is not injecting into people the evil that condemns them to Hell so much as He is stepping out of the picture and allowing man do what he does normally, evil. By this logic, it is fair to say that God is not sending Judas to Hell, but Judas, along with all humans, would go to Hell naturally unless God intervenes and saves them. God can only inject the good into a person that saves them. He cannot inject the evil into a person that condemns them to Hell. For those who God has chosen to receive eternal life, He deals with them actively by injecting them with the ability to choose Christ and be saved. However, he deals with those who He has not chosen by dealing with them passively, allowing them to be evil, as they would be in every instance without God’s active work in them. Thus, they receive only what their nature rightfully merits and God cannot be accused of being unfair. However, this raises a new mystery: Why does God choose some people for salvation and not others, and what are the conditions that determine this decision?
Even though we can deduce that God is justified in predestining only a select group of people to receive eternal life, it still seems unfair that He chose some people and not others. Although this is often disregarded as being simply a mystery that humans aren’t meant to know at this point in time, I think that we can understand a little bit more about it by delving even deeper into the mystery of how God chooses the chosen. This next section is going to take us one level deeper and will require us to possibly reevaluate everything that we thought we knew about ourselves. Taking our pride out of the equation and approaching this next section from a completely objective standpoint is a prerequisite for understanding the mystery. We must try to accept that, although we are individual beings, we are not the free-will beings that we perhaps previously thought that we were and are in fact only perpetuated by God and His will for us. Since it is from God Himself that we stem, nothing is thought in our minds unless God thought it first. The choices we make in life are therefore nothing but echoes of the original sound that God made. Although it appears like I hold the ability to choose to pick a book up off the table, the only reason that I chose to pick up the book is because God made a decision that led to my choice to pick up the book, and so, even though I was the one who made the choice, I was not the one who made the original choice. I acted as an agent of God’s initial decision, an echo.
When considering the idea that God predestines peoples’ fate, one might argue this: What if someone was not chosen by God, but they decide one day that they want to get to know Him? Are they forbidden against their will to love God just because they weren’t chosen? The answer is this: This scenario would never be the case, because the only reason that anyone ever opens their heart to God is because God first opened their heart. It is always God who initiates a person’s relationship with Him. If we look at any instance in the Bible, whenever someone makes a choice to believe in Jesus, it is never made unless God first initiates the decision that leads them to Jesus. Here’s an example.
Acts 16:14, “One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.”
From this one example, we can see that it was not Lydia’s choice that first led her to respond to what Paul was teaching, but God’s choice to first open her heart, the initial action that led to her decision. In this sense, we do not choose God, but it is God who chooses us. This concept is again clarified by Jesus’ own words in this next passage.
John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.”
This is perfect evidence that we are not the one’s who choose our destiny, but rather, it is chosen for us by God the Father. Here’s another three passages from Jesus Himself, and if we analyze His words, there are two very crucial notions being revealed: the notion that we belong to God as His possessions and the notion that we do not choose to believe in Jesus Christ by our own volition, but it is God, our owner, who gives those of us who He has chosen to Jesus.
John 17:9, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.”
John 18:9, “This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
John 17:6, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.”
It’s interesting to study that first passage when Jesus says “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me”. This indicates that Jesus was only concentrating His efforts on those that God chose, which also proves that there are some who have been predestined to salvation and some to eternal damnation. Think about it. If Jesus was not praying for anyone except those who God predestined, then He did not come to earth to save everyone, only those who had always been predestined by God. This next passage reaffirms the notion that the only people who would respond to Jesus were those who had been chosen before the creation of the world and no one else.
John 6:37-40, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
This passage also confirms that no one who God has chosen can lose their predestined salvation. It is revealed when Jesus says “I shall lose none of all those he has given me”. Those who God has chosen are also referred to numerous times as “the elect”, which comes from the Greek word elektos, meaning “chosen”. Here are a few examples.
