Friday, January 18, 2008

Predestination and Free Will

This post is a continuation of the previous post, but I will focus on the subjects of man's free will and predestination. If you are new to this site or this series of posts, I am taking the Arminian side of the argument and debating in order to think of possible arguments that would come up, and to sharpen my own skills for a practice debate that I will be engaging in, in a few weeks. In a few days, I'll be taking the Calvinistic side and debating against Arminian arguments that you, the reader can throw at me. Here we go again...round 2...ding! ding!

Assertion #1. I want to assert that man has the free will to choose good or evil, sin or obedience, eternal life or eternal death. Any view that gives man less freedom than that, contradicts scripture.
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:
Joshua 24:15 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.
Why would both Moses and Joshua appeal to what seemed good or evil to the people if they were only able to choose that which is evil and did not have the freedom of the will to choose good? They had a clear choice to choose the false gods or the true God and there is no sign of a sovereign decree from God determining their choice. God has left it entirely up to them to make this choice.

Even Jesus said:
John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
He puts the blame on them for not coming to Him, it was entirely their choice. Paul explains the reason why people don't choose Christ in:
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Why would the devil blind men's minds if they were already incapable of responding to the gospel without the assistance of God's enabling? There seems to be an all out effort on satan's part to blind men so that they cannot be saved. This would be completely unnecessary if God had predestined them to be saved or lost. From this verse, we can deduct that the light of the glorious gospel is compelling enough for a person to choose Christ without the devil's impediment.

Assertion #2. Predestination should not be understood as God pre-determining their salvation, but rather those gifts and blessings that He has pre-determined for those who freely come to Christ. The conformity to the image of the Son is what is predestined for those who believe.

Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Those whom God did predestinate to be like His Son are also called....called to what? Called to be saints with all those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
All this is saying is that those who choose Christ are predestined to conformity to the image of Christ, to be called saints, to be justified and glorified. We are before ordained that we should do good works and walk in them:
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Now, many will point to the following verse to try to prove that predestination or fore-ordination has to do with someone's eternal destiny:
Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
The word ordained is the translation of th eGreek word: tasso. Yet, in the seven other uses of this word in the New Testament, it is never used to refer to predestinating someones eternal destination. Tasso should be read as "as many as were disposed to eternal life, believed." This word is in the nominative case, perfect tense, passive voice participle, indicating an outside influence upon the Gentiles toward eternal life is a present influence, not an eternal decree.

It is consistent with scripture's explanation of God's posture toward sinners: He is not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance and that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
In this last verse, He asks Israel why they should die! All they must do is turn from their evil ways. Why would God ever say something like this if they didn't have the will to do so, or if God had fore-ordained that they should not turn and live?

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Again it is clear enough in Jesus' lamentation over Jerusalem that His will was that they should have gathered to Him, but they would not do it. There is no indication that His eternal decree was that they would not come. It was their choice, and it is still our choice today.

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