The Free Will of Man?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Chris Temple, Dec 31, 2001.

  1. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    0
    More From R.C. Sproul:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Q: How do we reconcile the fact that God is sovereign with the fact that he has given us free will as persons?

    A: I don’t see any problem in reconciling the sovereignty of God with man’s free will as long as we understand the biblical concept of freedom. With respect to mankind, human beings are given the ability to make free choices, but our freedom is a limited freedom. We are not absolutely free. Remember, God said to Adam and Eve, “You may eat of all of the trees in the Garden:. Btu then he added a restriction: “of this tree you may not eat. If you do you will surely die.”

    Now, God is a being who has the ability to make free choices, and I am a being who has the ability to make free choices. The difference, however, is that I am not sovereign. God is sovereign. God has more authority than I do. God has the right and the power and the authority to do whatsoever he pleases. I have the power and the ability and the freedom to do those things that I can do, but my freedom can never override the power or authority of God. my freedom is always limited by the higher freedom of God. what is a contradiction is God’s sovereignty and human autonomy. Autonomy means that man can do whatever he wants without being worried about judgment from on high. Obviously these two are incompatible, and we do not believe that man is autonomous. We say that he is free, but his freedom is within limits, and those limits are defined by the sovereignty of God. this is a simple analogy: in my house I have more freedom than my son. We both have freedom, but mine is greater. (Now That’s A Good Question! Tyndale, 1996. pp 26-27). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  2. KayDee

    KayDee
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2001
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    Chris

    Thank you for that golden nugget. I have been studying Calvinism/Election for several months now but still struggle with understanding. You might say I am sitting on the fence about ready to "fall" into the Elected side.

    In His Grace
    KayDee
     
  3. qwerty

    qwerty
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    So, in regard to Adam and Eve:

    God told them not to eat the fruit of the tree. They disobeyed, and ate.

    Or did they disobey? If a person has no choice, can they disobey?

    Did God make them disobey? Did God create Adam and Eve, tell them not to eat the fruit, and cause it so that their ability to obey was not in the realm of possibility?
     
  4. KayDee

    KayDee
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2001
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    qwerty said:
    So, in regard to Adam and Eve:
    God told them not to eat the fruit of the tree. They disobeyed, and ate.

    Or did they disobey? If a person has no choice, can they disobey?

    Did God make them disobey? Did God create Adam and Eve, tell them not to eat the fruit, and cause it so that their ability to obey was not in the realm of possibility?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Adam and Eve had the choice to obey or disobey. It is the fact that they did choose to disobey that caused us to inherit the sin nature. I understand where you are coming from - I fought tooth and nail against the Doctrine of Election. When I started to read what God had to say about it instead of blindly believing what I had been taught it said, I was in for a shock. I still struggle with understanding but I can not avoid the subject...it's in His Word.

    In His Grace
    KayDee
     
  5. KayDee

    KayDee
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2001
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just saw this on another thread

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    Chris Temple said:
    Yet I believe, along with the WCF and LBCF 1689 that God has ordained all things, including the fall of man. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    hmmmmmmmmmmm....guess I have more studying to do. Chris is this based on the fact that God is Sovereign over every single thing so that would include the fall of man?

    Well, I guess I'd better crawl back up on the fence :confused:

    In His Grace
    KayDee
     
  6. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    0
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by KayDee:
    I just saw this on another thread



    hmmmmmmmmmmm....guess I have more studying to do. Chris is this based on the fact that God is Sovereign over every single thing so that would include the fall of man?

    Well, I guess I'd better crawl back up on the fence :confused:

    In His Grace
    KayDee
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    KayDee:

    As I quoted Sproul in the other post:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>R.C. SProul gave a good description of God's Sovereignty in his book Now That's a Good Question! (Tyndale, 1996):

    I have a close friend who came to this country from England…. When he first came to the United States, he visited an antiquarian in Philadelphia, and there he saw some slogans and mementoes and poster boards that actually date back to the 18th century, during the time of the American Revolution. He saw signs like “No taxation without representation” and “Don’t tread on me”, but the one that caught his eye was the one that said in bold letters, “we serve no sovereign here”. When John looked at that, an Englishman, he said, “how can I possibly communicate the idea of the kingdom of God in a nation that has a built-in allergy to sovereignty?”
    As American’s we’re used to a democratic process of rule. When you’re talking about sovereignty, you’re talking about government and authority. From a biblical perspective, when the Scriptures speak of God’s sovereignty, they reveal God’s governmental authority and power over his entire universe.

