Monday, March 14, 2011

Do I really want free will?

While the term "free will" is not found in the Bible (other than "free will offerings," which is not relevant to this), different theological persuasions have contrasting ideas as to what this means. Whatever the case, I don't think I want this "free will" that so many speak of. Instead, I desire to have a will that is shaped by my Creator. Consider the following passages and how they relate to the idea of "free will" as you see it. Do these biblical authors really believe that their will is free?

“and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:39–40)

“May YHWH our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.” (1 Kings 8:57–58)

“Incline my heart to Your testimonies And not to dishonest gain.” (Psalms 119:36)

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalms 51:10–12)

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5)

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

“There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” (1 Corinthians 12:6)

“Teach me Your way, O YHWH; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”(Psalms 86:11)

I do wonder how it is possible to live the Christian life while believing in free will, much less coming to embrace Christ in the first place?

12 comments:

Nick Potts said...

very nice!

I really liked the statement, "Whatever the case, I don't think I want this "free will" that so many speak of. Instead, I desire to have a will that is shaped by my Creator." very genuine and very gracious. I wish I could handle myself as you have, soli Deo gloria!

The Apologetic Front said...

Thanks Nick! I appreciate that comment. In case you're wondering, this post was inspired by a section in Calvin's Institutes, Book 2, chapter 3, sections 7-9.

Michael said...

ABIDE IN ME

Jesus was very clear in what we must do in order to have Him ABIDE in us and we in Him.

He left this command for us in John 6:53-57, and it is the only place in Holy Scripture in which you will find it:

53 " Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you (the taken away branch);

54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 HE WHO EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD ABIDES IN ME, AND I IN HIM.

57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."


What does "Truly, truly" mean to you in verse 53? What does "unless" mean?

The body lives because it receives real food sustenance. Starve the body and it will die.

Just as the body needs real sustenance, so does the soul, else it will not bear fruit.

The soul lives by real Divine sustenance, the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

ezice said...

Hi Mike, I'm a little slow getting around to posting on this subject. I have to ask myself how a person who doesn't believe in free will can "come to "embrace Christ" doesn't the term embrace evolve voluntary effort? Isn't that the same as free will? Does our creator want us to worship him out of love? or is is because we are made to? Just wondering. God bless

The Apologetic Front said...

@ezice,

Thank you for your questions. If you would consider the following passage and tell me what you think about it:

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
(Ezekiel 36:26–27)

If one can come to Christ through complete autonomous volition, why would our hearts need to be changed?

ezice said...

OK, How about the Men of Nineveh in the book of Jonah. Did they repent as a result of Jonahs preaching Gods message, or was it because God made them? If it were the later, why did Jonah even need to preach, and why hadn't they been serving God all along?

The Apologetic Front said...

@ezice,

Great question. I would answer that they repented as a result of the preaching because their hearts were made new. If God had not first done a work in their heart, they would not have repented.

Jonah, along with all of us, must share the good news with others because "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) That is, the Spirit uses both regeneration (i.e. being born again) and the Scriptures to bring these ones to salvation.

Michael said...

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO BE SAVED

To be saved, you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).

However, that's not all. Sacred Scripture clearly shows other things you must also do to be saved:

• You must endure to the end. Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:13, Mark 13:13.

• You must accept the Cross (suffering). Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27.

• You must be baptized with water. Mark 16:16, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:20-21.

• You must be a member in God's true church. Acts 2:47.

• You must confess your sins. James 5:16, I John 1:9.

• You must keep the Commandments of God. Matthew 5:19-20, Matthew 7:21.

• You must heed the words of St. Peter, the first Pope. Acts 11:13-14, Acts 15:7.

• You must eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus Christ. John 6:51-58, I Corinthians 10:16, I Corinthians 11:23-29.

• Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. CCC 1996, John 1:12-18, John 17:3, Romans 8:14-17, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

The only Church that meets all the requirements of Salvation is the Holy Catholic Church.

ezice said...

It's not difficult for me to believe that God gives us a new heart. The difficult part, is that some people take it so far as to say he doesn't give us choices in the process. When Satan challenged God in the case of Job, didn't Job have to do something to on his own to prove Satan wrong, or was it God doing it for him? I believe Faith involves voluntary action on the part of the individual. I recall that Spurgeon used the illustration of a Child reaching out and taking an apple from his parents hand. Action on the part of the Child is involved.

Michael said...

Some Christians and non-Christians alike contend that God knows the actions and choices they will make through what is termed “Free Will”. But because He knows what will influence these choices, He is really in control of whatever we do. And so, the problem of “Free Will” continues to prevail.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states “The question of Free Will” and moral liberty, ranks amongst the three or four most important philosophical problems of all time.

The view adopted in response to it will determine a man's position in regard to the most momentous issues that present themselves to the human mind. On the one hand, does man possess genuine moral freedom, power of real choice and true ability to determine the course of his thoughts and volitions?

Or, on the other, are man's thoughts and choices, his character and external actions, all merely the inevitable outcome of his circumstances? Are they predetermined in every detail along rigid lines by events of the past, over which he himself has had no sort of control? This is the real import of the Free-Will problem.”

The Apologetic Front said...

@ezice,

I apologize if I gave you the impression that God "doesn't give us choices in the process." I fully agree that we make our own choices. However, in order for us to choose Christ, he must change our "hostile-to-God" natures (Rom. 8:7) into a new nature that will desire Him.

So yes, faith is completely voluntary in that we now want to please Him, which will result in action on our part. But this can only happen because we have been "drawn" to Him (John 6:44) as we are given new hearts (Ezek. 36:26).

If that still doesn't answer your questions, please feel free to continue asking.

ezice said...

OK, I think I understand now. Thanks and God bless!