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Gods sovereignty & our free will

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by Dan1988, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. Dan1988

    Dan1988 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    How does Gods sovereignty and our free will interact?

    I came across a short answer to this question by David Murray, he answers the question quite well.

    I'm sure most folks have wrestled with this at some stage. The Bible does answer it as well but not in a small package, it takes a lot of study to learn the truth about Gods sovereignty and our will.

    I'm not trying to open Pandora's box here, by asking your view on "free choice" or "predestination" with regards to salvation. That is an entirely different subject. I'm just interested in how our own free will coexists with Gods sovereignty.

    I'm sure every Christian would agree that we continue to sin until the day we die, not deliberately but we stumble because of our old nature but we are not given over to sin without restraint. In other words we are in a battle against our fallen nature, which seeks to fulfill the "lusts" or desires of the flesh.

    I have had Christians claim that they no longer sin, they show me Bible verses which say things like "go and sin no more". I don't think Christ meant that He expected the woman caught in adultery to never commit another sin. I think He was saying don't be a slave of sin by giving yourself over to serving your sin nature.

    How Does God's Sovereignty Work with Our Free Will?
     
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  2. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Pilgrim

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    A good, simple and short piece.

    Thank you for sharing.
     
  3. Southernscotty

    Southernscotty Well-Known Member Angels Team Supporter

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    Good stuff, I am in complete agreement and I hate spinach too. ;) Thank you brother!
     
  4. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    David Murray start off saying: “I don't believe we have free will” and “… I think Adam and Eve had free will until they sinned”.

    Man has an earthly objective which can only be fulfilled with just a very limited amount of free will, so God, out of Love, will provide humans with this very limited free will to allow them to fulfill their earthly objective.

    Since, David Murray believes Adam and Eve had free will, he believes God could allow humans to have a limited amount of free will, so God is powerful and knowledgeable enough to make humans with free will.

    Davis Murray also said: “The freedom I had was to choose what I wanted but what did I want? It wasn't what was good.” And I agree with this for the most part, since sinful man will always be motivated by selfish reasoning, but like the Prodigal son you can for selfish reasons (wanting to continue to live with just some kind of livable life), you can repent (turn). We can wimp out, give up and surrender for unrighteous, non-noble, and selfish reasons, but just humbly willing to accept pure charity from our enemy while He is still our enemy allows God to shower us with unbelievable huge gifts.
     
  5. nonaeroterraqueous

    nonaeroterraqueous Nonexistent Member

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    Good article. I'm just not sure about the part about Adam and Eve. We are part of the chain of cause and effect, and we are incapable of creating an effect without a prior cause. God is the only such original cause. We mere mortals are a product of circumstance and basic motivators, unless God first move in us.
     
  6. Der Alte

    Der Alte This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    <BL>David Murray start off saying: “I don't believe we have free will” and “… I think Adam and Eve had free will until they sinned”.
    Man has an earthly objective which can only be fulfilled with just a very limited amount of free will, so God, out of Love, will provide humans with this very limited free will to allow them to fulfill their earthly objective.
    Since, David Murray believes Adam and Eve had free will, he believes God could allow humans to have a limited amount of free will, so God is powerful and knowledgeable enough to make humans with free will.
    Davis Murray also said: “The freedom I had was to choose what I wanted but what did I want? It wasn't what was good.” And I agree with this for the most part, since sinful man will always be motivated by selfish reasoning, but like the Prodigal son you can for selfish reasons (wanting to continue to live with just some kind of livable life), you can repent (turn). We can wimp out, give up and surrender for unrighteous, non-noble, and selfish reasons, but just humbly willing to accept pure charity from our enemy while He is still our enemy allows God to shower us with unbelievable huge gifts.<BL>

    .....I choose not to try to define "free will," many people have their own opinion but I understand it as how "the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Israel" did not do what God specifically purposed for them.
    ....Note this passage from Jeremiah. God said “I have caused to cleave” That word is הדבקתי/ha’dabaq’thi. It is in the perfect or completed sense. God’s will, expressly stated, for the whole house of Israel and Judah, to cling to God as a belt clings to a man’s waist. It was done, finished, completed, in God’s sight, and, according to some arguments, nothing man can do will cause God’s will to not be done. But they, Israel and Judah, would not hear and obey, their will, vs. God’s will, So God destroyed them, vs. 14.

    …..This passage very much speaks to God’s sovereign will, and man’s free will and agency. God stated very clearly what His will was, in terms that cannot be misunderstood. But, because the Israelites and Judeans would not hear, and obey, God destroyed them, instead of them being unto God, “for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory, vs. 10.”