    In my classes in the seminary, I raise a question like, “is God in control of every single molecule in the universe?” when I raise that question I say, “the answer to that question will not determine whether you are a Christian or a Moslem, a Calvinist or Arminian, but it will determine whether you are a theist or an atheist.” Sometimes the students can’t see the connection. And I say to them, “Don’t you realize that if there is one molecule in this universe running around loose outside the scope or the sphere of God’s divine control and authority and power, then that single maverick molecule may be the grain of sand that changes the entire course of human history, that blocks God from keeping the promises he has made to his people?” It may be that one maverick molecule that will prevent Christ from the consummation of the kingdom. For if there is one maverick molecule, It would mean that God is not sovereign. If God is not sovereign, then God is not God. if there is any element in the universe that is outside of his authority, then he is no longer God over all. In other words, sovereignty belongs to deity. Sovereignty is a natural attribute of the Creator. God owns what he makes, and he rules what he owns. (Now That’s A Good Question! Tyndale, 1996. pp 25-26).
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  7. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    0
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by qwerty:
    Or did they disobey? If a person has no choice, can they disobey?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Clearly, you either did not read the above quote, or you intentionally misrepresent what has been said over and over by Calvinists: Man has freedom of choice, but it is limited freedom within the sovereign will and design of God.

    As Sproul said:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I have the power and the ability and the freedom to do those things that I can do, but my freedom can never override the power or authority of God. my freedom is always limited by the higher freedom of God. what is a contradiction is God’s sovereignty and human autonomy. Autonomy means that man can do whatever he wants without being worried about judgment from on high. Obviously these two are incompatible, and we do not believe that man is autonomous. We say that he is free, but his freedom is within limits, and those limits are defined by the sovereignty of God. this is a simple analogy: in my house I have more freedom than my son. We both have freedom, but mine is greater.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    While Arminians claim to be defending the free agency of man, what they are in fact arguing for is the autonomy of man, which does not exist.
     
  8. KayDee

    KayDee
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2001
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you Chris. It's hard for me to rethink something I've been taught for so many years....like the perfect/permissive will of God. "Permissive will" would not agree with total sovereignty. Am I thinking right?
     
  9. qwerty

    qwerty
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Chris,
    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chris Temple said:
    Yet I believe, along with the WCF and LBCF 1689 that God has ordained all things, including the fall of man.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is, I think, the major problem many have with Calvinism as it is portrayed today.

    To say that God was the cause of the fall, or to put it another way, that God was, in effect, forcing Eve and Adam to make the wrong choice, is, in my opinion, wrong.

    Calvinists have their views. They are entitled to them. I think that Calvinists should be a very upfront about this issue.
    I have known about Calvinism for a few years, but until recently, was not aware that Calvinists believed that God was the cause of the fall.

    A lot hinges on God's involvement in the fall. He definately knew it would happen; I think we would agree on that. But, in my opinion, God's foreknowledge of the fall does not make Him the cause of the fall.

    In my opinion, it creates a cynical view of God to show Him giving the command to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, knowing that they had no choice.

    I think Pastor Larry said on another thread that God's foreknowledge is causative. I disagree. God may know what is going to happen, but that does not mean that He caused it to happen. If it does mean that, then how are we any different than a machine, or a robot?

    So, the basic question is:
    Did God cause Adam and Eve to sin?
     
  10. KayDee

    KayDee
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2001
    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    0
    While I was studying this yesterday, I believe the Lord "directed me to this verse":

    Proverbs 16:9:
    The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

    So, Adam and Eve weren't robots. They "planned" to eat the fruit even though God directed it. Is that any thing close to what you mean, Chris?
     
  11. Chris Temple

    Chris Temple
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2000
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    0
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>To say that God was the cause of the fall, or to put it another way, that God was, in effect, forcing Eve and Adam to make the wrong choice, is, in my opinion, wrong. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    To say that God “forced” Adam and Eve to make a wrong choice is of course wrong. they chose, and chose freely. However, that they would fall was totally in the control of the sovereign God, and was so ordained. As the confession states:
    God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass:[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.[3]
    The problem in understanding is between First Cause and secondary causes. God has ordained that many things occur through secondary causes. There is only one First Cause, i.e., God, so that there is no suitable analogy as to what is a First Cause. He is incomparable. So to try to understand the actions of eternal decrees of a first cause through our experience and knowledge of second causes is in vain. We must simply accept the biblical witness:
    Isaiah 46:3-5 (ESV)
    "Listen to me, O house of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the house of Israel,
    who have been borne by me from before your birth,
    carried from the womb;
    [4] even to your old age I am he,
    and to gray hairs I will carry you.
    I have made, and I will bear;
    I will carry and will save.
    [5] "To whom will you liken me and make me equal,
    and compare me, that we may be alike?
    Isaiah 46:9-10 (ESV)
    remember the former things of old;
    for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
    [10] declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
    saying, 'My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
    James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one;
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Calvinists have their views. They are entitled to them. I think that Calvinists should be a very upfront about this issue. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    What issue is that? what have Calvinists not be “upfront” about? Calvinists have written more theological treatises than any other form of theology.
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I have known about Calvinism for a few years, but until recently, was not aware that Calvinists believed that God was the cause of the fall. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Would you have a world in which something occurred in which God did not cause it? What would that say about our future and the character and attributes of God? it’s a world in which I shudder to think of!
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>A lot hinges on God's involvement in the fall. He definitely knew it would happen; I think we would agree on that. But, in my opinion, God's foreknowledge of the fall does not make Him the cause of the fall. [/I]
    The First Cause he is no doubt. The initiator, he is not.
     
