For a very long time now I have wanted to address the topic of 'Free Will'. There is much confusion about this subject and enough suspicion of it that most will avoid a study of it, thinking it's a can of worms best left unopened. The real problem with a discussion of 'free will' is that folks don't define their terms before they start an argument. Just as with Calvinism, people bring their own bias, understandings and misunderstandings to the table and then spend hours talking past each other. Our goal here is to break these complicated or misunderstood ideas down into bite sized portions and if I've put this discussion off, it's because this is such a FABULOUS meal with many courses and many ways to present it. I will try and answer the biggest questions but it will take several installments. In this first portion I will give you a great working definition of 'free will'. In subsequent offerings we will look at God's Sovereignty and Salvation, Is God's Will Free or Necessary?, Free Will and Human Responsibility, the Will or Wills of God and more. Let's begin with God.
God is the First Cause and “in Him we live and move and have our being”. Acts 17:28 God is the Creator and has ownership of all things and may dispose of all things as He see fit. God's sustaining power holds all the elements of the universe together, from sub-atomic particles to galaxies. God knows every part of His creation with perfect intimacy, (just as He knows you!). God is the King of kings, this means that He is King in the fullest and most absolute sense, His authority is complete and total. The theological word for this kingly and absolute authority is 'sovereignty'. God is sovereign in power and sovereign in His will.
Think about that for a moment, if what I have just said is true – that God's will has his absolute total and supreme authority behind it, then logically we must conclude that there can be only ONE FREE WILL in the universe. God's will trumps all other wills. Let's see if you believe this: You have a loved one who is unsaved, do you pray for that loved one that salvation will come to him? When you pray, do you pray to God or do you call your loved one and pray to him or her? If you pray to God for him or here (as you should) then you must admit that God's will can over power, restrict and manipulate the will of your loved one. If God's will does not trump your loved one's will then you should pray to your friend or relative and say, “Bill” or “Mary, save yourself, please!” You don't do that, in fact what you really want is for God to 'violate' the 'free will' of your friend, to quicken them, to open the eyes of their heart and CAUSE them to come to the savior.
That's enough to digest for now but I did tell you I would give you a working definition of 'free will' and I will do that so you can ruminate on it until the next serving.
Definition: 'Free will' is the ability to choose freely that which we desire the most.
Memorize that because it's going to get you out of trouble and offer a delicious morsel to those who hunger for a better understanding of God and his dealings with His creatures. I will take this definition apart in the coming days.
(Go To Part Two)
Bob, I've whet my appetite from the next course from Chez Bob.
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