August 1: “God’s Freedom of the Will. And Mine, Too!”

6 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

Judges 15
Acts 19
Jeremiah 28
Mark 14

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Mark 14:21 (CSB): “For the Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

In the verse that I have chosen for today, we see one of the profound complexities of the Christian worldview. It is the tension between God’s freedom to exercise His free will while allowing mankind the freedom to exercise his free will.

In Jesus’ words, He states that He would be betrayed and crucified because it had been predetermined in the Old Testament that it would happen (“just as it is written about Him”). Yet, to those who watched the drama unfold would say that Judas was clearly the one who exercised his free will to betray Jesus. In fact, even though the crucifixion had been decreed by God to happen, Jesus held Judas responsible and said that it “would have been better for him if he never been born.”

If we think about this long enough, we might come to the erroneous conclusion that one would cancel out the other. But, in a way that only God fully understands, both are true. God is free to do as He pleases while at the same time allowing mankind to do as we please (within our limited sphere of options). And yet, He is able to work out His perfect will without in any way going to “Plan B.”

How He accomplishes this is something I could only make feeble attempts to explain. I feel like a kindergarten student trying to explain a college calculus equation. I can do my best to understand it but I am left in amazement at the complexity of it and my God. But, my lack of understanding in no way delegitimizes the truth.

For instance, if you read through the book of Exodus, you’ll observe that God exercised His free will and was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let Moses and the Israelites leave Egypt. Yet, the Bible also states that Pharaoh exercised his own free will and hardened his own heart.

Here are the verses:
– Pharaoh was responsible for hardening his own heart: Exodus 8:15; 8:32; 9:34-35

– God was responsible for hardening Pharaoh’s heart: Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1; 10:20; 10:27; 11:10; 14:4, 8

– These verses simply state that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened without letting us know who was responsible: Exodus 7:13-14, 22; 8:19; 9:7

So, who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Did God? Yes. But, does that mean that Pharaoh was divinely coerced into hardening his heart so that he had no choice in the matter. Absolutely not! Pharaoh hardened his own heart because he was free to do so and it was the option he chose for himself.

In the Old Testament, there is another story that shows the complexity of this same issue: God’s divine control over His creation and mankind’s free will to do as he chooses…

King David numbered the people of Israel and got in trouble for doing so. Apparently, he was relying upon his military might instead of relying upon the Lord.

We may raise the question: “Who was responsible for David’s action of numbering the people?” The Bible states that there were three responsible: David (1 Chronicles 21:17), Satan (1 Chronicles 21:1) and God (2 Samuel 24:1).

Did God determine that David would number the people? Yes. Did David make his decision to number the people of his own free will without any divine coercion? Yes. Did Satan play a major role in getting David to number the people? Yes. All of these are true.

So, does the Bible teach that God exercises divine control over His creation and makes sovereign choices that have eternal ramifications? Are words like “predestination”, “election,” and other such words in Scripture? Absolutely!

Yet, is mankind free to exercise their free will and make choices that have eternal ramifications? Does the Bible really say, “Whosoever will may come.”? Absolutely!

The Bible teaches both. Believe them both.

A church father once said: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” (Saint Augustine).
There may be some great truth in that statement!

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, there’s no way that I can understand all that I believe about You. Your Word says it, I believe it, but I am often left scratching my head. But, that’s where faith comes in. Besides, I don’t want to serve a God that I can so easily figure out. If I fully understood you with my feeble, earthly mind, I’m afraid that I would grow bored with You in eternity. So, I’m grateful that You are so far above my comprehension. Amen.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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