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"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, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established." - Westminster Confession of Faith (Original Edition), 3:1, "Of God's Eternal Decree"
Harmonizing Predestination and Human Freedom, With Comments on Jonathan Edwards' Famous and Important Book, "An Inquiry into... the Freedom of the Will..." by Dr. Steven Dilday (Free MP3)
Best sermon we have heard harmonizing God's absolute sovereignty with man's complete responsibility, as it is revealed in the Bible. "Regarded by many as Jonathan Edwards' greatest work, The Freedom of the Will examines the nature and state of man's will, explaining that man's will is fallen and in need of God's grace for salvation. In 1754 Edwards published The Freedom of the Will, which although it was written long before the modern debate over Open Theism, thoroughly answers and demolishes the errors of this view. The full title of Edwards' great philosophical work is, "An Inquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of the Freedom of the Will which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame." His text was Romans 9:16, "It is not of him that willeth." One of the authors that he was refuting was Daniel Whitby, an Arminian minister in the Church of England. Whitby was known for being strongly anti-Calvinistic, and later gave evidence of strong Arian and Unitarian tendencies. In 1710 he had written his Discourse on the Five Points [of Calvinism]. What Edwards interacted with most was the fourth discourse on "The Liberty of the Will of Man in a State of Trial and Probation." Whitby's statement, "It is better to deny prescience [foreknowledge] than liberty." Is from that section. He also said that it is better to say that God does not know the future, or that God both does and doesn't know the future. One can see the "Openness of God" theology in these statements three hundred years ago. Edwards responded in The Freedom of the Will that man freely chooses whatever seems good to him, but that what seems good to him is always based on an inherent predisposition. That inherent predisposition has been foreordained and predestined by a sovereign God who does not inhibit man's ability to freely choose from a limited menu. For Edwards the issue regarding a totally free will is a simple one: either contingency and the liberty of self-determination must be run out of this world, or God will be shut out." (from Monergism Books) "Pelagianism has a death grip on the modern church. Perhaps the most important refutation of this distinctive is Edwards' Freedom of the Will. I believe this is the most important theological book ever published in America." - Dr. R.C. Sproul "In this book, Edwards annihilated false views of the will that prevailed in his century and in ours, in order that men may know how to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. This profoundest of all Edwards' works is essentially and intentionally an evangelistic tract." - John H. Gerstner
Human Responsibility in Light of God's Sovereignty (Against the Grain) by Phil Johnson (Free MP3)
"Against the Grain" has a two-fold meaning, both of them relating to our spiritual growth. First, we want to challenge you to live against the grain of this fallen world -- and that's where the subtitle comes in. Vanity Fair is the name of the entertainment-mad, pleasure-driven city depicted in John Bunyan's Christian Classic Pilgrim's Progress. Could it be that Mr. Bunyan was envisioning our fair city, the city of Los Angeles? During our own pilgrim journey toward the Celestial City, we want to cut a path through the enticements of the culture and defy its encroachment into our church. Second, "Against the Grain" has everything to do with your personal fight against the fallen nature, the temptation to follow the path of least resistance. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). As our pastor, John MacArthur has so often said, following Christ is the end of self. You must go against the grain of what comes easy, laboring to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. So sharpen your blade -- the cutting starts now!
Election and Man's Responsibility Before God (1 of 2) Calvinistic Foundations by Pastor Greg Price (Free MP3)
The sovereignty of God defended from Ephesians 1, balanced with the biblical doctrine of the complete responsibility of man. Or as the Westminster Confession of Faith (3:1) reads, "God from all eternity did by the most 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; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established." Robert, from New Jersey, writes, "Great Sermon! Hear this! Thank you for these wonderful messages about the Sovereign Grace of God! May God continue to bless your ministry all over the world!" (Sermonaudio comment).
Election and Man's Responsibility Before God (2 of 2) Calvinistic Foundations by Pastor Greg Price (Free MP3)
The absolute sovereignty of God defended, along with the full responsibility of man -- two "friends" (teachings) that are both revealed in Scripture and are therefore both true. Robert, from New Jersey, writes, "Great Sermon! Amen! Hear this wonderful message! All very true. Much wisdom is proclaimed here."(Sermonaudio comment).
Responsibility and Sovereignty Work Together by Dr. Curt D. Daniel (Free MP3)
On the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
Divine Election and Human Responsibility (The MacArthur Commentaries) by Pastor John MacArthur (Free MP3)
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? (Romans 9:18-20). A question, or objection, that Paul anticipates and responds to is: Why does God then still find fault? For who resists His will? In other words, if God sovereignly has mercy on whom He desires and hardens whom He desires, how can human beings be held responsible? How can they be blamed for their unbelief and sin, when their destiny has already been divinely determined? Again, such reasoning challenges God's justice and righteousness. As Israel was conquering Canaan, "Joshua waged war a long time with all these [Canaanite] kings. There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses" (Josh. 11:18-20). Such commands of God, with which the Old Testament abounds, seem totally capricious and cruel to worldly, carnal minds, which accept only what fits their preconceived ideas of right and wrong, justice and injustice. Consequently, they judge even God by their own finite, biased, and sin-tainted standards. Nevertheless, the Bible is clear, and teach both divine election (God's sovereignty) and human responsibility.
