There have been reports of a Ministerial Association meeting in an unnamed American city. It seems that, very early in the meeting, the conversation moved to predestination versus free will. It got so heated that they divided into two groups… on opposite sides of the room.
A Pastor, held up by a hospital visit, came in late. He approached the first group and asked if he could join them. “Why did you pick our group? asked a member of the group. “You were the closest to the door and there is an empty chair here.” replied the hapless Pastor. “You cannot join our group unless you were sent,” replied the leader of the group. “Go over there, they will take you.”
Approaching the other group, an Armenian spoke up, “Why are you coming over here? “They sent me” said the now frustrated Pastor. “Well go away,” the man said, “you cannot join our group except it be of your own free will!”
There are a hundred verses that seem to support predestination and election and a hundred more that support free will. If you insist on being in one corner or the other, you must emphasize one group of verses, while down playing or trying to explain away the others. Truth is, the Bible teaches a limited free will within the framework of predestination… both are true and neither cancels out the other.
There is a key verse that both Calvinists and Armenians hate with equal fervor:
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
For as much as that verse is hated in both camps, it remains the key to the conundrum.