SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN

SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

Spend time with your child when you can because one of these days you will say either “I wish I had” or “I’m glad I did!”

Children don’t need your presents but they need your presence!

In the end kids won’t remember that fancy toy or game you bought them, but they’ll remember the time you spent with them.

To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.

Spending time with your child is one thing you’ll never regret in life.

Time is the most valuable gift a father can give to his children!

“What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin.”

You can always make more money . . . but you can’t get back time!

Save the excuses! It’s not about “having” time. It’s about “making” time. If it matters you will make the time!

The best toy a child can have is a parent who can get down on the floor and play with them.

If you haven’t taught your children the Word of God and pointed them to the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . you really haven’t taught them anything worth mentioning! – M.J.

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BEING THANKFUL FOR THE LITTLE THINGS

BEING THANKFUL FOR THE LITTLE THINGS

“According as His divine power hath given unto us (or provided for us) all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” [2 Peter 1:3]

A bathroom with running water may not seem much to you, but if you are from a ‘third world country’ where many are deprived of this luxury, then maybe you’ll thank the Lord even for the toilet and bathing privacy He has provided for you!

An old song says: “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

It’s easy to lose perspective. We all face challenges and difficulties in life. And if we are not on guard, they can divert our attention from all the Lord has done for us.

Yes, you may face obstacles, but you need to remember the man who complained that he had no shoes till he saw a man who had no feet.

We may not have everything we would like, but we all have something to be thankful for.

Your children may be a challenge, but at least you have children.

Your spouse may tempt you to pull your hair out, but there are millions who would gladly trade places with you.

Your boss may be ruthless, but there are many in the world who would literally give anything to have any job so they could feed their family.

Your attitude is determined by your focus. When you focus on the negative — you turn negative, making your life, and those around you, miserable.

It is amazing how different you feel after taking just a few minutes to truly thank God for what you have.

I can read! I can see! I can smell! I can hear! I can talk! I can think! God loves me! Jesus died for me! I have a home in Heaven!

Say from your heart: “Thank you Lord for every blessing You have provided for me!”

Love
Michael Jeshurun

ALL MY EGGS IN GOD’S BASKET!

ALL MY EGGS IN GOD’S BASKET!

They said you should never put all your eggs in one basket . . . but I went and ahead and put them anyway, because that ‘basket’ to me was the Lord Jesus! Have I been the better for doing such a thing? No, not as far as THIS world is concerned! In fact as far as THIS world goes, I am an utter failure!

But hey, THIS world isn’t everything! There IS a world to come! And in that world I shall be glad that I obeyed the Lord Jesus and put all my eggs in His basket! And all the glory shall be to GOD ALONE!

As Jim Elliot said long ago – “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”

And as Luther said – “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess!”

THEN shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear”! [Matt 13:43]

Love
Michael Jeshurun

GOD’S UNCHANGING LOVE TOWARD HIS OWN

GOD’S UNCHANGING LOVE TOWARD HIS OWN

C.H. Spurgeon

“As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.” [John 15:9]

As the Father loves the Son, in the same manner Jesus loves his people. What is that divine method? He loved him without beginning, and thus Jesus loves his members. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” You can trace the beginning of human affection; you can easily find the beginning of your love to Christ, but his love to us is a stream whose source is hidden in eternity.

God the Father loves Jesus without any change. Christian, take this for your comfort, that there is no change in Jesus Christ’s love to those who rest in him. Yesterday you were on Tabor’s top, and you said, “He loves me:” today you are in the valley of humiliation, but he loves you still the same. On the hill Mizar, and among the Hermons, you heard his voice, which spake so sweetly with the turtle-notes of love; and now on the sea, or even in the sea, when all his waves and billows go over you, his heart is faithful to his ancient choice.

The Father loves the Son without any end, and thus does the Son love his people. Saint, thou needest not fear the loosing of the silver cord, for his love for thee will never cease. Rest confident that even down to the grave Christ will go with you, and that up again from it he will be your guide to the celestial hills. Moreover, the Father loves the Son without any measure, and the same immeasurable love the Son bestows upon his chosen ones. The whole heart of Christ is dedicated to his people. He “loved us and gave himself for us.” His is a love which passeth knowledge.

