Freewillism and the Grace of God

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by OldRegular, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. OldRegular

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    In Isaiah 40:22 we read It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. This passage, properly understood, gives us some idea of the holiness and righteousness of God relative to sinful man.

    Yet we learn in the New Testament that he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth laid aside His glory for a time, took upon Himself the form of a man and died to redeem His own, those described as grasshoppers relative to God, in the above passage from Isaiah.

    Now it is certain that mortal man can never understand the Grace of God. My question is: Can those who believe that they have the final word in Salvation fully understand and appreciate what God through His Grace has done for us?
     
  2. terriloo

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    I understand and appreciate the fact that this mighty and Holy God--so great, so wondrously powerful that He can speak into being anything He so chooses--loves me so much that He would not force Himself upon me. He loves me so much, that He chose to give ME a choice in the matter--not because I deserve it, or because I am powerful, or because I have any power or ability on my own--simply because He loves me and He wants me to love Him.

    As Creator, He can create me any way He chooses. He can create me to be a puppet in a play of His entire design. It is His play, after all, and He can begin, enact, and end it any way He chooses. He knows the beginning and the ending already. I have no right, power, or authority over those facts.

    BUT, I believe that He chose to let me choose. He wants me to want Him because I CHOOSE Him, NOT because He created me in such a manner than I have NO CHOICE but to choose Him. I am nothing without Him, I would not exist without Him, I would surely die forever if I chose against Him...but I believe He gives me (and all) that choice. If, as you say, I have the "final word", it is because God GAVE IT TO ME. It is not of my OWN that I have power, but of my CREATOR who empowered me. Not because I am worthy. Not because I am due. Not because I limit God. But because He IS limitless--He can give me a mind/heart/soul to accept or reject Him--even if my finite mind (or yours) cannot fathom how that is possible. The fact that He already knew what my choice would be does not mean that it was any less my choice--because that ability to choose was a gift from Him.

    I won't pretend to be on a scholarly par with all the various debaters in this C/A argument. I don't want to argue. But I simply had to express this thought, since it seems that because I am not a Calvinist, I am included in your questioning of my ability to comprehend what God has done for me.

    I am the greatest of all sinners, complete and utterly without my own ability to save myself from the shame and misery that my life would be without my Saviour. Christ bore that awful burden for ME. He died for ME. He left infinite, magnificent eternity and stepped into this wretched finite world that I helped to corrupt...to save ME. I cannot in any way, shape, form or fashion BEGIN to understand or comprehend WHY He would do that for ME. But I know he did. So...YES....I think I've pretty much got a handle on appreciating and understanding just what He did! [​IMG]
     
  3. TexasSky

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    Amen Terriloo
     
  4. OldRegular

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    terriloo

    A very well written and moving response. I certainly appreciate that you have an understanding of the holiness of God and the state of man without Him. I do have one question, however: Why did you believe when others confronted with the same message deliberately turn away?
     
  5. JonathanDT

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    No, they can't. As you say, no mortal man can fully understand and appreciate an infinite God's infinite grace.
     
  6. whatever

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    I love my children so much that I allow them to play in the street, if that is what they choose. I love them too much to force my standards of safety upon them. Granting their wishes is much more important to me than meeting their needs, because that is what love is really all about.

    :(
     
  7. TexasSky

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    Whatever,

    That isn't what Calvinism teaches. It doesn't teach, "I love them so much I'll let them play in the street," it teaches, "I love one child more than the other, so I'll save this one from the street and let the other one stand in the middle of it until they are run over, and even though I see the car bearing down on them, I will not even warn them."

    Christianity teaches, "I love both my children, and I will warn them both to not play in the street, and I will reach out to both of them to pull them from the street. If they accept my hands, I have saved them."
     
  8. whatever

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    I'm sorry, I wasn't talking about Calvinism.
     
  9. OldRegular

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    I love my children so much that I allow them to play in the street, if that is what they choose. I love them too much to force my standards of safety upon them. Granting their wishes is much more important to me than meeting their needs, because that is what love is really all about.

    :(
    </font>[/QUOTE]Whatever?

    I have a brother who lives in Chattanooga. Some years ago he told me a sad story about a young boy whose family "loved him so much?" that they let him run back and forth across a freeway until he ran one time too often. So much for familial love.

    Simply put, to love your children is to teach and discipline your children. Scripture tells us in Revelation 3:19

    As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

    Furthermore Scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:5-8:

    5. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
    6. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
    7. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
    8. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

    9. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
     
  10. OldRegular

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    I don't consider myself a Calvinist. I simply believe that the Doctrine of the Sovereign Grace of God in the Salvation of His Elect is the only correct interpretation of Scripture.
     
  11. whatever

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    True, and we learned the other day that a free will means "the power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by an agency such as fate or divine will." Surely God's rebuking and chastening qualifies as constraining by divine will. Therefore, God can leave us to our free will, or He can love us, but He cannot do both. I love it when the Scripture comes together.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. OldRegular

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    whatever

    I sent you a note but I believe I misunderstood your original post. Did I?
     