Matthew 24:22, “…for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”
Luke 18:7, “And shall not God avenge his own elect…”
Romans 8:33, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
Another word in the Greek that is often used to describe those who have been chosen by God is “eklektos”, which is a participle of the verb “eklegomai”, which can be used as a noun or as an adjective that means “picked out” or “chosen” by someone. So, let’s examine this next verse where the word eklektos is translated into “chosen”.
Matthew 24:14, “For many are called, but few are chosen (eklektos).”
This is a prime example of how the Bible refers to a group of people as being the ones who have been chosen or elected, again confirming that this body of people have no ability to decide by their own will and are chosen purely by God’s will. The New Testament uses the word eklektos in the singular or plural. When it is used in the plural, it is used in the same sense that the original Hebrew language intended it to be: the object of election is a single body of people, even though it is spoken of as consisting of many individuals. Another interesting point is that the word “Church” comes from the Greek “Ekklesia”, which comes from two words “ek”, meaning “out”, and “kaleo”, meaning to “call”. So, the word Church means “the ones who have been called out” and refers to a group of people, not a building. The word Ekklesia also bears its roots with the word Eklektos and further reaffirms the notion that this group of “called out” people did not choose to be called out, but were in fact selected and chosen.
Now, back to the question of God’s fairness in choosing some people and not others. You might ask questions like “If God chooses some people for salvation, isn’t that showing partiality, even though the Bible says in Romans 2:11 that God shows no partiality? The answer to this is as follows: God’s election of certain individuals is not what the Bible is referring to in this verse as “partiality”. Let’s look at this verse from James.
James 2:2-4, “Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
This is the kind of partiality that the Bible is talking about, and it is regarded as a false criteria for valuing a person. However, God’s choice is not based on what is in a man, but what is in Himself. This is what makes God’s love and election completely unconditional of human standards. The only condition by which anyone can be saved is faith, and faith, as we covered earlier, is given to us by God based on His choice. This means that He chooses nobody based on being good or bad, and so, His election is completely impartial.
THE GOD TREE
Even though we have covered the fact that God makes his choice purely and impartially based on His will and by no bias towards the quality of any individuals’ good deeds, it is still quite difficult to understand the criteria by which God bases His election. In order to wrap our minds around this concept, we must thoroughly examine the relationship between God and man by understanding what man is in relation to God. The next two passages indicate the true origin of human beings, which define the human spirit as being an extension of God’s own spirit.
Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
If God is, as the passage in Ephesians suggests, “through all, and in you all”, then we can deduce that, when God breathed into the nostrils of Adam and made him a living being, He was not only breathing oxygen into his lungs, but His own spirit. There is evidence of this in the next passage, which refers to when Jesus bestowed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples.
John 20:22, “And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
It clearly states that the Holy Spirit of God entered the disciples via the act of Jesus breathing on them, whether this was a physical or symbolic act. As soon as Jesus breathed on them, he said “Receive the Holy Spirit”, and they did. This is the same as how God breathed into man, and he not only attained a lungful of air, but a living spirit. Our soul is nothing more than an extension of God’s own eternal spirit. This is how Adam and Eve would have lived forever if they had not sinned, because the only thing that lives forever is God’s spirit, proving that God’s own spirit was used to create their soul. God put His own self into man in order to create him, thus, our life is not our own, but God’s. We are not our own possessions, but we belong to God, from whom we were initially branched. It even says in this next verse from Ephesians that we are “God’s possession” and exist solely for “the praise of his glory.” Notice also how it says that the Holy Spirit is a “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”, which means that it is impossible for those who God has chosen to lose their promised salvation.
Ephesians 1:13-14, “When you 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.”
