Summary: If God ordains whatsoever shall come to pass, what role do humans play in the greater picture? Are we merely puppets on a string or is the some sort of freedom we have to choose God?
What about human freedom?
This is a very interesting topic, and there are a variety of answers that should actually be considered, and hopefully we will look at the main points during the course of our service this morning.
I’m not going to be doing any recapping today, simply to say that we have seen over the course of the last few weeks that God is sovereign, and that He is in control of everything that is, and that He ordains whatsoever shall come to pass regardless of how we as humans conceive that thing.
Now with this in mind the second last question we need to have a look at today revolves around the sovereignty of God and the question which asks if Gods’ sovereignty takes away human responsibility, and more specifically human freedom.
If God is sovereign, and if He ordains everything that comes to pass, are we not then merely puppets on a string doing whatever God wants us to do? Is our destiny not worked out to such an extent that we have no real freedom to make choices?
Think of Judas Iscariot for instance – was he destined to betray Jesus before the world even began? If so, was there nothing he could do about it? Did he not have a choice in the matter?
To understand the answers I’m going to give you this morning we need to first come to terms with the reality of free will.
Let me begin by saying that we absolutely do have free will, but in our natural, in other words, in our lost state, that freedom will ALWAYS choose sin over God. It’s got nothing to do with God forcing us or coercing us to sin as we saw last week, but Scripture is clear that when we exercise of freedom to choose, that we will ALWAYS choose evil over God!
Romans 3:10f: “as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Remember that this is speaking of the natural man, or the sinful man, or the unsaved, unregenerate man)
Let’s just look at that phrase that says that there is no one who seeks for God.
Literally it says that there is no one who seeks after God. Thayer interprets the Greek for seek, which is Exeitio, as 1) to seek out, search for; 2) investigate, scrutinise; 3) beg, crave; 4) require; 5) to worship.
Paul says that there is NO ONE who seeks God, there is no one who craves God, and there is no one who worships God. Just in case you wondering about the word for ‘no one’, it is an absolute negative in Greek, and means not one single person and it clearly implies that there can be, and there are NO exceptions whatsoever!
For those who are tireless warriors for human freedom, and for free will who believe that to follow God or not is our choice, our decision, our freedom – I agree 100% with them – we do have the freedom to choose, but where I differ drastically is in the fact that Scripture teaches us, (and by the way, this isn’t a matter of interpretation or a minor difference of opinion between fellow believers in which you can go either way and it ultimately makes no difference), Scripture teaches us that we will ALWAYS use that freedom to choose the wrong, the sin and the evil instead of God. (That’s in the Bible, and nowhere in the Bible does it teach us anything else!)
So, as far as human freedom is concerned, we are free, and when it comes to salvation or a decision between God and the world, we will always use our freedom to live in the world!
Now this is where the problem comes in then, because the next question then must be, but how do we become Christians then? How do we choose God then? Ok, here our freedom is overridden, and God steps in and does something for us that we cannot do for ourselves due to our freedom! (Irony at its best – the one thing man wants most is the one thing that is sure to kill him, in this world and the next! – Patrick Henry – “give me freedom or give me death” – the result was the Revolutionary war.
Anyway, back to the question – if we will always use our freedom to choose evil, how then do we choose God? Well, quite simply – we don’t!!! God chooses us. Jesus actually said this very clearly: Mat 19:25 – 26: “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved? But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”