09 July 2013

Guest Post: Free Will and Liquid Plumr®

Summer can be a busy time for all of us (even bloggers), so I have enlisted some guest bloggers whose work will be posted here occasionally throughout the summer months. 

Today's guest post is courtesy of the team at No Compromise Radio. It is hoped that the illustration provided here will help some come to a better understanding of what is an oft-debated topic: the role of election and free will in man's salvation. Since this can be a controversial subject, please be kind in the comments. Remember the One whom you serve.

Free Will and Liquid Plumr®

This article addresses a sensitive subject. Knowing that, it is important at the outset to clarify and affirm the biblical truth that anyone who believes in Jesus and His finished work on the cross will be saved:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:40) 
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (John 6:47)
At the same time, these verses also are true:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (John 6:65)
All who believe, then, will be saved without exception. It might seem easier if it could just be left at that, but while all who believe will be saved, it is the Father who draws these to Himself in the first place. Both are reality. Both are true. Both are biblical.

The idea of election is one that runs contrary to our fallen natures, and men would rather find a way to redefine it than simply accept what God says is true. Let us take a brief look, then, at free will, election and Liquid Plumr®.

Photo: LiquidPlumr.com
For this example I want us to look at the warning label that is found on a bottle of Liquid Plumr®. We know this label was written by a man and we know that it was written to an elect people (everyone who will come in contact with the product). The label makes no claim to be the inspired Word of God. All who read it know that it is just a warning from the Clorox company written and posted to protect themselves from lawsuits and to keep the public from harm. The label reads:
Precautions 
Keep out of reach of children. Harmful if swallowed. Injures eyes, skin and mucous membranes on contact. Do not use with ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners or non–Liquid-Plumr® clog removers, as splashing or the release of hazardous gases may occur. Clean up any spillage immediately.
It says this product is harmful if swallowed. Oh, sure, that's what they say and it may be true, but how do we really know? Have you ever tried it for yourself? Personally, I have not, but like most people I am just fine following the manufacturer's recommendations and only using it in my pipes. I don’t need proof to believe that the label means what it says.

So here we have examined something that we know was written by a fallen human being, (i.e., a lawyer in an office), and yet we do not question the clear meaning of it. It is not confusing at all. Groups of people are not divided over this. No one screams, "I have free will so that can’t mean what it says!" Of course, anyone has the ability to choose to drink Liquid Plumr®, but their will won't allow them to because they really do believe the warning that is written on the label. They know and believe that to consume this product would be bad for them.

Now let us look at some verses in the context they were intended, keeping in mind that our job is to figure out what was the author’s intent as He wrote to His original audience. This is how we learn the truth about God and His Word.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul is telling the Christians in Corinth that they have received their spiritual wisdom from God. Without this they could not have understood anything about Him. He then tells them,
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
The 'natural person' refers to all unregenerate people throughout the course of time. We all start out like this but some are saved and become Christians. If, as the Bible states, all people are unable to understand but some people do come to believe, how does this happen? Paul graciously explains this and it does not include man’s free will:
These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:10–12)
Christians get from point A (unregenerate) to point B (regenerate) because God revealed Himself to them. Is this confusing? It does not seem to be. Paul explains it all very well. God did it all and man’s free will was not involved.

Let us look at another verse. We know from above that people are unable to accept God because they are unable to understand. This next verse takes this concept to the next level. It tells us that the unbeliever's mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7–8)
Paul goes so far as to tell us that the unregenerate cannot please God. But, wouldn't it please God if we used our free will and accepted Him? Again, we cannot on our own please God. This inability implies a lack of free will, doesn't it? Yet, Heaven rejoices every time someone gets saved, so who is initiating the saving? Who is right, the free-willers or God?

For a look at this final passage, let us put the Liquid Plumr® warning back in our minds, remembering that people read this and believe it:
Precautions 
Keep out of reach of children. Harmful if swallowed. Injures eyes, skin and mucous membranes on contact. Do not use with ammonia, toilet bowl cleaners or non–Liquid-Plumr® clog removers, as splashing or the release of hazardous gases may occur. Clean up any spillage immediately.
Now, remember as you read these next verses that God breathed them out through Paul because He wanted His children to know and understand it. Paul is instructing Timothy on how to be a worker approved by God.
Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:25–26)
Does anyone say we should not be gentle when correcting our opponents? No one objects or misunderstands that part. Who are these opponents? If Paul is writing to Christians then the opponents to whom he refers must be non-Christians. These are those who need to be corrected since they cannot understand the things of God.

