A Quintessential Defense of FREE WILL

My Position Clarified
Recently while discussing the amazing grace of Christ with a number of Christian friends I have learned that many still hold the belief that God has given man a free will to either receive or reject Jesus. The belief in free will has become a palatable answer to the question of ‘how could the grace of God choose some and not others?’  Many have come to peace of mind over this difficult question by attributing a man’s fate to the choice of his free will. Yet Romans 9:11-13 seems to attribute a man’s destiny to the choice of God, “For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls, it was said to her, 'The elder will serve the younger.' Even as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' "  I know I have debated a number of my friends arguing for the sovereignty of God over the free will of man. Hopefully I have lost no friends, but at this point I must take a moment to clarify my position.
Please accept my apologies, for I too believe in free will.
Free Will Defined
Before I elaborate my view it is important that we define the phrase free will.  Too often people have argued or parted over views without taking time to define terms. Sadly this can result in unnecessary separations because the two parties were actually much closer to agreement than they realized. Unfortunately, undefined terms and the bandying of theological jargon often confuse debate.
Let’s first define free will from the dictionary. Dictionary.com defines ‘free’ to mean ‘not affected or restricted by a given condition or circumstance.’ ‘Will’ is defined to mean to ‘chose or decide upon a course of action’ and ‘the act of exercising the will.’  If we add these definitions together free will could be understood to mean ‘to chose or decide upon a course of action and / or exercise one’s will without being affected or restricted by any given condition or circumstance.’  The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology by Elwell states that one with free will is ‘the first cause of his acts.’ Thus one acting with a free will is not affected or restricted by any prior causes. To discuss this subject sensibly we must all understand and agree with this statement.
We could also consider a common philosophical definition of free will from wikipedia.com. They say, ‘free will is the belief or the philosophical doctrine that holds that humans have the power [within themselves] to choose their own deeds.’
These definitions ought to be sufficient to continue our discussion... as long as we play fair. We cannot adjust our definition of ‘free’ later if we are losing the argument. For example, suppose I work my kids hard all morning and give them the rest of the day ‘free’ to do as they please. Later, if I tell them they must mow the yard, they will tell me I am not being fair. Likewise, if our ‘free will’ is in any way affected or restricted, then it is no longer a ‘free’ will.
Thank you for your patience with me.
If we are to engage in important theological and philosophical discussion we must be precise. You may also say that we do not need theology and philosophy, but we need Jesus. I agree. I hope to use a number of Scriptures beginning with I Corinthians 1:20-31 (WEB),
20) Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21) For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn't know God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. 22) For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, 23) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, 24) but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God; 25) because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  26) For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; 27) but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world that he might put to shame the things that are strong. 28) God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that don't exist, that he might bring to nothing the things that exist, 29) that no flesh should boast before God. 30) Because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: 31) that, as it is written, "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord."
Since the salvation of God’s people is the root concern in the free will debate consider a question. Which position better reflects boasting in the Lord? One claims, ‘I am saved because I made a good choice of Christ with my free will.’  But another says, ‘I am saved because Christ made a gracious choice of me, a rebellious sinner.’  I hope if we are not agreed at the beginning of this article that our testimonies will be harmonious by the end and so we will share a happy brotherhood in Christ.
Common Sense Considerations
Common sense suggests that no mortal man can truly satisfy our definition of free will. Do we realize that every decision we make is affected or restricted by something? We do not even have the free will to cross the street at the moment of our choosing, but are affected by this or that and are restricted by the speeding traffic. Hopefully we eventually cross the street, yet sadly there are some who have willed to cross, but were killed in the traffic. We should all think of that the next time we stand on the curb ready to pass to the other side. Is your will ‘free’ to accomplish your objective... guaranteed? According to our definition one with ‘free will’ will cross the street when and where they choose... guaranteed.  Anything less is not a 'free' will.  This thought could bring humility to us all as we stand poised on the curb.
Thus common sense teaches me that mortal man does not have ‘free will.’ So is our quest to find ‘free will’ then lost?  Not at all! I believe in free will, as I already said. There is one who’s will is free. There is one who’s will is unbounded, unfettered, unlimited. There is one who can cross the street or do anything at anytime of his choosing. There is such a man. Friends, he is real and he alone stands as the possessor of FREE WILL!  Just the thought might be enough to cause us to tremble in fear that there is one who is unstoppable in his every objective.  Thankfully, however, this one is our loving Heavenly Father.