  13. whatever

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    I think so - I was just trying to illustrate that allowing someonethe freedom to choose what could destroy them is not really love. I should have made it clearer. Sorry about that.
     
  14. terriloo

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    If the argument is solely that giving us free will would indicate that God doesn't love us, then I am even more confused about the beliefs espoused here (and I am truly trying to understand the whole C/A thing, regardless of whether one is or is not a STAUNCH advocate for either side).

    My understanding of the free will issue, within the C/A debate is that the continuum lies along total sovereignty (C)...to...absolute free will (A). Is that correct?

    whatever says: "I was just trying to illustrate that allowing someone the freedom to choose what could destroy them is not really love."
    texassky says: "That isn't what Calvinism teaches...[but] I love one child more than the other, so I'll save this one from the street and let the other one stand in the middle of it until they are run over, and even though I see the car bearing down on them, I will not even warn them."

    Perhaps whatever was not referring to calvinism--but isn't that the label under which the opposing view to free will resides?--staunchly in the calvinist realm? If so, surely texas sky's metaphor is a perfect one for this issue. If there is no love in "allowing one to choose what could destroy them", then surely there is even less evidence of love in the "I'll save you and not you...just because I can."

    And the issue is not whether God has the sovereign RIGHT to do with us as He chooses...or the power...or the justification....or anything of that nature. If you argue against free will strictly from the standpoint of love/no love, then there is even LESS evidence than with any other argument against it. For I can think of NO loving parent (creator) who would choose to save one child and simply let the other one die...just because they could; rather they would teach those children as they grew, chastise them as necessary to remind them to watch for cars, and then reach out with everything they had (sacrificing themselves, if necessary) to save BOTH children. Whether or not that parent could CHOOSE to do so (sovereignty), or have the adult power over them to do so (omnipotence), or have the ability to know that a car will eventually come bearing down upon them (omniscience) is moot, if you're arguing from the standpoint of love.
     
  15. terriloo

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    OldRegular, you asked,

    "I do have one question, however: Why did you believe when others confronted with the same message deliberately turn away?"

    Because they are really stupid??? [​IMG]

    Seriously, I understand the underlying point of your question. And, unfortunately, this is something I ponder on a level that affects me personally on a daily basis, since I have a sister and nieces that I know have "deliberately turned away."

    In my nieces' cases, it is because "the world" has interfered--with all the enticements it has to offer....that and the fact that they learned to turn their backs on God from their mother.
    In my sister's case, it is at least in part because of her ANGER at God (our mother's cancer/death was particularly rough on my sister)--she just decided that there couldn't be a God if He'd let that happen.

    In both those cases, though, I believe God has given them the choice to CHOOSE Him or reject Him. I also believe He wants me to pray for them. I also believe that He wants them to come to Him. And that He will keep reaching out to them to save them, whether through chastisement (there's been a lot of that), or doing those "divine things" that He chooses to do at certain times in all our lives (like putting a wondrous, Godly woman squarely in the middle of the life on one of my nieces right now). But I ultimately believe He gives them the choice.

    NOT because He "has to" (He's God, He can do whatever He chooses). NOT because they have some special "power" that they've TAKEN from God. But because He GAVE them that ability--to choose, or NOT choose, Him.

    And I don't believe it's because He does NOT love them; on the contrary, as much as my own heart aches for their salvation, I believe His heart breaks daily as He watches them throw away the blessings of Grace and Love He offers them.

    And I believe this Love is evidenced far better knowing that He gave them the CHOICE to love Him, rather than believing that at some point in time eons ago, He decided to create my sister and I, and He said, "okay, girl--I'm gonna save you, but your sister is outta here", and right now He's just sitting back completely uncaring and unmoved by the fact that she and her three beautiful daughters are slowly rotting on their way to hell....and He's chosen to say "Tough--that's what I created you for."

    COULD He have created them for that? Does He have that "right" or power? Sure. He's God. I can't confine or constrain or limit Him--I can't even wrap my little mind around the enormity of what it means to GIVE us the choice...but BELIEVE it, I do.
     
  16. Wes Outwest

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    Terriloo,
    It boils down to this, Calvinists stand on the principle that Christ died only for some mysterious and nebulous group they call "the elect". A group they cannot identify, but rather postulate that they are members thereof.

    Scripture says that Christ died for the sin of the world, taking the penalty for ALL sin in All times upon himself and dying, ONCE FOR ALL, so that we do not have to die, but instead can have everlasting life through believing in Jesus.

    Calvinists stand on the principle that man cannot hear the gospel message without first being regenerated.

    Scriptures declare God's message to be understood by the simple, and that the wise are confounded by the simple message, therefore whosoever hears the word of God can through hearing come to have faith in the messenger, Jesus, the Christ, and thereby be regenerated by the spirit of God.

    Calvinists are literalists when it comes to scripture, which causes them to miss the clear message of God to man.

