God’s Lordship and Man’s Free Will

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Click here to return to all sermons.

Please read also “Without Excuse?” by Mick Wolfe and “Repentance is Man’s Choice” by Jesse Morrell.


Audio version:

Script:

‘God’s Lordship and Man’s Free Will.

I will be reading from the NKJV.
My preaching history is that I’ve given a lecture on creationism/evolutionism, including my testimony to non-believers and I’ve shared my testimony in Open-Air Preaching.

We know that God is the sovereign Lord over His creation.
He put the stars in place, he made the planets turn, He put the earth on a perfect distance from the sun.
As Sir Isaac Newton put it so well in the General Scholium of his Principia: “this most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the council and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” [1]

But to what degree is God “sovereign”… or we could say “Lord” over free moral agents?
That we are free moral agents, who can choose who we will serve, can be clearly seen in for example such verses like Joshua 24:15, where Joshua said “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” and Matthew 23:37, where our Lord Jesus Christ cried out: “you were not willing”.

Now, I personally am an Open Theist. In this view God is not the creator of evil for He does not foreknow evil. Many who are part of this viewpoint, believe that if God foreknew what would happen, for example the fall of the one who is now called the devil, we could not be genuinely free. If you do not agree with Open Theism, I would like to invite you to The Open Theist Circle at http://www.godisopen.com. But all philosophical aspects aside…

We know that sin is rebellion. It is the transgression of the law of God. (1 John 3:4) Nothing more or nothing less. Now the question arises: “Is God Lord over sin?” If you would mean by that question: “Is God the one who initially caused a part of his angels, the first human beings,… to sin?” Some have said “Yes!” but I would say: “No! Definitely not!”.
My personal opinion is that the only way in which we could reply “no” is
from an Open Theist perspective, as we shall see soon, through the use of sufficient examples.

But if you mean to say by “Is God Lord over sin?” that He is so superior to His creation in that His general plans cannot be stopped by our free moral agency, I would reply: “I agree!”.

I believe however that by giving us a free constitution, a free moral agency, He took the genuine risk of seeing plans thwarted, which involve decisions of creatures possessing a genuine free will. For a loving, good Creator makes His creation good. A good creation includes that the free-will-beings have the option of choosing between (doing) good and (doing) evil. [2]

So I believe that God, genuinely, always wanted and still looks forward to a universe where sin does not exist. If God was absolutely sovereign, in the way that he controls everything, every action as some redefine the word sovereignty, then there was no sin because sin is rebellion against the law of God (1 John 3:4 and Joshua 1:18) and therefore against God Himself. The word “rebellion” would lose its meaning since there would be no real rebellion, as all rebellion would be just as it pleased God. [3]

Therefore I believe, as Clark H. Pinnock said:

“It is surely not possible to believe that God secretly planned our rebelling against him. Certainly our rebellion is proof that our actions are not determined but significantly free.”[4]

All this to say that when God commanded Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17), when he warned Cain to rule over the desire to sin (Genesis 4:7), He was totally serious. In each instance, in which the Divine Lawgiver gives a commandment, He makes clear what the consequences are for overstepping the boundaries/
for transgressing against His moral Law. As it is summarized by the apostle Paul in Romans 6:23a: “The wages of sin is death”

Yes it’s true, if we sin we have an Advocate… (1 John 2:1) but the Bible does also say:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) and
“He who sins is of the devil” (1 John 3:8a)
Will you choose to triumph over sin, together with God, under His sovereignty, as Cain COULD have done or will you choose to be taken into exile with the devil, as happened to Cain as an example to us?

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah did not try to conquer sin.
Will you heed His call and repent, like the people of Nineveh did?
To them God said, through His prophet Jonah: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4) and the people responded by saying to each other “Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” (Jonah 3:9). The people of Nineveh understood the future to be full of possibilities and they understood that God in His sovereignty, in His Lordship, might become merciful to them. After which we read the oh-so-precious words
“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10). He did not do it, He did not destroy them, isn’t that beautiful?
Did you know that the merciful-but-sovereign-God spared 120K people in that day? (Jonah 4:11)

Yes, God is definitely “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b, read also Ezekiel 33:11 and 1 Timothy 2:4).

As I’ve told you before, I’ve got a heart for evangelism and I’m used to that kind of preaching.
[As you might notice, such] a “repentance” message might be an excellent message to non-believers…
But what does this have to do with us, Christians?

Well, a lot! The same rules apply to us!
We, as God’s people, should “always seek His face
and when necessary turn from our wicked ways” (part of 2 Chronicles 7:14)

To you He says today:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
‘Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone [5]. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.‘ (James 1:13-15)
(You can also investigate Romans 2:3-8 for a more fierce warning, if you need it.)
We are free moral agents as you can see from the first list of examples and this list of examples. God’s overall plan cannot be stopped but, as we have seen, His plans for His free moral agents can | be thwarted.

