Freedom of Choice

“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).
I had an interesting conversation with George, our cook here at Khulna Bible College, the other day.
George: “What would you like to have for lunch today?”
Mike: “I don’t know, what do you have?”
George: “No, what do you want?”
Mike: “What about spaghetti?”
George: “No, I have tortoise curry, rice, dahl, some eggplant and some salad.”
Mike: “Okay, that will be fine.”
In my experience, many “choices” turn out about like George’s menu. We have preferences and often express them, but it turns out that we usually have to take what is available. Selection, economics, time, and many other factors work to limit our actual options much more than our theoretical selections seem to offer. But we usually get by, at least.
That reality makes the fact of our moral freedom of will before Almighty God truly amazing. He is Sovereign of the Universe, Lord of all that is, was, and ever will be. Yet he gives us genuine freedom of choice. Moses offered the Israelites, whom God had brought from slavery out of Egypt, complete freedom as to whether to enter the land of promise. Later Joshua would demand, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). It was up to them. And it is totally and completely up to us as well. We have that same freedom of choice.
Not all accept this. There is a school of theology that says that if God is truly all-powerful and sovereign, he cannot be denied. For man to refuse to serve him would be to limit the power of the Almighty, by definition impossible. This school demands either universal salvation or arbitrary predestination. All the choices are God’s. Man has no say. Millions have believed these doctrines.
But the Bible plainly denies them, asserting in their place the wonderful truth of free will. Just as Adam chose death, so we may and must choose between death and life. Does this limit God’s power? It would, if the choice was imposed upon him from without. But it is God who gave us this freedom. God does not compromise his sovereignty when he places limits upon himself. It is he who decided not to impose his all powerful will upon man, but to invite sinful man, in love, to accept God’s grace and be saved.
This elevates man, not to the status of equal, but to the nature of rational, thinking being, able to do what his will and knowledge lead him to do. We are made in God’s own image, the image of one with will and self-determination. It is that being whom God finds worth saving, even at the incredible price of the death of his own beloved son, Jesus. Man is not a machine, a puppet, or an unthinking animal whom God compels into fellowship. He is a rational being, whom God invites. One with real freedom of choice.

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