Earlier we saw how unbelievers could not understand yet God revealed Himself to those whom He chose, thus enabling them to understand and to believe in Him. Now we see that God must grant repentance that leads to understanding. This means that if God chose not to grant it to someone that person never could repent.

Paul goes further and says that these unbelievers are not of their senses. This is not a confusing statement. It means what it says. The last part of this verse says that the unbeliever is captured in the snare of the devil to do his will. If someone is doing the will of another can he also exercise his own free will? Can a man in jail have free will? No, he can only do the will of the jailer. He eats when he is told, goes where he is told, etc. This is the same thing God is telling us in this verse as to the state in which the unbeliever exists.

If these verses would only be read in their context, and heeded and believed as openly as is the warning on the bottle of Liquid Plumr®, then this whole controversy might disappear.

One final verse:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12–13)
God saves us not because of our parents, not because of hard work, not because of our will, but because of God's own will.

Imagine that you are guilty of a crime. You have no money and the judge says you must pay $10,000 or go to jail for 20 years. A stranger comes in and writes the check and pays your fine and the judge has to let you go. Did your free will save you? No, you were out of options and someone else saved you. That is what salvation from God looks like. We were guilty, broke, blind enemies of God and Jesus paid our fine.

We all are sinners heading for Hell but God saves some—even if He had saved none, He still would be a good and righteous God because no one deserves to be saved. Those who are not saved are not hanging around thinking they were shortchanged. Why? Because on their own they cannot understand. They don’t think they need saving. This is why Christians must be faithful to simply proclaim the gospel of salvation, calling sinners to repent and turn to Christ. The work of salvation is left to God.

This is what God's Word tells us. So if we are willing to accept blindly the validity of something like a warning label on Liquid Plumr®, why are we not willing to accept our great God at His Word?

Further Reading
Guest Post: Bible Study in a Morgue?
Guest Post: Shaking Your Fist in the Face of God
Salvation Is a Work of God

8 comments:

  1. For our friends that cling so tenaciously to what they consider a key ingredient in the salvation of lost men---their "free-will"---why do you cheat yourselves and those who listen to your false teachings, of knowing the depths of the character of the God who created you? The answer is found in the Scriptures provided by the guest author, namely, you cannot understand unless and until it is revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. How is it possible for such a one to walk humbly with his God (Micah 6:8) when the banner of his "free-will" is paraded about an the indispensable deciding factor in whether he is saved or not. What abject folly!!! What ignorance of Scripture and the One who does the saving!!!

    The reason anyone is saved is not primarily that they may escape the eternal wrath of God, but that they may as the new creation of God, praise Him for all eternity. Giving honor to who He is and to the works He has done. Ezek. 36:21-32 gives a picture of the restoration of Israel, note that all He does is for His holy name's sake, not simply for the well being of rebellious Israel. "I write to you little children, because your sins are forgiven you FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE" 1John 2:12.

    Stop cheating yourself and those who believe this nonsense, humble yourself before the God of salvation and seek His mercy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. " He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said to him, “Sovereign Lord, you know.” 37:4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 37:5 This is what the sovereign Lord says to these bones: Look, I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live. 37:6 I will put tendons on you and muscles over you and will cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

    Ezekiel 37:3 - 6 NET

    GOD said to dead dry bone:"I will, I will, I will so then you will know"

    flesh clothed bone said to GOD:"I did, I did, I did so that is how you know"

    Despeville

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't that passage about the restoration of the nation of Israel?

      Ezekiel 37
      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.

