…By Mandii 

On the path to my spiritual awakening, when I still had my doubts about the existence of God as I know him today, I was often perplexed by the notion that God knows all. I followed the logic that if He did know all, then He knew what we were going to choose in the future, meaning we really had no real free will. 

An omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God...

I put these thoughts aside for awhile and established a relationship with God. Upon returning to my previous musings, I realised that this divine foreknowledge of our choices was not a problem for me. Keeping the concept of an all knowing God in mind when looking at the Christian definition of free will: the ability to make equal choices between options, regardless of a person’s sinful nature- how does God’s omniscience conflict with our free will? 

Let me use a simple analogy to elaborate on my point. The sun will rise and set tomorrow. I’m not causing it or preventing it from doing so by knowing that it shall happen. Similarly, if I ask my little sister to choose between a chocolate and a carrot, I know she will choose the chocolate. My knowledge of this does not restrict her from making her choice. Even if she was inclined to choose the carrot to please me, as it’s healthier, I have not forced her to make that choice. My sister is free to make the choice and my knowledge of her preference and in turn, her choice, has no effect upon her when she makes her choice. 

The red pill or the blue pill?

In short: God knowing what we are going to do does not mean that we can’t do something else. It means that God simply knows what we have chosen to do ahead of time. Our freedom is not restricted by God’s foreknowledge; our freedom is simply realized ahead of time by God. 

While God is omnipotent and knows the choices that individuals will make, He still gives individuals the power to ultimately choose (or reject) everything, regardless of any internal or external conditions relating to the choice. In a biblical illustration of free will, when Jesus was nailed on the cross, the two criminals, one on each side, were about to die. Only one asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other, even at the end of his life with nothing else to lose, disparaged Jesus. From a Christian perspective, this was a free and personal choice between everlasting death and everlasting life. 

An important issue to consider here is the concept of time. God’s concept of time differs greatly from ours. If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time. This would mean that God is not subject to our perception of the natural laws of time, subject, and that God is not a linear entity- to be precise, it would mean that God is not restricted to operating in our time realm and is not restricted to the present only. 

If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time.

Following this logic, if God is not restricted to existence in our version of the present, then the future is known by God because God dwells in the future, as well as the present (and the past). This would mean that our future choices, as free as they are, are simply known by God. Again, our ability to choose is not altered or lessened by God existing in the future and knowing what we freely choose. It just means that God can see what we will freely choose, because that is what we freely choose – and knows what it is. 

This concept is demonstrated in the scriptures, as spiritually God inhabits eternity. Psalm 90.2 says “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” These verses and others do not actually say that God exists inside or outside time, rather that He is eternal. A number of verses also state that God has no beginning or end. This is not definitive, but we may be able to conclude that since time is that non-spatial, continuous succession of events from the past, through the present, and into the future, and that since the word “beginning” denotes a relationship to and in time, and since God has no beginning, that time is not applicable to God’s nature. In other words, God has no beginning and since “beginning” deals with an event in time, God is outside of time. 

So, in relation to our free will and God’s predictive ability, there is no biblical reason to assert that God’s foreknowledge negates our freedom. There is no logical reason to claim that if God knows what choices we are going to make that it means we are not free. It still means that the free choices we will make are free — they are just known ahead of time by God. If we choose something different, then that choice will have been eternally known by God. What’s more, this knowledge by God does not alter our nature in that it does not change what we are — free to make choices. 

In light of this, He has eternally known what all our free choices will be, He has ordained history to come to the conclusion that He wishes including and incorporating our choices into His divine plan: 

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur,” (Acts 4:27-28). Why?  Because God always knows all things: “…God is greater than our heart, and knows all things,” (1 John 3:20).

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