By Rev. LOU TISCIONE
Number one on the “Top Ten” list of the worst questions to ask in church is “Do we have free will?”
Think carefully as you seek to answer this question. It is necessary to be clear on the meaning and use of the words. The will of man is the faculty of the mind by which choices or decisions concerning a course of action are made. The word free means unencumbered, not enslaved, or not controlled by external obligations.
So if I substitute the meanings of the words, the question can be rephrased in this way: “Do we have an unencumbered mental faculty by which we are able to make choices?” Still, every person that answers this question will give a response based upon their own personal opinion.
Therefore, since there may be many opinions expressed, we ought to seek the one opinion that matters. In other words, what has God said, if anything, concerning the issue of man’s will?
You might try to find the instances of the words “free” and “will” in the concordance of your Bible. The place to start is the garden. After God made Adam, He told him that he was free to eat of every tree of the garden except of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16-17)
We know what happened. Adam and the woman, later named Eve, ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. At the end of chapter three of Genesis, we read that God “placed the cherubim (mighty angels) and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” God insured that no man would be able to eat of the tree of life and live forever. (Genesis 3:22-24)
We next look at God’s destruction of the earth by the universal flood. He surveyed all mankind and declared “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) Further, the prophet Jeremiah spoke for God and said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The New Testament is consistent with the Old Testament. Men have not changed. The Apostle Paul wrote, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Romans 3:10)