Posts Tagged ‘Free will’

Haven’t you heard or thought this when the subject of eternal security, perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved,” comes up: “That’s going to make people think that once they are saved then they can just go do whatever they want and they’ll still go to heaven. That is horrible!”

I have heard people say this a lot. My question though is, is it true? Once people are TRULY saved, can they do whatever they want and be okay?

Although I need you to hear me out in order to be understood properly, I shout a resounding…

“YES THEY CAN!!!”

Now before I get everyone all worked up, let me explain. The question again was, “doesn’t ‘Once Saved Always Saved’ imply that people can do whatever they want after they are saved and they will still go to heaven?” Sometime it is worded, “isn’t that a license to sin?” This last question I would firmly oppose. It is firmly not a license to sin and this is why:

If the person has truly been taken from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light, that means that they received what Ezekiel calls a new heart, a new spirit, the Holy Spirit, and God’s forceful causing them to obey His commands. Let’s look at the passage in Ezekiel 36:

“26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

A heart of stone that is void of a willing spirit and the Holy Spirit cannot please God. It has to have a radical change enacted upon itself by God. This is what Jeremiah 31 talks about as well with the New Covenant. So if you truly have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, you have a new spirit (you are now wanting to be holy as God is Holy), you now have the Holy Spirit (which Ephesians 1:13-14 calls the seal or down payment of God which, by giving it, guarantees He will pay in full by bringing you all the way to full Salvation), and finally it says explicitly in the text, God will CAUSE you to walk in His ways and be careful to OBEY His rules. This text should make people who hold to free will go insane.

Now briefly, I want to touch on this “new heart” concept. The Bible has a lot to say about the heart.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 27:19
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart
the mouth speaks.

Matthew 15:18-19
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony,
slander.

Mark 7:21-22
For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22
greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

The heart of the unbeliever is a factory that continually makes idols and because of the natural condition of the heart, it proves our guilt of sin. The heart is where our desires live. If we have an unconverted heart, we have evil desires, and then, because our will is in bondage to our heart’s desires, we will evil things all the time, proving that we have no free will, but are slaves to sin (Romans 6:5, 20). But, and I repeat, but if/when God gives us a new heart, we have new wants and new desires!

So go and do whatever you want to do because if you are truly a blood-bought child of God, you want to worship God, you want to read His Word, you want to obey all of His commands. You don’t want to sin against Him anymore. Even the Apostle Paul said that the things he did not want to do, he did, and the things he did want to do, he still struggled to do (Romans 7). This means that yes, if we are Christians we are still affected by sin’s presence in our lives and we still stumble and fall, but we don’t want to do that anymore. We want to please God.

How do we know if we are saved though? We don’t want to believe in vain. And also, we have to test ourselves to see if we are of the faith. But listen to this:

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

So if you are truly saved, and you have had the Holy Spirit testify with your spirit that you are a child of God, Go and do what you want to do, which is worship and glorify Jesus Christ all your days. And when we do we know that it is God who, “works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).”

I woke up today and chose to wear these specific blue jeans and this black polo shirt. I could have chosen a different pair of jeans and a different black polo shirt. I have to wear a black polo of some kind for my job at the music store. Technically, I have the freedom to just say, “I don’t care if my work yells at me for not wearing the right shirt, I am wearing what I want.” But my desire to be a good employee is greater than my desire to wear a different shirt. So I freely chose to do what I wanted most. To be honest, I wasn’t supposed to work today, and my bed felt really good this morning. I really wanted to just enjoy my Saturday at home, but I had a greater desire to both make a little more money and help out my boss because someone needed the day off.

We make decisions everyday. We do so freely based off of our deepest desires and the options that are set before us that we are capable of choosing. Then we read in the Bible about God having the ability to choose whatever he wants.

Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases.”

So if we have the ability to freely choose whatever we want and God has the freedom and right to do what he desires, what happens when God wants something but we want something different? Who ultimately reigns over everything and gets what he wants; God or man? This leads to a deeper question; Can any fallen human being choose of his or her own free will to do what God commands, which is repent and believe in Jesus, unaided by a special work of God first?

These are good questions. It is good to think about things concerning us and God. Thinking about things lead to thinking deeper about God. The deeper we go with our understanding of God, the greater our desire for more of Him.

