This debate is ages old: If God is all knowing, and He knows the past, present, and future, then do we have free will? Also, if we have free will, then why would we ask God for help with things? But if we don’t, then what’s the point anyway?
This is a complicated topic, and one which requires excessive amounts of thought. I will attempt to answer these questions, with the understanding that I am no expert. I may be completely wrong. I will simply be writing my thoughts. If anyone disagrees, and would like to have a respectful conversation, feel free to reach out on Twitter.
Before we get started, we need to discuss the difference between “free will” and “free action”. Free will is the freedom of intention, where free action is the freedom to carry out those intentions.
With that being said, I believe that God has granted us free will, but not necessarily free action. I’ll give an example.
Let’s say it’s December and you want to go to Walmart, perhaps you’re looking for last minute Christmas gifts. The reason doesn’t really matter. You get up, get dressed, put your coat on, snow boats, everything so that you’re ready to go. However, you open the door and find that it snowed 18 inches last night. The snow has blown around, so that it blocks your door and you can’t get out.
I could take it further, and talk about how you dug yourself out and then your car got stuck in the driveway, then you dug yourself out and slid on ice, then wrapped your car around a pole…
I’ll save you the trouble.
The point is, you had every intention to go out, but your ability to carry out those intentions was inhibited. Free will, not free action.
Here’s another point:
The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come t repentance.”
It also says, in Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
So why would the Lord say that it isn’t His will that anyone go to Hell, and then say that anyone who rejects Him will go to Hell when they die, if we didn’t have a choice in the manner?
So now that we’ve established that we do indeed have free will, we have to ask the question: Why does it matter?
That’s where the idea of moral responsibility comes in.
You see, God also blessed us with a conscious, which means that when we do something wrong, we feel bad about it.
So if, by our own foolish will, we choose do something which causes harm to others, we will certainly pay the consequences of our actions. The free will that we have been given will make us morally responsible for that thing that we have done wrong.
This is also why I like to end my prayers with according to Your will, not my own.” I might be praying for something on my will, but if it is not the will of God, He will not grant that prayer.
Ultimately, I would rather have an all-knowing, all-powerful God in control than myself.