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MID-WEEK STUDY ON THE PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMANS - 24 (Special Session on the Calvinism – 5 Points - Part 3)

Author
Boaz Kim
Date
2016-11-19 21:26
Views
1759


Study on the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans – 24 (Special Session on the Calvinism – 5 Points - Part 3)


1. Man’s Free Will & Arminianism

a. We know that God’s sovereignty comes from Himself, He cannot depend His sovereignty on anyone else but Himself. Nobody can cause God to act or influence Him outside God’s sovereign decrees. God is the first cause of everything happens in His creation. “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)


b. If man is free in an absolute sense, nothing can determine his choices like God’s absolute sovereignty does so. But his free will cannot be exercised spontaneously. For man there is nothing as an uncaused action. Therefore, unlike God’s absolute sovereignty in which God is absolutely free to make His own decision spontaneously without any causes that influence Him, man has a cause to act, so does not have such an absolute sovereignty.


c. What is man’s “free will” then? Due to Adam’s Fall, no man is absolutely free any longer. Instead, man was affected by the Fall, thus corrupt in every part of his soul, mind, affection, and will. Only in the sense of free moral agency, man has a free will. Therefore, man has his “free will” by which he is free indeed in the sense of a free moral agency on earth,
“This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes." (Ecclesiastes 7:29)

“ God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” (Genesis 1:28)

“ And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)


d. The problem with the corrupt man is that his will does not stay any longer in neutral position after the Fall. He is born sinful, and dead in sin, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)



e. The Arminian understanding of “free will” is that even if man was corrupt due to the Fall, man has a perfect free will not affected by God-initiated cause. Thus, man has no cause determine his choices. Such a premise is self-contradictory. No human being can determine his action without a cause. All of his actions are caused by something including his own inner disposition. The Arminianism emphasizes an absolute human responsibility to choose God, since he has such an ability to choose God without any influencing cause. But the Bible says otherwise, “ As it is written:
‘There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.’” (Romans 3:10-12)


f. Man can make his moral decisions, but this fallen man’s inability to respond to the things of God is evident from the Bible, “ The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7)

“ The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)





2. Conclusion

Because of the Fall, man is not neutral in his free will. He is always inclined not to seek the things of God. Man’s inability to choose to believe in God does not excuse him to do evil and to be in enmity with God. In his moral choices, he is totally responsible for his evil deeds and thoughts before God, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (Romans 13:23b)


Study Question: What can be the differences between the natural man and the regenerated man in terms of his ability to do good deeds and to choose God?
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