Brian is an old friend of mine who I have not talked to in a while. Here he tackles the subject of FREEWILL as he believes it is taught in the Bible. Brian is a true gentleman expect lately I have noticed he has grown a little more nasty in his assertions against those in the Reformed Faith. Brian Wagner is a consistent arminian since he serves the humanist heretical god of open theism. I have warm feeling for Brian and always will. I learned from him in our interaction back and forth. I know interact with his false error filled article “Freewill as Taught in Scripture.” My response to Brian will be in the color of Orange.
Freewill AS TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE
by Brian H. Wagner, Ph.D.,
instructor of church history,
theology and biblical languages
at Virginia Baptist College
How often have I read in various Facebook theological discussions the declaration of a Calvinist – “Freewill is not taught in Scriptures”?
I am sure Brian has read many Reformed Believers who have said– “Freewill is not taught in the Scriptures”? But Brian should know that there are different definitions for the term “freewill” Like I am sure his understanding which is probably the same as Flowers is to have the innate ability to abstain from something or go after it willingly. So when the Reformed Believer says “freewill” is not taught in the Bible he is talking about it in the sense that Brian and flowers is talking about it but only in a spiritual sense, that is having the ability or freewill to do anything to save himself, when within himself his strongest desire is to hate God and to spit in God’s Face.
John 3:19 – 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
I ask my friend Brian where is freewill in the passage of Holy Scripture above? Listen to what John says again my friend Brian, “MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, BECAUSE THEIR DEEDS WERE EVIL.”
There is no “freewill” in John 3:19 only “CONDEMNATION” as John plainly tells us in the first four works of verse 19. Are these evil, wicked men who hate the light of Christ and love the darkness of sin able to choose between the two?
I do not think so. Verse 19 plainly tells us that these Wicked men under the wrath and condemnation of God love the darkness. Think about how you love God and desire to escape to that secret place to be with him and experience His holy love and intimate presence.
That they chose darkness was the act of their own will, and this act of the will was determined by the evil of their deeds. This was their habit and character that they practiced daily freely according to the will of their nature that was dark, wicked and unholy.
It is the same with the wicked men under the wrath and condemnation of God, THEY LOVE THE DARKNESS OF THEIR SIN, they hasten to indulge in it with love and pleasure. There is no freewill only the greatest desire within these wicked men who take great love and pleasure in their sin. They do according to their greatest desire and strongest nature within that they love. They hasten to their sin.
In Verse 20 we read that :everyone practicing evil.” Notice the dominance of sin in their lives. They were so deceived by this dominating sin, loving it, taking great pleasure in it, they were not in any way trying to make a decision not to do it. They loved it and hated Christ. Notice verse 20 does not say they were daily making freewill choices whether to sin or not, not it plainly and with clarity says “THEY WERE PRACTICING EVIL.” There is not freewill to choose or not to choose they were in love with their sin and it brought them great pleasure to practice it daily. The word “PRACTICE” speaks of something “ongoing without interruption.
They we read in verse 20 that “EVERYONE PRACTICING EVIL HATES THE LIGHT AND WILL NOT COME TO THE LIGHT OF CHRIST.
I ask Brian, where is freewill in these passages. I could actually stop here because these words actually come from the lips of our Lord Jesus, Let God be true and every man a liar.
Why cannot the Non-Calvinist see this in the passages I Quoted instead of twisting them and reading into it that which is not even there!!!!! This is disingenuous.
Of course, the freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible. It is impossible for God to lie or to deny Himself (Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18, 2 Tim 2:13).
I must say maybe I should have read this a little closer because Brain sounds like Reformed Believer (but that I highly doubt) I understand what Brian means when he says it is “not possible for God to go against his will or Holy Nature. God’s nature is absolutely in every way Holy so it is impossible for Him to Sin,
But what does Brian mean for the sinner or the Believer (if he is talking about the Believer) to be unable to go against his/her nature.
I believe completely that a sinner as shown in John 3:19-20 is unable choose against his strongest nature or disposition at any given time. Unless God regenerates the sinners and takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh a sinner will do as we read in John 3:19-20, Love, practice sin and will not come to the light of Christ. When regenerated the “FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST, THE ATONEMENT” is applied to the believing sinner. Unless this happens through the sovereignty of God’s saving Grace in Christ. A sinner will keep loving and practicing sin and hating the light and will never make a freewill choice to come to the light of Christ to receive atonement for sins.
