THEOLOGY: Ephesians 1:3-14: Who's running the show?

Ah, the book of Ephesians. Perhaps one of my favorite books in scripture. For such a short book in length, it more than makes up for in clear and concise theology. After Paul's standard greeting (v. 1-2) he dives into spiritual blessings for the believer. Here goes:

Eph 1:3-14 (ESV):  3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Paul begins in verse 3 by establishing exactly what he is going to write about to begin the book by saying "who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." The rest of the section is Paul expounding on what these blessings are. There really is not a whole lot to this section in one sense, as it reads quite plainly and straightforward. On the other hand, this section of scripture is one of the most abused and twisted in the entire bible. Why? Because people just don't like what it says because it violates their theology. Paul can't really be saying that! Well, what exactly is Paul saying? Let's take a peek.

The first blessing Paul lists is in verse 4. What is it? I quote: "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world." I've seen numerous attempts to circumvent the plain meaning of this text, but none of them are sufficient. To put it simply: God chose us before the foundation of the world. He alone chose who would be His sheep. How much more clear does Paul have to be? Where does it says "He chose us because we chose Him?" Does scripture ever say that? Anywhere?

Paul also continues on and gives a reason as to why God chose us. It is this: "that we should be holy and blameless before him." So, where does the holy and blameless before Him come from if not from His choice? Does He choose us to be holy and blameless because He looked through time and saw that we would be and then base His choice on that? No, He chooses us TO BE holy and blameless, not BECAUSE He knows we would be out of our own free will. (which is a big fat lie, see my latest 3 blogs) Peter had the same thing in mind here:

1 Peter 1:1-3 (ESV): 1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Notice a few things Peter says. First he says that we are elect (v. 1) according to the foreknowledge of God the Father (v. 2), in the sanctification of the Spirit (v. 2), FOR obedience to Jesus Christ (v. 2) and FOR sprinkling with His blood. (v. 2)
You notice that? It says we are elect (chosen) FOR obedience and FOR sprinkling of His blood. If someone is sprinkled with His blood, they are SAVED. Peter is essentially saying we are chosen FOR salvation. Not because we chose first, but because God chose us FOR that.

OK, back to Ephesians. Paul is arguing essentially the same line of thought here. God chose us before the foundation of the world TO BE holy and blameless. Who is holy and blameless but those who are justified? It is impossible to be holy and blameless without being justified. Who are the justified ones but God's elect? (Rom 8:28-33)

On to verse 5. Paul now states: "he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ." Another wonderful spiritual blessing. HE predestined US. We did not predestine ourselves, as we did not exist yet temporally. Yes, God exists outside of time. Yes, we do in fact choose Christ. But why? It is only because God chose us TO those things. Scripture never uses the word 'postdestination.' It's not there, look, I promise. If God simply 'looked through time' and saw that we would choose Him and based it on that, the word 'postdestination' would have to be used. Rather, the word 'predestination' is used. What does it mean? In the Greek, the definition is to 'mark off for one's self beforehand.' What does God predestine us to, per Ephesians 1? Adoption. Adoption is done by the parent, not the child. Adoption makes us a child of God. HE predstined us FOR adoption. Our free will does not accomplish adoption. God does. Now the freewillist would argue 'but that's based on us choosing Him.' No, on the contrary it's not. Paul gives us the benefit of answering this question immediately in verse 5. What is God's predestination based on? Our choice? Nope. Rather, it is "according to the purpose of his will." What's that? According to my will? Uh, how about no, Scott. It's according to God's will, not ours. Where is the free will here? It's simply non-existent.

So, those are the first blessings that Paul rattles off. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world and He predestined us to adoption as children of God. Both of them according to the purpose of HIS will.

Verse 6 supports this even more when Paul says: "to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." Let's see here...to the praise of HIS glorious grace, with which HE has blessed US in the Beloved. The Beloved is an obvious reference to Christ in this case.

Verse 7, next blessings. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." No free will here either, only sovereign blessings. We have:

a) Redemption through His blood.
b) Forgiveness of our sins.

But why? Paul answers: "according to the riches of HIS grace." So, we have redemption through His blood, which means Christ cashed us in, redeemed us as His own, and we have the forgiveness of sins, which means we are justified. Both of these according to God's grace. That's it. Grace alone.

Verse 8-10 Paul expounds even more praise for the God who redeemed Him and builds on verses 4-7. He says: "which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

He continues: "which HE lavished upon us." Then: "making known to us the mystery of his will." Then again: "according to His purpose."

The tricky part of verse 10 is when Paul states: "to unite all things in him." We know that it cannot be saying that all are in Christ, because that would mean universal salvation. Therefore, some Greek is in order. The Greek word used here for 'to unite' is:

(346) To Unite (anakephalaiomai not from kephale = head but from kephalaion = summary, or sum total) Literally, this word used here means to 'sum up.'

