Thursday, April 9, 2009

Notes on Free Will


Do Christians derive their doctrines of belief from the Bible? Many would like to think so -- but under close examination we begin to see that the beliefs of the average Christian is in fact diametrically opposed to what the Bible actually teaches. The problem is that the Bible, as well as the essence of the teachings of TheWay, exist as a paradoxical enigma to modern Christianity -- a paradoxical enigma that causes an uncountable number of conflicting doctrines and sects to continue to arise -- and this paradoxical enigma will continue to envelop the modern Church under a cloud of spiritual ignorance, until which time Christians are prepared to seek the essence and roots of the teachings of Jesus -- a system of revelation that is spiritual, and has little in common with the multitude of doctrines proclaimed by the Church today.

How can this be? That the teachings of TheWay is paradoxical, is easily demonstrated in the words of the Rev. Charles Spurgeon where he confided to his readers in his autobiography: “The system of truth revealed in the Scriptures is not simply one straight line, but two; and no man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once. For instance, I read in one Book of the Bible, The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who is athirst, Come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely [Rev. 22:17]. Yet I am taught, in another part of the same inspired Word, that it is not of he who wills, nor of he who runs, but of God Who shows mercy [Rom 9:16]. I see, in one place, God in providence presiding over all, and yet I see, and I cannot help seeing, that man acts as he pleases, and that God has left his actions, in a great measure, to his own free-will. Now, if I were to declare that man was so free to act that there was no control of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I should declare that God so over-rules all things that man is not free enough to be responsible, I should be driven at once into Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory, but they are not. The fault is in our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other” (Charles H. Spurgeon, Autobiography Vol. 1: The Early Years. pp. 173, 174).

