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Is God sovereign or do we have a free will?



    
    

Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
 When we talk about free will, we are usually concerned with the matter of salvation. Few are interested in whether we have the free will to choose salad or steak for our dinner tonight. Rather, we...

July 01 2013 8 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
This is not a matter of choosing one or the other.

A sovereign king, for example, does not remove the will of his subjects. Rather, he sets up boundaries/limits in which people can act. If they disobey, they are punished. The king does not even force the actions of his military or servants. Rather, the soldiers and servants have even stricter discipline and rules binding them than the civilians. If they disobey, they are court-martialled or punished. If they obey and do good service, they are promoted or rewarded. The king also delegates authority; his authority even over his highest ministers to guide, punish, and reward is a mark of his sovereign power.

As such, there is no contradiction between an all-sovereign King and a people that are capable of free volition.

How does God's supreme sovereignty, in particular, play out?

* He puts boundaries and limits on nature. (Jer 5:22, Job 38:4-41, Job 9:4-9, Psalm 104:1-13, Lev 26:3-5, II Chron 7:11-16, Jer 8:7, Jer 10:13)

* He puts boundaries and limits on the life and history of man and the nations (Job 14:5, Acts 17:26, Num 34:1-12, II Chron 13:4-18, I Kings 9:5, Psalm 2:1-12, Jer 45:4, Luke 12:25, II Kings 7:1-20, Gen 22:8-14, Isaiah 45:9-13, Dan 4:34, Dan 2:21)

* He makes provision for nature and man (I Chron 29:12-15, James 1:17, Psalm 84:3, Psalm 104:14-23, Psalm 104:27-30, Psalm 12:5, Matt 6:26)

* He tasks us as His servants to perform His will (Acts 1:8, Rom 12:2, II Cor 10:13-15, Matt 14:13, I Thess 5:12-18, I Pet 2:15, Heb 10:36, I Cor 4:1, Rom 2:13)

* He gives us power to perform His will (Ex 10:1-20, Rev 11:6, Acts 1:8, Heb 11, Phil 2:12-13, Ezra 6:1-12, I Peter 4:10, Mark 16:15-18, Isaiah 45:1-7)

* He sets the standard of righteousness (Rom 1:17, Psalm 18:30, Eph 2:3, Psalm 119:3, Deut 32:4, PSalm 145:17, Isaiah 5:16, Isaiah 51:6, Dan 9:14, Jer 9:24)

* He punishes the wicked and is the final judge of the fate of man (I Pet 3:10-12, Rev 20:11-15, Isaiah 13:11, Rom 6:23, Psalm 145:20, Rom 2:6-10, II Thess 2:8)

* He sets the rules by which deliverance, forgiveness, and pardon are obtained (Num 25:22-29, Jer 26:1-6, II Chron 7:14, John 3:16, Heb 10:11-18, Luke 4:14-21, Heb 9:22, Matt 5:29, Isiah 45:22-25)

* He makes righteous laws and decrees (Ex 19:12-23, Lev 20:8, Psalm 93:5, Num 23:19, Deut 6:1, Rom 1:32, Rom 5:18, Rom 10:4)

* He appoints others to carry out His decrees [God delegates] (Heb 1:14, Matt 25:14-30, Hab 1:6, Zech 11:16, Amons 6:4, Acts 3:26, Gal 4:6, John 3:31-36, II Chron 18:21, I Kings 14:14, I John 4:10)

*He punishes the servants that do not follow his decrees (Matt 25:24-30, II Pet 2:4-22, Mal 3:17-18, Matt 18:21-35,)

* He binds even time and space to subject to His eternal plan (Heb 4:7, Rom 16:25-27, Rom 8:22-25, Rev 21:21, II Pet 3:3-10, I Cor 2:7, I Pet 1:20, Isaiah 46:9-10, Acts 2:23)

* His kingdom is eternal and cannot be destroyed by man or Satan (Dan 7:13-27, Eph 1:15-23, I Chron 29:10-13, Rev 1:18, II Pet 1:10-11, Psalm 145:13, Dan 6:26, Dan 2:44, Matt 6:19-20)


A fine example of authority and willful obedience working together is from Matt 8:5-18.

