Keeping this from becoming vain philosophical discourse is the opportunity to compare our atrocious wills with the superbly merciful will of God.

May you discover God's calling in your own life, and may your will never be free from his influence.


A friend of mine, toying with the idea of free will as a youth, and having a quixotic certainty of beating impossible odds, would attempt to "trick" fate every trip back from taking out the garbage.

Time and again he would run towards a certain tree and at the last second, if he felt fate was to run to one side, he'd instead run to the other.

I don't know whether it was logical deduction or a face-full of bark, but he eventually gave in to the possibility that even that last dash to the opposite side may have been pre-ordained.

Any previous certainty of free will, it seemed, was best left out with the other garbage.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world...

All of us also lived among them at one time...

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

- Ephes. 2:1-10

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'

Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

- Matthew 7:21-24

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls.

- Joel 2:32

"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

- Romans 10:8-13


"If there's no free will, does that mean God has created some people to go to hell?"




This is a well worded question, though what's really being asked is probably "Are there people who want to believe and be saved but can't because God prevents them?" To that, the answer is no.

Anyone who wants to see heaven but thinks God has a dastardly plan to keep them out has only to believe in order for God to save them. In which case if they do, then he will, and it wasn't a dastardly plan keeping them out after all.

As to the denial of free will and the question of whether there are people who are destined to go to hell, I'd say there's an excellent argument for that position, though I'll stop a hair's breadth short of giving an unqualified "yes". I'd rather unpack the issue with you, outline the facts as I see them, and let you draw your own conclusion. We'll do that by reviewing some basic terms, and then look at some Bible passages and at the main issues involved.



Let's get on the same page with our definitions:

WILL: Our desires and intentions; that particular aspect of us which determines our choices

VOLITION: The act of choosing; or a preference resulting in a choice

LIBERTY: As it pertains to this discussion, our ability to either sin (displease God) or not sin (please God).

FREE AGENCY: The opportunity to choose.

FOREKNOWLEDGE: The knowledge with certainty of an event prior to its cause or execution.

PREDESTINATION: Foreordaining or foreordained events.


The will is not something that exists outside of us. It is part of our nature. It's a part of who we are. Being part of us, the will has no inherent or special objective neutrality of its own. It is a reflection of us, lending credence to the adage "We are what we choose". For what defines you more than your own innermost wants and desires? (You might say "my actions", but what preceded those?)


If the will is just one facet of our nature, then let's examine our nature. Biblical theology says there are only two possible natures. The first is the nature we are all born possessing - a fallen and spiritually dead nature; and the second is a nature resurrected to life and regenerated in Christ - in essence a new nature, one that only some receive.

Scripture makes clear that the fallen nature is neither willing nor capable of truly pleasing God. Only the resurrected nature has such liberty. But no matter which nature you possess, that nature is the one your will reflects. Just like a mirror, our will can be no other way.

In the case of a non-believer (a person who still has a fallen, unregenerate nature), their will reflects that unregenerate nature. As this pertains to salvation, that means an unbeliever's will cannot make any volition that would result in repentance or saving faith unless it were subject to an effectual outside influence. And the only effectual exterior influence on our spiritual natures is the supernatural drawing or calling of God.

In the case of all believers, we were non-believers until God called us and regenerated our nature such that it could then (and only then) make a volition resulting in repentance and saving faith. Thus believers have nothing to brag about over nonbelievers. Believers are saved by God's grace through the vehicle of faith, and even that faith is a gift to them from God. Believers do not possess more spiritual prowess than non-believers, nor are believers spiritually superior. Their spiritual natures have simply been made alive by the loving grace of God.


Doesn't all this still leave unsaved persons as basically will-free robots marching towards their eventual doom? - Before we judge the culpability of the unsaved, we need to look at some verses and key elements in each case.

Genesis 2:15-17
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"

1) Note that the single thing Adam (and Eve) were cautioned against was partaking in the knowledge of good and evil. Since the beginning, Adam and Eve had only known good. So here God is essentially warning them of the deadly price at which the knowledge of evil comes. They disobeyed God's prohibition, however, and from that day forward, evil made itself known to them and continues to make itself known to us, especially in its worst form - death.

1 Cor. 15:20-23
"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him."

1) Note that Christ was raised from death to life.
2) Note that while death was inflicted upon humanity by its representative head, Adam; so resurrection to life is similarly offered back to humanity through a better representative head - Christ.

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I [Jesus] will give you rest."

1) Note that there's an open invitation to come to Christ.
2) Note that his rest (salvation) is conditional upon coming.

John 1:12-13
"… to all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

1) Note that some people are being distinguished as having received or believed in Christ (from those who have not).
2) Note that only those who received/believed in him are being 'born again' to God (a metaphor for coming into the family or people of God)
3) Note that this rebirth or regeneration is being credited not to human effort but to God.

