Free Will Revisited!
If We really HAVE “Free Will” then No One has any chance of being Saved.
But if We do NOT HAVE “Free Will” then are we just Robots?
Ephesians 1 and 2
Author, Date and Place of Writing of Ephesians. Paul probably wrote it about 60 A.D. while he was in prison in Rome (See Eph 3:1; 4:1; 6:20)
The City of Ephesus: In Paul’s time, the province of Asia with its many splendid cities was one of the jewels on a belt of Roman lands encircling the Mediterranean. Located on the most direct sea and land route to the eastern provinces of the empire, Ephesus was an emporium that had few equals anywhere in the world. Certainly no city in Asia was more famous or more populous. It ranked with Rome, Corinth, Antioch and Alexandria among the foremost urban centers of the empire.
Situated on an inland harbor, the city was connected by a narrow channel via the Cayster River with the Aegean Sea some three miles away. Ephesus boasted impressive civic monuments, including, most prominently, the temple of Artemis (Diana), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Coins of the city proudly displayed the slogan Neokoros, “Temple-warden.”
Here in Ephesus Paul preached to large crowds of people. The silversmiths complained that he had influenced large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia (Acts 19:26).
In one of the most dramatic events recorded in the New Testament, the apostle escaped a huge mob in the theater. This structure, located on the slope of Mt. Pion at the end of the Arcadian Way, could seat 25,000 people.
Ephesus Lynch Mob Against Paul
And Why the word ecclesia DOES NOT mean “church.”
When Paul was in Ephesus, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and against the pagan goddess Diana a mob tried to lynch Paul because he had been cutting into their livelihood, which was producing the actual statues of Diana.
“And the same time there arose no small stir about that way (the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines of Diana (Artemis) brought no small profit unto the craftsmen.
Whom he called together with the workmen of similar occupation and said, Sirs, ye know that by this trade we have our wealth.
Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are not gods, which are made with hands:
So that not only this our trade is in danger of falling into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships.
And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
“And the whole city was filled with confusion; and having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s’ companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre.
And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples allowed him not.
And certain of the officials of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, pleading that he not venture himself into the theatre.
Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the ASSEMBLY (the Greek word ecclesia) was confused; and the majority knew not wherefore they were come together.
And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Judeans putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and wanted to make his defense unto the people.
But when they knew that he was a Judean, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.
And when the town clerk had quieted the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is the temple guardian of the great goddess Diana, and the image that fell down from heaven?
Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of temples, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
Wherefore if Demetrius, and the tradesmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the courts are open, and there are deputies: let them bring charges against one another.
But if ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly (ecclesia).
For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this disorderly gathering.
And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly (ecclesia). Acts 19:23-41
Clearly, this angry lynch mob, this ecclesia, cannot be translated “church” in this instance. Nor should it be translated “church” anywhere else in the Bible.
The Greek word ecclesia obviously means a group of people that all believe the same way. They don’t even have to know each other. In this case, their common goal was that they all wanted to lynch Paul. They all “believed that Paul was putting their livelihood in jeopardy.
The word ecclesia in no way means a “church” with a building, a pastor, rituals, and an “order of service” where people sit in a building and listen to someone else tell them about God.
The word “church” is NOT in the Bible.
The Goddess Diana of Ephesus
The Goddess Diana (Artemis) is the pagan counterfeit for God the true “many-breasted God.”
“And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am El Shaddai (literally, the many-breasted God) always translated as “the Almighty God”) Walk before Me, and be ye blameless.
“And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” Genesis 17:1-2
When God first came to Abraham, He referred to Himself as El Shaddai the many breasted God (who nurtures those who have only recently come to know Him. He is very gentle with them as they are like babies and toddlers in their knowledge of God. It is inappropriate to discipline babies because they don’t yet know right from wrong.
After a “baby” in Christ begins to “grow up” in their faith in God, God refers to Himself as Jehovah God the disciplining God; just as parents discipline their children as they get older.
In Genesis, Chapter 1, God’s name is given as Elohim the plural of El (singular for God) denoting Him the awesome and majestic creator. That name emphasizes that God is distant and Powerful.
In Genesis, Chapter 2, God refers to Himself as Yahweh Jehovah as He begins to tell Adam (and Eve) what they must, and must not, do. Jehovah (the LORD usually shown in all capital letters) is God’s personal name and is used in the context of God having a relationship with His people.
“And the LORD God (Jehovah) commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, dying you shall die.” (You shall begin dying.) Genesis 2:16-17
There is another Hebrew term in the Old Testaments, Adonai that means my master. It is also translated as Lord in our English Bible, but not with all capital letters.
