The debate between Free Will or Predestination as controlling the cause of the salvation of the Christian has been a hotly debated topic for many years. Unfortunately, the reason why the debate has become so fierce is because it represents a false dichotomy. There is a theory about free agency that is in opposition to the predestination of God but there is also a theory in which there is perfect harmony between the two. Just as the Son of God is fully God and fully human in a mystery, there is also a perfect harmony between free agency and predestination in a mystery for many because both predestination and free will are taught by the bible. The certainty of the plan of God is such that we can understand that it is completely unchangeable from our own human ability.
From those who do not know God there has been taught the theory of fatalism in which it is believed that we have no control over our fates but that we are all bound by forces that are beyond our control. This theory is recycled today in the thought of many prominent psychologists who follow the work of B.F. Skinner. Some in the Church who have held to this theory have heretically called God the author of sin. And yet on the other hand there is taught, and believed by many in the Church the opposite theory of Contingency which believes that no choice is free unless there is the ability to make the exact opposite decision. The decisions that are made in this theory are random and the result cannot be determined. Christians who have held to the theory of contingency have believed heretically that God does not control the future; that God is not sovereign. From the Bible we can see that man does have the free will to make his own choices, and yet the choices that we all make will be made with certainty so that God remains sovereign and so that we can trust that all of the promises of the Bible will be fulfilled.
Much of the confusion about the subject comes up because of the confusion regarding the terms that are involved. My Pastor’s daughter, years ago, was in a Seminary when the Professor gave a lecture arguing against free will. When the Professor called on the class if there were any who believed in free will, she raised her hand. He asked her, “Well, if you have free will you should be able to speak Swahili right now!” To the Professor’s surprise, she then proceeded to arguing her case for free will in Swahili because for years before her time in the school she served with her parents as missionaries to Africa. The point is that the professor had mistaken the liberty of the girl for ability and the liberty of will. To his surprise she had the ability. She also has the free will which the Bible declares her to have as we all have, but the freedom of our will should not be wrongly associated with the complete freedom of ability. Many of the present discussions about free will are wrongly based on ideas about our ability. But if we understand the distinction between our own finite ability and the will that God has given us in freedom as individuals then we can free ourselves from what would otherwise seem to be an unsolvable riddle.
The fact is that it is impossible to even think of the God of the Bible as being Who He presents Himself to be without being able to understand Him as having control over the fate of mankind. The theory of Certainty underscores the sovereignty of God to determine such temporal events such as the crucifixion of Christ which was necessary to happen and which God ordained to happen for the salvation of mankind; however, those who murdered Christ were completely in control of their own actions when they wickedly attacked and condemned an innocent man. The Bible teaches that we are all in complete control over our actions. But moreover, the Bible talks about us as controlling our own feelings and how we react to the news that is presented to us in life. The Bible teaches that while the predestination of God is true and real, we are all responsible for the dispositions that we take in life out of our own free will choices that were going to be made with certainty because of the sovereignty of God for His perfect plan for us who believe.