You might say to me, 'Don’t be ridiculous!’  Well I say, ‘don’t be ridiculous yourself with your foolish proclamations of your own free will!’  Why Jesus demonstrated in living color to his disciples that he has free will while we do not. Jesus freely willed to walk on water before his disciples. Marvel at this mild and controlled demonstration of his free will. Why he could have blasted galaxies to pieces and rebuilt them in an instant with his unthwartable will, yet to bring his awesome power down to Earth he merely walks on water.  ‘Ah hah,’ you say, ‘didn’t Peter also walk on water?’  Yes, he did. Yet remember that Peter also fell in when his eyes parted from Jesus. I hope we all agree that, though Peter walked on water, his will, courage, and ability to do so was all a miraculous gift from the Lord. Thus, Jesus powerfully, but humbly, demonstrated God’s free will, while Peter demonstrated for all of us, man’s utter weakness without God.
Even Icarus willed to fly and started well, yet he flew too near the sun and the heat melted the feathers from the wax and he fell to the Earth. Perhaps we are unwise to learn anything from Greek mythology, yet if it helps our understanding consider that even the will of mythological Icarus was not free to fly. However, one day believers in Jesus will fly to meet our Lord and each other in the sky, not by the power of our infirm will, but by the power of his mighty will, and that is no myth.
The subjection of our wills to God’s majestic will is a major theme in the Scriptures. I could tell the story of mankind willing to build the tower of Babel while God willed to smash the effort. Do you remember whose will freely prevailed? I could tell the story of Haman who willed to destroy the Jews while God willed to save them through Esther.  Do you remember whose will freely prevailed? I could tell the story of Jonah who willed not to preach to Nineveh while God willed that he would. Do you remember whose will freely prevailed? I could go on with story after story after story demonstrating God’s freedom of will with man’s subjection of will, but we do not need a flood to quench a thirst, merely one cup of cold water.   Yet I will give you not one, but three key passages that compare God’s and man’s will in the mundane, in destiny, and in salvation.
The New Testament writer James preached,
13) Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow let's go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit." 14) Whereas you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. 15) For you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will both live, and do this or that." 16) But now you glory in your boasting. All such boasting is evil. 17) To him therefore who knows to do good, and doesn't do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:13-17 (WEB)
So we see that man cannot freely plan even mundane things to do this or that without humble dependency on the Lord’s will. James, urges us to humbly say, "If the Lord wills," for our own good. What will become of us if we forget that God is the one who carried us safely to this very day, through every success and failure? And what if we say I built all that you see here by my free will?   Nebuchadnezzar was such a man and he did not fair too well. Better to give glory to God than to man’s free will!
While teaching one friend about the grace of God he rebuked me saying that the Sovereignty of God and the free will of man are the two great pillars of the church! Yikes! If this is the case we had better quickly come to shelter under the pillar of God’s sovereignty because the pillar of man’s free will is crumbled with no life possible there. Friends, the companion doctrine to the sovereignty of God is not the free will of man, but the responsibility of the man. These are the two iron rails on which run the locomotive of God’s grace. Cross or reject these two rails and you will have a train wreck.
We should instead rejoice that we have a God who truly is a God and who is sovereign over everything, including our sin. And at the same time we should humbly confess responsibility for our sin. Do you say that these two things cannot be? Why then you must take issue with the book of Romans. Here at least you will find comfort that you are not alone with your complaint. Paul said,
14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? May it never be! 15) For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16) So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy. 17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18) So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.

19) You will say then to me, "Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will?" 20) But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" 21) Or hasn't the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honor, and another for dishonor? 22) What if God, willing to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23) and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, 24) us, whom he also called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?
Romans 9:14-24 (WEB)
Nothing withstands the will of God. God’s will has ordained every moment of history past, present, and future including our destinies from before we were even born. Here is cause for great hope, because our loving Heavenly Father rules all... and loves all mankind. Praise his name!
