The Will of Man and the Will of God
By Curt Wildy
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In this part, and in the following parts, the focus will be on those scriptural passages used by will-worshippers (Colossians 2:23) to support the erroneous doctrine of free will. So many passages are misinterpreted, twisted out of context, by Arminians and Sacramentalists that one part is not enough to address this problem.
Behold, I Stand At The Door, And Knock
In Revelation 3:20 the Lord Jesus declares “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” In the previous part, we saw that man naturally lacks the spiritual ears to hear the Lord’s voice or His knock; they must first be quickened and given power to hear. Consider,
Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus:
Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
The three passages above prove that all men by nature are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin. Can a dead man hear? If I go to a cemetery and knock as loudly as I can on a tomb and shout with a loud voice, will the dead hear and open their graves? No, they will not because they cannot — they are dead! In order for them to hear, they must have life. Only God can give life and only he can give ears to hear to obey Him as we see in the following passages:
John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,2 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone [from the place] where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up [his] eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said [it], that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Ezekiel 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. 4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but [there was] no breath in them. 9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD.
Lazarus typifies all believers. He was dead physically but we were all dead spiritually. God had to call him, give him life, give him ears to hear, and give him strength to come forth. The disciples then had to loose him, and let him go, which is a picture of preaching the Gospel to sinners quickened and called by God. Likewise, with the bones in Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel prophesied upon these bones, and said unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD, but it was God who had to give the bones life and ears to hear. The bones were called “the whole house of Israel,” both Jews and gentiles, for together they make up Spiritual Israel. God, when He saves His elect, regenerates them, puts His Spirit in them, gives them Life (which is Christ), and brings them into their own land (as a holy nation, which is New Jerusalem, Mount Zion on high). Consider:
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord [is] gracious. 4 To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…. 9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
So we see that the Lord Jesus knocks only on the door of the hearts of His people; they are the only ones that He will give ears to hear His voice; they are the only ones to whom He will give life and strength to open the door, so that He will come in to them, and sup with them, and them with Him. This strength that He gives them is nothing less than His own work in them.
Some may ask, why does God use language that sounds like it is a choice if it is not a choice? The answer is simple: “Unto [God’s elect] it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others [the non-elect, the reprobate] in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand (Luke 8:10).
Ask And It Shall Be Given You, Seek And Ye Shall Find
Many are deceived into believing that they are saved because they sought Christ, because they asked Him to come into their heart. They do not understand that if a man truly seeks God, it is only because God is causing them to seek Him. They look at verses like the following and believe that they constitute an invitation to all of mankind rather than commands and exhortations to God’s peculiar people and warnings and impossibilities to those outside of Him.
Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek [me], and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
John 15:7 wherein we read “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
In light of the verses above, let’s consider what God has to say about who actually seeks Him.
Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek [after God]: God [is] not in all his thoughts.
Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
Psalm 53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: [there is] none that doeth good. 2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were [any] that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
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.
Three times (twice during the Old Testament era and once in the New) God declares that no one seeks after Him. By nature, people seek after false gods; they seek after their own belly (Philippians 3:19); they run after the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4); and they seek after a false Jesus who cannot save anyone (but only makes it “possible” for people to save themselves by “accepting” him). However, no one has the ability to seek the God of the Bible unless God is making them willing to seek and working that seeking in them.
We read in Jeremiah 29:13 “And ye shall seek [me], and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Does God want natural, fallen man to seek Him with their deceitful and desperately wicked hearts? Never! Besides, they cannot do it anyway. No good fruit springs from an evil tree.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
God does want people to seek Him with their filthy hearts, nor does He believe that they can do so. For someone to seek Him, God must first make them willing in the day of His power by giving them a new heart that can be moved and pricked. He must give them a pure heart, even the heart of Christ in them; that is the heart with which His people seek Him. Consider again,
Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Also, those who believe in free will do not continue onto the next lines in Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10. If they went to Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13, they would see this very important statement:
Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
We see here that God states how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give good things [even the Holy Spirit] to them that ask Him;” the Lord Jesus is calling God the Father their Father. This means that He is addressing those who are His elect; He wasn’t speaking about everyone in the world. He is telling His people that they are evil by nature (Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. Job 15:15), but that since they are His, the Father will give them the Holy Spirit when they ask (and they will only ask because God has ordained that they will ask). Some may argue that God is the Father of everyone therefore these verses are not limited to believers. The Lord Jesus answered that argument this way: “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (John 8:42). Therefore, when God says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened,” He is speaking to people who are already Christian (already born from above).
