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It is impossible for us to fully understand the relationship between God's sovereignty and man's free will and responsibility. Only God truly knows how they work together in His plan of salvation. ...
Man's free will works together with God to save himself in the same way a dead person works with a doctor to give himself CPR. In other words, man's "free will" does not work together with God. Free will is a myth, our wills are bound to sin. We are born dead in our trespasses and at war with God. There is no mystery, salvation is God's work alone. Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10) and is given to us as a gift (Ephesians 2).
Fact: We are all Gods children. Fact: His will is that none be lost John 3:16 In this statement Jn 3:16-17 The world (mankind) is in NEED of being saved. Irregardless of man and his thoughts, He, God, has now acted and request us to take an action. Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.... The choice is mans to make. Follow the world and its offering or Gods. Or to be, or not to be with God. Now that is the question. As it was asked a long time ago in Jos 24:15 "choose you this day whom ye will serve..."
Allow me to present a different approach to this question by using an modern analogy. If we take a look at our highway system I think we may come to a clearer understanding of the issue. To get from San Diego, CA to Los Angeles, CA, an individual is presented with several options. All options are "predetermined" by planners and engineers. These options include on and off ramps, connectors to other highways and toll ways. The individuals chooses which highway to take to arrive at the destination, (Los Angeles for this example). They choose if they want to get off or back on, BUT not "when" since this was "predetermined" by the planners. God has "predetermined" each of our lives for the purpose of His glory. At some point, we become conscious of the fact there is a Creator (Ps. 19:1-6, Rom. 1:19-20). We either choose to accept this (Ps. 15:1-2 esp. "...and acknowledges the truth in his heart"; example: Acts 10:2) or reject this (Rom. 1:18). Since we can only be held responsible to accept that which has been presented (Matt. 11:23-24), God in His sovereignty may choose not to send the gospel message (Acts 16:6) or to send the gospel message (Acts 10:22). It then becomes our decision to reject Him (John 1:11; Acts 13:46) or receive Him (John 1:12-13; Acts 13:46b-48). In conclusion, just as it is unlawful to get on the highway except by using the predetermined on-ramps, one does not receive salvation except at the predetermined time appointed by God (which should be a scary thought for those who think they can do as they want then make a death bed confession). Just as there are several highways which will take an individual from San Diego to Los Angeles, there may be several opportunities that God will allow His gospel message to be presented (NOTE: The analogy of several highways DOES NOT mean there are several paths to God! John 14:6, No one come to the Father except through Jesus Christ!). So the same plea which Paul has I have: "that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ's behalf, 'Be reconciled to God.'"
God's sovereignty and the free choice He has given to man to respond to the gospel in faith work together in salvation in this manner: #1 God, by His sovereign will, gave man the ability to choose whether to obey or disobey. (Deut 30:19, Josh 34:19, etc.) For salvation, man can either respond to the gospel in belief or refuse to believe it. (Mk 16:16) #2 God, by His sovereign power and decree, set up boundaries/limits in which people can act. Some of these boundaries are physical, such as God creating us with opposable thumbs, but the inability to fly or breath in vacuum. Some are mental, such as granting man the ability to reason higher than the animals, but not giving man the complete and perfect knowledge of God. Some of these boundaries are moral, such as fallen man's inability to be perfectly righteous, but that man can still follow the laws of God written on their hearts (Rom 2:14-15.) Due to these boundaries, man cannot physically work for salvation or accomplish his own deliverance. He cannot reach salvation via his own mental enlightenment. And man cannot morally achieve salvation via his own righteousness. In all these ways, it is impossible. However, God in His sovereign mercy, knew that man could not achieve salvation within the limits he had bounded man and so created another way - faith! Rather than man having to be righteous, an