The Will of Man and the Will of God
By Curt Wildy
Return to Part Three
Return to Part Two
Return to Part One
Introduction To Part Four
In Parts One through Three:
We defined the will as that mental ability to intend, desire, or wish (something) to happen; the more technical definition was “the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action; an act of will / willpower deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses; deliberate or fixed desire or intention; the thing that one desires or ordains.”
We went over the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words associated with the will and their use in the Bible.
We looked at the Greek and Hebrew words for heart, considered how God used them, and proved that the will is seated in the heart;
We looked at the passages that proved that the one, natural heart of man is corrupt and desperately wicked;
We proved that what comes out of such a heart must be wicked and thus the will of man is wicked;
We proved that the will of man cannot be free because it is a slave to sinful self and to Satan;
We proved that the will and deeds of men, including their ill-will and wicked deeds, are all subject to God and decreed from eternity by Him.
Finally, we proved that even the will of regenerate Christians is subject to God, ordained by Him, and that without Him working in us to both will and do of His good pleasure, we would be no different than the heathen and apostates.
In the following parts, I want to respond to some of the common arguments unbelievers use to defend their free will beliefs. I want to prove from the Bible that free will, will worship, goes against what God has declared to be truth; there is not a single passage in the Bible that supports the belief that man has such a will. Hopefully, after reading these articles, you will see that those who believe in this error must twist and misuse scripture to justify their error.
When those who deny the sovereignty of God (the supreme power, authority, and control of God over all things) look at certain verses in scripture, they do so with the understanding that it is up to them whether they do it or not. They think that they have a choice one way or another. They see verses that use words like “choose” and presume that it means that they have the ability to do so. They do not understand that:
The Bible was written primarily for God’s people;
It was written in parables to harden the hearts of the proud and unbelieving;
Man has no natural ability to choose what is truly good (as the previous parts of this study proved);
Whatever good anyone does (and only the Christian can do good) comes directly from God working in them to do that good; and
“…that He which hath begun a good work in [His people] will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
When the Christian sees such choices, he or she cries “God help me; cause me to do thy will; without you I can do nothing.” When the false christian sees the same choices, they think that they can do it themselves and will often boast of how they accepted the Lord, made a decision for Christ, chose to do the right thing, etc. Those who die believing such things are those who have all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them, having never received the love of the Truth that they might be saved. They are the ones whom God has sent a strong delusion (a working of error), that they should believe the lie of their so-called free will (and of God’s supposed universal love for all of mankind) and be damned for it because they believed not the Truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Consider the following passage, wherein God through Moses stated:
Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, [and that] ye shall not prolong [your] days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, [and] that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for He [is] thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Note that Moses stated “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you.” The Young’s Literal Translation states “I have caused to testify against you to-day the heavens and the earth.” This is a negative statement; God already knew that they could not possibly choose life and thus the testimony was already set against them. The entire biblically documented history of Israel proves that they did not choose life. God granted them repentance for a season when He raised up certain judges and godly kings; but for the most part, Israel “chose” death.
This command to choose life, coupled with the false notion that we can do it of ourselves, reminds me of the language people use today when they say “choose Christ,” or “make a decision for Christ,” or “accept Jesus.” But how can anyone choose life? What is this life to begin with that they must choose? 1 John 5:11 declares “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” We read in John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.“
We see that this life is in Christ, this life is Christ, and this is the Life that they were to choose. But what does the Lord Jesus have to say about this? He stated to His Apostles in John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain…” If Jesus declared that even the Apostles did not choose Him, how is it that the false professors in our day can claim to do so? They cannot; they cannot rightly claim to have chosen God because they have no ability to chose God, just like the Israelites had no such ability to chose Life. This is why God through Moses testified, or set the record against them; just as He sets the record against all will-worshippers unto their condemnation.
What can be said however, is that amongst the quickened and converted Israelites, just as it is amongst the quickened and converted saints today, God works in them to chose Him. We choose Christ because He has first chosen us, made us willing in the day of His power, and worked in us to choose after Him.
Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve
Many use Joshua’s words to support will worship. They take his words out of context and try to make it sound like Joshua is saying “choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether it be God or false gods;” but this is not accurate. The passage reads:
Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods… [therefore] will we also serve the LORD; for he [is] our God. 19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he [is] an holy God; he [is] a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. 21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye [are] witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, [We are] witnesses.The giving of a new heart, and thus a new will, can be clearly seen in:
Please notice the full context of the passage. Joshua stated “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth.” Firstly, how can they fear the Lord? God states concerning all men, both Jew and Gentile:
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one… 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
If there is no one that naturally fears God, how could the Israelites be expected to choose to fear Him? They could not and Joshua tried to warn them. Concerning His elect people, Jehovah God declares in Jeremiah 32:40 “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” Godly fear is a gift of God; He must place it in our hearts. Man cannot muster it; He must work it in them. Therefore, if anyone rightly fears God, even the True and Living God, it is because they are already in Him and of Him.
Secondly, God through Joshua commanded them to serve the Lord. Yet He knew that they could not; He commanded a natural impossibility to set the record against them and to show them their inability. Yet they presumptuously thought that they could serve Him; they did not hold to the precept that God is the one who must cause them to both desire to serve and actually serve. So we see God later declaring against them “… Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law 12 And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me: 13 Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, [neither] ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour. “ (Jeremiah 16:11-13).
Thirdly, Joshua commanded them to serve the Lord in sincerity and truth. Sincerity, the Hebrew word tamiym [תמים H8549 (pronounced taw-meem’); without blemish, perfect, upright, complete, whole, entire, sound], is a word that denotes an already regenerated state. We read in Psalm 18:32 “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect [tamiym].” God makes His people perfect (whole, complete) when Christ in them, the hope of their glory, enters in. He causes them to walk in the perfect Way. Psalm 119:1 declares “Blessed [are] the undefiled [tamiym] in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.” The Lord is the Way; those already in Him are the undefiled. Likewise He is the Truth (John 14:6). To serve God in Truth means that they must already be saved; they must already be in Christ. Those who are outside of Christ from eternity, which is the vast majority of mankind, can never serve Him.
Joshua went on to state that if it seemed evil to them to serve the Lord (as He commands us to serve Him) then they could choose between the gods their fathers served on the other side of the flood (in Egypt) or the gods of the Amorites in whose land they dwelled; but Joshua was by no means giving them some “free will offer” to “make a decision for Jesus.”
God, through Joshua, declared “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for He [is] an holy God; He [is] a jealous God.” Yet, in their pride, in the same pride that the will-worshippers have in our day, they told Joshua (and the Holy Spirit) “No, but we will serve the Lord.” They denied Christ here. To deny [arneomai; αρνεομαι; G720 (ar-neh’-om-ahee) and aparneomai; απαρνεομαι G533; (ap-ar-neh’-om-ahee)] is to negate/reject/be against the speech of another. God told them that they cannot serve Him and they rejected this; they believed that they had the wherewithal to do that which God must work in a person to cause them to do. They proved themselves to be alogos and antichristos (without the Word and against Christ).
To drive home the point, Joshua states “Ye [are] witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him.” He is stating that since they rashly made the choice from their own corrupt will to serve God (in their own strength), the testimony against then will stand. Consider,
Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it [unto] the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with [my] whole heart. 35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. 36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; [and] quicken thou me in thy way. 38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who [is devoted] to thy fear. 39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments [are] good. 40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
Had these Israelites cried out to God with sincerity of heart like the Psalmist above, and rested in His strength (as He enabled), then all would have been well. But as the book of Judges confirms, the Israelites soon went after the false gods of the lands and were punished as a result; their will could not sustain them.
Whosoever Shall Call Upon The Name Of The Lord Shall Be Saved
Those who hold to Arminianism and related errors will often quote verses out of context, leaving off key portions of the passage to hide the true meaning. Romans 10:13 is a perfect example of this.