    Jer 13:1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.
    2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.
    3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying,
    4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.
    5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.
    6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.
    7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.
    8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
    9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.
    10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.
    11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave [הדבקתי/ha’dabaq’thi] unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

    · · ·
    14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
    Note, verse 14, God said He will NOT have pity, will NOT spare, and will NOT have mercy but destroy them.


     
  7. Dan1988

    Dan1988 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I believe man is totally depraved, but God restrains him from doing what he would otherwise do. The world would be full of murder and all kinds of evil if God removed His restraints.
    Hell is a place where God will not restrain anyone so it's inhabitants will wax worse with every passing moment, they will continue to blaspheme and thus incur greater condemnation and perpetually add more time to their sentence so the result will be eternal torment.
    Adam and Eve did have free will, before they sinned and we inherited their sinful nature so we have never had a free will to begin with. I believe we will inherit our free will, when we receive our glorified sinless bodies if we remain faithful to the end of this life.

    We currently need restraining and chastising to keep us spiritually healthy but that will end when we receive our immortal, sinless glorified bodies and become like Christ. Until then we will struggle with the old man everyday until he is finnaly put to death with the death of this corrupt flesh.
     
  8. Dan1988

    Dan1988 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So if I understand you correctly, you are saying that we are like pre programmed beings who only do as we have been pre programmed to do.
    If that's what you believe, then you would be justified in blaming God for all the evil in the world but the Bible says that God is not the author of evil.
    I would have to conclude that God created us with a certain amount of autonomy, He does restrain us but He doesn't cause us to sin. The possibility and ability to sin seems to be a necessary part of creating beings with a certain amount of autonomy.
    I don't believe God wanted to create robots, He wanted to create man in His own image so that man could enjoy His creation and love Him. What kind of a love would it be if man was created without any other option but to love Him.
    Even us mere mortals believe in the saying "if you love somebody, set them free", then if they return the love you know it's true love. Unlike the Muslim god who threatens to behead the person if they don't convert to Islam and love him.
     
  9. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Pilgrim

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    Chapter 9: Free Will​

    1. God has endowed human will with natural liberty and power to act on choices so that it is neither forced nor inherently bound by nature to do good or evil (Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19).

    2. Humanity in the state of innocence had freedom and power to will and to do what was good and well-pleasing to God (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Yet this condition was unstable, so that humanity could fall from it (Genesis 3:6).

    3. Humanity, by falling into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability to choose any spiritual good that accompanies salvation (Romans 5:6; 8:7). Thus, people in their natural state are absolutely opposed to spiritual good and dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), so that they cannot convert themselves by their own strength or prepare themselves for conversion (Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44).

    4. When God converts sinners and transforms them into the state of grace, he frees them from their natural bondage to sin (Colossians 1:13; John 8:36) and by his grace alone enables them to will and to do freely what is spiritually good (Philippians 2:13). Yet because of their remaining corruption, they do not perfectly nor exclusively will what is good but also will what is evil (Romans 7:15, 18, 19, 21, 23).

    5. Only in the state of glory is the will made perfectly and unchangeably free toward good alone (Ephesians 4:13).

    - Second London Baptist Confession of Faith
     
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  10. nonaeroterraqueous

    nonaeroterraqueous Nonexistent Member

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    We are endowed by our creator with impulses, hormones and psychological tendencies that drive our decisions. We are dependent entirely upon external sources of sensory input. All decisions are made based upon environmental causes, through a mind and body of a predisposition which we did not create. Not one single thing we do appears to be an effect without a cause, nor could such a thing be possible for a being which is not self-extant, nor could we be self-extant without being God, which we are not. We are what we are, and we are incapable of creating ourselves.

    We are not pre-programmed, but we are slaves to the laws of cause and effect.

    That's a common straw man. You echo what you hear. That rather exemplifies my point.
     
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  11. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    Let us stick with Jerimiah for a minute:

    Jer. 18: 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

    Can man change God’s plans?
     
  12. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    Christ described the prodigal son as being dead, by Christ’s definition of dead, yet the prodigal son could still do selfish stuff, including selfishly seeking undeserved charity from his father.

    What do you see as man’s earthly objective?
     
  13. Hillsage

    Hillsage One for Him and Him for all Supporter

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    2 Tim 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    I see two “wills” overriding “one’s will.
     
