July 15: “The Free Will of God and Humanity”

8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Chronicles 19:1–21:30
Romans 2:25–3:8
Psalm 11:1-7
Proverbs 19:10-12

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Psalm 11:4 (NLT): “But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.”

Reflections from Scripture:

In our Bible reading this morning, we were reminded that there is so much about our God that we cannot understand. His ways are so much higher than our own. Because of this and more, we will be in joyful, captive amazement for all eternity and never grow tired or bored of worshiping our God.

Specifically, we were confronted with a biblical truth that is a topic of debate among Christians and has been for centuries. It is the fact that God is free to do as He pleases while at the same time allowing mankind to do as we please. And yet, He is able to work out His perfect will without 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 its complexity and my God. But, my lack of understanding in no way delegitimizes the truth.

In our Bible reading today, we read a story that shows the complexity of this issue… 

King David numbered the people of Israel and got in trouble by God for doing so. Apparently, he was relying upon his military might instead of depending 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 who were responsible: 

David

1 Chronicles 21:17 (NLT) “And David said to God, ‘I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? O Lord my God, let your anger fall against me and my family, but do not destroy your people.’”

Satan 

1 Chronicles 21:1 (NLT): “Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.”

God 

2 Samuel 24:1 (NLT): “Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. ‘Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,’ the Lord told him.”

Did David make his decision to number the people of his own free will without any divine coercion? Yes. 

Did Satan accomplish his own desires by getting David to number the people? Yes. 

Did God determine that David would 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 our free will and make choices that have eternal ramifications? Does the Bible really teach that “whosoever will may come”? Absolutely!

The Bible teaches both. So, believe them both.

Someone has quoted a church father as saying: “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!

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, while I don’t fully understand the profound truths in the Bible, I believe them. Specifically, I believe that while You have given me the ability to make my own choices, I also believe that You are God and reign supreme in Heaven. As Ephesians 1:11 says, You make everything work out according to Your plan. So, help me seek Your wisdom as I make each of my decisions. But then let me rest in the knowledge that regardless of the choices that any of us make, You are sovereignly ruling over every detail on planet earth. Thank You for the comfort that comes from knowing You are fully in control. Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

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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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