Q. 21. Did man continue in that estate wherein God at first created him?

So reads Question 21 of the Westminster Larger Catechism (Question 13 of the Shorter).  The answer to this question is as follows:

A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, through the temptation of Satan, transgressed the commandment of God in eating the forbidden fruit; and thereby fell from the estate of innocency wherein they were created.

Scripture –

Genesis 3:6-8 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:13 – Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 – But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Freewill seems to be a huge divide between those with a Calvinistic or Arminian view.  Did man have a freewill at one point and time?  I would agree with the Westminster Catechism and say that before the fall of man, yes he did have freewill.  But after the fall is a different story.  I know that there are many who disagree with me, and that is fine with me.  But lest you think that I don’t care about the opinion of those who don’t agree with me, know that up until a few years ago, I was firmly entrenched in an Arminian view of man’s freewill and believed I had the power to choose God.  Guess I would now be considered a defector because I no longer think that way.

The reason my views changed is thanks to Paul, the Apostle (I have a cousin named Paul, but I haven’t talked to him in 20+ years in case anyone thought it was “that” Paul).  Long story short is that Paul says that prior to regeneration, we are slaves to sin and free in regard to righteousness (Romans 6:20).  He goes on so say that the wages of sin is death in 6:23.  I realize that we don’t live in a culture anymore that knows much about slavery, but it is my understanding that a slave, a true slave, is one who has no mastery over himself in any shape, form, or fashion.  He is “owned” by another.  Also, one who is dead can do nothing for himself.  I used to work in the death industry and saw plenty of the dead laid out in caskets.  They were totally incapable of anything.  That is what we were and Paul makes it abundantly clear in Romans and Ephesians.

Then something happened and it was the greatest thing that could possibly happen.  “But God!” as Ephesians 2:4 says, did something to awaken us.  He is the one who awakened a desire in our heart for Him.  Had he not done this, we would have remained dead and enslaved to our sins, lost, unregenerate and hell bound.  Now, I know the objections to this because I made them myself.  “That is totally unfair of God to do that for some but not for others” (and it is this objection that causes many to think that man has freewill and is the determining factor in coming to Christ or not).  I submit that those who hold to this view of fairness have a skewed view of God’s holiness, justice and righteousness.  By all rights, God was within His rights to obliterate Adam and Eve on the spot for their transgression.  Instead, he showed mercy to them.  Why?  He has a purpose and a plan.  I have no idea what that plan is and my brain isn’t capable of understanding it even if God chose to reveal it to me.  I mean, come on, can you even father the number of miles it is across our galaxy, much less the 16 trillion dollars of national debt we are under?

God asked Ezekiel if the bones in the valley could live in Ezekiel 37.  Ezekiel’s answer is quite telling in that he admitted that only God knows.  God then told Ezekiel to prophesy (preach in modern vernacular), and when he did, life flooded through the bones.  God says in verse 12 that He (God Himself) will open the graves (those who are dead in their sins since the wages of sin is death) and raise his people up.  In verse 14 He says that He will put His Spirit within and they will live.  This is totally a work of God alone.  So, the bottom line is that we no more have freewill in salvation than we have the ability to add an hour to our life.  Adam and Eve did have freewill, but by exercising it, they enslaved us to a life without the ability to choose.

I also know that there are some who would hold that this makes God a moral monster in choosing some and not others.  Beware, lest you forget who is God and who is not.  To make the statement that God is a moral monster is to pass a judgment on the only True and Righteous Judge.  That is a fearful thing!  Deuteronomy 32:4 says that, “…his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Psalm 145:17 echoes that by stating, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”  He is God and He alone is Sovereign.  We are to preach the word promiscuously and allow the Spirit of God to draw men unto Him.  He can, He does, and He will.

As always, feel free to comment (I don’t get many of those, but that’s ok as it means you either agree with me totally or you have just decided to blow me off).

One response to “Freewill?

  1. Thank you Thom. I have been pondering this problem for quite a time.

    I believe modern Reformed and Arminian define free will differently. I, as Reformed, do not accept free will in libertarian sense but determined free will.

    I believe Christ Jesus, Adam and Eve where the only human beings who could be debated to have libertarian free will.

    First Adam perfectly represented us in his fall and thus now we freely choose accordingly to our strongest desire, a bad tree bearing bad fruit, flesh doing what flesh does for we act according to our nature.

    Contending with my Molinist professor, I pointed out that fallen men can freely choose all things but things of God. To the flesh, the Spiritual things are folly.

    Thank you for a wonderful post Thom

    In Christ,