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It depends in what context we are speaking of "free will". If we're talking about my free will to choose between Coca Cola or Dr. Pepper, my free will is going to choose Dr. Pepper every time. However, if we are speaking of spiritual things, namely salvation,justification or conversion, our will is most certainly not free. As lost sinners, we cannot "choose" God nor make a "decision" toward God nor "make him Lord and Savior" of our lives, there are no "seekers". We are born at war with God, having our will not free, but bound to sin death and the Devil. Rom 3:10-12 “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Rom 8:7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 1 Cor 2:14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. However, after faith is given to us from God as a result of hearing the Word of God and the Holy Spirit converts our will, only then is our will truly free.
When it comes to free will, we are all born with the freedom to "pick our poison". In other words, we are born into this world absent of the ability to freely choose God, to choose righteousness. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean we are then somehow absent of responsibility. You see, we cannot come to God unless the Holy Spirit draws us. We must remember also that Paul reminds us the Word must be preached in order for the lost to hear it. This all works together magnificently! The Effectually Call of The Holy Spirit is ignited through the preaching of The Word. This call is filled with grace that is irresistible grace! We must choose God, but we do so only because the Holy Spirit has begun the regenerative process within us. The Trinity does the work. Man doesn't. Arminianism is the whole reason why so many believe live in the precarious place of thinking that they can somehow lose the salvation that never did anything to earn, in the first place.
Do human beings truly have a free will? Absolutely. God created man with the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, etc., and with that free will to choose came with it a great responsibility to always be in subjection to the one who created man/woman. Adam chose to rebel, and we as his offspring are paying the consequences of that terrible decision made of his own free will for the scripture says he was not deceived as his wife was: 1 Timothy 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. If God did not create man with free will then He would not be able to require obedience or penalize us for disobedience. All men/woman have the ability to choose to obey the Creator God or not to do so. Their decision will determine what their eventual and long term future or end will be! Choose life, live by faith obedience to God and by the message He gave His son to give to us. If we keep the words of the Lord Jesus making a free will choice to do so we will have an amazing end result and if we do not freely choose to follow and abide by the words of the Lord Jesus we will building our house on sand instead of on a rock - God's anointed one.
If needed, I can expound further - but the short answer is that we need to define "free will". If it means that we have the ability to choose what we desire, then yes, we have free will. The problem is this: What do we desire? We do not, and never will, in our natural sin nature, desire God. Once the Fall happened, our ability to choose according to our desires did not change. But our natural desire changed. Our desire was ruined and thereafter is not for God. Martin Luther calls this the "Bondage of the Will." In a sense that is true. But our will is in bondage to our desire. Genesis 6 notes that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart (meaning our sin nature and desire) was only evil continually." In the process of salvation our desire changes. Like Lydia (Acts 16:14) God opens our heart - we see God - our desire is then for Him, and we choose Him. We would not choose otherwise because our desire now is for Him and we always choose what we desire. So, in a sense we are free - in that we have the ability to choose what we desire. But in a sense we are not free - because our desire is ruined. In both scenarios we get what we want, and that's fair.
Yes, human beings are free, but not in their physical actions but in their thinking. Consider Proverbs 16:1 "The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD." Again in Prov. 4:23 "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." According to these verses we are free in our thinking. In our thinking God has given all freedom, that He is not even going to judge our thinking. Let us consider these verses in the New Testament "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it give birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:13-15). There is a progression in James' words: desires - conceived - give birth to sin - full-grown sin - brings forth death. That is, if we stop at the desire, then it is off the record. But when the desire has conceived, that is, resolved to act, then from here God takes over. If you are a godly person, then God will not convert your evil desire to action, but to your godly desires when they have conceived, God will convert them into action. But if you are not a godly person then, when your desires have conceived, God will convert them to action and that will be an evidence against you of your being evil doer. Let us take the example of Jonah (because Andy R. has used him as an example.). He was free in thinking, in his decision making. But was he free in his actions? I will say, No. Up to the decision making Jonah was free, but when his decision was ripe God converted that decision into action, so his fleeing is God's evidence against Jonah, that he was prejudiced against the people of Nineveh. If God had so desired, He could have not let Jonah flee. Let us also consider Job's case. Satan conceived to test Job's godliness, but God did the action: "... And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." (Job 2%3)..It was God's will to prove Job to become our example of patience. (James 5:11). Take for an example of a murderer. If he kills someone, was he free to kill that someone? I will again say, No. He was free up to the decision making. From there on ward God took over and evidenced that that person is a killer. Thus, for the one killed, it was God's will that he be killed. If God had so desired for the victim not to be killed, He could have stopped the killer from committing the crime, that is, He could have not converted that person's decision into action. All this presupposes that God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Consider the words of our Lord: "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil thoughts come from within and defile a man." (Mk. 7:20-23). Therefore we are admonished, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." (Ps. 109:11). "Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things." (Phil. 4:8). We have to fill our hearts and minds with these things. May God always find good thoughts conceived in our hearts and mind so that He can give evidence to the world that we are His people. So human beings are free in decision making but actions belong to God.
