Free Will and Wisdom
By Jim Allen
Looking back over the years, our children were great joys and caring for them was never burdensome, although at times trying. We miss those days. It was a special time and a good time. Each child was unique. Each brought joy and meaning to life. Each had a passion for life and a special gift for winning the hearts of all.
From our earliest memories, they were well-behaved kids but on occasion decided to try their freedom. In doing so, they learned that stepping outside a known boundary was never a good idea. They eventually understood "rules and limits" were never set up to lord it over them but to protect them (Proverbs 22:6).
Boundaries are for everyone's learning and protection. It's too bad the world cannot see the wisdom in keeping the rules (Exodus 20:1-17). God is not a hard task master. His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30). His call for men* to obey is a call to live and prosper and live long (Deuteronomy 5:33).
God desired to gather Israel under His wings but they would not let Him, and neither will the world (Matthew 23:37). Free will does not mean people are free to do whatever they want. God gave free will to intelligent, self-governing beings to weigh a matter carefully before choosing. Why? Because choosing wisely leads to good outcomes.
But is all the pain and suffering in the world from the gift of free will worth it? Is free will the cause of evil? Some people think so and want to take away our freedoms. But, free will is not the issue. It never has been the issue. Jesus had free will and went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Jesus chose wisely, always thinking, saying, and doing the will of the Father (John 6:38). About free will Got Questions astutely writes,
The Bible is clear that we not only have the ability to choose, we also have the responsibility to choose wisely. In the Old Testament, God chose a nation (Israel), but individuals within that nation still bore an obligation to choose obedience to God. And individuals outside of Israel were able to choose to believe and follow God as well (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Acts 3:19; 1 John 3:23). (Source)
Why would God allow men to have free will when their hearts and minds do evil unceasingly (Genesis 6:5)? Is free will really that important to God? Yes, it is. The entire Gospel is all about free will and wisdom, letting men discover the truth and then choose wisely or unwisely. An unknown author wrote, "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours. If it does not come back, it was never meant to be."
"The Prodigal Son" is a parable that nicely personifies this quote (Luke 15:11-24).
From the beginning, God knew all the risks and vowed to never let go of His eternal purpose for men, which is to let them choose, whether wisely or unwisely. God knew the risks and declared "free will" would be every person's right no matter what. (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Madalyn Murray O'Hair (founder of American Atheists) rejected the reality of God and believed in nothing beyond herself (John 5:40). By exercising her right to choose, she lived a godless life. She would demean anyone professing to believe in God. She cursed profusely and once said, "Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." (Source)
Sadly, she never saw her own misery and the hopelessness she gave to others. The skeletal remains of O'Hair, along with her son Jon Garth and granddaughter Robin, were found in a shallow grave in 2001. They were murdered by a man who shared O'Hair's view of a godless utopia.
William J. Murray, O'Hair's other son believed in the existence of God and chose to place his faith in Christ (John 3:36). "In a statement first released in 1999 and republished by Religious Freedom Coalition, William J. Murray, author of My Life Without God, calls his mother 'evil.'" William went on to say, "The last ten years of her life she became even more profane and vulgar as the demons she courted got their final hold on her." (Source)
She had the gift of free will. She chose unwisely, never returning to the God who gave her life. I guess it was meant to be. Though evil is a fact of life, it is always a choice. The recent terrorist massacres in Paris and San Bernardino are the outcome of evil souls courted by demons to commit their final "free will" act on earth.
God set all men free with the hope they would choose to return (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God knew the risks but drank the bitter cup of rejection knowing many would never return. He allowed men to have free will. He allowed them to go. But in doing so, He also gave them the Gospel, a path back to the Father should they chose to return, like the Prodigal Son (John 14:6).
Did God make the right decision by giving men the gift of free will? Yes, absolutely! About free will Got Question writes, "Salvation is God's work. At the same time, our motives, desires, and actions are voluntary, and we are rightly held responsible for them." (Source)
In closing, if I were to ask my children if we (as parents) made the right decision to bring them into a fallen world they would answer, "Yes, absolutely!"
They would answer in the affirmative not because life has been easy or fun or grand. It hasn't always been, not for any of them. They would answer "yes" because they know free will is a gift and wisdom a means to manage the troubles and struggles on the narrow pathway of life (Ephesians 5:15-16).
*For the politically correct reader, the use of words "men and man" in the Bible is wide-ranging and includes women and children where implied in context.
Image Credit: gualtiero; "(spigolature: libero arbitrio - free will)"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Sin-Evil
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