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Free Will

In Apologetics on October 28, 2012 at 3:29 pm

The Christian food fight my take not superior, not secret, just been thinking for several years.
Free will in Christian circles has been for hundreds of years debated. Not that my thoughts will solve it just musing on the decisions that I have reluctantly settled on. In searching for proper exegesis on this issue the sheer volume of reformed authors vs. synergistic authors is over whelming. This is not a vote or because the number is greater argument simply noting it is worth mentioning. I started searching in my spiritual life for the answer to the question “How did I become a Christian?” What circumstances or actions prompted this transformation in my life? The “who” of my life is answered, the “what” has been dealt with now the “how” is in view. I had this unsettling thought that even now runs in my thinking if I choose Jesus as my Saviour there must be some merit in me acting on that choice if you will. If I was chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be his, then nothing in me would be deserving of that redemption or sacrifice “I have no merit”. Will or human determination of future events based on my decision alone would put the sovereign God of this universe at some sort of indecision or worse disadvantage waiting on my decision to His offer of eternal redemption. This might even imply that God somehow needs me to be complete in himself or weakening him, He would be in a state of loneliness lacking total self-sufficiency because if I didn’t choose him. I see a lot more unanswered questions in synergism simply as a result of my seeking to work out my salvation as we are instructed in scared scripture. Php 2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

For free will to truly be free this would have to be a knowledge that God doesn’t have till I reveal my choice or decision to follow his urging. The problem inherent in this view God has sovereign knowledge and decrees over all his creation. So now we use philosophy to answer this with a foreknowledge that can see future events know the outcome in any possible number of endings and with just the right oversight arrange everything to work out according to his will with every single person since time began. This view makes God out to be eternal reactionary constantly and eternally rearranging outcomes to suit His purpose due to our overarching free will. To make this even more complicated we are introduced to a prevenient grace that God empowers the Holy Spirit to utilize in order for us to recognize his eternal offer: Heaven or Hell! If this thinking is drawn out to its final conclusion we make God out to be awaiting our decision holding him ransom or frustrating his plans in the sense that if we choose against his offer he must change or alter his plans according to our free choice. So how does this reconcile with scripture?

In Genesis chapters 1-3 the story of creation is given to us Adam was left to his free will and what did he choose? Evil of course! When the sons of Adam are left to their own devices, vices and free will we only always choose evil as we can’t exercise any other thing in our being. When God pronounced the creation “very good” he did not pronounce it perfect. Gen 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came, and then morning: the sixth day. The ability for sin to enter in had to come through a good creation not a perfect creation as perfection is the realm of God! In this moment God has given Adam his likeness this doesn’t imply an exact copy (sort of a Xerox copy in our modern thinking) but a likeness that allows man to subdue the earth and reflect God’s glory. Genesis 1:26-30 HCSB Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth–everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God is speaking his decrees for nature, man and the animals but the pivotal sentence “and it was so!” illustrates the finality of God’s will exercised in a decree! Then he places man in the garden to work, there is no instance of asking if man wanted to be the caretaker God imposes his will on his creation and places man! Genesis 2:15 HCSB The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. God then instructs man on the rules of his creation not in the form of a decree though still al powerful, he speaks in an instructional way with authority, a command! Genesis 2:16-17 HCSB And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

The Decrees of God as explained by the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith:
A Faith to Confess: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689
Rewritten in Modern English
©1975, Carey Publications, Ltd., 75 Woodhill Road, Leeds, U.K., LS16 7BZ
Reprinted here by permission

CHAPTER 3 – GOD’S DECREE

1. FROM all eternity God decreed all that should happen in time, and this He did freely and unalterably, consulting only His own wise and holy will. Yet in so doing He does not become in any sense the author of sin, nor does He share responsibility for sin with sinners. Neither, by reason of His decree, is the will of any creature whom He has made violated; nor is the free working of second causes put aside; rather is it established. In all these matters the divine wisdom appears, as also does God’s power and faithfulness in effecting that which He has purposed.

Num. 23:19; Isa. 46:10; John 19:11; Acts 4:27,28; Rom. 9:15,18; Eph. 1:3-5,11; Heb. 6:17; Jas. 1:13; 1 John 1:5.

2. God’s decree is not based upon His foreknowledge that, under certain conditions, certain happenings will take place, but is independent of all such foreknowledge.

Acts 15:18; Rom. 9:11,13,16,18.

3. By His decree, and for the manifestation of His glory, God has predestinated (or foreordained) certain men and angels to eternal life through Jesus Christ, thus revealing His grace. Others, whom He has left to perish in their sins, show the terrors of His justice.

Mat.25:34; Rom.9:22,23; Eph.1:5,6; 1Tim.5:21; Jude4.

4. The angels and men who are the subjects of God’s predestination are clearly and irreversibly designated, and their number is unalterably fixed.

John 13:18; 2 Tim. 2:19.

5. Before the world was made, God’s eternal, immutable purpose, which originated in the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, moved Him to choose (or to elect), in Christ, certain of mankind to everlasting glory. Out of His mere free grace and love He predestinated these chosen ones to life, although there was nothing in them to cause Him to choose them.

Rom. 8:30; 9:13,16; Eph. 1:4,9,11; 2:5,12; 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Tim. 1:9.

