Thus, when we ask whether we have “free will,” it is important to be clear as to what is meant by the phrase. Scipture nowhere says that we are “free” in a the sense of being outside of God’s control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. (This is the sense in which many people seem to assume we must be free; see discussion below.) Nor does it say we are “free” in the sense of being able to do right on our own apart from God’s power. But we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free – we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions. We must insist that we have the power of willing choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism or determinism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make wiling choices. On the other hand, the kind of freedom that is demanded by those who deny God’s providential control of all things, a freedom to be outside of God’s sustaining and controling activity, would be impossible if Jesus Christ is indeed “continually carrying all things by his word of power” (Heb. 1:3, authors translation). If this is true, then to be outside of that providential control would simply be not to exist. An absolute “freedom,” totally free of God’s control, is simply not possible in a world providentially sustained and directed by God himself.

Systematic Theology_Wayne Grudem


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