What is Free Will?
Free will is often said to be the reason one person accepts the Lord, and another does not. Often, people will rebel against God's
sovereignty in electing and predestinating based on nothing in the individual. Instead, they state that God looks into the future to
see who would pick Him, and then He predestines those into salvation. This is, of course, problematic because it would mean that God
looked to the future to learn something, thereby denying God's omniscience. So, we can see that this isn't a possible explanation.
In order to discuss free will, we must first define it. Free will is the ability to make choices that are not forced and are
consistent with your nature. Both the Calvinists
and non-Calvinists believe we make free choices and therefore, both believe in free will. However, there are distinctions within the
free will definition. Libertarian free will states that human free will and God's sovereign providence are not compatible with
each other. It is also the position that the unregenerate is not restricted by his sinful nature, in that he is not enslaved by sin
to such a degree that he only chooses sinful things, and that he can freely choose to accept or reject God despite his enslavement to
Compatibilism is the idea that human free will and God's sovereign providence are compatible. It means that the person acts
according to his desires without coercion or hindrance from external factors. These desires are consistent with their moral nature.
Therefore, it is the position that man's free will is restricted by his sinful nature. As a result, he can choose only what his
sinful nature will allow him to choose, which means he will not choose God of his own free will since he is a slave of sin (Rom.
6:14-20), cannot receive spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), is full of evil (Mark 7:21-22), does not seek for God and can do no good
What does the Bible say about free will?
The Bible says the hearts of unbelievers are full of wickedness (Jer. 17:9), enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:14-20), cannot receive
spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14), are dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1), are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), are at enmity with God
(Eph. 2:15), and can do no good (Rom. 3:10-12). They have free will to choose, but their sinful free will, will choose sin.
Therefore, they will freely choose to do what is contrary to God.
I propose that free will involves four aspects: Conception, Desire, Choice, and Accomplishment. Conception leads to desire which
leads to choice which leads to accomplishing that choice.
- We must be able to conceive of an idea, need, want, etc., before it can be desired, chosen,
- But, we cannot conceive of something beyond our ability or nature to conceive since
this would be a contradiction
- This would violate our nature.
- In this, we are limited by our nature to conceive.
- I cannot conceive of something I cannot conceive of.
- Therefore I cannot desire, choose, or accomplish that which I cannot conceive.
- I can conceive of the ability to raise my arm above my head.
- I can conceive of the ability to suddenly become larger than the sun.
- I cannot give you an example of something I cannot conceive since to tell it to you would mean I have conceived
- I can conceive of things communicated to me by another even though I may never have conceived of it on my own.
- In this, I am able to conceive of the concept, idea, thing told to me though it did not originate with me.
- We can only desire what we can conceive
- But, we cannot desire beyond our ability (nature) to desire since this would be a
- This would violate our nature. In this, we are limited by our nature to desire.
- I can desire to raise my arm above my head.
- I can desire to suddenly become larger than the sun.
- I cannot desire what I am not aware of conceptually.
- We can only choose what we can desire.
- But, we cannot choose beyond our ability (nature) to choose.
- This would violate our nature. In this, we are limited by our nature to choose.
- I am free to choose to attempt to accomplish my desires.
- We can only accomplish what can be chosen to be accomplished
- This does not necessitate that I can accomplish all my choices.
- We can conceive of and choose to accomplish things that are outside our abilities.
- I can conceive of the idea raising my arm above my head and I can accomplish it.
- I can conceive of the idea of suddenly becoming larger than the sun, but I can not accomplish it.
- I cannot accomplish this because I cannot violate my own nature.
- We are limited by our natures to what we can conceive of, desire, and choose.
- Therefore, what we can accomplish is strictly limited by what we are.
- We are not free to conceive of anything possible.
- We are not free to desire anything possible since not all things can be concevied of.
- We are not free to choose that which we cannot desire.
- We are not free to accomplish that which we cannot desire.
- Therefore, Free Will requires at least that a person be able to conceive, desire, and choose. True free will is
that which is in accordance with oneís nature. To choose to accomplish something beyond oneís nature is not an exercise of
free will but a declaration of a personís lack of freedom ó in that area.
- Does God have a free will?
- God can choose to do what is in accordance with his nature.
- But He cannot violate His own nature, for example
- God cannot lie
- God cannot stop being God
- God cannot make a rock bigger than He can pick up.
- God can conceive of lying but He cannot accomplish it since it would violate His nature.
- Errors of belief concerning Free Will
- That free will is independent of all things
- By this is meant that a person is completely and totally free from all influences whether external or internal.
- This is impossible.
- That free will will means that someone can act contrary to his own nature.
- That free will is something within man that is independent of God; that it is, completely manís and not under the
sovereign knowledge and control of God.