Let’s turn again to the salvation question. Many concede that God is Sovereign over all, except our free will to choose Christ. One argues that God is a perfect gentleman that would not force himself upon a lady. Better to view God as a gentleman willing to soil his hands as he pulled us kicking and screaming out of the filthy gutter of sin that we loved. The gentlemen of this world take a wide course around trash like us, but God does not. Another argues that God has freely chosen to give us free will in the matter of our salvation. Yet friends this directly violates the very heart of grace! We are not saved by any work of man whatsoever, but by the grace of God, received in faith. Jesus said it best, “You didn't choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16 WEB). Try as you might, but you cannot twist these words to say any other thing. Man’s will is not free to pick up the gavel as judge of his own destiny. God alone exercises his free will to save everyone whom he chooses and he will not be stopped. Hopefully you now see the urgency in proclaiming the good news that Jesus chose to die for ALL mankind!
God’s Powerful Freedom of Will
God alone has free will. He is not enabled or restricted by anything. He alone is the first cause with no prior cause anywhere in sight. He says, “Remember the former things of old:  for I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done. I say: My counsel will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10 WEB).
Can we boast saying ‘I will do all that I please?’  That is what we are saying if we claim to have free will. Are you now ready to quit this silly boast and instead join me in thanks that our God’s mighty free will is our very salvation?
He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:27-30 WEB).
Praise God he uses his powerful will to save us. And thankfully even the sin that entangles us is ordained by our God for his great purpose. “Behold, Yahweh's name comes from far away, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and his tongue is as a devouring fire. His breath is as an overflowing stream that reaches even to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction; and a bridle that leads to ruin will be in the jaws of the peoples” (Isaiah 30:27-28 WEB). He does all his pleasure. He saves his people without question. He has all the evil in this world under his sovereign control. Praise his mighty name!
Thus we worship a God who is unbounded in the expression of his free will. There is nothing he cannot do and nothing that can stop what he wants to do. Consider a brief chart that illustrates exactly how free and boundless God’s will is.
God’s freedom
to the good.
to the evil.
to do good...
Jesus Christ exalted
Philippians 2:9-11
Mankind saved by grace
John 4:42
to do evil...
Jesus Christ made to be sin
II Corinthians 5:21
Fallen angels condemned
Matthew 25:41

God truly does all his pleasure. His will is free. 
Man’s Puny Limited Restricted Will
Frankly, by contrast, man’s will is quite puny, limited, and restricted. The Scriptures referenced above show that we cannot will even the mundane in our lives much less our destiny, or salvation. God’s will alone prevails. In fact to call our will puny is even too much credit. Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing(John 15:5 WEB). Really we have no freedom of will AT ALL but are utterly subject to the will of God. Again thankfully our God is a loving Heavenly Father.
Learning to trust in God through Jesus Christ is the heart of the matter. We are invited to rest completely in the will of God, with no faith in our own will whatsoever. God insists that we know him to be trustworthy in the mundane, as well as with our destiny and our salvation. In light of our fallen state we actually would have reason to fear if man had free will.  What a horror if sinful man could achieve whatever we willed! Though we do see horror from time to time, the grace of God lovingly restrains the will of man from full expression of our depravity. Again we have no reason to fear God’s free will over our lives, but reason for great thankfulness for his loving grace. We would self-destruct without him!   Consider another table illustrating the destitute nature of man’s will.
Man’s bondage
to the good.
to the evil.
to do good...
We are unfaithful here...rarely will someone die for a righteous man Romans 5:7
Unbelievers serve Satan
John 8:44, Ephesians 2:2
to do evil...
Christ crucified by mankind
I Corinthians 2:2
Men destroy one another
James 4:2
Our wills are the opposite of our good God’s. We are in desperate bondage. Our will is not free, but held captive by our sinful nature.
Question and Answer
Are we then robots, automatons?  Absolutely not! We are beings that think and act according to our wills doing as seems best to us. We are not lifeless puppets driven along by the will of God. Yet I did say above that God’s will always prevails in our lives. How can this be? Millard Erickson offers a thoughtful explanation in Christian Theology on page 359. He says, "God works in such a suasive way with the will of the individual that he freely makes the choice that God intends."  Thus we freely choose what God ultimately wills. God is sovereign. We are responsible for our choices.  Note, however, that God's purposes are only ever for the ultimate good, while our purposes are mixed with both good and evil.
