From our definitions above we know that free will is that part of us that takes our desires and actualizes them and is untainted and uncorrupted by sin. But Scripture says unequivocally that we are by nature slaves to sin, so this is wrong, our will is by no means free John 3:19-20, 1 Cor 2:14, 1 Cor 12:3 to name a few. Is that what the protest is over? No. What people most often mean when they speak of free will is the power to affect and accomplish what I please. Notice what that is (look above)- it's sovereignty. "How can Free Will and God's sovereignty coexist?" is therefore reduced to, "if God has unlimited power, how can He make us in His image and give us power to carry out His will for ourselves?" To ask it is to answer it.
What you are seeing when you look at free will is actually an expression of God's sovereignty. The problem has resolved itself because we are no longer seeing two different things in conflict, but the same thing from different perspectives.
Once we grasp that it is easy to put everything into a right perspective and draw the application. Say for example, I want my daughter's room picked up, so I tell her to clean it. Does she then have control over which toy goes in what box? Yes, clearly. Does her freedom to do as she pleases in there mean that my sovereignty over her is fake? On the contrary, she has been given power and responsibility in order that she may do my will, and her freedoms are at that very moment proclaiming the supremacy of my sovereignty. Does the fact that she is expressing my sovereignty in the form of cleaning as she pleases make her a robot? Hardly.
God's working out his plan by giving sovereignty to His agents so they can act on His behalf is the truest and most complete expression of His sovereignty there can be. In other words, our freedom is not only established and upheld by Him, it's Him expressing His sovereignty through us in an unparalleled, astonishingly magnificent fashion. What does scripture say? Phil 2:12-13: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but 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"
Here His desire is to have us do a task for Him- to use our freedom over ourselves to work out our own salvation. By His unfailing strength He will make us succeed, but because it's His power flowing into and through us to enable us to accomplish His desires. He tells you to do it, gives you the enabling freedom, and then you do it. His will, His expression, His achievement, our action. The thrust of the passage is His sovereignty, understood through the lens of our agency.
Therefore I conclude: our free will is
- Better called our sovereignty, which is an image, or shadow of His own
- Established and upheld by His sovereignty
- The way He carries out His supremely sovereign plans
Why then has God appointed this system to exist? I submit because it makes Him more glorious.
If His plan included rocks and water and hail and snow doing certain things at certain times and He was able to control them and use them for His purposes we would see that He is indeed great and glorious.
If it included animals that act and have volition, pleasures and stimulus to do His bidding and carry out His plan it would be another, even greater thing.
But God shows us how utterly huge and magnificent His mind is by using other sovereign agents to achieve His ends. It gives us a frame of reference to understand Him that would not be possible otherwise. "Look man, you have this much power, which is a great deal, that allows you to reshape the world as you desire. Think of the myriad of ways you do, think how you use the sand to make microchips, and quadrature amplitude phase modulation to manipulate microwaves to talk to each other over your wireless internet. Consider that. In the same way that you have power over the elements, I have power over you."
So there it is. The question that asks how can there be free will and God's sovereignty is easy to answer: because God is sovereign and created us in His image. For whatever reason it's a lot easier to think rightly about your sovereignty than your free will, perhaps because in the first case your mind is drawn upward, and in the second drawn inward. The trick to resolving the difficulty is to rid yourself of the sinful component in your mind that demands you be
May God be praised as we meditate on the magnitude of His sovereignty.
PS: The $9 each man pays already includes the bellhop's $2 fee. To add it again is to double count it, which is wrong.
PPS: I understand the cavil that argues that God cannot will evil or evil to exist, therefore God cannot be sovereign in giving men the ability to rebel. I will post about this in the future. It's a lot easier to answer than you might think.