God's Sovereignty and Belief by Force?
Visitor: I believe God is sovereign. I also believe in free will, because the whole of Scripture does not seem to support God wanting robots. Is He the One who reveals to me His grace? Yes, the Holy Spirit precedes anyone who makes a decision to put their faith in Christ. Is He the One who sustains my belief? Yes, but I do not believe by force. Just as I would not want my girlfriend to love me because she did not have a choice, so the narrative of Scripture suggests that the Lord would not want people who only love Him because He predetermined they would love Him. Do I believe God knows who will and who will not receive His free gift of salvation? Absolutely! He is outside of time and can see both behind and beyond the present as we understand it. Do I believe He forces people to accept it? Hardly. Thank you for sharing regardless though Rachel. This is a theological issue that I wrestle with. Ultimately, whether it is predestination or free will (or as some have argued, BOTH!), the most important issue is whether people trust in Christ or not for their salvation. Whether or not someone upholds predestination or not is a secondary issue in comparison to primary (salvation) issues.
Response: Jesus teaches that He came to save us, not to help us save ourselves. He gives us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe:
"The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing...No one can come to me unless the Father grants it" John 6:65
"All that the Father gives to me will come to me" John 6:37
Have you considered that you may be thinking about force in the wrong way. If your toddler ran out into the street into oncoming traffic (like we do into sin) then would you (as a parent) stand at the edge and simply tell him that you will only help him if he first meets your condition? No. If you are a loving parent you would run into traffic at the risk of your own life and make certain your child was safe, REGARDLESS of what your child's will was at the time because you know better than the child what is good for him. Likewise we are saved by mercy, not force. We do not deserve to be saved yet God, while we were still dead in sin, Christ made us alive in Christ (Eph 2:5) God's love for his own is unconditional. As soon as you add conditions then it is no longer grace. It would be like ascribing your repenting and believing to your own humility, wisdom, sound judgement or good sense and not to Christ alone. The Bible emphasizes effectual grace and predestination because it is safeguarding the gospel truth than salvation is by Christ alone. God does not love us because we meet his conditions. He loves us and grants us a heart to understand, eyes to see and ears to hear (Deut 29:4; 30:6) so that we may meet His condition to believe.