And it is impossible for me to fly by just flapping my arms.
But the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.
In this statement here above Brian is partly right. God is the only Being who has Freewill. You say, well he cannot lie. Exactly!! The less hold sin has on a person the more free he is. Sin’s dominion has been broken over the believer. But he still has remaining remnants of sin that he must kill the deeds of the body you will live. Romans 8:13.
God is the most free being in all the universe. The sinner as we read in John 3:19-20 is in bondage to the sin he loves and takes great pleasure. God must deliver us from the love and pleasure even as Christians if we are to become more like His son.
The exercise of that ability by God and by man is also well documented in Scripture. And I can fly… if I decide to get on an airplane and allow its power to transport me through the air! Always loved Brian’s sense of humor
The following is an attempt at a rather thorough study of words used in the OT and NT that teach aspects and examples of the exercise of freewill.
The reader will hopefully become convinced, contrary to Calvinistic dramatic false statements in opposition, that freewill is clearly taught in the Scriptures –
Brian, who is taking just a portion of scripture to prove his point is making a big mistake. How does he compare with what he now is going to say with what I said in John 3:19-20 This is how the Non-Calvinist is deceived into twisting the Scriptures by the father of lies. I pray that Brain, a man so intelligent God will open his eyes and save him from his sins.
The Hebrew word [verb] נדב naw-dab’ is a primitive root that means – to impel; hence, to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously…primarily translated as an adverb “willingly” which indicates free motivation or voluntary decision. It is used 17 times in 15 verses throughout OT Scripture [also 3 times in 3 verses using the same root in Aramaic – Ezra 7:13, 15, 16]. (Most of definitions for this paper are adapted from Strong’s Concordance lexical definitions.)
Brian seems to miss who makes people willing and to give free will offerings. He has taken it out of context,
Ezra 1:1- In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing
Look what happens in verse one, THE LORD STIRS UP THE SPIRIT OF CYRUS KING OF PERSIA, SO THAT HE MADE A PROCLAMATION THROUGHOUT ALL HIS KINGDOM AND ALSO PUT IT IN WRITING
The Lord stirred up the spirit,(heart, will) of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he would do exactly what the Lord wanted him to do.
Cyrus King of Persia, still under the influence of the Holy Spirit says in Ezra 1:4
Ezra 1:4 – And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
Proverbs 21:1 – The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Notice in Proverbs 21:1 that the king’s heart (mind, will, emotions) is in the hand of the Lord, and he sovereignly turns it wherever her will.
The king is just a man and the Lord can sovereignly use the king for His holy purposes. Since the king is just a man, the Lord can use any man this way.
Here are all the verses that translate this word, נדב naw-dab’, with the translation of it underlined. The ESV translation for each verse was chosen to accommodate Calvinist readers, so they won’t have to keep running back to their favorite translation, which is deterministically flavored. 😉 Yes we love this Bible too. Brain before making sweeping assertions to sinfully influence others, show the evidence when this is a Reformed Bible to accommodate Reformed Believers. I know of know Bible that is perfect. Do you????
Exod 25:2 ESV “… From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.
Exod 35:21 ESV And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him….
Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.
Judg 5:2 ESV …that the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!
—-[The verbal form in this last verse is an infinitive, on the Hithpael stem, which is reflexive in meaning, thus the word “themselves” is added. This Hithpael verbal stem is used 16 other times in the same reflexive way – Jg 5:9; 1Ch 29:5, 6, 9(2x), 14, 17(2x); 2Ch 17:16; Ezr 1:6, 2:68, 3:5, 7:13, 15, 16; Neh 11:2]. The reflexive action only helps to emphasize the non-compulsory action of the person’s will in the decision made in each context—-
The noun נדבה ned-aw-baw’ is used 26 times in 25 verses, mostly in connection with a voluntary – “freewill” – offering to God. With all these verses one cannot help but ask “How can you have a freewill offering without a freewill?” Calvinists reject its normal meaning, but the Bible literally uses the word 26 times. Even the Calvinist translators of the KJV and ESV freely chose “freewill” as a suitable translation. Their translation choice is telling of what they believed this original word meant.
