Q: If God Knows Beforehand Who Will Believe, Do We Truly Have Free Will?
Selected from our Questions and Answers program
A: This is a question I’m confident no one will be able to answer in this life. I’ve come to the conclusion that with our little finite human minds one cannot reconcile what is known as the omniscience of God, the election of God, and man’s free will. Yet both of them are taught in Scripture, both of them are true, and there’s no conflict between them. But you must remember that God says His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways (see Isaiah 55:8
). Therefore you and I need to recognize that there’s a great deal about God that we do not understand. We attempt to deal with the attributes of God — that’s the way we begin to get a hold of Him. And one of the attributes of God is His omniscience; He does know everything. But I
don’t know everything and you
don’t know everything. You and I are dealing with a little finite mind, and He hasn’t told us what He’s going to do. He’s told us to preach the gospel to every creature. Now if a minister uses the kind of appeal where they say God is waiting for you to accept His Son, I rather feel like that’s a sentimental appeal. I see nothing wrong with it other than that it is sentimental. Many men have used it effectively in drawing a net that has brought people to a saving knowledge of Christ. Now if those same ministers who make that appeal — saying God is waiting — had also been able to say, “Well, I also have the list here of the ones God’s going to save” and then made that same appeal, then I’d say they’re not dealing in a very honorable way. But I’m confident that no minister has the list of those who will be saved. Here on the radio program we give out the Word of God and expect the Spirit of God to touch the hearts and lives of those who will hear the voice of the Spirit. Now how He works I do not understand. Our business is to give out the Word. And you and I will not be shown the list that He has. We will not be told what God knows. Charles Spurgeon used to say that if God had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, he’d just go around lifting up shirttails to find those with the yellow streak and then give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. God told him to preach it to every creature, so that’s what he did. Because in Spurgeon’s book, they all
could accept Christ. And to me it’s the same way: I assume that whosoever will may come, and that’s a legitimate offer that God makes. So if you don’t understand how to reconcile the omniscience and election of God with the free will of man, you are in a class with the rest of us. It reveals you are a human being, that you are finite, and that you do not know everything. And I don’t either. This is in the hands of God, and instead of arguing about these points let us keep busy giving out the Word of God. The Lord will take care of His end. He’ll touch the hearts of those that should hear the Word. My business is to give it out.