Did we then NOT freely receive Jesus? Certainly we received him freely! Here is the biggest misunderstanding in this discussion. Jesus said, "freely you have received!" However, "freely" describes how we received him, not why we received him! Everyone who has received Christ has done so freely. We were not compelled to receive Christ against our wills. It has been said, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."  Instead God opened the door to his grace irresistibly to each Christian convincing and empowering our will to receive him.
If you have been pressured to confess Christ, but in your heart of hearts remain unbelieving, then you do not know the irresistibly good God. Please do yourself a favor and be honest. Tell yourself and the world that you are not a Christian! Then there may still be hope that you could know the true God and be saved. Otherwise you are living a lie and will perish in spite of your charade. Again every true believer has freely received Christ by faith. The more important question is why have we received Christ?  Certainly not because of free will.  Paul describes unbelievers as spiritually DEAD.  A dead man has no power to will himself to be made alive. We must be made alive by the Holy Spirit!
Also note that though every true Christian has been made willing to receive Christ that does not imply it is a pleasant experience. Terrible sin of every sort still affects Christians, even hatred of God at times, though not the blaspheming of the Spirit.  Salvation is quite a violent ripping of man’s soul from the sin nature.  Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus is an excellent Biblical example.  Elizabeth Taylor’s marriage in the movie Taming of the Shrew also portrays this fairly well.
What is the difference between free will and free moral agency?  The free will debate is a hot button for many. Tell them you do not believe in the free will of man and suddenly you are labeled as un-democratic! So to clarify our position we also speak of free moral agency.  In this case free means men make choices freely without compulsion, although as explained above, each choice we make is affected by the will of God. Further, moral agency means we are responsible and accountable for our choices. We are free moral agents but our wills are not free, but both limited and subject to boundaries determined by God.
Is God then culpable for our sin?  Absolutely not! The beautiful doctrine of the free will of God has been used by unbelievers to slander the great name of our God. This is a great offense. Here is an illustration that may help us honor God and humble ourselves. Consider that fallen man is like a vat of putrid sewer sludge. If God opens a valve we will freely flow in the direction of any sin. Paul warns, "No temptation has seized you, but what is common to man."  God is not guilty for allowing the sludge to flow, but we are guilty for each step we take. Instead God is to be praised that he restrains us at all. He is not obligated to soil his hands by graciously restraining us. In fact it would be justice for him to simply let us eat the fruit of our lusts, excepting that the death of Christ on our behalf has provided a new justice for mankind. A Biblical understanding of these things should instead result in hands lifted in prayer, "Lord save me from my love of sin!"
OK we are guilty for our sin, but who is guilty for giving us a sin nature in the first place, that is for original sin?  No one is guilty, but someone is to be praised for his amazing purpose!
32) For God has bound all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all.  33) Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!  34) "For who has known the mind of the Lord?  Or who has been his counselor?"  35) "Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?" 36) For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
Romans 11:32-36 (WEB)
Should we motivate ourselves by saying "where there is a will, there is a way?"  Belief in the free will of man is a terrible tragedy. Sadly teachers of this view imagine that they are bringing freedom by proclaiming freedom. But belief in the free will of man does not bring freedom but blindness, hopelessness, and oppression. Consider the curse of a leader urging his followers to dig deep within themselves to accomplish the mission. Here is a wooden general making wooden soldiers of his troops. Jesus called these people, "the blind leading the blind." Why not rather say, "where God wills there is a way!" Here there is hope for the pastor and his flock. Here there is hope for the counselor and his counseled. Here there is hope for parents and their children. Here there is hope for a husband and his wife. Here there is hope because God’s will IS free and prayer to him is powerful.
Hasn’t the gospel age made all men free to choose Christ? One explained that all men have been given a free will to believe during the gospel age. But then how do we explain why everyone does not believe? The answer is that unbelievers have not yet been made free to believe by the Holy Spirit. Their wills are still dead in sin and not free. Everyone is invited now, but each one will believe only at the hour Christ chooses. Any other gospel allows the work of man to enter into the salvation equation.