Ah! we have indeed an immutable Saviour, a precious Saviour, one who loves without measure, without change, without beginning, and without end, even as the Father loves him! There is much food here for those who know how to digest it. May the Holy Ghost lead us into its marrow and fatness!

IT IS GOD WHO MAKES HIS SAINTS WEAK

IT IS GOD WHO MAKES HIS SAINTS WEAK

J.C. Philpot

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:22

The very word “confirm” implies that the souls of Christ’s disciples need strengthening. If there were no temptations to try, no sharp sorrows to grieve, no painful afflictions to distress them; or if, on the other hand, there were no sensible weakness of soul, no sinking of heart, no despondency of spirit, no giving way of faith and hope, no doubt or fear in the mind, how could the souls of the disciples be strengthened?

The souls of God’s people are not made of cast iron, against which arrow after arrow may be discharged and leave no dent, make no impression. The hearts of the Lord’s people are in a measure conformed to the heart of Christ. And what was his heart? “My heart,” he says, “is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” [Psalm 22:14]

And thus the Lord’s people, who carry in their bosom broken hearts and contrite spirits, made so by grace, are often sinking, often shaken, often cast down through the many trials they have to encounter. It is for this reason that they need confirming, supporting, strengthening, and that the Lord himself would lay his everlasting arms underneath them, lift them into his bosom, and make his strength perfect in their weakness.

And is not this the gospel way? Can I, by dint of creature exertion, brace up my soul to a certain pitch? If trouble comes, am I like a patient sometimes under the keen knife of the surgeon to brace up my nerves to bear the operation more unflinchingly? This is nature, flesh, reason; not grace. The Lord does not require this of his people. He dealt not so with his beloved Apostle, according to the account which he gives in 2 Corinthians 12. What did the Lord speak into his heart, under trial and temptation, that he might proclaim it upon Zion’s walls to the Church of the living God, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore, he adds, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But it is very painful to the Lord’s people to find no strength when they need it most, no faith when they have the greatest need of it, no help when most required. To pass through this experience baffles and disconcerts many of the living family; but when the Lord is pleased in a mysterious way to communicate His own strength, and to make it perfect in weakness; when He deals with them, as with the worthies of old, who “out of weakness were made strong,” they can then bless the Lord for their very weakness, and, like Paul, glory in their infirmities, because the power of Christ rests upon them.

BIBLICAL PROOF OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF GOD’S ELECT!

BIBLICAL PROOF OF THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF GOD’S ELECT!

Lorraine Boettner

Jesus declared, “I give unto them (the true followers, or ‘sheep’) eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” John 10:28. Here we find that our security and God’s omnipotence are equal; for the former is founded on the latter. God is mightier than the whole world, and neither men nor Devil can rob Him of one of His precious jewels. It would be as easy to pluck a star out of the heavens as to pluck a saint out of the Father’s hand.

Their salvation stands in His invincible might and they are placed beyond the peril of destruction. We have Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church; yet if the Devil could snatch one here and another there and large numbers in some congregations, the gates of hell would to a great extent prevail against it. In principle, if one could be lost, all might be lost, and thus Christ’s assurance would be reduced to idle words.

When we are told that “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, If possible, even the elect,” Matt. 24:24, the unprejudiced believing mind readily understands that it is impossible to lead astray the elect.

The mystic union which exists between Christ and believers is a guarantee that they shall continue steadfast. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” John 14:19. The effect of this union is that believers participate in His life. Christ is in us, Romans 8:10. It is not we that live, but Christ that liveth in us, Gal. 2:20. Christ and the believers have a common life such as that which exists in the vine and the branches. The Holy Spirit so dwells in the redeemed that every Christian is supplied with an inexhaustible reservoir of strength.

