I recently wrote a post entitled, “Predestination is not an Excuse”, which was intended to challenge the notion that if God has already decided who will go to Heaven and who will not, why should the Christian risk being rejected by sharing eternal truth on the matter?
Free Will Salvation
A response I received reflected an individual who falls into the theological camp of “free will”, or that man has been given the opportunity to make his/her own decision on accepting or rejecting God when confronted with that choice.
Again, volumes of books and lectures have filled libraries and classrooms on this subject, well beyond this short post. Further, there are those who separate “salvation” from all other behaviors of man when offering their opinion on free will vs. predestination. To be clear, my comments are exclusively related to where one will spend eternity (i.e. salvation) and not day-to-day decision-making.
In my response to this commentor, I offered the following points, worth remembering.
A few undefendable, rhetorical questions Christians don’t ask
At the heart of predestination is the concept that mankind is not in control of his own eternal destiny, i.e. Heaven vs. Hell. On a much deeper level, (separate from shallow and undefendable Sunday School answers), this admission further opens pandora’s box, asking questions such as:
- Why does God allow sin to exist and continue,
- Why does He give Satan and his minions’ such latitude in the world,
- Why did God command the Israelites to kill off their enemies (men, women, and children),
- Why does God create man and then require us to have a personal relationship with Him to avoid eternity in Hell?
These questions, and many others, make being a born-again Christian that much harder, to communicate and accept, much less defend. Ironically, these roadblocks tend to add credence to God’s direct intervention in the salvation process and the belief that one comes to Him by faith, not by logic.
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
My personal belief is that our salvation is the result of God drawing us (predestination) rather than sinful man initially seeking God. A succinct summary of that viewpoint can be seen here. Verses such as Matt. 24:22, 2 Peter 1:10, Romans 8:33, Eph. 1:11, and 1 Thes. 1:4 among others, supports this theological viewpoint. However, I acknowledge that I could be totally wrong.
Free Will of Man
Of course, the controversy over predestination results from what would seem to be clear interpretations of Scripture that suggest man’s free will is at play in asking the Lord into one’s heart (John 1:12, 3:16, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9, Revelation 22:17). A short and balanced article on the subject can be seen here.
Don’t Miss the Real Point
In the end, it really should not matter from mankind’s perspective whether one believes in predestination or free will as the basis for eternal salvation.
Either for those who offer the Good News (Evangelists) or those who are listening to it (Seekers), God knew from eternity past which way each of us will end up, just as He knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). However, as we share the Good News and as others choose to listen to it, neither the speaker nor the listener needs to know if God is drawing one to His side or if man is attracted to that peace that transcends all understanding, on his own (Phil. 4:7). As Biblical Christians the greatest expression of God’s love for the lost is to build relationships and share the Good News, with our neighbors, in love (Luke 10:27).
I received a comment from a reader that made a point needing clarification. He took strong exception to the heading of my bullet points which included the word “undefendable”, saying that those theological questions, were both important and answerable. I would like to acknowledge clearly that I agree with his assessment. The point I was trying to make is that the Biblical Christian worldview is not always easy to defend and we perhaps need to set some of our internal squabbles aside, such as predestination vs. free will, and focus outward. My intention was to open minds up, just a crack to make my base point to both seekers and evangelists… that being, the issue of predestination or free will is irrelevant in the context of man because we do not have perfect knowledge of the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:16). We, as Christians, need to be sharing and seekers need to be listening as if everything depends on us, regardless of the raging debate on the underlying supernatural involvement in the process.