I wanted to address the matter of our free will and the choices we make, as it pertains to our eternal destiny.
The matter of "choice" appears to be a big obstacle to seeing God's plan to ultimately save all. If I could categorize the various types of believers on this subject:
1. Those who believe we have complete freedom of choice, placing the ball in our court as to obtaining salvation,
2. Those who believe all is predestined; that we have no choice; that God has preordained some to salvation and some to condemnation, and
3. Somewhere in between
Having been a Methodist most of my life, I was in camp #1. I was abhorred by camp #2. I am now in camp #3.
Yes we are called to make choices. This is found throughout the Scriptures. But let's consider what influences our choices.
Heredity : Some are simply more gifted to understand things than others. So choices may be made differently from one person to the next, based on their level of capability. When presented with the evidence (Bible), is it not true that some are more capable of making the right choices? Is it fair, then, to those who are not as capable ... if they make the wrong choices?
Environment : I was born into a Christian family, and in a Christian culture. Seems that I have been given a better chance from the get-go than one who is born into, say, a Buddhist family and in a Buddhist culture; to find the truth and to make the right choices.
Spiritual factors : The Bible tells us that NONE are seeking God (Romans 3:10-11). We are told that belief on Christ is graciously granted (Philippians 1:29). We are told that the understandings of unbelievers are blinded by the god of this age -- Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3). We see that Lydia's heart was opened so she could receive what Paul had to say (Acts 16:13). [What would her choices have been had her heart not been opened during this conversation?] With all of these factors influencing our human will, is it possible that anyone can believe … unless God opens our eyes? (I believe God opens the eyes of some, enabling us to believe, that we can serve as His instrument in proclaiming the evangel and displaying His grace to the world. More on this in a future blog.)
At times, God's direct touch : Paul was the chiefest of sinners. He was a terrorist ... dragging Christians from their homes to be beaten. What did Paul deserve based on the choices he had made? Death! But what was the sentence administered to Paul by God? Grace! Paul was making choices that were leading him in the opposite direction from God, but God took supernatural action on the road to Damascus. This is what it took in Paul's case. If God rescued Paul from a fate in "hell" by taking such action, is He unwilling to do the same for others of His creation?
Yes, we have a will to make these choices. But it is not a totally "free" will. Nor is everything predestined to occur, with men being only robots. I would call our will an "influenced will."
As we exercise our will, there is no question there will be consequences for wrong choices. Sometimes these consequences are experienced in this lifetime. Other times these consequences will be experienced in an age to come. But when all is said and done, God's will is going to prevail. God wills that ALL mankind be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). God is operating ALL in accord with the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
If we want to read in the Scriptures about what lies ahead ... when all is said and done ... when Christ's work is fully accomplished ... we must look to what Paul has to say in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; culminating with God becoming All in all.
This will be the subject of my Easter blog; to come shortly.