Researching whether angels have free will and whether God has free will, I found myself in the midst of this question.

Is free will an illusion?

Our "choice" is that we either follow God or we do not follow God. However, God has clearly chosen some people to be saved and some to not be saved:

Matthew 22:14 (NIV) For many are invited, but few are chosen.

Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV) Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

Ephesians 1:5 (NIV) he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

But, if God chose us to either be saved or not saved, do we have free will in choosing to follow him?

  • I am closing this as Not Constructive per the quality standards. This question, as written, is open to speculation and opinion. It's more of a philosophical question, as is, rather than a doctrinal question that could be answered by experts. I plan on rewriting this question focusing on a specific doctrine, per the new guidelines.
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 15:27
  • New question here: How does free will fit with the doctrine of predestination?
    – Richard
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 15:34
  • For others running into this question seeking an answer, please see this one: If God controls our decisions, does this mean we don't have free will? Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 20:38
  • To counter Raphael's promotion of his answer. It's better to link to the question rather than his answer: If God controls our decisions, does this mean we don't have free will?
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 17:02
  • Yeah sorry about that, I just copy pasted what was in my browser's address line. But also, since this question is closed I am not able to provide an answer here, so I don't see the wrong in linking directly to my answer, which, by the way, would take you to the question anyway, with all other answers included at the minimal cost of a scroll (which you would have to do anyway). Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 17:17

2 Answers 2


We have free will to chose salvation. God created everything; The universe, our world, and even us. All of this is already his.
Our agency is the only thing that we are able to give God that he doesn't already have.

An example: The President of the United States is chosen (by us) to be our Commander in Chief, though he can still choose to try to stay in bed and ignore his duties.

We're chosen (by God) for various things throughout our lives. Whether we choose to obey him is entirely up to us.

Matthew 16:23-25 (KJV)

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

The last line of that quote is in reference to people becoming martyrs. It is a good example of someone having a choice regarding their salvation. If someone chooses to deny Christ to save their life they will die spiritually, yet if they choose to die for Christ's sake, they will find their salvation.

  • For what it's worth, the original wording in the Greek for Matthew 16:25 is fascinating. "whosoever will save his life" is referring to our earthly life. "whosoever will lose his life" is referring to our eternal life.
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 19:41
  • 1
    Intersting... In that context I take it to mean losing your life in service to our Lord. If Matthew 16:25 isn't referring to martyrs, it seems to be suggesting that it takes effort to find salvation and that men aren't automatically saved by grace alone.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 19:52
  • "God created everything" Including the mechanism of human choice, hence we do not have "free will to chose salvation". Even if god gave us the ability to change parts of our own decision-making mechanisms (i.e. to change our own nature), that MUST also have been specifically designed and put into human nature, and thus it is NOT our choice to "decide" to change, or "decide" to "decide" to change, etc. "President ... is chosen (by us)" Our volition mechanism or "algorithm" was NOT chosen by us, therefore while we may be a "hand" in that action, the way the hand works is not determined by us.
    – user6552
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 17:51
  • "Whether we choose to obey him is entirely up to us" and "God created everything" can't be true at the same time. It's not entirely up to us if we didn't design our own decision-making mechanisms or nature, from nothing, which we didn't, that was forced on us. No human had the "choice" to be a dog, or alien on alpha centauri, or anything else but human, and the mechanism of human volition was not created by humans. Even if we have the ability to alter our own decision-making algorithm, that "choice" to alter it in any way is again up to the designer of the mechanism that makes choices.
    – user6552
    Commented Aug 1, 2023 at 17:58

Maybe God just knows who will be willing to go to heaven, and who will not, and pre-decided to select who will go to eternal life or not.

  • 1
    This is a restating of the view commonly known as "Middle knowledge" which is part of the "Molinist" theology. Just FYI. Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 20:34

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