Q. The Bible says that God had willed the death of Jesus (John 3:16), that “Jesus (was) delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” in Acts 2:23 and Luke 22:22 which says “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” On the surface it seems that Judas had no choice here. Would you please explain?
A. Knowing the future is not the same as controlling it. God knew Jesus would be betrayed, and even had David write about it 1,000 years in advance (Psalm 41:9). But Judas could not have known it referred to him, and made a free choice to act as he did. He didn’t realize he had betrayed the Lord until after the fact (Matt. 27:4).
God is not directing our actions from Heaven, nor has He programmed us in advance to behave a certain way. He has seen the future and knows what our choices and the accompanying consequences will be, even as we make them of our own free will. Otherwise the Lord could not have said, “The Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed” (Luke 22:22).
I believe God has a purpose for our lives but He can’t implement His purpose without our permission (Romans 12:1-2). And since He doesn’t want any of us to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), He couldn’t plan for us to act in a way that would prevent that. We have to choose to reject His purpose for us by placing our will above His.