Free Will and Personal Choice
Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
April 22, 1997

Last Updated :
February 14, 2022

God Created Us For His Own Pleasure, And God Saw That It Was Good, God Works In Us To Do His Will, God's Foreknowledge, Jesus Understood His Purpose On Earth At A Young Age, Jesus' Death and Resurrection Were Accomplished According To The Foreknowledge And Will Of God, Believers Are Chosen And Predestinated To Become Adopted Children According To God's Foreknowledge Good Pleasure And Will, Are We Merely Puppets In God's Hands?, God Knows Those Who Belong To Him, Do We Have A Choice In The Matter?, Foreknowledge Predestination And Free Will Work Hand In Hand, Salvation: We Must Choose For Ourselves, We Are Not Mindless Robots, Our Obedience To God Should Be Motivated By Love Faith And Trust, Children Trust Their Parents, Negative Influence Of The Public School System, Rooted And Grounded In Love, Faith That's Motivated By Fear, Godly Fear And Reverence, A Balanced Relationship With God, Proper Relationship Between Parents And Children

Someone once asked me, "If God already knows what we will do, why did He even create us?" I believe that we are really dealing with several different issues in this question. That is, the issue of why God created us to begin with; the issue of God's foreknowledge; and the issue of free will. As I point out in other articles, the reason why God created us is quite simple. As with other things that God does, He created us simply because He wanted to. In other words, He created us because it pleased Him to do so. This is made clear in the following verse that is found in the Book of Revelation:

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
Revelation 4:11, KJV

In the first chapter of Genesis, we repeatedly find the phrase, ". . . and God saw that it was good". In other words, His Creation pleased Him. These are not the only examples where we find the Lord doing things simply because it pleases Him. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that it is His Father's good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. In other words, He wants to give it to us because it makes Him happy to do so. Consider this verse:

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Luke 12:32, KJV

In his Epistles to the Ephesians and the Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells us that God has not only made His will known to us, but that He has also put it in our hearts to want to do it, because it is pleasing to Him:

"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:"
Ephesians 1:9, KJV

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Philippians 2:13, KJV

Concerning the foreknowledge of God, this is also something I have discussed in a number of other articles. Two verses which immediately come to mind are the following ones:

"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"
Isaiah 46:9-10, KJV

Notice again in the previous two verses that God does all of these things for His own pleasure. Throughout the four Gospels, we find ample evidence of the fact that Jesus was fully aware of the reason His Father had sent Him to Earth. In other words, He had foreknowledge of it. At the early age of twelve, we find Him saying the following to his parents:

". . . How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
Luke 2:49, KJV

Jesus made quite a few prophecies concerning the need for His upcoming Death and subsequent Resurrection. You will find this topic discussed more in detail in the article "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words". In the Book of Acts, Peter likewise informed the crowd that all of these things, -- the Death and Resurrection of Christ -- were accomplished according to the foreknowledge and will of God:

"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"
Acts 2:23, KJV

Not only that, but in addressing the Churches in his first Epistle, Peter informs his readers -- who were Believers -- that they were actually chosen for Salvation according to the foreknowledge of God, as we see by these three verses:

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
1 Peter 1:1-2, KJV

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
1 Peter 2:9, KJV

The Apostle Paul also dealt with the theme of predestination in a few of his Epistles, and likewise informed his readers that they were predestinated to become the adopted children of God according to God's good pleasure, as we can determine by the following example verses:

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29, KJV

"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will . . . In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"
Ephesians 1:4-5, 11, KJV

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:"
2 Thessalonians 2:13, KJV

"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV

These are not the only verses which are found in the New Testament where we are told that God's children are chosen for both Salvation, as well as for lifelong service to the Lord. Consider the following additional examples which also reveal how Believers are chosen, and drawn to Christ, as well as given to Christ, by the Father:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:44, KJV

"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
John 10:28-29, KJV

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth [meaning crucified], will draw all men unto me."
John 12:32, KJV

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you . . . If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:16, 19, KJV

"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine . . . And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are . . . Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
John 17:9, 11, 24, KJV

"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen."
Matthew 20:16, KJV

"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Matthew 22:14, KJV

"And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days."
Mark 13:20, KJV

"And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
Acts 13:48, KJV

"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
James 2:5, KJV

"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
Revelation 17:14, KJV

Of course, it should be noted that Scriptures such as the previous ones apply to modern day Believers as well. That is to say, we were likewise preordained, predestinated and chosen to become the adopted children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, according to God's foreknowledge, good pleasure and will.

Sadly, as you may know, there are some people who have taken such verses as the previous ones regarding predestination, and have made the false accusation that we are all merely puppets in God's hands. These misguided people claim that it doesn't matter what we do in this life, because the Lord has already decided who belongs to Him, and who doesn't belong to Him. This claim is partially true. After all, the Scriptures do tell us the following:

"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT ARE HIS. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
2 Timothy 2:19, KJV

Now, while it is true that God knows who belongs to Him, at the same time, such misguided people say that if God wants us to be a part of His Heavenly Kingdom, then we will be; and if He wants to cast us into the Lake of Fire, then there is absolutely nothing that we can do about it. In short, we simply have no choice in the matter, according to the people who embrace this position. They use this kind of erroneous reasoning to justify their unbridled lifestyles. Tragically, in my opinion, this whole idea concerning the futility of our existence is wrong, and can be attributed to a skewed interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