  12. JAMES2

    JAMES2
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2001
    Messages:
    633
    Likes Received:
    0
    Qwetry:
    I don't think man has "free will" when it comes to their salvation. Otherwise everyone of us would be in hell and zero people would be saved.
    It's not like we are sitting on a fence and on one side is evil and on the other side is good. We go through life sometimes leaning to the evil and sometimes leaning to the good. It is more like we are born laying in the evil "field" covered by dirt and weeds, totally incapable of getting out of that position. As the bible says, we are DEAD in trespasses and sin.

    As far as Adam and Eve, I don't believe God CAUSED Adam to sin. I look at it more like God let Adam do his own thing, so to speak. God KNEW that Adam WOULD sin before he was even born. That was for God to know. As far as Adam knew, he had a "choice" to eat or not eat the apple, but he freely chose to disobey, so he sinned by his own choice. I don't look at it like God grabbed Adam by the back of the neck, forced him to his knees, grabbed him by the hair on his head, titled his head back and forced an apple into his mouth. No, Adam was doing his own thing.

    Now, as a bible-believing Christian who believes in the Sovereignity of God, even if God did FORCE Adam to sin, it would make no difference to me. God is God and we are the depraved, sinful creatures. I see people using their "free will" all the time. Just observe how the lights go out in a city and people start being free and loot everything they can get their hands on. Or read any
    World Hisoty book and see how "great leaders" down through the centuries used their "free will." Or observe some of the "freest" men on earth in the 20th Century and how they used their "free will." -- Hitler and Stalin, and Mao, and on and on. No one could tell them what to do. They were, as far as man is concerned, absolutely free.

    I don't know about you, but I'm glad that my salvation is not up to me.
    Before you were regenerated (by a sovereign act of God) didn't you think things to do with God or the bible were just so much foolishness? Then, unknown to you, one day you are regenerated, and the way you used to think has taken a total 180 degree turn. That's the way it was with me at least, and I thank God, and ONLY God for that. Why did he choose me, instead of some of my friends. I don't know. I guess because He decided to. Certainly not because he "foresaw" something in me, because the ONLY good in me would be what HE put there in the first place!!!!!
    James2

    [ January 08, 2002: Message edited by: JAMES2 ]
     
  13. dfd2

    dfd2
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here is a good example that I like written by John Dagg in his book Manual of Theology
    (Dagg was an early Founder of the SBC)
    "The holy men of ancient times were accustomed to view the hand of God in everything with which they had to do; and the passages of Scripture are numerous, in which God's direction of man's affairs and actions is taught. "A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps" Prov xvi, 9 "The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord, as the rives of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." Prov xxi, 1. The gardener has his rivulet, with which he waters his beds; and, by putting a channel here, and damming up there, he directs the fertilizing stream to whatever part of his garden he pleases; while the water, however directed, moves according to its own natural tendency. So the king's heart moves according to its own inclination;
    but the directing hand of God guides his movements, though freely made, to the accomplishment of such ends as infinite wisdom has designed."

    I personally have found this illustration of how God is completely soveriegn and how we can remain not being "robots". Hope this is benefit to others as well.
     
  14. trueliberty

    trueliberty
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2001
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    The John Dagg quote is quite succinct and I believe correct when it comes to God's sovereign working in the world etc.

    Of course, God also sovereignly decided to use the Holy Spirit to convict everyone of sin, righteousness and judgment. He sovereignly decided to send Jesus into the world (God in the flesh) to die on the cross etc.

    Looking at John 5:40--God mentions the human will in talking about salvation. Why? If God sovereignly decided on their salvation or damnation, why mention the phrase "ye will"?

    How do those who call themselves "Calvinists" interpret this verse? Since I haven't yet received an answer on another thread, maybe I'll get one here. Hoping anyway! [​IMG]
     
  15. dfd2

    dfd2
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    trueliberty,

    you said,

    "Looking at John 5:40--God mentions the human will in talking about salvation. Why? If God sovereignly decided on their salvation or damnation, why mention the phrase "ye will"?"

    How do those who call themselves "Calvinists" interpret this verse? Since I haven't yet received an answer on another thread, maybe I'll get one here. Hoping anyway!

