Lifeguard stand on a beach

Others in this series: The King of Asteroid #325 (From the Little Prince)

Do Reformed views of predestination and election make God out to be a violator of man’s free will because He would make men believe when they don’t want to? There are a host of reasons why this line of reasoning is unreasonable.

First, man’s will is thwarted by Providence at every turn; by other people, physical limitations, circumstances, the limits of time and space, and a hundred other obstacles. Even Barack Obama, the most powerful man in the world, the President of the United States, cannot get his entire agenda through Congress without compromise. Some desires that he has will never be fulfilled. This is true of every person. The sick man wants to be well; the poor woman may want to be rich. Lots of folks want to lose weight. The upshot is that we often can’t reform ourselves because of limits imposed by our own character flaws. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:24).”

Second, suppose a man who cannot swim falls into a river. His friend, who is much larger and a good swimmer then dives into save him. Now suppose the drowning man resists his rescuer, as is often the case. Should the rescuer stop trying to save his drowning friend because it now takes a greater effort? Or would he save him, knowing first of all, the dying man is not in his right mind because of his condition, and second of all, the rescued man would later thank the friend for overcoming him in order to save him. The contrast between Calvinist and Armenian camps could hardly be starker on this analogy. The Armenian has argued that Jesus wants to save the person, but because of resistance He is unwilling (or some say unable) to save the man. The will of man then trumps the will of God.

Third, what will become of these arguments in eternity? Will there be free will in heaven? According to the logic of the free will advocates, wouldn’t it be unjust if man, for all eternity, could not choose to reject God? What about the sinner in hell? Will he or she successfully make the argument before God that his or her will is being violated because they now want to go to heaven, they want to accept Jesus? Such an argument is refuted on the basis that there is no reason given in Scripture to believe that such a sinner will ever exist. The sinner in Hell does not, in fact, want to come to God on God’s terms. Neither does the saint in heaven desire for one moment to sin. His will has been miraculously changed. It was initially changed in the new birth; it is finally changed at glorification. The key here is to understand that the premise of the initial question was misleading: Does God make men believe when they don’t want to?. God has rather made us who were once unwilling to believe, now willing.

It is my recalcitrant will that needed (and still needs) to be changed. To God be the Glory! He saved me a sinner, drowning in my own sin. I resisted. God overcame. I win.

6 comments
  1. Interesting.
    My issue with predestination is that it implies that God knows ahead of time which people are destined for Hell, and He chooses to create those people anyways. Why would God create a person that He knows is destined for eternal Hell? To use your drowning analogy, the man would not only let that person drown, he would throw him in the water and hold his head under.

    1. Stacy,

      How does “foreknowledge alone” address your objection? God, all-knowing, looked down the corridor of time. He KNEW as He created each person who would reject Christ that they would so so. Thus, He knew they were thus destined for hell. Why did He then create them??

      Stacy, has it ever occurred to you that hell is not eternal?? Jonah was in the belly of the whale “forever” (the scripture states). How long was “forever”?? 3 days.

      How long will Satan exist?? This scripture states that Satan will be consumed by fire, utterly destroyed into non-existence, and will be “no more”. How then does another scripture state that Satan will burn “forever and ever” as the smoke ascends?? Because “forever and ever” doesn’t mean time without end. It means Satan will burn UNTIL he is no more and is utterly destroyed. THAT is how, in the original language, the time span duration of an event is to be properly interpreted RATHER than “time without end”.

      God is not unjust to create evil for total destruction and to be “no more” ~~ and thus, in my view, is the objection to creation of reprobate in both predestination and foreknowledge (for both are equal in creating a drowning man you know will drown) properly addressed.

      Original language really matters, especially as related to time length duration and matters of “eternity”. Only God is immortal. Evil can be destroyed. And Jesus did destroy Satan on the cross.

      Ezekiel 28:13-19 (New International Version)

      13 You were in Eden,
      the garden of God;
      every precious stone adorned you:
      ruby, topaz and emerald,
      chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
      sapphire, [a] turquoise and beryl. [b]
      Your settings and mountings [c] were made of gold;
      on the day you were created they were prepared.

      14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
      for so I ordained you.
      You were on the holy mount of God;
      you walked among the fiery stones.

      15 You were blameless in your ways
      from the day you were created
      till wickedness was found in you.

      16 Through your widespread trade
      you were filled with violence,
      and you sinned.
      So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
      and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
      from among the fiery stones.