Now, we shouldn’t suppose that we are gods just because we have the spirit of God in us, just as a leaf should not suppose that it is a tree just because it is attached to and branched from the tree. Leaves are called leaves and the tree is called the tree, just as humans are called humans and God is called God. We are distinct entities, yet we are still spiritually connected. The tree can exist without the leaf, but the leaf cannot exist without the tree, just like God can exist without us, but we cannot exist without Him, because we are mere extensions of Him. We are extensions of God’s love, which is the driving force behind our own existence. Humans are only perpetuated and sustained by God and His life. In this sense, the only reason we do, choose, or experience anything is because of God. God is like the heart, and we are the capillaries that branch out from His veins. Let me use another analogy: Look at your hand. Your fingers do not move by themselves, but they move because you tell them to with your mind. When you use your hand to grab an object, your fingers do not claim credit for having grabbed the object, but rather you do for having used your fingers to accomplish your will, since your fingers are only made to think and move because you think for them in order to make them move. In the same way, we are the fingers and God is the mind that gives us animation. I guess you could say that we are the “members” of the body of Christ, a body to which God the Father is the all-controlling mind and spirit. We cannot claim credit for the choices we make, because it is God, the source of our life, who decides all things for us. This is why I say that God is the only free-will being in existence and we are merely His instruments. Another analogy might be this: Does an audience applaud the piano after a pianist finishes his performance? Of course not, because it was the pianist who used the piano to create the song. The piano cannot produce music on its own unless it is being played by a musician, just as we cannot do anything good on our own unless God uses us. We are the physical instrument that is played to produce beautiful symphonies by the metaphysical mind of God, and without God, our own metaphysical mind is incapable of producing anything but chaos and dissonance. There is evidence of this concept in scripture numerous times when Jesus explains how He does nothing on His own accord, only that which the Father has told him. Here’s one example:
John 5:30, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
John 12:49, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.”
These passages indicate that Jesus was doing nothing outside of what the Father commanded him, because God the Father is the only one capable of making original choices. Jesus literally said “I can of mine own self do nothing”, which means that everything He did was the Father’s command and He was absolutely incapable of doing otherwise. Now, I raise the question: If Jesus was only able to do what the Father told Him to, who are we to say that we are not also subject to God’s total control? If Jesus only did what God the Father had predestined him to, then we also are incapable of doing anything by our own will, since we are, at the very most, lesser than Jesus.
Since we are nothing more than the members, fingers, and leaves of God, the saved and the lost are then defined as being those who are members of the body of Christ and those who aren’t. Jesus was the only one perfect and worthy enough to make the sacrifice for mankind, so becoming a member of Jesus’ body, a body to which God is the mind and spirit, is the only way for us to receive the salvation and redemption that Jesus provided us. In my crude analogy, God is the tree, Jesus is the branch, and we our His leaves.
We have to put our pride and our ego to death in order to understand God’s purpose for us, and we have to stop thinking of ourselves as being our own possessions. The idea that we are a bunch of self-perpetuating spirits with free wills of our own to pave whatever destiny we want is a completely unbiblical misconception that evolved from philosophers who were viewing the world through a lens of godlessness. Without taking God into consideration, it would seem apparent that we are free will beings capable of choosing our own destiny, since there is the impression that we are doing everything on our own, making good decisions and doing bad things, but when we take Biblical scripture into account, it is clear that this is not the case. Now, if you do not believe that the Bible is valid, then that is a different matter entirely. But, if you know that the Bible is the valid and accurate word of God Himself through His chosen prophets, patriarchs, and apostles, then the teaching is clear, as difficult as it is for us to accept; humans do not have free will, and we exist only to praise the sole God from which we stem, as well as experience His love and joy through the created vessels of life which we have come to know as our bodies. Our body is not who we are or what defines us. It is only a domicile for the human extension of God’s spirit to reside. Think of your body as an organic machine designed to sustain the life of your soul in a material universe so that you can experience and function within the physical world. The human body is a house in which we live, even more, a sacred temple. Even Jesus referred to His body as being a temple.