A centurion approaches Jesus and asks Him to come heal his servant. Jesus asks "shall I (personally) come heal him"? The centurion says no, but asks for "Jesus' word" instead. The centurion is a man under authority (the king, higher officers) but is also over other soldiers. He tells them "Go", and they go. They do not go because they are forced by the centurion, but because they having willingly submitted themselves to the authority of the centurion. As such, the centurion has faith that if Jesus merely commands it, then it will be done (and it is!).

In short: The ability for man to act in obedience under God's commands, or rebel and disobey and God's authority to punish, is actually a mark of God's supreme sovereign power. Believing that man has a free will to act and choose obedience in no way contradicts or minimizes God's power and kingship.

July 29 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Jennifer Henkel Bible/History Middle School Teacher, Lover of the OT!
Both. 

God is sovereign, but He chooses not to force anyone to serve Him or love Him. He does not want robots, who have no choice but to obey; He wants each man/woman to come to him of his/her own free will. Only then is our love or service valid to Him.

January 07 2014 12 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Al Mari Private practice as a cardiovascular & thoracic surgeon
Being sovereign for God is not an anachronism to the concept of free will for us. Both free will and sovereignty can interplay with one another. God can impose his sovereignty based on his good judgment that one option is better than the other. An example of this "forceful imposition" of his will is the story of Jonah. He did not like to go to Nineveh and went opposite of the direction towards that city. He was then swallowed by a big fish and found himself in the shores of Nineveh to prophesy against that city. He may still refuse to follow God's will, but he did not. 

Likewise, in the narrative of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, his personal will was not to go through with his prophesied death by crucifixion. But, he was not forced by the Father. Nevertheless, Jesus said, "not my will but your will be done", i.e., his Father's will (Lu. 22:42). 

In both circumstances, they had freewill to disobey but did not. While Jonah's motive to follow maybe because of fear to disobey and be swallowed again by a "big fish", Jesus' was based on "faith in the Father" that his promises to him will be fulfilled.

September 12 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Open uri20150121 6237 fr4fv2 Richard Rushin
The LORD God is the Universal Sovereign! (Revelation 4:11) He does however dignify humankind with the freedom of choice. God is omnipotent so He could have compelled His subjects to obey Him. But that would have been coerced service. The bible says that God is love (1John 4:8) and being compelled to serve Him is hardly an expression of love. His love is clearly expressed however by allowing us to choose for our selves whether or not we will serve Him. Hence He dignifies us with the freedom to choose! For us Christians, our choices should be within the parameters of Gods' boundaries (Deuteronomy 30:19,20). Choosing to do our own thing (which is a prevalent worldly view) we risk losing Gods' favor (Matthew 7:21-23). Yes God is Sovereign, and yes we have free will.

August 20 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini Frederick Thomas Rom 3:4 ...let God be true...
Gods Sovereignty and Men's free will
With free will you can choose to be good (to a reasonable or moderate degree), good & evil and or evil.Gen 3:22, Mat 7:11 Mat 22:9-10 Rom 1:32. 
It appears those who chose to live godly, (in their ignorance) to serve religion, get God's sovereign gracious attention. Acts 10:1-4 Gen 6:8 
THE DILEMMA IS WE ARE ALL LOST. 
Sovereign God's intervention (which is inspired by God's love John 3:16, 1John 4;8) is to save the "God- fearing" and the "evil". That makes up the whole world. Rom 5:8 John 3:16 and Joh 16:8

Sovereign Salvation
If God chose who to save in a Sovereign way then we must change Rev 16:7 from The Righteous Judgment to The Sovereign Judgment. Because it cannot be Righteous if it is Sovereign.
Sovereign in Calvin's dictionary means The convicted is created to be convicted. God's Choice. Then we can call it Sovereign Judgment but the BIBLE is clear in calling it The Righteous Judgment
Deu_16:18 Joh_7:24 Rom_2:5 2Th_1:5 
Rev 16:7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments." 