    I dont know why you havent gotten an answer. The verse proves nothing for man's free choice as Arminians view free choice.
    John 5:40 says, "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." I cant speak for every Calvinist but there is no conflict or contradictioon to calvinism in this verse. Jesus is right they are not willing for they are always unwilling. (Rom 3:11 There is no one who seeks God) No one is ever willing to come to Jesus, unless.
    Unless lets read on in John. WE get to John chapter 6 and we see Jesus go on to tell us who in fact will come to Him. Lets see what Jesus says. John 6:35-37 "And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who beleives in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not beleive. All that the Father gives ME
    will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."

    So as Jesus explains in John 6:37 only those people whom God gives (elects) to Jesus will in fact willing come to Jesus. Otherwise as Jesus also states in John 5:40 those people will remain unwilling.

    In my view John 5:40 causes more problems for "Arminians" than Calvinists.

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: dfd2 ]

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: dfd2 ]
     
  16. dfd2

    dfd2
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    Messages:
    68
    Likes Received:
    0
    Maybe this little chart will help visualize the impact of Gods sovereignty and mans responsibility in salvation"

    Those that Jesus is talking about in John
    5:40 are A group
    Those that Jesus is talking about in John
    6:37 are B group



    ___________GOD______________________man______

    A.
    5:40______________________________not willing

    B.
    6:37______God gives_________________will come

    ________________________________________

    So what do we see by this chart as the determining factor in man's salvation? God's giving. We see in the first group when there is no action by God that man is un willing to come to Christ whereas in the second group were God gives man will come to Jesus. So, all John 5:40 proves is that unless God gives (elects, calls) man will always not choose Christ.

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: dfd2 ]

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: dfd2 ]

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: dfd2 ]
     
  17. Eric B

    Eric B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2001
    Messages:
    4,806
    Likes Received:
    2
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The verse proves nothing for man's free choice as Arminians view free choice.
    John 5:40 says, "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." I cant speak for every Calvinist but there is no conflict or contradictioon to calvinism in this verse. Jesus is right they are not willing for they are always unwilling. (Rom 3:11 There is no one who seeks God) No one is ever willing to come to Jesus, unless.
    ...But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not beleive. All that the Father gives ME<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So then the main question is, why is He bothering to tell them they would not hear, if He (Jesus/Father --God) was the one who caused them not to be able to hear, by not electing them? Since these people are so "dead" and "unable to repent", "Why flog a dead horse" as the saying goes?" It looks like He is expecting them to repent. This is one of the biggest evidences of free will.
     
  18. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Eric B:
    It looks like He is expecting them to repent. This is one of the biggest evidences of free will.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Except this arguement falls on its face in John 6 where Christ spends a lot of time talking to people whom he knew wouldn't repent because it had not been given them from the Father.
     
  19. Eric B

    Eric B
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2001
    Messages:
    4,806
    Likes Received:
    2
    Laurence Vance The Other Side of Calvinism answers this, saying: "A definite group is being given to Christ during his earthly ministry; not before the foundation of the world. There are also some people who can come to Christ without first being given to him [those who "see" and "believe"], yet they will be accepted as the first and not be cast out." (p.291) While Christ said he would cast out none, and desired that He would lose none, 6:70 shows us that one of these same "chosen" He was speaking of was in fact lost. Did this make God "weak" to the will of man? No, it was apart of His plan, but this proves that "chosen" in this case can not be used to set forth eternal election.
     
  20. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    May 4, 2001
    Messages:
    21,763
    Likes Received:
    0
    Vance is not a good source for this. You should know that Eric. Think about what he is saying. It is absolutely contradictory to the context of the passage. This cannot even be considered a serious treatment, at least as much as you have cited here.

    It is not talking only about a group given to Christ in the first century but even if it were, it would not render the point invalid because the nature of man is the same in the twentieth century as it is in the first. Furthermore, the group under consideration was not given in time. There is no textual indication of that. That came right from Vance's thumb -- he sucked it out.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>There are also some people who can come to Christ without first being given to him [those who "see" and "believe"], yet they will be accepted as the first and not be cast out." (p.291) <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This did not come from the text. There is nothing at all to indicate this. It is pure conjecture arrived at by assuming the conclusion and then intepreting the text to support your conclusion.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>While Christ said he would cast out none, and desired that He would lose none, 6:70 shows us that one of these same "chosen" He was speaking of was in fact lost.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Again, this is not in the text. The one who was lost is the point of Christ saying that people couldn't come because the father hadn't given it to them. He was describing why there was one who witnessed the entire earthly ministry of Christ, saw every miracle, heard every teaching, and still did not respond. It was because the Father had not chosen him. It says exactly the opposite of what Vance argues.
     

Share This Page

Loading...