How can God be sovereign and man still be free?
Responsibility and voluntary choice are not the same thing as free will. We affirm that man is indeed responsible for the choices he makes, yet we deny that the Bible teaches that man has a free will since it is no where taught in the pages of Scripture. The Bible teaches, rather, that God ordains all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11) and it also teaches that man is culpable for his choices (Ezek 18:20, Matt 12:37, John 9:41). Since the Scripture is our ultimate authority and highest presupposition, the multitude of clear scriptural declarations on this matter outweigh all unaided human logic. We find that almost always the objections to God's meticulous providence over all things are moral and philosophical rather than exegetical. This means we must strive to consciously affirm what the Scripture declares over all our finite understanding and sinful inner drive for independence.
In order to understand this better theologians have come up with the term "compatibilism" to describe the concurrence of God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Compatibilism is a form of determinism and it should be noted that this position is no less deterministic than hard determinism. It simply means that God's predetermination and meticulous providence is "compatible" with voluntary choice. Our choices are not coerced ...i.e. we do not choose against what we want or desire, yet we never make choices contrary to God's sovereign decree. What God determines will always come to pass (Eph 1:11).
In light of Scripture, (according to compatibilism), human choices are exercised voluntarily but the desires and circumstances that bring about these choices occur through divine determinism. For example, God is said to specifically ordain the crucifixion of His Son, and yet evil men willfully and voluntarily crucify Him (see Acts 2:23 & 4:27-28). This act of evil is not free from God's decree, but it is voluntary, and these men are thus responsible for the act, according to these Texts. Or when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, Joseph later recounted that what his brothers intended for evil, God intended for good (Gen 50:20). God determines and ordains that these events will take place (that Joseph will be sold into slavery), yet the brothers voluntarily make the evil choice that beings it to pass, which means the sin is imputed to Joseph's brothers for the wicked act, and God remains blameless. In both of these cases, it could be said that God ordains sin, sinlessly. Nothing occurs apart from His sovereign good pleasure.
We should be clear that NEITHER compatibilism nor hard determinism affirms that any man has a free will. Those who believe man has a free will are not compatibilists, but should, rather, be called "inconsistent". Our choices are our choices because they are voluntary, not coerced. We do not make choices contrary to our desires or natures, nor separately from God's meticulous providence. Furthermore, compatibilism is directly contrary to libertarian free will. Therefore voluntary choice is not the freedom to choose otherwise, that is, a choice without any influence, prior prejudice, inclination, or disposition. Voluntary does mean, however, the ability to choose what we want or desire most according to our disposition and inclinations. The former view (libertarianism) is known as contrary choice, the latter free agency (the fallen will is never free from the bondage of our corrupt nature, and not free, in any sense, from God's eternal decree.) The reason I emphasize this is that compatibilists are often misrepresented by hard determinists at this point. They are somehow confused with inconsistent Calvinists. When compatibilists use such phrases as "compatibilistic freedom", they are, more often than not, using it to mean 'voluntary' choice, but are not referring to freedom FROM God's decree or absolute sovereignty (an impossible supposition).
In biblical terminology, fallen man is in bondage to a corruption of nature and that is why the biblical writers considered him not free (see Rom 6). Jesus Himself affirms that the one who sins is a "slave to sin" and only the Son can set him free. Note that even Jesus speaks of a kind of freedom here. He is not speaking of freedom from God but freedom from the bondage of sin, which is the kind of freedom those have who are in Christ. In this sense God is the most free Person since He is holy, set apart from sin... yet He cannot make choices contrary to His essence, i.e. He cannot be unholy. So, we must conclude, according to Jesus in John 8:31-36, that the natural man does not have a free will. The will is in bondage to sin. Any consistent theologian who uses the term "freedom" usually is referring to that fact that while God sovereignly ordains all that comes to pass, yet man's "free choice" (voluntary) is compatible with God's sovereign decree. In other words the will is free from external coercion but not free from necessity. In my reckoning, there is no biblical warrant to use the phrase "free will", since the Bible never affirms or uses this term or concept. So when some theologians use the word "free" they may be misusing or importing philosophical language from outside the Bible, but I think anyone who is consistent with the Text means "voluntary" when they say "free", but NEVER affirm they are free from God in any sense. For to affirm that God sovereignly brings our choices to pass and then also say man is free FROM GOD, is self-contradictory. So I repeat, many of those whom I read seem equate the word freedom with the meaning "voluntary". If any mean "free from God" they are confused. I heard R.C. Sproul say there are "no maverick molecules". Nothing happens by chance, but all falls within God's meticulous providence, no exceptions.
