Tuesday, March 24, 2009

But if there's no free will...

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 2 - God the Redeemer

Chapter 5 - Refuting objections that defend free will

Sections 1-5 - Answers to objections on grounds of common sense
Objection 1 - Necessary sin is not sin; voluntary sin is avoidable
Inability to avoid sin is not an excuse, because we only want sin.
Voluntary does not mean "free."

Objection 2 - Reward and punishment lose their meaning
"What difference does it make whether we sin out of free or servile [bound] judgment [will], provided it is by voluntary desire?"
Their objection that our reward crowns God's grace instead of our labor is exactly true; they seem to think it unthinkable!
Read 2 Tim 4:8 in light of Rom 8:30. 1 Cor 4:7, too.

Objection 3 - distinction between good & evil would be obliterated
But man IS all sin, without God's grace - Rom 3:10.
"Only those whom it pleases the Lord to touch with His healing hand will get well. The others, whom He, in His righteous judgment, passes over, waste away in their own rottenness until they are consumed.... For perseverance itself is indeed also a gift of God."

Objection 4 - all exhortation would be meaningless, if our will is not free
But Jesus says it is not free - John 15:5: "apart from Me you can do nothing." And He goes on to rebuke men.
Paul says the will is not free - Rom 9:16. Yet he rebukes the Corinthians - 1 Cor 3:3; 16:14.
1 Cor 3:7; Deut 30:19; Isa 5:24; 24:5; Jer 9:13; 16:11; 44:10; Dan 9:11; Amos 2:4; Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4; Ezek 11:19; Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:26.

Section 5 - The meaning of exhortation
When the ungodly reject exhortation, they can't later evade guilt of it, saying God made me do it.
Receiving exhortation in righteousness rests entirely on God's grace.
God works outwardly with the Word; inwardly with the Spirit.
The Word arouses piety in the elect, and renders the damned inexcusable.
John 6:44-45; 2 Cor 2:15-16.

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