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Volition: Does man have free will? Part 2

Gary Googe Jan 09

Because of the extreme importance of having a right understanding of this subject, I decided to write a second article about it.  There are people today who try to tell us God controls our will, having decided before we even came into the world all that we would choose, even regarding the matters pertaining to our salvation. Could God have made us as robots, having no will of our own? Certainly, He could have, but He chose not to do that. I fully agree that certain passages of the Bible can be taken out of context and made to say all kinds of things.  But upon reading this article, I hope you will see that the Bible does not teach that man was not given what we might call free will or self-determination nor the ability to accept or reject God’s provision for his salvation.

It should be obvious to all of us that man can’t do anything and everything he might want to do or wills to do.  He has definite limitations in the use of his volition.  But is he free to respond with faith to the gospel for his salvation, or is this something God determines for him? Whether you’re aware of it or not, this is a much-debated subject among many.  Furthermore, they’re all quoting Scripture to back their beliefs.  What we always need to do regarding anything like this is to honestly and objectively seek the truth of the matter in the Scriptures. Opinions really don’t count.  We need to always look to the authority of Scripture for our answers regarding this and all kinds of other things.  We all need to be mindful of this next passage.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God [THEOPNEUSTOS = God-breathed], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect [TELEIOS = brought to maturity], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]

This, of course, is speaking of the sixty-six books of the Bible.  It is this that is the one Book made up of these “books” that we’re to become familiar with.  There are many passages of Scripture that speak of its great value.

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is quick [ZAO = alive], and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Emphasis added]

It is in the Bible that we find the facts about the origin of man. There we find that he was first placed in a beautiful garden where God set up that which was to be a test for the expression of his volition.  Here’s what we are told.

Genesis 2:15-17

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

Right there we are clearly informed that God made man with free will.  In no way was God going to cause Him or force him in his decision on this matter.  He was given of God the freedom to do whatever he chose to do.  He was warned about the consequences but not coerced.

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. [Emphasis added]

Therefore, he was free to obey God and do that which was good, or he could disobey God and do that which was evil.  He was completely free to do either one.  Of all the many trees in the garden there was just this one he was commanded not to eat of its fruit.  What bountiful provision God had made for him! However, we soon find that he was tested as to how he would use his volition, his free will.  This other creature of God who also had free will tested him.

Genesis 3:1-5

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

It is important for us to note that Eve had received this information second-hand through her husband, just as we receive God’s Word second-hand through the writers of Scripture.  Even today, people are asking if the statements of the Bible can be trusted.

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Here we need to note that God had not said they couldn’t touch it, only that they were not to eat it.  This represents her misunderstanding of what God had actually said much as Scripture today is often misunderstood and distorted by many people.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

This represents Satan’s frontal assault on the authority of Scripture.  He’s questioning the truthfulness of what God had said.

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [Emphasis added]

Satan always tries to make man think he’ll be better off doing as he pleases, rejecting the authority of what God has said.  But is this true? Is it ever true? Of course not! It wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now.  Nothing has changed on this.  When man sins, he always foolishly thinks it’s the best course.  There are many passages that warn us about this thinking.

James 1:14-15

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. [Emphasis added]

Satan convinced the woman that she could gain some hidden wisdom, something good God had withheld from her.  Again, people today always foolishly believe that the path of disobedience to God is somehow to their advantage.  The course of temptation to sin is the same in every generation.

Genesis 3:6-7

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. [Emphasis added]

As the case usually is, man foolishly tried to remedy the problems sin brings apart from God’s provision.  In this case he engages in what we might call—operation fig leaf.  “Religion” is like this. In every generation there are people who work to justify their choices, seek to resolve bad outcomes, and work to cover their sin problem though their own means.  All this is done rather than turning to God for a real solution.

In certain circles [as with Calvinists] it is believed that God causes all things, including man’s sinful actions.  It is believed that man’s will is never free to operate independently of God’s will.  According to men like John Calvin, God has doomed some people to hell even before they were born.  His claim is that their will has absolutely nothing to do with the matter.  Here are his words.

“God arranges all things by His sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify Him by their destruction.” –John Calvin [Emphasis added]

It doesn’t get any plainer than that.  Many people today who profess to be Calvinists in their beliefs don’t like this statement, and rightly so primarily because it isn’t true.  This and many other things he taught are various forms of false teaching.  For more information on this please go to my articles about it on this website.

