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God's Choice and Ours: Ask R.C.

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 30, 2020 12:01 am

God's Choice and Ours: Ask R.C.

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 30, 2020 12:01 am

Do we have free will? Today, R.C. Sproul answers questions about predestination, God's providence, and the human will.

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Next on Renewing Your Mind with horsey scroll morning Dr. scroll name is Glenn I'm from Auburn, Washington spent a 12 year journey for me into the reformed faith. Can you confirm fly the sovereign act of election and God is not fatalistic determinism is a good question.

Dr. Sparano is riddled with many others as we look back over decades of question-and-answer sessions which horsey with our focus today is on God's sovereignty and the doctrine of election in the first question is this. We read things in the Bible like choose you this day. And if you will obey.

There is no free will. Why is the Bible filled with the language of choice, made to save.

First of all, it I don't know too many people who will deny the reality of free will.

Often people think that the reformed faith denies free will. Because of our accents in the sovereignty of God and on divine election but we are very careful as Luther was, as Calvin was at work was as Augustine was to clarify what we mean by free will. In its simplest definition free will simply refers to the human things, ability to choose what they want free will is the faculty of choosing by which we make decisions according to what seems good to us. I don't know anybody that the nice that people make choices according to what they want.

The issue that the churches had the Russell was from Augustine in his debate with Pelagius doubt that the day is whether or not the desire that motivates our choices is free of moral bondage. Augustine made this distinction, he said.

After the fall man still has a free will. He still has the power or the ability to choose what he wants but what is lost in the fall. This is spiritual liberty because his will is now enslaved by sin. One of the biggest problems we have in discussing the question free will. In our day is that I think most Christians in America have an idea of free will. That is not biblical at all.

It's a concept that they got from their secular culture from the day they want the first grade.

The secular humanism teaches that human freedom is such that the human will is not in any way paralyzed either to the left or to the right, but remains completely powerful to choose the things of God. Unaided by regeneration, whereas the Christian view the biblical view is that I will never be willing to come to Christ until God first changes the disposition of my heart, which he does by the Holy Spirit in the work of quickening or regeneration so that I have a will before I'm a Christian, but I'm not willing to come to Jesus.

I don't want God to even be in my thoughts. I don't think do with Jesus.

My desires are constantly wicked, and unless God turns me around unless he changes the inclination or the disposition of my heart left to myself. I will never freely choose Christ that when the Holy Spirit does get a hold of me and does convict me of sin and does regenerate my soul then I am indeed made willing and I come to Christ joyfully, happily and willingly. And of course the Bible speaks of this all the time that what God wants is for people to come to him to choose him to obey him and all of that involves choices. That's why we say that as human things, even fallen human beings we are moral agents in the million moral agent you have to have a capacity of willing while the topic of free will is one that requires careful attention minutes often misunderstood. RC received this follow-up question and it's this. So the notion of being dragged kicking and screaming into heaven is full of course, is false. It's a straw man. Nobody dragged kicking and screaming against her will, in the kingdom of God. Although the pilot us a nobody can come to mages unless the father the literal term. There is Dragon that makes it less that the father changes the disposition of his heart, but when he does change the disposition. I'm not brought kicking and screaming against my will have been made willing so that I come to Christ happily moving from free will to God's sovereign will.

Here's another question directed to Dr. scroll will you explain secondary and primary causes in relation to God's promise. We make this distinction goes back to 17th century Protestant orthodoxy of primary and secondary causality.

It's an attempt to look at the way in which our actions as human beings are carried out under the sovereign power of God in his providence.

The classic example of this is found in the doctrine of concurrence, which is seen in the event of the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers when they had him sold into slavery and when they are reunited and that the end of the book of Genesis. The brothers realize that the prime minister in front of them is their long-lost brother that he is now at the Acme of power there and can exercise retribution against them there, terrified, and Joseph tries to put them at ease and he said that luck don't like me in place of God. I'm not going to exact vengeance here said listen, you meant it for evil. Your acts were evil. Your intentions were evil. Your will, was used to carry out an evil deed but overall above your actions. God meant it for good, so that in that case there actions were really their own that they are secondary causes all of our causality is secondary because I can't raise my hand alone by my own power, except by the sustaining power of God's providence in this world and in my life.

Paul tells us that in him we live and we move and have our being. My life is not independent. My motion is not independent might be getting is not independent. I can't be.

I can't live I can't move apart from the sovereign power of God who energizes all things.

God alone possesses what we call primary causality that is ultimate sovereign power over all things, all of my actions.

All the things that I've made In the things that I cause to come into effect is always dependent on the primary power of God. I am only a secondary causal agent program. You are not to say that God to meet somebody you know whether you chose. You have a God that maybe people are still going through all I. Maybe you got elected maybe got you all. Thank you, thank you for your quest to start this very important question you raise that you raise more than one but let me try to answer them in the order that you raise them.