I believe God look at the intention of the heart.
Paul was chosen because he was ignorantly God fearing
Php 3:6 as to ZEAL, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. 
1Ti 1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy BECAUSE I ACTED IGNORANTLY IN UNBELIEF; 

The God fearing men of Athens was shown the proper way because they serve "God" in their ignorance
Act 17:22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 
Act 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 
Act 17:30 "Therefore having OVERLOOKED THE TIMES OF IGNORANCE, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,

Cornelius was chosen because he was ignorantly God fearing
Act 10:1 Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 
Act 10:2 a devout man and ONE WHO FEARED GOD with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. 
Act 10:3 About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!" 
Act 10:4 And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "YOUR PRAYERS AND ALMS HAVE ASCENDED AS A MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD". 

Lydia was chosen because she was ignorantly God fearing
Act 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, A WORSHIPER OF GOD, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 

Gentiles was chosen because they were ignorantly God fearing
Act 13:43 Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the GOD-FEARING PROSELYTES followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God. 
Act 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 

e.g. The God fearing of Acts 13:43 who chose to live up to the law of God as printed in their conscience Romans 2:15 were therefore marked and appointed 'before the foundation of the world for salvation Rom 8:29 and later activated in Acts 13:48 '
May God's grace and peace be with us.
Frederick

August 21 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Data Bruce Lyon Elder: Restoration Fellowship Assembly
Is God sovereign or do we have a free will?

God is sovereign and in His sovereignty He has created us with a free will. He has given us the responsibility to choose to obey Him or not to obey Him. He did not create robots who would automatically do whatever He programmed then to do. He created human beings and provided them with every opportunity to walk and live according to His will.

The garden of Edom probably covered a vast area of land, many thousands of acres. And the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil was probably not in a conspicuous place to tempt Adam and Eve. Eve with the Adversary's help probably was guided to that forbidden Tree. The rest we know is mankind infected with a sinful nature.

March 06 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Nils 1 Nils Jansma Supporter Missionary in San Diego California
Is God sovereign or do we have a free will? The short answer is, Yes, God is sovereign and Yes we do have Free Will. The terms are not mutually exclusive. Free will is what distinguishes us from animals. In my opinion, free will is innate and shows that “God does not show favoritism” by categorically enabling some and not others. (Romans 2:5; Galatians 6:7) Our legal system is based upon the premise that normal people are responsible for their actions. Jesus even said this about Judas Iscariot. (Matthew 26:24).

One can ask a few brief questions that, in my opinion, implies free will if God is just. For instance, do Satan and the angels have free will? (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:13-17; 2 Peter 2:4-5) Did Adam and Eve have free will? (1Timothy 2:14) Did Cain have free will? (Genesis 4:6-7) Did Job have free will? (Job 1:8-11)

And finally did those in Sodom and Gomora have free will? Abraham certainly thought so. (Genesis 18:22-23) Even Jesus said that they did, if you take him at his word. (Matthew 11:23-24)

The only remaining question is, how can you reconcile “free will” with God’s sovereignty? The best solution I have read involves the theory of Middle Knowledge (MK). That is a 16th century attempt to resolve God’s foreknowledge and individual free will. A good brief definition for MK is listed below for your review. A simplified answer is that MK is what is happening in God’s mind during the planning stages before He creates anything. The only difference is that when things happen in God’s mind, they can become tangible events (actualizing) which is not like the things happening in our minds. If God chooses to actualize the events of His mind in our time, then they are real and actually manifest free will actions. How this happens is difficult to comprehend, but it is the basis for how God “knows the end from the beginning” with regard to everything that has happened or will happen. (Isaiah 46:10). 

A good Scriptural example of God’s foreknowledge of events that were never actualized in our time is found at 1 Samuel 23:8-13. There, through the priest Abiathar, David inquires of the “LORD” about a future event. Because of the answer he receives, David changes his plans. His action nullifies everything God had predicted. In other words, God, through MK, discerned what Saul and the people of the city would do of their own free will. This was bad news for David who then left the area. All of the events predicted by God would have happened if David had not left the area. This is an example of God’s knowing the future just as if it had already happened.

“Middle knowledge claims that God's perfect, infinite knowledge must be able to know not only what sentient creatures will freely choose in all situations in their lives but what everyone would do in every possible situation that they could confront. Even more magnificently, divine and unlimited knowledge must be able to discern what all created beings would do in all possible situations (or, as philosophers like to say, all possible worlds). “
http://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/craig-blomberg/middle-knowledge-and-the-calvinist-arminian-debate.html

May 15 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop Pastor, Teacher
Is God sovereign or do we have a free will? 

