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Sermon No: 95406-MAN'S FREE WILL



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SERMON TOPIC: MAN'S FREE WILL

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 14 March 2021

Topic Groups: FREE WILL, ARMINIANISM, CALVINISM

Sermon synopsis: The Bible emphasizes God’s sovereignty, but this in no way diminishes man’s ability to choose. In His sovereignty, God created man with free-will. This is exercised in matters of redemption. God determines the sole way man can be redeemed, and man either complies, or rejects God’s gift of salvation.

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Man’s free will.

The Bible emphasizes God’s sovereignty, but this in no way diminishes man’s ability to choose. In His sovereignty, God created man with free-will. This is exercised in matters of redemption. God determines the sole way man can be redeemed, and man either complies, or rejects God’s gift of salvation.

Man’s free will and the sovereignty of God.

Matthew 23: 37.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Here we see Jesus lamenting that He is unable to save Jerusalem as they are not willing. We see that while Jesus wants to save Jerusalem, He respects their choice to continue on in sin despite His will that they be saved.

Man’s free will and the sovereignty of God.

So which is it? Do we choose God or does he choose us?

  • It’s a sticky question, one that has divided people for centuries.
  • If God chose me, does that mean that I don’t have any free will?
  • Does that mean that my choices aren’t really choices at all?
  • Does that mean that I’m nothing more than a puppet on a divine string?
  • On the other hand, if I chose God, does that mean that God isn’t really sovereign?
  • Does that mean that salvation is the one area that falls outside of God’s total, sovereign control?

Do we choose God or does God choose us?

Scripture makes it clear that God chooses us for salvation and that we choose God. It’s not either/or, it’s both.

A perfect example of this is:

John 1:12-13. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Who received the right to become children of God? It was those who believed in Jesus. Those who made a real choice to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

This isn’t a trick verse.

Those who believed in Jesus made a real choice to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. But something else is going on here. Those who believed in Jesus were born again.

How? Not of blood, meaning not of any sort of natural birth. They also weren’t born again by the will of the flesh or the will of man.

I understand this to mean that they weren’t born again because of anything they did. They absolutely could not cause themselves to be born again. Being born again is something that God and only God does. Now, here’s the crucial question: did they choose God and then were born again, or were they born again and then chose God?

Do we choose God or does he choose us?

Acts 16:14 is very helpful in answering this question. Speaking of Lydia, it says, “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” In other words, God made her spiritually dead heart come alive so that she could hear and respond to the gospel message.

Another helpful verse is John 6:65, where Jesus says, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

So do we choose God? Absolutely. We make a real choice to repent of our sins and choose to follow God. But, scripture is also clear that God chooses us before we choose him. The Bible doesn’t try to reconcile these two truths, but instead presents them side by side.

Man is free to serve the Lord or follow his own will.

Deuteronomy 7:6.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Joshua 24:15.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

Even though God chooses us, we must choose Him.

Matthew 8:8-10. The centurion replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 8:8-10. The centurion replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 

Matthew 8:8-10. The centurion replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 8:8-10. The centurion replied, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, Go, and he goes; and that one, Come, and he comes. I say to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

John warns God’s chosen people.

Luke 3:7-9.

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

There are those who propose that salvation has only to do with God’s sovereign will and man’s free will plays no part, we see in the rebuke of John the Baptist here that this is not the case.

The Salvation invitation is for everyone.

2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 Peter 2:9. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.

We are His chosen people, partakers in a New Covenant.

God’s will verses man’s free will.

Ezekiel 18:30-32. Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.

Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!

God’s will verses man’s free will.

Deuteronomy 30:19. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Lord does not force us to choose Him.

Matthew 8:32-34. He said to them, Go! So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Man’s free will. Chuck Smith

Revelation 22:17. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

In the first book of the Bible, we find the story of God creating man in His image and likeness for the purpose of meaningful fellowship but we read of man departing from God. Man chose to rebel against the commandment of God and thereby left that fellowship with God.

The Bible is the story of God calling man back to his ultimate intention to live in fellowship with God. So that here at the end of the book the very last invitation from God to man is to come.

Man’s spiritual thirst.

Only by coming to God can the spiritual thirst in man be quenched, unfortunately, man tries to satisfy that spiritual thirst with physical or emotional experiences.

John 4:13-14. Jesus answered,  Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

God gave us a free will and throughout life we are faced with choices.

But, take note, every choice has consequences.

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve made a choice.

