Is Our “Free-Will” Of Value, Or Is Everything Predestined?
There is a powerful teaching abounding in Christendom, that all of us are “predestined” to be in one destination or another after death; often loosely termed “Heaven or Hell”.
This teaching, which is a derivation of Calvin and others, states that our “free-will” is a myth of the human mind, and that in the case of “life after death” all is set in stone!
The fact that Calvin did not make this statement, but that one of his pupils did, has not stopped the bandwagon! See: Elect Calvin onwards;
In the terminology of this "debate", the "Heaven destined" are called the "Elect", and the "Hell" destined are called "Reprobates". This controversy has been raging now for many hundreds of years, and was also fuelled by the "Reformation" of Protestantism against the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time and subsequently, many "Doctrines" were also being reviewed, one such being "Predestination"; and in the opinion of the writers, became extreme in their human definition, as opposed to what Almighty God's Word states. That state of affairs gelled into the various "Doctrines" that are propagated today in first Europe, and latterly worldwide. Many men (some in sincerity) made careers and names for themselves, which still resound today in Christendom!
The way out of the maze of men's conflicting opinions, is to turn to God's Word prayerfully, and to take note of what He says, particularly our Lord Christ Jesus.
So, is free-will real, or a figment of imagination?
The answer is, it is real!
As it is real, what is its purpose? Leaving aside the day to day experience, when choice (free-will) is exercised, there is clearly a greater purpose for so great a God given facility.
Using the Bible (as the source of all knowledge) as opposed to the works of other men, we see that free-will was evident at the beginning of this Creation. It was clearly so important that one of the greatest of God's created beings called Satan, wanted to corrupt the “free-will” decisions of Adam and Eve! The events are related below:
We need to start at the beginning of the relationship between God, man, and woman. The first restriction, or command that God placed on Adam (Gen. 2:17), was regarding the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, and the prohibition of the eating of its fruit. God said that if Adam disobeyed, “thou shalt surely die”. This commandment was given to Adam, before Eve was created, and therefore was his responsibility.
Eve was then created from Adam’s flesh (Gen. 2:22), and was his responsibility. The Serpent [Heb. nachash, = the old Serpent, transformed as an angel of light], then approached Eve, and commented to her that God had given all fruit of the garden to be eaten. Eve agreed, but with the exception of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and stated, “God hath said, >Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die<”. In these words, Eve misquoted and added to the original, (Gen. 2:16-17). The words “neither shall ye touch it” are not in the original, and the word “lest” is changed from the word “surely”. This may seem pedantic, but is crucial to the case, and the history of mankind from that point. Since that time, the changing and additions to the Word of God, together with the current disregard for It, have caused, and is causing the complete ruin of humankind! In the case of Eve’s distortion and addition, the use of “lest” (in case) implies a possibility, instead of the certainty of death, as the word “surely” (certainly) shows. Satan immediately confirms Eve’s suggestion, and states in Gen. 3:4, “Ye shall not surely die” (emphatic), and goes on to say in v5, that when they eat, they will be as Gods, and will have the knowledge of good and evil. Also in the same verse, Satan implies that God is holding back from them something which they should have! Eve then eats of the forbidden fruit, and gives it to her husband who is with her, and he also ate it, v6. In Gen. 3:9, God calls to Adam (not Eve) in the garden, which emphasises Adam’s position in God’s order, and his responsibility! Adam hid from God, due to the knowledge of his nakedness, and in v12 blames the woman, and by implication God, for his own lack of integrity, and lack of courage when needed, in not resisting Eve’s wishes! God then berated Eve, who blamed the Serpent.
So, Adam blamed Eve and God. Eve blamed the Serpent (Satan). Each one would not take responsibility for their actions, despite the fact of their free-will! This has continued ever since, with many variations on the theme!
God then pronounced punishment on each. The Serpent is first, and interestingly there is no dialogue between the Serpent and God, as both already know their relative positions, since the rebellion of Satan! That is yet to be concluded in the events prophesied in the pages of Revelation.
Eve is next, and in God’s words to her v15, is the beautiful prophecy of the Salvation in Christ, “It (Christ = the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel”. In v16, the Lord increases the “sorrow” in conception, and childbirth, and “thy desire shall be subject to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. In today’s world, such a comment is totally unacceptable, even in some Bible believers. In some eastern religions, there is a titular acceptance. This is especially the case since the Women’s Liberation Movement. However, variations of human opinion do not change the inerrancy of the Word of God as we shall see later.
Adam’s punishment is started with the words v17, “Because thou has harkened unto the voice of thy wife”. Many men would say here that they have no choice! However leaving that behind, God is saying that he should not have paid heed to her, and should have easily remembered what God had said on the subject, which of course he did! God then pronounces the rest of the punishment, the cursed ground, the sorrow in the eating of it. In v8, the thorns and thistles, and the eating of the herb. In v19, the work of the body to bring forth the food, until returning to dust himself! All that because of disobedience!