The first question were done with, of course, is that if God chooses certain individuals to receive his saving grace and passes over others. How can we know for sure whether we are numbered among the elect or, on the other side. If were not so let me begin by saying that Peter tells us in his epistle that we are called as a matter of Christian duty to make our calling and election sure that is, it is our duty before God not to allow uncertainty to rob us of the joy of our salvation and their ways that we can understand whether were numbered among the elect and the most important thing that we can do to have the assurance of that is to have a clear understanding of what the Bible requires for salvation. We understand that our justification rests upon our faith in Christ and Christ alone and that the ground of our justification is his righteousness, his work, which is imputed to us and to all who put their trust in him. So the first question I test myself is am I trusting in Christ and his righteousness alone for my salvation. Let me add at this point if the answer that question is yes, if we understand the doctrine of election will know that it wouldn't be possible for us to have that saving faith in Christ. If we were not numbered among the elect so that if you have a genuine affection in your heart for Jesus.

That's the proof that we need that we are indeed part of that body of the elect that we call the invisible church, not on the other side of it, Stuart. If a person is not elect that person cannot know that in this lifetime. I always assume, for practical purposes, the election of every person that I talked to know.

I know that not everybody is elect, but for practical purposes, I assume there election because I certainly can't know that there not elect, and neither can they they may not have yet come to faith, but there are many people out there who were numbered among the elect who are at the present time unbelievers. That is there election has not yet been realized in space and time, but it's not that the elect are without hope we have the greatest foundation for hope that we could possibly have to know that God from all eternity has determined to save people for himself and to apply to them. The saving work of Jesus Christ. Thanks so much for the questions is kind of a lot of her station with a couple friends and that you are discussing double predestination.

My question is what is double predestination. There's a lot of misunderstanding about double predestination. There are some communities that believe in what they call a single predestination, meaning that God has eternally decreed to save certain people that he's appointed for salvation.

That is the elect. But as for the rest. He simply passes over.

I still holds out the opportunity of those people to be say no often double predestination is expressed in what we call a synergistic fashion or positive positive decrees in this respect. Double predestination would me that God positively decrees and determines in advance.

Those whom he will save mainly the elect and in the same method he decrees the damnation of the center and that just as on the one hand, he creates positively saving faith in the hearts of the elect hate in an equally determined in this fashion creates fresh evil in the hearts of the reprobate to make sure they don't come to belief now that is not the reformed doctrine of double predestination, reformed theology does teach double predestination that so far is that not everybody will be saved. And so it's double or nothing really.

You can't have single predestination and just ignore the non-elect or MS you're a Universalist. But the distinction is this.

We had what we call a positive, negative, decree, or in a symmetrical view of election by the NSA on this whole subject in the dusk with the retreat for John cursor several years ago were ice, wrote extensively on the subject of double predestination, but the positive, negative, says that God positively involves himself in working faith in creating faith in the hearts of the elect. While he simply passes over the non-elect without forcing them into unbelief or creating any kind of fresh evil in them. So it's positive in that one hand where he intervenes to create faith negative in the other hand, were he doesn't intervene in and create fresh evil. I hope that clarifies it a little bit for like what his next question is one that's been asked of RC many times over the years. How is the Protestant notion of solar fee day faith alone, consistent with James 224 which says you see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone again in the 16th century when this debate had reached its apex and the Council of Trent in the middle of the 15th century was the ecumenical Council called by the Roman Catholic Church to respond to the Reformation and in that response, particularly in the succession of Trent the Roman Catholic Church define day file. Her doctrine of justification by faith and set forth cannons that anathematized distortions of their view of justification including the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. So to this day that Dr. muscle file still remains out of the anathema of Rome as recently as the Catholic catechism, but in that response at the succession of Trent. He saw frequent references and allusions to two 2010 224 and so on there and James and so this is been a long time discussion in Romans, Paul makes it clear that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

And he teaches us that just because by faith alone. James seems to deny this by faith alone, but rather is by faith and works and the thing that makes it difficult is that in both Paul's letter and in Jay's letter the same word for justification is used in the Greek and it even. The plot gets thicker because in Romans when Paul wants to prove his point is exhibit a is Abraham. When James wants to prove his point is exhibit a is Abraham. The problem is is that when Paul appeals to Abraham to prove his point, he appeals to Abraham in Genesis 15, where Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness and Paul labors the point in Romans four that Abraham was justified before he did any good works now when James talks about is reason was not Abraham justified by works when he offered up Isaac on the altar so that his faith and was fulfilled okay.

Now the question is are the two biblical writers addressing the same question and understand the difference between Paul and James, go to James and asked this what question was James trying to answer and makes a clear James says if a man says he has faith but has no works will that faith justify because faith without works is dead. And so what James is answering the question is what kind of faith is the faith that one must have in order really to be justified, and his answer really doesn't differ that significantly from Paul because when Paul follows justification.

Chapter 5 in chapter 6 he trying to show that the fruit of your justification. The witness of your justification. The manifestation of true faith is obedience. And so James is showing here that Abraham demonstrated his faith in Genesis 22 when he offered up Isaac on the altar. Let me just be a little bit technical here. The difference is this Paul is asking the question, how is a person justified before God in the ultimate sense changes estimate question.

