Faithlife Sermons

The Wonder of Free Will

God of Wonder  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The views on free-will and God's foreknowledge, Omniscience

Today we end our series The God of Wonder
We have considered:
The wonder of boundaries -
God does not think like us
God is not like us
God resides in eternity
Judgment is coming
The wonder of light - how that ties to the God of eternity
The wonder of love - love of sacrifice and service
The of wonder knowledge - the foreknowledge and omniscience of God
The wonder of creation - seeing God’s eternal power and divine nature
Today in this last lesson we consider the wonder of freewill
Pew Bible pg. 562
Ezekiel 18:23–32 NASB 2020
23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he would turn from his ways and live? 24 “But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and does according to all the abominations that the wicked person does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die. 25 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Hear now, house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? 26 When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and dies because of it, for his injustice which he has committed he dies. 27 But when a wicked person turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. 28 Since he understood and turned away from all his offenses which he had committed, he shall certainly live; he shall not die. 29 But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? 30 “Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. “Repent and turn away from all your offenses, so that wrongdoing does not become a stumbling block to you. 31 Hurl away from you all your offenses which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, house of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live!”
Are you ready for the message God has for us?
Let’s dig in!
First at the beginning I want to say that there are different views on the subject of free-will.
I am not going to condemn anyone I seek for us to understand and see which fits best with the teaching of Scripture.
Second I remember the axiom of Rupertus Meldenius - "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."
I present these things in love and charity.

Free Will

The term freewill is not itself Biblical
It derives from Greek philosophical movements early in the church
It was first introduced into the Western Church by the church father Tertullian a second century theologian
Later Augustine retained the term, but attempted a more Pauline meaning to it by emphasizing the limitations placed upon the human free-will by sin.
The are three main views on freewill:
The belief in the exhaustive foreknowledge of God, everyone is predestined as is all human actions. Though they are responsible for their actions.
All human action is predestined, but that knowledge is hidden from humans
God has made us responsible for our actions
Without involving human choice God predestined some to salvation and others to condemnation
The belief called libertarian freewill. This belief denies the possibility of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge.
God only knows certain things regarding the future
When it comes to foreknowledge of human actions, this is something unknowable, therefore God cannot know what humans will choose.
In the midst of these beliefs is a third, there is a difference between what God knows and what God chooses
This enables both exhaustive foreknowledge and freewill.
God knows what we will chose and allows us to make the choice
As Nazarenes this is what we believe.
Our manual says of personal sin: The voluntary violation of a know law of God.
Wayne Grudem wrote, “We may sometimes forget that God works through human actions in his providential management of the world…God has made us responsible for our actions which have real and eternally significant results.”
Excuses for actions don’t work with God, he holds us accountable - Ezekiel 18:2-4
Ezekiel 18:2–4 NASB 2020
“What do you people mean by using this proverb about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat sour grapes, But it is the children’s teeth that have become blunt’? As I live,” declares the Lord God, “you certainly are not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
For us as Nazarenes the difference between what God knows and what God chooses fits better in the whole narrative of Scripture.

The Tension

A tensions exists though. Unlike freewill predestination is a Biblical term.
So we must understand that there are things that God has predestined.
Pew Bible pg. 757
Romans 8:29–30 NASB 2020
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
We must ask did God predestine specific people called by name on a scroll or did he predestine a kind of people who would live a certain way if they chose.
In that is the tension. Neither is expressed in scripture.
However, for a man to be guilty of sin he must make a choice. Ezekiel 18
So has God predetermined human action?
If so then can man really be held accountable and responsible for sin?
People are uncomfortable with the tension and seek to do away with predestination by assuming as a presupposition that human action is simply something that is unknowable.
Yet that does not fit with scripture either.
Pew Bible pg. 485
Isaiah 44:28–45:3 NASB 2020
28 It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he will carry out all My desire.’ And he says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’ ” 1 This is what the Lord says to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him And to undo the weapons belt on the waist of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: 2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. 3 “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
Let’s not limit God, if God chose to control every human decision and action He could!
But God choses to allow us to make the choice to follow Him or not.
To accept salvation through Jesus or to turn to our sin and be lost.
The choice is ours to make.