Man does have a free will, otherwise Adam and Eve would not have sinned. Man still has a free will to either accept salvation Gods way, by faith alone, or try to earn heaven by works. We can only accept Jesus as full payment for all our sin, If we add anything to what He did, then we are saying that what He did is not good enough to save sinners. So Jesus plus nothing = salvation by grace. After we have accepted Jesus as our savior, we are at that same time regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 We are not regenerated until we believe the gospel. We are then born into the family of God by faith alone. John 1:12 But as many as received Him, (the free gift of salvation) to them gave he power, to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name. After we are saved, we are no longer under the law but under grace. If we go off and live in sin, God does chasten those He loves, but can never condemn us. John 3:18 And when we do good we earn rewards in heaven and in this life. We do reap what we sow, but we can never lose our salvation because our works have nothing to do with salvation which is a free gift of all grace. Romans 11:6 It is all grace, not works, if it was by works it would no longer be grace. Jesus paid our sin debt in full because we all still sin. First John 1:8 says, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. So we all sin, but all our sins have been paid for. After we are saved, we still can choose to sin or not. Some sins we just do because of our old nature that will not die until we do.It is our Spirit/Soul that is saved, not our flesh or old nature. But our salvation is never in question because Jesus paid for that with His own blood. We have nothing to boast in because we contributed nothing to our salvation except faith, which is not a work. If we add anything we do to what Jesus did for us, we have perverted the gospel which is all grace.That is blasphemy because it is saying that what Jesus did for us is not good enough. It is unbelief. When we trust Jesus as our savior, He is our only savior, and we can only boast in the cross. Jesus never paid part, but all our sins. He gets all the glory, or none of it. We can only be justified by faith alone in Jesus alone. We can not be justified by keeping Gods laws. Galatian 2:21 I do not make void the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. We are justified sinners by faith alone. Romans 4:5 But to the one that worketh not, but believe on Him who justifieth the ungodly, (all of us) his faith is counted for righteousness. All we can do to determine our eternal destiny, is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our only savior, and we are given eternal life. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. If we have to do anything more than believe the gospel to be saved, then we are adding works to grace which is not salvation by grace, but by grace plus works. Salvation by works never works because no one can save themselves. Only Jesus can save sinners. So we have a free will whether to trust Jesus as our only savior, or not. But once we have received the free gift of salvation we are a child of God and He will chasten us if we go off and live in sin to long. Only He knows how long. The prodigal son lived in sin it seems a long time, before he came to his senses. But he was still his fathers child. That can not be changed. Once we have trusted Jesus as our savior we are a child of God for ever. Jesus wants everyone to believe the gospel and be saved, but not everyone will. The gospel is given in First Corinthians 15:1-4 That Christ died for our sin, according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. If you believe it you are saved and have eternal life. John 6:39 Jesus has never lost one. John 6:37
It would appear that in some instances, we don't have a free will. Jonah really did not want to go to Nineveh, he was however, forced to go against his own will... (read all 4 chapters)
1 Timothy 2: 1-7 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." Notice how many times the words 'all people' are used? Just 7 simple verses show that God does not choose who he saves, but we do choose him. He wants us all! Not all of us want him. John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." He loved the world! Not just a select few. Matthew 26:39-46 "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” "He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!” Twice Jesus prayed to his father, not my will, but yours be done. Ever stop to think that if Jesus really wanted to keep it from happening, he didn't have to be sacrificed? Even our savior, even though prophesied hundreds of years earlier, had the free will to say no, I do not want to be sacrificed. I am not going to die just so the world can be saved. Adam and Eve had free will from the beginning. Yes, Eve was deceived, but ever wonder what would have happened if Adam had said no to Eve? He didn't though because he had free will. We ALL have free will. The only predestination is that we will either end up in heaven or hell. Our destination is our choice. God gives us the owners manual so that we can make that choice. He shows us that the way is through faith in Christ. We have free will people. As a preacher friend of mine says, use the bible to interpret the bible.
