Free will or Free nil


In Yesterdays post “Be good, be good Johnny” I discussed the nature of man.  I asked if a sinful man who is so totally depraved if he can do any act of good?  The conclusion was that a sinful man can do good even though he is evil.  Keeping in mind of course, that all of the righteous man’s good deeds are as filthy rags. 

So an evil man doing good is not to his credit, rather to show that an evil man on his own can make the good choice to see and respond to God.  That he is not so totally depraved as some would want us to think.  These men advocate man has no free will and God forces on His elect an irresistible grace, because man can not make that choice for himself.

Let’s look at a phrase I have had the privilege to study from Irishanglican who is helpful in my understanding of what some others have concluded. 

“Therefore we reject everything taught to the contrary concerning man’s free will, since man is nothing but the slave of sin and cannot do a thing unless it is “given him from heaven.”[1]

These men reject that man has any free will to choose or reject God.  They reject that a man can make the good decision (Be good, be good Johnny) on their own.  Now since they teach that man can not choose or reject God, they have come up with other notions as well.  These being, God predestines some men to hell and others to grace.  Consequently they assume God is more abusive to men than the cast system found in India.  Where a man is born into a status and can never have any upward mobility to better himself. 

They also say the elect can not reject God because His grace is irresistible.  Consequently it would have to follow, since His grace is irresistible, that those predestined for hell never get the opportunity to say yea or nay to this grace.  But this is not what we see in scripture.

There is a lot of rejecting of God in scripture and scripture says so.  Don’t we all know this verse, even those of us who reject man’s free will to choose or reject God?

(Mark 12:10 NIV)  Haven’t you read this scripture: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ;[2]

Or how about the testimony of men who rejected God’s purpose for themselves?

But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.[3]

Would God be just if He held accountable the generation that asked for His Son’s death and for their rejection of the Messiah if they never had Him offered? 

And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.[4]

If they never had the opportunity to reject God (free will) how can they be guilty of rejecting him?  Yet we see in scripture Jesus saying this generation in their choice (free will) will reject Him.  There is a reason that they will be accountable, its called their choice.

But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.[5]

If you still struggle with man having a free will to choose God or reject Him, would it prove the point if scripture simple came out and said, “refused to obey?”  Why look, it does.

“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.[6]

Who refuses what has never been offered.  If these men were condemned to hell since they were not of the elect who have irresistible grace, how can they resist a grace that was not ever offered to them?  How can they refuse to obey if they never could do good outside of Christ?  But these men refused God in their hearts!

Somebody somewhere has been doing a lot of rejecting of God’s purpose for themselves.  Somebody in scripture has been doing a lot of refusing to obey as well.  Somebody somewhere had as lot of free will and in their hearts refuse or accept God, not the Free nil that some men advocate.


[1] Beltic Confessions Article 14

[2] Mark 12:10

[3] Luke 7:30

[4] Matthew 23:35

[5] Luke 17:25

[6] Acts 7:39

One thought on “Free will or Free nil

  1. Dave,

    Let me recommend the book: Christian Theology (Second Edition), by Millard Erickson. Theology is a “thinking” and spiritual thing. Perhaps the best theologians are contemplative-thinkers!

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