Do we have free will? In many places of the scriptures it appears to suggest that we do. And yet, in many other places the Bible reveals that Divine Providence -- which is the Will of God -- totally rules over every aspect of our lives. If, therefore, we profess to believe in the Bible, and we desire to embrace the Light, it is a fatal flaw when we embrace the manmade doctrines of the Church and accept one of these paradoxical realities while rejecting the other. If we are to fulfill the role as a genuine and mature follower of Jesus, we must move beyond the limited vision of the modern Church that clings to one truth while rejecting the other -- and we must instead embrace the premises that both are equally true.
How can we be responsible for what God Preordains? A most important question that Christians today are incapable of answering! In what is perhaps the most difficult concept for the average Christian to understand, is the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that we are responsible for the Divine Will that God exerts in our life. Moreover, from our limited perspective, we have done absolutely nothing to cause God to choose for us the life that we are presently living! And yet, somehow, the Church would have us believe that we are responsible for the choices that God makes for us. In the words of Jesus: “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” (Matt 18:7 NIV). Why must they come? Because God has willed it. Again we must admit what the Apostle tells us at Romans 11:32 as seen in the commentary Barnes' Notes which writes of the word that we translate concluded, shut up, bound, committed and consigned: “It is properly used in reference to those who are shut up in prison”. Only when we begin to accept the fact that the life we are presently living has been individually designed to meet our personal needs, and it is as if we have been imprisoned by a Higher Spiritual Power to live out the circumstances and events in our life, are we able to get a sense of the purpose of life itself.
Is Jesus All-Inclusive? In the same way that “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him…”, we can progress no further in our own walk in TheWay until we first understand why these people did not believe in Jesus, as seen in the words: “For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts’” (John 12:37-40 NIV). Contrary to what we want to believe, it is important for us to realize what the Bible actually states -- i.e., that the people who did not accept Jesus did not reject him of their own accord, but because God did not permit them to believe in Jesus. The problem is that, from a church perspective, when we acknowledge this very clearly defined biblical fact, we not only undermine the whole political structure of the church because what the Bible is actually confirming is that man not only does not possess the freewill that gives him the ability to choose to come to Jesus, but we further destroy the popular idea that Jesus was the all-inclusive savior that modern Christianity portrays him to be.
How can Jesus be all-inclusive, when the Bible itself clearly teaches that only those who were pre-selected will not only believe in the Son of God, but will inherit the promise of salvation in the scriptures? Using the Jews as an example: From a biblical perspective, it is of the utmost importance that we begin to recognize the reason why there was a pre-existent basis that caused the Hand of God to harden the hearts and minds of the Jews, and not permit them to believe in Jesus. Moreover, if what the Bible states is true, and it was the Hand of God that hardened the hearts and minds of the Jews, then how can the Bible be correct in its assertion that it was the Jewish people themselves who were ultimately responsible for the conditions that God brought about in their lives with respect to the rejection of Christ? It is important, because these same conditions exist in our own lives as a paramount truth that we must come to terms with if we are to continue our walk in The Way. If, therefore, God forces each of us into a certain role that causes us to either sin or embrace the Light, we must ask the question as to what was the cause that is/was responsible for these events?
In answering these profound biblical questions we must steer clear of the pitfall of traditional church thinking, and insure that we do not make the mistake of adopting one biblical truth over the other. In this respect, we must refrain from asking which is true -- and instead open our minds to the higher understanding that merges the two truths into harmony. The answer cannot be found until we realize that we must not choose one truth over the other -- and, in the words of Spurgeon: “it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other”.
We must begin the process of embracing the Higher Truth by taking the words of Spurgeon to heart, and recognize that the fault in our failure to understand is of our own doing. What this means is that if we are to find the answer to the dilemma, we must refrain from questioning which passages of scripture is correct. Do we have free will? Or, is the Apostle Paul correct when he states: "For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” -- wherein the Apostle then explains that “It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy” (Rom 9:15-16 NIV)?
Truth can never oppose Truth! I acknowledge that it is a difficult task, but in order to begin to embrace the Mysteries and Higher Wisdom of God which the scriptures speak of, we must come to realize that one biblical truth does not negate the other. Paramount to understanding the Mysteries of God is the absolute need to further realize that our present-day doctrine that Jesus was all-inclusive in his revelation of the Good News, is fundamentally flawed and defective. Jesus was not all-inclusive! He taught the multitudes in parables which each hearer interpreted in accordance with their own understanding! Reserving his instruction of the Mysteries of God for those who were pre-selected as being worthy of receiving their revelation! If we, therefore, truly desire to be one of the few who are chosen to receive the Mysteries of the Gospel, then it is paramount that we first understand why the multitudes were rejected, and only certain pre-selected individuals were chosen for this purpose.
In the words of the Rev. Spurgeon, we must open our minds and learn to grasp the two lines of truth simultaneously. Though we may not initially understand it, we must begin to recognize that all things are preordained -- and even though our lives are preordained, we are responsible for not only the result, but also the very events that the Hand of God has brought about in our daily lives. Further, we must acknowledge the truth of those biblical verses that teach that some people do not possess free will at all -- that what appears to be choices for others are actually foreordained -- and that these people are also ultimately responsible for what God has brought into their lives. In order to accomplish this, we are going to have to open our minds to concepts that far eclipses present-day human comprehension with respect to everything that we think we know about life.
I understand full well that these spiritual concepts are not in accordance with our perception of an all-inclusive Gospel that was, and is, made available for all people to believe and be saved. While it is true that God is all-inclusive, the paradox to the equation is that He is not all-inclusive in the manner that we think. In the same way that our system of public education is all-inclusive -- in that, everyone has an absolute right to access the system -- it is also true that everyone does not have the right to access the system at any level of instruction they choose. Thus, each of us is entitled to access the system only at the appropriate level that is determined by our own level of maturity and achievement. We would no sooner permit a kindergarten student to attend college, than we would provide a graduate level curriculum to an elementary school level of education.
If we truly desire to move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and “go on to maturity” (Heb 6:1 NIV), we must begin to acknowledge that this is exactly what the Bible states. The Mysteries and Spiritual Gospel of Christ was only revealed selectively to a chosen group of people who were predestined to be taught what was concealed from the eyes and understanding of the majority of people who listened to Jesus teach. When we begin to acknowledge this biblical fact, only then can be begin to understand the criteria that was used to select these few from among the many. Ultimately, only when we comprehend the criteria which the Lord uses, are we able to move ourselves in that direction, and become the chosen who is deserving to receive the Spiritual Gospel of the Light.

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