The idea being conveyed is that all things will be brought into meaningful relationship with Christ. At the end of the age, everything will be seen to 'sum up' to Christ. Presently there is sin, frustration, and curse. but this won't always be the case. Right now, things don't 'sum up' properly. But when Christ returns, that will all change. In this way, we recognize the preeminence of Christ and that Christ's mission is much more than just the salvation of His sheep. Creation itself will be restored to its original harmonious order upon the return of Christ. (Romans 8:18-21) Hence, we get the phrase "to unite all things to Him." Or to "sum up all things in Christ." Everything in the universe, known and unknown, will be totally subjected to Christ.

Paul is saying that God has made known to us this plan of God to sum up all things in Christ at the fullness of time, which is accomplished at the return of Christ, and He has made it known to us solely by His will. Paul calls it a 'mystery' because this was something that God had not revealed until Christ.

Paul continues into verse 11, where it says: "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." He moves right on to another blessing. We have an inheritance. What is this inheritance? We have been appointed as heirs according to the promise. The promise is eternal life through Christ alone. Paul talks about the same thing in Galatians 3:29, saying: And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

The inheritance, however, is because we have been "predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." We are heirs according to the promise for the sole reason that God has predestined us according to the counsel of His will. Not only that, but He works all things according to the council of His will Paul says. The Greek word for 'works' here is 'energeo.' It means quite simply 'to work effectively to cause something to happen.' What a mighty God we serve!

Verses 4-11 give us a pretty nice list of blessings.
1. He chose us before the foundation of the world
2. To be holy and blameless before Him
3. He predestined us to adoption as children of God

These are all: according to the purpose of His will, for the praise of His glorious grace, which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

4. Redemption through His blood
5. Forgiveness of sins

These are: according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us.

6. Made known to us the mystery of His will
7. To reconcile all things to Christ

According to His purpose

8. Predestined to obtain an inheritance

According to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the council of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.

Finally, Paul wraps up the section by balancing verse 4-12, all about absolute divine sovereignty, with verses 13-14, which relate to human responsibility. It is important to note that human responsibility and indeed, the ability to make choices, does not imply free will, but rather, free agency. Paul goes on: "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory."

Paul has already explained above that the ones who DO what he speaks of in verses 12-14 are the ones whom God has chosen before the foundations of the world, predestined to adoption, and graciously given redemption and forgiveness. Nevertheless, there is real choice involved. From our perspective, we are saved by responding to the Gospel message. The Gospel message is good news. In and of itself it does not save anyone. It is the means that God has ordained for us to share the good news about Him, but not the cause of a person's salvation. Neither is the cause our free will. The cause is God's grace, manifested to us by regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Why do we respond positively to the Gospel message? Simply put, because the Holy Spirit has enabled us to do so. No one would ever respond to it without the effectual drawing of the Spirit, nor is anyone able to respond to it. It calls for a complete denial of self. There is nothing we can do to earn or merit salvation. Even the free choice for Christ that we DO make is a result of God's sovereign predestination and regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Even here Paul finishes by saying once again that this is 'to the praise of His glory.' So, for us, we proclaim the good news always and to everybody. God's election and predestination are hidden to us. They are part of God's mysterious decretive will. Only God knows the identity of His elect. On the other hand, Jesus Christ, praise be, is not hidden to us. Therefore, we preach the good news of Christ to everyone everywhere, trusting that God is able to and indeed will save a great multitude that no man can number. He does this completely according to His sovereign will and not according to ours. Does human responsibility negate the absolute sovereignty of God or vice versa? Absolutely not. Both are equally true, but one thing is completely sure: When a sinner comes to Christ, God alone is to be given credit for that, completely. Not the free will of the person. That, my friends, is humanistic fleshly doctrine at its finest and strips a sovereign God of the glory He said He would not share with anyone.


THEOLOGY: So, how does our will work?

Since I spent two long posts disproving Libertarian free will, I find it only necessary that I spend some time explaining how our will actually functions. I think it only right to point out the following truths.

1. We have a will.
2. We are able to make decisions.
3. We freely make choices.

So, those things being said, how does our will function if we do not have 'free will?' It is very important to recognize right from the beginning that the ability to make choices and choose them freely does not mean we have a free will as it is defined by Libertarianism. To recap, the Libertarian definition of free will is this:

A person is fully able to perform some other action in place of the one that is actually done, and this is not predetermined by any prior circumstances, our desires or even our affections. In other words, our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature. All free will theists hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called our decision or free choice. 

There are multiple problems with this definition of course. First is that LFW claims that 'our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature.' This is patently false. If our choices are free from our human nature, it would follow that we ought to have the ability to make un-human choices, and make them all the time. But do we do this?

The second problem with LFW is when it states that ' if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called our decision or free choice.' In other words, we can't rightly be influenced by anything in order to make a free choice. If this is true, do we ever actually make a free choice, by their definition? The answer is no, we do not, as every single choice we make is done for a reason, not at random and free from influences.

