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  • Elaine Kelly

Predestination Vs. Free Will: What's Your View?

Updated: Jan 14

Check out the biblical backing for each side! Theologians throughout history have debated the topic and various church denominations have different views. Reflect on what resonates with the overarching biblical message of God's redeeming love. How can an all-powerful God, who loves all people, pre-destine some to salvation and not others?
Photo: Internal Locus of Control, Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution


Some believe that for God's pleasure, God elects and predestines some to salvation. In the fall, humans lost the ability to make choices for good, and we cannot decide to follow God unless God acts first. Some believe in double predestination, that God also predestines certain people to go to Hell. Some believe God’s predestines not only salvation, but divine providence governs our daily lives. God loves all people and desires that all people be reconciled to God (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). However, God's purpose overrides God's desires, and Jesus's sacrifice was to save God's elect and pass over the rest. The doctrine of predestination and the elect is largely followed in Calvinist denominations.

Free Will

Some believe that for God's pleasure, God wants humans to come to believe and follow out of their own freedom of choice. Human love and obedience to God mean more when it is voluntary. God does not want to pull all the strings with us aas puppets but gains pleasure when we run to our heavenly Father as loving children. God knows that some will choose not to come, and has foreknowledge of who will decide to believe and be saved. God loves all people and desires that all people be reconciled to God (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus's sacrifice was sufficient to save all humanity, and God is patient, waiting for all to repent and be saved.

What is the biblical evidence for each view?

Look at these references and decide for yourself how to read the passages that are used to back Predestination vs. Free Will.


Free Will

God had foreknowledge of who God would elect for salvation (1 Peter 1:1-2)

God did not decide but had foreknowledge of human choices (1 Peter 1:1-2).

Those God foreknew, God predestined to be shaped into being Christ-like, justified and glorified. Romans 8:29-30

If you declare Jesus is Lord and believe God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and justified. God shapes the lives of anyone willing to be Christ-like Romans 10:9-13

All people who believe in Christ are made right with God through their faith Romans 3:22

There is no favouritism among God’s elect Colossians 3:11-13, 1 Corinthians 12:13

God shows no favouritism and blesses all who call on him. Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34, Galatians 2:6, Galatians 3:28-39, Colossians 3:11-12​

God chose us before the creation of the world to be adopted as children of God. Eph. 1:3-14

God chooses everyone; You are chosen and made heirs when you accept God's offer and believe Jesus. Eph. 1:3-14

The elect are chosen by God to follow God's example, walk in love, just as Christ loved us (Eph. 5:1-2).

Believers are urged to avoid idolatry, immorality, injustice or greed and live a life worthy of God. Eph. 4:1, Eph. 5:5, 1 Cor. 6:9-11

You, believers, are chosen to be God's elect and show God to the world. Colossians 3:12

You are to choose to be compassionate, kind, humble, patient, loving. Colossians 3:12-14

God cares for the elect (Matthew 24:22) and will gather the elect (Matthew 24:31).

Everyone who asks, receives (Matthew 7:7-8), and those who deserve to come are those who respond to the invitation (Matthew 22:1-14).

No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them John 6:44-47

Everyone who hears and obeys the Father comes to Jesus (John 6:44-47) Anyone who chooses to believe has eternal life

John 3:15-17 God did not send Jesus to judge the world but save it. If you love Jesus, do what he commands John 14:15

We know God chose you because we could see the Holy Spirit in your lives. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

You are God’s chosen because you welcomed the message and imitate Jesus 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

God chose you to inherit God's blessing. 1 Peter 3:7-9

God wants everyone to turn to him, receive God's blessing and share it by changing the way they live. 2 Peter 3:9

Paul says Jesus and the Father sent Paul as an apostle. Galatians 1:1. Paul says he is God's chosen instrument to preach to the Gentiles. Acts 9:15.

You are free but asked to love and serve one another; you won’t inherit God’s kingdom if you choose to use your freedom for evil. Galatians 5:13-21

Pauls says God called him to be an apostle (1 Corinthians 1:1-2).

God calls each one to do their own part; Pursue the greater gift: love.(1 Corinthians 12:28-31)

No one can say the early baptismal creed "Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3) so God decides who comes to believe.

Everyone who says the early baptismal creed “Jesus is Lord” is expressing their belief. Whether you have gifts that are seen as important/unimportant, everyone who believes this creed has accepted the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3

We may look at Jesus as representing a combination of free will and predestination. The orthodox church teaching is that the three persons of the Holy Trinity are equal in substance and in essence. Some passages seem to infer that God has authority over Jesus:

  • For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT).

  • "[Jesus] humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, (Philippians 2:8-9 NLT).

However, other passages show that Jesus has full authority over himself. He voluntarily chooses to humble himself:

  • "No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:18 NLT)

  • "The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30 NLT)

  • "Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. (John 14:10-11 NLT)

May you be blessed as you work out what you believe.

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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