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What is free will?

 

by Matt Slick

Free will is the ability to make choices without external coercion.  There are debates as to what extent this free will is to be understood as it relates to people.  There are two main views:  compatibilism and libertarianism.

The compatibilist view is the position that a person's freedom is restricted by his nature as is described in Scripture and that his free will is consistent with God's foreordination.   In other words, he can only choose what his nature (sinful or regenerate) will allow him to choose.  Therefore, such verses as 1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20 are used to demonstrate that, for example, the unbeliever is incapable of choosing God of his own free will since they say that the unbeliever cannot receive spiritual things, does no good, and is a slave to sin.

Libertarian free will says that the person's will is not restricted by his sinful nature and that he is still able to choose or accept God freely.  Verses used to support this view are John 3:16 and 3:36.  Two subdivisions of libertarian free will would be "open absolute free will" which says that man's choices are not knowable by God until they occur and "non-open absolute free will" which would state that God can know man's choices but he cannot determine them.

The biblical position is compatibilism.  Since the Bible clearly teaches us that the unbeliever is restricted to making sinful choices (1 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 3:10-12; Rom. 6:14-20), then we must conclude that anyone who believes in God (John 3:16; 3:36) does so because God has granted that he believe (Phil. 1:29), has caused him to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3), and chosen him for salvation (2 Thess. 2:13).

All the cults and false religious systems teach the libertarian view of free will that salvation and spiritual understanding are completely within the grasp of sinners (in spite of their enslavement to and deadness in sin).  For them, salvation would be totally up to the ability of the individual to make such a choice.

  1. Man Apart from God
    1. Jer. 13:23, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil."
    2. Rom. 5:10, "For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
    3. Rom. 8:7, "because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so."
  2. Verses related to free will choices of sinners
    1. John 1:13, "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
    2. Rom. 9:16, "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy."
      1. "the man" is singular
    3. Rom. 9:18, "So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."
    4. 1 Cor. 2:14, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."
    5. Phil. 1:29, "For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."

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Matt Slick's (CARM) - False Gospel Exposed and Refuted

Dan Corner

Matt Slick Exposed

Matt Slick Biography - Blind Leader of The Blind

Matt Slick is the director of CARM, a huge so-called apologetic ministry from a Calvinistic point of view. In Matt Slick's version of How To Share The Gospel there are various vital truths he did not and could never tell you from his Calvinist point of view. That is very important to know. Because Matt Slick is a Calvinist, much of what he teaches will be poisoned by his theology. In case you don’t believe this, ponder what Matt Slick himself said here:

Ezek 18:4 says, “The soul who sins will die.” Isa 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” Rom 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” So the Bible tells us that the person who sins will die; that he will be separated from God and that it will bring him death. It is spiritual death which is eternal separation from God.

CARM is teaching a gospel which says the soul who sins will die spiritually and your sins will separate you from God. What Matt Slick also thinks, but didn’t mention, is that those facts ONLY apply UNTIL initial salvation—when you get born again. After you get born again, those truths of his gospel do not apply. Again, those Scriptures do NOT apply after getting born again, according to Calvinism!

Matt Slick on Backslidden King David

How can we be so sure of that? Here is one way—Matt Slick and all grace changers believe when King David backslid into adultery and murder he did NOT die spiritually and lose his salvation nor did Peter after he disowned Jesus three times. In fact, according to Calvinism’s gospel, no Christian will ever or has ever died spiritually (lost his salvation) after getting born again. If such would happen that would refute Calvinism's fifth point — once saved always saved. (or eternal security)

Though there are no Scriptures which can be cited by any once saved always saved proponent, they all teach that way. Their theology and false version of the gospel neutralize Ezek. 18:4; Isa. 59:2; Rom. 6:23 and scores of other verses afterinitial salvation.

Matt Slick Calvinist Corner

Matt Slick also created a dilemma for himself. Since Matt Slick thinks the soul who sins will die spiritually and that only refers to a person before getting born again, but never afterwards. He actually has people dying spiritually who were already spiritually dead, according to his theology! According to Calvinism’s version of total depravity, all people are born into this world spiritually dead! A person who is already spiritually dead can’t die spiritually. To die spiritually one must first have spiritual life.

