Summary: In the first 400 years of the Church age what does the evidence show? Did the disciples of Jesus and their disciples after them believe in the free will of man? Did they embrace a “limited atonement”?
Dakota Community Church
September 26, 2010
Chosen Yet Free 3
Let’s begin by standing for the reading of God’s Word!
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.
Predestination teaches that God predetermined who would go to heaven and who would spend eternity in hell. Furthermore, it teaches that each person has absolutely no choice in accepting or rejecting salvation through Christ. Every move you make and everything that happens to you, good or bad, was predetermined by God. If you reject Christ it is because you never had a choice or option to believe.
2. Free Will
Free will teaches that when presented with the facts of God’s plan for salvation that every individual person has a choice to make, to either accept or reject God’s gift of salvation.
God desires that every person accept His gift. What was predestined was God’s plan for salvation through Jesus for those who accept it. Therefore if you accept that Jesus died for your sins and you have made Him Lord of your life then you are a part of the predetermined plan.
If predestination is true then Jesus did not die for the sins of those He predestines to eternal damnation. There is no choice to be made – Calvinists call this “Limited Atonement” – Jesus died only for the “Elect”.
A) Scripture teaches that Christ died for all men and wills for all men to be saved.
B) It takes two to have a relationship.
C) There is no mention of the doctrine of predestination in the first 400 years of Church history.
Predeterminists claim that their position is proven by early church leaders and then quote Augustine who lived from 354 to 430 AD.
What do the earliest church fathers say about free will?
Ignatius of Antioch- Died between 98 and 110 AD. Ignatius was a disciple of both Apostles Peter and John and was martyred
Seven of his letters have survived to this day; he is generally considered to be one of the Apostolic Fathers (the earliest authoritative group of the Church Fathers):
“If anyone is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice.”
Irenaeus 130-202 AD – Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology.
“Men are Possessed of Free Will, and Endowed with the Faculty of Making a Choice. It is Not True, Therefore, that Some are by Nature Good, and Others Bad.”
Justin Martyr 100/114AD – 162/168 AD He was another early Christian apologist, martyred by beheading. His works represent the earliest surviving Christian apologies of notable size:
“Man acts by his own free will and not by fate.” - Justin Martyr Second Apology, 7
“We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and rewards are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Otherwise, if all things happen by fate, then nothing is in our own power. For if it be predestined that one man be good and another man evil, then the first is not deserving of praise or the other to be blamed. Unless humans have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions-whatever they may be.... For neither would a man be worthy of reward or praise if he did not of himself choose the good, but was merely created for that end. Likewise, if a man were evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for.”