So, based upon my study and personal understanding of the Scriptures, I believe that foreknowledge, predestination, and free will work hand in hand. In other words, because of the foreknowledge which He possesses, God has predestined us to be a part of His Kingdom. Why do I embrace this position? Because when the moment of our decision arrives, God already knows what choice we will make regarding Jesus Christ, and it will be according to our own free will. We must choose for ourselves. God will not choose for us. Additionally, I also believe that God has purposely limited Himself in this manner for reasons which I will explain shortly. The idea of free will is expressed in quite a few verses which are found throughout the pages of the Bible. Here are a few of them for your personal consideration. In each case, a clear cut decision must be made:

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"
Deuteronomy 30:19, KJV

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15, KJV

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24, KJV

These verses lead us to an important question. If our free will plays no role in such matters as Salvation, then why does the Bible contain such verses as the previous ones, which clearly reveal that free will and personal choice do matter to God? In my article "Is the Message of Salvation Meant for All Men?", I expound upon this same concept. As I have said many times before, God did not create us to be mindless robots. He wants us to obey Him and to choose the way of Salvation because we truly love Him. He wants us to demonstrate our faith in Him, by believing that He wouldn't tell us or command us to do anything, if He didn't know it was for our own good. He wants us to trust Him, plain and simple. As we read in the Book of Proverbs:

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV

This is the same kind of faith and trust that young children have in their biological parents. Most toddlers would never think to question their parents. They trust that what their parents are telling them is true, right and for their own good. It is not until our children start getting older, and acquire more self-confidence, and reach that age where they think they know everything, that they begin to doubt and question their parents' judgment on different matters. While part of this attitude just has to do with the normal growing up process, tragically, it likewise has a lot to do with the rebellious attitudes and negative influence our children are exposed to in the public school system, which, as many of you will already know, is the Devil's breeding ground for ungodly thoughts, attitudes and behavior. I discuss this issue more at length in articles such as "The Public School System and School Prayer".

However, as far as the Lord's own children are concerned; whether we are young or old biologically-speaking, God still expects us to have that same respect for, and faith in His Word, as well as obedience to His divine Will. While it may be blind faith while we are young, as we become older, more mature, and sometimes more wiser in our own eyes, our faith and obedience get tested. It is then that we discover if our faith in the Lord is really motivated by love, or if it is just due to a fear of retribution. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the brethren at Galatia, it must be faith which works, or which is motivated by, love, as we see by the following set of verses. Clearly, we must be rooted and grounded in love:

"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."
Galatians 5:6, KJV

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19, KJV

"Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 6:23, KJV

"Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"
1 Thessalonians 1:3, KJV

"And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
1 Timothy 1:14, KJV

The bottom line is that we must have the faith to believe that God loves us so much, that He would never require anything of us that is not for our own good. We must also believe that no matter what transpires in our lives, God remains in control, and that in the end, all things will work out to our favor, according to God's Will. Again, the Apostle Paul offered some excellent advice regarding this topic when he wrote the following:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28, KJV

On the other hand, if we only believe in and obey the Lord because we are afraid of what He might do to us if we don't, then this is not truly faith motivated by love. It's really faith motivated by fear. This is not the kind of obedience that God desires from us. Now it is obvious that godly fear and reverence certainly have their place in the lives of we Christians. After all, there are quite a few verses in the Bible which teach us this very thing. Consider the following:

"And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation."
Luke 1:50, KJV

"But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
Luke 12:5, KJV

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
2 Corinthians 7:1, KJV

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Philippians 2:12, KJV

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."
Hebrews 12:28, KJV

"Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king."
1 Peter 2:17, KJV

"And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
Job 28:28, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever."
Psalm 111:10, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."
Proverbs 8:13, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
Proverbs 9:10, KJV

"The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened."
Proverbs 10:27, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death."
Proverbs 14:27, KJV

"The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility."
Proverbs 15:33, KJV

"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."
Proverbs 16:6, KJV

"The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil."
Proverbs 19:23, KJV

"By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life."
Proverbs 22:4, KJV

However, as I explain in other articles, fearing the Lord does not mean that we should walk around in dreadful fear all day long just wondering if God is going to strike us dead with a lightning bolt, because we did something which displeased Him. Again, this is another totally unfounded accusation which is made by the enemies of God. If you feel like you are walking around on egg shells all of the time, then something is seriously wrong with your relationship with the Lord. Is there possibly some outstanding sin in your life which is hampering your relationship with Him? If so, then you need to correct it. Our relationship with the Lord must be balanced. It should be a combination of godly fear and reverence -- or respect -- faith, trust and love.

This same principle of obedience through fear, reverence and love equally applies to our biological children as well. If our children only choose to obey us because they are afraid of us, and are fearful of what we might do to them, then it would seem that something is terribly wrong somewhere. They should want to please us by obeying in order to show their love and respect for us. Such actions also demonstrate their complete trust in us as well. Again, the Scriptures offer us some sound advice regarding this issue, as we can determine by the following group of verses:

"The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother."
Proverbs 10:1, KJV

"A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke . . . He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."
Proverbs 13:1, 24, KJV

"A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother."
Proverbs 15:20, KJV

"Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying."
Proverbs 19:18, KJV

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it . . . Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
Proverbs 22:6, 15, KJV

"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
Proverbs 23:13-14, KJV

"A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back."
Proverbs 26:3, KJV

"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame . . . Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul."
Proverbs 29:15, 17, KJV

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Ephesians 6:1-4, KJV

"Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."
Colossians 3:20-21, KJV

"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;"
1 Timothy 3:3-4, KJV

Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.

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