Ephesians, Chapter 1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God to the saints that are in Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Paul did not become an apostle of Jesus Christ by his own will. He clearly tells us that it was “the will of God.” Paul did not “make a choice” to become an apostle, Jesus met Paul (Saul) on the road to Damascus and blinded Paul. There was no “free will” involved in this conversion.
Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as He hath chosen us in Him before the disruption of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:
As Jesus said, “You did not choose Me I chose you.” (John 15:16) God chose His followers BEFORE the creation of humanity those that would come to Him in this life and those who would come to Him after the Judgment.
Having predestinated us unto the adoption as children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.
We were “predestined” to become children of Christ. Predestination completely rules out “free will.”
To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath bestowed grace upon us in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;
Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and understanding;
When we become one with Christ through our change of heart (that He performs in us) and our obedience to Him, He will give us wisdom and understanding, two characteristics that are NOT found in anyone who is not closely connected to the Lord.
ALL wisdom and understanding come from God. There is no place else to get it.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. . .” James 1:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean NOT on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Prov 3:5-6
Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:
The marvelous “mystery of His will” is that He has predestined EVERYONE to become His “according to His good pleasure, which he has purposed in Himself.” That’s about as certain as anyone can get!
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, He might (he has the authority to) gather together in one ALL in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:
The word “might” does not mean “maybe.” It is a derivative of the word “may.” The word “can” means one is physically or spiritually “able” to accomplish a certain act. The word “may” means that He has been given the authority (through Christ’s death on the cross) to accomplish His goal of saving ALL “both in heaven and on earth.” That includes humanity and all the angels, including Satan.
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh ALL after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL:
The “inheritance” is not only eonian life (the life of Christ living in us so we exhibit His character) but also eternal life living forever with Jesus Christ.
We have been predestined for that.
He is working ALL after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL clearly NOT “our will.”
And HIS WILL is that ALL shall be saved, as the Bible tells us in 2 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING that ANY should perish (be lost), but that ALL should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14
Back to Ephesians:
That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
Which is the earnest (down payment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
There it is again: All wisdom comes from God!
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the expectation (Not “hope”) of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
It is God who opens our eyes to understanding. That is why Jesus said He came “to bring sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18) not just physically, but also spiritually.
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.
Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in the eons to come:
The King James Bible and most other versions translate the last part of this text in the following way, “not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” The word is eon not world.
And hath put ALL under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over ALL in the ecclesia,
Ecclesia does not mean “church.” It means the “called out” ones.
Which is His body, the complement of Him that filleth ALL in ALL.
If He fills “all in all” that clearly means everyone!
And you that He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the age of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Among whom also we all conducted ourselves in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were, in our nature, the children of wrath, even as others.
Children of wrath meaning we want to run our own life and do as we please.
God’s wrath is allowing us to do just that; to do as we please and then, to reap what we have sown.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven. . . Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God. . and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man. . . Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness. . .Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creation (environmentalism) rather than the Creator. . .
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections. . . doing that which is shameful and receiving in themselves the recompense of their own error which is due them.” Romans 1:18, 21-27
Back to Ephesians:
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)
“Grace” does not mean “unmerited favor” as so many churches teach. They teach that we don’t deserve to be saved, but God “in His grace” overlooks our sin by Jesus “covering us with His blood” so we can make it into heaven anyway, because they teach “No one can be perfect.”
Even though God promises us: “You shall be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48) Christians do not understand that when we are truly converted and become one with Him, Jesus gives us eonion life the life of Christ in us then Jesus will be making every decision in our life and He NEVER makes a mistake.
If your parents gave birth to you, you deserve to have them take care of you properly and be allowed to grow up, because they were the ones who brought you into the world. You had nothing to do with it.
God created every person who has ever lived on this earth. They ALL deserve to be saved because no one asked to be born a sinner. That was God’s idea not the idea of human beings. We had no choice in the matter.
If God allowed us to be born into this world, then He has an obligation to save us ALL, because none of us asked to be born.
And God accepts that responsibility and obligation. He says:
“For the creation was made subject to depravity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same, in expectation (of the glorious outcome).” Romans 8:20
And here God again says that He takes responsibility for sin in the universe.
“If a man shall open a pit, or dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein: the owner of the pit shall make it good and give money unto the owner of them: and the dead beast shall be his.” Exodus 21:33
This is God talking, giving directions to the Israelites in Exodus, Chapter 21, right after He gave them the Ten Commandments.
It is God who “dug the pit” in the Garden of Eden by placing Satan in the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, right in Adam and Eve’s front yard. And Adam and Eve “fell into the pit” and became subject to death.
