This is quite a lengthy response, but most of it is simply Scripture. And then some comments from me. I have tried to make everything a different color. Your comments are one color, my comments are green in color and Scripture is red in color.
Tom, Freewill is not a humanistic doctrine, it is a Biblical doctrine.
Free will is a very humanistic doctrine. It is a human or man glorifying doctrine. Thus it is humanistic. Freewill violates the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. (I will deal with this more later on in the letter.)
Absolutely God is a sovereign God, but by His sovereignty He chose to create us with a freewill so that we could chose to love Him or not.
Scripture says: NO one can (no ability to) come to the father except the father draw him. There is no choice there. In fact, if you look at the word draw, it literally means to drag in the Greek. Here is the exact definition from the OnLine Bible and then from the Strongs.
1670 ~elkuw~ helkuo hel-koo’-o or ~elkw~ helko hel’-ko
probably akin to 138; TDNT-2:503,227; v
AV-draw 8; 8
1) to draw, drag off
2) metaph., to draw by inward power, lead, impel
and the Strongs
1670. ~elkuw~ helkuo hel-koo’-o; or ~elkw~ helko hel’-ko; probably akin to 138; to drag (literally or figuratively):--draw. Compare 1667.
This just shows our TOTAL depravity, for we won’t come to Him unless He first drags us to Him!
If we do not have a choice to make in this life concerning Jesus then we are nothing but puppets and there is no need to fulfill the great commission.
We are not puppets, but clay.
Romans 9:20-23 “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”
And the Old Testament references to us being clay:
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand
Jeremiah 18:3-6 Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.
It is more Scriptural to say that we are but mere clay. God fashions some for honour and some for dishonour and who are we to say to Him anything on what He has chosen to make of us.
You refer to Rom.6:18 in reference to the two realities of man, and that is absolutely right.
Romans 6:18 "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
Notice to the words in this verse. It says we are ’made’ free from, and then because of that we have ’become’ servants of righteousness. There is nothing in there that has to do with our choices, it ALL points back to God and His grace. This verse reveals the order of the events that are given in verse 17. First we are made free from sin by God’s regenerating grace and then we become the servants of righteousness. Thus we are made ’able’ to obey from the heart because of what God has done within. Again, ALL points back to God and nothing to man!
But what separates those two realities? Is it not the power of choice given us by our creator? Rom.6:1 we have a choice to make concerning the practice of sin.
Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
You say that this proves that we have a choice to make concerning the practice of sin. I say that it is a rhetorical question. This is, it is a question with an obvious answer to it. Any true believer knows the answer.
Rom.6:6 we have a choice to make about serving sin.
Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Nowhere in this verse is ’choice’ even inferred. This verse is proclaiming the truth of what Jesus did on the cross. Because of that, now we who have been born again are no longer servants of sin.
Rom.6:12-16 we have a choice to make about who and what will rule our lives.
Romans 6:12-16 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
These verses are commands for us to follow. But until God does a work in someone, they can’t be followed. Titus 2 verses 11 through 14 explain this exceptionally well.
Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
It is God’s grace that teaches His children to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly. Again, this is ALL about God doing a work in His children. He is molding them and making them into what He has purposed and predestinated.
Rom.6:19 says we have a choice to make about our surrender to God.
Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
You can’t stop with just quoting verse 19, you must go on to verse 23 to get the full meaning of the verse.
“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul tells the Romans to do something in verse 19 and then explains himself in the preceding verses. Again notice the key words. Verse 22 says “being MADE free from sin.” And then “ye have your fruit unto holiness” which points back to verse 19 with the concept of yielding. In verse 19 the word ’yield’ is in the imperitave mood. Here is the definition of what that mood means.
The imperative mood corresponds to the English imperative, and expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding. Thus, Jesus’ phrase, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” #Mr 1:15 is not at all an "invitation," but an absolute command requiring full obedience on the part of all hearers. - Thus we see that there is no choice here. A command is something for us to be doing. No if’s, and’s, or but’s - it is DO IT. But an unregenerate cannot produce Godly fruit because he is still a servant of sin, only one who has been regenerated can because he has been made a servant of righteousness.
A tree cannot choose to have fruit, it just does. Just like our fruit, we cannot take credit for it, it is the fruit of the Spirit. Again, ALL glory goes to God and none to man.
Tom you have a choice to make about how you will raise your children (Eph.6:4).
Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
There is no choice even being inferred here, let alone stated. The word ’up’ in the phrase "but bring them up" is also in the imperitave mood. It is a command that we as children of God are to follow.
Eph.5:25 says you have to make a choice concerning your love for your wife. God gave you that privilege and that responsibility, AND WHEN YOU DENY THAT RESPONSIBILITY YOU ARE PLACING BLAME ON GOD FOR YOUR FAILURE.
Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”
Again, no reference to choice or choosing in this passage. Paul is not pleading with anyone but stating a command that we are to follow. The word ’love’ is in the imperative mood. I would disagree with your wording here. I am not responsible but I will be accountable for all of these commands that you have given through these verses. Responsibility has an inference of being able to do it in and of yourself. I can do NOTHING but by the grace of God!
Jn.14:6 (which you refer to) does not release us from choice it requires a choice.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
This verse has nothing to do with choice or choosing. Jesus is simply stating a fact here. Whether or not you or I or the world believe it, Jesus IS "the way, the truth, and the life:" That is a fact (of which I firmly believe)! The rest of the verse is also stating a fact. Jesus is stating the fact that no one comes to the Father but by Him.
Jesus is the only means of salvation that God has provided, and if one does not CHOSE CHRIST he is lost.
Ephesians 2:8-10 “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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
You are right in stating that Jesus is the only means of salvation. Yet if you will notice what you said, you contradict Ephesians. Paul says that salvation is only by grace through faith, not of works. Yet, you say that we must "choose" Christ or we are lost. If we must "do" something, then that is works and not grace. Our salvation is solely of God. If we have to choose Christ in order to be saved, then the credit goes to us in our wonderful choice. So, then who gets the glory? Man does. If my salvation is because of a choice that I made, then I can most definitely boast. Because, by all rights, if it is based on a decision, and that is the best decision that one will ever make. Yet, the God of the Scriptures says He is a jealous God and will not share the glory with anyone.
You mention Jn.8:32, "you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". Well don’t forget that II Tim.4:4 teaches that truth is a choice we can turn from.
II Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
In order to understand who verse 4 is referring to, we must go back a verse. Those who turn their ears away from the truth are those who will not endure sound doctrine but follow their depravity. Thus, they show that they are still servants of sin and have not been made free by God’s grace. Again, no choice here. The word "shall" gives us the emphasis that it is something that will happen. It is something that can’t be changed. Notice the succession. First they are unable to endure sound doctrine, so they bring in hirelings who are more concerned with their paycheck than the truth (because they are still servants of sin) and therefore they turn their ears away from the truth. God is speaking through Paul here and showing that this is strictly man’s depravity.
Don’t forget that II Tim.3:7-8 teaches that we can resist the truth by our choice.
II Timothy 3:1-9 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”
In context, verses 7 and 8 are referring to the last days. It is a display of man’s total depravity. Notice verse 7 says, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” It says that they are not ABLE. They cannot come to the knowledge of the truth because God has not given them eyes to see.
Psalms 146:8 “The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:”
Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”
Acts 16:14 “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Without the ability to chose we are released from all responsibility where God is concerned.
God is 100% sovereign and man is 100% accountable for what he does. Everything that happens is according to God’s predetermined plan. Look at Acts 2:23 - "Him (Christ), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." Here it states very emphatically that Jesus was crucified, and was done so by God’s predetermined plan. This act could not have been changed no matter what man did and yet the men that did this are 100% accountable for their action and involvement in it. What I am getting at here is that even though God has predetermined everything that happens, it is us who are doing that actual action of it. Therefore we are 100% accountable for it.
Tom, here’s a challenge for you. You show me from Scripture how God’s sovereignty excuses you from obeying Jos.24:15 and I’ll show you from God’s inerrant Word how His sovereignty and grace allows me to fulfill it.
Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
This verse is not a salvation verse. Joshua is telling the people to go ahead and choose whichever false god you want to serve. He boldly proclaims that he will serve the LORD. This verse along with most of the ones that you shared with me above deal with serving the Lord. Only those whom the Lord has regenerated can truly serve the LORD. Scripture is it’s best commentary, and it we take this verse and cross-reference it with Romans 6:18 & 22, we see that we must be made free in order to serve the LORD. Also, just a footnote, even though in context he is speaking to Israel, we know from Romans that not all Israel is Israel. - Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
I don’t believe that the Lord ever ’allows’ us to do anything. The word allow brings an inference with it that the subject allowing something can’t do anything about it, therefore he has allowed it to happen.
Ephesians 1:11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
Isaiah 46:10-11 “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”
I say again that everything is done according to God’s perfect plan and in His perfect time.
I so appreciate your communication, please continue to write. I look forward to how you’ll answer my challenge. Until then remember my simple invitation, "come and see"!
Let me ask you a few questions. Did Lazarus have a choice to stay in the grave when Jesus called him forth? (Lazarus is an excellent type of salvation.) Also, did Paul have a choice to serve or not serve the Lord when he blinded him on the road? (His blindness is an excellent type of our total blindness to spiritual things before God opens our eyes.)
One in hope,