God has given all people freedom to choose (Mt 23:37). God allows us to make our own decisions and does not force us to say or do things we don’t want to do. That applies to both salvation and our daily life choices.
At the same time God is sovereign. There is not anything that happens that is beyond God’s ability to control or direct for His glory (Isaiah 46:9-10; Daniel 4:35). I believe God is 100% sovereign and man is 100% responsible and free… at the same time.
Think about this… Would any person be mad at God for overriding their decisions if it kept them out of hell or doing something that would destroy them? Would we be angry at someone who prevented us from doing what we wanted to do and kept our family from being killed? Would we be angry at a person who kept us from carrying out a plan that would have resulted in us being bedridden for life? In the moment we might rebel, but ultimately we would be thankful!
When it comes to understanding choices, here’s what I believe Scripture teaches: We are free and God is in control (Pr 16:1, 9, 33; 19:21). God opens people’s eyes to be able to make an informed decision about Him. Once He opens their eyes, they believe (Jn 6:37). One pastor illustrated it this way…
Everyone is running toward hell blindfolded. They are warned to stop but they ask, ‘Why? We’re going to the beach and feel it getting warmer.’ But when God takes their blindfold off they see that the ‘warmpth’ is the fire of hell so they stop… turn… and trust Christ for salvation.
When it comes to God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility we will never be able to reconcile them or answer all the questions. In the same way we can’t understand the Trinity… but believe it, in the same way we can’t understand the complete humanity and deity of Jesus… but believe it, so too we must believe the sovereignty of God and responsibility of man. The reason is they are both taught in Scripture!
Here’s a text that will really cause your mind to overheat… Ezra 6:22 (Click to read). This text tells us that God caused the King to want to do what he otherwise wouldn’t have wanted to do to accomplish God’s will without ever violating the King’s will! That is how powerful our God is! He can do things that are beyond our capacity to understand. WOW.
If we could understand everything about God and faith, it would be a man centered religion. If we could explain God completely, then we would be god (And that is impossible). Biblical faith will always contain mystery… be beyond our comprehension… and require faith. When thinking about God and the things of God… including Scripture and doctrine… eventually we will come to the place Paul did when he wrote Romans 11:33-36…
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
Consider also what God says in Isaiah 55:8-9…
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.