Romans 10:12 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. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Many believe that this passage is an offer; they say “see, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” and mean it in the sense of ‘if anyone decides of their own free will to call upon the Lord, God will save them.’ They err in thinking that they have the power, in themselves, to call upon the name (the actual Person and authority) of God. If they would simply read the next few verses (with eyes to see), they would know their error.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
God, through the Apostle Paul, asks “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Can you see how important this verse is? God is teaching us that we cannot call upon the Lord unless we already believe. Dead people cannot call or believe; He must quicken us and make us alive in Him so that we can call. Moreover, once He quickens us, He must give us faith. God is saying that a person will never call on the Lord unless that person first believes in the Lord; they have to already be believers. Paul then asks, ” how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” Not only must they believe on the Lord already, to call on Him, but they must have heard of Him as well. Not just heard the name Jesus or heard something here or there about Him, but they must have heard Him proclaimed by a preacher (proclaimer, a faithful witness). A person must hear the Gospel, believe what they hear, believe on the One being proclaimed, and only then can they call upon Him. So we see, this is not an offer to some general, “whosoever” public; this is a statement of fact about people who are already believing on Him.
We also need to ask how can they hear so that they may believe? Is God speaking of mere physical hearing? No! Because many hear the Gospel and never believe. God speaks of way-side hearers, stony ground hearers, thorny ground hearers, hearers but not doers, etc. (Mark 4:3-20; Romans 2:13; James 1:22). Many hear the Truth but never believe because only those who have been given ears to hear, can hear unto obedience and belief. Consider what God has to say about true, spiritual hearing:
Proverbs 20:12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
Deuteronomy 29:4 Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
Isaiah 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
John 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? [even] because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.
John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with [their] eyes, nor understand with [their] heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him.
Romans 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. 7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
The passages above prove that God gives men the spirit of slumber and dulls their ears so that they cannot hear. How does He do this? By leaving them to go deeper into their own sinful and hard-hearted state. But for His people, His elect, He gives them spiritual ears to hear. They are the ones who, when they hear, they believe, and when they believe, they call upon the name of the Lord unto salvation. This is not just objective salvation (which they had in Christ before they even called on His name), but subjective, experimental, salvation in that God causes His people to cry out to Him so that He can witness with their spirit, at His appointed time, that they are His children.
But How does anyone believe? Faith and Belief are the same thing; faith is the noun form of the word and believe is the verb form. In the passage we were looking at above, Romans 10, God says in verse 17 “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith, the ability to believe God and to believe in His Son, comes by hearing the Gospel proclaimed once God has given a person spiritual ears to hear. This same faith is spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Consider also the following passages:
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake;
James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. [Note: these good and perfect gifts include the gifts of godly fear, faith, repentance, spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear, a desire to seek God, etc.]
John 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. [Note: belief is God’s work; He must give us the grace to trust in the Lord].
So when we read Romans 10:12-14 again, and read it in light of all that we have read above, we can paraphrase it as follows:
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. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [having already been quickened and given the gifts of godly fear, belief, and repentance] shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed [with a God-given faith]? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard [with God-given spiritual ears to hear] ? and how shall they hear without a preacher [being sent of God, to His elect, in accordance with His eternal purpose and decree]?
Everyone That Seeth The Son
Note that some also point to John 6:40 “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day;” to defend will worship. As stated above, the ability to believe is of God. Moreover, just like the hearing ear, the passages in the previous section prove that the seeing eye (the ability to see the Son) must also come from God.
When you study the word carefully, as God enables, it becomes clear that the whosoever is not an offer, but a specific group of people. This whosoever is all of the people to whom God has given the gifts of spiritual hearing (ears to hear) and faith. They are the ones who will call upon the name of the Lord; they are the ones to whom God says in Philippians 2:12 “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” God must work in His people to make them want to choose Him and call upon His name. God never works in the non-elect, the reprobate, to truly call upon Him, believe in Him, or to hear him spiritually. Hebrews 4:2 declares “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached [lit. the word of hearing] did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Thank God that He sovereignly mixes spiritual hearing and spiritual faith in His people unto their salvation, and more importantly, unto His glory.
Continued in Part Five