  14. Hillsage

    Hillsage One for Him and Him for all Supporter

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    Joh 1:2 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Above is speaking about those being ‘born again’. And free will again seems to be missing.
     
  15. Der Alte

    Der Alte This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    I think God always leaves the way open for repentance, e.g. the story of Jonah and Ninevah. The circumstances of Jeremiah 13:9-14 doesn't involve the subject repenting. God had a purpose for the whole house of Judah and Israel. This purpose, the will of God, stated in the most emphatic way it could be stated but Israel and Judah would not, their will, therefore God did not have mercy but destroyed them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
  16. Dan1988

    Dan1988 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I believe God did change His plans when He was dealing with those under the old covenant. Moses pleaded with God not to kill the unfaithful Israelite's in the desert and God did change His mind because Moses appealed to His mercy.

    That was under the old covenant, we are under grace in the new covenant so God deals differently with us. If we turn from God to serve other gods' after we have received the the Gospel, then we are condemned without excuse.

    We have the benefit of the completed canon of scripture, so God expects more of us then He did from those under the old covenant. So I don't think we are in a position to ask God to change His mind in our time.
     
  17. Dan1988

    Dan1988 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The Bible says that we were all born dead in our sins and trespasses, so as dead people we are fully dependent on God to quicken us to life.

    The prodigal son is a rare example of a person coming to repentance, the sad truth is most people never find it within themselves to truly repent. So the very ability to repent is a gift from God to those whom He has chosen to save.

    Our Church elders teach us that, our purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We can only do this if He first opens our spiritual eyes so we can see the truth and believe every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The Word of God is foolishness to those who are perishing, so it has the opposite meaning to believers.

    The parable of the prodigal son is more of a lesson about the self righteous older brother. It demonstrates how futile outward good works are while the heart is not right with God, instead of the older brother rejoicing he was jealous.
     
  18. bling

    bling Regular Member Supporter

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    The Bible says: “we all die because Adam and Eve sinned”, but that is not saying: “we were all born dead in our sins”. Is physical death “bad” in and of itself, since that is the way home for me?

    I agree we are dependent on God to quicken us, but even in a dead state we can selfishly humbly accept God’s pure charity.
    How are you getting from the prodigal son story it being a “rare example”? Do you find that with any other parable? He fits many I have known and myself. The ability to change direction within their mind (repent) is given to everyone, but most will not humble themselves to the point of accepting sacrificial charity.

    Is Jesus misleading us here, suggesting this is man’s relationship to God?

    Are you suggesting God is selfish (unloving) with His giving of the ability to repent and how do you get that from scripture?
    The problem with just saying: “to glorify God” is the fact a tree glorifies God by being a tree, so how is our glorifying different/better?

    Do you believe: man can do stuff which does not bring glory to God?

    What do we “do” differently which gives God glory after we accept His charity?
    I can agree with the fact the story and really all three parables are given to get to the one question: “Will you join the party”? Like other parables this parable is to set the Pharisees to give their ending to the story (the older son represents them).
     
  19. Butch5

    Butch5 Newbie Supporter

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    His argument starts off with some false premises. Regarding the woman caught in adultery, when Jesus told her to go and sin no more, maybe He meant don't commit adultery again.

    Regarding the title of the thread, Christians start off with the wrong idea. Sovereign means that one is the ultimate authority. It doesn't mean to control everything as many try to imply. So, there is no tension. Man can have free ill and still be answerable to God who is the ultimate authority, Sovereign.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  20. The Righterzpen

    The Righterzpen Jesus is my Shield in any Desert or Storm

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    Interesting subject - Interesting article.

    Let me give a crack at my thought on this and please excuse the fact that I am likely to ramble.

    I think as some have already mentioned; we have to define what we mean by "free will".

    The only One who really had free will was Jesus Christ. And He had so by nature of what He was. Now (related here) looking at the attributes of God may actually help us answer this question. God is all knowing, all powerful, everywhere present, and having no beginning and no end. I'd also add to that God is "immortal" (at least when not part of the fallen creation He is).

    Now my best hypothesis as to where evil came from is that it's a byproduct of God's creative action. To every action is an equal and opposite reaction. So as soon as God did something, this brought (what had been in theory) the opposite of HIM into the reality of HIS creation.

    This I believe is the "knowledge of good and evil" that God possessed before HE ever created anything. Now God obviously being what God is (omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and eternal) HE can not be corrupted by the knowledge of good and evil.

    Man on the other hand, was capable of being corrupted by the evil that resided in his environment, because of the temporal nature of what he was created as.