God "draws" us to Himself in the sense of drawing water from a well. One doesn't go to a well and say: "Here, water, water, accept the bucket I've sent down to you. The water just lies there still and deep. The bucket has to drag it up. Draft, or draw horses, pull the plow, which does not move or accept the pull. It resists until it is compelled. The clearest verse on God’s drawing to salvation is John 6:44 where Jesus declares that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” The Greek word translated “draw” is helkuo, which means “to drag” (literally or figuratively). Clearly, this drawing is a one-sided affair. God does the drawing to salvation; we who are drawn have a passive role in the process. There is no doubt that we respond to His drawing us, but the drawing itself is all on His part. We would not come without His first drawing us. Helkuo is used in John 21:6 to refer to a heavy net full of fish being dragged to the shore. In John 18:10 we see Peter drawing his sword, and in Acts 16:19 helkuo is used to describe Paul and Silas being dragged into the marketplace before the rulers. Clearly, the net had no part in its being drawn to the shore, Peter’s sword had no part in being drawn, and Paul and Silas did not drag themselves to the marketplace. Our positive response is assured because God dragged us first. Jesus said to Nicodemus that we must first be born again. John writes that Jesus said that no one can see the Kingdom. John 3:3 is clear that we must be born again before we can even see the Kingdom. How can we accept it before we can see it? We see because God first regenerates us. Regeneration preceeds acceptance. That's why Jesus uses the metaphor of being born again. A baby does not choose to be born. Once born, however, it chooses, even fights, to live. The result of the Fall is that Adam and Eve "died". At that point they lost, for all mankind, the ability to not sin. In sin, then, our wills are bound by Satan. Our will is not free. Do we make choices? Sure. But our choices are mandated by desire. If a person is held at gunpoint with the robber saying "Your money or your life." Do they have a choice? Sure! They are not forced to give their money up. But their desire is more for life than the money. They weren't forced to give their money. The Bible is clear that man's desire, after the fall, is not for God. That's why Adam and Eve hid. "No one seeks God, no, not one." Romans 3:11 is clear on our spiritual ability and desire. Paul, the Apostle, didn't choose Christ. God had to literally knock him of his horse with a blinding light. Did Paul "accept"? Yes, but only after God did something first. Lydia (Act 16) only responded after God opened her heart first for her to be able to respond. Why does anyone pray to "convert" a loved one, for God to "do something special" to get someone to come to Him unless God actually can do so? If God does so, that something special is regeneration so that the person then responds. And that's what happens in every case. God chooses to regenerate some, so that they can, and will, be drawn (dragged) and come to Him. Is that fair? Take an example: A scoundrel poisons some people who "drink the Kool Aid" willingly" (like Adam and Eve) and they, and their progeny die and are left in a field. (If you argue that it's not fair that their progeny are affected, then that is at the point of the original sin, not at the point of the saving. But the Bible is clear that God allowed all people to be affected at the Original Sin.) If there are 10,000 dead bodies in that field and someone (God) comes and chooses 1,000 of them to be brought back to life, is that unfair to the other 9,000? No. They got what they deserved. But it is grace (getting what you don't deserve over another person) to the 1,000 that are revived. They are the ones who got what they didn't deserve: grace.
Do humans truly have free will? If the context of this question relates to the sinner's responsibility for choosing to accept or reject God's grace, my answer is in the affirmative. I believe that this context is contemplated in the question. I will therefore proceed to present my response with that assumption in mind. My view is that nothing in Scripture forbids a sinner from responding to God's grace when they hear the gospel proclaimed and are convicted of sin. If anything, Scripture reveals in a number of passages that the gospel is predicated on the sinner's response. The sinner must choose obedience in order that God's saving grace is applied to him. We learn from Romans 10:5-8-11 that the sinner has a moral responsibility in choosing to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. The text explicitly proclaims " 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (NKJV). This is further upheld by John 3:16-17 that says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (NKJV). To teach that the sinner is incapable of making a conscious choice for obedience because of the extent of his moral depravity is to circumvent and countermand the authority of Scripture, in my view. Contrary to the doctrine advanced by deterministic theology groups, God does not selectively regenerate some sinners or deny some His saving grace. His grace is available to all sinners in all ages since Calvary. Secondly, no sinner is justified or chosen outside the works of the cross either in eternity past or in the world to come. This is gospel truth.
The term ‘free will’ is not a biblical concept. From the very begining God limited the scope of man’s will. See Gen 2:16-17 And the LORD GOD commanded the man saying ‘Of every tree of the garden you may FREELY eat; BUT of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ This COMMAND made man’s will clearly subservient to the WILL of GOD. It is clear that GOD did not want to give man the right to choose between good and evil. ‘Free will’ caused Lucifer to fall and was rather introduced by him. See Isa 14:13-15 God’s desire for us is not our will but our obedience which is the twin of faith!
First we must define what "Free" is. According to the dictionary it means "not under the control or in the power of another." So in order for a person to be free he or she must not be under the control or power of another. Is unsaved mankind under the control or power of someone? Ephesians 2:2 "You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God." The "commander" of the powers in the unseen world. So according to our definition of free, no, we are not free to receive Christ. We MUST be drawn by the Father, otherwise no one will ever come to Him. John 6:44 "For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up." There are two possibilities in free will. One, Christ's sacrifice at Calvary actually accomplished the complete salvation of a group of people that the scriptures call the elect. These are the people that God chose in Christ before the foundation of the world, so that they should be holy and without blame before Him. Or two, Christ's sacrifice at Calvary did not actually save anyone. It only made it possible that someone might at some point in their lives feel bad about their sins and seek out salvation. The problem here is that since unsaved mankind can ONLY obey the devil the will seek out religion and not Jesus Christ.
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