Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free Will?

Do you pray that people you know will be saved from their sin?

Some people insist that the necessary ingredient in salvation is the "free will" of man. According to their view, God has made it possible for anyone to be saved as long as they, by their own free will, take steps to approach God.

How do people who believe this pray for the salvation of their friends and loved ones? Wouldn't God be justified in saying, "Hey, I've done everything I can do. Why are you asking me?"

The God of The Bible
The God of the Bible is the Sovereign Creator, The Almighty, The Judge of All The Earth, The Lord of Hosts. He is INFINITE and OMNIPOTENT. His only limit is His holy nature - He will not act contrary to Who He is!
(Isaiah 43:12-13) I have declared and saved,
I have proclaimed,
And there was no foreign god among you;
Therefore you are My witnesses,”
Says the LORD, “that I am God.
13 Indeed before the day was, I am He;
And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand;
I work, and who will reverse it?”

(Isaiah 46:9-10) Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, “My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure,’
The "Free" Will of Man
People know from experience that they make real choices. They also know that many of their choices are moral choices between good and evil.

Besides that, the Gospel appeals to people to believe in Christ and follow Christ. How can that be a genuine offer if man doesn't have a real freedom to choose?

The answer is that while humans do make real moral choices, all of their choices fall within the range of their fallen human nature which is "dead in trespasses and sins." Man's will is free only within the boundaries of his nature.
(Romans 3:10-12) As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

(Ephesians 2:1-3) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
So Jesus says,
(John 6:44) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
(John 6:37) All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
The clear teaching of the Bible is that God is sovereign in all things, including the salvation of the lost. When someone perishes in his sin, it is because he is a rebel against God who has rejected God's grace by his own free (fallen) will. When someone is saved it is by the grace of God, by which God has intervened in his life, shined the light into his darkened heart and made him alive from spiritual death so that he responds to the call of God by his own free (regenerated) will.
(James 1:18) "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."

(2Timothy 1:9) "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,"
In seeking the salvation of the lost we are right to come to God in prayer - because "Salvation is of the Lord." (Jonah 2:9) We also take the gospel to "every creature" knowing that by God's grace our message is the means He uses to bring people to Himself in salvation. (Romans 10:14-17)

When someone comes to faith, we give glory to God - not to man - because it is God who brings salvation in every case.

This doctrine is rejected by many people because it requires man to be completely humbled before the sovereign glory of God. Salvation is not due to anyone's intelligence, or goodness, or nobility. Winning people to Christ is not a function of tremendous logic, excellence in presentation or emotional appeals. It is all of God!
(1Corinthians 1:26-2:5) "¶ For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."


MomEee said...

Wow--well written. It makes me sad following my recent "painful" discussion on this topic with a friend who believes in free will. What I don't understand is how those who believe in free will come across as humbler and gentler than those who don't believe in free will. As you mentioned, believing in free will shows a certain level of pridefulness. However, what I see over and over is that I'm portrayed as unloving and prideful because I believe some people go to hell (and I'm not), and that they don't have free will, etc. It is all connected to the "tolerance" issue too, I think.

Pastor D said...

There are deep roots to the arminian position. The essence of the spiritual battle is the matter of who gets to be God in your life. In the arminian scheme of things, you are the ultimate sovereign but you negotiate with God. He provides something you want and you provide something He wants.

I think the reason it is cast as harsh is that 1) God is "starkly" sovereign in the matter of salvation and 2) Our understanding of that is based on the clear teachings of scripture so we speak with authority. (These are the cold hard facts...)

Answer them with (Romans 9:1-3) "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,"

To know that salvation is in the hands of the Lord doesn't mean that I hope people will not be saved. In fact, it gives me hope that they will be saved. Otherwise they would all be lost.