Elder St Cleopha on Man’s Freedom of Choice…
See, I have set before thee this day life and death, good and evil … I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live (Dt. 30: 15, 19).
The freedom of the will of man, as well as the dependence of salvation upon his freedom, appears more clearly from the words of the Saviour Himself. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Mat. 23:37, Lk. 11:20) Whereas to the rich young man He said, If thou wilt enter into Life, keep the commandments (Mat. 19:17, Heb. 4:11, Rom. 2:4).
Through the mouth of His prophet Isaiah, God says the following: If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword (Isa. 1: 19-20). And again to the rich young man He says, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me (Mat. 19:21).
In all of these passages it is positively obvious that God fashioned man with freedom of will and does not compel the will of anyone to draw nigh to salvation. For if the will of man is coerced into accepting salvation then any compensation in the future life would be meaningless. Likewise, God would cease to be the just judge the Holy Scriptures customarily refer to Him as being. If our salvation is accomplished without our personal will then that which the great Apostle Paul says would be incomprehensible to us: For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).
– The Truth of Our Faith