Man doesn't really have free will.

Dear Ralph,

1. A common mistake made by Christians is to interpret Scripture in the light of their experiences. We must do the opposite. We must interpret our experiences in the light of the Scriptures. What you think happened to you may not be what happened at all. You are a sheep, and when a sheep wanders off the Great Shepherd goes and gets it. Wandering off does not change the fact that you are a sheep. (cf. John 10)

2. If God is God, and He is sovereign over His creation, then the statement made by Jesus is binding. He said (my paraphrase) that this is the will of the Father, that of all He has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. If this is the will of the Father you can't change it by walking away Ralph. You are overestimating the ability of your will.

Job said, "I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted. Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know"

3. There are pet doctrines to be sure but this is not one of them. All of the conservative Theologians I have ever read agree on the subject. Surely they are not all wrong. You and I must be very careful to argue with these learned and godly men.

I'm sending you an attachment on "The Myth of Free Will" that I pray you will read carefully and prayerfully.

Ralph, remember James 3:1, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment." & II Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth." Your site is full of teaching so remember (as the literal Greek of verse 15 says) "cut it straight".

My response is in Green:

I will disagree with you about arguing with the learned and wise people. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV) But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. All their degrees and names and numbers after their names mean nothing. Jesus said we must be as little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

This is the passage you paraphrased: (John 6:38-40 NIV) For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. [40] For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." The only problem is a problem of interpretation. Jesus is not going to lose anyone, meaning that they did not purposely walk away, but accidently got lost. That does not address the point of our free will in leaving if we want to. It is the same story with the verses in Job. Job is understandably shaken by all that has happened to him. He is making the statement that if God determines to do something there is no one who can stop Him. That is not the same as saying that we do not have a choice in our salvation.

In fact the story of Job is a good example of just that. God uses Job to show up Satan. Now if God and Satan both knew that Job could not curse God no matter what happened, in other words he had no free will, then why even bother? What kind of a test was it if Job had to serve God and had no choice in the matter? It would only be a test of his faith if he had the possibility of walking away and cursing God.

It is not just my experience that makes me believe what I do. You did not address the passages of scripture I gave you. I read the article you sent me, but I will never believe that I don't have free will. If that were true then it makes a mockery of God. It is a mockery because He says that He does not want anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance. Well if we truly don't have free will then He is a liar because all would come to repentance if He made them. (John 3:16 NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Notice it says He loved the world. If we don't have free will and God decides who is saved and who isn't then this too is a lie. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but why if they had no choice? (Matthew 23:37 NIV) "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. If He truly longed to do it and they had no choice then how could they not be willing? Being willing or not shows choice in the matter.

Let me make sure that I state right here, that God owes us nothing. If He chose to make some people for destruction and some for eternal pleasure that would be up to Him. If He decided to chose some to be with Him and chose others to suffer in hell for all of eternity, no one could stop Him, nor could anyone accuse Him of anything. That is not my problem with this doctrine, my problem with it is that God says He is merciful and just and that He will save anyone who believes on His Son, yet this doctrine says we have no choice in the matter. He says many places in His word that He does not want anyone to suffer, or to be lost. That hell was not made for us but for Satan and his demons. Well if we have no choice then these things are not true, and if they are not true, then God is not holy.

If God never said He loved everyone, or that anyone who believes would be saved, or that He does not want anyone to perish, then there would not be a problem. It would be up to His sovereign will what He does with each of us. As I said He owes us nothing and we cannot thwart His will. But if God is holy and just and merciful and He says that He does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance then either He has to save everyone, or He has to allow us to make our own decision, anything less is not consistent with His nature.

This passage is also meaningless if we don't have free will: (Hebrews 5:8-10 NIV) Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered [9] and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him [10] and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. What does obey mean? It means to do something, but if you have no choice is it really obedience? No, it is slavery.

You say all the conservative theologians you have read agree with this, then you need to read different books, because there are plenty of conservative theologians who disagree. I think many of them go too far the other way, but the fact remains they don't agree with these views.

Thy this one for example: http://www.behindthebadge.net/osas/osas3.html

We have to take Scripture for what it says, not what we want it to say. You made the statement that how could all these men be wrong? The same way the whole Catholic church can be wrong, etc... Let me ask you one last question. Please answer this from your own knowledge of Scripture not from what you have been told or taught. Answer it even if your answer goes against what you have always believed. Do you from Scripture believe that God loves all mankind? Do you believe that God is fair and merciful? Do you believe that God, before He created the world picked some people to live with Him for eternity in bliss and picked others to suffer eternally, and that He did not give either group any choice in the matter? Do you believe that people will be judged for not repenting of their sins and asking Jesus to forgive them, or that they will be judged just because it is pleasing to God for them to suffer for eternity?

(Ezekiel 18:32 NIV) For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! How? How can someone repent if they don't have free will and how can they refuse to repent if they don't have free will? (Ezekiel 33:11 NIV) Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?' The only thing missing from this passage according to your conservative theologians is this: HA HA, you will die because I said you will and you can't do anything about it!! HA HA!!

I am sorry I know I am being pretty brash but if we have no free will then that is what God is saying. If we have no free will then how can God hold Ezekiel responsible for not speaking out? (Ezekiel 3:18 NIV) When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. Is this just a bad joke on the poor prophet?

Was God telling the truth in this passage? (Ezekiel 18:23-24 NIV) Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? [24] "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. Again this is not a merciful God if He is saying these things yet He is the one who determines if the person turns from their wicked ways or not. This is only a merciful God if He truly gives both the righteous and the wicked the choice to do as they want and then judges them on their choice.

Lastly you quoted (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. What difference does it make if I have no choice in the matter in the first place? How can I be ashamed or not ashamed of something that I have zero control over? It can't be both ways. How can God judge teachers more harshly if again they have no choice as to their actions?

Sorry, but when held up to the light of Scripture this does not stand the test. God is sovereign and yet He gives us free will. He is the only one who can enable the heart of man to accept the gospel, yet He enables every man to make that choice. Yes this is a mystery, but it is one that is true if you believe Scripture.

In Christ, because He loved me and gave me the choice to love Him or reject Him,
Ralph

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