Recently I was asked to put into words the unique relationship between sovereignty and freewill. Here was the result.
There are several important things to realize concerning predestination, election, freewill, sovereignty, and salvation.
First, the Bible clearly states that God is omniscient, which means that He knows everything. In regard to salvation, this means that God knew before time began who would choose Him and who would not. Thus His predetermination was not based upon any random whim, but instead on His knowledge of how the individual would choose. Please carefully read Romans 8:29-30. In these verses, the election of God is determined by the foreknowledge of God. Since the calling and all aspects of sanctification stem from the foreknowledge of God, it is safe to say that the overwhelming characteristic of His election is not predestination, but foreknowledge.
Second, not only does the Bible clearly teach that God foreknew who would come to Him and thus prepared salvation for them, but it also reveals that every man has the choice and freedom to do so. This may seem contradictory, but it is not. These two work together to accomplish the greatest personal miracle ever: salvation. John 1:12 reveals that only those who receive Christ are made the sons of God. The word receive means to voluntary accept. Thus it is the individual’s responsibility to either accept or reject. This is even seen in the word “called.” Some say that this means that God will only send the Holy Spirit to draw some to salvation, when in actuality it refers to those who answered the call. Romans 1 reveals that God has used several methods to try to call the hearts of mankind, but only those who answered were able to receive His message.
Finally, the freewill of man and the sovereignty of God were clearly established in the Garden, and are seen in the very position that God gave to man. When God created man, He made him in His own image. Thus man is a reflection of the characteristics, position, and sovereignty of God. God has given man all of His attributes in a limited form. God is everywhere, man is somewhere. God knows all things, man knows some things. God is the Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, but He made man to be a limited sovereign in charge of the earth. When He did that, He gave man freewill to rule and to govern the earth within the boundaries that He had set. Thus man was meant to worship God through voluntarily recognizing His sovereignty by living within God’s boundaries. Man failed and as a result all are born sinners. If one were to look at the curse in Gen. 3 one would see that God never stripped man of his position, but instead revealed that he would now have to battle with creation for his very existence. As man had rebelled against the rule of God, so also nature was now free to rebel against man’s rule. It should be noted that never in the judgment that God passed on Adam did He declare that freewill or sovereignty had been removed. Just as Adam retained his freewill, so also has each since Adam. Each is still intended to be a limited sovereign under the authority of God, ruling and living within His boundaries.
There is a great deal that could be added to this explanation, but I trust that it will suffice as a brief synopsis.