Is God sovereign or do we have free will?

God is sovereign, and we have free will. This is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. God's will is ultimately accomplished (1 Chronicles 29:11; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 115:3; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Revelation 15:4). He is in control over all things (Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 45:7; Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:16). Yet we are also free to make choices that actually influence our worlds (Acts 2:37-38; 2 Peter 3:9). We do not merely have the illusion of a choice; we have an actual choice.

Even so, our free will is constrained. We are slaves to our sinful natures (see Romans 6). So while we do have free will, we also have a tendency toward sin. In that sense, we are not free. Apart from God, we are incapable of choosing to live rightly. We are "dead in our transgressions" (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). But, because of the sacrifice of Christ, we have now been made alive (Ephesians 2:1-10). We have been set free (Galatians 5:1). Paul explains it this way: "… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus … You have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness … But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life" (Romans 6:11, 18, 22 NIV). We are no longer bound to sin and are therefore free to live in the way God intended.

God is sovereign and in that sovereignty has chosen to grant us free will. This means that our relationship with God is based on truth. We are not forced to relate with Him; we are freed to do so.

The above explains free will and God's sovereignty for those who are believers in Christ. On the matter of how God's sovereignty and our free will interact in regard to salvation, however, things become a bit more complex. We know that God knows all who will come to Him (Ephesians 1:4-14). We also know that human volition is involved in coming to Christ (we accept Him). How this interacts remains a mystery of the faith. As believers we should respond to God with gratitude and urgently seek to spread His Gospel to those around us.

Related Truth:

Does humanity truly have free will?

Why did God create humanity?

What does it mean that humanity is created in the image of God?

Is salvation by faith or works or both?

Is God omnipotent? What does it mean to be omnipotent?

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