God’s Will, Man’s Will and Free Will – Part 1

I have been thinking quite a lot about this over the last couple of years.  Having come from a semi-pelagian background, my world was entirely shaken and turned upside down when I realized that God is absolutely sovereign over everything, which includes salvation (Jonah 2:9).  One way of thinking about it is that God owns salvation just like he owns the entire created universe due to the fact that he created it.  If I walked into a group of people and started handing out $100 bills, who could complain that I didn’t give them one.  It is mine to give to whosoever I will to give it too.  Why is it any different with God?  The problem is, we have a flawed view of God, which is another byproduct of the fall of man, and we do not understand that all he owes us is a one-way trip to hell because of our sin.  It is His shear grace that even allows any of us to come to salvation.  Grace by it’s very definition is ‘unmerited favor’, which means that it is unmerited (wait for it, it will sink in eventually).

Ernest Reisinger wrote a piece on The Will in the late 1990’s and I want to share it here:

Introduction

This book contains a brief study on a very important but neglected subject, that is, the subject of free will. We will be considering in what sense the will is free and how important this subject is to the Christian faith.

Does salvation depend upon man’s willingness to be saved apart from a prior work of the Holy Spirit? We will see that no one is saved against his will; however, God changes the “willer” so as to make the sinner willing. We will see that the subject of free will is at the very heart of Christianity and has a profound effect on our message and method of evangelism. We will see that “whosoever will may come.” We will see that the Bible teaches that salvation depends not on man’s willingness but on God’s willingness, God’s grace, and God’s power—and if God did not have power over man’s will the whole world would go to hell. We will see that God does not exclude anyone in His invitations; however, sinners do exclude themselves.

Listen to these lines from Philip Bliss’s hymn “Whosoever Will”:

“Whosoever heareth,” shout, shout the sound!
Spread the blessed tidings all the world around;
Tell the joyful news wherever man is found,
“Whosoever will may come.”

Whosoever cometh need not delay,
Now the door is open, enter while you may;
Jesus is the true, the only Living Way:
“Whosoever will may come.”

“Whosoever will,” the promise is secure;
“Whosoever will,” forever must endure;
“Whosoever will!” ’tis life forever more;
“Whosoever will may come.”

“Whosoever will, whosoever will!”
Send the proclamation over vale and hill
‘Tis a loving Father calls the wanderer home:
“Whosoever will may come.”

If you cannot sing this hymn from the heart, then you do not understand the Biblical teaching on free will and this book should help you. You will note that the songwriter was very prudent when he wrote “whosoever will” may come. He did not say whosoever will can come.

One of the first questions that faces us in any serious study of the freedom of the will is whether there is power of the will to obey God and to do that which is spiritually good. Continue reading