Paul warned the Ephesians, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption,” Eph. 4:30. He had no fear of apostasy for he could confidently say, “Thanks be to God who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ,” II Cor. 2:14. The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah said, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” 31:3, — one of the best proofs that God’s love shall have no end is that it has no beginning, but is eternal. In the parable of the two houses, the very point stressed was that the house which was founded on the rock (Christ) did not fall when the storms of life came. Arminianism sets up another system in which some of those who are founded on the rock do fall. In the twenty-third Psalm we read, “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The true Christian is no temporary visitor, but a permanent dweller in the house of the Lord. How those rob this psalm of its deeper and richer meaning who teach that the grace of God is a temporary thing!

Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and we are told that the Father hears Him always (John 11:42). Hence the Arminian, holding that Christians may fall away, must deny either the passages which declare that Christ does make intercession for His people, or he must deny those which declare that His prayers are always heard. Let us consider here how well protected we are: Christ is at the right hand of God pleading for us, and in addition to that, the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26.

In the wonderful promise of Jer. 32:40, God has promised to preserve believers from their own backslidings:

“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, AND I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM FOLLOWING THEM, TO DO THEM GOOD; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that THEY MAY NOT DEPART FROM ME.” And in Ezek. 11:19, 20,

He promises to take from them the “stony heart,” and to give them a “heart of flesh,” so that they shall walk in his statutes and keep his ordinances, and so that they shall be His people and He their God. Peter tells us that Christians cannot fall away, for they “by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time,” I Peter 1:5. Paul says, “God is able to make all grace to abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work,” II Cor. 9:8. He declares that the Lord’s servant “shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand,” Rom. 14:4.

And Christians have the further promise, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it,” I Cor. 10:13. Their removal from certain temptations which would be too strong for them is an absolute and free gift from God, since it is entirely an arrangement of His providence as to what temptations they encounter in the course of their lives, and what ones they escape. “The Lord is faithful and will establish you and guard you from the evil one,” II Thess. 3:3. And again, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them,” Ps. 34:7. Amid all his trials and hardships Paul could say, ‘We are pressed on every side, yet not straightened; perplexed, yet not unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not destroyed; . . . knowing that He that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ shall raise us also with Jesus,” II Cor. 4:8,9,14.

The saints, even in this world, are compared to a tree that does not wither, Ps. 1:3; to the cedars which flourish on Mount Lebanon, Ps. 92:12; to Mount Zion which cannot be moved, but which abideth forever, Ps. 125:1; and to a house built on a rock. Matt. 7:24. The Lord is with them in their old age, Is. 46:4, and is their guide even unto death, Ps 48:14, so that they cannot be totally and finally lost.

Another strong argument is to be noticed concerning the Lamb’s book of life. The disciples were told to rejoice, not so much over the fact that the demons were subject to them, but that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life. This book is a catalogue of the elect, determined by the unalterable counsel of God, and can neither be increased nor diminished. The names of the righteous are found there; but the names of those who perish have never been written there from the foundation of the world.

God does not make the mistake of writing in the book of life a name which He will later have to blot out. Hence none of the Lord’s own ever perish. Jesus told His disciples to find their chief joy in the fact that their names were written in heaven, Luke 10:20; yet there would have been small grounds for joy in this respect if their names written in heaven one day could have been blotted out the next. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven,” 3:20; and to Timothy he wrote, “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” II Tim. 2:19. For the Scripture teaching concerning the book of life, see Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.

Here, then, are very simple and plain statements that the Christian shall continue in grace, the reason being that the Lord takes it upon Himself to preserve him in that state. In these promises the elect are secured on both sides. Not only will God not depart from them, but He will so put His fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from him. Surely no Spirit-taught Christian can doubt that this doctrine is taught in the Bible. It seems that man, poor, wretched and impotent as he is, would welcome a doctrine which secures for him the possessions of eternal happiness despite all attacks from without and all evil tendencies from within. But it is not so. He refuses it, and argues against it. And the causes are not far to seek.

