Eternal Security ~ Part 7

God’s Sovereignty and Free Will

In my last post, we dug deeper into Hebrews 6:4-6 with some experts that have a different take on what the author of Hebrews may have meant when he wrote this passage.  In this post, we will explore a different, but I think related issue ~ God’s Sovereignty and Free Will.

In our American culture, we are raised to value our individual freedoms.  The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights,” literally scream freedom and free will.  As a matter of fact, the Tenth Amendment specifically states that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people (emphasis added).  In short, we are free to do whatever we want to do as long as we accept those consequences for doing something we are legally not entitled to do.  Clearly, I have the absolute right and free will to arm myself under the Second Amendment and the freedom to not exercise that right.

The concept of free will appears extensively in the writings of the Tanakh, but generally in relation to the “free will offerings” outlined in Leviticus 7:16;22:18, 21, 23; 23:38.  The concept is not as prevalent in the Brit Hadashah.  Yeshua stated, “No one takes it [His life] away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” ~ John 10:18. Again, in relation to an offering, Sha’ul writes, I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means.” ~ 2 Corinthians 8:3. And in his letter to Philemon, Sha’ul writes,“but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” ~ Philemon 1:14 (NASB)

In “Rightly Dividing the Word,” Rev. Clarence Larkin [1] wrote:

“There is no question but that the “Doctrine of Election” is taught in the Scriptures, and that it applies not only to “service,” but to “salvation.” It is equally true that the “Doctrine of the Freedom of the Will” under certain conditions is also taught. We may not be able to reconcile the “Sovereign Will of God,” with the “Free-will of Man,” but that is no proof that they are not reconcilable. They are the corresponding halves of the Doctrine of Salvation, “Election” is the Godward side, and “Free-will” the manward side.”

I take from this statement that we have the free will to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through faith in Yeshua and the free will to reject that offer.

A.W. Tozer [2] has this to say on the topic of free will in “The Attributes of God – Volume 1: A Journey into the Father’s Heart:”

“God is good toward all who accept His goodness. And for those who reject His goodness, there’s nothing that even the Almighty God can do if He’s going to allow man his free will—and I believe in free will. Free will was given as a gift of God—He’s given us a little provisional sovereignty out of His absolute sovereignty. He has said, “I’ll allow you, within a little framework, to be your own boss and to choose to go to heaven or to hell.” If a man will not take God’s goodness, then he must have God’s severity toward all who continue in moral revolt against the throne of God and in rebellion against the virtuous laws of God.”

In “The Attributes of God – Volume 2: Deeper into the Father’s Heart,” Tozer expands on his doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will which in the interest of space, I only quote in part.

“The matter of man’s free will versus God’s sovereignty can be explained in this way: God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything, that He planned everything from the beginning.  Man’s free will means that he can, anytime he wants, make most any choice he pleases (within his human limitations, of course).  Man’s free will can apparently defy the purposes of God and will against the will of God.  Now how do we resolve this seeming contradiction?

Down through the years, two divisions of the church have attempted to resolve this dilemma in different ways. One division emphasizes the sovereignty of God, believing that God planned everything from the beginning, that God ordered that some would be saved and some lost, that Christ died for those who would be saved, but He didn’t die for the others who would not be saved. That is actually what followers of John Calvin believe.

On the other side, there are those who say that Christ died for all and that man is free to make his choice. But those who teach the sovereignty of God in this exclusive way say that if man is free to make a choice, then God isn’t sovereign.  Because if a man can make a choice that God doesn’t like, then God does not have His way.

God’s sovereignty means absolute freedom, doesn’t it?  God is absolutely free to do anything He wants or wills to do—anywhere, anytime, forever.  And man’s free will means that man can make any choice he wants to make, even if he makes a choice against the will of God.  There is where the theologians lock horns like two deer out in the woods and wallow around until they die. I refuse to get caught on either horn of that dilemma!  Here is what I see: God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please.  And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice.

And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice. If I choose to go to hell, it’s not what His love would have chosen, but it does not controvert nor cancel out His sovereignty. Therefore, I can take John Calvin in one hand and Jacob Arminius in the other and walk down the street. (Neither of them would walk with me, I’m sure, because Calvin would say I was too Arminian and Arminius would say I was too Calvinistic!)

But I’m happy in the middle. I believe in the sovereignty of God and in the freedom of man. I believe that God is free to do as He pleases and I believe that, in a limited sense, He has made man free to do as he pleases—within a certain framework, but not a very big one. After all, you’re not free to do very many things. You’re free to make moral choices. You’re free to do a few things, but not that many. But the things you are free to do are gifts from the God who is utterly free. Therefore, anytime I make a choice, I’m fulfilling the freedom God gave me and therefore I’m fulfilling God’s sovereignty and carrying it out.

God has said that those who follow Jesus Christ and believe in Him shall be saved, and those who refuse shall be damned. That’s settled—eternally, sovereignly settled. But you and I have freedom in the meantime, to do anything we want to do. And though most people think very little about it, we’re going to answer for that someday, according to the sovereign will of God.

God has certain plans that He is going to carry out. “The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3KJV). When God is carrying on His plans, He is moving in a certain direction. When the enemy comes along (exercising the little freedom God has given him to be an enemy of God) and intersects the will and purpose of God, then there’s trouble. As long as we move in the will of God, everything goes smoothly. But when we get out of the will of God, then we have trouble on our hands.”