One of the most discussed/debated subjects that thinking Christians will inevitably discuss is the concept God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Or, another way to put it, do we have free will? If God is in control of everything (sovereign), and we freely choose what we want, how can these two concepts coexist. This discussion usually gets misunderstood by misconceptions in our modern language, as well as our misunderstanding of another person’s position.

Recently, Geoff Ashley from The Village Church, wrote a great 5 part series on whether or not we have a free will, and what is really meant by that.  Each one is a very quick read and each one is supported by Scripture. Please read these posts if you have any questions about the reformed position on the freedom/bondage of the will. Here are links to each of those posts:

Do We Have A Free Will?

1.Introduction

2. Opening Clarifications

3. The Reality of Unregenerate Bondage

4.Considering the Objections

5. Conclusions

Also if you would like a .pdf file of all of these articles in one document click here.

Thanks for visiting. Add your thoughts to the comment section. Let the conversation begin.

One of the most amazing things that I have thought about for the past two years has been the fact that God is in charge of everything. The theological term for this is God’s sovereignty. Sovereignty is defined as;

1. the quality or state of being sovereign.

2. the status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royalty.

3. supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed or claimed by a state or community.

4. rightful status, independence, or prerogative.

5. a sovereign state, community, or political unit.

Basically to say that God is sovereign is to say that He is in complete control of everything. Now everyone that considers themselves an evangelical Christian would agree that God is sovereign. I just watched an interview with Dr. R.C. Sproul, and he mentioned that everyone believes God is sovereign, but that which He is sovereign over is what is highly debated. Most people are quick to agree that God is in control of the galaxies, stars, planets, nature, etc., but the second we start to discuss God’s sovereignty over people, that is when the conflict begins. People want to believe that they are in charge of their own destiny, so God’s rule and reign over ALL of His creation gets messy for a lot of people. The first thing people say is, “if that is true then we are all just puppets and God is the puppeteer.” Well I don’t think that is an accurate analogy of God’s sovereignty and I will explain in my conclusion why I think that way.

Something that really strikes me as profound is the fact that most people strongly object to God being in complete control of their lives, especially the fact that He brought them to salvation and that He doesn’t do that for everyone, and yet we all admit to God’s sovereign hand in our lives and we don’t even bat an eye when we do it. People want to separate God’s sovereignty and man’s “free” will. That is what this post is all about. Can God’s sovereignty and man’s free will go together? Can God be so amazingly sovereign that He is working and willing (Phil. 2:12-13) in our own hearts toward His ends, and we don’t even realize it? I wanted to share something incredible that happened to me last week. I feel like it is a clear and easy to understand situation where God was actively working through the actions of certain people and they had no idea. I’ll try to be as succinct as possible.

I attended my staff Christmas party last Friday afternoon. The events that unfolded were pretty amazing. This is how our party normally unfolds.

  1. We arrive at the Comfort Inn.
  2. We get our name tags and find our seats.
  3. We then proceed to sing a few Christmas Hymns and then are lead in the blessing over our gathering.
  4. Then we sit and chat as our food is brought out.
  5. After we eat, we play a few games that have cash prizes.
  6. Then we get our Christmas gift, or bonus, and that is the end of our party.

Each table has about 6-8 people at it and there were probably 60 people there all together. The meal was amazing and then our games started. As our first game started, everyone nominated me to be the team captain. I did not want to but they insisted, so I figured why not? The first game was called “Left and Right.” Everybody picked a Christmas gift out of a bag except for the team captain. I got a $50 bill. Next, everybody stood up and they read the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth. Every time the story mentioned the words “right” and “left” we then had to pass our gift to the right or left. At the end of the story, I was amazed that I had actually ended up with the $50 bill!

The next game, everybody at our table had to place into a bag everything we had on our person that had to do with Christmas. We had about 21 items. The four teams with the most items had to participate in the next game. Each team captain of each team(including me) had to create a story on the spot having to do with each item in our bag. I had the most random things in my bag, including a Christmas sweater vest, a ladies scarf, earring, holly wreaths, etc. I figured I had no idea what to talk about but it would be funny if I proceeded to wear all the items as I told my story. Let me just tell you that it was pretty ridiculous. Everybody was laughing though so I guess it went over well. After everyone told their stories, they had all the participants go to the front and then they voted for whom they thought had the best story. I won this game as well. At the beginning of this game they said that this game would not have a cash prize and that it was just for fun. As I was going back to my seat, the pastor said that they found an extra $50 so they decided to give it to me! Wow, pretty awesome huh?

