Saturday, February 15, 2014

Do You Have Freewill?

The Arminian view insists that sinful man still has a free will.  This view teaches that any man has the ability, any time he chooses, to do the good that God commands, especially to repent of sin and believe in Christ.  They do believe that as a result of Adam’s sin the whole race also fell, and inherited a corrupt nature (= original sin); but also through the death of Christ a grace, which is called “prevenient” (because it precedes), has been given to all men to make everyone able to choose Christ.  (This is the thinking behind ‘ALTER CALL’). This is the most common view today and people will react with horror if you suggest there is no such thing as free will.  They do not know that at the time of the 16th Century Reformation Martin Luther wrote, The Bondage of the Will, which he regarded to be at the heart of the Reformation controversy.
How would you answer the Arminian teaching?  What does the Bible teach about the will of men now?  Is there such a thing as “prevenient grace”?  It is a philosophical assumption because Arminians believe that if God commands something we must be able to do it.   But consider the choice of a ‘very good’ Adam to eat from the forbidden tree instead of the tree of life!
May I point out to you the fallacy of freewill!
1.     Man’s will is not free in his birth – you do not choose your parents, place etc. do you?
2.     Man’s will is not free as regards his health, for who would ever choose to be sick?
3.     Man’s will is not free as regards accidents, for many accidents—sometimes even fatal accidents—happen to even the most careful people.
4.     Man’s will is not free concerning the circumstances of life, for many people are thwarted in their ambitions and plans.
5.     Man’s will is not free concerning his intellectual ability, for all men would like to be intellectual giants!
6.     Man’s will is not supreme in the acquisition of material possessions, forever can choose to be poor?
7.     Man’s will is not free in his relations with his fellow creatures, for laws are often passed which restrain the individual’s will. Prisons prove this.
8.     Man’s will as a natural being, apart from the grace of God, is not free, for the Scripture expressly declares that the natural man is taken captive by the devil "at his will" (2 Tim. 2:26) and so he is a slave to sin.
9.     Man’s will is not free in the matter of salvation, for he cannot be saved any time he pleases, as John 1:13; James 1:18; John 6:44 etc. teach. Not only so, but if man’s will were as free as he likes to boast, then he could be saved, not only any time he pleased, but also under any circumstances, and even without any help from the Lord! Yet this is not the truth.
10.  Man’s will is not even free as a Christian, for of all people, the believer’s will is always subject to God’s will. See Acts 16:6-10. Not only so, but according to Galatians 5:17, the fleshly nature still exerts such a force upon the believer that he often "cannot do the things that you want to do." The evil nature of the flesh is a potent force, even preventing the renewed will from functioning as it desires to do!
11.  Man’s will is not free concerning death, for few even are permitted to choose the hour of their death, and many would-be suicides are thwarted in their attempts to take their own lives, and they live on to rejoice that they were withheld from their own attempted self-destruction. " No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. " (Eccl. 8:8).

God created man in His own image. Man possesses a mind that allows him to think rationally, not by sheer instinct like an animal. Man also possess the heart, or emotion that enables him to feel, unlike a robot or machine, human experience. The will, or volition, enables him to make decisions and choices that have moral consequences. It is his capacity for action, a capacity that allows him to choose this over that and those instead of these.
However, man in his unfallen state, man was good and very good. Yet even in this state man chose to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil against God’s command, when he could have eaten of the tree of life (that did not have God’s prohibition and that had his eternal good! Now with this Fall man fell into a state of sin and misery. This fallen state left man’s being affected in every one of his faculties. Man’s mind, by virtue of his fallen nature was darkened, incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit of God (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Further, his emotions are now deceptive and untrustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and his will, that is, his ability to choose good over evil and right over wrong, is bound in this condition of bondage to sins. The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith reads,
"Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to commit himself, or to prepare himself thereto.”

So, is man free? If by the word "free" one means that people have the ability to make certain choices on their own (i.e. free from compulsion, force, or coercion), then the answer is "yes." For example, people have the ability to choose to go to church or to a pub or stay home. You were free to come to the MF or not, you are free to stay or leave – those are your choices. People are free to act according to their nature.

If by the word "free", however, one means free without any limitation, then the answer is "no." People are not free to act contrary to their nature. I cannot choose to fly. My will, is not entirely free. It is bound by the limits of my nature. We do not have the freedom to be anything we are not.
 Man, in other words, is not free to act outside the boundaries of his human nature. He cannot live the life of a lion in the Tsavo or fly like a bird in the air without external resources enabling him to duplicate his natural environment. Just as that is true on a natural level, it is also true on a spiritual level. In his fallen state, man cannot choose to be righteous. The Ethiopian cannot by his own willpower, change the color of his skin, nor the leopard his spots. Neither can those whose nature is depraved voluntarily do good (Jeremiah 13:23). Man’s will is enslaved to his sinful nature. Left to himself, his only capacity is fleshly. 
Unregenerate people are not free to choose righteousness or wickedness; they are, on the contrary, "free from righteousness" (Romans 6:20) and will only choose wickedness. By nature, man’s will is a "will not" (Psalm 10:4; Psalm 58:3; John 5:40, Isaiah 26:10). His only inclination is toward carnality. The natural man will never choose anything but sin, because he cannot operate outside the parameters of his sinful nature (Romans 8:7). The nature of man’s will is not free. 
Not until his nature is changed does he have the desire or the capacity to choose righteousness. Regeneration by God’s Spirit is what makes the necessary transformation in man. Prior to God’s work of regeneration in the soul, man’s will is bound by the old nature. In regeneration, the fallen sinner is made "willing in the day of God’s power" (Psalm 110:3). He is given a new nature, a righteous nature, capable of responding to God. Because the old nature is not eradicated, however, a warfare between the Spirit and the flesh ensues (Romans 7) - requiring deliberate and decisive efforts of the will for righteousness (Romans 6:11-23). In other words, the believer must choose, every day, between the options of serving sin or righteousness (Joshua 24:15; Romans 6:13). With such a conflict facing us, we should be glad that the Holy Spirit will continue to work within us "both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
 Because man’s will, apart from the new nature given in the new birth, is bound, it is incapable of choosing eternal life. Man’s only hope of eternal life, then, is rooted in God’s initiative and choice. Salvation, in other words, depends on God’s choice, not mine, and upon His sovereign will, not man’s fallen will (John 1:13; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 1:5,11; Hebrews 10:10).

The ‘will’ is the faculty of choice; it does not act independently.  Would you in your right mind choose to drink poison if you know it is poison and if you are afraid that it will kill him?  Impossible!  How is it possible that a sinner will choose Christ if his heart is unclean, if he does not understand the things of God, if he hates the light (John 3:19-20)?  Everyone chooses according to his nature.
The Bible is so clear that the will of man is not free to choose Christ:
1.      But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13
2.      The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
3.     So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:16). This clearly teaches that the will of man is not the cause of salvation.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13) Christian living depends on God working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. For this reason Paul said that by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1Cor. 15:10
·       We are all created for God’s glory, not for our own, and we shall never have peace, joy and contentment until we achieve the purpose for which we were created – to glorify and enjoy God forever!
·       Because of God’s gracious dealings with the sons of men, we occupy a glorious position as the born-again sons of God.
·       We ought to glorify God for His grace that places us in such an exalted position.

·       May this humble us so much that we will only want to exalt the glory of God.  

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