The more I am confronted with the doctrine of “free will,” by which is meant what has been historically called “libertine free will,” and which I will define simply as “free will of the fleshly nature,” or, more appropriately, “sovereign will of the fleshly nature,” as it is said to either accept or reject the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from an unregenerate nature, and so must be said to be the deciding factor in both that acceptance of God’s freely given gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, as well as the regeneration of that unregenerate nature, the more I see the old adage, “error leads to error.”
Proponents of this doctrine of decisional regeneration point to the fact of truths in the gospel which tell us to “choose,” “believe,” “have faith,” & etc. without bothering to consider the noetic effects of the fall:
Galatians 3:22: But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
If all is imprisoned under sin, what part of that which is imprisoned is released, even for a moment, but anything other than transforming grace from God?
Does this not consider the very innermost fiber of that nature that is after Adam’s fallen nature?
Of course it does, and that, far too clearly to misunderstand:
Romans 5:12-21: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The first thing to notice is that all are under sin – there are no exceptions to this fact, and it takes the grace of God in Jesus Christ to conquer this spiritual death; and notice, the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. If this be true – and it is – there is stated a significant difference between God’s grace and the effects of the fall in Adam, and that difference is that those who receive that gift of grace receive it as not that which is inherent, as in the fall, but as that which is spiritual – it is exactly at this point that it is not as the one man’s sin. It is freely given, and so freely received, but this is a full giving and reception, because what makes it free is God’s sovereignty in the giving – it is not able to be received by anything of that nature that has inherited every aspect of sin (John 1:12-13).
We also learn what happens to one who receives this grace – and please note, I do not mean “receive” as in judged and considered worthy of their approval and reception, for then man would sit in judgment of God, at the very moment of their approving, or disapproving, that which He supposedly offers for their consideration.
Let us consider the teaching on a grace that if offered to all, yet only actuated by those who, yet unregenerate, as said to be brought to such a state of objectivity that they are able to consider eternity, both in damnation, and in glorification, of themselves in Christ.
First, if all people are given this grace, this means that they have been raised to the status whereby they accept or reject it – this would be the prevenient grace of Arminianism, which informs of the transformation to fit a person for either eternal damnation or eternal glorification.
Implicit – and undeniably so – in the terms accept and reject, is the fact that there is a judgment being made, for to do either is a judgment call, a moving of the thoughts and will and emotions of the fallen nature to consider, fairly, objectively, by the aforementioned prevenient grace, such grace having been said to lift all persons to that state whereby they could consider, then render judgment, on whether they desire either end for themselves.
If one states that God is sovereign in all His creation at all times, as the Scriptures do, in great and multifold detail, one must wonder at the hubris of such a doctrine that places Him upon the witness stand, and man upon the judgment seat. Mercy is not something given, but rendered by God according to the judgment of each individual mandating that it is acceptable to them, for which I imagine God must be very grateful, seeing that He went to so much trouble to make their ability to judge the worthiness of His gift as worthwhile (irony completely intended).
If, having been raised to such an exalted state by said prevenient grace, one judges God’s freely given gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus as unworthy, they are choosing, objectively, eternal damnation, knowing full well what that means.
We would say such a person, in possession of all their faculties, which have, furthermore, been raised to such a state by prevenient grace as to render wrong judgment, for their part, as something that could not happen, to be either insane or deceived to choose eternal damnation in such a state.
If insane, what good such prevenient grace, for it did not bring them to that objective point of consideration whereby they might truly judge God’s free gift in Jesus Christ, obviously (only a madman would choose eternal damnation)?
If deceived, was there ever any grace offered whereby they could render such judgment, or did the ground the seed was planted upon indeed prove that “in Adam, all die,” and that the seed was indeed a false one, sown by the evil one (Matthew 13:1-32;37-42)?
Notice the dual purpose of parables given: Those who are the “good seed” see and hear truth; those who are “bad seed” cannot. Good seed is the “sons of the kingdom” sown by Christ our Lord; bad seed is “sons of the evil one,” sown as counterfeit sons of the kingdom. One set of seed was both bad and always falls on the wrong ground from the start; the other set of seed is good from the start and always falls on good ground, yielding fruit.
