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by Don Chandler

There are basically only two religions in the world. One moves man toward God while the other moves God toward fallen man. The first can be properly called free will (it is sometimes called Pelagianism or Arminianism since these two men introduced this error) while the second must of necessity be termed free grace.

Free will points to man and encourages him to be something or do something to ensure himself of God's graces. The thousand and one varieties of this religion differ only on what the "something to be or something to do" is. One holds up baptism as Savior, another encourages good works or church membership and all emphasize "if you will" as their battle cry.

This religion offers a wonderful plan of salvation that is able to do great and mighty things if you will let it. This religion's God can only desire and offer, but He cannot secure.

The second religion is the Bible gospel of free grace. It does not look to God for the provision and then to man for the power, but boldly proclaims that the same sovereign God that plans and decrees salvation can also effect it in His elect. This religion has a different origin, principle, and goal.

The difference, then, between free will and free grace is not just a matter of emphasis or interpretation, but rather two distinct religions that differ on every theological point at which they meet.

  • Free Will: God chooses those, who of their own free wills, decide to believe.
  • Free Grace: God gives faith to those whom He has sovereignly chosen.

  • Free Will: Chnst's blood has redeemed all, but it is our faith in Him that saves us.
  • Free Grace: Christ saves every person whom He redeemed with His blood.

  • Free Will: Those who are willing to believe enable the Holy Spirit to regenerate them.
  • Free Grace: The Holy Spirit regenerates the elect and enables them to believe.
Are these simply bold statements made in ignorance or is there ample Biblical proof that free will, with all its tenets, is in the words of C. H.. Spurgeon "utter nonsense" and "a monstrous doctrine akin to blasphemy?"

Let us first ask a question and answer it. Then we shall make a statement and prove it. And finally state a fact and rejoice in it.

  • The Question: What is the true scriptural condition of fallen man?
  • The Answer: Man by nature is dead! Paul states, without reservation, in Ephesians 2:1 "that we were quickened unto salvation being dead in trespasses and sin."
By nature man is legally dead. Adam was told that "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." And although he did not physically die that day, he legally died. God considered him dead! God considered him separated, alienated, and condemned. And in the moment Adam died, all mankind gave up the ghost. Paul declares in Romans 5: 12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death be sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Every son of Adam, outside Jesus Christ, is dead! Condemned already! Considered in God's sight as already in hell!

Not only is man legally dead, but he is spiritually dead. Not only does God reckon Adam's race dead, but in their hearts there is no life. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die'' was not only fulfilled by the sentence recorded in God's Book, but something happened in Adam's heart. Adam's spirit died, his soul fell! His heart became a tender box filled with lust, pride, jealousy, envy, and all sin that God hates. Inwardly Adam was a corpse, and all his sons with him.

And as man is legally and spiritually dead, so is he to be eternally dead. This third death is the consummation of the other two. It is the execution of legal justice and the end of spiritual dying. Perhaps no portion of scripture is more sobering than Matthew 25:41 when our Lord declares to Adam's race, "Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire" and again in verse 46 "These shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

Now that we have asked a question and have answered it, let us make a statement and prove it.

  • The Statement: Natural man, dead in Adam, will not come to God.
  • The Proof: "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40). Jesus said again in John 6:65 that "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
No man by nature, believes he needs Christ. He is blinded by his morals, his intentions, his sincerity, his goodness. He does not see the blackness of his sin or the hopelessness of his case.

No man, by nature, likes God's plan of salvation. It requires denial, repentance, godly sorrow, entering the narrow gate. It robs pride and self of their fleshly glory. It humbles the heart and rends the soul. The flesh hates God's plan!

And finally we shall state a fact and rejoice in it.

  • The Fact: All those chosen by the Father, bought by the Son, will be called by the Spirit unto eternal salvation. Jesus promised in John 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." And Paul echoed in Romans 8:30 "Moreover whom He did pedestinate, them he also called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
  • The Rejoicing: We rejoice in a "loving Father." "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us . . ." Somehow God loves His own not because of but in spite of! That's shouting grounds.
We rejoice in a "living Saviour." We may join Job who declared, "I know that my redeemer liveth . . ." and the gospel song that promises "Because He lives, we shall live also." Truly, our Lord is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

We rejoice in a "life-giving Spirit." "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." No wonder joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Having answered the question and proven the statement, we now rejoice in the facts. The credit is due Christ, the glory all God's! Boasting is impossible. God has won the right to wear the crown! And by what power has He won the right? Free will? Never! Free Grace? Ever!

This article is taken from the book Leaves, Worms, Butterflies & T.U.L.I.P.S. edited by V. C. Mayes. The book contains articles from a number of Sovereign Grace Baptists, dealing with various aspects of the Doctrines of Grace. It is available from The Historic Baptist, P. O. Box, 741, Bloomfield, NM 87413, $6.00 postpaid.

Available as a printed tract from:
Landmark Independent Baptist Church
P.O. Box 847
Archer, FL 32618-0847

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