John 1:10 - 13
ESV - 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
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There are indicators in the Scripture that free will is in operation before and after salvation. The first scripture in John 1 that I posted above, John 1:10-13, not only proves that the right to choose to receive Christ is available to anyone who desires, and that, before they are regenerated. Note that the people who receive Christ are not changed till they decide to receive Christ. Then He gives them the power to become children of God. If the gospel was only for a select few and not available to all men, you would have to change scriptures in the Bible. You would have to change the most famous of Scriptures and that is John 3:16, to something like this, "Because God did not love world He decided to select a meager few the rest He destined to hell." John 1:10-13 you would have to change to " as many that I conditioned through special election I gave the power to become sons of God. But of course it does not say that at all. What is definite is that the availability of salvation is to whoever will. Now some would suggest that we don't do anything for salvation. That is not entirely true. If a person was reaching out to a drowning man and the victim did not take his hand he would drown. The offering of salvation is to everyone. So it is presented to all men because Jesus' love for the whole world meant that His salvation was available to all. They must do something when presented the offering they must take hold of it. They must repent and obey the gospel. Jesus said "repent or you shall likewise perish" This is not salvation by good works this is simply obeying the command of the Gospel. Jesus performed all that was necessary for all men to be saved all they are commanded to do is to repent and believe the gospel. The universal availability to all men means that the free will is certainly involved in the salvation and it's seen in this Scripture.Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: God commands everyone everywhere to repent. those who choose to obey that command will become children of God. So God allows us the freedom of choice. If God commands us to do something their are consequences if we don't obey. 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Here is the punishment for not choosing to obey the gospel. Free will is proven to be real here by the scripture saying they will be punished for not being obedient. When a person chooses to be obedient to the Gospel they will be saved. Free will is also proven to be true in Act 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Here they were presented the gospel but they chose to resist grace. This was what Paul said "but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life" If they judged themselves unworthy that shows they were given the freedom of choice and because they disobeyed the gospel they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. Now we can fully understand what Jesus said when He declared, "if any man follow me let him deny himself and take up his cross." Any man who wants to follow Jesus must freely choose to deny himself. Here we find free will in operation again. Rev_22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. This is what the Bride of Christ the Church is told to say, "whosoever will" let them come. Free will here, not an imposing God enforcing His will that none can resist. A gentle invitation is all that's needed.
Webster's online Dictionary defines free will as: "freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention". John 1:11:13 "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John clearly states believers are not born (born again) as a result of blood (relation), not because of fleshly (humanistic) will and not because someone willed it for you. It is of God. In John 3 Nicodemas posed the question concerning the re-birth. In v. 6 The Lord responded "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. V. 7-8 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." My paraphrase: Physical and spiritual birth are two separate and distinct events. The word "listeth" is defined as "where it desires" in Strong's concordance. Both births are ordained and controlled by God. Let me ask you. Did you choose your mother and father? How much control did you have over your physical birth? As Mark referenced (Ephesians 2), The Word of God declares all to be filthy, rotten sinners, dead in our sins. Question: if we are spiritually dead where does the ability to overcome our spiritually mortified condition come from? Man can no more resurrect himself spiritually than Lazarus could resurrect himself physically. Only until The Lord said "Lazarus, come forth" did he rise from the grave. Lazarus was "quickened" or made alive physically. Some of the most precious passages to a born again believer begin with the three letter word "but". It is used to bring strong contrast to what was previously stated. Ephesians 2:4 "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, v.5 "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) v. 6 "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" v. 7 "That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." v.8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" v.9 "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Who chose who? 1 Sam 9:1-20, "Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, “Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys. So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.” I recently spent time studying this passage to see it’s parallel to salvation. In preaching the gospel, we must have a starting point. The starting point is crucial to the outcome of the message. The gospel message that starts with man will ultimately put God on the stand and judge Him as the bad one. The gospel message that starts with God will definitely put man on the stand, this is the way it should be. To make this message clear, I draw our attention to 1 Sam 9 where we are told of Saul. In vs. 1 we meet his father, followed by who Saul was and his stature. In vs.3 we learn of an assignment given to him by his father which involved taking a servant on a journey. From vs. 4 onward, he and his servant embark on a journey to find his father's lost donkeys. In vs. 5, indicates their unsuccessful journey which would push them to want to quit and go back home lest his father be worried of what became of him. In vs. 6 his servant came up with an idea, "6 And he said to him, “Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go.” …vs."10 Then Saul said to his servant, “Well said; come, let us go.” So they went to the city where the man of God was." Up to this point, you see moves made by Saul and his servant. It started with his father's request, their reasoning, and their quest to find these missing donkeys. In vs. 15, the story takes a huge turn and changes everything, it says, "15 Now the Lord HAD told Samuel in his ear THE DAY BEFORE Saul came, saying, 16 “TOMORROW ABOUT THIS TIME I WILL SEND YOU A MAN from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel...". What amazes me in this story, the revelation of God is concealed until an appointed time. When the appointed time is revealed, it’s clear to us who was behind every move and every decision Saul made. I see free will however this free will is confined to God's leading where God is not forcing or bending Saul. Rather, there is a God guided influence. Trains find freedom to move in the confinement of the tracks given. God told Samuel a day before that He will send Saul. From the beginning it appeared Saul was orchestrating every plan and move, vs. 15 reveals that it was God at work. Phil 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. The willingness and the ability is of Him, we respond and He takes all the credit. Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…”, John 15:16. While it appears Saul chose to go and meet the prophet, it’s God who chose him and led him through circumstances to the right place. When I became a believer, it all started with me or as it appeared. I thought I was the one who got tired of living for self; I thought I was the one who began to have a desire for God. Now I know it was entirely the Lord’s doing, He put the desire, the drive, the repentance, and faith to believe in Him. We did not choose God, God chose us. The Lord does the choosing, the saving, the keeping and He gets all the glory.
