Many people want to know if we can choose to be saved by our own free will, or if God predestines those who will go to heaven before we are born. The debate has gone on for years. The answer is yes, God chooses those who will go to heaven and yes, we have a free will to choose to be saved.

The following excerpt from The 911 Handbook explains how God's choosing and our free will are both biblical and in harmony. (see our Bible Study page for sample chapters from The 911 Handbook). Romans 8:28 tells us God works all things together for good because he knows ahead of time who will choose to love him.

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Romans 8:29-30)

This verse is a picture from eternity past to eternity future. We are currently sitting in the present, looking at our situation. But God sees things from a different perspective. Because He sees all of time, He can intervene and make things turn out for His glory.

Eternity Past


Eternity Future

Foreknew Predestined

Called Justified


Just because God knows everything ahead of time doesn't mean he foreknows everyone. The word know can mean different things. "Know" can mean "to have knowledge of" (Gen. 3:7), or it can mean "to know intimately" (Gen. 4:1,KJV). That's why Jesus, who knows all things, will say to many people, "I never knew you" (Matt. 7:23). He had knowledge of them, but He didn't know them intimately. Just like Jesus can have knowledge of someone without knowing him, He can have foreknowledge of someone without foreknowing him.

God knows everything before it happens, which is foreknowledge. That means He knows ahead of time who will call on Him to be saved and who won't. Because He has foreknowledge of those who desire to be saved, He foreknows those same people.

Even though God does the choosing, we are given the opportunity to ask Him to choose us. It's like the army general who asked his soldiers, "Whoever would like to volunteer to go on a dangerous mission with me, please step forward." One third of the soldiers stepped forward of their own free will, separating themselves from the other soldiers. The general then went up to each soldier who stepped forward and said, "I choose you and you and you...." He chose everyone who stepped forward, but he didn't choose anyone who didn't volunteer. He gave them their free will, but he did the choosing. In the same way God allows us to have a free will, but He chooses everyone who wants to love Him.

But doesn't the fact that He knows ahead of time what we will decide mean it is now impossible to have a free will? Doesn't it also mean He has already predestined whomever he wishes? No, because His predestination is based upon His foreknowledge of what we will choose to do. "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined...." First Peter 1:1 & 2 says, "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens...who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...."

Think about it this way. You record a basketball game on your VCR because you are busy while the game is being played. That night you rewind the tape and watch the game exactly as it was played. Did the basketball players have a free will in playing the game? Yes. But the results are already fixed on the VCR tape. You watch the game not knowing the outcome, but you know the results are already determined and recorded on the tape. You are watching the players exercise their free will, even though the outcome is already decided. Foreknowledge is just like that VCR tape, except instead of playing the tape after the game, God sees the tape before the game.

Now, let's add to the illustration. You and God are basketball players on the same team. When you shoot and miss, God gets the rebound and dunks it. All throughout the game you keep making mistakes, but God gets the ball and overrules your mistakes. Your team wins because God is on your side. He stepped in and compensated for your failures and mistakes.

Because of His foreknowledge, God knows your mistakes ahead of time. Through His sovereignty, He chooses to intervene and turn your mistakes around for good. (Kent Crockett, The 911 Handbook, Hendrickson Publishers, 1997, 199-201).

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