By the grace of God they were freely willing

Pocketwatch inner workings I believe in the complete sovereignty of God over all human decisions and actions, but this doesn’t mean I believe we never make decisions or choices or that we lack our own will. This position is known as Compatibilism because it asserts that free will and determinism are compatible. I was reading 2 Corinthians 8 yesterday and two passages stuck out to me with respect to this issue.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (emphasis mine):

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

So, Paul says right at the outset that he’s going to tell us about something God is doing in the churches of Macedonia. The Macedonian’s generosity, despite their great poverty, was a grace that originated from God and not from man. But then he turns right around and says the Macedonians were doing this “of their own accord”. Other translations say the Macedonians were “freely willing” or that they did this “entirely on their own” or “of their own free will”. He then turns right around again and says that the Macedonians submitted themselves to the Lord and to their leaders “by the will of God”.

So was it the Macedonian’s will or God’s will that accomplished this? It was both! Or perhaps, more accurately, it was ultimately God’s will to put it into the minds and hearts of the Macedonians so that they would will, even delight, to give so generously.

The other passage makes this connection even more explicit. 2 Corinthians 8:16-17 (again, emphasis mine):

But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord.

Again, other translations have phrases like “by his own choice” or “of his own initiative”, but the meaning is the same. God, in his sovereignty, put the care into Titus’ heart so that Titus himself would freely will to visit the Corinthian saints.

I love the few passages in the New Testament that mention free will. They do not in any way deter me from glorying in the absolute sovereignty of God. 


The lyrics of this song struck me as particularly beautiful last night:

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom End mark


I was in two car accidents within the space of an hour on Sunday morning. Before you worry, everyone involved is okay. We were all very blessed.

It’s about 7:30 am Sunday morning. I’m cruising down the freeway on my way to a worship team rehearsal1. I’m not braking or turning—though the road is gently sloping to the left, so I suppose my wheels aren’t exactly straight—but I’m going too fast considering there are patches of snow and ice on the road. I hit a wet patch that sends me spinning. I strike the inside barrier probably four or five times before coming to a rest on the inside shoulder facing the wrong direction.

The first thing that comes to mind when the car stops is that I don’t have my phone on me—I had neglected to charge it the night before. I wait for a bit sitting in my car, but it’s too early on a Sunday morning for any other cars to be on the road. I put on my hazard lights and climb out of my car to see how bad it is. There’s extensive damage to both bumpers, a busted out headlight and a broken taillight, and I’m sure there’s frame damage. The damage is much worse than the last accident I was in, so it’s probably totalled. As luck would have it I had come to rest directly opposite a freeway exit, so I dash across the freeway intending to find a gas station where I can make some phone calls.

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  1. For those who don’t know, I play the drums in worship service every Sunday morning. We rehearse about an hour before first service. []