My view is that God is Sovereign but His sovereignty does not reduce a man to a mechanical robot. God has granted man the ability to make rational choices, including decisions for obedience or disobedience but with plain consequences.

Adam and Eve were given God's commands and restrictions in the Garden of Eden. They wilfully disobeyed the voice of God (Genesis 3:1-6). 

Did God Sovereignly permit or influence their fall? Absolutely not! Their choices had plain consequences.

Reading through the history of God's engagement with Israel, we learn that the people persistently rebelled against God's express commands. God punished them even as He demonstrated great mercy. His compassions fail not (Lamentations 3:22). 

When God sovereignly reached out to sinful Man through Christ (Romans 5:8), He once again gave Man the opportunity for responding to His saving grace (John 3:16). The consequences for rejecting Christ are stark (Revelation 20:11-15).

My view is that the popular phrase cited by Calvinism in Ephesians 2:5 is nothing more than a figure of speech. It should not be literally interpreted. Man is not literally dead in sin. He breathes and has a rational mind and a conscience. 

Man has a Free Will to choose good or evil.

November 04 2019 12 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
God gave us a free will. If we were just puppets then Adam and Eve would have not sinned. They sinned because they chose to. Free will. They were deceived by Satan, but sinned never the less.

As for salvation, God has given us a free will. He has made the way of salvation by faith in Christ alone. But we have to accept the free gift to be saved by believing the gospel, that Christ died for all our sins. 

What is the will of God? And this is the will of Him who sent me, that all that Seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The will of God is that we receive the free gift of salvation by grace through faith.

Faith comes from hearing, hearing by the word of God.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, (Jesus free gift of salvation by grace) to them gave He power, to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name.

We are born into the family of God when we accept His free gift of salvation. All we have to do is believe it to receive it.

God has given everyone the gift of faith. But it is how we use that gift that saves sinners. Islam has faith in their own made up god.

We have a free will to either accept Jesus as our savior or not. Jesus never forced any one to believe on Him. Once we have received the free gift by faith alone, believing the gospel of our salvation, that Christ died for all our sins, we are saved and have eternal life. Ephesians 1:13 We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, and that can not be changed. Once we have believed the gospel, we have given our selves to Gods ownership. 

God is sovereign, but He has given us a free will. If we did not have a free will then this world would be without sin because God is not the author of sin.

So, yes, we have a free will and that includes whether we receive the free gift of salvation by grace. Some will and many will trust in their works to save themselves. Matthew 7:21-23. They call Him Lord, but did not do the will of God. John 6:40 No one can be saved without believing the gospel. 

Faith in Jesus comes from us. We chose to believe it or not. John 3:18 Faith is not a work. God has made the way of salvation before the foundation of the world, but we have to receive it by faith to be saved. Our response is to believe the gospel. Once we have received the free gift, we are sealed unto the day of redemption and can never be cast out. John 6:37

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

As Christians we are to build each other up in the faith. First John 5:13 For we know we HAVE eternal life because we have believed on the name of the Son of God. All believers have eternal life and can never be cast out. John 6:37

July 20 2017 4 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Photo Anthony Clinton Teacher in China
Is God sovereign or do we have a free will? The question asked presumes that if we have free will then God is not sovereign. I would have asked, "Is God sovereign even when we exercise free will? The answer, of course, is "Yes!" To understand the difference firstly between "free will" before the fall of man and after the fall of man, let's look at Genesis 4:1-7. Cain and Abel both gave a sacrificial offering to God. As fallen and dead in sin spiritually did their offerings mean they both had a free will to do so? Some have debated that God tampered with Abel's will because he was the elect and excluded the chance for Cain who was not the elect. I do not see that in this portion of Scripture.

God demonstrated His divine favor upon Abel's offering and it was a visible expression of divine favor and that sparked a fit of fierce anger and jealousy in Cain. So if God had left him to suffer the consequences of sin offering no hope of any other choice then we might say there was no free will without God's manipulation.

But God in His loving mercy came to Cain and appealed to his free will so that he might receive exactly the same approval as his brother Abel had. "If you do well" and then "if you do not well" and so God came to Cain to urge him to do exactly as his brother and the blessings would follow. 

