Monday, January 10, 2005

Sovereignty of God versus Man's Free Will

At, a forumer named Snake, who has atheistic beliefs, asked me:
snake wrote: Determinism does not govern *some* things, it wouldn't work. For determinism to work, it has to control EVERY aspect of that which it determines, otherwise everything else would throw it all off.
At which I replied:

If you think the meaning of predestination is God coercing Man to come to Him, then I believe you have the wrong concept of predestination.

Let me reemphasize this point: what was lost in the Fall is Man's inclination to desire God at all. Man has free will, but his free will revolves around his evil desires, not the things of God. Man has self-determinism, which means his choices are determined by what he think is most desirable at any given moment. Unfortunately, Man by nature do not have the moral ability to choose God, because his choices only consist of evil desires.

The regeneration of the Holy Spirit causes a person to open his heart to godly desires. God liberates the unregenerated person, who was bounded by evil desires which causes his inability to choose God, by restoring godly desires to him. Now faced with both evil desires and godly desires, the regenerated person's heart tends towards godly desires rather than evil desires, enabling him to choose Jesus Christ. Our desires influence our free will, but the will itself is not violated.


Anonymous A L said...

All religions are based on law (also known as karma) - that is, a system of "do good get good, do bad get retribution". These religions may or may not believe in a "god", some are more spiritually inclined, some are more philosophically inclined, but the common denominator is still to do good to get good (or get blessed, or get peace of mind, etc). This commonality of law (or karma) is what the devil uses to lead man to eternal damnation.

True Christianity is based on the Grace of God - and this came in the Person of Jesus. Christianity is the only belief in which their God (Jesus) died for the full punishment of all their bad (ie. God’s broken laws) so that the punishment they rightfully deserved will never fall on them again. The only condition is to believe.

Now, back to the free will of man:

The Creation of Adam
When Adam was created by God, he was created with no consciousness of good and evil. God also created Adam with a free will to choose.

God is Holy – the Law is His Holiness
God desires to be good to Adam. But because God is Holy, being full of justice and righteousness, He cannot be good to Adam when he does evil or sin, even though Adam does not know what sin is, since he does not know what is good and evil. In fact, not only is He unable to be good to Adam, His completely just nature demands that He would have to punish Adam for all sins the moment he is created.

God is Love – Grace is His Love
Since He is also Love, He did the most awesome thing as our Creator - He sacrificed His Son Jesus, the Lamb of God, to take all the punishments of all the sins of the world, even before creating Adam and the world. That is why the bible says Jesus is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. This is God’s grace.

This is also the gospel (which simply means good news) for mankind. I believe Jesus’ sacrifice is the same event recorded in Gen 1:3 as "Let there be light". Jesus is the Light. Notice this happened before anything was created, even before the physical light that we know as the sun, moon and stars, which were created on the fourth day.

I believe the creation happened outside of time (which is what we know as eternity). I believe time only started when man fell (see below). Rom 16:16 tells us that "the mystery of the gospel was kept secret since the world began, but now made manifest" as Jesus coming physically into this world to take away our sins 2,000 years ago. 1 Pet 1:20 also says Jesus was foreordained (to be slain) before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times (2,000 years ago) for us to believe.

Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor. Now God can legally be favorable to Adam by grace – that is, He can bless man apart from what he does. God does not want Adam to know what is good and evil so that whatever he does, he will neither be conscious (in other words, believe) that he is too evil for God’s goodness or not good enough for God's goodness.

What actually happened in Eden –
the Fall; when man chose the Law
Back to creation's plan - with the sacrifice of Jesus in place, God is perfectly legal to not regard man’s sins, because they have been punished on the Person of Jesus.

In the case of Adam, before the fall, he is not under God’s grace, since does not even know about Jesus' sacrifice for all his sins because it happened before he was created. Neither is he under God’s law, because he has yet to know what is good and evil. He relates to God neither by law (what he does) nor by grace (what Jesus did). He has yet to exercise his free will to choose how he wants to relate to God (represented by the two trees in Eden). That is why many theologians called this period the Dispensation of Innocence.

But when Adam chose to eat from the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, thereby giving him a conscience of good and evil, Adam fell, and God has to deal with Adam by law (that is, based on his actions).

God introduced Grace to show His
original and wonderful intention for
With the fall of Adam, all of mankind is born with this seed of the law (the consciousness of good and evil). But man has yet to know grace (the consciousness of Jesus did), not until Abraham.

Gal 3:8 tell us that God preached the gospel of Jesus to Abraham and because Abraham believed, God regarded Abraham as righteous (apart from what he does) and greatly blessed him in all things by.

I believe Isaac and Jacob also believed in the same gospel of grace, and this is the reason God was able to greatly bless them by grace as well.

Grace is evident in the fact that although the bible recorded their many shortcomings, God still blessed them – all because they chose to relate to God by grace, and not by their law keeping. For example in Gen 26:12, the bible records that Isaac lied to the king, THEN he sowed, and reaped hundred-fold that year because God blessed him.

