Updated: Dec 19, 2022
On account of original sin, the natural human experience will end with death followed by judgement of the charity of our hearts. This judgement will lead us to either the everlasting joy of God’s blessedness or total misery. However, it is not always clear how the relationship between man’s free will, grace, and divine providence are related to his ultimate destiny. Is the final perseverance of charity an act of man or an act of God?
God directs created things to their end which for man is the life of glory (ST I Q. 23 Art 1 co.). This direction of each rational creature for the life of glory exists in the mind of God before the existence of the object being moved. This predestination is part of the providence of God which moves every creation toward its end (ibid). Yet, this life is not within the natural power of man to attain. Hence, each of us must necessarily be directed toward it by God. On account of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, God dispenses His grace to direct man toward that end.
Yet, each of us is still free to reject the grace God offers us to join Him in blessedness. God directs us and we need His grace, but it is not forced upon us. God is eternal and takes account of our free refusal in His plans. Thus, God permits some to fall away as reprobate. While God’s grace continually calls to the human heart we have the power to refuse him.
God predestines us by directing us to Himself. God is the cause of our salvation, but He does so by actuating our free will. God pre-ordains to give glory according to our merit, but He also gives us the grace necessary to merit glory. We each depend completely on God and are not able to persevere to the end without His aid. However, God will not fail to give this gift as long as we are open to it. Each man is free to trust in the mercy of God and cooperate with God’s predestining will.
God moves us toward our final end. He moves our souls to make an act of love that purifies us. Each of us is free to resist this grace to our own downfall. Yet, God offers His grace so we may persevere in His love to our death and merit the glory which His grace enables in us. God takes our acceptance or refusal into account in his eternal plan.