Then God warned that sin was knocking at the door of his heart so as to make sure it didn't take him to judgment. God asked Cain "Why are you angry?" Do you think Cain should be so insolent to say to God, "Well I can't control myself You know that?" The fact is that Cain was no different to his brother in being able to offer a blessed faith offering but he chose not to, and then in absolute rebellion to the warning of God chose to murder Abel and suffer the consequences. 

God is sovereign and when a man makes foolish free will choices from that ability afforded him by God, God steps in and handles it by His sovereign power to choose another way. A good example is shown in the life of Saul the King. God had a wonderful plan for King Saul and it was all going well until in his pride he decides to rebel against the Word of God. Samuel meets him and confronts him in 1Sam 13:13-14........

“You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD WOULD HAVE ESTABLISHED YOUR KINGDOM OVER ISRAEL FOREVER. BUT NOW your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

David was not plan "A" he was plan "B" That is precisely why God is sovereign even after the free will of man has run it's course. God clearly changed His mind about the Calling and Election of King Saul and please note that God sought after David because the sin of Saul canceled any further plan for his continuance.

Having said that, it's not free will that saves us because though Cornelius in Acts 10......."feared God and worked righteousness" it was not what saved him because God sent the angel to direct him to hear the Gospel through Peter's lips and then he was saved..........Acts 10:34-35........Peter concluded that anyone in any nation where the Gospel finds them that "feared God and worked righteousness" would experience the very same acceptance as Cornelius. 

God is sovereign regardless of man's free will.

November 06 2019 1 response Vote Up Share Report


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Internet image Ben Jones Retired Professional Photographer
Is God sovereign or do we have a free will?

What does the OT say about man's "free will?' Prov 16:33 "We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall." Prov 21:1 "The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD;
he guides it wherever he pleases." So what did Jesus think about our "free will" (that is free will to choose Christ or to reject Christ.) Jesus Christ simply and plainly tells us two times in John chapter 6 exactly how a person is saved. John 6:44 "For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up." Note that NO ONE can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. If God chooses NOT to draw someone they won't ever be saved. It is that simple. Some people will never receive Christ because they are blind to the truth and they have hard hearts that absolutely hate God so God allows them to have their "free will" and blinds them even more and hardens their hearts even more. John 12:40 “He [God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” Jesus quoted this from Isa 6:9 &10. God is absolutely sovereign over absolutely everything including salvation.

In Jeremiah 17:9 we read “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked." So how pray tell can a person whose heart is deceitful and desperately wicked all of the sudden decide with his "free will" to become righteous enough to surrender his wicked hateful sinful heart to Jesus" He cannot, it is impossible. In Matt 19 Jesus is telling his disciples how impossible it is for a person to enter the kingdom of heaven. He said in verse 24, "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” In other words salvation outside of God's will is absolutely impossible. In fact two verses later Jesus tells us plainly and simply " “Humanly speaking, [salvation] is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” ONLY if God steps in and saves us will be ever get saved.

In John 6:63 Jesus tells us "The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing." Human effort accomplishes NOTHING. We don't choose God, because we cannot! Romans 3:11 says "...no one is seeking God." Jesus repeats Himself in verse 65 when He said “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” Then in verse 66 we find this passage "At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him." And why did they desert Him? Because they were taught that God has nothing to due with salvation, that we are the "captains of our souls" and we have free will so we are the ones who decides whether we will receive Christ or not.

November 04 2019 10 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Me2012 Gerritt Schuitema Persecutor & Mocker transformed to Faithful Believer
‘God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, 'What doest thou?' Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.’ - A.W. Tozer 

The question sets these two in opposition, but that is not needed. 

God does not need to play both sides of the chess board to ensure His own victory. Our God is awesome, and all powerful. Read the Tozer quote again, and God bless!

November 05 2019 6 responses Vote Up Share Report


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Stringio James Fehr I'm a farmer
If God would not have given us a free will, there would be no evil in this world. I'm always amazed that when something bad happens, people always blame God. How could He have let that happen? The evil things that happen is because people have a free will to do good or evil. God can not give us free will and then put a limit on our freedom

11 days ago 0 responses Vote Up Share Report


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