Predestination & Free Will?
Visitor: You can not be dogmatic and say it's all election and predestination when there are specific verses that talk about mans response. I recommend you listen to John MacArthur's sermon on election and free will.
Response: Thank you for sharing your assertion. First, I want to assure you that I believe man is required to respond in faith to the gospel. But that does not mean that the natural man has a free will to believe in Jesus. I think the issue here is about definitions. It is important to define what we are talking about up front. When you say man has a free will, what do you mean? Free from what? Free from sin? Also let me say that if you think Dr. John MacArthur is arguing for free will then, I believe, you may have profoundly misunderstood him. He actually affirms exactly the same thing all other Reformed thinkers do about this issue. With him, we affirm that all men make voluntary choices and no one is coercing anyone against their will to make a choice. We always chose what we desire the most. But that is not the issue of the free will debate...
Problem is that the person without the Holy Spirit (the unregenerate) always desires that which is contrary to God. Nothing he does proceeds from a heart that loves God. The issue of free will (or not) is to ask this: left to themselves (as fallen human creatures who are in bondage to a corruption of nature), does anyone have a free will to believe in Jesus Christ? We all have a will, but we use it wrongly ...we do not have the will to believe in Christ, apart from grace. The need for grace does away with free will altogether because if man's will was naturally free he would not need grace at all. He could come to Christ on his own. But ask yourself, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit will anyone freely come to faith in Christ? If your answer is no, then you reject free will the same way I do. So to teach man has a free will in this sense, i.e. that the natural man has a free will overthrows the gospel ... it is precisely because man is in bondage that he needs Christ to set him free." (John 8:34, 36)
The discussion about free will has always historically been about the bondage of the will and affections. And that which is in bondage is not free. We are not talking about not being free to choose which toothpaste we are going to use tomorrow morning. We are talking about does a fallen person have the ability to make a good saving choice apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? The Bible seems pretty clear on this. Hope this helps clarify a bit.
John W. Hendryx