My Concise Oxford Dictionary defines free will as, ‘the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.’
Sovereignty is defined as, ‘supreme power or authority.’
From the biblical viewpoint God has ‘supreme power and authority’ (Exodus 9:16; 2 Chronicles 20:6, 7). In fact He has pre-ordained all of history (Jeremiah 1:5). What He has willed, will take place. His authority cannot be questioned, since He made the world and the universe (Genesis 1:31 – 2:1; Psalm 8:3, 4; Colossians 1:15-18). He has both the power and the authority to do what He wills (Psalm 97:1). No one can change His will, except Him.
By comparison, men and women are restricted.They are constrained by their limitations, and they do not have the power to change them. God has no limitations; He is totally free, and thereby He has free will. As for man, God fashioned his days before there were none of them (Psalm 139:16). A human can make choices and decisions, but they are foreordained.
Therefore if anyone believes he is free to carry out his own will he is deluded. All of us are limited. The only Being who is unlimited is God. He is the only Being who has free will. He can do whatever He wants. He can make people for His purposes, and He does (Romans 9:17, 18). He brought about the Old Testament nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6) and gave them a set of laws (Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 8:32-35) they could never totally fulfil. In His election He chose some for glory (Romans 8:33) – very few – notable examples being Joshua and Caleb. They were the only ones to enter the promised land. The first generation perished in the desert, and because of their lack of faith (Deuteronomy 32:20; Romans 9:31, 32), none of them will inherit a portion of the new heaven, nor will they live with the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22-27).
At the other end of the spectrum God is building His Church of believers and nothing will stop Him (Matthew 16:18). All to whom He gives life and faith, will live with Him forever in glory (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16).
For the believer whom God loves, His election of him to glory is utterly amazing and mind-boggling. To ‘know’ God (1 John 4:8) and to have a *relationship with Him is the greatest privilege any human can have. For those who believe and trust Him to look after them and bring them to His kingdom, nothing is more wonderful. Despite all the trials and tribulations of life, the ups and downs, the pain and joy, hopes and despair, they know God has their welfare at heart (Romans 8:28). God loves those who love Him (John 14:21).
In the exercise of His free will He sets millions apart from Himself for **hell, but to those He saves, He blesses them with joy and glory in ***heaven (Romans 9:14-24).
Because God is Sovereign He controls all things, including every atom, all energy, matter and happenings. He determined which sperm of millions would fertilise a particular egg in my mother’s womb to form me with all my genes – just like the psalmist wrote, “You formed me in my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully made in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God (Psalm 139:13-17)!”
How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God.
* God/Man Relationships