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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Predestination vs. Free Will

This entry is a continuation on my previous article titled ‘Did God Create Evil?’ in which I presented evidence that only God the creator of all things truly has FREE WILL, all other creatures are subject to his will and thus have no free will of their own. This assertion flies in the face of common religious assumptions that our creator has endowed us with free will, as well as commonly taught humanistic doctrines that conclude the same. Even biblically speaking it seems contradictory to make this claim because God certainly holds man accountable for his actions, and even his words.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Matthew 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

How then can we reconcile this seeming contradiction that if we do not have free will, and are more less puppets doing the bidding of God, why then are we held accountable for our actions? The real understanding of this apparent contradiction lies in understanding how the bible defines the word ‘WILL’. The English word ‘WILL’ in the New Testament is a translation of more than one Greek word and depending on the context these words have somewhat differing meanings. When we understand the different usages and the context in which they are used it will become apparent that biblically speaking the word ‘WILL’ can mean either, 1 Purpose or 2 Desire or wish. For example, let us look at Romans 9:19 ‘Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

The Greek word Will in this verse of scripture is the word Boúlēma which is defined below. What this word denotes is God’s plan, purpose and resolve for every individual; this ultimate plan and purpose is unalterable and therefore each individual is pre-destined to a fate that has been pre-determined by God. In the context of purpose, God alone is sovereign; the individual only has wishes and desires. The more appropriate word for individual will in the New Testament is the Greek word Thélēma which means wish or desire not will as in purpose or resolve. This word is applicable to both God and individual persons. People have wishes and desires that they act upon, so in this sense they have a will that may be classified as free will. Because of this will they make choices that have consequences, they are responsible for their actions which is why God holds them accountable for these actions. However their ultimate destiny, as far as the soul is concerned is pre-determined. Whether this destiny is based on their actions while they were alive, or their actions are based on account of their pre-destination is not quite clear. So it would be accurate to conclude that man is both pre–destined and has a free will.

G1013 boúlēma; neut. noun from boúlomai (G1014), to will. The thing willed, the intention, purpose (Act_27:43). It denotes plan or purpose, resolve, especially when it refers to God's purpose (boúlēma) as in Rom_9:19 when the meaning is that nobody can resist God's purpose as described in Rom_9:18. On the other hand, God's boulḗ is the content of the apostolic message (Act_20:27; Eph_1:1 ff.). Contrast thélēma (G2307) which is not only a will or a wish, but also the execution of it or the desire to execute it. Thélēma gives prominence to the element of wish or inclination (1Pe_4:3 [TR]).

To better understand the difference between purpose and desire as far as God is concerned we should look at Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing (boúlēma), remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will (thélēma), but thine, be done. In this prayer that Jesus prayed just prior to his crucifixion, he asked God to remove the cup of death from him if it served God’s will (his purpose), but if it did not serve God’s purpose then Jesus’ prayer was that his own will, that is his own desire not to die such a horrible death need not be of concern to God.

Let me conclude by saying that pre – destination, both for believers and non – believers is very much a biblical doctrine (Romans 8:29). If all believers have been predestinated to be saved according to God’s election, then all non – believers have also been predestinated to be damned even if it is by default because they were not elected for salvation. God tells us plainly that since he is the potter and we are the clay he is free to make any vessel a vessel for honor, and conversely for dishonor. He does not need to justify his choice and purpose to any man. Those of us who believe in our maker ought to give him thanks continuously knowing that we could have done nothing to have our names written in the Lamb’s book of Life. If we have access to life beyond this body it is only because of God’s election, not because of our actions.

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