My question to you is: “Will you let God be sovereign, even over your own free will?”
I ask again: “Will you choose to triumph over sin, together with God, under His sovereignty, as Cain COULD have done or will you choose to be taken into exile with the devil, as happened to Cain as an example to us?”

“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. [↑] And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:8-9)’

What will you do with His specific plan for your life? |

Extra poem which I received the morning that I preached:

When I stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ
And He shows me His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been,
Had He had His way; and I see

How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there
And I would not yield my will,
Will there be grief in my Savior’s eyes,
Grief though He loves me still?

He would have me rich, and I stand here poor,
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing
Down the paths I cannot retrace.

Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break
With tears that I cannot shed;
I shall cover my face with my empty hands;
I shall bow my uncrowned head.

Lord of the years that are left to me,
I give them to Thy hand;
Take me and break me, mold me to
The pattern Thou hast planned.

– unknown author

“You must choose to invest in God’s kingdom”’

Also, this video is worthy of your consideration on this subject.




[1] Sir Isaac Newton, Principia, General Scholium (1713)

[2] Extra quotes (found later on):

“Our most excellent creator wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do his will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good – good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself.” – Pelagius

Augustine, in one of his earlier works, before changing his view on this matter, wrote:

“If everyone must render what he has received, and if man has been made that he sins of necessity, then it is his duty to sin. Therefore, whenever he sins, he is doing what he ought to do. If it is wicked to make such an assertion, then no one is forced by his nature to sin. Neither is he forced to sin by another’s nature, for no one sins so long as what happens to him is against his will. If he suffers justly, his sin is not in suffering against his will, but in his having sinned by such willful action that he now suffers a just punishment against his will. If he suffers unjustly, how does he sin? For there is no sin in suffering something unjustly, but rather in perpetrating some unjust action. But if no one is forced to sin, either by his own nature or by someone else’s, it follows that he sins by his own will. (…) But what could possibly come before the will to be its cause? Either the will is itself the cause, and there will be no regress from this root of the will, or it is not the will, and the will is without sin. Consequently, either the will itself is ultimately the cause of sin, or the ultimate cause of sin is without sin.” – Augustine, The Free Choice of the Will, Book 3, chapter 16.46; chapter 17.49. Cited from Robert P. Russell, Augustine: Earlier Writings (Washington D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1968), 207-208, 210.

“God maintains ultimate sovereignty over history. But He does not exercise absolute control. (…) On the individual level God’s designs are often thwarted. The Bible says that God desires the salvation of all men (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). But not all men accept salvation. Many will eventually be lost (see Matt. 25:41; Rev. 19:12-15). Consequently, while a person may not prevent the realization of God’s overall purposes, he may interfere with God’s intentions for his life.”
– Richard Rice, God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will, p. 67.

[3] Extra quote I found later on:

mccabe 2“There is no middle ground: sin originated in a creature free-will or the divine free-will. Sin without the action of some free-will involves contradiction. It is simply exercise of a free-will in opposition to the right. The declaration that sin came from out the divine free-will is the blackest of all blasphemies, for God’s moral character is infinitely dear to him.” – Lorenzo Dow McCabe, Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity, p. 115.

Another extra quote I found later on: Thomas Taylor (1738-1816) writes, in his seminal work, “A Solemn Caution Against the Ten Horns of Calvinism” (1819):

“There is no such thing as sin in the world. Everything is just going on as he would have it to be; all are acting in the department of life which is appointed. Therefore, go, ye jolly drunkards, and jovial song-singers; proceed, ye numerous tribes of profane swearers and Sabbath-breakers; curse on, ye horrid blasphemers and swarms of liars; ye murderers, plunderers unclean profligates, ye are all doing the will of God, answering the great ends for which you were made.”

Taylor continues:

“If ye be ordained to turn, ye shall turn; if not, all his [the preacher] zeal will avail no more than a tinkling cymbal. Therefore, he that is praying, and he that is preaching; he that is speaking the truth, and he that is lying; he that is laboring honestly, and he that is stealing; he that is chaste, and he that is impure; he that is over-reaching, and he that deals honestly; he that sings the songs of Zion, and he that sings the songs of Satan, in a word, he that is converted, and he that is unconverted; he that is a believer, and he that is an unbeliever; are all doing the will of God … all things are just in the state and condition which God has appointed and all are just doing what his will is, and then there is no such thing as sin in the world.”

– Dale V. Wayman, “Calvinst Doctrine Leads to the Conclusion that There Is No Sin in the World” (evangelicalarminians)

[4] Clark H. Pinnock, God Limits His Knowledge, p. 149.

[5] That includes satan, Adam and Eve, Cain,…


Click here to check out the sermon jam version.
Click here to return to all sermons.

Please read also “Without Excuse?” by Mick Wolfe and “Repentance is Man’s Choice” by Jesse Morrell.

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