John 5:39-40
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me [Jesus], yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

1) Note that some people refuse to come to Christ.
2) Note that coming to Christ results in (eternal) life; while failure to do so leaves one permanently in their initial nature of being spiritually dead.


John 6:37-39 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I [Jesus] will never drive away… I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day."

1) Note that it is the Father who first acts and chooses.
2) Note that all those he chooses comes to Christ.
3) Note that the same "all" are kept saved by Christ and in the end raised up to eternal life.

John 6:44
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I [Jesus] will raise him up at the last day.

1) Note that only those whom the Father draws can (are able) to come.
2) Note that (all) those who come will be risen to eternal life.


They have free agency. They have opportunities to obey God and they are beckoned over and over to do so. And some of them indeed do respond to that beckoning.

I recall my own life in the unregenerate state (like all Christians were at some point). I wasn't aware of anything supernatural holding me there. Indeed, nothing supernatural was - the unregenerate state into which we're all born is completely natural!

Unlike American citizenship, in which all it takes to be one of the group is to be born into it, you only become a follower of Jesus by just that - following Jesus. And following Jesus starts with the calling of God to which you are to respond by believing in him. Jesus' Holy Spirit will then work with you to translate your belief into actions.

If there's any question in your mind about if you're really saved, and you want to be, ask God and he will grant that you find true repentance and saving faith. I can say that in utter confidence because no one follows through and sincerely petitions God for such things who hasn't first received God's special calling. Others might toy with the idea of asking for faith, but they'll move on without petitioning God with sincerity and earnest desire. In seeking God and believing and repenting, you'll evidence yourself to have that special calling. Those who fall away evidence themselves never to have had it to begin with.



Judgment Day will be exquisitely fair to the unsaved. Without having participated in the resurrection of Christ which true belief imparts, the unsaved will stand before God's throne spiritually dead with about an equal chance for heaven as a corpse has at getting into a wedding dance. The unsaved are under God's wrath not only for being dead, but also for remaining dead in spite of God's exhortations for everyone to come into relationship with him through his son Jesus Christ. To the extent our testimony goes before the Judge of heaven prior to his passing of judgment on us, I believe each day on earth is that testimony. Death isn't when our trial begins, but when our testimony closes, and little further remains but God's final ruling. (What will your testimony be today?)

Can the harsh judgment of those who rejected God be considered inequitable treatment? Remember the passage from Genesis. Adam made a choice and incurred consequences on himself and on his descendants (us). And we furthermore make the very same choice to "know evil" with every disobedient act or thought we willingly exercise on our own. Thanks only to Christ do we have a choice.

Insofar as any person whose salvation you might be worrying about is alive and living in disobedience to God, I ask of you: Is it more unfair that God may condemn them for their behavior, or is it more unfair that they refuse to stop disobeying the Lord and still want into his heaven on their own terms? If anyone wants to believe and enter heaven, I tell you that now is the time to make that testimony.

2 Cor. 6:2
"...I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."



IF IT STILL SEEMS UNFAIR THAT UNBELIEVERS WILL SUFFER HELL, then one might challenge them to thwart that fate by coming to faith in Christ and spending the rest of their life loving him and trying to follow his commands.

Their response may likely be “But I don’t want to do that”. Yet what in all practicality stands in their way? Are they not doing as they please? I don’t know of a single non-believer being forced into non-belief. I think the only people who hate doubt and unbelief are believers ("Lord, I believe - help me overcome my unbelief." Mark 9:24).

Who wants God? Those who love him. Those who don’t, don’t. In this limited context, everyone may eventually get exactly what they want - time with God, or time away from God.

God didn't create Adam and Eve to suffer hell, he created them to be objects of his love. Yet having been given liberty and free agency, they chose to disobey God. Though many times removed, we are all in that same family and the consequences of knowing evil affect us still. One of many casualties of their fall was the human will. Whatever the physical manifestation was of 'Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden', the result was that no ones' heart has an inherent inclination for God. Its inclination is toward the self. The fallen will chooses freely and it does not choose God.

The will that does choose God is the one that is not free of his influence, but has been subject to his regenerating call. As a result of that unearned intervention we will know his grace and mercy and blessings for eternity. Pray that God intervenes in the will and lives of others, for that is both biblical and compassionate, and the only way out for the unsaved.


Is there anything more certain than that God will act with justice and mercy and love? Is there anything more impossible than the thought of God acting unjustly? God does have a will, but it seems it is not without its own limitations.

Since each of us have been made in God's image, is it not likely that our own wills similarly bear their own subjectivities and limitations? This is what I believe is the case.


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