Does The Bible Teach Free Will? by Clark Gallagher

The issue of man’s free will has been debated for centuries and just might be one of the most hotly contested issues. We could lower the debate temperature significantly if we but answer the question “What do the Scriptures teach? At the same time,  I know many will tell me that this verse or that verse teaches the doctrine of free will when the passages they use have nothing to do with the state of the human will after the Fall of the first Adam.  They assume that if their favorite verses are about “choosing’ they must be teachings free will.  Clark Gallagaher wrote an excellent article asking the question that’s the title of this post. The article not only presents its case well, and answers the most common objections to the notion that man’s will isn’t really as “free” as the majority of evangelicals today assume it is. Here is a short excerpt from that article:


“Does the Bible teach free will? The importance of asking this question lies in the fact that the doctrine of free will is so widely taught by Pastors and ascribed to by their congregations. Because of this fact we are bound by Scripture to test this teaching (1 Th 5:21; 1 Cor 4:6; 2 Cor 10:5) by Scripture. We must not readily accept any teaching (regardless of who teaches it or what sense it makes to us), until it is demonstrated that it agrees with what the Bible teaches.

Several times in the Pastoral Epistles the Apostle Paul makes mention of sound doctrine. The Greek word most commonly translated as sound in the Pastoral Epistles is u`giainw (hugiaino). Sound doctrine is teaching that is free from error and that produces spiritual health and godliness. Therefore, using the Bible as our sole authoritative guide on doctrinal and moral issues, any teaching which is found in conflict with the Scriptures is in error and will lead to spiritual sickness, ungodliness, and possibly even damnable heresy.

How we answer the question of whether or not the Bible teaches free will significantly affects our view of the inspiration of Scripture, our understanding of God, man, evangelism, and salvation. This issue is not a dry academic discussion which is important only to theologians and philosophers. Rather, it is instead a vitally relevant issue which must be engaged by all who name the name of Christ. Those who neglect discussing and deciding the issue of free will (in the name that it is divisive or unspiritual), are anything but spiritual or mature, and need to get on track with what Scripture teaches.”

. . .

“The final rule for answering the question of whether or not the Bible teaches libertarian free will is the Bible itself, and not human reason, nor the Greek philosophers, nor the humanist theologians and apologists of our time. As the Apostle Peter commands us to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Pet 3:15) so should the answering of the question of free will be an exercise in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things. The word of God, not the finite sin corrupted reason of men, nor our own emotions, is to be the judge of free will.”

I highly encourage reading the entire article, no matter on which side of issue you find yourself.., but only if you have a teachable spirit. Enjoy!

Online Source

Open Letter to the Facebook Group “Arminianism v. Calvinism”

I’ve only been a part of this Facebook Group for a short time, compared to most of you. I asked to join in order to see what folks were talking about and how they were addressing the issues. I freely admit that I was adamantly Arminian for some years before gradually moving toward a more Calvinistic position. That journey has been interesting, to say the least. Like many other members of this group, I could not let go of the idea of ‘libertarian free will’. Like most Christians then and now, I just assumed it was true.

While I have enjoyed good Bible based discussions with some of you, it seems that others here are as so convinced that we all have this ‘free will’ that they are completely unable to consider other viewpoints, even to the point of a continuous stream of pejorative language and insults aimed at all Calvinists. Most of us Reformed folk would NEVER deny that we have free will. We would also assert that ‘free will’ and ‘free choice’ are not exactly the same thing. Fallen men can do whatever they want to do, but what does a fallen man WANT to do? That is the crux of this issue.

As I prepare to leave the group, I would like to present something quite interesting I found recently that claims to offer Biblical proof for libertarian free will. Here’s the article. I have commented after the article.

18 Top Bible Verses about Free Will

Many Christian churches and denominations have different views on free will. While it’s easy to become confused on how God’s control and our own free will interact, we can trust the Word of God and know that what He has told us in the Bible is true. These Bible verses about free will show us that we have the ability to choose and have faith in God, being secure in our eternal life in heaven, or we can choose to turn from God and live apart from Him. Use these Scriptures to help you make wise choices!

1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Chronicles 9:7

Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

John 7:17

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Joshua 24:15

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Mark 8:34

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 13:2

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 10:9

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Galatians 5:16-17

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Isaiah 55:6-7

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

John 1:12-13

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Ezekiel 18:30-32

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Online Source:

Old guy comments:

1. A couple of statements in the introduction to the verses were very interesting “These Bible verses about free will show us that we have the (free will) ability to choose and have faith in God, . . . Use these Scriptures to help you make wise choices! That last statement correctly advises us to use them to make wise choices. The unavoidable implication is that since we can make choices, we have a ‘free’ will. It proves we do have a will, but that’s all.

2. Not a single one of the above passages says anything about a natural ability to choose or have faith in God. In fact, while a few clearly use the language of ‘choosing’ between alternatives, most are general statements about certain actions and consequences that are based on choices we might make.

3. One pair of verses specifically states that being ‘born again’ is an act of God, NOT an act of man’s will, in a single sentence!

John 1:12-13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

4. As a final note, I have absolutely no clue why there is such an inability to comprehend a difference between ‘free choice’ and ‘free will”. A ‘choice’ is something we do. The human will is a human characteristic. The assertion that the will of man was in no way affected by Adam’s fall and that post-fall man has the same will as Adam before he fell is, for me, equally as incomprehensible, considering the amount of Biblical text devoted to the nature of fallen men. We are talking about being able to understand the meanings of words and basic reading comprehension skills. Perhaps it’s my age, and an erroneous assumption that what I learned in school so long ago is still taught.