One of the best statements on compatibilism is one I found from John Calvin:
"...we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man's innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
- John Calvin from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, pp. 69-70
Prior to the fall, Adam's will was not in bondage to sin, thus it was free from sin's bondage and corruption but it was not free from God's decree. His choice to rebel was completely voluntary even though God has ordained with certainty that it would come to pass. He was not yet sealed in righteousness even though his inclination was toward the good. Through Satan's devices, that he overcame his own good inclination and chose evil makes original sin all the more heinous.
"The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. I am taught in one book to believe that what I sow I shall reap: I am taught in another place, that "it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy." I see in one place, God presiding over all in providence; and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions to his own will, in a great measure. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act, that there was no precedence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to Atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free enough to be responsible, I am driven at once into Antinomianism. or fatalism. That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring." - Charles Spurgeon
Abraham and Freedom by Dr. R. C. Sproul (Free MP3)
Sovereignty of God in Evangelism (Reformation Celebration 1990) by Dr. Curt D. Daniel (Free MP3)
The Free Offer of the Gospel by David Silversides (Free MP3)
"Free agency" would have been a better term, than "free will", in portions of this message -- otherwise this a very good sermon.
ARMINIANISM ANOTHER GOSPEL: JOHN CALVIN, CHARLES SPURGEON, JONATHAN EDWARDS, JOHN OWEN, SAMUEL RUTHERFORD AND OTHER CALVINISTS REFUTING THE HERESY OF ARMINIANISM. THE FALSE TEACHING OF JOHN WESLEY, D.L. MOODY, BILLY GRAHAM, DAVE HUNT AND OTHER ARMINIANS ALSO REFUTED (FREE BOOK & FREE MP3s)
What is the Free Offer of the Gospel? by David Silversides (Free MP3)
The Free Offer of the Gospel by Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson (Free MP3)
Of Free Will.
I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.
II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.
III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.
IV. When God converts a sinner and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and, by his grace alone, enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.
V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only
- Westminster Confession of Faith (Original Edition), 9:1-5, "Of Free Will", emphases added
Dr. Steven Dilday Reviews and Recommends the Puritan Hard Drive
Dr. Steven Dilday
Pastor of Liberty and Grace Reformed Church in Northern Virginia
For a number of years now, I have followed, and benefited from, the work of Still Waters Revival Books, particularly the Reformation and Puritan Bookshelf CD sets... and now the Puritan Hard Drive.
The Puritan Hard Drive is a remarkable accomplishment!
The common Christian can now have a world-class Presbyterian and Reformed library at his fingertips, for only pennies per volume.
I do not think that it is an exaggeration to say that the Puritan Hard Drive presents an historic and singular opportunity.
The works on the Puritan Hard Drive have been invaluable to me in sermon preparation and in improving personal and familial piety. If these had been the only blessings attached to the reading of these documents, the expense (even if it had been much greater) would have been justified; but there is more here.
In this present time, a great many Presbyterians (particularly in North America) have forgotten and implicitly (perhaps unwittingly) rejected their Presbyterian heritage. Strangely, Westminster confessing churches have rejected the theological distinctives of the Westminster Standards.
Although the Westminster Assembly produced a beautiful statement of soteriological Calvinism, the histories clearly demonstrate that soteriology was not the principle focus, nor chief interest, of the Assembly. The Westminster Assembly was primarily concerned with uniformity in worship (in accordance with the Regulative Principle), the form of church government (Presbyterianism jus divinum), and Church-State relations (the Establishment Principle). It is a sad irony that the great and distinctive attainments of the Westminster Assembly have been ignored and rejected by so many Westminster confessing churches.
However, we may yet entertain the hope that these great attainments are rejected largely because of ignorance. The best books on these subjects have not been readily available; but (thanks be to God) they are available again on the Puritan Hard Drive.
For anyone interested in recovering our Presbyterian and Reformed past, the Puritan Hard Drive is a must.
It is my hope and prayer that the Puritan Hard Drive will be used by God to bring to light the things that were hidden, to call to remembrance the things that were forgotten.
- Dr. Steven Dilday, Pastor of Liberty and Grace Reformed Church in Northern Virginia https://www.libertyandgracereformed.org/ and https://www.sermonaudio.com/PRCNOVA, President of The Matthew Poole Project https://www.matthewpoole.net/, Professor of Hebrew and director of the Ph.D. program in Puritan History and Literature at Whitefield Theological Seminary https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=82911013359, also directs the Master of Theology degree in "Ecclesiastical Latin." Dr. Dilday is currently translating the "Synopsis" written by the Puritan Divine, Matthew Poole https://www.matthewpoole.net/aboutSynopsis.html. This project when completed will consist of approximately 82 volumes.
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