free-will

Calvinists, Arminians and middle of the road non-denominational denominations would all answer yes to this question. We would also agree that putting one’s faith in Christ for salvation is well pleasing to the Father. However, the Calvinist does not see eye to eye when answering the question, why one person believes in Christ and another does not. The Arminian and the middle of the roader answer this question by saying man’s “free will” is the deciding factor. They both agree that the unregenerate will of man has the ability and is capable of choosing or rejecting Christ. Both are able to produce various Bible passages that refer to man choosing to serve God, but they fail to understand “why” one is choosing to serve God.

The Calvinist or reformed, will agree that man does choose to put his faith in Christ, but it is the act of God’s saving grace which precedes personal faith that is the determining factor. The unregenerate stony heart has no ability to believe in Christ because he does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14). God first regenerates the heart of the rebel sinner, then he is able to bow the knee and confess Christ as his personal savior (Eze 36:26; Tit 3:4-7; Rom 10:9-10). Let us examine this in the light of Scripture as we exegete Romans 8:8 where Apostle Paul says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” We immediately see that the “will” of the unbeliever is not able to please God. Paul establishes the point in Romans 8:9b that anyone void of the Holy Spirit cannot please God because they do not belong to Him.
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The “Free-Will” of Man

by Paul Franco on February 10, 2011

Apostle Paul establishes in Romans 3:9 that every human being both Jew and Gentile is under the reign of sin and prior to conversion he is enslaved to sin which results in death (Rom 3:9; Rom 6:6; Rom 6:16). The unbeliever presents himself “willingly” of his own “free will” as an obedient slave to his master King-Sin, “do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey” (Rom 6:16). Sin is personified as a reigning king who exerts his power and dominion over the unbeliever (Rom 5:21; Rom 6:14). Here is the glaring example of every man, woman, and child walking up to serve his master-sin and presenting himself as an obedient slave (Rom 3:10-18). The “natural man” obeys sin’s lusts in his mortal body and the tentacles of sin’s grip ensures that the sinner departs in his behavior from God’s standard of uprightness (Rom 6:12).

Sin’s dominance over the unbeliever controls the will to the point of servitude whereby the sinner is rendered powerless and he conducts himself in direct disobedience to God’s divine law. Sin is willing and able to rule over those who are living in unbelief or “living in the flesh” (Rom 7:5). Cain was “living in the flesh” and God said “sin is crouching at the door and its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain did not rule over sin but sin ruled and reigned over Cain. The point is that there was an inability within Cain to rule over sin. The will of Cain was sold under sin and thereby controlled by his master. The passage does not state that Cain was able to do that which was pleasing to God but that he was “in the flesh” and was not able to please God (Rom 8:8). The “will of man” should never be thought of as “free” outside of Christ’s redemption, “for everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin,” “so if the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36). But you will say, “Man has a free-will to choose Christ.” I respond with a question, “What controls the will of man?” To this I answer, “It is the most powerful motivating force which compels it to act.” In Pauline theology “the will of man” is “under sin,” and sin is the influence and controller of it. For this reason Paul says the believer has “been set free from sin” “so that he would no longer be enslaved to sin” “but he has become a slave of God” (Rom 6:18, 6, 22). If man has a “free-will” then it would follow that there would be no need for Christ to set it free, for he would be able to please God without the Holy Spirit.

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Agonizing to Enter It

by Jason Moore on November 11, 2010

I know this shocks some people, because we hear all the time that getting saved is easy. “Just sign this little card!” “Just raise your hand!” “Just walk down that aisle while the choir sings one more stanza!” “Just recite this prayer!” “Just ask Jesus into your heart.” It all sounds simple. The only problem is that none of those actions has anything to do with real salvation and getting through the narrow gate. That sort of invitationalism implies that Jesus is some poor pitiful Savior, waiting for us to make the first move to allow Him His way. It implies that salvation hinges on a human decision, as if the power that saves us were the power of human “free will.”

[MacArthur provides a few paragraphs explaining how this sort of invitational phenomenon started with Finney in the late nineteenth century, was carried on by Moody and soon became part of standard Christianity. He shows how it is, at its heart, anti-Calvinist. He then continues…]
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Under Sin

by Paul Franco on May 7, 2010

What is meant by apostle Paul’s words “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (Romans 3:9)?

The definition of sin, is a departure in behavior from Gods standard of uprightness or an act of disobedience to Gods divine law.

Paul is personifying sin in this statement as he refers to it as a living force which exerts itself over us, and guarantees that we will sin and disobey God. A grave error most Christians make today, is to short hand and understand “under sin” to take on the meaning of being guilty and condemned before God. This is a critical deviation from the truth and brings about numerous problems in ones theology. Of course the Gospel teaches that everyone sins and stands guilty and condemned in the sight of a Holy and Righteous God, but that is not principally what it means to be under sin.

To be “under sin” means that a person is influenced and controlled by sin. An outstanding illustration of this is to think of it in these terms, all objects in the universe that have any mass whether it is as large as a planet or as small as an electron are under the influence and control of gravity. In like manner, every human being is under the influence and control of sin.
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