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.

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