Hasn’t Jesus set his disciples free? True. Jesus said, "if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed."  Jesus has set believers free...but not completely free.  An insightful pastor once pointed out the three Ps of spiritual freedom. The work of Christ has set us free from the POWER of sin. Sin no longer dominates the life of the Christian. The work of Christ has also set us free from the PENALTY of sin. Christians will never be condemned for our sin.  Finally the work of Christ will eventually set us free from the PRESENCE of sin whether by our death or his return. Christians are two-thirds free.  Praise the Lord, one day we will also be free from the presence of sin. Consider the faith of David who cries to the Lord, "set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name."  David realized that he was still in prison. Do we realize that our will is still bound to sin? David realized that God had the power to free him. Do we believe that God alone has free will to change our love of sin? David held on to hope in the Lord’s purposes despite the prison God allowed in his life. Do we still have hope in the Lord in spite of our remaining sin?
Isn't one small part of salvation due to man's free will?  Even if we consider four simple corners of salvation it is God's will that has won the victory, not our own.  On first base we see that God predestined his people to salvation from before the creation of the world.  Human will was not involved at all in that decision, but only God's will.  On second base we see that God chose to die on the cross, even though Peter and all our self-righteous pride pride refused the idea.  Human will was not involved at all in that decision either, but only God's will.  On third base we see that Jesus asked the Father to forgive us, even though no one was asking for forgiveness.  Again human will was not involved at all in that decision, but only God's will.  Finally, arriving at  home-base we see that the Holy Spirit raised us from spiritual death to spiritual life.  No one was willing or able to receive grace, but God makes each one willing at the time of his choosing.  God hits the home run and freely wills to free our wills!
Don’t we at least have a free will to do the things God commands? God commands us to trust and obey him, but that is not proof that our will is free to do so. Even earthly fathers command their sons to tasks that they cannot achieve without help. I command my son to mow the yard.  However, I provided the equipment, demonstrated how to do it with word and example, and corrected him as needed. I commanded him to do it, but he couldn’t have done it without my help. I also noticed a beautiful effect in the process. My son and I grew closer to one another while the yard was mowed. This also is God’s purpose as he commands us. He desires that we would grow closer to him as he helps us obey his commands to love and trust him and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Some chide that God cannot have absolute free will. Can he make a rock that he cannot move? Though we boast about our own free will, we gladly question God whether his will is truly free.  So with one simple question we seemingly have dethroned God. If God answers ‘no’ that he cannot make a rock that he cannot move, then his will is not free. And if God answers ‘yes’ that he can make a rock that he cannot move, then likewise his will is not free again, for he cannot move the rock. Either way God has lost the contest.
Yet on one hand he must answer ‘no’ that he cannot make such a rock, because he himself is the rock that cannot be moved, Numbers 23:19. He cannot make a rock greater than himself because he is the greatest. To be greater than God is impossible and so such a rock cannot be made. Unbelievers can now attempt to rejoice because they have found the fatal flaw of our Lord Jehovah. His fatal weakness is that he has no weakness!
Yet on the other hand he must answer ‘yes’ that he can make such a rock because he promised to make Jerusalem, the home of his people, a rock that cannot be moved, Zechariah 12:3. Unbelievers can rejoice again because the rock he cannot move has been found. His second fatal weakness is the grace he has given to his people! He became weak and died for them and they now cannot be moved from testifying to his unmatchable grace. Ha! In daring display of logic God escapes from the full nelson of man’s unbelief answering both ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to the infamous riddle leaving unbelievers gaping and believers rolling in laughter!
Does Jesus have free will? Good question. Strictly defined even Jesus does not have free will, but only God the Father. Jesus’ will is subject to the Father. He is not free to assign those who will sit at his right and left. He is also not free to know the time of his return. Our wills are also not free, but subject to the will of Jesus, whether in believe or unbelief. Further our wills are not free because we are temporarily in bondage to sin. Jesus, however, is free from bondage to sin. I concede that more discussion is needed to express whether one who by nature is perfectly, gladly, and willingly subject to authority can be said to have a free will. In our common understanding freedom and subjection are antonyms. But Jesus redefined freedom to be joyful obedience to one’s authorities. Yet even in glory the scope of God’s freedom will be unbounded while ours will be bounded. Of course then we will be perfectly happy and content children playing within his boundaries by our very nature! 