In the first place he has more confidence in himself than he has any right to have. Secondly, the scheme is so contrary to what he is used to in the natural world that he persuades himself that it cannot be true. Thirdly, he perceives that if this doctrine be admitted, the other doctrines of free grace will logically follow. Hence he twists and explains away the Scripture passages which teach it, and clings to some which appear on the surface to favor his preconceived views. In fact, a system of salvation by grace is so utterly at variance with his everyday experience, in which he sees every thing and person treated according to works and merits, that he has great difficulty in bringing himself to believe that it can be true. He wishes to earn his own salvation, though certainly he expects very high wanes for very sorry work

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION

A.W. Pink

God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself. Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is “the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know him in a real, personal, vital way.

This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favoured with this supernatural experience has learned that only “in Thy light shall we see light” (Psa. 36:9).

God can only be known through a supernatural facultyChrist made this clear when He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The unregenerate have no spiritual knowledge of God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Water, of itself, never rises above its own level. So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Eternal life must be imparted before the “true God” can be known. Plainly is this affirmed in 1 John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” Yes, an “understanding,” a spiritual understanding, by new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way.

If God has revealed Himself to you dear reader, He has given you a sight of yourself, for in His light we “see light.” A most humbling, painful, and never-to-be-forgotten experience this is. When God was revealed to Abraham, he said, “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). When He was revealed to Isaiah, the prophet said, “Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). When God revealed Him-self to Job, he said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)—note, not merely I abhor my wicked ways, but my vile self. Is this your experience, my reader? Have you discovered your depravity and lost condition? Have you found there is not a single good thing in you? Have you seen yourself to be fit for and deserving only of hell? Have you, truly? Then that is good evidence, yea, it is proof positive that the Lord God has “found” you.

THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH

THE DOCTRINE OF FAITH

W.F. Bell

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” [Hebrews 11:6]

“Faith” does indeed “please” God, but where does this “faith” come from? I am appalled at the number of “Bible teachers” who do not see that “faith” is God’s “gift” to sinners. Seeing faith as a gift is fundamental to an understanding of God’s grace and the gospel. Yet, so many think that “faith in Christ” is something men “work up” themselves! How terribly sad to have this view of faith, when the Scripture is so plain.

I can do no better here than quote the old writer, James Smith (1798-1871), who had a clear grasp of this doctrine of faith:

“Faith is the GIFT of God, and distinguishes God’s elect. It is the WORK of God. As a GIFT, we receive it gratuitously from God. As a WORK, it is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. As an ACT, we put it forth as the effect of the grace of God. Faith is divine in its origin, nature, and end. Without the Spirit there is no faith. Without faith there is no receiving Christ, and without receiving Christ there is no salvation. We are therefore under the greatest obligation to the Holy Spirit, and ought to acknowledge our obligation, and speak well of his name and work” (James Smith).

Let us note now these plain texts, causing us all to rejoice anew in these truths, for that which “pleases God” cannot come from sinners, but only from God himself:

“And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how HE HAD OPENED THE DOOR OF FAITH unto the Gentiles.” [Acts 14:27]

“For unto you IT IS GIVEN in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” [Philp1:29]

“According as GOD HAS DEALT to every man the measure of faith.” [Romans 12:3]

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT OF GOD. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

‘FREE-AGENCY’ AND ‘FREE-WILL’ – THE DIFFERENCE

‘FREE-AGENCY’ AND ‘FREE-WILL’ – THE DIFFERENCE

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

It is often asked if there be a difference between ‘free-agency’ and ‘free-will’. C.H. Spurgeon said long ago, “Free agency we may believe in, but free-will is simply ridiculous!”

Loraine Boettner wrote in his ‘Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’ –
“Man is a free agent but be cannot originate the love of God in his heart. His will is free in the sense that it is not controlled by any force outside of himself. As the bird with a broken wing is “free” to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able!”

FREE AGENCY DEFINED

Funk and Wagnall’s Desk Standard Dictionary defines free agency as “the power or capacity of acting freely, i. e., without constraint of the will”.

Webster’s New International Dictionary, in defining the term “free,” in its application to the acts of a moral being, says: “Not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being; not necessitated by an external cause or agency; choosing or capable of choosing for itself; as a free agent.”

