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Election and 'Free' Will #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
December 2, 2022 7:00 am

Election and 'Free' Will #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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December 2, 2022 7:00 am

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Where do we find the idea that there are people that are just dying to come to God, if only that they could, and they're longing for salvation, and they have the power and the capacity to respond in their own power unprompted by the Spirit of God? When it comes to salvation, do we have free will to choose Christ?

Well, that's a question that people argue passionately about. But as Pastor Don Green shows today on The Truth Pulpit, free will is not as free as we might first surmise. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright, and as Don continues to teach God's people God's word, we'll be resuming our series titled, Chosen by God.

Don begins a message titled, Election and Free Will. And Don, in the realm of spiritual matters, we can't make choices in the same way we might choose ice cream flavors or pizza toppings, can we? Daily decisions like that are much different than the realm of salvation that we're talking about here today on The Truth Pulpit.

My friend, you need to understand the limitations on the will of man before you can ever begin to understand the doctrine of election and its impact on the so-called free will of man. Scripture says that men are dead in sin, that they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, that Satan has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving. If you are to be saved, God must do a work and unleash your will from the bonds of sin before you can be saved. Listen in today as we study the hard things on The Truth Pulpit.

Thanks Don. And friend, let's join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. The question is this, what about the free will of man? We're going to go right there. We're going to, with reckless abandon, go right into the heart of that question. If God is sovereign in salvation, what are we to say about the free will of man in salvation?

And that is an important question. And I would say this, that the answer that you give to that question is going to determine the utter trajectory of your Christian life. In fact, the answer that you give to that question may evaluate and expose whether you're a Christian or not. It's that significant, because ultimately we have to come to grips with what is the responsibility of man in light of the sovereignty of God. And the way that the question is often framed is, if God is sovereign, how can man be free?

Fair enough. Good questions to ask, and questions that Scripture answers with, I believe, definitive clarity. Having said that, it is notoriously difficult to discuss this topic. People use the same words with different meanings, and people will take what is said and take it to conclusions that the teacher doesn't intend to say.

We're trying to build a wall, and we're building it brick by brick, as it were. And so sometimes people think that you mean an implication that is not at all what Scripture teaches. And so I just say that to acknowledge that right from the very start, this is a difficult topic to discuss, simply because we're all coming at it with condition by years of prior teaching, and sometimes that prior teaching has led us to a veneration of the will of man that perhaps Scripture does not justify.

And that's what we want to look at. So let me say it this way. The accusation is made against the doctrine of election that it turns men into robots. That's not true. That's demonstrably false. It's said that election destroys evangelism.

That's also false and demonstrably untrue. But we want to address the topic and consider the will of man in this message in light of the overall context of the sovereignty of God, particularly as he exercises his sovereignty in the realm of salvation. And I'm not going to repeat all of those messages, the content of those, or even review it, from verses 3 to 12 that have led us to this point.

Let's say this as a starting point. Man has a will in the sense that he has the capacity to make choices. At a superficial level, we decide what we want to eat, we decide where we want to eat it, where we want to go, we decide what job we want to have, we decide who we want to marry, we decide when we're going to get up, when we're going to lay down, what kind of medicine we're going to take when we're ill. There are all kinds of choices that we make by the exercise of our will.

We are not robots. We are people with a choosing capacity. No one compels us to do those things.

We're not conscious of being forced to do something against our will. We generally act in accordance with our desires when we are given occasion to do so. And so, of course, man has a will. What we say further about that will is where the controversy begins. But let's just restrict this discussion to the area of salvation. Many people unconsciously assume, because they've been taught to think this way, many people unconsciously assume that daily power of choice in life means that we have an equal power of self-determination in the spiritual realm as well.

I decide whether I'm going to eat an apple, a man says. Therefore, I also decide whether I am going to go to heaven. That's the problem.

That's the breakdown. You cannot reason from the lesser to the greater in that way. When you enter into the realm of salvation, where Scripture abundantly says multiple, multiple times that salvation belongs to the Lord, that salvation is His gift to give as He sees fit, then you have to realize that the will of man has to bend and bow the knee. And the problem is even greater than that. What do we say about the free will of man?

Well, let's build up to a conclusion. The problem isn't with the word will. The problem is with the word free, and that's where Scripture says the problem is. That's where we need the sovereignty of God to overcome us and help us, because our will is not free to choose God in the strength of our own power. Scripture makes this so abundantly clear that it cannot be reasonably disputed. I want to show you three areas in which manifests the fact that our will is not free to choose salvation on our own power. We must have the help of God if we are going to be saved at all. We're going to see this from three different ways. We're going to go through several different Scriptures.

So, when I say free, I'm using that in quotation marks. I am using that in quotation marks as a concession to the way the question is framed, not because I believe in a will that is utterly free from any outside influence. What do we say about the will of man? Well, first of all, if you're going to think through it, you have to consider, first of all, point number one, the sinner's dead capacity. The sinner's dead capacity. Physically dead men do not reach for apples. That may seem like a truism, and I guess in some senses that it is, but if you've ever been around a corpse, you know that it is completely motionless, lifeless.

