Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Man's Free Will

Here is a video of Pastor John Henderson explaining that men have free will. Here is the introduction posted with the video.

Calvinists and Hard Shells do not Agree with this Video. If you are either, please do not post any hateful or harmful comments. Thank you.
-We firmly take the position that Man indeed does have Free Will and is NOT predestined to go To Hell or Heaven Before They are even Born. Does God Have Foreknowledge of What Choices each individual is going to make before they are even Created? Absolutely, He is Sovereign and Praise God He had a Redemption Plan for all of man to Reconcile with Him in His Son Jesus Christ!!

I want to first point out that I agree with the statement "Does God Have Foreknowledge of What Choices each individual is going to make before they are even Created? Absolutely, He is Sovereign and Praise God He had a Redemption Plan for all of man to Reconcile with Him in His Son Jesus Christ!!!" Unfortunately, the Bible does not support the definition of Free Will that Henderson is using. And it does say that we are all deserving of hell before we are even born. Look at the video and then lets unpack the statements to see if we can agree that there is no predestination to heaven.

I found the arguments unconvincing. I'm not a five-point Calvinist because I have problems reconciling "l" - "limited atonement" with a couple of scriptures Henderson does bring up. The other doctrines of grace - "Total depravity", "Unconditional Election", "Irresistible grace", and "Perseverance of the saints" have strong Biblical backing.

Here are the points to consider:
1. Pastor Henderson said that Election is unto salvation several times. He makes a difference between election and selection. I don't understand how they can be separated. If you elect someone for something you are making a selection.

Consider Romans 8:32-34 as an example:

32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. - KJV
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. - NIV

The word "ejklektovß" which was translated "elect" or "chosen" refers to who? The ones who believe. Who are they chosen by? God. The word was used in the KJV 23 times and always translated "chosen" or "elect". Reference

2. Pastor Henderson says that scripture teaches that man has a choice. He refers to John 5:40.

   36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
   41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
   45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” - John 5:36-46

Jesus is directly talking to the unbelieving Jewish leaders and says that they refuse to come to Him because  they don;t love God in their hearts, He doesn't deal with their ability to come to him. A person who does not love God is unable to believe and come to Jesus but can't love God if they are not drawn by God (John 6:44)

3. Pastor Henderson refers to John 6:35-37 to explain that no one who comes Jesus will be refused

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

Given that Jesus says that all that the father gives to Him comes it makes sense that he will never drive them off. Further, if you don't come, then the Father didn't give you. Let us not forget John 6:43-44

 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

We cannot come with the the Father drawing us. More than that, we don't even want to come unless the father draws us.

4. If you were elected from eternty past, why would you need to believe in Christ

 You need to believe in Jesus Christ because that is how God set up salvation.

39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” - John 6:39-40

5. Pastor Henderson then references 1 Timothy 2:4 - pointing out that God wills all men to be saved

 1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. - 1 Timothy 1-4
I admit it. I haven't really heard a good response justifying limited atonement and reconciling this passage. The way I understand the passage is that God desires that all people to be saved. However we know form other passages that not everyone will be saved or who will be saved.. More study is definitely needed on my part.

6. God so loved the world not just the elect.
Pastor Henderson is correct John3:16 does not say god only loves the elect or that Jesus came for only the elect. then whole world John 3:16 is one of these verses that everyone knows but do you kknow what the succeeding verses say? They offer clarification and context..