Libertarians love to hammer on and on about the issue of 'force' or 'coercion,' but how justified are they in this charge? The quick answer is that this is nothing but a straw man argument intended to misrepresent the opposing position. how can something a person freely chooses be forced? the answer is that it isn't.

So, back to how our will actually functions. First of all, our ability to make decisions is something that is a blessing, but also a curse. The reason is that our will always chooses the greatest influence and/or desire at the time. To put it simply, if I am presented with choices 'A' and 'B,' both choices are real and both are there to freely choose. The truth is, I will always choose whichever one is most appealing and/or influential to me. Allow me to give a couple examples.

1. I have a job and I hate it (theoretically, not literally. I actually love my job). I dread going to work every morning and just despise everything about my job. Yet, I go to work day in and day out. I never miss a day. Am I going to work against my will? No, not even close. I still go. Even more so, I freely choose to go. Why do I go if I hate it so much? Quite simply, there are greater influences as to going as there are to staying home and skipping work or quitting. Namely, I have a job to fulfill and I desire to support my family and earn a living. these influences trump the hatred I have for my job. And, even more so, I always choose to go, for those reasons. Two very important categories are fulfilled here.

a) I have the ABILITY to choose to go to work.
b) I have the DESIRE to make that choice due to certain reasons.

2. I have two lovely daughters. One day I am holding my daughter in my arms and a murderer comes up to me with a machete. He offers me a choice.  He says that either a) he will give me the machete and I will kill my daughter, or b) he will kill me. The choice is real. On the other hand, there is only one choice I can actually make. Give me death. I cannot choose to kill my daughter. It's not a possibility.

So, our choices are ALWAYS influenced, contrary to LFW. Every single choice we make has a reason, every single choice we make is influenced, and every single choice we make is in accord with the strongest influence at that time.

LFW also cannot deal with the issue of God's perfect omniscience.  In other words, God knows exactly what we will choose from before He even created the universe. This fact alone completely invalidates LFW. Hence, there are many free will proponents who espouse the false and heretical doctrine known as 'Open Theism.'

Our will and how it functions is best described in two ways. First, it is described quite well that we are 'free agents' or have 'free agency.' We have the ability to choose based on ability and desire to make that choice. Just as a free agent in sports chooses which team will acquire his services, we choose everything in our life based on reasons and desires to choose those things. Are the contrary choices real? Of course they are, but we choose one thing over another based on influences and our desire to make that choice. The choice we actually make has a reason or reasons every single time. Our will is not free in the Libertarian sense.

Second, our will is also described quite well by the theory called compatibilism. This theory states that: "Compatibilism is the belief that God's predetermination is "compatible" with voluntary choice. In light of Scripture, human choices are believed to be exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices about occur through divine determinism (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). Our choices are also determined by our greatest inclinations. Compatibilism affirms that we make choices for a reason, that the will is not independent of the person and we will always choose what we want (Deut 30:16,17,19; Matt 17:12; James 1:14).  It means God has granted us the ability to act freely (that is, voluntarily without coercion), but not independent from God nor free from our desires, but to act according to our desires and nature. In other words, voluntary choice (to chose to act as we please) is compatible with determinism."

Compatibilism rightly takes into consideration God's determination and our voluntary choice. Scripturally, it fits perfectly. D.A. Carson has a good quote that fits this topic quite well. He says:

"Biblical writers in both the OT and NT have, on the whole, fewer problems about the tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility than do many moderns. This is not because they fail to distinguish purpose and consequence, as many affirm, but because they do not see divine sovereignty and human responsibility as antitheses. In short they are compatibilists and therefore juxtapose the two themes with little self-conscious awareness of the problem (cf. Gen. 50:19-20; Jud. 14:4; Isa. 10:5-7; Hag. 1:12-14; Jn. 11:49-52)."

To put it simply, our will chooses according to our nature and desires. Not only that, but the choices we make are done freely because we actually desire to make those choices; each and every one of them. We are free agents, but do not have free will.

Very few people I know, if any, would have much of a problem with any of this, until it gets applied to salvation. Then they balk. When you apply it to salvation, you end up with this:

A person that comes to salvation freely chooses it because they have the ability and desire to do so. But, where does the ability and desire come from? If we claim it comes from anyone other than the Holy Spirit, we dive into deep error and heresy. Therefore, two conclusions are easily reached.

