What are we saying to God in deifying the will of man? “Oh well, Lord, it is a sad thing that…
What has happened to GOD? Our tradition has pawned His power off to man in the myth of “free” will. Are we better than the fools Paul referred to in Ro. 1:20-21? Why were they called fools? For failing to glorify God “as GOD.” Do we do the same?
Given Bible translators are human, they are naturally inclined to conform the text to their world view. Since most believe in the sovereignty of man’s will, they must weaken the sense of phrases such as “to will” and “to purpose” with “to desire” and “to wish” when referring to God. Thus God is seen as merely “desiring” things instead of “willing” them into existence.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have [“desires”–NKJV] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti. 2:3-6 KJV).
God “will” have all men to be saved. Does this mean God purposes with intent to accomplish His will, or that He merely desires it with no power to make it happen? The Greek word “will” here is thélō (Strong’s 2309) which The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament defines at (I) (C) ‘To will as the equivalent of to purpose, to be decided upon, seeing one’s desire to its execution…”(V) “Thélō indicates not only willing something, but also pressing on to action.” 27 Of more importance than what any lexicographer would say, is how the apostles understood Christ when He used the word.
Jesus said to him, “If I will [thelo] that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “if I will [thelo] that he remain till I come, what is that to you?" (John 21:22-23).
The apostles evidently understood Jesus statement, “I will” as the equivalent of “to purpose,” “to be decided upon,” and to “seeing one’s desire to its execution.” That is why they went out and proclaimed this disciple would not die. He has the power to
circumstances are necessary
to effect one’s will to change. To believe such a statement is especially revealing as all men die. Did Paul’s hearers understand 1Ti. 2:4 differently? I don’t think so. And for the sake of argument, even if the text read “desire” instead of “will,” it still does not change a thing, for Isaiah says: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure [“delight”—YLT]” (Is. 46:10). Tradition has taught that God will not save a person against their will. I agree. However, He has the power to orchestrate whatever circumstances are necessary to effect one’s will to change. Quillen Hamilton Shinn, Civil War soldier, teacher, and acclaimed Vermont minister wrote,
"He does not save men by arbitrary force. He saves by their wills, through moral influence. God has resources in his universe, the all conquering agencies of love, to make the unwilling soul willing! He has light enough to make the blind see, and love enough to melt the hardened heart.”28
Pastor and author of The Outcome of Infinite Grace, Loyal F. Hurley, pointed out:
Again and again, when trouble stalks his path, a man turns back to the God he has despised. “For love is the
only ultimate power
that is not coercive.”29 When his wife dies, or his children go wrong; when loss and disaster fall upon him, again and again he will seek the God he has neglected. That is not because God coerces the man, but because God brings upon him such experiences as change his attitude. And God brings such experiences upon men, not in anger, but in love. For love is the only ultimate power that is not coercive.29
We know in part…we see…dimly. (1Co. 13:9-12)
No one has complete or perfect knowledge of God. So when a person “rejects” a given concept of God, they are not in truth reject ing the true God, but only their partial or flawed understanding of Him. Only Christ truly knows Him, and he to whom He wills to reveal Him (Mt. 11:27; Lu. 10:22; Jn. 6:46). If Christ has not “revealed” the Father in truth to someone, can that person be held accountable for rejecting what was not really made known?
Once a “full” revelation of God is received in the ages to come (Ep. 2:7), men will bow and confess Jesus Christ is Lord, just as Isaiah and Paul prophesied (Is. 45:21-25; Ro. 14:11; Ph. 2:9-11). Who would want to continue in active and persistent rebellion knowing God only wants what is best for them? Knowing the great goodness and love of God, along with the Holy Spirit working in their hearts, these hardened hearts must melt before His glorious being. It is impossible that an omnipotent God can fail in His purpose, and some would forever resist unconditional love opting for everlasting pain. This would be totally irrational. And even if one were that irrational, such resistance would not arise out of a “free” will, but an “enslaved” will, a will in bondage to an insane mind.
Martin Luther declared:
I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want free-will to be given me.…But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him.30
John Wesley claimed that everyone in the world could be saved without the loss of liberty, according to a sermon entitled, “The General Spread of the Gospel,” he preached on April 22, 1783. He said a city, nation, or the whole world could become Christian, and it could take place without difficulty if only we suppose God acts irresistibly. “Now in the same manner as God has converted so many to Himself without destroying their liberty, He can undoubtedly convert whole nations, or the whole world. And it is as easy to Him to convert a world as one individual soul.”31
“Free” will? Have you really thought it through? Are God’s hands really tied by it? Your belief or disbelief in “free” will must inevitably be determined by your view of God’s sovereign will and His power. I would like to leave you with this question to ponder: Why is it that our tradition can only accept man’s will as “free” if it leads our race to destruction, but cannot accept it as “free” if it leads it to life (Ph. 2:9- 11; Ro. 14:11)? Does God place a higher value on man’s freedom than He does His own kind intentions for him? Such a freedom is in effect an illusion, for such absolute freedom would be bondage of the worst kind imaginable.