    Calvinists thrive on taking numbered verses out of their context and basing their false doctrines on the meaning they assign to those singled out numbered verses, when IN CONTEXT, those verses cannot possibly be saying what Calvinists claim they say.

    I could go on, but this is enough to make this topic go on for 15 or more pages.
     
  17. whatever

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    Not really. This is a common misunderstanding presented by non-Calvinists. Even most Arminians agree that no one can be saved apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in a person's life, but there is wide disagreement on the nature of that work. But the point is, once divine will begins to operate within a person's life then that person's will is no longer free. If you chastise your kids for playing in the street then you are influencing their choices. Therefore, according to the dictionary definition that was presented the other day, their choices are no longer free.

    First, you should not let your understanding of parental love drive your understanding of God's love. The fact is, God made some choices that are hard to understand and to relate to, such as creating certain beings that He knew were destined for eternal punishment when He did not have to do so. No parent has to make that kind of choice.

    Second, and again this is the main point as relates to the topic, the will cannot be both free and constrained by another. If God constrains us by His love/or and His chastisement then our wills are no longer free.

    In conclusion, God gives us free will, but fortunately for us He does not stop there. He constrains us by every means necessary to bring us to repentance and faith.
     
  18. terriloo

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    whatever:

    That is absolutely the best and most succinct explanation for calvinistic belief in this matter. Thank you. It helps me understand the position much better...although it doesn't sway my belief..... [​IMG]

    I actually know that I cannot ultimately confine my understanding of God's Love to that of a parent. It's just that, of necessity, we all--with our limited intelligences, experiences, and finite existence--must "come at" our understanding of this limitless, magnificent infinite Being who is our Creator from some starting point grounded in our finite reality, and then the Holy Spirit can help us grow supernaturally in our understanding as we mature as Christians. Since God Himself chose to call us His children, this just seems the best point at which to begin.

    I believe that -- again of necessity due to our origins-- ALL of us (calvinists, arminians, or somewhere in between) "limit" God as we try to know Him and understand Him. Not because we WANT to or TRY to, simply because our little brains constrain us (i.e.: "we'll understand it ALL by and by"--just not ALL of it here in this mortal shell).

    I gather that calvinists believe arminians limit God and are arrogant in their beliefs of free will putting constraints on God, and that it is mere emotionality that causes the arminians to believe God would not create some that He will not save. And it seems that arminians assert the arrogance of the calvinist claim of a predestined elect and rail against calvinist over-intellectualizing scripture and allowing only for a God seemingly devoid of a Love and "plan" that our mere mortal minds can grasp.

    In my efforts to understand this debate, I can now more fully put into words my own beliefs--and I have learned a lot from both sides of the issue. I am definitely not calvinist (at least, nowhere near HYPER-calvinist). But the extreme arminian attitudes/beliefs are foreign to me as well. I think the name-calling that I've seen on these BB's on this (and other issues) is terrible, but I think the honest debate/discussion is good.

    Because it means we are each seeking to know Him better. And that can never be wrong, regardless of how wrong we may ALL ultimately find out we've been (in the "little things") when we meet Him face-to-face. I have come to the "semi-conclusion" that perhaps God allows us to go off either calvinistically or arminian-wise (new words there, I think!) simply because THAT is how that individual will best "know" God here and now.

    You may know Him better because you see him from a calvinistic standpoint. I may know Him better because I view Him from whatever C/A "category" I fit into (in human terms). The fact that I see Him as I do (and you as you do) means--to me--that THIS (whatever "this" happens to be for you or me)is how the Holy Spirit has helped each of us to draw nearer to this wondrous, awesome, humanly-incomprehensible, majestic, holy, infinite, gracious, loving, just and magnificent Father/Son/Holy Spirit God we each claim as Creator/Savior/Comforter.

    I just know I want to know Him more each day... [​IMG]
     
  19. Jarthur001

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    terriloo,

    You are so right. The Bible starts with "In the beginning God" This speaks very loud if you really think about it. God does not set out to prove Himself. He needs to prove nothing. Gods Word just states it with absolute authority.

    We must see God in His self-existence, self-sufficiency nature in absolute authority as He rules over His creation. To be sovereign, God must also be all-knowing, all-powerful and absolutely free to do as He pleases. If we limit Him in any area He is not Sovereign. Sovereignty is greater than any attribute of God which the word sovereign reigns over.

    In our logic to understand God terriloo, we often times limit Him as we describe Him. One phrase I will never forget from Dr Henson at BJU..."God is so powerful he could have made us 10 mins ago placing in our minds thoughts of yesterday."

    Gods sovereignty is why we have His love.

    In Christ.....James
     
  20. whatever

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    I agree completely.

    Regretfully, there is plenty of arrogance on both sides. We often debate each other's motives while ignoring what the others are saying. That is too bad.

    I see what you are saying, I think, but I am not sure that I completely agree. It could be the way that the Holy Spirit reveals God to us, but it could also be our inadequacy that blocks us from seeing God as we ought. Anyway, you make some good points. Thanks for the reply.
     

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