I wanted to share my understanding of free will, and if God chooses those who would be saved, or if everyone has a chance at salvation.
Firstly, I believe fully that God gave us free will over every area of life. God reveals His intentions in Genesis 2.
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin[d] and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.[e] 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
Now in verse 8, we learn that God created a garden and then put Adam in it. We learn then in verse 9, that the tree of life was specifically put in that garden next to the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. Also, we need to realize they were put directly in the middle right next to each other.
So, evaluating this we can see some glimpses of the plan of God. The first thing is that He specifically created the garden and put the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, right in the middle so that it would stand out and specifically commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
If we think about this, we would ask ourselves, why would He put it in the middle so that it was always apparent in front of Adam’s face and on Adam’s mind? And why would he those trees right next to each other? If He didn’t want Adam to eat from it, why put it in such a spot that would make Adam think about it daily or must confront it daily?
The answer is quite simple, God intentionally planted the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there so that Adam would be tempted by it, and so that he would have to make a choice daily. The creation of free will happened when God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree, because He gave Adam the power to choose. God’s intention for creation, was to live forever with His creation in the first heaven which was Eden. However, He wanted more than a puppet to follow him blindly, God wanted a relationship with the creation, He wanted them to choose to be with Him. So, the only way that can happen, is if they have control and they have the power to choose God or to reject God. Think of it this way, you don’t want someone to be your friend because they are forced to, you want someone to be your friend because they want to be your friend.
Going along with this thought we see that God intentionally started testing Adam the second that He put Adam in the garden. It makes sense to God’s character, as we see that all of us are tested and all of us who are saved are only saved because we willingly choose the gift of salvation.
Now going back to the question about whether God chooses who will be saved before He creates them. I agree and don’t agree with this statement. I will explain.
The reason I agree with this statement is because God does choose all of us to have salvation. The fact that He died on the cross for the sins of the whole world testifies to this. It was not just for my sins or current Christian’s or future Christian’s sins but for everyone’s.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
John 3:16, 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Now God with his eternal power and wisdom can see the future and know who will ultimately choose Him, but I believe He gives everyone a choice.
Mathew 7:13-14 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
That path is laid out for everyone in the world, yet He allows us to choose which path to take.
A good way to look at this is that God sees the consequences and events that will happen for each decision that we make, but every single decision changes our possible future. So, He can see each future all the time, but our choices each day can change that future, since we live with free will, we can change our own future based on our decisions.
Isn’t it amazing that God loves us so much, that He was and is willing to give us the power over our own lives?