/ Barry York

Why I'm a Freewill Presbyterian

I know only Baptists and a cute boy in a politically correct movie are supposed to be the "free willy" types. Far be it from a Presbyterian to be labelled such. But I have become utterly convinced that the Will is free and not corrupted by sin, perfectly capable of making choices that will affect all eternity. The Will makes decisions, and because of the freedom of the Will some go to heaven and some go to hell.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the particular Will that I am speaking of is the Will of God? I'm a "God's Will is Free" Presbyterian.

Please forgive me if I'm being too "in-your-face" with this pronouncement. But if churches can put their love for man's freewill on their signs and in the names of their associations, then do I not have the same right to proclaim my love for the free will of God?

Freewill teaching, the belief that fallen man has the freedom of will to believe upon Christ or not, is historically known as Arminianism. This doctrine is named after the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius who died in the seventeenth century. Arminians believe that though man has been affected by the Fall, sin has not so altered what constitutes man's soul that he is left unable to choose Christ. They teach that free will, given to man at creation, "was not lost in the Fall," to quote a Freewill Baptist website. Often the motivations touted for this belief are that we must protect God's reputation against charges of being capricious or unjust. In other words, if man is not free to choose Christ, then God is unfair, for He chooses to favor one with eternal life and yet not another for no apparent reason.

What the proponents of freewill teaching do not see, in the words of the famous title of the book by Martin Luther, is the "bondage of the will." Man can no more choose life with Christ than he can his time of birth or nationality. Perhaps reading familiar verses with emphasis can help us see this. John 1:12-13 states, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." Unless God enlivens a heart to respond to the offer of Christ in the gospel, man will not come. Indeed, man cannot come, for sin has bound his will to be enslaved to its lusts. Each man is constantly choosing death over life and, except for the intervening grace of God, would continue to do so. If God be not free to choose whom He will to be in His heaven, no man would be there.

Just as the Lord of heaven and earth determines where and when a particular man will be born into this world, He also determines those who will be born into the kingdom of God. God chooses for you what natural color your hair and eyes are. The fact that you may dye your hair and wear tinted contacts may change the outer appearance but not the natural, intrinsic color you possess. So men also may go to great lengths to say they have changed the fundamental dispositions of their souls, but God's Word tells us they are incapable of such. As Jeremiah stated, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil" (Jeremiah 13:23). Only the Lord can remove the leprous, spotted covering of our sin from us. And only He can decide to do it in His sovereign time and grace.

J.I Packer, in an article entitled "Arminianism" from the fifth volume of the Puritan Papers, asks, "How can Arminiansm be cured? Only God can finally set men's heads right, just as only He can set our hearts right." May the Spirit of God set our heads right, for the wondrous truth of the gospel is that through it God Himself sets the sinner free. Heaven is the ultimate place where our minds and wills, completely freed from every lust and evil desire, will only want what God wants. We will will to give Him complete glory, and what thinking will accomplish it? Saying "Praise be to me, I chose Christ," or "Praise be to God, Christ chose me?" (See John 15:16 for the answer.)

There is some free willing worth proclaiming!

Barry York

Barry York

Sinner by Nature - Saved by Grace. Husband of Miriam - Grateful for Privilege. Father of Six - Blessed by God. President of RPTS - Serve with Thankfulness. Author - Hitting the Marks.

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