There is nothing in it to energize it to do anything. Spiritually speaking, dead men don't reach for salvation. Jeremiah 17 verse 9 says that the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.

A desperately deceitful heart is not going to reach out to the God of purest truth. We saw Jeremiah 17 9, and now we look at Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1, where it says, looking back in the rearview mirror, Paul's looking back in the rearview mirror at his audience, and he says, you were dead in your trespasses and sins. It has the idea that this was their ongoing state and condition. This is what you were like. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. One of the things that I would just point out to you in this text is that for whichever mirror you're looking in, the current vanity mirror or the rearview mirror, there is no grounds for boasting for any of us in this, because Scripture says we all formerly were like this. Paul says to his readers, you and I used to be like what I'm describing right now.

And so there's no boasting in this. There's no spiritual pride in what we're saying here at all. We freely acknowledge as we uphold the Scriptures that Scriptures are describing what we used to be like when we talk about being dead in sin. Look at it, chapter 2, verse 1. He says, you were dead in your trespasses and sins. There was no life within you. Verse 2, you walked according to the course of this world.

The manner of physical life that you had was according to the prince of the power of the air. You walked as the devil wanted you to walk. That spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. And verse 3, you were indulging the desires of the flesh, of the mind.

You were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. When you're asking the question, well, what about the will of man in salvation? You have to start with the fact that the sinner is in a position of death. It's not that he's struggling for air as he's drowning in the ocean, it's that he's already drowned and he's at the bottom of the sea. You can't throw him a life preserver because he can't reach for it.

He's dead. That's you. If you're not a Christian, that was you. If you are a Christian, this is the universal testimony of Scripture about the universal nature of man. Now, if Ephesians 2, verses 1-3 was the only passage that taught this sort of theme, it might be a fair objection to say, well, you're taking one passage out of context. That's not true.

That's not true at all. Turn over to the book of Romans. Turn over to the book of Romans.

We mention Ephesians. For those of you that are with us on an ongoing basis, that just gives you a brief preview of what we're going to come to in a few weeks to realize that Paul himself anticipated your question. I'm simply accelerating the consideration because I don't want this to block your receptivity to the Word of God.

This is too important. This is too definitive and determinative of where we go spiritually, individually, and as a body of believers together. What does Scripture say about the heart and mind of an unbeliever? It says this, in addition to the fact that he's dead, it says that the unbeliever does not seek God, nor does he subject himself to God. Look at Romans, chapter 3, verse 10. And as you're looking at this passage, I want you to understand one other thing as we're looking at this, that there is a cumulative impact of everything that is being said here.

We have a total of three points. We're just looking at number one, the sinner's dead capacity. We're looking at three different avenues that all testify in the same direction about the condition of the heart and the will of the unsaved man. And so Romans, chapter 3, verse 10, we're still talking about the sinner's dead capacity. Romans 3, verse 10, there is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands. Here's the kicker for us today, there is none who seeks for God. None!

How much more clear could this be? Where do we find the idea that there are people that are just dying to come to God, if only that they could, and they're longing for salvation, and they have the power and the capacity to respond in their own power unprompted by the Spirit of God. Paul repeats himself for emphasis, none righteous, not one, none who understands, there is none who seeks for God. Humanity in sin, individuals in this room who are outside of Christ, should not flatter themselves by saying, I'm a seeker for God. Scripture says that you're not. Verse 12, all have turned aside, together they have become useless. There is none who does good, there is not even one. This is a pervasive condemnation of the nature of man and says that he has nothing within him that enables him to respond to the things of God.

Not only does he not have it, he doesn't want it. Turn over to Romans chapter 8 verse 7. Romans chapter 8 verse 7.

This is what I used to be like. It says that the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God. It does not subject itself to the law of God, it is not even able to do so, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. And so when we say, well could a man by his free will respond to Christ of his own power without the influence of the Spirit of God on his heart? No, he can't. He can't please God so much with his self-generated faith that God rewards him and bestows salvation on him in response to that self-generated faith. Scripture says he can't do it, it is outside his capacity. He is unable to do so, just like a dead man can't reach to the counter. A dead man cannot, he cannot reach for God. He's not able to do so, not only is he not able to do so, he's hostile to the God who is presenting salvation to him. Where is saving faith going to come from inside a deceitful, dead, rebellious heart like that?

Where? There's no room for it and I'm not even started. We haven't even begun to exhaust what Scripture has to say about this and we certainly won't exhaust it in this hour. Choose the gospel, choose to accept Christ? He can't even understand the gospel. Look at 1 Corinthians 2. If it seems like I'm repeating the Scripture references a lot in this message, it's because I have no confidence in the fact that I said them right the first time.