      17 Your heart became proud
      on account of your beauty,
      and you corrupted your wisdom
      because of your splendor.
      So I threw you to the earth;
      I made a spectacle of you before kings.

      18 By your many sins and dishonest trade
      you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
      So I made a fire come out from you,
      and it consumed you,
      and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
      in the sight of all who were watching.

      19 All the nations who knew you
      are appalled at you;
      you have come to a horrible end
      and will be no more.’ “

      1. “Forever and ever does not mean eternally? You err, I think, in using the less clear (symbolic use of Jonah) to interpret the clearer (the word for ever and ever).

    2. I fear that the case is much worse than you make it. For God did not only see who would be destined for hell, but He created them for that very purpose. And Hell is much worse than drowning.

      17. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
      18. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
      19. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
      20. Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
      21. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
      22. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
      23. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

      The purpose of my drowning analogy was to show that if Jesus wants to save you, you will be saved. The alternative argument would be that Jesus wants to save people but he can’t. It usually goes something like this: God’s justice won’t allow him to save a person unless they believe. But that assumes that there is some “justice” out there tying God’s hands. Who would mete out such Justice against God? No! Rather, He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy.

      If we could catch one clear glimpse of God’s Holiness and our sinfulness we would never again question the justice of Godm nor would we doubt His Great Mercy in saving us. Sinners don’t end up in hell by accident. God sends them there (contrary to the popular notion that they send themselves). Don’t get me wrong, we all deserve Hell. If it weren’t for God’s Grace, we would continue to sin throughout eternity.

      God is a Holy and Righteous Judge:

      II Cor 5:11: Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

      Psalm 110: 5,6 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

      Isaiah 11: 4. But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

  2. The will of the flesh is opposite the will of the spirit born of God. Our wills as Christians CHANGE as the result of new birth. We are in Christ and our will as spirits born of God flows through the will of God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Of course, this will is both the perfect will of God and our perfect will as individual spirits. Persons who protest God’s relationship, spiritually, with Christians born of the Spirit and that we are all one in Christ as members of a spiritual body baptized into one body by the one Holy Spirit ~~ need to rethink their resistance to the body of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the lifegiving Holy Spirit. What are they resisting, and why?? Only the flesh and the sinful nature object to being one in Christ spiritually. We are each individual members, yet we are members of one body and one Kingdom – re-united with God the Father by the Spirit. Before that, we were in an opposite state. We were individuals, yet we were corporately one with the world by the spirit of the devil in us all uniting us as one fallen race in sin. No person is independent of the spiritual kingdom in which he finds himself born. Yet, they are individual and members of a larger kingdom at the same time. This is true of the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light.

    Those who “protest” are “running against the wind”. Reality is reality. It is a delusion to believe that any individual on earth is autonomous rather than an individual member of a collective spiritual kingdom ~~ and possesses autonomous will not subject to the head of that kingdom.

    No person prior to salvation had independent, autonomous “free will”. Rather, they were subject to the god of this world, Satan, who is the ruler of all who are in the kingdom of darkness.

    There is no “escape” from spiritual subjection of one’s will to the spiritual father in the spiritual kingdom in which one finds oneself. There is only pride in delusion to deny the truth and reality of spiritual oneness according to the spirit which indwells man: the sinful nature according to the fall;p or the born-again spirit according to redemption in Christ by the Spirit according to the grace of God the Father.

    It is truly a “strawman argument” to posture that man in the flesh is “free”, “independent”, “autonomous”, and had “free will” ~~ but then in the Kingdom of Light born of the Spirit that will is somehow Not “free”, “independent” or “autonomous” having “free will” because God has robbed such freedom that was available to one as a sinner. Of course man in the flesh was a member of the collective of the kingdom of darkness, one in spirit with all others who were in the kingdom of darkness, and subject in that spirit to the father of the spiritual kingdom and the ruler thereof.

    There is no such state as independent autonomy spiritually. That is the “denial factor” Christians must “break” by the power of truth to stop naively resisting the rule of Jesus Christ as Lord in the Kingdom of God in Christ ~~ and their union with God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and all born-again Christians by the Spirit as one.

  3. Non-Calvinist Christians face the same issue. An Arminian Christian also faces the fact that God foresees that someone will never, due to their free will, accept Christ, and as a result will fall under condemnation, but He deems to create them in the womb anyway.

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