Reminding ourselves at this stage that we are only concerned with God’s Word, and not with the many satanically inspired human arguments and opinions regarding the Bible, we revisit 2Tim. 3:16, and its expression of the sanctity, purity, and reliability of the Bible, and its use for doctrine, correction, and instruction.
We know from Scripture that created beings, angels and humans have free-will. As is shown throughout Scripture, that free-will is important to Almighty God. As we know from Scripture, Satan rebelled against God, and has ever since been trying to usurp and undermine all of God’s will for all His created creatures. Scripture says that Satan was the most magnificent being that God created. The word Satan is Hebrew, and means “an adversary, an enemy, an accuser”. He has other names which are related to Greek, and his role in events yet to be. Note that he is a “created” being, not “begotten”, as only Jesus has that designation! Before Satan became the “adversary”, his name was “Lucifer”, which means “Morning star”, and his fall from favour is described in Isaiah 14:12-15.
There is much confusion and myth regarding Satan, starting in the Garden of Eden. He is there in Gen. 3:1, called a “Serpent”, from the Hebrew “nachash”, which means “to hiss, mutter, whisper, etc.”, which has been translated subsequently as “Serpent”. An allied Chaldean word means “bright”, which chimes with other Scriptural comment describing Satan as having a “glorious appearance”. In Isaiah 6:2-6, the Hebrew word “seraph” is used to describe “Heavenly beings” as “burning bright, and elevated”. In Numbers 21:8, “saraph” is “fiery Serpent”. The words seraph and nachash are both used in Scripture to describe a Serpent and a glorious spirit being. In 2Cor. 11:3, Paul fears for the Corinthians, that they will be beguiled as Adam and Eve, and refers to the appearance of Satan on that occasion in 2Cor. 11-14, ("and no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light").
So, when Satan beguiled Eve, he was magnificent to behold, as he spoke to her saying “surely thou wilt not die”, Gen. 3:4, and he has been saying it ever since, with the consequence that many humans will listen to him, and will go to their destruction! They will listen to Satan, even though they know the difference between good and evil, and are exercising their free-will in so doing.
In Summary of this brief description; Satan was the most beautiful of God’s created creatures. He became enchanted by his own beauty and power, and wanted/wants God’s position Ezek. 28. He is cast from favour, Isaiah 14:12. His name is changed after his rebellion to Satan, and he is allowed to try to stop trust and faith in God on Earth, (Job). This process is still under way, and will not end until the events described in Rev. 20:2.
All this is allowed by Almighty God at the present time and in to the future, to honour the free-will that He has given to Satan. The same principle of free-will in all human kind is also underway until the culmination of the Age of Grace, and is part of the antitheses to Satan's rebellion against God. That free-will is not in itself the antitheses, but is embodied in the death sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the Cross at Calvary. The focus of the free-will of Humankind at the present time, is whether or not to trust Christ Jesus for the Salvation He offers, which is defined as complete absolution from their Sin nature, and their Sins committed in life.
In the Garden of Eden, God set up a situation to counter Satan’s rebellion, and free-will is at the core of that plan! What many people do not know is that all of His Heavenly creation is watching the outcome of this universal struggle, (Eph. 3:10), and that they too have free-will! We know from Revelation that Satan has had great success in Heaven, and that one third of the angels of Heaven have converted to him by their free-will! He has been working simultaneously on Earth to capture humans in the same way! There is to be a time, some think soon, when Satan will be cast to Earth for a short time, and that time will be terrible for Earth's inhabitants. In the last three and one half years of that time, it is probable that all Earth's inhabitants will be required to acknowledge the ruler, (The Antichrist), by receiving his mark on their hand or forehead! That will be a "free-will decision". (There is some uncertainty as to whether Israel only is involved or the Nations of the world also).
Those that by their "free-will" allow themselves to be thus marked, will eventually join Satan and his angels in the "Lake of Fire", (Rev. 20:15).
Satan has had, is having, great success in Heaven, converting angels to his side, as they exercise their "free-will".
He also wants the Nation of Israel to fail completely, so they also have been the focus of his special attentions, and by their "free-will", they failed to obey God, or recognise their Messiah, Christ Jesus. So they were "set to one side" (Lo-Ammi) in AD70 approx.
Since Acts 28, the Nations of the world are in Satan's sights, as they have been “turned to” by the Holy Spirit (Acts 28:25-28) with the Gospel of Christ Crucified! See: Free-will: They (the Nations) now have the opportunity to exercise their "free-will", to accept or reject Christ Jesus! See: The Call of God:
So, we have seen from the above in Scripture (God’s Word, as opposed to man's interpretation), that free-will is so important, that Satan wants control of it via perverted Scripture! That being the case, he (Satan) wants control of people by perverting the Bible's Words. This he does in many ways. In the past by using men with reputations for powerful speaking, and or writing, and the list of those men of the past is too long to tabulate here. In the present, by the same methods!
It is interesting to note the comment of a Christ-One in the past. "Do not look for Satan in Soho, but in the Pulpit"!