Now by this point, I was in total shock. I just got $100! That definitely helps. Everyone at my table was on my case, saying that I rigged the games or something. The last game involved us taking our name tags off and placing them in a bag. One lady then was going to pick one name and that person would win the money tree (which happened to have $100 on it).  Like I said, I was in shock still over the other two games. Everybody at my table then started to say how I was going to win this game too. Then, to my surprise, they announced, “and the winner is… Chris Arnold!” I was just completely floored.

The real amazing part was that afterward I had about five people come up to me and talk about how much God had blessed me that day. One lady actually said that the second game had no prize and then they just mysteriously found that extra $50 bill. Then she proceeded to just tell me how amazing it was to watch God bless me.

So now here is the part where we have to put on our theological “thinking cap.” Everybody proceeded to talk about how God had blessed me so much, which I totally believe to be the truth. But you have to understand that people were exercising their own wills the way they wanted to and that is how it all turned out.  What I mean is that these people were instinctively just acting, and yet through their actions, God worked his own plan out. So would it be accurate to give God the glory for what seemingly happened as a result of the free will actions of human beings? Many people reading this at least have to ask themselves this question. I believe it is accurate to say that God caused this and hence He should get all the glory. Here are some examples of what I mean;

  1. To start it all off, I didn’t want to be team captain. Everybody at the table used their decisive free will to choose me as team captain. Do you think they felt like a puppet when they did this?
  2. The person who wrote the edition of the Christmas story with more “lefts” and “rights” did so out of his own will. Do you think he felt like a puppet when he did this?
  3. There had to be a specific number of people at the table to correlate to the story in order for me to get the $50. Whoever decided how many people should be at the table must have decided that out of their free will. Do you think he felt like a puppet when he did this?
  4. In the second game, everybody freely choose to wear Christmas related things. Do you think they felt like a puppet when they did this?
  5. The woman who pulled my name out of the bag for the third game, do you think she thought to God, “God, why are you making me choose his name out of this bag?!?!” Or was she just choosing what she wanted to choose?
  6. Was it all just a coincidence? If you are a Christian you have to understand that there are no coincidences.

See no one felt like a puppet in any of these situations. People exercised their own free will. Now either you have to say that these people are all crazy for crediting God for my blessing, or that they are right and that God is sovereign, even over man’s actions or free will. The bible has a multitude of examples of God actively working through people’s free will choices. What I mean is, they wanted to do something completely out of their own free will, and yet God was working in them to do such things. While this remains a mystery to us as to how God can do this, we still must believe it as truth because the bible talks about it. I can hear the person saying now, “this doesn’t make sense to me, so it can’t be true and probably is a doctrine of demons.” But see you can’t go around not believing doctrines because they are mysterious. The Trinity, for example, is extremely mysterious and hard to understand, but for you to be considered a true Christian, you must believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. The fact that Jesus is completely man and completely God, that’s mysterious, but as Christians we believe that to be true.

So if you are with me up until now, the question still remains in a lot of people’s minds. That question is, doesn’t this kind of thinking make us all out to be pawns or puppets in God’s plan? I don’t believe so for many different reasons. First off, puppets have no life, emotions, or will of their own. If a puppet had a will, it would always choose to lie on the ground lifeless until someone picked it up and started to move it. We are living, breathing, feeling beings that make choices out of our own desires. This is one major reason why we are not puppets. The second and final reason for this post is that we are not God’s little puppets because a puppeteer does not love the puppet which accomplishes his goals. God truly loves His people with an amazing love that should never be compared to a mechanical creator that does not love. I believe I read this explanation in an R.C. Sproul book, so if this sounds familiar, that’s probably from where this entered my mind. What obstacles have you personally dealt with concerning God being sovereign over everything? If you don’t believe what I am saying, I suppose I could give you all the instances in the Bible dealing with it, but I think it would do you better to look in the Scriptures yourself and see if man is truly sovereign over his life or is it God?