Evil and the Goodness of God

God did not create good and evil! Let’s turn to Genesis 1:4
Genesis 1:4 NASB 2020
4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
In creation when God was done each day he saw that it was good
However, one day looking over creation God saw that something was not good - Genesis 2:18
Genesis 2:18 NASB 2020
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
It was not evil, it just was not good for man to be alone, this was something unknown in the eternal trinity.
You see good came out of God’s act of creating
What brought evil into the world?
Adam and Eve made bad choices!
Good and evil in the world come not from God but form the very poor and right decisions of man.
That makes us responsible it has been this way since the beginning.
What about Satan then, some might say, “He is evil and he was created by God?”
Again why is He evil? It is a choice he made!
Pew Bible pg. 464
Isaiah 14:12–15 NASB 2020
12 “How you have fallen from heaven, You star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who defeated the nations! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 “Nevertheless you will be brought down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.
Evil is the outcome of bad choices, really bad choices!
This is true of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.
All who chose to do very evil things.
What of God’s goodness?
Paul suggest that God chose to patiently tolerate human rebellion in order to make His goodness known to those who would chose to love Him
Pew Bible pg. 758
Romans 9:22–24 NASB 2020
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with great patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon objects of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 namely us, whom He also called, not only from among Jews, but also from among Gentiles,
Jesus Christ is our best clue to the character of God, and in Him God is revealed as compassionate, merciful, loving, and just.
John 14:9 NASB 2020
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

The Omniscience of God

You see foreknowledge of future actions is implied in Omniscience.
God is above time and foreknows the future from our perspective
From God’s eternal perspective He knows past, present, and future at the same time less moment
There is no problem, then, of grounding God’s knowledge of free decisions before people exist and make these decisions.
God’s knowledge is not bound by the constraints of time.
Either God is all knowing or He is not. We cannot say that He is then limit his knowledge.
Pew Bible pg. 487
Isaiah 48:3–5 NASB 2020
3 “I declared the former things long ago, And they went out of My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. 4 “Because I know that you are obstinate, And your neck is an iron tendon And your forehead bronze, 5 Therefore I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, So that you would not say, ‘My idol has done them, And my carved image and my cast metal image have commanded them.’
Boyd and Eddy in their book Across The Spectrum write: “If, however, God does not foreknow everything ahead of time, you’ve got to wonder if you can really trust Him with your future. In fact, if God doesn't foreknow all that’s going to come to pass, nobody does, leading one to wonder if anybody is in control.”

Does God Change?

You know another tension in scripture comes as some scriptures indicate that God does not change, yet there are other scriptures that show he does.
Moses once stepped in for Israel
Pew Bible pg. 126
Deuteronomy 9:13–14 NASB 2020
13 The Lord also said to me, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. 14 Leave Me alone, that I may destroy them and wipe out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’
Deuteronomy 9:18–20 NASB 2020
18 Then I fell down before the Lord like the first time, for forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed by doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and the rage with which the Lord was angry with you so as to destroy you; but the Lord listened to me that time as well. 20 The Lord was also angry enough with Aaron to destroy him; so I also prayed for Aaron at the same time.
There are others.
Yet consider
Malachi 3:6 NASB 2020
6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, the sons of Jacob, have not come to an end.
James 1:17 NASB 2020
17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Numbers 23:19 NASB 2020
19 “God is not a man, that He would lie, Nor a son of man, that He would change His mind; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
So how do we reconcile?
There is no easy solution to this tension. God does seem to change His immanent temporal relations with creation.
That fact does not detract from His overall sovereignty.
All these changes are the result of His eternal decree, which brings all things to pass, according to His will!
Whatever Change is seen in God must be understood in connection with the will of the eternal God. It does not remove this tension but then Isaiah did record the words of God
Isaiah 55:8–9 NASB 2020
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
There is a difference between God knows and what God chooses.
This seems to fit best with the narrative of Scripture.
We must be ok with the tensions this brings.
The other choices?
God predestines every human action, you must then answer am I really responsible for what I do? Will God really hold me accountable?
Human choices are not known at all. Therefore God is limited in foreknowledge. He is not omniscient. Then you must find a hermeneutic to reconcile, in some way, that Scripture says God does know future human actions.
God knew before hand that sin would enter the world, and put in place His eternal plan to send His son.
He chose to allow Adam and Eve to make their choice and sin entered the world.
Even now the choice is up to us.
Do you except Jesus as your savior?
Or do you keep trying to live life your way?
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