N. L. Rice says:
“Free agency is nothing more nor less than acting without compulsion, and in accordance with one’s own desires and inclinations” (God Sovereign and Man Free, p. 58).

J. M. Pendleton repeats the definition of Andrew Fuller, which is as follows:
“A free agent is an intelligent being who is at liberty to act according to his choice, without compulsion or restraint” (Christian Doctrines, p. 104).

A. H. Strong says:
“Free agency is the power of self-determination in view of motives or man’s power (a) to choose between motives, and (b) direct his subsequent activity according to the motive thus chosen” (Systematic Theology, p. 176).

Luther denied “Free-will,” as it was used by his great opponent, Erasmus, and also by the Pelagians and Sophists; and, with all his profundity of understanding, mistakingly supposing that the use made of “Free-will” by the above errorists was the only sense of the expression, opposed its use. Nevertheless, he attributed to the will a freedom such as is attributed to it by others here quoted; and he defined that freedom in the following words:

“Will, whether divine or human, does what it does, be it good or evil, not by any compulsion, but by mere willingness or desire, as it were, totally free” (The Bondage of the Will, p. 41).

John Gill, who is often falsely accused of antinomianism says:
“A determination of the will to some one thing, is not contrary to choice, for the human will of Christ, and the will of angels and glorified saints, are determined only to that which is good, and yet they both choose and do that good freely . . . Besides, neither the disability of man, nor the efficacious influence of grace, at all hinder the freedom of human actions. A wicked man, who is under the strongest bias, power, and dominion of his lusts, acts freely in fulfilling of them; as does also a good man, in doing what is spiritually good; and never more so, than when he is under the most powerful influences of divine grace” (Cause of God and Truth, pp. 184, 185).

Jonathan Edwards viewed free agency as the “power, opportunity or advantage that any one has to do as he pleases” (Freedom of the Will, p. 17).

We have purposely reserved until last the definition that is the most explicit of all because it sums up all the others and states them in greater detail and in a more easily understandable way. This definition is from E. Y. Mullins:

“Freedom in man does not imply exemption from the operation of influences, motives, heredity, environment. It means rather that man is not under compulsion. His actions are in the last resort determined from within. He is self-determined in what he does. Some hold that freedom in man means ability to transcend himself and act contrary to his character. (This is the erroneous sense of free will, as believed by all Pelagians and Arminians, and as opposed by Luther and many others.) The will is thus regarded, not as an expression of what the man is in his essential character. It is free in the sense of being capable of choices unrelated to past choices, acquired traits, and hereditary tendencies. This is an untenable view of freedom. It makes the will a mere external attachment to man’s nature rather than an expression thereof. Freedom excludes compulsion from without, it also excludes mere caprice and arbitrariness. Freedom is self-determinative” (The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression, pp. 258, 259).

MAN AS MUCH A FREE AGENT AS GOD.

We have noted that A. H. Strong says: “Free agency is the power of self-determination.” Others define it as the power one has to act according to his choice, to do as he pleases. We have seen that free agency does not imply ability to transcend oneself and to act contrary to one’s character. It does not exclude determination to either good or bad. It does exclude compulsion and restraint from outside of ones nature, and it also just as surely excludes mere caprice and arbitrariness.

What more than this can be affirmed of God? What less can be affirmed of man? God is self-determined. So is man, and at all times. God always acts according to His choice; He does as He pleases. So also does man. God cannot transcend Himself and act contrary to His character. Neither can man. God is ever determined to good. Natural man is ever determined to that which is spiritually evil. A regenerated man is determined, in the main, to that which is good. When he commits evil, he is, for the moment determined to evil. The will of God is never compelled or restrained by anything outside His own nature. The same is true of man. God never acts capriciously or arbitrarily, that is, without sufficient cause. Neither does man. God always acts according to His preference, considering things as a whole; but not always according to His preference in things, considering them separately and apart from His perfect plan. For instance, God immanently prefers holiness at all times, but, in consideration of His plan as a whole, He purposed to permit sin; because it, in some way, is necessary to the working out of His plan. This is analogous to the fact that man has conflicting preferences, but he always follows his strongest preference; and in doing so, his will is wholly and absolutely free.