1. The people that are saved have been given the desire and ability to choose Christ by the Holy Spirit. Not only that, but the desire to choose Christ was the greatest influence upon them when they were saved. Unless we control the Holy Spirit (which we don't), the result is inescapable: The Holy Spirit regenerates whom He will. This is done by the Holy Spirit alone and conforms the will of man. It is not a result of the will of man. (Tit 3:5, John 3:8, John 1:12-13, Rom 9:16)

2. The people that are not saved never had that 'greatest influence' in their life. In other words, the Holy Spirit, whom we do not control, never gave it to them. A person cannot will the Holy Spirit to be their greatest desire, and if Christ is never the persons greatest desire, they will NEVER freely choose Him, since they will always be choosing something else that is a greater desire. They may hear the Gospel and even accept some of it as truth. But if the desire to choose Christ is not there, they will not make that choice. 

This theory of the will makes perfect sense, even to many free will believers. But as soon as it gets applied to salvation, people balk. Why? Simply because they do not want God being in absolute control of salvation and somehow think that God owes it to everyone universally, which He does not.

To sum, we are indeed free agents and we certainly do have the ability to make decisions. The problem is not in our reasoning ability. The problem is our heart. The desire to choose Christ will never be present unless the Holy Spirit regenerates us first. Just as scripture says:

John 15:16 (ESV): You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Acts 13:48 (ESV): And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Pushing the envelope even further, we get around to the question of divine unity. Do the Father, Son, and Spirit all work in unity? Obviously, the Father, Son, and Spirit make up the Trinity and are all God and therefore must always work in perfect unity. Jesus does the will of the Father, just as the Spirit does the will of the Father as well.  Therefore, theologically, and this is supported 100% by scripture, the Father elects a people, the Son dies for that same people, and the Spirit regenerates that same people. Perfect unity is achieved by the Godhead, whom we know always works in perfect unity. Anything less than that paints a picture of God that is either:

a) Not unified (as in 4 pt Calvinism where the father elects and the Spirit regenerates, but Christ does for everyone universally, even those He knows well will never be saved), or
b) A God who has a man-shaped hole in His heart wishing that men would come to Him. In other words, a God who is not in control of His creation.

Ability and desire must always be in place for a person to freely choose something. Ability is a no-brainer. Obviously, we can't choose what we're unable to choose. Scripture says we don't even have this when it comes to choosing Christ. (Rom 3:10-12, Eph 2:1-5, 1 Cor 2:14, etc) Desire is the one that people debate. The problem with denial of desire to choose is that we end up choosing at random and our desire to make a certain choice is thwarted by the actual choice itself, making our choices the Lord of our heart. Jesus disagrees. (Matt 12:34, Matt 15:18, Luke 6:45) The problem is, why do we choose what we choose? Obviously, it is because we desire (want) to! In this way, our choices are free and we are responsible for them.

I simply ask you this: What causes you to choose what you choose?


THEOLOGY: Common LFW Objections

I was going to wait until tomorrow to write this, but as for now, writing sounds like a fun thing to do. So, without further adieu, here are the common LFW objections people make against Calvinism. Specifically, against the doctrine of election, which the human flesh hates.

1. Well, what does that do to my free will?

The problem with this objection is that it is doomed right from the start because the question itself is royally flawed. (see my previous blog post) This is akin to saying: 'Well, what about batman?' It assumes something to be true that isn't. Namely, that Libertarian free will is true. A better question might be: How does the human will function?

This question falls apart right from the start, as it is invalid.

2. But that makes God unfair!

Oh really? And where do you find in scripture that God has to fit your own human idea of fairness? Is it in there? If it is, I would love to see it! Chapter and verse, por favor. It also displaces the idea of what fairness actually is. You want fair? OK, have your fair. Fair is that all humanity universally is condemned. That is fair. That is justice. That is what we all universally deserve. People will say that sovereign election makes God unjust. That's not true whatsoever. It's not an issue of UNjust, it is an issue of justice and NON-justice. Justice would be universal condemnation. That is what we all deserve, that is justice. NON-justice allows the promise to rest on grace and mercy alone, given by God alone. God is never UNjust, and the non-election of many people is definitely not unjust. It's just. It is the recipients of grace and mercy that do not get justice.

The problem is, people assume that if God saves one person, he must offer the same exact thing to everyone universally. Biblically, this idea holds no water at all. Rather, the opposite is true.

Romans 9:14-18 (ESV): What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Is God allowed to do this? Yes, of course He is allowed to, He is God, He can do whatever He wants to, except sin. Not only that, God has CHOSEN to do this. It's all over scripture. Take a look sometime.

And this objection is easily put to rest.

3. But it says whosoever!!!

Not in the original language it doesn't. the phrase whosoever believeth (KJV) is most literally translated as either 'every one believing' or 'all the believing ones.' The Greek words here are: (Numbers are from the Strong's Concordance) 'Pas Ho', the two words in Greek, is what gets translated as whosoever or whoever into English.