Constantine and Helena had control for many centuries via the "Holy Roman Empire". Later, after Martin Luther, opinions which caused/cause divisions in "doctrine" were propounded as said, by many "learned" men, such as Calvin, Arminian, Knox etc. Bearing in mind the above Link regarding Calvin, (which shows that he did not propose the thesis which bears his name).
These "Doctrines" in particular still cause great confusion with people, which in turn lead to heartache for those not willing or able to resist strong Pastors or speakers who promise "damnation" if they are not obeyed or adhered to!
When the claims of these doctrines are examined, there are parts which ring true to Scripture, and some that don't. They are so constructed that they oppose! This is seized upon and used by strong leaders, and the gullible and weak are consumed by both the teaching, and the men.
Satan through men, still wants to control people's minds and hearts, and also as an added benefit to him, their Bank balance!
Some commentators say that the fact that Christ’s people, (His Body), are known before the “overthrow” (mistranslated “foundation”) of the world, means that they do not have a choice in the matter! They take their mistaken opinion from Eph. 1:4, and 1Peter 1:20, and elsewhere in Scripture.
It is fact that Christ Jesus was “foreknown”, and as such, that the many parts of His Body are therefore “foreknown”. However, the individual parts still have to exercise their God given “free-will” to enter the Body, it’s just the fact that God “foreknew” those that would!
In the 1Peter 1:20 reference, the point is made clear, as it clearly states that it is Christ Jesus who is “foreordained”, “and is made manifest for you”!
Bearing in mind what we have just read above from Eden onwards, the fact of the "free-will" of all people is again emphasised in one of the OT Statements of Almighty God. The basic principle is recorded in Isa. 45:22-23, and those Words have meaning for all people!
"Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the Earth: for I am GOD, there is none else".
Why would God, who took on the form of Christ Jesus to Create, ASK His created people to turn to Him, and have Salvation, if He had already fixed it in stone that they were "for Heaven or Hell"? The simple answer is that He had not! He had left in place for the people that now inhabit planet Earth the choice to take Him at His Word, or to reject Him, and choose destruction! This fact shows the importance of "free-will", and its value to our Creator God, now, and in Eternity!!
The question is often asked, what about all those people that have never heard of Jesus The Christ? What about the hidden and unknown Tribes in remote parts of the world? Jesus has been known of only since AD 30, in the sense of the Redeemer; and since then, the onus has been on people to accept Him or reject Him, as the Jews have shown! However; God has been evident in all creation since Creation, and the heart of every individual who has ever lived is known to God Almighty. That means that when the Great Adjudication of the Great White Throne takes place at the end of the Millennial Reign, the condition of the individual heart towards God will be the deciding factor. Those that revere God, will de-facto revere Christ Jesus; as He was in place before the "foundation" (overthrow) of the world! This is substantiated by Romans 1:20; "for the invisible things of Him from the Creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse". Which leaves no person able to excuse themselves!
One of the great myths, and therefore confusions used by false Calvinists teachers, is that of the definition of "works". They say that any work by the individual to seek and find the Truth of Jesus the Christ, is works! What a travesty of interpretation and intellect! They use Eph. 2:8-10 as their foundational Text, and construe it wrongly! In context, these verses clearly state that the "work" refers to Christ's on the Calvary Cross, and that it cannot be added to, or diminished. It is the ultimate "finished work"!
Returning to free-will, Almighty God expects people to use their minds, and put effort into sorting out the Truth from the myriad pagan and false teachings, which requires effort (work) and the use of that great facility, free-will! Christ Himself said when asked what the works of God are; "the works of God are, that you believe in Him who He has sent", (John 6:28-29)!
God Almighty knows the failure of the world's peoples; He above all knows the propensity to failure of us all! As Almighty God, He, because of His Love for us made a way out in His Son (His only begotten), on the Calvary Cross, that whosoever should believes on Him (Jesus the Christ) will be saved, and have eternal life; John 3:16.
He also knows the wiles and ways of Satan, and the simplicity of the human mind. For that reason He made the way easy, not hide bound with complex theology and rules, just simple "faith" in the Crucified Jesus, which we decide!
The "work" is done by Jesus, the "Offer" is made by the Father to the world's people, we decide with our "free-will"! See: God's Only Begotten Son.
So we see that “free-will” is crucial in life, to the destination of people after they die, and that all teaching that states otherwise is of the great enemy Satan! We have free-will before we find Christ, also after, which is for Eternal purpose!
In Scripture, there are a number of texts that show that God has pleasure in those that seek after Him; Zeph. 2:3, Dan. 10:12, Heb. 11:6 & Acts 17:27. These show that “working” towards knowing God is pleasurable to Him, and not as some Calvinists say and teach, that it is a "works based activity", which is not allowed in their "rules"!
There is also the implication in that false teaching that people “have no choice”, but that all is "predestined" that Satan had no choice but to rebel against God, and that he had no "free-will"! That is clearly a lie, as the gift of free-will was his also!
There will however still be those that through their own weaknesses, and inability to stand for Truth, sit on the back of one or other of the "Doctrines", instead of the Word of God, The Bible, and have simple trust in Christ Jesus!
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