Remember what God said concerning Adam and Eve after they had eaten of the fruit in the garden? Genesis 3.22 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…” God saw man’s disobedience. Man decided to take his own path and disregard God’s. God punished him in so many ways, the earth is still reeling from its effects. Man “chose” to eat of the tree. But God ordained it to happen exactly the way it did. He full well knew that man couldn’t keep it up and planned this in order to bring about salvation to His own. When man stands up and demands his rights, only rebellion can result. This is the foundation of the feminists’ Suffrage Movement. They demanded their rights and look what has occurred since. Nothing but rebellion and anarchy. Someone will say, I chose to accept Christ as my personal Saviour. But, dear brother, why did you ‘need’ to have the right to choose? Why is it so important for you to share the steering wheel with God? Why can’t you let go? Human (Sinful) nature dictates the need and right to choose and have his say. Human nature derives its power from… Pride! It’s man’s pride that set the world on a downward slope of sin. It’s man’s pride that pushed him to build the tower of Babel. It’s man’s pride that pushed him to construct the golden calf. It was man’s pride that set him at odds with God all down through history and then it was man’s pride that dared brag that God was on his side. How many battle songs have God among its lyrics? From the States to Nazi Germany, each country set out with the erroneous idea that God was blessing their efforts. Human nature pushes man into making choices that are always based on pride. Pride also has convinced man that he has the RIGHT to choose his own way.
The right, responsibility, and obligation to freely choose to obey or disobey God was clearly given to Adam and Eve at creation. Sin had not entered the human race and they were in fact created in God's very image Genesis 1.26. They enjoyed complete fellowship with God in the garden. While God knew that they would sin and the penalty for their disobedience would be death, Ezekiel 33.11 assures us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and further implores the wicked to turn from their wicked ways and be saved. This theme is found throughout the old and new testaments culminating in the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose death burial and resurrection made salvation possible for all (Titus 2.11). Now ask yourself, did God desire that Adam and Eve sin so he could redeem them? Of course not! And how can God grieve over the choices of the wicked (Hebrews 3.10) and take no pleasure in their ultimate death, if in fact their disobedience is not a result of their own free will, a capacity given by God at creation? Clearly, man's free will was conferred by God and was essential for God's creative purposes to be fully realized. While free will is the general rule regarding man's capacity to govern his own choices, it does not preclude God from electing to over rule from time to time to assure that God's ultimate purposes and plan prevail. God is God. He can do what he choses. He desires each to be saved (1 Timothy 2.4) but desires that the choice be freely made. Either this is true or God's expressions of grief at mans disobedience are disingenuous. Nothing could be further from the truth! God loves each and every one, he know's us intimately (Psalms 103), he thinks about us (Psalms 40.17) he has every hair on our head numbered (Luke 12.7) indeed every cell in our body has our name stamped on it! His grace is sufficient for every one and every need (2 Corinthians 12.9). God loves each and every one, and is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3.9) and yet "broad is the way that leads to destruction...narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it..." (paraphrase of Matthew 7.13,14). Even though God provides all that is needed, including the faith to believe, (Romans 1.18-20) most will choose to go their own way, grieving the heart of God, having no one and nothing to blame but their own pride and self will for their ultimate fate on the road to destruction.
Before or after, there is no autonomous free will. 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV) 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (Romans 6:20, 21 ESV) We are not autonomous beings. As unbelievers we were/are under control of our sinful nature. Every decision, and judgment we make, and every action we take, is informed by our sinful nature. As believers, those same things are informed either by the Holy Spirit, or our sinful nature. The righteousness we have as believers is an imputed righteousness, and in all practicality, on this side of Heaven we are still sinners. 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12 ESV) So let's remember as we go, that in one way or the other, we are influenced, and informed by one of two masters. Sin, or God. There really is no such thing as "Free" will.
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