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.- John 3:14-20
Check it out. Jesus is far from alleging that the whole world is saved. He tells us that only those who believe are saved. Further saved or not - God loves the world. Jesus even tells us what holds us back from belief - loving darkness instead of the gift God has given us - Jesus.
7. Pastor Henderson said that Calvinism denys men's responsibility to God for our sins. He seems to think that if our decision to believe has its source in God it takes away the accountability. I disagree. Remember the "T" in"TULIP"? "T" is "Total Depravity" which mean that man is hopelessly  helpless without God -indebted and enslaved to sin and hostile to God. We hate God because of what we are and who He is. I think the KJV translation makes it really clear:

 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
 10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
 11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.- Romans 8:5-11

8. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all

 5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
 6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
 7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. - 1 Timothy 2:5-7

Amen. Again, I'm not going up against that. One way to begin looking at it is that I don't think there is any Christian who would deny that Jesus is the savior of all because the is no one else by which we can be saved. Dr. James White bring up the question does Jesus mediate on the behalf of those who are in hell or for those who deny Him, given that hew knows who's saved? I've never heard an anti-Calvinist give a good answer to this one. The truth is that God does sometime bless people who constantly and consistently deny Him and hate Him - knowing that they are going to go hell.  And maybe his blood sacrifice covered them too but because they don't believe they will never get the gift applied to them..We may never know.

9. Pastor Henderson referred to 2 Peter 3:9 to appeal to the idea that God do0esn't want anyone to go hell so no one can ca be predestined,

9The 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

I think people like Dr James White bring up  an important point.  Who is it that the verse says is not desired to perish?  Given that God's patience is described to be directed towards us - believers - it must be saying that God doses not want believers - to perish. That's not saying he wants non-believers to perish, only that the passage cannot be applied to all humanity. I've heard Dr. James White apply this logic to understand 1 Timothy 2:4 in a much similar way. I think it works for 2 Peter 3:9 but not very well for 1 Timothy 2:4

10. Pastor Henderson said that he opposes Calvinism because it  makes salvation depended on God..What is wrong with salvation being depended on God? Who better to trust your eternal soul with?

11.Pastor Henderson quoted 1 John 2:2 to explain that Jesus is the propitiation for the whole world.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Here is the problem. I think that Pastor Henderson would agree with Substitutionary Atonement  - the doctrine that Jesus took our place and received the wrath of god we deserved in our place. That is why scripture says Jesus is our propitiation - satisfying the wrath - doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Was that for the whole world or just the elect? It is through that atonement, we have peace with God. The unrepentant sinner does not have true peace with God or anyone else - not even themselves. There is a lot more going on this passage. than mot people think. More study and prayer is definitely required..
12. Pastor Henderson said  that God has elected to save those who choose to believe in Christ. He said that it's up to that individual's will. My question is given the fallen nature of human beings, how do you even begin to do that withoout God? Scripture says, you can't.

14. Pastor Henderson said that God has chosen to save those who choose Him, If ?I would sum up the message he is making. I don't think that is what the Gospel is.  It puts the emphasis on man and not where it belongs. We love God because he first loved us. When Jesus told his disciples " I have chosen you," (John 6:70) I believe that it's just a true for every believer as it was for the disciples - even Judas Iscariot (but I'll leave that one alone (John 17)

15.Pastor Henderson said that if man is not responsible or accountable to God by his will or choices that he makes, then God is unfair to punish a man for something he can't prevent. I kind of like to know who was it that said the we are not accountable or responsible. God said we are.  End of story.  The objection reminds me of the objection Paul raised in his letter to the Romans.

 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
 22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?- Romans 9:19-24

Dr James White might have a point: if you are raising the same objection raised against an apostle in scripture, you might wanna check your theology. Aslo to be fair, Pastor Henderson does not refer to himself as an Arminian which is why I used the term anti-Calvinist. The underlying object I'm hearing here is that Henderson seems to think that Calvinists are saying that a person can want to be saved but won't be because they are not one of the elect. That's impossible. You don't wanna be saved unless you are one of the elect. Another problem seems to be the thought that if you are predestined for heaven then others must be predestined for hell. I don't think so because hell is default. That's where you are going just by definition without Christ - no one is morally neutral or clean (I'm not going there on babies or the mentally challenged -that is for another post).I don't think it is a conclusion we should draw from scripture. We should preach the Gospel like we have been told to do it and let God handle after-life travel itineraries.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, - 1 Peter 3:15
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