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  • By John Hicks

Predestined or free will?


Free will by biblical as well as self-definition is the will to freely choose.

If God indeed chooses those who will be saved and those who would be damned to hell through predestination, then no one can have a free will. Reformers should struggle with this dichotomy. There is the same illogical approach seen in the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) in regard to sin itself in light of the idea of predestination. This also would include salvation by it’s own stated context: “God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin”.

If God of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordains whatsoever comes to pass then all sin and whoever will be saved, etc. absolutely falls into the overarching “whatsoever comes to pass” category and thus God would actually be the author sin. Those who are honest about this will sometimes freely (odd, regarding that use of “freely” there) admit to this such as James White did on one occasion. James White was asked, “When a child is raped, is God responsible and did He decree that rape?” He answered, “Yes, because if not then it’s meaningless and purposeless and though God knew it was going to happen he created it without a purpose… and God is responsible for the creation of despair… If He didn’t then that rape is an element of meaningless evil that has no purpose.” This is a horrible statement for anyone to make, especially a professing Christian teacher.

God is not the author of nor is He responsible for sin and anyone who comes close to suggesting this, such as the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith and James White, etc, is going squarely against scriptures. Go to Ezekiel 18 for the proof text on this. Sin is committed by a soul and not created by God. Ezekiel 18 also obliterates the false doctrine of original sin as sin is committed and not inherited.

The wages of sin is death for the one who sins. Justice is not present if God decreed all who will go to Hell before they can even commit the sin that supposedly damns them to eternal punishment.

All of this is very much logically fallacious, and it is wicked throughout.

Moving on…

Adherents to reformed theology will almost always cite Romans 9:18-23 in isolation as proof text for God predetermining an individual’s soul (predestination) to heaven or hell before the soul is even created.

First, here are the isolated verses used:

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Romans 9:18-23

Now here are all of the surrounding verses, 1 through 24, in order to capture the actual context:

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. 6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? Romans 9:1-24

Verses 1 through 6 of Romans 9 sets the overall context of Romans 9 and that it is an issue of nations and not individuals. This is very important since reformed doctrines insists that verses 18 through 23 are about individual souls and this is not at all accurate. Thus a foundational proof text per Calvin’s fallacious doctrine is found weighed and wanting and must be rejected.

When one looks at all the surrounding verses, verses 1 through 24, and not just verses 18-23, and then cross references those with the Old Testament scriptures that Paul is referring to throughout then the actual context becomes extremely apparent. Calvin and all so-called reformers since have this all wrong.

The reference to Isaac and Ishmael in verses 7 through 9 of Romans 9 is solely a national issue and not all, when taken in the proper context, an individual salvation issue:

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. Genesis 17:19-21

The reference to Jacob and Esau in verses 10 through 13 of Romans 9 is solely a national issue and not all when taken in the proper context is it an individual issue:

And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. Genesis 25:23

And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son. 27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: 28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: 29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. 30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. 32 And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. 33 And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. 34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. 35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing. 36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? 37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. 39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; 40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. Genesis 27:26-40

The Potter and clay reference in verses 20 and 21 is solely a national issue and not an individual issue:

Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Jeremiah 18:3-10

The reference to Pharaoh in Romans 9:17 is also a matter of God delivering His chosen nation from another. Anyone who reads through the exodus account can see clearly that Pharaoh’s heart was already hardened against Israel before God mentioned that He would harden it further in order to bring Himself glory. God chose to use Egypt through this process, and this has no bearing at all on individual salvation. Pharaoh had already chosen of his own free will to oppose God and His people.

In conclusion, God has always held the prerogative through His sovereignty to raise up or pull down any nation. See Jeremiah 18:3-10 further above for the proof text for this truth. This is what Romans 9:1-24, when taken in proper context, is referring to God’s raising up and pulling down nations and not at all about individual predestination.

God has left open our ability to choose our own destination through who we choose to submit to in this life.


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