Saturday, August 27, 2011

Free Will

Arminianism versus Lutheranism.
Arminians: "I have decided to follow Jesus." "I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior." "Give your heart to Him."
Lutherans: "A dead man cannot decide to be alive." "He chooses us; we do not choose Him."

In the past, free will* was explained to me with the following chart:
Before the fall into sin: Man had free will; he was pure.
After the fall into sin: Man had no free will; he was a slave to sin.
After conversion: The Christian man has free will; he can choose to sin or not sin.
After temporal death: The Christian man has no free will; in the resurrection he will be forever freed from sin and confirmed in grace, unable to fall again.

* With the term free will, we are talking not about the free will to choose whether I'm wearing jeans or a dress today, but whether the will is free to choose to love God and selflessly live for the neighbor.

So, basically:
Free will.
No free will.
Free will.
No free will.

I agree with the first two.

I'm not so sure about the third. Remember that little spiel Paul had in Romans 7? "The good that I will to do, that I am unable to do"? Yeah. That whole struggle between the New Man and the Old Adam -- it's not a cake-walk. As Pastor says sometimes, "If you can choose to not sin, then why don't you??? It's pretty warped if you can choose to not sin, but you keep on sinning anyway!" Ah, but that's a tangent; it's not the topic of this post.

It's the fourth one that's got me wondering.

A couple of months ago, Pastor was telling us in Bible class of his musings while mowing the lawn. He suggested that we would indeed have free will in heaven. Why? Because Jesus is the perfect Man, and He freely and willingly does the will of His Father. He is not bound and chained and forced. He chooses to love sacrificially because it's what He really wants to do.

But that's Jesus. What about us? We sinners surely will need to be "stuck" in the No-Sin Mode, right? Otherwise, wouldn't we just head right back to our swill?

First, I don't think God wants robots in heaven. Does He want us to be bound (even in the good)? Or does He wish for us to love and serve Him freely?

Second, let's go back to that section of Romans. Just before Paul's talk about "Argh! I sin when I don't want to, and I don't do the good things I want to! I'm stuck!" we read, "We have been buried with Him through baptism into death. If we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be of His resurrection." Jesus wasn't "stuck" doing the will of His Father; He did it freely, out of love. If we are like Him, if we are joined to Him, if we are His body, won't we also be so overwhelmed in heaven with the love and mercy of the Father that we will choose freely to serve Him? Can we even imagine a grace so humongous that it would be impossible to turn from it? Not because we are forced to it, but because no one would ever be fool enough to turn his back on it. A heart captured by love is very different from a heart captured by chains (or mind control).

1 comment:

  1. From today's Treasury of Daily Prayer (on the day that we remember St. Augustine of Hippo):

    O Lord God, the light of the minds that know You, the life of the souls that love You, and the strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You - for to serve You is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.