The position of God’s will, and the nature and laws of its action, are the same as in the case of man’s will. Each is subject to the nature of its possessor. Both express the nature of their possessors in view of motives. Both man and God are free at all times to act out their most dominant desires and inclinations. God is not more truly a free agent than man is.

FREE AGENCY OF THE NATURAL MAN
Man cannot do otherwise than continue in sin so long as he is in his natural state (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 4:23; Job 14:4; Jer. 13:23; John 6:65; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 2:14). But his continuance in sin is not due to outside compulsion or restraint, but to his own character which causes him to choose darkness rather than light (John 3:19). He continues in sin for the same reason that a hog wallows in the mire. He continues in sin for the same reason that God continues in holiness. Thus he is fully a free agent.

FREE AGENCY AND DIVINE HARDENING AND BLINDING

In the hardening and blinding of sinners, which is unmistakably attributed to God in the Scripture (Rom. 9:18; John 12:40), there is no outside force brought to bear upon the will of the sinner. While God is said to blind and to harden the sinner, the sinner is said to blind and harden himself. John 12:40 is a quotation from Isa. 6:10, where the prophet Isaiah is commanded to shut the eyes of the people. Then in Matt. 13:14,15 there is another free quotation from this same prophecy, and in Matthew the sinners are said to have closed their own eyes. Then, still again, in 2 Cor. 4:3,4, we have the blinding of sinners attributed to the devil. All of these passages refer to the same thing, and all of them are true because they are in the Word of God.

We have the blinding of sinners attributed to God, to the devil, to the prophet, and to the sinners themselves. It is ours to find, if we can, the harmony between these statements. Here it is: The blinding is attributed to God because He decreed, whether permissively or efficiently, all the circumstances that render the sinner blind. The blinding is attributed to the devil because he is the author of sin by which the sinner is blinded. The same blinding is attributed to the prophet because his preaching of the Word brings out and makes the blindness of the sinner active in his rejection of the Word. Then, finally, the blinding is attributed to the sinner himself because he loves darkness rather than light, and manifests his choice of darkness by rejecting the Word. This leaves the natural man a free agent. If God, or the devil or the prophet, by a power outside of the nature of the sinner, could compel the sinner against his choice to reject the Word, the sinner would no longer be a free agent, and he would be no longer responsible for his unbelief. Responsibility and free agency go hand in hand.

What has been said of the blinding of the sinner is also true of the hardening of the sinner. The hardening of the heart of Pharaoh is attributed to God (Rom. 9:18; Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 7:13; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10). But it is also attributed to Pharaoh himself (Ex. 8:15, 32; 9:34). The explanation is the same as for the blinding treated above.

FREE AGENCY AND CONVERSION

Man is unable to turn from sin until he is quickened by the Spirit of God. For proof of this see the passages given in proof of the fact that man cannot do otherwise than continue in sin so long as he is in his natural state. The new nature, therefore, must be implanted logically (but not chronologically) prior to the exercise of repentance and faith. This is the meaning of the New Hampshire Declaration of Faith when it says that repentance and faith are “inseparable graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God.” This is also the teaching of Eph. 1:19, 20.

But when a man turns to God in repentance and faith he acts voluntarily and is thus a free agent. He is not compelled to turn by a power outside of his own nature. For, in implanting the new nature, the Holy Spirit operates “in the region of the soul below consciousness” (Strong). Then that new nature, when implanted, becomes as much a part of the man as the old nature was; and it moves the will in strict conformity to the nature, laws, and normal action of the will. Thus man is a free agent in conversion; and, of course, remains a free agent, although God continues to work in him “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). But this work, like the work of quickening, does not coerce the will.

FREE AGENCY AND CHRISTIAN FREEDOM

Some become confused in regard to free agency because of the statement of Christ in John 8:32—”Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Christ here referred to the freedom of the nature from sin’s bondage and not to free agency. This will become evident to any thoughtful student upon a consideration of the foregoing treatment of free agency. The position of the will and the nature and laws of its action, are the same before conversion as after. In both cases man is self-determined in view of motives. Both before and after regeneration the will expresses one’s character.