Matt Slick's theology won't allow him to accept the truth that a righteous person will die spiritually if he turns to evil. Therefore, it is fatally flawed. The truth is: Calvinism has a twisted and contradictory message which allows for gross wickedness in the life of a saved person, but denies the obvious, that is, it is a license for immorality, but that’s not all. Matt Slick's gospel also declares this:

It only takes one sin to be a sinner. If you’ve lied, that makes you a liar. If you’ve stolen, that makes you a thief. Paul said in 1 Cor 6:9 that such people will not be saved, or cannot be saved. They’re not following the law.

While it is Biblical that it takes one act of adultery, theft or murder to become a Bible-defined adulterer, thief or murderer, Matt Slick would adamantly DENY that such people are not saved, if they were previously saved!

Matt Slick believes there are two types of adulterers, two types of thieves, two types of murderers, etc. One type is unsaved, but the other type is indeed saved and will never get off the road to heaven regardless how far they drift from Christ. Though Matt Slick didn't mention that in this video, it is his doctrine and can be found sprinkled throughout his ministry’s teachings.

If you remember what Matt Slick just said about 1 Cor. 6:9, he added the words, They’re not following the law. That is NOT in your Bible, my Bible or any Bible. Matt Slick's gospel makes that up to change the force of 1 Cor. 6:9,10 and to remove it from its context to allow for such wickedness after getting saved.

The 1 Cor. 6:9,10 passage was originally written to people who had already been born again, about an unnamed wicked man in their congregation who was sexually immoral and needed to be expelled. All of that is found in chapter 5. Paul called that same man wicked in 1 Cor. 5:13 (or unsaved) and less than one dozen verses later, Paul reiterates that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. No sexually immoral person, thief, swindler, drunk, sodomite, etc. will inherit the kingdom of God, according to the Bible. That is fact before or after getting born again!

That is Paul’s consistent message in 1 Cor. 6:9,10; Eph. 5:5-7; Gal. 5:19-21; etc. but not the message of Calvinism or their gospel. All Calvinists teach the same dangerous way. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ray Comfort, John MacArthur, R. C. Spoul, John Piper, Matt Slick or whomever. Their false theology of Calvinism will not allow them to teach those basic truths.

Calvinists Like Matt Slick Must Hate 1 Cor. 15:2

Matt Slick also said this:

So Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross and died with them, satisfying the wrath of God. This is called the gospel. 1 Corinthians 5 verses 3 through 4 says this: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

As is typical, the once saved always saved people, when mentioning the gospel, usually go to 1 Cor. 15:3,4 and carefully avoid the verse before like the plague! Why? Because what it says is so clear and destructive to their gospel. It says:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)

The real gospel extends over and beyond the point of getting born again, according to that verse. Did you catch that? Here it is again:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)

Christians can come to a place where they have believed in vain after getting born again, according to the real gospel. It is their responsibility under grace, not law or a works salvation, to hold firmly to the word. That vital part of the real gospel is missing from the false gospel of Calvinism, as you just heard. Now listen to this:

This means that the person who receives Christ is to turn from his sins, to stop lying, stop cheating, stop stealing, etc. It means to live for Jesus and not for himself. It means to trust Christ when circumstances get difficult. It means to put him above all things. This isn’t always easy but is what we’re called to do if we become Christians.

Matt Slick neglected to add that that he believes if a person becomes a Christian, then starts again to lie, cheat, steal, live for himself again, etc., he will still remain saved. If Matt Slick ludicrously believes like other Calvinists that Paul was the worst of sinners, and that Rom. 7:14-25 is the typical Christian life then he can always fall back on that, if shown his deadly error.

Calvinists have a double message and loathe telling others what they really believe about King David remaining saved when in adultery and murder. Matt Slick is no exception! They all believe that King David when backslid is an example of an elect person who strayed into sin but always remained saved. That means others can do the same too, according to their deadly version of grace and the gospel! Matt Slick slips a noose around his own neck with this:

And finally, the person who is to trust in Jesus must know what he’s getting into. He needs to take it seriously and he needs to count the cost. This way you won’t be inadvertently inoculating the person from Jesus by presenting a false gospel.