Since good seed is sons of the kingdom sown by our Lord, even in parabolic language, we see that the ground prepared to receive those seeds is none other than that new life, regenerated, born again (John 3:3-8) – there is no other way to read these parables. Those the Lord sows always are sons of the kingdom; those the evil one sows always are false ones posing as sons of the kingdom – they may hear the gospel, but they are bad seed, and cannot respond to it in truth and spirit. By juxtaposing these two parables of planting and sowing, we can clearly see that it is the Lord who both sows the gospel and the good seed which always lands on the good ground.
Back to the aforementioned prevenient grace, such is said to be given to “all men,” in a universal-potential manner. The context of even the quote from Romans 5, above, is not read in any real understanding, for it makes separation of those who are the “all men” of Adam’s transgression, and so have his nature, and the “all men” who are made righteous – not potentially made righteous, but actually made righteous, justified and given life – by the free gift of God in Him. There is a distinction of category.
I hope it is not needful to demonstrate fully the futility of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord in such a system, so we do so only in part, here: God’s wrath is only potentially satisfied, for if it were actually satisfied, then all for whom it was satisfied would have no need to satisfy it again by their denial of Christ and all that God commands and demands of those who would stand before Him eternally, in that righteousness that is as Christ’s, for it is exactly that – our Lord’s own righteousness (Philippians 3:8-16). Furthermore, if their sin is atoned for, actually, they should not pay for it eternally in damnation, inflicting the standard of double-jeopardy which they slanderously speak of us as doing – it has often been said that either our Lord Jesus Christ’s death atoned for sins, or it atoned for nothing, and rightly so.
It takes a man-centered view of the Scripture to understand such things so shallowly, as any harmonious reading of all – or even a good part – of the verses concerned show us that Christ did not come to potentially save His people, but to save them, actually (Matthew 1:21).
I have heard, in various forms, “God is so sovereign He could create man with free will.”
A very easy way to understand this stating of the sovereign will of the fleshly nature is to simply restate it:
“God is so sovereign that He could create man to have at least one moment of sovereignty over Him, as pertaining to salvation or damnation.”
In logic, which God created with all other things, this is known as an oxymoron – it is akin to saying “The little girl grew up to become a great man, and fathered many children.” It is literally a contradiction in terms – it is the very definition of an oxymoron, and smacks of the philosophy of unredeemed minds of unredeemed men; simply put, it is an exercise in semantic absurdity, as the two premises are mutually exclusive.
I am not saying that all who believe in such prevenient grace are, of necessity, unsaved; I am saying, clearly, that they have an extremely low view of Scripture, the nature of God, and the nature of man, as Scripture defines these things, because of a shallow study ethic, or a refusal to believe that which the Scriptures state, or some combination of these things.
In this type of view of Scripture, the prime category errors are bound to lead to other errors – this has proven true over the history of the church, as a low view of God, a high view of man, and what these speak of concerning Scripture has continued to promulgate and perpetuate error after error.
Such is not confined to only Arminianism, but it is in that tradition that such has found the roots to grow into more and more error, primarily. When other traditions are examined which put forth such errors, they are either more man-centered (Pelagianism), or show themselves to partake, at their point of departure, of an error, or errors, that are not limited to their traditions, but borrow from others, and often, lead to cults, or cultish belief systems (Roman Catholicism). This is true even of various errors perpetuated in those churches which we call Reformed, sadly.
Suffice it to say a pure hermeneutic, as defined in Scripture, which partakes of all of Scripture, is always God and Christ-centered (Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39).
Once one gets away from the fact our Lord states, that ALL the Scriptures speak of Him, the breeding ground of man-centered philosophies both start, and abound; human responsibility before God is seen to mean human ability before new life, and it is only by His grace, indeed, that these types of errors are eradicated among those who are truly His.
To the glory of God alone – Bill Hier