Bible Answers: If God already knows, then why have choices?

-A A +A

“Why does God give us choices even when He knows what’s going to happen before it happens?”

Interestingly, the idea that God absolutely knows the future is debated in some circles. Proponents of what is called “open theism” claim that since future human decisions have not yet been made and thus do not exist, God cannot know those decisions — He cannot know what does not exist. We won’t enter that debate here — just wanted to give you something to chew on!
We know these things from Scripture: humans do have choice. Being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26ff) implies volition among other attributes.
The presence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16-17) and the clear choice between obedience/life and disobedience/death offered to the Israelites (Deut. 30:15ff) are evidence that God allows people to decide which way they will go.
On the other hand, the Bible teaches that God has plans, purpose and foreknowledge (Gen. 12:1ff; Ps. 90; Isa. 9:6ff; Jer. 23:5; 29:11ff; Rom. 8:28-29, 38-39; Eph. 1:4).
So, we have both human freedom of choice and God’s “omniscience.” Neither one limits or constrains the other.
Here are four spiritual and moral values found in this paradox: (1) it validates the dignity and worth of every human while affirming the authority and trustworthiness of God; (2) it demands maturing faith; i.e., it does not permit simplistic answers to the mysteries of God, or allow a cavalier approach to important decisions we must make; (3) it requires that we seek all the more to get to know this God; a deepening relationship allows us to trust God, even if we do not understand Him, and leads away from skepticism or agnosticism; and, (4) it creates an ethical tension; i.e., the knowledge that we have free choice and that God already knows our choices should prompt us to seek His will and choose it.