Matt Slick mentioned a potential follower of Jesus needs to take getting saved seriously and count the cost, but what does that mean to a Calvinist? To them it means, you should obey and be faithful to God, but if you’re not you’ll still go to heaven because you can never again get back on the road to hell. Once in grace always in grace, according to them! Matt Slick's license for immorality is why there are people professing to be Christians and at the same time lusting, getting drunk, committing adultery, stealing, lying, hating, swindling, being dishonest in business affairs, etc.

If Matt Slick is a 5 point Calvinist, he also believes in double predestination. That means if you are not chosen by God to salvation you cannot and never will get a chance at salvation. That would also mean he believes in limited atonement or the false idea that Jesus did NOT die for all of mankind, but only for the elect! Furthermore, Matt Slick's version of grace, if he is a five point Calvinist, is that it is irresistible and man has no free choice to reject it, as far as salvation.

The truth is: the real gospel of grace extends beyond initial salvation. It declares a conditional security for the believer in which he Christian is responsible to hold on, keep himself and put to death the deeds of the body, as he gets strength from God. Spiritual death is just as much a possibility for a Christian as it was for Adam and Eve before they sinned and died spiritually. Hence Jesus would teach those already saved that they would have to endure to the end to be saved (enter God’s kingdom)—Mt. 10:22—and if they disowned him he would disown them (Mt. 10:33).

To teach a real Christian would never disown Christ is to display gross ignorance of the Scriptures, for the Apostles did that very thing! We need to get saved and stay saved, which does not always happen and that’s definitely not the message of the Calvinistic gospel. So don't be deceived by Matt Slick, the director of CARM. Warn others about Matt Slick!

Source: Matt Slick Exposed

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Has anyone written anything about the midway point between these two schools of thought?  

I believe there is free will to withdraw relationship with God.  Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." John 15: 5-6 NJKV.

Why would Jesus state that "if anyone does not abide in Me.." if it is not possible to walk away from the relationship by free will?

I also believe that we are saved by grace and not by free will.  It is the grace of God that draws us to God.  Jesus said  "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:44.

We cannot put God in a box by believing that he only operates in one way only.  Both schools will always find scriptures to prove they are right.  Maybe they are right to an extent.  If Adam did not have free will to eat out of the forbidden tree there would be no mention of disobedience to God's word.  God is not a deceiver who would punish us for disobeying him while at the same time knows that we do not have the free will to decide to yield our members unto righteousness as per Paul's words in Romans 6:13 "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God".

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On ‎9‎/‎22‎/‎2017 at 12:33 AM, Couppy said:

Has anyone written anything about the midway point between these two schools of thought?  

Look up Martyn Lloyd Jones, he was a pretty much in the middle as a Calvinistic Methodist.

Maybe God has made it so, so we don't trust in our theology but in Him.

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Very well put gentlemen: don't trust in Theology - Trust Only in God Alone.

I was unfortunate to have a pastor that got into the Calvinist model. It was so ugly and so hard to reason with this man. I read the foreword of one of Pink's books and felt physically sick. Horrible.

I am wondering if this has not the earmarks of a 'cult' since it is so disheartening and so soul destroying.

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On ‎9‎/‎24‎/‎2017 at 7:09 AM, Justin Adams said:

Very well put gentlemen: don't trust in Theology - Trust Only in God Alone.

I was unfortunate to have a pastor that got into the Calvinist model. It was so ugly and so hard to reason with this man. I read the foreword of one of Pink's books and felt physically sick. Horrible.

I am wondering if this has not the earmarks of a 'cult' since it is so disheartening and so soul destroying.

Cult may be too strong a word.  Within Calvinism, there are definitely cultish supporters as well as in the anti-Calvinist camp.  Satan has skillfully mixed his lies within the truth of our understanding of God's word and our theological understanding and interpretation of it.  Satan is using every trick to get people to doubt God's word.

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You are probably correct. I sense there is a lot of 'circling the wagons' going on with some assemblies, churches, whatever they are called. I wonder if is not a bit like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. A kind of security blanket movement. Battening down the hatches, when the only folk inside are the Frozen Chosen.

