Question: In a recent sermon, our pastor said, "Free will is not a biblical term." Is that true? Please explain.
Response: Free will to obey or disobey, love or hate, submit or rebel, is not only biblical but essential to man's relationship to God. He calls us to love, obey, serve, and worship Him and to do so by choice: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Jos:24:15). God would not be glorified in any obedience, worship, or love that did not come willingly from the heart.
Jesus said, "The first and great commandment [is] thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Mt 22:37,38). The fact that love comes from the heart, soul, and mind proves that it must be an act of free will. Love must be willingly given and received-or it isn't love. Our Lord said the second command was to love our neighbors as ourselves and "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Mt 22:40). Thus, without the capacity to love God and fellow humans we cannot obey the Bible.
Your pastor says that free will is "not a biblical term"? But that concept appears 17 times in the Bible! The same meaning is expressed in other words. "Free offerings" is found twice (Ex 36:3; Am 4:5), as is "a voluntary offering" (Lv 7:16). All are to be brought "voluntarily unto the Lord" (Ezk 46:12).
The first offering in Leviticus (a pattern for all) was to be brought by the worshiper "of his own voluntary will" (Lv 1:3,4). The many "freewill" offerings were to be given by the individual "willingly with his heart" (Ex 25:2). Those who gave materials for building the tabernacle were to bring them with "a willing heart" (Ex 35:5).
Christ declared: "If any man will [i.e., wills to] do his [God's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (Jn:7:17). The Bible ends with an offer it repeats or implies many times. "And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Rv 22:17). Scripture could not be clearer on this point. Free will is biblical and essential.