3956 Pas (all, every)

3588 Ho (one, he, she, it)

4100 Pisteuo (believing)

Two great examples in scripture of this phrase being used are:

John 3:16 (KJV): For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13 (KJV): For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Even if I grant, for the sake of discussion, that whosoever means 'everybody universally', there is still another massive hurdle that cannot be jumped by freewillers. Specifically, they still need to show me a verse, just one, that says man is able to repent and believe or that man 'can' repent and believe. Don't waste your time looking, there aren't any.These verses say nothing about ability. If you want to see scriptures that talk about ability, check out Romans 3:10-12, 1 Corinthians 2:14, or Ephesians 2:1-5.

And again we see that the objection holds no water.

4. God would not command anything of us that we cannot do!

False premise. Namely, it is false because scripture proves otherwise. But even more importantly than that, to assume that we can do everything God commands of us is to seriously undermine the holiness of God.

Is God allowed to command anything we cannot do? Yes, because He is God, He can command whatever He wants to, except sin. In fact, God cannot command anything except for perfect obedience which is in line with His perfect holiness. To command less than that is for God to command things that are below His perfect holiness. And to assume that we are able to comply is also to assume that we are able to meet God's perfectly holy standards. That is nothing short of blasphemy.

Are there examples of commands of God that we cannot comply with in scripture? Yes.

Exodus 20:1-17 gives the ten commandments. We are unable to keep them. God's standard for keeping them is perfect obedience, and if we break just one at one point in life, we are guilty of breaking all of it.

James 2:10 (KJV): For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

John 11:43 (KJV): And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. (Could Lazarus obey this request?)

Ezekiel 37:3-7 (KJV): And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

Dry bones hearing? Are they able? No, yet God commanded Ezekiel to prophecy to them.

Matthew 5:48 (KJV): Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This one goes without saying. If we think we are able of perfection, we lie to ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 (KJV): If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John says we're liars if we think that. Jesus commanded perfection, yet we are unable.

And this objection as well, goes down the drain with the rest of them.

5. But this makes God a cruel dictator!

Au contraire. It makes God loving and merciful, and allows salvation to be completely of grace and mercy and nothing of us. God is not obligated to save anyone. We are all sinful in the eyes of God. Also, how in the world can a person equate the punishment of sin with a dictatorship? Last I checked, sin is disgusting to God, and therefore, it is GOOD that sin is punished, is it not? Allowing a person to stay in their sin and not be saved is not dictatorial. It is justice. Not only that, but God simply allows the person to have what they naturally desire: sin and self-worship.

6. But God loves everyone universally the same!

False. There is a sense in which God loves everyone universally, simply by them being part of His creation. He allows even non-Christians to prosper on Earth and upholds them by His common grace and providence. But is this the same love he has for those He saves? Obviously, it cannot be. Some people want to universalize God's love across the board and others want to make God's love conditioned upon the free will of the individual. Neither of these are true. God's love is conditioned upon His sovereign choice in salvation in one sense (Greek: agape love), and upon His creation in another (Not agape). There are a grand total of zero verses in scripture that proclaim God's universal unconditional love for all humanity. No, John 3:16 does not teach that. This can be easily proven if we can find just one verse that says anything about God loving people differently. I can find a bunch.

Romans 9:13-14 (KJV): As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Psalm 5:4-6 (KJV): For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Psalm 11:5-6 (KJV): The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

7. But God gave Adam free will in the garden, so we have it too!

This is an absurd comparison. It's a comparison of apples to oranges at best. Simply put, this objection must have skipped right over Genesis 1-3 and failed to read about the creation of Adam and what happened in the garden.

a) Was Adam created good or with a sinful nature? Obviously, we seriously question the integrity of God is we say Adam was not created good and was indeed created with a sinful nature.

b) Are we born good, or with a sinful nature? Do we have to teach our kids how to sin? No, they innately know how to do so. We are born with a sinful nature. See Romans 5:12-21 and the federal headship of Adam and Christ.

c) Therefore, since Adam was created good, did he have the ability to please and obey God? Yes, of course he did!

d) Since we are born sinful, do we have the ability to please and obey God? No, to assume such would be to deny original sin and the indwelling sinful nature of man.

e) What did God command of Adam pre-fall? Perfect obedience, the only thing God can command, see Genesis 2:16-17. The difference is that Adam was able to obey.

f) What does God command of us post-fall? The same thing, perfect obedience. He is holy remember? He cannot command anything less. We, however, are incapable of meeting the standard. Adam was capable.

Also, let's compare the next step in the process. Is a saint in heaven capable of disobeying God? Do they have free will there? The obvious answer is no, because, when in glory, we will be made perfect, unable to sin, which is the only way we are able to be in the presence of God for eternity.

And this argument as well, goes down in flames.