 

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Millard Erickson's take on this issue strongly influenced the development of my opinions on this issue.  Many years ago in one version of his systematic theology book, he did a nice job of laying out the various beliefs of various systems of Calvinists and Arminians.   He then summarized it as this:   Calvinists believe that God determines an individual's eternal destination.  Arminians believe God lets the individual make that choice.   Everything else is putting details onto that single core belief.  He then went on to indicate that he thought that some form of Calvinism was most consistent with scripture though there were issues with that.  After years of pondering which one was right, I started to wonder if human logic (which says one or the other has to be correct and the other wrong) should be applied in this case or not.

I've now come to believe that this is a false dichotomy and that scripture indeed teaches both.   As Christians, we use this approach to both the Trinity and the humanity/deity of Christ.  I accept the full deity and full humanity of Christ.  Why?  Because there are scriptures that clearly indicate Jesus was human and there are scriptures that clearly indicate He was divine.  Many heresies developed because people applied a logic that said He could not be human and divine at the same time.  I accept the Trinity.  Why?  Because there are scriptures that clearly indicate that there is one God and there are scriptures that clearly indicate that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons.  Many heresies developed because people applied a logic that lead to a rejection of the Trinity.  I can freely talk about Jesus as being a human being without fear of violating scripture.  I can freely talk about Jesus being God without fear of violating scripture.  But I cannot deny that Jesus was human or deny He was divine without violating scripture.

I think that both calvinists and arminians both make the same fundamental error.  They assume that human logic holds and that only one of them can be correct.  Either God decides an individual's fate or the individual does.  Both sides believe that only one of them can be correct.   Calvinists thus reject the plain meaning of scriptures that indicate that individuals have the free will to determine their eternal destination.  Arminians thus reject the plain meaning of scriptures that indicate that God determines an individual's eternal destination.   When I read passages of Scripture such as Exodus 8, 9, and 10, I take them on their face value.  Scripture says God hardened Pharaoh's heart means that He did.  Scripture says that Pharaoh hardened his heart means that he did.  Calvinists and Arminians are forced to "explain" what these scriptures "really" mean and reject their plain meaning.

 I'd give my opinion of both by adapting what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. 

"My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”;another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?  I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."  and  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task."

Would Paul today condemn those who say "I follow Calvin" or "I follow Arminius"?   I think he probably would.  Some of the more extremists of those views hold that the opposite side is a heresy.  I've seen Christians of good conscience and reputable life refuse to fellowship and minister with other Christians of good conscience and reputable life over whether they answer the question, "can a Christian lose their salvation?" with the "correct" answer.

Edited by GandalfTheWise
rewrote something ambiguous
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Gandalf has a very good point here. My gran used to say 'he's so heavenly minded, he's no earthly good'. We just cannot allow these 'grey' areas because we feel uncomfortable not being able to pigeonhole people, beliefs and circumstances. So it is with "Free Will". Since everything is relative anyway, free will is what you individually enact it to be.
It is very hard to live with people that do not realize the difference between a Subject and a Citizen.

Saul said, I am become all things to all men that I should save at least some.
He was free to think and act outside the constraints of his upbringing and training.

Insects do not really have 'free will' as we might understand it. They are not self deterministic. They just DO.

A quote from Heinlein hopefully gets my point across:  

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

-Robert A. Heinlein

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10 hours ago, Justin Adams said:

Gandalf has a very good point here. My gran used to say 'he's so heavenly minded, he's no earthly good'. We just cannot allow these 'grey' areas because we feel uncomfortable not being able to pigeonhole people, beliefs and circumstances. So it is with "Free Will". Since everything is relative anyway, free will is what you individually enact it to be.
It is very hard to live with people that do not realize the difference between a Subject and a Citizen.

Saul said, I am become all things to all men that I should save at least some.
He was free to think and act outside the constraints of his upbringing and training.

Insects do not really have 'free will' as we might understand it. They are not self deterministic. They just DO.

A quote from Heinlein hopefully gets my point across:  

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

-Robert A. Heinlein

Amen! Free will is choice and we make choices every moment of every day. I chose to respond here. I wasn't compelled or coerced. Without choice, then the word of God is completely false especially Moses, 

Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV)
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  

I believe those that push that we have no free will are only trying to justify their continuation in sin and sear their convicting conscience.

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