Under God’s perfect plan the election of the saints is entirely conditional based on man’s free will.
The Purpose of this article is to show where man’s freewill comes into play in the process of coming to God which is necessary for salvation. It explains the Parable of the Sower using Abraham as an example to accomplish this. It assumes that the good deeds/works and obedience to the law are not what brings a man closer to God.
Before explaining where Free Will exists the things man cannot do with his own Free Will are explained in the first paragraph to help us clearly define man’s limitations.
Gifts/Help from God – Faith, coming to God or seeking God, and repentance
Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”(NKJV) So we do not create faith but rather it is given to us by God when we hear the Word of God.) Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”(NIV) . According to the Bible faith is a gift and God reveals Christ to those he has elected. Many think it appears when reading through the Bible that man has a role in faith after all God calls on men to believe and will punish those who do not believe. Man cannot create faith but he has a responsibility to get that faith. God also calls on men to come to him (through seeking him) and yet they cannot move their hearts one millimeter, because only God can draw a man’s heart to him. John 6:44 says “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day”(NIV). Man is called on to repent and yet he cannot on his own. Man’s work is to come to Jesus and believe in him in John 6:29,“Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV) There are no good verses in the Bible that give specific information concerning man having a part in creating faith. There are good verses, like the two just mentioned, that support the opposite. As a result honest scholars are left to conclude that all faith is a gift of God.
Where Man’s Freewill exists in the election and coming to God
We must look at the doctrine of coming to God by faith to understand man’s role. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This takes place before believing in Jesus. It took Abraham 10 years to come to God before he was saved. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (NIV) Abraham was given faith from God but not saving faith. Genesis 22: 17 says, “I will surely bless you( and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[ all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”(NIV) When Abraham believed this he was saved because he believed that a Savior would come through his offspring. This faith was also a gift from God as is all faith. BUT THE BEEF IS IN THE TEN YEARS OF SEEKING AND COMING TO GOD. THIS IS WHERE THE CONDITION OF SALVATION EXISTS AND FREE WILL IS ALIVE AND WELL. When God planted a Seed of the Word of Truth in Abraham when he called him out of his native land, Abraham could have rejected that seed at anytime like most sinners do. In his free will he chose not to reject the truth.
When in the Old Testament it speaks of the word of the Lord coming to someone this is the starting point of seeking the Lord not the point of salvation. Jesus spoke with a man He said was close to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not call on the man to believe at once or to call on the name of the Lord right then. It appears that this man was near salvation but not ready to enter the kingdom on the day he met Jesus in the flesh. Mark 12:32-35 says, “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” (NIV) The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”. (NIV) This verse proves that faith is involved in the salvation process before saving faith in Jesus occurs. A man must come to Jesus to believe in him. The Parable of the Sower speaks about men coming to Jesus and conditions it on the heart of each man. This parable explains the secrets of the Kingdom of God that only the Elect understand. God plants seeds in the hearts of men. If a man continues to believe the truth he will reap many times what was sown. If men fall away from the truth they will not be saved. The faith was a gift from God but holding on to the truth is left up to man. Most men love lies more than the truth so they cannot keep the truth. When men fall away they accept lies instead of the truth. 2 Thes 2:10b says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (NIV) It is no surprise that men reject the truth because in the past they have already all turned, gone their own way and followed Satan and his lies. The planting of seeds gives man a chance to come back to God. God gives men faith as a gift and enough grace to hold on to that gift but they are not forced to hold onto it. It is up to the will of man to hold onto it. It is clear that God does not take away the seeds of truth from men’s hearts nor does the Bible say He forces any to continue to believe or give them special protection from the devil that others do not have. The men who continue to believe have noble hearts and God will reveal Christ to them. The initial faith in the truth is a gift from God. Some men will preserver with it and some will not. The men who continue to hold on to the faith are still holding on to a faith that is a gift from God and it will never cease to be a gift. Man did not produce the actual faith but he can will to hold on to it. Man’s part is in the perseverance of the faith God has given him not in producing any faith in himself because of his own will. This perseverance is not guaranteed by God like faith in Jesus is after salvation. No one falls away from Jesus.
The will of man is the reason some men are saved and others are not. It takes the will of man to persevere with the truth. Salvation is conditional on the heart of man. The grace of God is not irresistible. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. (NIV) This verse alone should be enough to disprove an unconditional salvation. God wants all men to come to him and not perish. But God only wills those to come to him whom believe the truth and hold onto it until they come to him and God reveals Jesus to them giving them the gift of saving faith
*** The reason why men are able to go to heaven and be forgiven is 100% because of Christ’s sacrifice and 0% because of what man has done.
**** Believing with your heart is used in this article to explain the part of the body that men believe with, while other verses speak of emotions, will, mind, soul and spirit being involved in faith. The purpose of this article is not to debate this issue.
By Alan M. Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
324 Bunker Hill Circle Aurora, Il 60504