    So in that regard, the fall was inevitable. Which also means God having omniscience of that fact, planned for it to happen. This is the redemption plan, and the basis of Jesus being "the lamb slain from the foundations of the world". I believe that on account of God's nature as a loving Creator, HE would not have created a world HE knew to be fundamentally unredeemable. There would have been no point in that.

    So Jesus, by very nature of what He was created as; i.e. fully God inseparably joined to a fully human nature, made Him fundamentally the only entity who really could possess free will in its freest sense.

    Adam's free will was probationally dependent on his obedience. And not being an entity who had a Divine nature, made Adam inherently inevitably predetermined to fall.

    Now this does not make God responsible for Adam's sin, first off because evil didn't enter the creation on account of God's deliberation to put it there. It was a byproduct of HIS creative action. Secondly, Adam still retained the choice to obey or disobey God. And that disobedience is what opened the door to the knowledge of good and evil (the evil of which was already in this world, but Adam was not aware of it).

    So on account of the temporal nature of what Adam was, the only possible result of him gaining that knowledge of good and evil, was the fall resulting in the corruption of this universe.

    Anybody still following me? LOL

    So how does "free will" apply in a fallen universe and does it apply equally to all creatures in that universe?

    We know we have 3 "levels" of created entities.

    We have animals at the bottom; with their greater or less abilities to intellectually cognate their actions. These are not accountable for sin in the afterlife.

    We have humanity who is accountable for sin both in this life and the afterlife.

    We have "non carbon based" entities called "angels". These entities obviously have independent wills. They can transgress. (Fallen ones are called demons.) They have a life span that's equal to the entirety of "point of created origin" time, continuing without end into "eternity". They are capable of being recipients of the wrath of God for their transgressions. Angels can not "die" in the same means as carbon based life can; this is why they do not marry / are not given in marriage and by implication do not reproduce.

    Now "free will" post fall as it applies to these 3 entities.

    Animals have the ability to make decisions independent of "instinct" or other animals in regards to the course of actions they are capable of taking. They have not the capacity to contemplate those actions as they relate to God's desires or God's law. This is why they are not held accountable for "sin" in the afterlife, although they are capable of sin in this life. (Which as it relates to them; is simply transgressing against the natural order God set up for them.)

    Humans obviously can make decisions independent of the environment, God's desires and God's law, as well as other humans. Because humans are aware of God, they are accountable to God and they are capable of violating their own conscience, as well as offending God by their sin.

    Angels apparently have intelligence that's at least comparable to humanity. Are angels affected by the fallen world in the same way humanity is? Apparently not, the fall does not make angels "dead in trespass and sin" and we know this is the case because we know there are angels who remain obedient to God; where we know that is not the case with humanity.

    So angels have a free will even in this fallen world. When they choose to disobey, they know what the consequences will be and because they do not reproduce, their choices are independent of each other's. (That's kind of hard to wrap my brain around.)

    Humanity lost the freedom to exercise their will outside of the influence of sin and the condition of living in a fallen world as creatures who are now corrupt because of the knowledge of good and evil. So though humanity still has the ability to make independent choices, their will is no longer "free" in the same regard that angels wills are free, or in the same regard that God (or Jesus Christ's) will was free.

    Human will is "totally depraved" in it's ability to please God. That's what "total depravity" means. This does not mean that all individual humans are depraved totally; even of those who are unregenerate. That being said though, still requires God's intervention to restrain sin. Yet in that capacity God is not enacting HIS will upon robots.

    So do we rather call this ability to make independent choice an "independent volition" as opposed to "free will"; in order to avoid theological controversy and confusion of terms. Sounds reasonable to me.

    Now how does "independent volition" interact with God's sovereignty? I think to get a little bit of the grasp of that, we have to go back to God's attributes. And here is where we will probably never really be able to answer the question, because we can't wrap our brains around the full influence of what it means to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and eternal. Now that is so broad, that we probably can't really grasp how this interacts with the individual actions life in this temporal realm makes.

    I'm sure on some level, God is engaged in "real time" decision making processes as they pertain to the independent actions of entities in this universe. Yet we also know that because of God's sovereignty, HIS plan can not be frustrated. Does HE have to control the minutest detail of the creatures actions to accomplish HIS plan. No HE doesn't. He only has to intervene where it's necessary to accomplish HIS plan and being by nature the entity that HE is; HE is capable of doing that.

    NOW - is anyone still with me? And if you are - can someone please explain to me what I just said?

    LOL
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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