By Femi Aribisala
Jesus told the Sadducees who came to challenge Him on the resurrection: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29).
There are two vital requirements for knowing the truth of God. We must know the scriptures and we must know the power of God. When we combine these two essentials, we easily discover that free will does not exist.
God is sovereign
If man has free will, then God cannot be God. If man can act independently of God, then God does not control everything.
However, God tells us in the scriptures that He alone controls everything. He says: “I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 49-10).
God does not just know the end from the beginning. He determines the end from the beginning. This is because He is the Uncaused cause of everything: “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36).
Everything has a cause, except God. God causes everything to happen. Where does this leave man? Man is simply an instrument of God.
Everything about man is predetermined: “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11).
God knows our thoughts. He says: “I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.” (Ezekiel 11:5). Moreover, He determines what they are: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1).
If man has free will, our prayers cannot even be answered. Have you ever asked God to give you favour with someone? How can He answer this prayer if the man has free will? To answer, God must overrule whatever free will he has. But the truth is that he has none.
When the Israelites were in Egypt, God turned the heart of the Egyptians to hate His people. (Psalm 105:25). But when they were in Babylon: “He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive.” (Psalm 106:46).
Every word that we speak is also determined by God. Solomon says: “The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1).
Indeed, God has used my mouth to speak to me. He does not only do this sometimes: He does this all the time with everybody.
He says in Isaiah: “My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants, from this time and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21).
Accordingly, Jesus never spoke His own words. He says: “The word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24).
Furthermore, every step we take is determined by God. The Wise Man says: “A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24). This is validated in Jeremiah: “The way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jeremiah10:23).
God also controls all human actions. Have you ever done something good and thanked God for making you do it? Jesus says: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
How can one do that? How can we make sure our actions glorify God and not us? The answer is simple. Whatever good we do; the glory belongs to God anyway. Doing good does not arise from man’s free will. We only do good because God causes us to do good. If He does not cause us to do good, we would never do it.
Power of God
Nevertheless, we shall still be held responsible for our actions and inactions: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7-8).
How is this contradiction resolved? It is resolved by the power of God which ensures that what we do never contradicts what God requires us to do.
Man can make choices. But our choices are all programmed. The ability to make choices does not mean we have free will. We are only truly free in making choices if in making them, we could choose contrary to the will of God.
But that is impossible. God controls the circumstances within which we make our choices. Those circumstances force us to make our choices only in consonance with the will of God, ensuring that God’s will is always done.
Therefore, James counsels: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15).
Moses said to Israel: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
The Israelites seemingly had the prerogative to choose. However, they all chose death. They chose death because that was truly the only choice open to them. In every situation, there is only one choice open to man and that is the choice that God wants us to make.
In the Old Testament. God had determined that they would all choose death because life can only come from Jesus and not from Moses: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21).
Therefore, Jesus says: “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).
If we had free will, it would not be necessary for Jesus to make us free. But then what kind of freedom do we receive from Jesus? Paul says: “Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:18).
In effect, Jesus does not give us free will. He frees us from the bondage of sin. He then tells us we have no free will: “Without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
So then both in the Old and New Testaments: “It is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16). “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2;13).
TO BE CONTINUED