Free Will Versus Sovereignty

As a part of the discussion in our Sunday School class Sunday, our teacher drew a continuum line on the board with “Free Will” at one end and “Sovereignty” at the other. The discussion centered on the idea that total free will would negate God’s sovereignty and that complete sovereignty would negate free will. Most of the thoughts expressed were that there must be a dilution of sovereignty in order for man to have free will and there could not be complete free will if God is sovereign.

My understanding of this doesn’t match either of these positions. I don’t see why either free will or sovereignty needs to be weakened in order for the other to exist.

As a Christian who believes that God created the heavens and the earth, including mankind, I believe He has total sovereignty. He can do anything He wants with His creation.

However, I also believe He had a purpose in creating mankind, and the only purpose I can glean from my understanding of His word as well as from the application of logic was to create a race of beings capable of choosing Him. In order for us to choose Him, we had to have free will. If He wanted servants, He already had millions of angels to fill that bill, but He wanted a family that would freely choose Him.

John 3:16 says that Jesus came so that anyone who believed on Him would be saved and would not perish. I had a free choice to believe or not believe. There would be consequences to my decision, but it was mine to make.

The thing that muddies the water here is God’s foreknowledge. He knew before He created Adam whether or not I would accept Jesus as my Savior. Since He knew that I would, He, in His sovereignty, brought about the circumstances necessary to bring me to that decision. Pure sovereignty. But it was still my decision to make. Pure free will.

Pure sovereignty and pure free will. To me, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. I have no problem seeing the two working side by side.

What’s your opinion on this matter? Is God’s sovereignty lessened if man has free will? Is man’s free will abrogated if God is sovereign?


If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.



For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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6 Responses to Free Will Versus Sovereignty

  1. Yes, I second that I concur with you. 🙂


  2. Suzanne Burnes says:

    I also concur. It is a no brainer for me. He is in complete control. However there is one scripture that is interesting on the subject of nullification of the word God . See Mark 76-13. If we teach the doctrine of men ( denominations) instead of his gospel we “invalidate the word of God by our tradition”. So we need to be careful if we are teachers and only teach the gospel in truth. That can only happen if we know it well and follow and believe it in our heart. . Could that be why teachers of the word are held to a higher standard? I think so. Food for thought.


    • I absolutely agree with your statements about teachers, Suzanne. That’s why, although I’m an author rather than a traditional teacher, I want to be extremely careful that what I write in Christianity 101 and any other Christian books I write conforms to God’s word.


  3. Sharon K. Walker says:

    I concur with you.


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