God "hath made of one blood all mankind, to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath assigned the seasons which were ordained before, and the bounds of their habitation, THAT they should seek the Lord, if so be they might have groped after him, and found him, though doubtless he be not far from every one of us. For in him we live, and move, and have our being," Acts 17:26-28
Does man have free will? Or could it be as Ravi Zacharias once said: “The question is wrong.” I’m not a trained theologian. God’s soveignty, His predestination, have since Calvin’s time (and perhaps before? I really don’t have degree!) have been framed in a versus relationship against Arminius’s “position” that human responsibility is key. Can we say that God does have a will? Yes. Can we say that man is made in God’s image and likeness? Yes. Therefore man has a will. A will is “part” of God Three in One, maybe they have three wills in one will! The problem is not having a will. They and we have one. The problem for man is that in his/her willfulness they find them selves in opposition to God’s will. All men and women have wills. The question is, is it not: “The will I (we, you, They) have, is it free?” Adonai, God, gave the person this order: "You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die." (Genesis 2:16-17 CJB) ‘You may FREELY eat…” Choose any fruit, choose the fruit of every tree except that one tree. If you eat the fruit of that one tree (of the knowledge of good and evil) you will die. We often call this a commandment. We also call it a covenant. Does it also read as a prophecy? God did not say “IF” you eat of it...”, He said “IN THE DAY THAT you eat of it...”
God who knows all things and the end from the beginning KNEW they would eat. Why did God not run to stop them from doing so? Ephesians 3:10 is on the way! God gives what was surely an amazing variety of foods from which Adam could choose. God also says: “You are not to choose that fruit. If you do you will die.” It is so clear that man was not created to know evil. He was created to know God. I’m not sure the forbidden fruit was essentially any different from all the other fruits except for the fact that God singled it out as he did. Was it the fruit that killed Adam? Or was it Adam’s choice to eat it that caused him to die. It was more the choice than the fruit, for he he not chosen to eat he would not have died.
This is connected to the law of sowing and reaping. It is lesson #1. We humans all have wills. Our will is the metaphysical organ of choice, yes? No? When I look out on the world I see that apart from God men are slaves. We have to choose to eat from some tree every day, and do often three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are slaves to our physical appetites in that we must choose to satisfy them or we will starve to death. If we fast from food and never eat again, we will die. If we will to fast long, we will to die. If we choose to fast, we choose to die. A preacher once said: “it is so simple it takes a theologian to confuse it.” We have wills. We make choices every day. But do we have FREE will? For that we must know what freedom is! If I am not free, what am I? I am a captive, or a prisoner or a slave. So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32 AMP) So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted him, "If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim [disciples, students], you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32 CJB) Some things we remember for many years. I remember from close to 40 years ago as a babe in Christ hearing that human will power will fail you. I didn’t really know all what that meant. Now I am beginning to see the thing more and more. We are born with what has been called the Adamic nature, the old man, and the flesh. Simply put we are born in flesh and blood under the sentence of death! We are dying and our will to live cannot change that from happening.The following passage has MUCH to say to us.
For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if, by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live. All who are led by God's Spirit are God's sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to bring you back again into fear; on the contrary, you received the Spirit, who makes us sons and by whose power we cry out, "Abba!" (that is, "Dear Father!"). The Spirit himself bears witness with our own spirits that we are children of God; and if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah — provided we are suffering with him in order also to be glorified with him. I don't think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future. The creation waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed; for the creation was made subject to frustration — not willingly, but because of the one who subjected it.But it was given a reliable hope that it too would be set free from its bondage to decay and would enjoy the freedom accompanying the glory that God's children will have. We know that until now, the whole creation has been groaning as with the pains of childbirth; and not only it, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we continue waiting eagerly to be made sons — that is, to have our whole bodies redeemed and set free. It was in this hope that we were saved. But if we see what we hope for, it isn't hope — after all, who hopes for what he already sees? (Romans 8:13-24 CJB)
There is something in the Arminian position that smells a bit rotted. It is the will of man. What? Bear with me. We are born in the Adamic nature. Our nature is fallen, our world is fallen. And Jesus was sent to save us from hell. In this year 2016 we are watching another presidential election. A word we hear over and over regarding our government is this: CORRUPTION. In the church we have heard and it is written in the Bible; “ALL have sinned…” May I give a rendering? “All have acted corruptly…”
We are made in God’s image and likeness and yet that image and likeness have been subjected to corruption. Therefore can we conclude that our wills are corrupted? I think we can. If they were not, every choice we make would be 100% perfect, flawless. We would see the will of heaven done in earth with out any human failure. I am often just dismayed by my personal failures, they are MANY, but I don’t want to describe them to you. Let me just say that a tangled web is weaved by deceit, and the lie of satan is directed straight at my will, to cause it to continue to choose corruption, to act corruptly. And I have done that.
