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How is God sovereign yet we have free will?

God is sovereign. Nothing happens, or could possibly happen, that He does not allow. Also, whatever He says will happen, does happen. This is the point where many people like to blame God for all the evils in the world. But doing so neglects the next point. 

People have free will to act in any manner they choose. This is evident in Scriptures where God warns people that if they behave one way then He will discipline them but if they change their ways He will bless them. (Genesis 4:7, Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 4:25-26, Isaiah 48:18, Matthew 6:14-15, John 11:40, Romans 10:9). Everything good comes from God. Everything bad is the consequence of our disobedience to Him. 

Since He is just, He established a reality where our actions have consequences. He warned us about the consequences of sin but gave us the free will to choose. So no matter what we choose, His sovereignty is intact because He gave us the choice. 

The free will of humans is not a contradiction to the sovereignty of God. It is a result of it. Since God ordained it that way, so it is, because he is sovereign. On the other hand, if God did not give us free will, we would not find the above conditional statements in His Word. 

I will stress again that the evil in the world is the direct result of human sin. God is not a bully burning ants with a magnifying glass. He is a loving father warning His children not to play in traffic. 

True, sometimes people are pushed into traffic against their will. Sometimes innocent people suffer the consequences of other people’s sin. This does not contradict God’s sovereignty. He sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). 

When considering God’s sovereignty, it is important to keep the big picture in mind. The death of an innocent is quite perplexing if we only look for answers on this temporal earth. When we consider the eternity that innocent soul will spend in the loving mercy of God, we begin to see that it’s quite possibly those of us left behind who are to be pitied. (Psalm 116:15)

God, in His sovereignty, gave us free will. This is partly because he loves us and partly so that we could love Him. Without the choice, it is impossible to love. My car doesn’t start because it loves me. But my dog greets me at the door with unbearable enthusiasm because he loves me so abundantly. The car has no choice but the dog does. 

So make the choice to love God and watch the fruit of the spirit blossom in your life according to God’s sovereign plan. 

– Pastor Jon Helms