I am quite sure there are many more arguments freewillists have concocted, but these are by far the most common ones. As you can see, all of them convey one of two things. Either:

a) A misunderstanding of God. One that makes Him weaker and accommodating to what humanity wants Him to be like.

b) A misunderstanding of man. One that makes man self-autonomous and more capable than we actually are. Just remember:

- DRAWS people to Himself (John 6:44,65).
- CREATES a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).
- APPOINTS people to believe (Acts 13:48).
- WORKS faith in the believer (John 6:28-29).
- CHOOSES who is to be holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4).
- CHOOSES us for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
- GRANTS the act of believing (Phil. 1:29).
- GRANTS repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
- CALLS according to HIS purpose (2 Tim. 1:9).
- CAUSES us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3).
- PREDESTINES us to salvation (Rom. 8:29-30).
- PREDESTINES us to adoption (Eph. 1:5).
- PREDESTINES us according to His purpose (Eph. 1:11).
- MAKES us born again NOT by our will but by HIS will (John 1:12-13).

Is deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9).
Is full of evil (Mark 7:21-23).
Loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19).
Is unrighteous, does not understand, does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12).
Is helpless and ungodly (Rom. 5:6).
Is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).
Is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3).
Cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14).
Is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:16-20).

THEOLOGY: The disconnect between Libertarian Free Will and Scripture

Libertarian free will is the most common theory of the human will that Christians hold to. Commonly, it's just referred to as 'free will.' When a person talks about free will, this is the philosophy to which they almost always refer. There are many problems with this philosophy when compared to scripture, which should be our guide. Philosophies such as this should not be assumed into scripture or implied. Rather, the truthfulness of a certain philosophy should be determined by scripture, not apart from it. That being said, Libertarian Free Will (LFW) fails miserably as a philosophy and more importantly, fails miserably when compared to scripture. Yet, the majority of Christians hold to it. Personally, I do not believe these people to be unsaved (some are of course, as are some Calvinists), and I truly believe that the major reasons people hold to LFW are:

a. They've always been taught that free will is true. It's a given to them.
b. They've never taken the time to study how the human will functions.
c. They confuse the ability of the human will to make choices (human volition) with 'free will.'

Let us define what LFW is and then examine the problems with LFW.

Libertarian Free Will (LFW) defined as: A person is fully able to perform some other action in place of the one that is actually done, and this is not predetermined by any prior circumstances, our desires or even our affections. In other words, our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature. All free will theists hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called our decision or free choice. 

So, there is the basic definition of LFW. Essentially, in LFW, a person's choices cannot be influenced by anything outside of the choice itself in order to make the choice completely free. It also follows and applies to LFW that it is indeterministic, which means basically the same thing: that choices and decisions are not determined by anything or influenced by anything. This creates tons of problems, which I would like to discuss at length here.

1. Completely causeless choice. If our choices are not determined by our nature and desires, it follows that our choices themselves are completely causeless. Essentially, our choices depend on nothing and the choices we make are a result of randomness in all actuality. The choices a person makes don't depend on their desires at all. Therefore, a consistent free will Christian must say that a person can choose Christ freely, while not having any desire to do so, and indeed the desire to do so is not necessary. And according to this theology, they also must admit that this person was saved at that juncture, simply because of the choice. Thereby making the outward expression of choice the ultimate master of the heart.
But is this the case? Surely it is true that there are many people who chose Christ at one point in their life that were never saved. To answer this you have to dig deeper. The answer lies in the desire of choosing Christ and the reason they chose Christ. If the reason for choosing Christ is 'to stay out of hell' you probably have a false convert. Not always, but it's very likely. The reason is that Christ is not a Savior from hell. (Well, He is, but that's a secondary issue) The main thing Christ is a Savior from is SIN, right here, right now. You cannot simply choose Christ to stay out of hell because you don't want to go there. That is a selfish reason, is it not? Is Christ there for our selfish reasons or is He there to worship and adore, now and forever? Even in this example, there are reasons the person made the choice. In this case, they are selfish, not Godly.

You also have massive scriptural problems. For instance, in John 3:19 (ESV) it says: And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light BECAUSE their works were evil. Essentially, people reject the Gospel BECAUSE they love darkness and hate light. That is a contingency, a reason, a strong influence, as to WHY people reject the Gospel. It's not causeless. LFW, if consistent, cannot claim this. They would have to claim something like: They rejected the light, not because they loved darkness or evil, but just because they did. The same applies to the people that do choose the light. They chose, in LFW, not because they loved the light or desired the light, but just because they did.

On the contrary, Jesus Himself continually rebuked people that rejected Him, not on the basis of their free will choice, but on the basis of their heart. (Matt 15:8, Mark 7:6, Is 29:3) He said: 'They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' This unfortunately is exactly the type of faith LFW requires to be a valid type of faith in their scheme, one that is causeless and unaffected by nature, influences, and desires. The Gospel of John rebukes these ideas of free will as well. Namely;

John 8:37 (ESV): I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.

John 8:39 (ESV): They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,  

John 8:42 (ESV): Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

John 8:47 (ESV): Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."

John 10:25-26 (ESV): Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 

That's just a small sample. But suffice it to say, people make decisions based on influences, desires and nature, not just 'because.' Did you choose Christ just because?