It’ hard for me to argue with Tozer.  I’m beginning to think I might be a Calvi-minian.  In my next post or two or three, I will explore Calvinism followed by Arminianism.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  Rev. Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was an American Baptist pastor, Bible teacher and author whose writings on Dispensationalism had a great impact on conservative Protestant visual culture in the 20th century. His intricate and influential charts provided readers with a visual strategy for mapping God’s action in history and for interpreting complex biblical prophecies.

[2] Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.  For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.

9 thoughts on “Eternal Security ~ Part 7

  1. HI Don!

    “I take from this statement that we have the free will to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through faith in Yeshua and the free will to reject that offer.”

    Well, of course I happen to agree with that statement, as you probably know.

    It’s interesting, isn’t it? By that I mean how we insist on putting God in a neat little box that we can fully understand. In other words, if it seem two different things are being taught to us, we have to say one of the things is wrong so that it makes sense to us. Both God’s sovereignty and man’s free will are taught, and they are not understandable or seemingly reconcilable in our rather limited minds.

    I am quite okay with that honestly. Really, if we could fully understand everything about God, then He would not me much of a God; He would be just like us. Of course, that is the crux of the problem; we want God to fit our pattern rather than us fitting His. That’s another subject, I suppose.

    To insist that the granting of free will to man limit’s God is preposterous. Since He is, in fact, fully sovereign and all powerful, He certainly has sufficient power to grant free will to any extent He so desires. To insist He cannot grant it actually limits it. “Oh, God, you are all powerful….you just aren’t powerful enough to grant us free will and yet still know all things from the beginning to the end.”

    Good series so far, Don. I really appreciate the way you are presenting the various sides of this as you study.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanx for your kind words, Wally. For me, the bottom line is that God did not create puppets. Yes, He has the power to pull our strings, but what kind of worshippers would we really be if we had no choice in how or if we freely gave Him our worship?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Free will even extend when the person is saved. The question should be, would a Christian ever reject Jesus as his Lord and Savior and the answer is a whopping no…it’s impossible. That is because the Christian is a different person, one changed by the Holy Spirit and is born again. It all comes down to the heart, when a heart is evil it will always be bad but when you give him a new heart then he will be good. Jesus said a bad tree can’t produce good fruit and a good tree can’t produce bad fruit. Once a heart is changed by the Holy Spirit to be good that person cannot changed because his heart (spirit) is good (born again). It’s like making a new person.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. God makes it very clear Don, that He knows those who are His own and did before we were conceived and so He chose us to be conformed into the image of Jesus by His foreknowledge of our Heart Repentance which shows that we accept Jesus has our Lord and Saviour and He tells us not one of us will be lost. If we are Perfected in Love, which we are all to aim for putting our Carnal flesh to death by the Spirit, we don’t Sin which includes not rejecting Jesus because to do so is the unforgivable Sin, it’s Blaspheming The Holy Spirit by calling Him a liar.

    Another important Truth is when we confess our Sins we are forgiven and God chooses to remember then no more, they are taken away as far as the East is to the West and we are no longer judged for them and when we are Born Again we no longer Sin so we can’t be judged. Yes we are saved from Eternity but it was always going to be our choice but God knows what we will choose, He knows all things and if He knew we would reject Jesus He would not of chose us

    Let’s remember that God is Love and He Loved the World, that means everyone in it and so He sent Jesus to Redeem us all and this is why those who reject Him will be held accountable, they are under the curse but it does not change the Truth that God Loves them even if He hates their heart focus which is of the worldly flesh.

    I was told once at a Bible Study that was teaching Calvinism that everything good and bad comes from God’s hands, there all in His plans. I asked this woman if it was God’s plan for me to be molested from the age of 3 by 5 different men and to be raped by a Doctor who had Aborted my Baby when I was not yet 15 and did He plan for my first Husband to bash me repeatably and for my other 6 babies to die, she said yes to bring good out of it all. The Scriptures tell us it’s slander to even accuse Believers of doing evil to bring good out of it, how much more so with God.

    Everything pertaining to God’s Truth that I have shared above Don is confirmed in Scripture, if you want them please let me know but what I don’t understand about you Don is why you are seeking to know God’s Truth from what man thinks instead of what Jesus who is our only Teacher and what He tells us He confirms by the Scriptures or Creation or both..

    Matthew 23:8-10 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, The Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your Father; for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven. And do not be called Teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. NKJV

    1John 2:26-28 These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any Man Teach you but as the same anointing Teacheth you of all things and is Truth and is no lie and even as it hath taught you ye shall abide in Him.

    Colossians 2 :2 -3 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in Love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

    1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is True, and we are in Him that is True, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the True God, and eternal life.

    John 15:14-15 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.(KJV)

    Matthew 10:26-28 Fear them not therefore for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed and hid that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness that speak ye in light and what ye hear in the ear that preach ye upon the housetops (KJV)

    Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you shall go. I will guide you with Mine eye.

    John 5: 39 – 40 Search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

    I’m Praying for you Don, in knowing God’s Truth you will be set free. Christian Love – Anne.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anne, perhaps you need to go back to my first blog in this series to understand the rationale for even talking about Calvinism and Arminianism.

      I don’t have a problem with foreknowledge, but I do have a problem with foreordained that I will eventually get to in early December.

      I’m on my way to the land of Australia this week, so I’ve pre-posted my blogs for publication in November.

      If I don’t address all your questions by the end of the series, I’ll be glad to address them then.

      Thanx for praying for me.

      The best is yet to come.

      Like

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