It is God who must make it good, which Jesus Christ did on the cross, giving Him the authority to save ALL mankind. (“The dead beast” belongs to Him.)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved, through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
NO ONE can boast about “making the right choice” to “accept” Jesus Christ. “It is the gift of God.” We have nothing to do with it. It is ALL of God.
“No man can come to Me unless the Father draws (literal “drags”) him.” John 6:44
So, if we have “free will” and can make the choice to resist the “drawing” (dragging) from God, then NO ONE can possibly be saved, because:
“There are none righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10
“There is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11
“There is none that doeth good, no not one.” Romans 3:12
Back to Ephesians:
For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God hath prepared before (predestinated), that we should walk in them.
God has prepared beforehand the way that “we should walk.”
He “directs our paths.” Prov 3:6 Indeed, God does plan every day of our life before we are born.
Wherefore remember that you, in times past were Gentles (heathen mistranslated Gentiles) in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands.
That at that time you were without Christ (that’s what the word “Gentile” means without Christ/God), being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (those who knew Christ or should have known Him), and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation, and without God in the world:
THAT is the definition of a “Gentile” “without God” a heathen, “of the nations.” The word “Gentile” is the mistranslation of the word “nations” meaning those who do NOT know God, as opposed to the “Judeans” (NOT “Jews”) who were supposed to know God.
The terms are religious distinctions NOT ethnic distinctions.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.
Now that the heathen are becoming Christians, they have been made “near” by the blood of Jesus Christ.
For He, Himself, is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us (believers and unbelievers).
Jesus’ death on the cross “broke down the wall of division.” The Israelites (they were NOT “Jews”) were God’s “chosen people” chosen to bring the loving gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in the world.
But they failed miserably because of their false pride, arrogance, and selfishness.
Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in the ordinances: to create in Himself the two as one new man, so making peace:
Jesus did not abolish the Ten Commandments. It was the ordinances that were abolished: the system of feasts and sacrifices that ended when Christ was crucified and the temple curtain was rent in two.
And that He might (has authority to) reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having put to death the enmity thereby:
And came and preached peace to you that were afar off, and to them that were near.
For through Him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone:
In whom all the building being joined together grows into an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God through His spirit.
The Bible tells us directly that God is operating everything according to HIS OWN Will in Ephesians 1:11.
So does that make us all robots?
If you take a prescribed course of study to become an accountant, engineer, doctor, lawyer, dentist, barber, hair stylist, medical assistant or any other occupation that must be certified or licensed, a course of study that those who have been working in those respective fields for years believe is necessary for you to be competent and effective, do you consider yourself a “robot”?
Probably not. Yet, you are doing precisely what someone else tells you to do someone else who knows better than you do what you need to know.
And do you want those people who have been trained and certified in their specific occupation, who might be working on you, to adhere to certain standards of education and training?
Probably so. Does that mean you have robots as employees? Of course not.
Who would you rather have running your life you or God?
Who has your best interests at heart you or God?
Who knows the most about life you or God?
Whose “will” would you rather be following, yours or God’s?
Is Satan a “robot”? In Job, Chapters 1 and 2, it is revealed that Satan can do nothing, unless God allows it.
If you own your car, you have a right to do anything with it you want: sell it, damage it, give it away, or have it crushed. It’s your car!
God knows exactly what each person needs to go through in order for us to trust Him with everything in our life. He knows how much trouble we need in order to turn us to Him and believe His promises. So he orchestrates our life from beginning to end. We don’t have a haphazard life. Everything in our life is meant to push us toward the goal of knowing God.
The universe will be safe from sin for eternity ONLY when everyone has “tasted” enough sin to know they don’t want it ever again!
We are God’s creation. He has a right to do anything with us that He wants. And He tells us that in the story of the Potter and the clay in Jeremiah 18:1-6
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear My words.
Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he wrought a work on the Potter’s wheel.
And the vessel that he was making of clay was ruined in the hand of the potter
This means that every human being is born into sin. It is God who “ruins” us through the trouble we bring on ourselves through the circumstances that God controls.
So he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the Potter to make it.
God will re-create us in His image.
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
O, house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine hand, O house of Israel.
God has not lost control of His creation. The chaos that we see around us today wars, greed, corruption - is still under the control of the Almighty God.
What is the ultimate goal of Jesus Christ?
To take away the sin of the world. John 1:29
To save all mankind. 1 Tim 4:10
To make sure none are lost. 2 Peter 3:9
To make ALL new. Rev 21:5
Define the word “robot”
The dictionary definition of a robot is a device that is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.
When we were born, as sinners, we were all “robots” controlled by Satan.
God tells us He (God) “programmed us in advance” for salvation.
Whose robot would you rather be, Jesus Christ’s or Satan’s?
That’s really the only choice you have.