Here are the verses in which this noun is used:
Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. —-[The idea in this verse of a sacrifice made as a free-will offering, one not commanded as an obligation, is also found in – Ex 36:3; Le 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Nu 15:3; 29:39; De 12:6, 17; 16:10; 2Ch 31:14; Ezr 1:4; 3:5; 8:28; Ps 54:6; 119:108; Eze 46:12(2x); Am 4:5]
Deut 23:23 ESV You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.
2Ch 35:8 ESV And his officials contributed willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites….
Ps 68:9 ESV Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;
Ps 110:3 ESV Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
Hos 14:4 ESV I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.
—All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Even God is said to exercise His freewill in Hos 14:4. The translation in Ps 68:9 was obviously determined with some subjectivity. It could easily be translated – “A shower of freewill gifts, O God, you have shed abroad…”
Here are some NT words and verses to consider that also speak to the issue of the freedom of the will. A Calvinist may try to attribute all of the following examples as a result of regeneration, but that does not seem to fit this first example –
Acts 17:11-12 ESV Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
—-[from προθυμια proth-oo-mee’-ah, meaning predisposition. See also – 2Co 8:11, 12, 19, 9:2;] The Calvinist may endeavor to suggest this willing predisposition of the Bereans was a result of regeneration, which they think is before faith is expressed. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise when their loyalty to Calvinism is so strong that they refuse to see the gospel of John clearly teaches light is freely received before faith which is before new birth life is given. See John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.
Other NT verses to consider that speak to the issue of freewill are these –
1Cor 7:37 ESV But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. —-from μη ἔχων ἀνάγκην , literally – “not having a necessity”, which would be impossible if everything was predetermined eternally and immutably, making every event a necessary result of God’s decree. Notice also the verse says this man “having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart.”
1Cor 9:17 ESV For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. —- from εχων hek-own’ meaning willingly.
2Cor 8:3 ESV For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, and 2Cor 8:17 ESV For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. —-from αυθαιρετος ow-thah’-ee-ret-os – meaning self-chosen, and by implication – voluntary.
2Cor 9:7 ESV Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. —- from προαιρεομαι pro-ahee-reh’-om-ahee – meaning to choose for oneself before another thing, to prefer and by implication, to intend.
Phlm 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. —- from εκουσιος hek-oo’-see-on – meaning willingness.
1Pet 5:2 ESV shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; —-from εκουσιον hek-oo-see’-ose – meaning willingly.
The existence of a free will, even post regeneration, runs counter to the idea of an eternally immutable divine will that had completely determined everything forever into the future before creation began.
Brian makes an assertion here that is untruthful. He knows that there are a couple of verses that say otherwise. Others say on the day of Creation. “the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world.”
Before the foundation of the World–in the mind of God from all eternity
Ephesians 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him
It is a shame how Brian as other non-Calvinist do twist and put a spin on the passage of scripture above instead of just plainly reading it like they would anything else.
2 Timothy 1: 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
Brian also abuses and is disingenuous about this verse also. I love this verse so much, it brings such comfort and joy.
Calvinism is based upon that philosophical premise, making the exercise of any free-will for God or man impossible, before creation and especially after it.
Do you know Brian that even as sinners we always chose according to our strongest desire at any given moment, Our will is never in neutral. Hopefully you do not believe that. I once ask a man what his favorite ice cream was. This man was a sinner. He told me chocolate. I told him because he will always choose according to his greatest desire at any given moment he could not reach out and take the vanilla cone I had instead of chocolate. You know what he did. He took the vanilla cone and laughed and said that he had proved me wrong. I explained to him he had actually proved me right. I told him a stronger desire that chocolate had dictated his will. It was to prove me wrong.
you see Brian we never really have free will, we do according to the strongest desires of our nature or disposition.
That premise makes a falsehood out of these clear Scriptures shared here. These Scriptures and many others clearly show that free will does exist and is being exercised by God and man.
How many times do we read the “hand of God was on them”
27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem,
28 and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes.
So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.
From the beginning of Ezra to the end there was the blessing, favor, loving kindness upon the house of Israel. God moved the hearts of all to be willing in the day of His power.
Psalms 110:3 – Thy people shall be willing in the day of your power
, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Yes they made free will offerings, all do to the hand of God and the Lord stirring their hearts!!!!