Someone asked me whether God wants everyone to come to Him, and, since He knows everything, if anyone refuses to follow God’s Word, then did this man really have a choice, or was it pre-determined that he would not follow God.
Pre-determination and free will have been debated by Christians and non-Christians for years.
Here’s my view on it.
God's invitation is to everyone - without exception. When He invites us to love Him, He wants us to choose freely - without any pressure on His part to influence our decision. We choose to love Him and come to God through Jesus Christ: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.
Of course, some choose not to accept the invitation. They decide to walk away from God. Not to believe in Him and in Jesus as His only Son. That is their free choice.
God in His infinite wisdom knows our decision before we even make it - but He does not influence it in any way. He knows that some people will not believe in Him.
In certain cases He allows this to happen.
It's like you being in a helicopter watching two cars coming at an intersection. You know they will hit each other. Yet you do not influence or change the outcome.
There are times however when God does try to influence our decision. Give us a nudge in the right direction, you might say.
Note that I say “influence” and not force our decision.
Why He does that only in some cases we really don’t know.
A well known example of His influence is the manner He “encouraged” Paul on the way to Damascus. I suppose Paul could still have walked away and not followed God’s Word; although I doubt many would have done so under the circumstances! Paul chose to accept God and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today God does nudge some of us in the right direction.
Perhaps through chance meetings with someone who might talk to us about God and encourage us to accept His Word and take up His invitation to love Him.
Maybe He allows certain things to happen in our lives which make us turn to Him.
But the fact is that He does talk to us. He does encourage us to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of us just aren't listening.
But here’s the important distinction to remember. God tries to influence us to accept His Word. He encourages us.
But He never forces us.
We are free to choose to love Him, or not.