2. The reason WHY someone chooses Christ. Why does someone positively choose Christ savingly and then go on to a life of obedience? In LFW, the answer to this all important question is severely insufficient. Since LFW does not require a person to have the desire to believe in order to actually believe, what caused the positive choice of the Christian to be saved? Ultimately, the proponent of LFW must concede that the thing that brought the choice about is either: 

a. Chance. It was completely random that one chose Christ and another didn't.
b. Innate Ability. Essentially, this argument makes Christians out to be 'smarter' than everyone else, since they had the good sense to choose Christ.

One thing that they cannot say is that it was by God's grace that one chose positively and the other negatively, because that is a reason and then they would have to admit sovereign election, the one doctrine scripture clearly teaches that they hate. They may say that God's grace drew the person, but they cannot say that God's grace alone was sufficient, because the person still had to choose the grace. The choice is what ultimately makes the difference in this scheme, whether or not the desire is present! The other thing they cannot say is that one person saw their need for Christ and the other one didn't, because they cannot answer the question as to why one saw it and one didn't. Doesn't scripture say that he gives grace to the humble and not the proud? But how do we become humbled? Is it some innate ability? Did this humbling come from our nature or from our own works or from God's grace? If it comes by nature, then the LFW proponent also has to conclude that one person has a different nature than another. One person has the built-in equipment to humble themselves simply by choice and accept Christ and another person does not. If it comes by grace, the LFW proponent must admit that sovereign election is true, because everyone universally is not saved, which would be the case if grace is completely sufficient and all people are given the same grace. The question remains for LFW, which they cannot answer: where does the desire come from and why do some have it and others don't? They may even answer that the desire comes from the Holy Spirit, but they will never admit that the Holy Spirit's wooing is enough. The person still must make the choice, no matter how strongly the Spirit calls them. Ultimately, LFW is left with the answer 'just because one did and the other didn't.' Quite a silly answer, grounded in nothing but chance, but no other answer can be given that cannot easily be shown to be incompatible with LFW.

3. The one thing LFW attempts to defend, actually gets destroyed. What I am talking about is moral responsibility. If LFW does not require desire or nature or anything to be required for a choice, how can a person be held responsible for making a choice at random if they didn't desire to? Namely, can God rightly hold a murderer responsible for sin if they committed murder but never had a desire to do so and did it without intention? If the bank loaned me 50 trillion dollars and I bought the country of Canada and I cannot repay it any way, shape, or form, does that make me not responsible for it because I can't pay them back? I desired to borrow, I did borrow, and I am unable to pay back. I am responsible. Theologically, apply this to sin. I was born sinful, I have a sinful nature, I have sinned, I desire to sin, I cannot do anything at all to alleviate this. Am I not responsible? Of course I am, because I choose to sin because I want to sin. My influences and desires are sinful. I respond to them, and hence, I freely choose to sin.

4. The will of the person is made to be the master of the person's influences and desires, and not the servant. Is this true? Does our will control or trump our desires? Not hardly. We do not choose something and then change our desires to follow our choice. We are not influenced by something strongly and then choose something otherwise that we want nothing at to do with. It just doesn't work that way. Rather, our actions of choosing follow what we have already chosen in the heart. They reflect our heart, not control it! If I choose to go to the store, I chose that because I wanted to choose that. I did not choose it and then start wanting to. The human will, although able to make decisions and choices, chooses what the heart desires. If I hate my job and don't like it at all, but still go, I freely choose that because there are other influences that are stronger that cause my choice. Namely, my desire to support my family, not let my boss down, and make money, win out over the fact I hate a particular job. Stronger influences and stronger desires win out in every single choice we make. Our choices reflect specific reasons. Scripture agrees:

Matthew 12:34 (ESV): You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matthew 15:18 (ESV): But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

5. God Himself does not have LFW. Is God free? Yeah, absolutely. Does God have Libertarian free will? No, not even close. There are certain things that God is unable to do. Before you think I am limiting God, think about it. God CANNOT sin. (See Titus 1:1-3) He is unable to. If He had LFW, he would surely be able to sin, don't you think? He is also unable to break a promise or a covenant. He ALWAYS keeps them. Also, if God had LFW, He Himself would not be responsible for His choices either. God always acts in accord with His nature, which is complete and utter holiness.