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’ They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”
Now, concerning our lack of free will, there are those who might call this a form of slavery, since we are under the complete authority and control of God without any say in the matter. Even the apostle Paul refers to himself in Ephesians 3:1 as “the prisoner of Christ Jesus”. So, my question would be this: why is Paul not only the least bit dismayed at being enslaved by God, but zealously grateful to God for making him so? Because he realized that being enslaved to God and Christ Jesus doesn’t mean that you’re rotting away in a dungeon like a zombie, or a puppet that’s being forced to do unconscionable things against its desires. It means that you are going to experience the ecstasy and elation of God’s perfect love and joy in eternal heaven. If that’s prison, sign me up. We have to realize that, even if we are opposed to the idea of not having a free will of our own, we don’t have a choice. It would be pointless to get angry at God for having made us incapable of choosing our destiny, because we were never made any other way. Now, if God had once made us capable of free will, and then after a time, He took away our ability of free will and enslaved us to His will, we might be frustrated, because He has forced us to recede to a lesser state of being. But, since we were always created under His will and have never had it any other way, there isn’t one reason in all the world for us to be angry or rebellious. In fact, by realizing that you are under the control and protection of an almighty God, there is suddenly no point in doing anything except praise and thank God for the fact that He even decided to bring us into existence at all. By realizing that we have no freedom to choose our fate, that everything is predetermined by God, there becomes no reason to fear anything, because now you know that, whatever happens, be it good, bad, great, or tragic, it is still part of a perfectly controlled plan that was devised by a loving and merciful God who wants nothing but peace for His beloved creations, and nothing happens in the world unless it is the intentional design of a God whose love is so great that we have no word in the whole of human dialect that’s perfect enough to describe 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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”
If we can understand that it is not our decision whether we go to Heaven or Hell, but the sole decision of God to do whatever serves His purpose with whoever He chooses, then it is impossible for any human to save the soul of another human or detract another human from the faith. In plain words, there is no point in worrying about scaring people away from a belief in God, because no one will be saved unless they were always predestined to be saved, and no one will be lost to eternal damnation unless it had always been their fate since before they were even conceived. So, we shouldn’t panic, thinking that we have to somehow help God save souls, because if God chose and predestined someone to salvation, His will will be done whether He uses you or some other means to accomplish it. Therefore, if you led someone to Christ and baptized them in the name of our savior Jesus Christ, be glad that God decided to use you as the vessel to achieve His will, knowing that it is not you who saved this soul, but God working through you. God does not need us, nor does He rely on us, so when you go out into the world and evangelize, the honor and privilege to be an instrument for God’s will is entirely yours. We must realize that, for those that God chose before the creation of the world, there has never been a risk of them losing their salvation. If someone loses their salvation, their crown of life, it’s only because they never really had it to begin with. Here are two verses to prove it.
John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
John 10:29, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
From these passages, specifically where Jesus says “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”, we can gather that it is absolutely impossible for any of the predestined elect that God chose to lose their salvation or fall away from their fate with God in Heaven by any means. So, to fear that one might scare someone away from the faith is pointless. To spend time worrying and strategizing about how to go about convincing atheists that God exists is effort that goes in vain, because when God wants something to happen, He’ll make it happen whether He does it through you or not, and you have no control over the method through which He chooses to achieve it. Therefore, when we pray, lets not ask God for a million different things, but pray simply that His will be done, because nothing will happen unless God intended it to, even things that we sometimes consider to be misfortunes.
For many of us, myself included, a point is reached where, even after learning all of this, we still wonder how God is making His choice on who gets saved and who doesn’t, and this is natural, since we are all eager to understand exactly how God is justified in doing so. Looking back, what we have learned so far from this study is that God elects certain individuals and not others, and He is justified in doing so, because the nature of man is only evil all of the time, and unless God uses us for good, we would all rightfully be condemned to Hell, since we are incapable of righteousness on our own. We have also learned that we, being nothing more than instruments of God and extensions of His own spirit, do not possess the right to say that God cannot do with us whatever He wants, since He is our owner and we would not even exist if it weren’t for His decision to bring us into being. Let’s try to understand this with a simple analogy from the Bible.