      Delete
  3. I agree Despeville. I would go even farther than Mr. Abendroth. The unregenerate person, the unsaved person is not just "guilty, broke and blind enemies of God." The fact is that spiritually speaking they are dead. Dead as the bones in Ezekiel. Spiritual corpses. D-E-A-D. They are spiritually imprisoned, in bondage to sin the law and satan, and they are spiritually dead. Not sick, not just guilty, not just incapacitated. They're dead. Imagine a dark dungeon. In it is a dead prisoner who is in chains. He's dead so he cannot hear, he cannot respond. Even if he could respond, he is in chains, in bondage. Jesus Christ comes into this spiritual dungeon, as it were. He sets the captive free. He removes those chains of sin, of satan and of the law. Then He grants him new life. Jesus Christ comes on a rescue mission to set us free and to grant us life. He is the way, the truth, and the life. If He sets you free you are free indeed. Once you are set free and given new life in Christ, then you rise up to follow Him. Praise God for His mercy and His grace in rescuing us! Go forth and tell lost souls about Christ and His rescue mission!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Spiritually dead in sin vs life in Christ

    For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. John 5:21

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. John 5:24-25

    ...and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 6:13

    And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh,indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ...Eph 2:1-5

    When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions...Colossians 2:13

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...1 Peter 1:3

    He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

    It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63

    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

    We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14

    He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 1 John 5:12

    ReplyDelete
  5. When discussing free will it's very important to first define the term. I believe that we do indeed have free will, but only in the compatibilist sense. That is, we are free to make choices that are compatible and concomitant with our nature. This is not the typical view of those that argue free will. Instead they usually have in mind a libertarian view of free will. They believe that man has the unencumbered ability to make any choice, even a choice that is contrary to the fallen nature of man. The libertarian view is unbiblical (Romans 6:14–20, 1 Corinthians 2:14).

    ReplyDelete



  6. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    I don’t believe Ephesians 2:8-9 is saying faith is the gift of God. Paul is presenting a contrast in these two verses. There is something here that is a gift as opposed to something you work for. Is Paul saying faith is the gift and not something can work for? The issue is not whether faith is a gift from God, but is salvation a gift from God.
    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

    Elsewhere we are told:

    In Romans 3:20 that justification is not of works.

    In Romans 3:27 that justification is not of works.

    In Romans 3:28 that justification is apart from works.

    In Romans 4:2,6 that justification is not of works.

    In Romans 9:32 that righteousness is not of works.

    In Galatians 2:16 that justification is not of works.

    In 2 Timothy 1:9 that God's salvation and calling are not according to works.

    In Titus 3:5 that salvation is not of works.

    By His grace God offers us the gift of salvation. By faith we receive the gift of salvation as opposed to working for it.

    “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4:10)

    “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15-17)

    “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)” (Romans 5:15-17)

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

    These people are commended for their faith.

    Matthew 8
    10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

    Matthew 9
    2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

    Matthew 9
    22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

    Matthew 9
    29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

    Matthew 14
    31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

    Matthew 15
    28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

    Matthew 17
    20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

    Luke 18:8
    I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

    Luke 18:42
    And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.

    Luke 22:32
    But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.


    ReplyDelete
  7. Look you are attempting to say ALL men have the faith to believe they just need to use their God given free will to activate it and wham they understand the God of the Bible is real and they are wretched sinners who need a substitute to pay for their sins because they have nothing worth enough value to satisfy a perfect Holy God’s wrath. So why doesn’t everyone? Do you really believe people chose Hell? If I believe a $100.00 bill is worth more then a $5.00 bill and I am given the choice between the 2 and my goal is to have as much money as possible why would I ever chose the $5.00 bill? People go to Hell because they are unable to believe it or Heaven is real not because they chose it. They have no fear of what they don’t believe exists. Wanna know why I believe this?
    1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
    Grace is unmerited favor. So salvation is something God gives/does to Christians and it is all because of his love before creation towards that person. God is the cause and faith is the means he uses. When he causes us to believe he gives us the faith required but we still do the believing. God does not believe for us. Back to money if I know $100.00 buys more then $5.00 I am never going bypass the $100.00 for the $5.00. Once he enables us to actually know he is real we can sin but we cant walk away and that is because he gave us the faith to believe. Think about all the verses you misused and see if you can apply that logic to 1 Peter 1:3-9
    1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
    God causes salvation and he does it through faith. Not everyone gets saved so not everyone is given the faith to believe. Only those who do believe are children of God

    ReplyDelete

Please keep it pithy (in other words, if your comment is long enough to be its own blog post, don't bother), pertinent (please don't go off-topic), and respectful (to the author, to the other readers, and to the subject of the post). If you can't do that, your comment will not be posted.

If you haven't already, please read the Comment Policy in its entirety.