So you think free will isn’t in the Bible?
Then think again! If God has given man no free will, yet tells man to choose between Him and other gods, or between good and evil blessing and cursing, then God, being righteous, will not break even one of His own divine laws. That is, He will not offer man a choice when there is no choice there in the first place. If He did, then He would be telling less than the whole truth, and that would be tantamount to declaring God to be a liar. So even just one single clear example of God giving man a choice between Him and other gods, or between doing good (obeying God) or doing evil (disobeying God) is sufficient to demonstrate that man has a free will to choose such. Even to acknowledge that a verse can suggest free will means that free will cannot be denied. In order to demonstrate that free will does not exist requires that there be not even a suggestion that free will exists.
Joshua told the people of Israel to choose between God or the gods they previously served in Egypt. Joshua 24:14-16 – 14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
Some might say that just because Joshua was offering them a choice does not mean that God was also offering the same choice. However, to deny this as an example of God giving man free will to choose, one would have to deny that Joshua was speaking on behalf of God, and that Joshua was either lying or was incompetent to advise such. Both of these suggestions are seen to be ridiculous when we read God’s charge to Joshua when he took up leadership of Israel.
Joshua 1:5-6 – 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, [so] I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
This one example alone proves that man has free will to choose between God and false gods. But there’s another clear example, where Moses tells Israel to choose to obey God; if they do good and obey God, then He will bless them; if they do evil and disobey God, then He will curse them. They are told to choose life! Such a choice can only mean that they could also choose death, for choice always means at least two options! (The dictionary defines “choice” as an act of choosing between two or more possibilities.)
Deuteronomy 30:19 – I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
In order for calvinists to “prove” that God has not given man free will to choose between Him and other gods, or to choose between obeying or disobeying Him, they must prove beyond all doubt that the two examples given above cannot in any way support the free will of man to choose to serve God. Of course, God must intervene in a man’s life before he may see the choices available. This intervention is through the gospel which, when preached faithfully, gives light to a man so that he can see the choices open to him: choose salvation and life, or reject salvation and life. The free will of man never negates the necessity for God to intervene with the gospel before man is able to choose. But God’s intervention through the gospel also never negates man’s responsibility to respond to that gospel.
There are occasions when God limits man’s free will; this cannot be used to “prove” that free will doesn’t exist. For example, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He was merely putting limits on Pharaoh’s free will. Until God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Pharaoh had used his free will to consistently oppose Moses (and therefore to oppose God). Then came the point in time when God decided that if Pharaoh was so set upon opposing Him, then Pharaoh’s free will to change his mind about letting God’s people go would be removed. Pharaoh had wanted to keep the Hebrews so much that he was continually overriding God’s desire that the Hebrews should be set free.
Note how Paul described it in Romans 9:18 when talking about Pharaoh – Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. That word “hardeneth” is translated from the Greek word skleruno which means to make hard; harden; metaphorically: to render obstinate, stubborn; to be hardened; to become obstinate or stubborn. Today we use the word “sclerosis” (derived from skleruno) as a medical term to describe the hardening of a part of the body that had up until then been flexible; for example, arterial sclerosis = the hardening of the arteries, making them more rigid, set in place, effectively their options to move have been reduced or removed.
What this means is that up until that point of being hardened, Pharaoh had free will to either obey God or to oppose God. After that point, Pharaoh no longer had free will to choose on this matter of letting the Hebrews go. Note carefully that there is also no indication at all that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart applied to anything else other than the matter of letting God’s people go. Pharaoh’s free will was limited by God such that Pharaoh had set his course, and God simply forced Pharaoh to continue on his chosen course toward destruction.
A verse or passage doesn’t have to actually say that God gives man a choice, yet still teach clearly the free will of man. For example, note the two verses John 6:44 and John 12:32. Note the use of the same word “draw” in each verse.
John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 12:32 – And I (Jesus), if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.
Calvinists love John 6:44 for, they say, it proves that only those who are drawn by God may come to Jesus. They claim that this is true because there is no free will to choose, so all who are drawn by the Father must come. This, they say, therefore “proves” that those who didn’t come were not drawn by the Father. However, John 6:44 can only be used to demonstrate this if you firstly assume that free will to choose doesn’t exist. However, if free will to choose does exist, then their arguments are false, because they are based on the false premise that free will does not exist.
The meaning of this verse is dependent upon whether or not free will to choose exists! If free-will cannot be proven nonsense, then John 6:44 can simply mean that many are called but few are chosen according to Matthew 22:14!
And further to this, in John 12:32 Jesus says that He will draw all to Himself on the cross. Note that “draw” in this verse is the same as “draw” in John 6:44. Now, unless you can prove that “all” only means those who believe, then Jesus must be drawing all mankind, and thus the Father in John 6:44 also draws all mankind. So, if not all come, then some of mankind must be resisting due to their free-will to choose. If “all” means “all” mankind, then the combination of John 12:32 and John 6:44 can only mean that some are resisting the drawing of the Father through their own free-will.
The calvinists are in a bind here, for according to their teaching, man has no free will to choose. And, if all are drawn, then all must come! They have become universalists; that is, all mankind will be saved! But, they think, “all” cannot be permitted to mean “all”. If “all” can be reinterpreted as “all those who believe”, then the day is saved, or so they think. But, John 12:32 does not allow such an interpretation. Nevertheless, the only way out of their dilemma is to teach that “all” cannot mean “all” under any circumstance, so every time the Bible teaches “all”, it must be changed to “only those who believe”. Therefore, “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2 becomes “the whole world of those who believe” and “the world” in John 3:16 becomes “the world of those who believe”.
But, “all” in 1 Timothy 2:4 is a hard one to get around.
1 Timothy 2:4 – Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
But, not really a problem at all, says calvinist Matt Slick on 26/03/1992.
The question, then, is if God predestines only some to salvation, why are there verses that say God wants all to be saved?
The answer is simple: The “all” are the Christians.
Great thinking? Logical reasoning? No, more like a slick effort to “sell” us a bad product by trying to make it seem like the best option on the market! Slick, yes! Sola Scriptura? No!
MacArthur also has a problem with Hebrews 2:9, where it says clearly that Jesus tasted death for everyone. Because MacArthur cannot bear the truth to be known, he has to write in his study Bible words such as the following: “to all who believe, that is.” For the calvinist, not one passage in the Bible teaches that “all” means “all the world” when it comes to salvation.
It is interesting that Calvin did teach (surprisingly) that Jesus gave His life a ransom for the whole human race.
Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 20:28 – The word many (pollon) is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others. And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race.
Calvin taught that Jesus shed His blood for the whole human race.
Matthew 26:28 – For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 26:28 – Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race [“Non partem mundi tantum designat, sed totum humanum genus.” (“not a part of the world only, but the whole human race”)]
Yet the calvinists still obstinately try to say that because God limits free will in some passages, then there can be no such thing as free will at all. However, the only way a calvinist may prove that man does not have free will to determine his obedience to God is to demonstrate that no example of such may be found in the Bible. Even then, it may not be sufficient, for what they really need is a statement that God will under no circumstances at all give man free will to decide to serve Him or not. No calvinist anywhere has even tried to demonstrate such; they know that it is a pointless exercise for them! The Bible does demonstrate the free will of man to choose to serve or reject God, and this effectively reduces all calvinist heresies to a useless expenditure of hot air as they try to prove the unproveable. Hot air alone will never prove anything other than who can shout the loudest perhaps. Sola Scriptura – the Bible alone – is what demonstrates the truth!
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