Friday, July 16, 2010
Sovereignty Series - Free in Christ
Does free will co-exist with God's sovereignty? Or is every choice, every action, every word pre-ordained and we're all just cast members in a really dark comedy? Well, what does the scriptures say?
"If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven , will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
"And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Acts 2:21/Romans 10:13
There is definitely a required response to the drawing of the Lord. From a human perspective, the scriptures indicate that humble repentance and confession brings a response from God. There is responsibility on man's part to recognize their sin and respond to the gospel. From a godly perspective then, the ability to recognize is God-given. Therefore a response is inevitable, because the blinders have been removed and the drawing of the Spirit causes men to respond.
So, what about free will? Is there any place for man to choose?
Yes, within the sovereign rule of God, man is given the choice of obedience or disobedience.
"Do not be decieved, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." Galatians 6:7
"...walk no longer as the Gentiles walk,...lay aside the old self...be renewed in the Spirit of your mind...put on the new self..." Ephesians 4:17,22-24
The epistles are filled with practical Christian living concepts. The call to putting off the old self and choosing to be obedient - obedience brings blessing, sin brings suffering - this theme is all over the scriptures. The sanctification process is a maturing, growing process. Once saved, we now have the freedom to choose.
Before salvation, we could only choose death - "For without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God." Hebrews 11:6
But we are actually free in Christ - "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:2
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
Our freedom is from the bondage of sin. We can now freely choose obedience or disobedience. Without the blood of Christ, we have no choice. With the blood, we can choose to be obedient. Many want to believe that this concept of freedom means we are free from the law and don't have to abide by it - we are free in Christ - He paid the price for our sin and we are now free from the law.
We are free from sin. We are free to obey God. We have the Spirit and can make righteous choices. Without Him, we're dead. With Him, we're made alive and ultimately free. Sin doesn't have the hold on us that it did when we were dead in our trespasses and sin. We can CHOOSE to live righteously (Joseph) or CHOOSE to be disobedient (Jonah) and guess what, God will deal with us like a loving parent. Blessing or discipline. It's our choice.
How does this free will work with a sovereign God?
I have no idea.
Sorry, but somethings just escape my mental capacity.
But God's word teaches that He rules and reigns, that He chooses for Himself, for His glory, a people to be merciful to, and within His choice He allows them to choose blessing or discipline.
So I have to accept what the Word says without fully grasping the micro-logisitics. And remember, I don't have to worry about it because He's God and I'm not.
I can remember years ago, Dave was holding a sleeping baby in his arms. It was our daughter and she was a pretty rambunctious infant - rarely sat still but when she was sleeping, her little angelic face just warmed your heart. Dave leaned forward and kissed the top of her head. Then he looked at me and said, "Babies' heads smell so good."
Immediately I thought to myself, "Her head doesn't smell good at all. I made it smell good with the baby shampoo I used at her bath time!" But I didn't want to ruin the moment, so I smiled and nodded. Now, if she was fussing or crying or running away from him at the moment, he never would have noticed her sweet smelling head.
Poor example, I know, but here's my point. We smell good because of God. Not because of anything we've done. But we can choose to display our sweet smelling head or choose to throw tantrums and no one will notice. But our head still smells sweet, because we are washed in the blood of Christ.
Okay, am I too twisted or are you staying with me?
Free will comes into play when it comes to responding to the Spirit of God. You can fight Him (again, Jonah) but He will ultimately win (and again, Jonah) because He is God. Or you can surrender and walk in obedience, experiencing the freedom that is afforded to you because He choose you before the foundations of the world, He paid the price for you, He exchanged identities with you, He drew you and removed the blinders and saved you.
One final note, I have purposely avoided Romans 9, because in this sovereignty discussion, to use Romans 9 is, well, it's cheating. Romans 9 removes all fairness discussion because Paul addresses that argument head on. So, if you're still struggling with accepting God's sovereign choice in salvation, I give up. Go read Romans 9 and argue with God about it.
Have a great day.