How is a person's claim to have faith justify not justified before home obviously before men because we can't see the heart. God didn't have to wait till Genesis 22 to know that Abraham's faith that he manifested in Genesis 15 was real saving faith. But we don't know it until we see the outworking of that faith in his sacrifice of his son Isaac in my book faith alone. I don't a lot more detail about this debate but I can't spend the whole time you're on it, but that's basically the approach morning.this role name is Glenn I'm from Auburn, Washington 12 year journey for me into the reformed faith and much as been through teaching of Ligon Aaron, I just this is a big deal to me but in in that journey into my former life. The objections I get is always around the concept of free will and can you confirm why the sovereign act of election in God is not fatalistic deterrent. I think I can do very clearly we don't believe that God's sovereign government of the universe is reduced to the rule and government of mythical fates better fatalism against okay now, nor is it that determinism in the sense of mechanistic determinism which says that people are reduced to the role of in human robots of God simply pulls her strings and so on, and on the other hand, if you asked me the question does God's sovereignty.

Determine the ultimate outcome of any event, as our course. What else could determine that not you ask about the issue of free will and the third chapter of the Westminster confession of faith and says it that God has for all eternity immutably determined whatsoever comes to pass; but not in such a way that denies secondary causes or does violation to the will of the creature so that reformed theology historically has always argued that human beings, even in their fallen state still have what was called a free will will a very arbitrary Mike Augustine defined in that sense, in the sense that every human being has the ability to choose what he wants to do.

The key is 12 we don't always want to obey God. And we still have the freedom not to obey God. In fact, that's the freedom to exercise all the time, to our everlasting arrow, but if you mean, do we still have a will that is not bent or inclined to one direction or the other than obviously the Bible would repudiate that because the Bible says that we are in bondage to sin were held captive by our evil inclinations. The heart is deceitfully wicked among all things.

Now the big issue I believe with free will is not so much a philosophical issue as it is an issue, particularly in this country.

Virtually every person born in this country has been reared in an educational system that teaches a view of the will that is humanistic and basically pagan. They don't know it because they've been taught that the will has been unaffected by the fall that man has the equal ability to choose the good and the bad. Even in this fallen condition that as I said is a secular restrict humanistic pagan view of the will and fails to recognize that the Bible clearly teaches the doctrine of original sin is a very short answer written a whole book on this call, willing to believe and not trace the history of the debate all the way back from my Augustine that his debates with Pelagius and then dealing with Luther and and that his debates in the 16th century, with Peggy Hassan Edward Smith job and so on. Going through church history where we see that man is free and so far as he has the power to do what he wanted to and God is free, the differences God is more free than I am. I've heard it said many times that God's sovereignty ends with man's freedom. If that's the truth. Then man is sovereign in God isn't God say I have freedom is real freedom, but it ends where God freedom begins will will. What books you read intellectual and lots of books that have been profoundly influential in my life and I have to say there is none that is been more influential than Calvin's institutes of the Christian religion. When I read Calvin's institutes which of course went through many revisions is you know I'm overwhelmed by the heaviness of the matter by the lyrical quality of most importantly insight of the character of God. When God gives to the church teachers and people like Luther and Augustine and Aquinas Edward placement of all had a profound influence on me. My favorite theologian technical sense is France's turn but when I read Calvin I just read those words I take my pen and I want to underline good stuff and I found Mike underline every set is just ridiculous. I seven. It is so marvelously beautiful and and it lifts my soul to a higher sense of reverence and devotion. God ever was a theologian whose heartbeat was for the glory of God. It was John Calvin. I don't know of any theologian whose ever been more demeaning unfairly than Calvin. This essay to my citizens I got at the read. Calvin's is to make greatest his chapter on prayer for the dinner thing you read this chapter on prayer we get a different view, the heartbeat that so it's quite an endorsement is tentative. Calvin's institutes thanks for joining us for Renewing Your Mind today I'm Lee Webb and were midweek in a special series of programs highlighting question-and-answer sessions with Dr. RC Sproul, you could hear his five decades of experience as he answered questions like these today with the clarity and simplicity with compiled sort of a best of series taken from our conferences, radio programs and social media interaction and place them on a USB drive. Our archives of Q&A sessions with RC go back more than 20 years and this drive contains 65 MP3s in all.

Just to clarify, that's not just 65 questions that 65 full sessions with an audience and a moderator and many questions per session were also including digital copies of more than two dozen crucial questions, booklets, and a PDF of Dr. scroll's book. Now that's a good question will be happy to send you this ask RC resource drive for your donation of any amount today you can give your gift when you call us at 800-435-4343 or when you go online to Renewing Your Mind.org what tomorrow is New Year's Eve. Then we hear from so many of you who been blessed by later ministries you express appreciation for this program for table talk magazine for our conferences and for the many resources we produce and publish here.

If you have been blessed. Would you consider providing a generous year-end financial gift. Your letter will need to be postmarked by tomorrow to qualify as a urine gift or you can give online when you go to legionnaire.org/donate and on behalf of all of my colleagues here at later ministries, let me thank you for your generosity. What tomorrow we return to our series highlighting the decades of ask RC. We hope you'll join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind


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