1 Corinthians 2, verse 14. A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised. He doesn't accept it. He doesn't want it. He refuses it.

His knee-jerk reflex reaction is no, and he cannot understand it. He does not have the capacity to understand it. He doesn't have the ability to understand it because these are things that are spiritually appraised and that natural man, that unsaved man, is spiritually dead. So he can't appraise anything spiritual.

He doesn't have the ability to do so. He cannot understand it because his spiritual brain is flatlined. And so that's the sinner's dead capacity.

Dead in sin. He does not seek for God. He cannot understand spiritual things. He is wired to reject it because it's all foolishness to him.

Now, I want to do two things with you. Those of you that are Christians, you think back to when you first heard the gospel, when you were not a Christian, and almost without exception, you're going to remember a time where you said, that can't be right. If that's true, then everything I've thought before is wrong.

And so there's this knee-jerk reflex reaction that you have that says, that can't be right. That's what was coming out of your own natural heart before the Spirit of God helped you. Now, let's apply this in a different way that some of you will be able to relate to. I know that I can relate to it.

And I'll speak about it from that perspective. I remember before my conversion, multiple times where I prayed to Christ and said, I accept you as my Lord and Savior. Now, I want to tell you something. Nothing spiritual happened when I did that, except that the wind from my lips caused a motion to occur in the air around me. But nothing spiritual happened. And there are some of you who can understand, because you said, you know, I prayed so many times, and it never seemed to stick. I accepted Christ again and again, some of you who came from that tradition.

I went up to the front again and again, and it just never seemed to work. Well, the reason for that, in that effort, you were not seeing yourself as a desperately lost sinner. You were thinking that, and I was thinking that, I could make this happen by the power of my own will. And the reason that it never took, so to speak, in all those efforts that you were making to do it, and the reason that you had such confusion in your spiritual life in the times that followed that, is because you were attempting a salvation to exercise your will to make it happen.

And that's why it was so frustrating to you. You had not yet seen yourself as someone who was spiritually bankrupt. You thought you had the capacity in you to bring Christ into you, not realizing, not understanding that what you needed was Christ to exercise His power to bring you into Him. Your heart had never been completely humbled under the law of God. You had never seen yourself as a lost sinner. You had never seen yourself as one spiritually bankrupt.

You thought you could say a few words of prayer and make it happen. And I say that not to condemn you, but to help you understand what was going on and why you had such great confusion and great frustration in your spiritual life. Scripture says that we're dead. And the teaching that tries to flatter man by saying you can choose to do this leaves him in a position of pride that makes him think he's got some reservoir, I can wait, I'll put this off until my deathbed so I can live a life of sin, and then I'll decide all of that is a product of very corrupt theology. The sinner is dead. Now, that's point number one, the sinner's dead capacity. Secondly, let's consider for a moment sin's dominant control.

Sin's dominant control. And for that I want you to turn over to the Gospel of John. We'll look at a couple of passages in the Gospel of John at this point. John chapter 3 verse 19.

Sin's dominant control. In John chapter 3 verse 19, this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. For some of you who are now Christians, you can look back and remember, if you're honest, you can remember that you resisted the gospel because you realized it meant repenting and turning from sin that you loved. That's what's being described here in chapter 3 verse 19.

We have to understand that unsaved men are in darkness, but it's not just that they're in darkness, they like it that way. That's where they want to be because they love their sin. And when the Gospel of Christ comes and says, you are guilty and convicted under the law of God, when the Gospel of Christ comes and says, you are facing judgment and you must repent from that wickedness, the sinner from the depths of his heart, whether he verbalizes it's with his lips or not, says, nuh-uh, I'm not giving this up because I like this sin.

I like this sinful relationship. And so to discredit the gospel, which alone can save them, they in turn mock it, criticize it, refuse it, argue against it instead of submitting themselves to the mind of God as it's expressed in the Gospel of Christ. Now look, when that happens, when sinners do that, that is a morally culpable act. God has brought the message of salvation which could deliver their soul from sin and secure eternal salvation for them, and they have mocked it, they have rejected it, they have criticized it rather than bringing their mind into submission to it. And whatever else you think about the electing choices of God before eternity began, you must understand that when sinners refuse the gospel quite apart from any choices that God has made, they have brought judgment down on their guilty soul because it is reprehensible for a sinful man to reject the one message of salvation that could deliver him from damnation.

What possible excuse is there for that? There is none. We'll have to pause there for today, but Pastor Don Green will have the second part of his message, Election and Free Will, on our next program, as our series, Chosen by God, continues. Be sure to join us then on The Truth Pulpit.

Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com. There you can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies of Don's radio messages for your personal study library. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. And if you'd like to put social media to good use, connect with Don on Facebook. A link to that is also at thetruthpulpit.com. Visit today. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-02 04:44:14 / 2022-12-02 04:53:24 / 9

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