This post of mine is inspired from a book I've been reading for months. I didn't finish it, not because I don't like it, but because it challenged me... there were things that I believed about God and they weren't quite right. There were things in between, which if we have to illustrate, it would look like living with a blurred eyesight and being in need of glasses. The book is one of the books that spoke to the core things in my life and challenged my beliefs. Firstly, it is because it speaks about the Father in a perspective which maybe doesn't necessarily feel right, but which is true looking at the Bible as a whole. Secondly, it is because you get a glimpse of the God Almighty and you feel like a nobody (not in a bad way, but truly realizing who you are compared to His greatness) and as you see Him, you end up worshiping, standing in awe and loving Him more than ever before. Thirdly, it is because of the writing of the book, which is complex, deep, thought-provoking and doctrinal, and you have to stop and read a sentence again and again till you understand the meaning of it. Fourthly, it is because it humbled me personally and I saw how I believed in things and how I "fought for" what I thought was right and then realized that I wasn't quite accurate. Fifthly, it is because inside my heart I knew some of the facts written in the book, only because I had a relationship with God. There are a few other reasons, but let's get to the point. The book's title is The Sovereignty of God by R. C. Sproul and it inspired me to look into this topic of "free will" a little closer and not just that. However this is the topic I want to highlight here and now... So if you want to dig more into this topic and others, my advice for you would be to read the book for yourselves. I highly recommend it. I will write in parts, because I don't want this post to be very long. The Bible verses I'll quote will be from the New Living Translation and if otherwise, I will mention that. The different colored font will be the counterarguments to what will be written, like a reasoning voice.
Let's start with Philippians 2:13 (NIV): "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose". Does this mean we humans don't have a free will? Here's another verse: "Receiving God's promise is not up to us. We can't get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will show mercy to anyone He chooses" (Romans 9:16). You might add to these a part of another verse: "Choose today whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). I said specifically "a part of" this verse because the verse carries on and there it gives two choices between other gods (the gods beyond the Euphrates river vs. the gods of the Amorites), rather than the Lord. Thus the choice wouldn't be between Yahweh and other gods, but instead the choice would be between two other gods.
We further on see other verses that expressly declare that "no one is seeking God" (Rom. 3:11) and "you refuse to come to Me so that I can give you this eternal life" (John 5:40). Again you might say that there were some who did "come" to Jesus and have received Him. That's true, but let's look at who they were: "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God" (John 1:12-13). Does everybody then have the will to come? Question after question rises inside of us as we look at all these verses. But it's good...
We know that a man has the power to reject Jesus, but he doesn't have the power to receive Him. Why? Romans 8:7 answers this question: "the sinful nature is always hostile to God", because of a heart that hates Jesus (John 15:18). That is the reason why we have to be born again (John 3:1-21) and receive a new nature. The Holy Spirit does something in each of God's chosen ones than He does in those who weren't chosen. He is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him. Again you might say that the Holy Spirit works convictions the same in both of them and the only thing that separates one from the other is that the chosen ones yielded to Him, but the others rejected Him. That would lead to Christians having a reason to boast over their cooperation with the Holy Spirit, which would contradict Eph. 2:8 "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God." He brought me from unwillingness to willingness. I couldn't do it on my own, that's for sure. Man chooses according to his nature!!! So for that to happen he has to have a new nature. You may say: I remember very well when my awareness testified that my will acted and I yielded to God's way. It is possible, but before that happened, the Holy Spirit overcame the inborn hatred toward God.
I will summarize here a few points the writer made in his book. I will list them up now and afterwards I will go for each one of them in the next posts.
Answers to questions regarding the human will:
1. Its Nature
2. Its Bondage3. Its Importance