Free will: Merriam-Webster definition 1. The ability to choose how to act, the ability to make choices that are not controlled by fate or God. 2. Freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or divine intervention.
In some Christian circles, Free Will only deals with salvation. Others don’t believe in free will at all. They believe God plans out our lives and in the guise of God’s will or Father knows best, He plans out our entire life with little input from us. To them, we are simply a type of robot and God brings this and that into our life to get us to do what He wants. These same people rail at God when their child dies, injure themselves, or some crippling disease afflicts them. For this group, God is the cosmic boogie-man who barely tolerates them, much less loves them. His Word…the Bible is a book of dos and don’ts, a history that shows God is a ruthless task-master who has anyone who stands in His way killed. Then after years of unfaithful people and an increase in sin, God sent Jesus to earth. Jesus is a kind gentle fellow who loves everyone. In fact, He loves people so much He couldn’t possibly send unbelievers to hell. Everyone will somehow be saved, even if they don’t really believe in Him. After all, free will isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In contrast, we believe Free Will is at the core of our faith and who we are in Christ Jesus. God created us in His image. As such, we build things, fix and repair, reason things out, we work, we are responsible, we make decisions, we can think…teach, learn, mature. We believe we have total control of our lives. We are not robots. We are individuals, unique and special, created by God and like none other.
From the time we are born, our life is a series of choices and consequences…good and bad. The Bible teaches the law of sowing and reaping affects all our lives. Sow good seeds and reap a harvest of good things in your life. Have a good work ethic, you will be promoted, make more money, be more successful. If you sow bad seeds, your harvest will not be so pleasant. If you are lazy, you may not have a home, food, or stability. You can always pray for crop failure, but there are always results from any action or lack of action.
So you ask: why do some people who work very hard never get ahead? Why do the poor stay poor even when they try to climb out of poverty? Answer: I don’t know. I only know God said the poor would always be with us and we are to help them as much as we can.
Jesus came of his own Free Will to show us the love of the Father, to teach us how to please God, to pray and hear God when he speaks to us. Equally important, He paid the penalty for our sins, freeing us from consequence of death, separation from God for eternity. In turn, through our Free Will, we accept or reject his sacrifice and atonement, learn to walk a life of righteousness and holiness through the Holy Spirit, and allow His love to flow through us to a loss and dying world.
We must choose to turn our will toward God. He will not force us. In fact, He will allow people to choose to go to hell if they want. It grieves His heart, but that’s true Free Will.