6. Not only has God appointed the elect to glory in accordance with the eternal and free purpose of His will, but He has also foreordained the means by which His purpose will be effected. Since His elect are children of Adam and therefore among those ruined by Adam’s fall into sin, He willed that they should be redeemed by Christ, and effectually called to faith in Christ. Furthermore, by the working of His Spirit in due season they are justified, adopted, sanctified, and ‘kept by His power through faith unto salvation’. None but the elect partake of any of these great benefits.

John 6:64; 10:26; 17:9; Rom. 8:30; 1 Thess. 5:9,10; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1Pet. 1:2,5.

7. The high mystery of predestination needs to be handled with special prudence and caution, so that men, being directed to the will of God revealed in His Word and obeying the same, may become assured of their eternal election through the certainty of their effectual calling. By this means predestination will promote the praise of God, and reverential awe and wonder.It will encourage humility and diligence, and bring much comfort to all who sincerely obey the gospel.

Luke 10:20; Rom.11:5,6,20,33; Eph. 1:6; 1 Thess.1:4,5; 2 Pet. 1:10.

The Properties Of God’s Decrees Explained
by Thomas Boston
________________________________________
1. They are eternal. God makes no decrees in time, but they were all from eternity. So the decree of election is said to have been “before the foundation of the world,” Eph. 1:4, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Indeed, whatever he does in time, was decreed by him, seeing it was known to him before time, Acts 15:18, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” And this foreknowledge is founded on the decree. If the divine decrees were not eternal, God would not be most perfect and unchangeable. Weak like man, he would have to change his plans and would be unable to tell every thing that would to come to pass.
2. They are most wise, “according to the counsel of his will.” God cannot properly deliberate or take counsel, as men do; for he sees all things together and at once. And thus his decrees are made with perfect judgment, and laid in the depth of wisdom, Rom 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” So that nothing is determined that could have been better determined.
3. They are most free, according to the counsel of his own will; depending on no other, but all flowing from the mere pleasure of his own will, Rom 11:34, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” Whatsoever he decrees to work outside of himself is from his free choice. So his decrees are all absolute, and there are none of them conditional. He has made no decrees suspended on any condition outside himself. Neither has he decreed any thing because he saw it would come to pass, or as that which would come to pass on such or such conditions; for then they should be no more according to the counsel of his will, but the creature’s will.
God’s decrees being eternal, they cannot depend upon a condition which is temporal. They are the determinate counsels of God, but a conditional decree determines nothing. Such conditional decrees are inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God, and are in men only the effects of weakness; and they are inconsistent with the independence of God, making them depend on the creature.
4. They are unchangeable. They are the unalterable laws of heaven. God’s decrees are constant; and he by no means alters his purpose, as men do. Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.” Hence they are compared to mountains of brass, Zech. 6:1. As nothing can escape his first view, so nothing can be added to his knowledge. Hence Balaam said, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Num 23:19. The decree of election is irreversible: “The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” 2 Tim 2:19
5. They are most holy and pure. For as the sun darts its beams upon a dunghill, and yet is no way defiled by it; so God decrees the permission of sin, yet is not the author of sin: 1 John 1:5. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” James 1:13, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone,” and verse 17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
6. They are effective; that is, whatsoever God decrees, comes to pass infallibly, Isa 46:10 “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” He cannot fall short of what he has determined. Yet the liberty of second causes is not hereby taken away; for the decree of God offers no violence to the creature’s will; as appears from the free and unforced actions of Joseph’s brethren, Pharaoh, the Jews that crucified Christ, etc. Nor does it take away the contingency of second causes, either in themselves or as to us, as appears by the lot cast into the lap. Nay, they are thereby established, because he hath efficaciously foreordained that such effects shall follow on such causes.

Will
WILL, n. [See the Verb.]
1. That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue. In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred; and we will to take the most valuable. These are but different operations of the mind, soul, or intellectual part of man. Great disputes have existed respecting the freedom of the will. Will is often quite a different thing from desire A power over a mans subsistence, amounts to a power over his will.

2. Choice; determination. It is my will to prosecute the trespasser.

3. Choice; discretion; pleasure.

Monergism n.

The doctrine that the Holy Ghost acts independently of the human will in the work of salvation.

Synergism n.

The doctrine that the human will cooperates with the Holy Ghost in the work of Salvation.

Decree n. – religion in Christian belief, the will or purpose of God, interpreted through events considered to be God’s doing The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

After much study, deliberation, questioning, indecision, prayer and finally a surrendering of my will and traditions I have concluded this one thing! I am not worth what he paid; there is nothing good in me or about me that would make me worth choosing, redeeming, or justifying! When I consider all that I am it amounts to a kingdom of dust, full of my own pride, lust, and selfishness always only seeking my own good. Then a perfect Saviour at the bidding of his Father accomplishes something I could never do pay the price for all I have and will ever do that violates him, sends the Holy Spirit to give me life!! From eternity past this loving God sends his son full of grace to seek me out by the Spirit and takes my heart of stone replacing it with a heart of flesh, Oh how glorious!! For me to think that I could or would choose him makes his choosing me illustrate what is meant by grace the double portion. I have surrendered the noble idea of me a rebel sinner, a God hater, separated by eternity if given the choice would somehow do precisely that, choose him! I was so lost in my sin with no goodness within that if offered the choice I would be like my father Adam only doing what my free will instructs me to do: Sin & Rebellion!! I would never be able to even recognize the offer (if that were the case) and reject whole heartedly anything that interfered with my only doing evil always as a slave of sin. But God!! Confess, Repent, Surrender.

Stoplight: Words worth the view

In Apologetics on October 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

Stoplight: Words.

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