The difference between the unregenerate and regenerate states is not in regard to the freedom of the will but in the fact that before regeneration man is the “bond-servant of sin” (John 8:34), while, after regeneration, believers are, through the power of the new life, “bond-servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18). In both cases men are bondservants, and the will is subject to the character, being as free in one case as in the other.

FREE AGENCY AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Without the least reserve or hesitancy we subscribe to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith in its declaration that “God hath decreed in himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably all things whatsoever comes to pass.” This includes evil as well and as fully as good, though in a different sense; and is supported by both reason and revelation. See chapter on “The Will of God.” Also see Dan. 4:35; Isa. 46:10; Rom. 9:19; Eph. 1:11.

When men say that the absolute sovereignty of God cannot be reconciled with the free agency of man by finite minds, they betoken a misunderstanding either of free agency, or the workings of God’s sovereignty, or both. Free agency is in perfect, full, and manifest harmony with the absolute sovereignty of God. The bond of union between the two lies in the fact that the will is subject to the character of its possessor. God has determined the character of each man, through either His positive or permissive decrees—positive in the case of all good, and permissive in the case of all evil. And God, having determined all circumstances, controls the motives that influence the will. Thus God controls the actions of men, and yet men act at all times as freely as God Himself does. If there were no God, man could not act more freely than he does.

We see this harmony between the sovereignty of God and the free agency of man strikingly exemplified in the crucifixion of Christ. God determined that Christ should be crucified (Acts 2:23; 4:27,28). And He determined that certain ones should do it, but He did this permissively. All that took part in the crucifixion were only acting out their own natures, and were never freer in any act, nor was God ever freer in any act. Through wicked motives they chose to kill the Lord of glory. They killed Him because they hated Him. They killed Him because He rebuked them for their sin. They killed Him because He took away the glory that had been theirs. God did not cause them to do it, but He decreed to permit them to follow their own inclinations and desires in doing it.

FREE AGENCY AND THE POWER OF CONTRARY ACTION

It will he noted that the expression on free agency quoted from J. P. Boyce implies that the power of contrary action is essential to free agency. This is true if the power of contrary action is defined as Boyce defines it, that is, as the power that one has to do otherwise than he does, had he so pleased. This is only saying that man is free from outward necessity and compulsion in his actions. If at any moment, one had not pleased to act as he did, he could have acted differently, for one is always free to do as he pleases. This means, of course, as he pleases on the whole. He follows his strongest desire.

Or if the power of contrary choice is used to mean the power of the soul to make choices contrary to its previously ruling purpose, it is still implied in free agency. Motives awaken latent tendencies in the soul, and thus the soul may act contrary to its previously ruling purpose. In conversion the soul acts contrary to its previously ruling purpose. But in this case, it is not due to the awakening of latent tendencies, but to the implantation of the new life.

There is another form of contrary action. One may and often does put forth executive volitions contrary to his ultimate choice or immanent preference. This is consistent with free agency.

But if one supposes that the power of contrary action means that it is possible for one to act at any moment differently from the way in which he does act, the individual and the motives remaining the same, he is supposing a contradiction and an absurdity. This is supposing that one may choose that which he does not choose. All action is the result of an inward necessity of consequence; but not of an outward necessity, nor a necessity of compulsion. In other words, the action of any individual at any time could not have been different without the individual or the motives being different. Otherwise there would be no cause for the will’s action. And all common sense forbids the supposition of a finite thing without a cause. Thus the acts of the will proceed from an inward necessity. But the individual is free and unconstrained. There is no power compelling the will, for the will is simply the soul’s faculty of choice. In fact, no power can compel or coerce the will. It is necessarily free. It would not be will without this.

[Much of the above is gleaned from the works of Thomas Paul Simmons]

PRAYERS FOR THOSE AFFECTED BY THE TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING

GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH

PSALM 46

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.