Isaiah 64:8, “Yet, O Lord, You are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”
Jeremiah 18:6, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”
From these analogies, let’s try to imagine ourselves as clay, and God as our potter. He is the one who has sovereign right to shape us however He wants. Does at any point the clay look back at the potter and say to him, “What do you think you’re doing with me? Get your hands off! You don’t have the right to shape me!” The truth is, the potter has every right to shape the clay and the clay has no right to demand that its potter stop shaping it the way he wants, because without the potter, the clay becomes nothing. In this sense, the clay does not even qualify to protest its potter, because it is not the kind of thing that has a choice. Unless the potter shapes it, it is dead. Now, if the potter were trying to mold another potter, the other potter would have the right to tell him to get his hands off, because they are of equal power, but since there is only one potter and everything else is clay, the potter has complete right to do anything with everything. We do not possess the right to scold God for working in accordance with His will instead of ours, because our will is not even the kind of will that can exist without His. In fact, our will, our choices, and our mind is only a gift that is perpetuated by the will, choices, and mind of God. Therefore, to tell God that He is unfair in making the choices that He does is completely pointless and illogical. Instead, those chosen by God should be grateful that He even decided to create them at all, let alone gift them with the eternal inheritance of Heaven. For those people who are not chosen by God, they will not feel disturbed at the fact that they are not destined to eternal life, since they don’t even believe that God or predestination exists. It will not even be a concern to them.
We have to accept what the scripture says, despite how we feel about it, or what we think and suppose to be the truth. If I don’t think that the Grand Canyon exists, that has no bearing on whether it exists or not. If I feel as though the climate of Mars is boiling hot, my feelings have no bearing on whether it is actually hot or not. What we think and feel is irrelevant to what is, because again, God is the only one who has the power to effect fate and existence. By saying that what we think or feel has the power to effect our destiny, we are unknowingly proclaiming ourselves a type of deity being that retains freedoms and rights that are exclusive to God. Often times, many do not like to believe that we don’t have free will simply because they are afraid to accept the idea that they are not in control of their own lives. It’s at this juncture that we have to remember that the only reason we ever got it in our heads to begin with that we were capable of free will is because of modern human philosophy. Anything that exalts humans or supposes that mankind is somehow equal or greater than God is called humanism, which in turn is a form of Satanism. If Satan tells human beings that they are something more than they actually are, he knows that if they were to then find out what they really are, which is a lesser being than they had thought, then they will experience a completely unnecessary sense of disappointment, and having had pride pumped into them, they will become opposed to the idea and will reject the truth that they have less power and control than they were told they did in an attempt to preserve that feeling of freedom and empowerment that they believed they did up until that point, even at the cost of ignoring the truth. This is how Satan cleverly uses the concept of free will to skew the truth and turn people against God. It’s a lie that most of us, myself included, blindly accept, simply because it seems to be logical at first glance. But, now that we know the truth about what the Bible actually says, we can see how this misconception that man has free will has given us a false idea about humanity, our relationship with God, the identity of God, the nature of Heaven and Hell, and it has twisted the truth about our purpose in life in order to put enmity and confusion between us and God. It promotes the idea that we are gods by sneakily convincing us to unknowingly proclaim on ourselves powers that are exclusive to God. In a sense, what we thought we were when we believed that we had free will is actually the defining characteristic of a deity, and so, we face the difficult realization that we are actually lesser than we thought, and this is what spawns a feeling of rejection and rebellion against God after having had a taste of what it’s like to be a free-will being. Remember that this is exactly what the serpent tempted Eve with in the Garden of Eden, a chance to be like God.
Genesis 3:4-6, “You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”
Notice that the serpent tempted Eve by telling her that, by eating the fruit, she “will be like God, knowing good and evil”, and Eve ate the fruit after recognizing this and believing Satan’s lie that the fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom”. And so, Satan uses the same pattern that he always has, because he knows that it’s a winning formula that works with humans. He tempts us with the thought that we can possess Godlike wisdom and powers, whether we’re aware that that’s what he’s tempting us with or not. To believe that we have free will is to believe that we can have a type of power that only God has. This is Satan’s initial signature of sin and it’s easy to recognize when we reflect on these passages in Genesis concerning the fall of man.
Now, a frightening question is raised for all Christians. If everything has already been predetermined and nothing can change God’s will, why am I even bothering to talk about this? Many people begin to wonder what the point is of evangelizing and trying to bring people to Christ if we have absolutely no say in whether a person is saved or not. Why does anyone bother to share the gospel at all? Didn’t Jesus specifically command us to teach and preach?
Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
If we carefully analyze this verse, you’ll notice that Jesus is not actually giving His disciples a choice by telling them to go and baptize people. It is a command. Jesus is literally telling them that they will do this, because it has already been decided that they would, and we can’t say that they ever held the ability to do otherwise, since history has shown that His disciples did indeed follow His orders and did exactly as He said. If His disciples hadn’t done exactly what He told them to, then we might have a basis to believe that free will exists in man, but that’s not what happened. Let’s look at another example.
Matthew 4:19, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
Again, Jesus did not technically give His disciples a choice. He wasn’t saying “please come follow me if you want to”. He said “Come, follow me”, literally telling them what God had predestined them to do, and they did.
So again, I ask the question: If God’s will is going to be accomplished one way or another, what’s the point of evangelizing? The truth is, the privilege is entirely yours. You are not saving anyone that God would not have saved otherwise through some other means, so when God does use you for His purpose, it is a great honor and the highest of all privileges to participate in God’s active work, and by submitting to God as His instruments, the faith that God vested in us is made known. God will choose to use all of His chosen people to accomplish His will. Even if an individual’s part in His plan seems small and insignificant, it is their tiny task in connection with each of the elect’s personally tailored roles that’s being used to achieve the grand will of God Almighty. I came to this quandary myself after studying the concept of predestination and wondered in perplexity why I was doing anything at all if nothing I do makes any difference with what God has already preplanned for my life. It was after a couple days of meditating on this that I realized that the gift and the privilege of serving God was entirely for my own joy and benefit. No, God does not need any of our help and we do not need to worry about trying to save others, because when God wants to use us for something, he’ll do it whether we want to or not. So, by acknowledging God’s predestined will for our lives, all fears are eliminated, because we are not responsible for anyone’s salvation, and we cannot force God to work how and when we want Him to. All that we have the physical and spiritual ability to do is be grateful when God does decide to use us and enjoy the blessings that He bestows on our lives through our submission to Him. This is why God wants us to be meek and humble, because humbling ourselves is the acknowledgment and self-realization of our being. Since we are completely submissive to God’s will, pride and arrogance is simply the denial of what we actually are. You may think that realizing this would make a Christian lazy in his work for God and want to simply stop evangelizing, but again, we have to remember that it is not up to us whether we evangelize or not, since it is not us who works good deeds, because humans are incapable of doing good, and only God is good, therefore, it is not us who decides how and when to evangelize, but God. I thought about this and considered to cease my own work in evangelizing, yet it still hasn’t stopped me, because anyone who God has truly chosen will have a spirit in them that compels them to evangelize. They could stop evangelizing, but they won’t, because the spirit inside of them makes them want to, and to stop evangelizing would be like if a creature stopped eating its favorite food, or a bird stopped flying.
Being God’s clay does not make us robots just because everything is predestined. God knows that, if He didn’t allow us the freedom to make choices and experience the results of our own decisions, justice wouldn’t be met. So, it’s not that we can’t make choices, we just can’t make original choices that can alter destiny. By not telling us everything that we’re going to do, we possess a type of freedom to make choices without knowing what our predestined fate is, but because God knows everything that we’re going to do and still allows us to make our decisions, He is ultimately in control of the destiny of every individual.
Now that we have an understanding of how human beings cannot possess free will and how God predestined the fate of all people, let’s look back on some verses in scripture with a new interpretation as to their true meaning. In so doing, we can also expel many arguments that oppose the idea of God’s sovereign free will over man.
Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
In this verse, Jesus is not stating that, “if” anyone does the will of His Father, they are a part of His family. Jesus is literally saying that you will be able to identify those who God has chosen and predestined because they will be defined by doing God’s will. It is not so much presenting the choice that people can choose to do the will of the Father so much as it is laying out the key attribute by which a chosen believer can be recognized and identified. Jesus is saying, in essence, that by recognizing those who do the will of God, we will be able to tell who has been chosen to be Jesus’ brother, sister, and mother.
Let’s take a look at the next verse.
Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
In this verse, God is not actually giving Adam a choice to alter his destiny by obeying God or not obeying God, but is telling Adam that, although he retains the ability to eat from the forbidden tree and is not supposed to, he will disobey and become a mortal by doing so, and God is telling him beforehand because He already knows that it is going to happen. To paraphrase, God is essentially saying to Adam, “You are capable of eating from any tree in the garden, and concerning the tree that I have forbidden, you shouldn’t eat of it, even though I know that you will, and on the day that you do, which you most definitely will, you will become mortal.” Remember, Adam and Eve did not screw up destiny. They fulfilled it. Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning…”
Now, let’s tackle a slightly harder verse.
2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Many see this as an indication that man is going to be judged based on the choices that he freely made in life, “whether it be good or bad”. First, I want to point out that it says that everyone’s going to be judged based on “the things done in his body”. This verse implies that it is not us who does the good or bad deeds, but the spirit of God or Satan, who works inside our body, like working inside a house, hence “the things done in our body”, not “the things we did in our body”. We are merely the dwelling place in which their spirits do good or evil, the battleground between two opposing forces. This is truly what it means to be a lesser being. This verse also seems to be implying that we are capable of doing good or evil, but as we studied earlier, man is incapable of doing anything good without God and only does evil because the spirit of Satan invades and corrupts him. It is not the man himself who makes the free-will choice. So, when it says “according to that he hath done”, it means that everyone will be judged based on whether God chose to save them or allowed Satan to corrupt them, but it is not implying that mankind has any choice of his own in this matter.
For the final argument against this idea that certain people are chosen for salvation, I’m going to bring up a point that many have used to excuse the verses in Ephesians that refer to a group of “chosen” and “predestined” people. Let’s review those verses again.
Ephesians 1:3-14, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 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 for adoption to sonship 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. 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, 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 reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 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 put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you 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.”
The argument with this is that, when the apostle Paul is referring to those who have been “chosen”, he is referring to the Jews only, who had always been scripturally referred to as “the chosen ones”. This would imply that Paul is not telling the Gentiles that they are also chosen by God, but is solely referring to the Jewish people. Since Paul was Jewish, this might explain why he was saying “we” when referring to those who had been chosen. The rebuttal can be made in a few different points. First of all, the Book of Ephesians was a letter that Paul wrote to the church of an ancient Greek city called Ephesus, a city in which the people of the time were nearly entirely Gentile, not Jewish, and Paul makes it clear that he’s talking to a Gentile crowd in Ephesians 2:11 when he refers to them as such, saying “you are gentiles by birth”. This is also made clear in Ephesians 4:17 when Paul says “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do…” By saying that they must “no longer” live as Gentiles, Paul is indicating that this is a crowd that was born Gentile, not Jewish. Verse 20-22 then says “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…” This indicates with the words “former way of life” that Paul is addressing people who were born Gentile. The other point to make about this is to understand why the Jewish people were called “the chosen ones” to begin with. Isaiah 42:6 says, “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles…” Here, we are told that the purpose for God’s decision to choose the Jewish people is to make them a light for the Gentiles. God decided to birth Jesus, the light and savior of the world, through the Jewish bloodline, and this is why the Jews are called “the chosen ones”, not because they were to be better than everyone else, but because they would have to suffer and endure hardships for the sake of being a witness for all other nations on earth. The Bible revolves around the story of the Jewish people, and it is thorough them that God decided to demonstrate His character, unveil His plan, and eventually birth His Son. Knowing this, let’s read Ephesians 1:5 again. It says “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ…” Paul cannot possibly be referring solely to the Jews as being the ones who were chosen and predestined, because that would imply that only the Jews were being adopted and saved by Jesus Christ. This is clearly referring to anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus, Jew and Gentile. Also, God does not save entire nations just because some of them believe in Him, therefore, if this verse in Ephesians is solely talking about the Jews, then all Jews would be saved simply because of their lineage.
So, to conclude, we know that it was God’s plan since the beginning of time, to save a set amount of people who He had chosen and predestined to eternal life, Jew and Gentile, based on an entirely impartial and sovereign will that transcends our own. Now you know why Jesus said while hanging on the cross, “It is finished.”