Calvinism: What is it all about?

Calvinism: Is it a false teaching?

Calvinism: Does God love ALL mankind?

Then there’s my other article on the same subject as this article.

Volition: Does man have free will?

I was schooled in this false teaching in seminary over a three-year period, but always rejected it.

There are many people today who have pastors who are to some or to a great degree Calvinistic in their teaching.  Unfortunately, many of these people don’t recognize the teaching for what it is because of their own lack of training in the Bible.  But don’t think for a minute that this isn’t important.  It is extremely important! For instance, a person can’t even honestly present the gospel believing these things.  You can’t even tell a person Christ died for their sins, providing them with a way of salvation.  To a Calvinist this isn’t true for most people because He only died for some. Is this what the Bible tells us? Not at all!

1 John 2:2

2 And he [Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]

This clearly shows that the just demands of God regarding all man’s sins  were satisfied by Christ’s work on the cross.  The penalty for man’s sins was there on that occasion paid for all mankind.

2 Corinthians 5:19

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]

Here we find that the sins of the world were all put on Christ.  He bore them all in His body and was judged of God for them.  To satisfy God for salvation man must have the righteousness of God credited to him.  

2 Corinthians 5:21 

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

This righteousness is gained by a person when he accepts with his own free will Christ’s payment for his sins.

Romans 3:22

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [Emphasis added]

Only faith in Christ stands in the way of man’s salvation.  It was because of God’s love for all that this provision was made for all.

Romans 5:8

8 But God commendeth his love toward us [speaking of all mankind], in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]

Probably the most well-known passage that speaks of this is this next one we’ll note.

John 3:16-18

16 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.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [Emphasis added]

Because Christ died, paying the penalty for all, all are saveable. Then we have the apostle Paul’s words about this.

1 Timothy 2:3-6

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4 Who will have [THELO = desires] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [Emphasis added]

I always want to say, “What part of all does one not understand?”

But these people have their own definitions for certain words.  To them all doesn’t mean all, world doesn’t speak of all mankind, and on and on it goes.  Again, I listened to this for three years.  All this needs to be rejected for what it is—false teaching.

It is important to realize that the beginning of sin for mankind was something God had nothing to do with.  In no way is He responsible for it.  He had given Adam clear instructions.  There was fruit from just one tree in the Garden of Eden that was off limits for him.  He was not to eat it! His decision to eat it was made independently of God’s wishes for him.  He made this decision completely on his own.  The same is true for Eve.  She freely chose to eat it and then she led Adam to do the same.  This decision to partake of it was totally in the hands of Adam and Eve. Eve was deceived in the matter, but Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he partook of the forbidden fruit.

1 Timothy 2:14

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [Emphasis added]

We find then that sin coming into the word was Adam’s fault.  God, therefore, rightly holds man completely responsible for it.

Romans 5:12

12 Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: [Emphasis added]

From that time till now sin has been an ongoing problem for mankind.  But God graciously provided a remedy.  And it is through the exercise of man’s volition that his greatest problem, his lack of salvation, can be remedied permanently.  He must simply put his faith in the provision God has made for him through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is as the apostle Paul and others told a Philippian jailor.

Acts 16:31

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. [Emphasis added]

Here we see that one’s whole household can suddenly and permanently get saved if they’ll each accept this provision God made for them. But it is also a case of where man can use his volition to reject this glorious provision He made for them.  Notice what Jesus once told a crowd of unbelievers.

John 5:39-40

39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. [Emphasis added]

They freely exercised their volition to reject the Savior who came to die that they might have this opportunity.  Please realize that if you wind up in hell and the Lake of Fire, it will only be because you, yes, YOU chose to reject the provision through Jesus Christ that God made for you. It certainly will not be because God predetermined long before you were born that you’d end up there.  In every case, one’s choice is directly involved, one’s own volition. You will never be able to rightly blame anyone for ending up in the Lake of Fire and being tormented forever.  Please see my articles on this website about all this—

Heaven and Hell: Are they both FOREVER?

Hell: Will the suffering last forever?

Just days before Jesus was crucified He was begging people to accept Him for who He was.

Matthew 23:37

37 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! [Emphasis added]

How disingenuous this plea would be if salvation was not possible for all these people! God did not select anyone for hell and the Lake of Fire.  God merely respected their choice, allowing them to express their volition freely just as He does with people today.  If you’ve never expressed your free will to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, I hope you will now.

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