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Bible Q

Do we have freewill or is everything God’s will?

No; God is omnipotent (i.e. ‘having unlimited power; able to do anything’1; Job 42:2; Gen. 18:14; Mat. 19:20) but he has chosen to allow things to happen outside of his will.

At the moment, before God is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor. 15:28), God’s will isn’t always carried out. Sometimes it’s man’s will that happens:

1 Sam. 26:19
Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’

Here David is talking to Saul, and David recognises that sometimes things are sent from God; he says, ‘If it is the LORD who has stirred you up against me … ’. However, he also recognises that sometimes God doesn’t bring things into his life — sometimes it is just men, not directed by God, who bring these things — because he also says, ‘but if it is men [who have stirred you up against me]’. David recognises that sometimes things do not come from God.

Another verse that tells us this is Isa. 54:15:

If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you.

Here God is talking to his people, and he says that he will give them peace. In this time of peace, God says, if strife occurs then ‘it is not from me’. So God says that sometimes things are not from him.

The issue is complicated by the fact that there are two quite different Greek words that are translated as “will” in the New Testament.  One of them is boulomai, which refers to God’s purpose.  God’s will in this sense cannot be resisted, as Paul indicates in Romans 9:19.  The other word is “thelema”, and God’s will in this sense can easily be resisted.  In 1 Peter 4:3-4 we read, “Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.  The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, …”  The same word, thelema, is used to describe both what God wishes and what the heathen wish — everyone has the choice which they prefer.  People have complete freedom whether or not to do what God wishes.  If they do God’s will, then they can look forward confidently to the reward that is mentioned in 1 John 2:17, but they will be completely unable to thwart the purpose of God.

Ultimately, God can work through the things that happen in our lives, even through he hasn’t brought about some of those things himself. As Rom. 8:28:

… we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This doesn’t say that all things are from God, but it does say that all things — even those things that are not from God — can work together for the good of His people.

1. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

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