Here are a number of quotes from the Bible that certainly muddy the waters in terms of advocating for free will. A few comments are interspersed (from my friend Julian) in between these quotes:
God chose us “before the foundations of the world were laid” (Eph.1:4a) “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph.1:5).
In the ninth chapter of Romans. Paul writes that “before Jacob and Esau were born, or had done anything good or bad in order that God’s purpose of election might continue . . . the elder will serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Rom.9:11,12). In other words, before Jacob and Esau were born or had done anything good or evil, one was chosen, the other was rejected (Rom.9:13).
God “has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens the heart of whomever He wills” (Rom.9:18).
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9)
Romans 9: 21-24: “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had prepared beforehand for glory?”
“That some receive the gift of faith from God and others do not receive it proceeds from God’s eternal decree. “For known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18)
“Who worketh all things after the counsel of his will” (Ephesians1:1) according to which decree He graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however obstinate, and inclines them to believe, while He leaves the non-elect in His just judgment to their own wickedness and obduracy.
[He rescues the former and lets the others go to Hell forever — an example of his sublime love-justice-mercy-forgiveness?]
And herein is especially displayed the profound, the merciful, and at the same time the righteous discrimination between men equally involved in ruin; or that decree of election and reprobation, revealed in the Word of God, which, though men of perverse, impure, and unstable minds wrest to their own destruction, yet to holy and pious souls [Were they “holy and pious” before they were elected?] affords unspeakable consolation.” [And those, thus consoled, really don’t care a bit about those who – no fault of their own — were not smiled on by the Tyrant of Power and Whimsy.]
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience [Obedience? They obey the decree to go to Heaven?] and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:2)
“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” (John 10:26)
“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him. Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (John 12: 37-40)
“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back always.” (Romans 11: 7-10)
“And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:8)
I answer that, God does reprobate some. Predestination is part of providence and it belongs to providence to permit certain defects in those things which are subject to providence as said above. Thus, as men are ordained to eternal life through the providence of God, it likewise is part of that providence to permit some to fall away from that end; this is called reprobation. Thus, reprobation is part of providence in regard to those who turn aside from that end. Therefore, as predestination includes the will to confer grace and glory, so also reprobation includes the will to permit a person to fall into sin and to impose the punishment of damnation on account of that sin. (Aquinas S.T. Q 23, Article 3)
To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle, “Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” (Rom. 9:20)
. . . and with the words of our Savior, “Have I no right to do what I want with my own?” (Matt. 20:15
We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out with the apostle: “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36