We are warned not to love the lie. Those who do love it perish. I don’t know what exactly to say of Adam. Did he love the lie? Or of Eve, did she love the lie? The great accusation against Hillary Clinton is that she is a liar. May God forgive us all. At some point we have chosen the lie, yes? No?
The serpent said to the woman, "It is not true that you will surely die;” (Genesis 3:4 CJB)
I think that is the very heart of the lie which is that we can do what God says we are not to do without the consequence God attaches to those acts! When Eve saw the goodness of the fruit she was not seeing the consequence God attached to eating it. Adam, what shall we say? It is said he knew the consequence and ate anyway. We wonder did Adam eat simply because he feared being separated from Eve? I wonder what change in Eve he might have seen after she ate?
It is very sobering to me to read these words: To Adam he said, "Because you listened to what your wife said and ate from the tree about which I gave you the order, 'You are not to eat from it,' the ground cursed on your account; you will work hard to eat from it as long as you live. (Genesis 3:17 CJB)
What did Eve say? Having eaten, her eyes were opened and she knew evil, yes? no?
Adonai, God, said, "See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, to prevent his putting out his hand and taking also from the tree of life, eating, and living forever — " therefore Adonai, God, sent him out of the garden of `Eden to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So he drove the man out, and he placed at the east of the garden of `Eden the k'ruvim [Cherubims] and a flaming sword which turned in every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24 CJB)
Choice. We have choice. We make choices. Are we “free” to make them, right or wrong. Or are we PERMITTED to make them? Human history unfolds under the influence of our choices. Your history and mine unfold under the influence of our choices. Arminius emphasized human responsibility; Calvin the Sovereignty of God. Both operate in the world and in the church. There is still the opportunity to do evil on earth. For us humans to be correct in our responsibility to God places limitations on our choices. Adam failed to recognize the goodness of God’s limiting his choice. Only one tree was forbidden! But what a much longer list of things are now forbidden, what a long list of limitations on human choice have flowed out of the eating of one piece of fruit! Bob Mumford says there are 25 works of the flesh found in the New Testament; he calls them a gang of ugly facts. That is a longer list than the Ten Commandments. Because of one ugly act in Eden 25 ugly weeds sprang up in the flesh of every man. They are the inheritance of one man’s sin. Our entire personality including our will is corrupted. Our perception of freedom is corrupted. Paul said that we see as through a dark glass even after we are become the Messiah’s friends. For that reason I think the question of our “free” will versus God’s sovereignty (His able authority to plan beforehand all His will) is an argument springing out of lack of freedom, a lack caused by corruption.
Bob Mumford gives a wonderfully simple definition of freedom: It is the ability to stop and to start. He points out many can start talking, fewer can stop. Or eating or drugging. God’s desire is the we stop sinning! “Go and sin no more...” If we go and sin no more the result must be the will of God! Sin destroys freedom. It is so very simple, the will of God in heaven Abba desires to be done on earth consists of (at least this) one great thing, that we stop sinning! Help us Lord for this is our path to safety. When men sin they put themselves in peril. READ Psalm 107 !!!
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Yesterday our Pastor spoke on the will of God for us. He took us to 1Thessalonians Ch. 5 and spoke on being thankful in everything and rejoicing always. Those were two “components” of God’s will for us.
1Thessalonians 5:12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Lord Jesus forgive us if in our confusion, or in ignorance, or even in our willfulness all our sins. We are weak and in some degree, corruption interferes with our attempt to understand, Your will, and do Your will.. The plan was and is Yours, and the outcome is Yours. All souls are Yours. Help us be content with what we have and what we know. If we covet, let us covet the intimacy of Your Spirit and Your LOVE for us, and covet the overcoming power to live in You. Jesus, You are the WORD. Abba God, You are LOVE! THANK YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE, A GOOD GOOD FATHER AND A POWERFUL SAVIOR. Amen, AMEN!
So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32 AMP)
So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted him, "If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim [disciples, students], you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32 CJB)