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Free Will

In the debate between election and freewill, Scripture sometimes takes a second place to theological argument. Here, some verses demonstrating freewill are presented and discussed. The point is not to deny that the word election appears in the Bible. The point is not to deny that God sometimes chooses people for His purposes. And the point is certainly not to take away from the precious truth of the sovereignty of God! The point of this little tract is to provide Calvinists with some balance, by demonstrating that freewill is also taught in Scripture.

[I am aware that some will take issue with the term freewill. I use it only for convenience sake in the manner it is normally used in theological debate.] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. - Romans 10:12,13

Consider this verse in its plain sense meaning. This is not some cryptic reference to the elect calling on the Lord, but takes the form of an open invitation for all unsaved people to call on the Lord regardless of whether they are Jew or Gentile. "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!" - Matthew 23:37

Here, the Lord Jesus is wanting to bring Jerusalem back to himself in a salvation relationship, but they are not willing. This is not a case of a totally depraved will choosing evil. To suggest that these people did not have a chance to respond to the Saviour's call makes a mockery of the Saviour's statement. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, "Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. - Luke 18:22,23

Was this call by the Lord Jesus real, or not? This man walked away from a direct call of the Lord. Can a person really suggest that Jesus said this to the rich young ruler knowing full well he was incapable of following him? For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

Yes, there are occurences in the Bible where "world" does not refer to all of mankind, but it is a mistake to think that because a particular meaning can be assigned to a word, we must assign that meaning wherever the conventional meaning does not fit our system of theology. Likewise, the word "whosoever" (a word that appears in the Greek about 1000 times in the New Testament) can have a meaning that is less than all inclusive, but it is a stretch to say that because the word can mean this, it always means this when applied to salvation.

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. - 1 Timothy 4:10

How does this verse fit into the Calvinists view of limited atonement? Obviously it doesn't. However, for those who do not believe in limited atonement, it is clear. Christ is a Savior of all men because He died for all men, but He is especially the Savior for those who believe because in them the saving work is effectual.

Then said they unto him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." - John 6:28,29 One of the big arguments raised by Calvinists is that if you could believe and have faith for yourself, salvation would depend on your own works. However, this passage makes it clear that there is one work that must be done to obtain (not earn) salvation, and that is to believe. The Calvinist is forced to explain away the plain sense meaning of this passage. Works of righteousness (like those mentioned in the plural in Ephesians 2:8,9 and John 6:28) can bring you no closer to salvation, but it is the testimony of the Lord Jesus that there is one work that is required.

The Scripture teaches election (although what the Scripture means by election might be rather different than what the modern doctrine of election teaches) and freewill. Abandoning the truth of freewill will no more glorify God than abandoning any of the other precious truths in the Bible.

Submitted by Shawn Abigail. You can e-mail him at sabigail@storm.ca