Written by Jonathan Hilt
“Free will” is a concept that is very unbiblical. The Bible is only a “free choice” doctrine. Their is a major difference between these two. Free will is an impossibility since we are bound by our human nature in this life. We do not have the nature of a bird, therefore we cannot fly. We do not have the nature of metal, therefore we can burn much more quickly. Our “will” is bound by our nature as humans which is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). If our will was designed to be free, then we can act against our nature inconsistently physically and spiritually.
God gave us free “choice” instead. We can only act based on the abilities God has given to us. Yes, we have a will but it is bound. Here are a list of scriptures that are consistent with this doctrine: Jeremiah 10:23; 13:23; Proverbs 16:1; 9; 19:21; 20:24; Matthew 7:18; John 6:44; 6:64-65; 8:43;44; 12;39-40; Romans 8:7-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14.
The only way anybody can become a Christian, or simply have a renewed nature is God granting it to you through grace and repentance. Its not based on your own nature, character, or personality. Its an eternal gift (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:25). God must supernaturally change you. Nothing based on the natural creation or your natural ability of thinking. As soon as the Holy Spirit comes your nature is made new and your previous nature is dead and passed away (John 3:30; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Your state of thinking however, is not tied to your nature. It must be renewed to be more consistent with your nature through scripture which could not be understood with your previous nature (Romans 12:2; Matthew 4:4).
There are three other doctrines that are a necessity. This is predestination, God’s love in humanity, and the laws of logic (specifically the law of identity).
Predestination is simply God choosing and allowing all things to act and plan as they are to happen. As God is above time and space who knows the future and the past. He also is in control of all things (Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 46:10). Since God is in control of all things and their is wickedness (death, sickness) in the world how can He be good and just? Since we are limited in are finite knowledge as humans we can’t understand the actions that have been taken place in the world such as the Jews in Nazi Germany or the sinking of the Titanic. As there is no evil in Him we must trust that all actions and events taken place are for His glory and ultimately leads to goodness for Christians even though we do not understand it (Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 4:11; Hebrews 1:3; Romans 8:28).
God’s sovereignty or simply His authority of all things can’t be rejected, even by the wickedness of man. Scriptures confirms many things may appear evil but God means it for the better good (Genesis 50:20). A major misunderstanding of this concept is God isn’t responsible for the wickedness in this world, but man is still held accountable. An example of this would be Judas and his betrayal against Jesus. God planned and knew ahead of time that he would do it (Acts 2:23). This is the reason God is not held accountable for this sin, rather its due from Judas deciding out of his own will of his nature. How God operates through this concept is a mystery.
If free will was biblically justified, then God’s love and Jesus’s death would be very arbitrary. In fact, Scripture would not be true. Man could choose to understand and know spiritual things apart from the Holy Spirit. We would live in total contradiction such as a fly when we don’t have wings like a bird. It would be absurd for Jesus to come and save others from sin. This is why believers are called sheep. Jesus’s blood did not just make it possible to receive salvation, but that it would bring salvation for those who He came to save. He would not lose any of His sheep either (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 10:14-15,28).
There are many scriptures that are used to justify God’s love and Jesus’s death applying to the whole world. However, if you examine the text closely you can expose a fallacy of equivocation with the word “world” in specific verses. Here are a few (KJV).
John 1:29 – “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The word “world” does not mean “every single individual in history.” The Greek (kosmos) has fourteen different uses in John alone, none of which necessarily refer to ever single person in existence. John defines what he means by “world”: “And not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52).
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Same as above as far as concerns the term “world.” If the argument is being made from the term “whosoever”, the term is translated from three worlds in Greek (πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων) which may be rendered, “All who believe.” God sent Jesus for the believing ones, not everyone.
John 4:42 – “And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
Same as above as concerns the term “world.” How can Jesus be the Savior of those in hell? Some Savior!
1 Timothy 4:10 – “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”
“All men” without distinction; i.e., all kinds of people, not just the Jews. “Especially of those who believe” could be rendered, “that is, of those who believe,” or “specifically of those who believe.” The phrase is not that Jesus is a savior to everyone but a “special” Savior to those who believe. The phrase is defining “all men” as “those who believe.”
1 John 2:2 – “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 4:14 – “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
Same as above as concerns the word “world.”
The law of identity, and ultimately all laws of logic extend from God’s absolute and universal nature (Titus 1:2; Exodus 3:14, etc) which is why we have a concept of not just reasoning but the concept of a ”will” as well. We need reasoning in order to make a decision about anything. This makes sense of being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), however the laws of logic aren’t as foundationally necessary expressing the doctrine of free choice against free will.
Once understanding these concepts of God’s infinite knowledge, nature, sovereignty, love, and exposure for the necessity of repentance scripture is clear that there is only free choice in our human nature which can only be changed by the Spirit which is not based on anything we do.