impossibility, Christ would come to be righteousness on their behalf, and God would credit that righteousness to the account of any who would believe. "However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness." Rom 4:5 "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." Eph 2:8-9 http://ebible.com/answers/24715?ori=167400 #3 God, by His character and wisdom, set the standard of righteousness. (Rom 1:17, Psalm 18:30, Eph 2:3, Psalm 119:3, Deut 32:4, Psalm 145:17, Isaiah 5:16, Isaiah 51:6, Dan 9:14, Jer 9:24.) If God hadn't reached out to man with a way to be declared righteous through faith, not works, then salvation would have been impossible for man. Fortunately for us, He did! #4 God, in His sovereign wisdom and power, set the rules by which deliverance, forgiveness, and pardon are obtained (Num 25:22-29, Jer 26:1-6, II Chron 7:14, John 3:16, Heb 10:11-18, Luke 4:14-21, Heb 9:22, Matt 5:29, Isa 45:22-25) Mercifully, God offers forgiveness and deliverance to those who place their faith in Christ! #5 God, by His sovereign power and grace, gave us everything necessary to respond to the gospel in faith through the sufficient work of Christ on the cross. He gave us: - Christ; God revealed. (Heb 1:3, I Cor 1:4-5, John 4:10, Jn 12:46-32, Jn 8:12) "There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." Jn 1:9 Without this revelation of Christ, limited man would have never known the way of salvation. - The offer of salvation to all people in Christ: (Titus 2:11, John 12:3-33, Matt 4:12-17, Psalm 67:1-3) Without this gracious offer, none would have the opportunity to be saved. - Christ delivered to death that we might live: (Rom 4:25, Gal 2:20-21, Rom 5:6-8) Without Christ's work on the cross, there would be no atonement possible. - The gospel proclaimed (Col 1:23, Rom 10:17, Gal 3:2-5, Heb 4:2) Without the good news and testimony of the gospel, we would have nothing to respond to in faith. - The general conviction of the Spirit (John 16:7-11, I Cor 14:24-25) Without this conviction of sin, we would not know our need for a Saviour. - The testimony and light of the church (I Cor 10:33, Matt 5:13-14) Without this continued grace, most men would never hear of Christ. **** See also: http://ebible.com/answers/24965?ori=167400 (sequence/part man plays in salvation) http://ebible.com/answers/14667?ori=167400 (is God sovereign or do we have free will)
Is God Sovereign? It He was not He wouldn’t be God. Has God given us “free will”? I believe from reading the Bible many times, that He has. But being Sovereign does not mean He controls everything that happens. It means that He is in charge and He “makes the rules”. Being God it means that all the rules must coexist in harmony with the others. One rule can’t invalidate another. They both must be true. He does not lie. How do I know He doesn’t control all things? He says so. He said “The prophets are doing and saying things that I did not tell them to do or say.” (Probably paraphrased) If He was controlling all things this statement would not be true. It is also one of the MANY statements that indicate we have a free will. Because God has given us a free will, the fact that God is Sovereign does not mean that His Will is the same as His rules. The consequences of going against His Will are not necessarily the same as breaking one if His rules. A rule is like the statement that “the wages of sin is death”. That statement says that the payment for sin is death. A death is due because of sin. God’s will is that we not sin. But we are free to do so. When we do, he wants us to repent and sin no more. However that does not change that There are consequences, in this case death. (Fortunately for us, Jesus paid those consequences for us in advance) The Bible tells us that God is not slow as some say but patient wanting ALL to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (I believe that means Jesus Knowledge not knowledge of Jesus). For this to be true, this has to mean that He invites everyone to be saved not just a few. That is where our free Will comes in. We can seek that knowledge, understand and believe everything that Jesus is and accept that invitation and by believing repenting and being born again become a new person, saved by His Grace. (Yes, this can happen all at once, but like the seeds sown in rocky soil it won’t take root without doing all the above) Free Will is also a gift of God by his Grace. But with that free will there are consequences to what we choose. We can choose to accept that invitation (call) which leads to eternal life or put it off or even outright reject it. Each decision has consequences.
