Luke 15:7 tells us that there is great joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, if there is such joy when a sinner repents, does it mean that sinners are making a free will choice to receive salvation and that's what heaven is waiting for?
ESV - 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
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Question: "What are the implications of Luke 7:15 regarding free will?" Let's look at the context in Luke 15 "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?" (v.4) "And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing." (v.5) "And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." (v. 6) "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (v. 7) First of all, sheep are not known for their intelligence and are probably one of the most defenseless of animals, requiring constant supervision and care. It is humbling, but believers are often referred to in the Bible as sheep. One of the Lord's last instructions to Peter was "feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17) As the parable goes, the shepherd "leaves" the ninety and nine then "goes after" the lost sheep until "he finds it". When he finds it he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. In answer to your question I see no indication whatsoever the sheep exercised free will aside from being lost and wandering in the wilderness. The parable overwhelmingly teaches quite the opposite. The sheep was hopelessly lost and doomed. It was the shepherd exercising his will in saving the lost sheep.
I believe that a search of this site would reveal responses to previous questions establishing that God's omniscience (specifically with respect to knowing who will or who will not be saved) does not compromise man's free will. And if God's omniscience does not compromise man's free will in that regard, then none of God's created beings (including the angels), who (no matter how powerful or exalted they may be) are not omniscient, would be able to compromise it, either. If a sinner repents in response to the working of the Holy Spirit, the angels rejoice, since it means that one more individual has been saved.
I agree with Tim in that God knows who will accept him and knows who will reject him. Only God knows this. If you look at the verse you are talking about in Luke 15:7 it is about the parable of the lost sheep. Here we find that the religious leaders were complaining that Jesus spent time with sinners. So Jesus then gives the parable. I think Jesus was saying to the religious leaders "You think you are so good that you don't need to repent, but do you know what? I am seeking out those who know they need me and that is why I came" The religious leaders who knew the promised Messaiah would come rejected Jesus, they had free will to accept or reject him and they rejected him just as they did to those who they considered sinners of the day. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes In Him shall not perish but have eternal life. That includes everyone, even the religious leaders of the day. It's for the whole world that Jesus came. As I said earlier God knows who will believe, we do not. Alas we can be guilty and be like the Pharisees and the Scribes. We can think there is no point seeking after a lost sheep. Someone we know who is not a believer and our thoughts are that there is no point telling them about Christ because they are miserable sinners or their heart is hard and they have no need for God. After all we were lost sheep that God came after, we had no need for God yet he sought us out and we believed. Through various people who showed us Jesus, we believed. When we believed there was rejoicing in Heaven. God is waiting in Heaven to hear those words "I do" then he lets heaven know and they party.
In Keeping with the great salvation promise to all mankind John 3:16 anyone can have salvation if they receive the Christ. Of course salvation was made available to the whole world because "God so Loved the World" that anyone who chooses to believe the gospel might be saved. To imagine that God did not make this Salvation available to all means He did not love the world but the elect only. So if they did not have free will when it came to the invitation to be saved then why would their be rejoicing in heaven? The fact that we don't know who will be saved does not mean we are like those with metal detectors going out into all the world looking for the hidden elect. It means we are presenting everyone with the opportunity to respond to the great invitation of Salvation and the Scripture declares “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:12,13) Free will is operational before the rebirth and that free will can respond to the invitation without the person having any help except that they hear and choose to believe. Paul said “not all have obeyed the gospel” but those who do obey the call to be saved will receive salvation and that’s what heaven is waiting for so they can party. This gracious gift of free will does not mean man get’s any glory for being saved but it brings great glory to God as He patiently waits for man’s response to be saved. The Prodigal Son is a great Example of this actual Scripture in Luke 15:7 When the young prodigal came to his senses and repented and made His way back to the Father. The Father was so delighted and and brought him into his house and called for a party. So in context it shows that God waits patiently for those who go astray. He does not go out with an army of his men and drag the son or throw some spell on him to get him to come back, but waits patiently for him to repent and come back humbly. The Joy in heaven is the joy of a soul choosing to repent and believe the gospel that is available to whosoever wants to. They then become the elect of God.
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