God’s will and Our will

I was recently asked if God really gave humanity freedom when God said He is going to do what He wants. I’m going to take the first cut at this question in this Bible study and then circle around in another Bible study to address the finer points. So, hang with me as I tackle this challenging question.

To understand the sovereignty of God and the free moral agency of mankind we need to understand the bell curve.

Normal distribution

In probability theory, the normal (or Gaussian or Gauss or Laplace–Gauss) distribution is a common continuous probability distribution. Normal distributions are important in statistics and are often used in the natural and social sciences to represent real-valued random variables whose distributions are not known.[1][2] A random variable with a Gaussian distribution is said to be normally distributed and is called a normal deviate.

The normal distribution is sometimes informally called the bell curve…

Normal Distribution PDF

Unlike the probability theory, presented above, there’s no probability in God, as is declared in Proverbs 19:21, Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

So, here’s what I’d like us to remember: Humankind is created in the image of God [1]. Each person has many characteristics of God and is [generally] free to make their own decisions [2], This is substantiated in Ezekiel 18:20:

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Each person is accountable before God for their own life. You can choose Jesus to pay your penalty for sin, or you can choose to pay it yourself; either way, the penalty will be paid.

This sets up an interesting dynamic: God is sovereign and “the purpose of the Lord will stand.” At the same time, we have billions of individual people, each person is actively going about their lives, free to choose to do right or wrong, salvation, or judgment.

So, how can God say humanity is free to make their own decisions (Ezekiel 18:20) while, at the same time, God carries out his plan for humanity; God’s plan will prevail. [3]

A picture is worth a thousand words. Look at the bell curve, above. Let’s say that each data point along a line is a person’s life as compared to God’s call on their life and each line is a plan or God’s will. In the graph, above, there are four lines. Each line has a beginning, and each line goes all the way to the end.

Just as God knows the end from the beginning [4], God always moves his plans from conception all the way to fulfillment (each line reaches its purpose). God fulfills His plan by using (i.e., going opportunity) people. Each person chooses how they will respond to God’s call and what they will do based on their response.

We can see a distinct picture of this in the parable of the sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13:3-9. [5] We don’t all respond the same to God’s word, and even when we respond, it is with different amounts of zeal.

So, there you have it. The bell curve shows the freedom of people combined with the unrelenting progression of the will of God. It’s really quite simple, elegant, and encouraging to see how God put all this together. I would call this good news!


  1. Genesis 1:27 – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  2. I’m bypassing the discussion regarding Election, Harding of hearts, Divine Intervention, and so forth. We will cover those topics in an upcoming devotional. For this Bible study, we’re looking at the general condition of mankind.
  3. Isaiah 55:11 – So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
  4. Isaiah 46:10 – Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
  5. Matthew 13:3-9. And He told them many things in parables, saying, “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun rose, the seedlings were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seeds fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the seedlings. Still other seeds fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold. He who has ears, let him hear.”

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