When we consider man's free will and God's sovereignty, we must first remember that man's free will died in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, before they sinned, were truly free to choose, but once they sinned, they lost their free will and became slaves to sin. Without Christ, we are in the same predicament, Jn. 8:34. Ephes. 2:1&5 tell us that not only are we not free, we are dead. Now, we experience freedom to choose every day, like what we will wear, eat, etcetera, however we must remember what scripture tells us about who we serve if we are not christians. We are like a dog on long leash...as long as we do not go to the end of our leash, we experience freedom to a certain extent. Once we try to go beyond the length of the leash, we then are reminded that we are not truly free, in fact, we are bound. An unbeliever can experience some freedom, but realizes that he or she is not free when they try to please God. Secondly, God's sovereignty must be complete, otherwise he is not God. God does not only know everything that comes to pass, he dictates all things that will come to pass. Rom. 9:15-23, Dan. 4:25,35 illustrate this clearly for us. The teaching of Christ in the gospels is replete with references to God choosing us, not us choosing him. Matt. 11:27, John 6:44, 15:6 Thirdly, if our salvation is dependant upon our choice to believe in Jesus Christ or not, then salvation completely depends on our ability, and our works, which is contrary to the teaching of scripture in Rom. 9:11 and Ephes. 2:8&9. If salvation is because of my choice, then I have something to boast about before God, because I chose Christ, while others did not. Our salvation must be completely based on God's choice, any other way will lead us into beliefs that are contrary to scripture. When we try to reconcile God's sovereign choice and our responsibility before him, we must remember that although these two ideas are contradictory to us, they are not to God. He is all powerful, he does not need anything, he is not dependant on anyone or anything. This God can be sovereign over all things, including our salvation and can justly and perfectly judge mankind for his actions. Is.14:26&27, 43:13.
I will use "Knowing Good and Evil" to state my opinion. Free will can place you anywhere between good, good & evil and or evil. Gen 3:22, Mat 7:11 Mat 22:9-10 Those who tend for good in their ignorance to serve religion gets Gods attention. Acts 10:1-4 What we must realize there’s a difference in been good and been wicked. Rom 3:10-12 refers to only the wicked of a generation. This utterance was not made to the God- fearing people. "There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Rom 3:10-12 Let's look at Psalm 14 Psa 14:2-3 "The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. they have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." Here we have a situation, where God who looked down upon the sons of men at a certain time (Ps 14:2-3) and saw mankind have change from a good position to an evil position. “…all have turned aside…” and “…they have become useless…” “They” the evil ones were not always corrupt or useless but have swayed to evil. The “All” refers to the wicked only if you continue in the same context it excludes God's people, as clarified in Psa 14:4, "Do all the workers of wickedness not know, Who eat up my people as they eat bread, And do not call upon the Lord?" “my people” is excluded from the “all” Noah Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The evil of Noah’s generation went down with the flood. Noah at the time of Gen 6:5 were found to be God- fearing 2 Pet 2:5 Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Gen 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. All spiritually dead Humans have the ability to choose to be good. Gen 3:22 Which is done imperfectly Ecc 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. There is an upholding of righteousness polluted with sin. That's the position of the God- fearing. Jas 2:10 Rom 7:19 The dilemma is we are all lost. It depends then on Sovereign God to save the God- fearing and the evil. God’s intervention Rom 5:8 John 3:16 Joh 16:8 Some (God-fearing) were just activated for they were ripe for picking Jn 4:35...Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Acts 8:27, Acts 10:1-4, Acts 16:14, Acts 18:7; John 12:20 Acts 13:48, Acts 17:23-30 (see Clark’s commentary on verse 23) Ignorant Paul's Religious intention 1 Ti 1:13 Ignorant Gentiles according to Rom 2:14 … do instinctively (a strong natural impulse) the things of the Law … Others had to call out for salvation Rom 10:12-13, Acts 2:37, Act_16:29-31 and Acts 2:21 Shalom
In my opinion the Sovereignty of God and the freewill of mankind are two different things. Sovereignty speaks of power and authority. When it comes to the salvation of mankind it was the predetermined counsel of God's will to save mankind through His Son. It is His will that none should perish, however not all will accept God's way of salvation and that is where the free will of mankind comes into play. According to the foreknowledge of God, He knows who will receive and who will reject His Son as Lord and Savior. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." John 1:12
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