Let me start by saying how grateful I am to Jeff for his teaching and insight. My faith has been strengthened and my knowledge increased as a result of this excellent article and I present to you now the conclusion of “Three Complimentary Doctrines”. – Matt
God created mankind with the ability to reason and respond. Genesis 13:11 “So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan…” Webster’s dictionary defines free will as, “The power of making a reasoned choice or decision or of controlling one’s own action.”
Free will is the unrestricted ability to respond. Jesus proclaimed in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” The Bible stresses that the moral responsibility for moral actions rest squarely with free moral agents and not with God. God is not responsible for someone’s ignorance or passivity to what has been revealed by God through nature, special revelation and conscience.
One problem people see with the doctrine of free will is that it looks contradictory to the doctrine of predestination. To answer this question Dr. Harold Willimington states, “No one has ever demonstrated a contradiction between predestination and free choice.” Most conservatives and Grace Churches but not all, including Baptists, Presbyterian and Reformed churches suppress this doctrine and elevate predestination, over mankind’s free will.
What does the Bible teach? Let us look at 4 important accounts where both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man are both present.
1. The cross was both predetermined (Revelation 13:8) and freely chosen (John 18:11).
2. Jesus’ betrayal was both necessary (Luke 24:7) and freely chosen (Matthew 26:46).
3. Joseph’s enslavement was both intended by his brothers and by God.
4. Lastly, salvation is both chosen by God (Grace) and chosen by us (Repentance).
In John 6:37 we see both play out, “All that the Father gives Me (Predetermined) will come to Me (Free Will).
In conclusion, we have defined what a doctrine is, why it is important, and we looked at three key Christian doctrines. Can we as Christians reject a doctrine? Absolutely, Scripture teaches us in 1 Timothy 6: 4-6,
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
We can reject man made doctrines. If the Bible doesn’t teach it, it is not a sound doctrine. If there is a verse that discredits a portion of the doctrine, Scripture is right and the theory needs to be rendered. If lying is not an attribute of God (Titus 1:2) then we can trust what He has said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.”
Secondly, we must always remember doctrine is not Salvitic. We are people of the book because of the Person the book points us toward, Jesus. Jesus himself proclaimed, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” Jesus is the crimson thread that is woven into the tapestry of His Word. Someone can memorize the entire Old and New Testament and it merits nothing in the eyes of God. Salvation is only received thought believing in His Son Jesus Christ by faith.
Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”