Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
Free Will or God's Will?
February 8, 2011
I recently posted an article on free will titled The Deception of Free Will (article #33, January 2011). For
those who might not want to wade through 24 pages of explanation, I offer the following brief
explanation of why I see the whole concept of free will as not only deceptive but also very dangerous,
especially when it is interwoven into Christian doctrine pertaining to individual salvation. If you want
more detail, then I suggest you read the article.
I build my conclusion upon seven definitional proofs. As I state in the article, some of these definitions
come from A Christian Manifesto by Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984).
First, one of the dictionary definitions of the word will is “the power of conscious and deliberate
action or choice: as, freedom of the will.”
Second, the dictionary definition of free will is “able to choose for itself; not restricted by anything
except its own limitation or nature.”
Third, humanism is defined as “the placing of man at the center of all things and making him the
measure of all things,” which means that man needs no external influence in the exercise of his will.
He needs no other knowledge except what he himself can discover and absence any standards outside
himself. Simply, man is the measure of all things, and all answers are within man and nowhere else.
Fourth, humanism finds its genesis in the evolutionist or material-energy, pure-chance worldview
that is based upon the idea that impersonal matter or energy shaped into its present form by
impersonal chance. Consequently, what we see with our human eyes, including our own physical
bodies, came about by pure chance and evolved from chaos to order. Material and energy that make
up the universe came together or took shape into some form purely by chance. Thus, we have the
theory of evolution and mankind evolving from some primordial ooze. There is no personal God who
loves and creates or even saves out of His love.
Fifth, humanistic free will (my term) refers to man’s will being truly free, that is, free from any and all
external influence. According to humanism, free will is absolute, meaning that man has the first and last
say on any matter in his life, and all reference points are entirely within man. The word absolute means
“perfect, pure, not limited, not conditional, unrestricted, not dependent on anything, considered
without reference to anything else.”
Sixth, affected [free] will (my term) refers to man's will being exercised or acted upon based on
external influences. I propose that once the word affected is attached to free will , the word free loses
much of its meaning, if not validity, especially in light of the above definition of free will . Once external
influences come to bear on the will, the exercise of the will is no longer entirely free, for now restrictions
come to bear before action is taken or not taken. It is simply affected will .
Seventh, there is an opposing worldview called the creationist worldview in which all things start and
end with the living God, the Creator of all things. All things that are in existence came forth from a
personal God who is the Creator of all things . Nothing that came into existence came into being apart
from God. There is a personal God who loves and creates and even saves out of His love. God alone is
ultimately, intimately, and absolutely responsible for everything in and of His creation.
Following the logic of these seven definitional proofs leads to a few conclusions.
First, there can be only one type of free will , and it is humanistic free will , for it is the only type that is
truly free in every sense of the word. It is free of any and all external influence, and it is free of God.
Simply, the exercise of the human will is based entirely and absolutely on what and how man sees
things; nothing else matters, not even if one believes in God.
Second, if we accept this first conclusion, then we must also agree that the Christian doctrine, which
says individual salvation is dependent on exercising one's free will , is based on the material-energy,
pure-chance worldview and not on the creationist worldview. It matters not if one holds the creationist
worldview as the basis for reality. It means that those who hold to free will have bought into humanism
and its lie that says man is the center of all things, at least as far as individual salvation goes.
Third, the fact of the matter is that no one really has free will , meaning a will that is independent of any
and all external influence. As much as the humanists would like to think that they are the center of the
universe and are free-will agents, they are no such thing; they believe and espouse a lie. There is no
such thing as free will , humanistic or otherwise.
At the very most, we all exercise what I call affected will , which means that we exercise our will based
on a variety of external influences. Simply, our will is not absolutely free of any and all external
influence to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, yielding whatever outcome it wants.
We make choices for ourselves and others each and every day of our lives. We could even say that we
often have the freedom to make these choices, but not always, since we can also be wooed, steered,
nudged, coerced, restricted, and even forced or mandated into these choices or actions. Of course, we
also have the choice to fight external influence or submit to it.
Our wills are influenced all day long by our spouses, our children, our parents, our society/community,
and, most of all, by our government and its laws under which we live. Not one of us lives in some
protected bubble free of external influence. We don’t live in a vacuum!
Fourth, and this is the heart of my reason for this issue, I contend that individual salvation is not
dependent on man exercising his so-called free will , as if he must make the choice to believe; and, if he
never makes the choice, then he is forever doomed to an eternal existence in a living hell of literal fire,
burning sulfur, and worms. I have heard it said many times that God did not create man to be a robot;
therefore, He will not interfere with man's will in the matter of salvation. I have news for you; if God did
(does) not interfere with man's will, then no one would (will) ever be saved. We had no choice in the
matter when death passed through into all mankind (Romans 5:12), then why do we think that we have
a choice in coming into immortal life? As in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive,
but each in his own order (1 Corinthians 15:22-23).
John said that becoming a child of God does not depend on the will of the flesh nor of the will of
man, but of God (John 1:13). Paul, who had been set apart from his mother’s womb and called
through His grace (Galatians 1:15), was apprehended or seized of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12)
and shown mercy as he was acting ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13).
For Paul, the concept of free will was not part of his personal testimony and never entered into his
teaching on individual salvation: 1) For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should
be merciful to all (Romans 11:32); 2) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast
(Ephesians 2:8-9); 3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will
have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). So then it
does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy
(Romans 9:16), for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).
There is only one conclusion to be made: Individual salvation comes about when, in His mercy and in
His timing, God’s will comes to bear on man's will to save him. But on God who has mercy!
The Upward Call: #05-1127 [535]
By: Stuart H. Pouliot