The goal of my paper is 1) that we could together defend the free will of our God and share a happy brotherhood, 2) that we would share the common testimony that we are saved because Christ made a gracious choice of rebellious sinners like us, and 3) that I could do my part to refute the free will of man or any doctrine that assaults the precious grace of Christ.
Have I succeeded?
How should we now view those who maintain they possess free will? Is it laughable, pitiable, or abominable? As a young boy at family gatherings my uncles would egg me on to arm wrestle my dad. I would tackle the challenge fully persuaded that I could defeat the man. There I was, 60 pounds of little boy, stacked up against adult muscle. I gave my best while they all laughed at the prospect.  Even though I lost they would somehow get me to try again. My will was not free to beat my father, nor does anyone have freedom of will like our Heavenly Father.
Later in my teens we set up a high jump contest while on vacation. The competition grew between me and a close friend. He made the last jump. I missed. The family laughed and cheered. However, I became angry and ran away. I wanted to be the winner and based my fragile self-esteem on a silly high jump. Pity the one who is happy only when they win! My will was not free to win, nor is anyone’s will free to take glory from our Heavenly Father.
Even later as a young Christian in college I learned that God had chosen to save me from before the foundation of the world. I raised my blackened fist to heaven shouting that I did not want to be saved that way! But my will is not free to save or even unsave myself by the method of my choosing, nor can anyone else will to justify sinners, but only Jesus Christ the savior of mankind.
In the years since then I have not been able to find one palatable answer as to why God would save a scoundrel like me. But I have found peace in the fact that I do not need to have an answer for you. Jesus Christ alone can make answer as to why he graced us with his love. You and I are left simply to praise his amazing grace. So if you do take the time to question the Lord about my salvation or his gospel, please also let me know what he says to you about your salvation.
I guess if you live in the United States you are welcome to continue to believe in the free will of man. It is a free country. However, if you do maintain this position you must at least admit that a new translation of the Holy Scriptures is needed. At a minimum you must rewrite the three key Scriptures above. James must be edited to say, "Whether the Lord wills or not, we will both live, and do this or that. We now glory in boasting. All such boasting is good." Paul must instead read as, "So then, we will give ourselves mercy or harden ourselves according to the choice of our free will. God will say then to us, ‘Why do you even need me? For who withstands man’s will?' But indeed, O God, who are you to reply against man?’" Will Christ mind if we adjust his story a tad? Really it is we who taught Jesus saying, "You didn't choose us, but we chose you." This is the free will translation of the word of man.
However, if you choose to believe in the free will of God as I do, what then is a proper posture for the Christian with eyes wide open to God’s sovereignty in our lives? Paul challenged us thus, “So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13 WEB). Also consider Paul’s humble boast, “But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was given to me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10 WEB). After the working, the fearing, and the trembling make sure above all to conclude with worship of our amazing God. “For of him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen” (Romans 11:36 WEB).
P.S. Belief in man’s free will is a pesky dandelion. It is everywhere, mowing the head does nothing, and the root is nearly impossible to kill. I thought Luther’s rebuke of Erasmus in The Bondage of the Will would have ended the matter finally. But I am long after him and I too believed in man’s free will before I read his book, studied Scripture on the matter, and had my pride humbled.


Just wanted to comment that

Just wanted to comment that God chose Jacob over Esau for a task. God sometimes chooses folks for specific reasons or tasks. This does not support Calvinism. IMHO you are projecting limited engagements to be a God blueprint for everything, with God micromanaging everything. Insufficient evidence for Calvinism.

Sure God chose Jacob for the

Sure God chose Jacob for the task of being the ancestor of Christ.  We are agreed on that.  You mention Calvinism, but I am not endorsing Calvinism.  I actually oppose it.  I am instead teaching that God is Sovereign over all and loves his entire creation.  Why would you use negative words like 'micromanaging' to describe the loving hand of God in our lives?  This is a cause for rejoicing, not anger.  Colossians 1:15-20 explains Christ's intimate involvement with his entire creation.  Romans 11:36 praises Christ because all things are from him, through him, and to him.  Why not praise Christ as our creator, sustainer, and Savior?