(The consequences of which we still feel today)

  • Spiritual death (separation from God)
  • Physical death
  • Banished from the garden
  • The ground cursed
  • Pain during child-birth
  • Sickness
  • A sinful human nature

The vital choice that faces all mankind today.

Josh Mac Dowell the well known Christian apologist says:

You can only make 3 choices concerning who Jesus is.

  • He is who He says He is: The Son of God.
  • He is a liar and a fraud.
  • He is a mad man.
  • What will you do with Jesus?

Most people choose darkness.

John 3:16-19.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Mankind is wilfully ignorant.

2 Peter 3:1-13. 

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.  Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. 

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 

Mankind is wilfully ignorant.

2 Peter 3:1-13. 

 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 

Mankind is wilfully ignorant.

2 Peter 3:1-13. 

 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire and the elements will melt in the heat. 

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

God’s wrath will be poured out on the nations that have sung the pro-choice anthem.

After the flood, God instituted The Everlasting Covenant.

Genesis 9:5,6.  And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Man has chosen to break this covenant.

The consequences of his choice are clear in Scripture.

Isaiah 24:1-6. See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word. The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish with the earth. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.

Man has chosen not to fear God.

Proverbs 1:23-29.

Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.

But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke. I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you, when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster  sweeps over you like a whirlwind.

Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord.

Pilate’s choice was based on his desire to satisfy the people, not on justice.

The words of a hymn are very true… What will you do with Jesus, neutral you cannot be

Luke 23:4, 13&14, 20. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, I find no basis for a charge against this man…. Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them. You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him…. Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, Crucify him! Crucify him!

The choices people make.

  • Pilate chose.
  • He chose to please the people.

  • The Pharisees also chose
  • John 12:42,43.

     Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

    Pleasing man instead of God is a costly choice yet it is a choice that many still make today.

Today mankind sings the pro choice anthem.

The people chose Barabbas and today man still chooses evil over good, sin over the commands of God. They choose abortion, homosexuality, co-habitation over marriage etc

Contrary to humanist propaganda, the Bible states (Rom 1:18-28) that homosexuality is a choice.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie… Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.

Choices were made the night Jesus was betrayed.

Jesus: Not my will but yours be done.

Judas: Chose 30 pieces of silver.

If we just look at Peter we can see that starting with one bad choice leads to another and each time the consequences are greater.

  • Peter chose to boast that even if all the other disciples deserted Jesus, he would not.
  • Then Peter chose sleep rather than prayer.
  • Then Peter chose to cut off Malcus’s ear.
  • Then Peter chose to run away and desert Jesus.
  • Then Peter chose to deny 3 he was Jesus disciple (3 times)

Lot, a righteous man, made a bad choice.

Genesis 13:10-11.   Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east.

2 Peter 2:7-9. If he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

Knowing God’s will follows choosing to do it.

John 7:17. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

Romans 12:1-3. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Sowing and reaping is an inescapable principle.

Some of us are reaping a bad harvest at this point in time because we have sown bad seed (made bad choices)

We need to make the right choices to reap a good harvest.

Galatians 6:7-10.   Do not be deceived:  God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 

Virtues are based in the will and not the emotions.

Prayer is a choice.

Fasting is a choice.

Giving is a choice.

Love patience, forgiveness are choices empowered by the Lord as we yield to His will and choose to obey even when we don’t want to.

Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This command encompasses your whole being including your will.

Point your will in the direction that God wants you to go and your mind and emotions will follow.

Virtues are based in the will and not the emotions.

Virtues like patience; forgiveness etc are based in the will. When you choose to do what God says instead of what you feel like doing, your emotions will follow.

Our choices are motivated by our priorities.

Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42.

  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

Following Jesus was not the priority of the rich young ruler.

Mark 10:20-22. Teacher, the man replied, I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young. Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. There is still one thing you haven’t done, he told him. Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

We all made a choice to be here at Church today.

For some the choice was made without even consciously debating it, but for some it was based on

  • Do I feel like going to Church?
  • Is it raining?
  • Is there an important sports match on TV?
  • Is Aunt Sussie and the family visiting?
  • Am I tired because I watched TV till 12pm?
  • Does the lawn need mowing, is the washing done?
  • Did the Pastor greet me properly last Sunday?

Man’s free will.

AW Tozer said the following, which points to the real problem.

“The degree of fullness in any life accords perfectly with the intensity of true desire.  We have as much of God as we actually want… Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so very long, in vain.”

  • Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://www.Lockman.org)
  • Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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