6. LFW introduces doctrines foreign to scripture, many of them severely heretical. It does this because it is read 'into' scripture, thereby changing the meaning of passages and phrases that don't speak about LFW at all. LFW has become the central dogma in many denominations. Because of this, LFW must be protected at all costs, even when scripture clearly teaches otherwise. People assume LFW to be true, and taint everything in scripture with it. Here are some fabulous (sarcastic) doctrines that are the result of LFW.

a. Open Theism. Because LFW is indeteministic and incompatible, consistent proponents of LFW have adopted the heresy known as Open Theism. In other words, in order for LFW to be completely true, we MUST be able to make choices apart from the knowledge of others (including God) and apart from reasons and desires. Therefore, Open Theism casts ignorance on God (and Molinism to a lesser extent) by saying that God does not know with precision the choices we will make! This is a destruction of tons of scriptures that talk about God's foreknowledge. He does not have ANY foreknowledge in Open Theism.

b. Destruction of Salvation by grace alone. LFW cannot hold to grace alone as well as LFW, since salvation is not accomplished by grace alone in Libertarianism. It is accomplished by grace plus other things. Namely, grace plus the choice of the individual. If grace is not sufficient by itself (which it isn't in LFW), grace alone must by necessity be either: 1) rejected, or 2) redefined. Namely, the word grace has to be redefined to means something other than scripture means by it. The Roman Catholics have done this. At least they're consistent. They have turned works into means of grace, namely, through their sacramental system. This means that all theologies that are synergistic deny salvation by grace alone, no matter what they claim. This includes Arminians, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Fundamental Baptists, Methodists, Wesleyans, Most Pentecostals (not all, because there are some Pentecostals that are Calvinists. Sam Storms would be a good example of one), and all other free will believers. Synergism, by definition, rejects grace alone, because grace alone is not enough in that scheme, as it calls for grace plus cooperation, with the cooperation being the deciding factor in salvation, not the grace. Grace is nice, grace is even necessary, but grace alone doesn't do anything but give us a nudge.

c. Rejection of biblical inerrancy. In order to maintain their central dogma of LFW, proponents of it must by necessity reject the inerrancy of scripture. Why? Because the biblical authors' LFW would be violated by God if scripture was written by men but comes directly from God. Therefore, to be consistent (and many LFW proponents are) they must by necessity reject the inerrancy of scripture. Hence you have today a bunch of neo-orthodox religious liberals who claim that scripture is man's story about God, as opposed to God's words to man. The problems with this are many, but the main one boils down to reliability. If scripture is not divinely inspired, it cannot be trusted as truth.

d. Destruction of Salvation by faith alone. At least the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox realize this. However, evangelical proponents of LFW oddly enough, don't. They hold to grace alone (which they can't, because grace by itself is not enough) and faith alone (which they also can't, because they make faith a work of the human will) and also LFW (which they can't if they hold to the first two, or can't hold to the first two if they insist on LFW). To put it simply, if we must DO ANYTHING at all, faith alone is false, and we end up with faith plus something, or just works (because faith is essentially made into a work) alone. Rome says faith plus works. Evangelical LFW supporters make faith out to be a work of the human, thereby supporting the same doctrine as Rome. Essentially Rome would say grace alone (but grace is defined erroneously), and faith plus works, and LFW evangelicals would say grace alone, faith alone, but what they convey through their theology is grace plus faith (which is not a gift of God in their view, contrary to scriptures), where faith is made out to be a one time choice (say the prayer, and voila, in OSAS free will churches) or a choice plus a following of obedience (which is works, no matter how they word it, in 'lose your salvation' churches).

e. Word-Faith Theology. One of the biggest heresies popular today is the Prosperity 'name it and claim it' Gospel. It's no wonder this has come about in our get rich quick Western Culture. But it follows perfectly from LFW. The reasoning is quite simple: If I am able to 'ask' Christ into my heart and He will come, then in essence, I am commanding Him. He is at my whim to save me at the date I so choose. Why can't He also bless me when I want all sorts of other things? If they concede that God does not always bestow health and wealth (temporal earthly materialistic things) on people that have great faith, they must also concede that God does not always save those who ask Him to. However, they concede neither. In fact, if you have enough faith, God will give you everything you desire, temporally and spiritually. I cannot think of a worse view of God. Beware of wolves like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer pitching this blasphemy.

f. Destruction of bible prophecy. In other words, God either got lucky that the OT prophecies of Christ came true, or they really didn't come true. If the latter is the case, Christ is a false God and the bible is a false document. The odds of the former being true (apart from divine inspiration) are about as bad as the odds are for evolution, perhaps even worse. But what does the bible say about these things? Well, here are a few clear examples:
Acts 4:27-28 (ESV): for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Exodus 9:15-16 (ESV): For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 

Acts 2:23 (ESV): this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

There is much more to be said on this issue, and I think a lot more can be written showing LFW to be false. But in the interest of keeping this post a tad bit shorter, it can be done for now. The major issues with LFW have been covered. My next blog I will address the major complaints people have against non-free will Christianity. As I hope to be able to show, none of them hold water. I'll leave you with this quote, by none other than Kirk Cameron. He said, and I think this really nails how LFW makes God out to be: 

"God is not some lovesick celestial being, waiting on some nice person to 'ask Him into their heart' so He can make them happy--as though He had a man-shaped hole in His heart that only we can fill." -Kirk Cameron