In fact, through the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God showed man how blessed he would be when he chooses to live by God’s grace.

God introduced the Law to show the
futility of Adam’s wrong choice
But because there were much more who did not believe when God revealed grace, God introduced the law as the Ten Commandments through Moses to show the full implication of knowing and living by good and evil. God wanted to use the law to show that there is no way man can earn God's approval or goodness by the law. Gal 3:11 say that by the law, no one is justified (in other words, no one is right before God).

God uses the Law to lead man to
By nature, man thinks he can one day be right with God by his own works. Therefore, God gave the Ten Commandments, which no man can ever keep, in order to force him to give up trying.

Gal 3:24 say the law was given to lead us to grace, and in John 1:17, it says grace came as a Person, Jesus Christ.

The only way out is for man to acknowledge that Jesus has done everything to take upon Himself the punishments of all his wrongdoings - and not to relate to or be right with God by doing good and not doing evil (by the law) but by what Jesus did (by grace).

All man were created with a free choice. So in a way, we can see the 6,000 years on earth as God giving each of His creation to exercise his free will to choose between law (death) and grace (life).

Since creation, God desired man
to live by Grace, not by Law
This is what Paul preached so strongly in all his epistles, for man not to be under law any more (to know good and evil, and to do good, and not do evil) but under grace (to know that Jesus has taken care of all the punishments of our evil, and even more, He has taken care of all the good God demands from us, by giving us His righteousness).

Today, salvation comes by acknowledging and believing the complete forgiveness for all our sins, past, present and future (remember, His work for us was outside time, even before we were created?), and not live with a conscience of guilt of our sins. That is why Rom 8:1 says the believer must have a "no condemnation" consciousness. And Heb 10:2 says that we should have no more consciousness of sins.

In the New Testament, we are called to repent. In the Greek, repent is the word metanoeo, which means to change our mindset - to change our mindset from law to grace. The Greek word for church is called ekklesia, which means called out ones - that is, we are called out of darkness (law) into light (grace). Recall the creation - darkness in Gen 1:2 and light in Gen 1:3.

If God is good and if God says He
does not test man, then why did He
put the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil in Eden?
The bible says God is good. James 1:13 also say God does not put man to test.

So why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden if it was not good for man?

Well, I believe now you understand that that tree is the representation of God's law as well as God's justice, or you can say, the just nature of God.

God has to tell Adam that law exists because of His just nature. To not put the tree there is to withhold this truth about Him from Adam, and this would contradict His just nature, because withholding a truth is as good as telling a lie.

In addition, God also has to tell Adam there is another truth about Him, which is His grace, represented by the tree of life.

With these two trees (law and grace) given to Adam, he is then able to exercise his free will, which is what true love gives - the freedom to choose.

Also, by doing this, the devil cannot challenge God for subjecting man to be under grace by force instead of free will.

By the two trees, Adam could choose to be right with God by his own effort (which is impossible) or by God's grace.

Are the First Day, the Light, and the
Tree of Life all a picture of Grace?
In bible numerics, FIVE is always a picture of grace and SIX is always a picture of man's effort. It is no coincident that the tree of life is the FIFTH time the word tree is mentioned in the bible, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the SIXTH!

Grace was established in the first FIVE verses of the bible, the first day of creation. Light, which is the grace of Jesus, is mentioned FIVE times in these 5 verses!

God rested with the finale of His of creation – Adam and Eve. And together with the Triune God, Life began with a God’s family of FIVE!

Law and Grace – Adam made his
choice, but you have to make your
choice also
Isn't it amazing that something has not really changed – that today, man's eternal destiny as well as his well-being in this world is still dependent on his choice to come to God by either law or grace?

It is all about God’s love
Why did God create man? He created man to love man, because He is love, and love is not love until it is given. His desire is to love man with all He has and all He is.

And how awesome is His love for man - for Him to suffer as a Holy God the punishment of all the sins of His creation even before creating them, so that He could satisfy His justice. He could have said "Why bother to go through all this to create man"?

In the old creation, Adam does not know the true extent of His love, being ignorant of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.

In the new creation (redemption), when we understand this awesome love of His, we cannot but love, worship and adore Him.

God truly loves all of us!

15/7/06 6:14 PM  
Anonymous sam said...

wait are you saying that we have free will? where does it say we even have free will at all in the bible?

5/2/08 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, two instances I can think of are Deuteronomy 30:19 and Joshua 24:15. In both cases the leader of Israel (first Moses then Joshua) is telling the people of Israel they have the choice to either obey God and pursue Him or disobey Him and pursue other things. God doesn't force us to love Him because if He did, then it wouldn't be love but instead the automated response of a machine. Also, God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. Thus, because we are not forced to love God He is exalted as being of supreme worth, as being the "fountain of living waters" that brings satisfaction superior to any other (Jeremiah 2:11-13). Hope this helps.

6/10/08 1:48 AM  
Anonymous site said...

It can't succeed in fact, that's what I believe.

27/7/12 3:05 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home