The same goes with John 15:7 wherein we read “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Many Arminians use this verse to “prove” that we have free will; but consider the full context wherein the Lord Jesus stated:
John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
The above is not some conditional, free will warning; it is a blessed promise. The Lord is distinguishing His people, who abide and bear fruit, from those who do not (like Judas and all false professors). He isn’t saying “well you better abide in me or else you will be cast out.” Instead, He is telling tthem (and all His true saints) that they have already been made “clean through the word which [He has] spoken unto [us]” and that we shall bring forth fruit due to our vital union with Him. Notice, that the Lord stated “for without me ye can do nothing.” Does this sound like free will? He did not say “for without me ye can do nothing… unless you exercise your free will and decide to.” “For without me ye can do nothing” is the same precept as Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” Mankind cannot escape this truth, no matter how hard they may try.
What Shall We Do That We Might Be Saved (Or Work The Works Of God)
There are passages in the Bible wherein people asked what they should do or must do. Will-worshippers latch onto these verses, thinking that even asking such questions proves that mankind has a free will to carry out the response.
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.
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls.
Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
The above passages that are supposed to prove free will prove the exact opposite. In John 6:28 Jesus clearly states that this is the work of God, in other words, it is God’s work that that they (or anyone else) believe on Him whom He hath sent. Remember that believe is pisteuo [G4100] which is the verb form of pistis  which is faith. We read above that faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, worked in us and given to us as we hear with spiritual ears biblical truth (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2-5). Therefore, no one can believe God and His word unless He makes them believe. We read in 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. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The gift of faith, of believing, is from God the Father and is given when He, of His own free and sovereign will, spiritually begets His elect people with the word of Truth.
We see this clearly in Acts 2 and Acts 16; the people who asked what they must do were those whom God had already pricked in their hearts (already begotten unto salvation, having given them a new heart and Spirit). They (a) were made fearful by the power of God (He gave them the gift of godly fear), (b) heard the Truth proclaimed, and (c) asked what they were to do (because God had already done that first work in them). They were like Lazarus, already brought to life but in need of someone to loose them and let them go. The men in Acts 2 and Acts 16 were not asking how to become born again; they were not looking to quicken or regenerate themselves. Instead, they were quickened and regenerated men, who already had new hearts that could be pricked, but were in need of experimental salvation (they needed to know how Gospel peace and comfort could be brought home to their hearts and minds with assurance).
Come Unto Me All Ye That Labour
Another common passage used to support free will is Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.” People will quickly point to this statement to show that it is their choice whether they come to Him. Yet, the context of the Lord’s words prove without a doubt that this has nothing to do with free will; in fact, the clear intent is just the opposite. Consider the three preceding verses:
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him].
Notice that the Lord stated “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent;” if God the Father hides the Truth from the wicked (all who are outside of Him), how then can they have free will to choose Christ or to come to Him? They cannot; those who are wise and prudent in their own eyes (which is everyone by nature) simply cannot come. They cannot see or hear Him (with eyes to see and ears to hear) to even be able to move in the right direction. Besides, they are dead in trespasses in sin and they dead cannot come of themselves. But God has a chosen people to whom He will reveal these spiritual things and He calls them babes. The Lord Jesus goes on to say that this election, this choosing between one group and the other is based upon what “seemed good in [The Father’s] sight.” To drive the point home, Jesus stated “neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [Him].” The Lord is stating that it is not a matter of man’s free will, it is a matter of the will of Christ which is the will of God. Thus, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Romans 9:16). These babes, these elect saints to whom the Son will reveal the Father, were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13).
To further reinforce these truths, the Lord makes this declaration in John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” That word draw is helkuo [ ελκυω G1670; hel-koo’-o] and is often translated as drag. It means to drag or to draw that which has passive or active resistance. Prisoners are drawn into prison; multitudes of fish are drawn into the boats via full nets; mens hardened hearts are drawn and overridden when God gives His people a new heart and makes them willing in the day of His power. If people were already willing, via their own free will, why would God have to make them willing in the day of His power? If people already have free will to come to Christ why did Jesus say that no man can come to Him of their own strength? He reiterates the point in John 6:65 by stating, “…Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.“
The exhortation to come unto Me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, is directed towards those children of God, whom the Father has already pricked in their regenerate hearts and whom He makes able to come unto the Lord. The passage is effectually speaking to those who have received sight of sin to see their horrible state and condition by nature. These are the ones who feel the load and burden of their sins and of the wrath they deserve. He makes us alive to feel the weight upon us and we cry out, by His grace, to be delivered. He shows us the futility of our own labour, our own dead works, and point us to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all of God; those who deny this and speak of man’s free will, are trying to steal the glory and honour from the Lord in the full salvation of His people. This cannot be; to God alone is the glory.
Continued in Part Six