The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723) Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Read the remaining 69 resolutions @ The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.

One of the questions and debates that have plague man for many years is that of Free Will. Do I not have a choice in becoming a believer? Do I not decide to follow Jesus? If not am I nothing more than a robot? Man by nature wants to be in charge in control (or at least feel he is).

Last week while preaching one of the men I minister to made a remark about Free Will. Of course I raised an eyebrow, not because he was theologically incorrect but because I realized he did not have a true understanding of Biblical Free Will. So today we will explore the topic of Free Will as described and defined in the Bible.

There are two main schools of thought when it comes to free will. They are: The following paragraphs (taken from Romans: An Interpretive Outline, by David N. Steele and Curtis Thomas) give a particularly clear and concise summary of the differences between Arminianism and Calvinism.

Arminianism: or human ability. Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe but does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists in his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.

Calvinism: or Human inability. Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the Gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature; therefore, he will not—indeed he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ—it takes regeneration, by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation; it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.

While I adhere to the reformed, covenant or Calvinist approach to this and most doctrines I am not here to bash any other. I am a Baptist first and foremost because Jesus was baptized; if it was good enough for my Saviour it is good enough for me. That is not to say I do not admire some who think Calvinism is a curse word.

To keep things simple I have chosen to utilize: A Faith to Confess: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 Rewritten in Modern English ©1975, Carey Publications, Ltd., 75 Woodhill Road, Leeds, U.K., LS16 7BZ as found on the Founders Ministries Web Site. (ESV)

Article 9 of the BCF 1689 reads: FREE WILL

Section 1. In the natural order God has endued man's will with liberty and the power to act upon choice, so that it is neither forced from without, nor by any necessity arising from within itself, compelled to do good or evil.

The confession uses three scripture references to support its claim. We will break them down individually.

Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed;

This is an interesting and somewhat confusing scripture to quote. Moses and the tribe of Israel would have surely known the story of the Garden and how God had cursed the ground and all that was in it. How because of Adam and Eve’s sinful choice all mankind was condemned to death. Is the bible contradicting itself? No never! God cannot tolerate lies: Prov 12:22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

So what is it how can we have a choice in death or life. Read carefully it says God has this day put before you. This verse is not referencing the fall of mankind but a future gift offered by God to individuals. He is saying when offered this gift you must choose, wisely choose life.

This is not new to the Jews for a few Chapters earlier in Deut 11 we find:

26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:

28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

What is the key to the curse (death) chasing false God’s in any form. The key to the blessing (life) is Faith in the only true God. Ok so we do have a choice? Read on my friends.

Mat 17:12 but I say into you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they would. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.

Ok, flash forward a bunch of centuries form Moses to the time of Christ. Jesus himself says in Matt 17:12 that as in times past when great prophets like Elijah were ignored so too shall the Son of Man be ignored. Not just ignored but will suffer under the hand of men. Do you see it man chooses evil over good. He will do it every time.

Christ says the same thing in John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

Ok full circle back to the dilemma, if our evil nature does not allow us to choose life what choice do we have?

Jas 1:14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.

We have a choice in our personal deeds. You have the Free Will to choose to cave in to the temptations of life or not. Johnathan Edwards in his work The Freedom of the Will defines “will” as “that by which the mind chooses”. We as human being make choices daily. You are choosing to be here tonight (or to read this online). You choose to eat, drink and much much more.

R. C. Sproul in Chapter 63 of his book Essential Truths of the Christian Faith writes: even the most ardent Calvinist would not deny that the will is free to choose whatever it desires. Even the most ardent Arminian would agree that the will is not free to choose what it does not desire.

The question then arises what is it man desires? Ps 37:4b he will give you the desires of your heart.

Section 2. In his state of innocency man had freedom and power to will and to do what was good and acceptable to God. Yet, being unstable, it was possible for him to fall from his uprightness.

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

ECCL 7:29 Behold, this only have I found: that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Or the Amplified version Behold, this is the only [reason for it that] I have found: God made man upright, but they [men and women] have sought out many devices [for evil].

Prior to the fall man was fully capable of free will. God did not in fact create robots. Yet seemingly always man desires what he does not have. Better put he covets those things he thinks will better his life. There may or may not be any measurable benefit to his desires but that will not deter man from trying to obtain his desires. Those who have ever battled any form of addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.) understand this all too well. We would do anything for that next high knowing full well the last was a disappointment but having high (pun intended) hopes the next will fully satisfy or desires.

It is this selfish desire that man will, on his own, ALWAYS revert too. We have shown in John 3:19 above and discussed at length previously (See sermon on John 3) that man has no innate ability to do that which is upright before God. Man is sinful and that sinfulness comes from the desires of his heart.

So I wish to spend the remainder of our time looking at the word and deeds surrounding the sin of COVETOUSNESS

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (KJV) defines it as:

kuv'-et-us-nes: Has a variety of shades of meaning determined largely by the nature of the particular word used, or the context, or both. Following are some of the uses:

(1) To gain dishonestly (batsa`)

Exodus 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

The way to gain favor with man and God is to deal honestly with them. Be a man of truth. We must as the bible says put off the old man (and all its worldly desires) while putting on the new man and focusing our desires on God.

Ezekiel 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

Always beware of smooth talking men. You know the type they promise the world and cannot deliver. They are in for themselves. We see them throughout the bible (Serpent?) and even from pulpits today.

(2) The wish to have more than one possesses, inordinately, of course (pleonexia),

Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

1 Thessalonians 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

What will be the legacy of your life? Will it be the possession left behind or the exemplary life you led? It is never too late to leave a legacy as an example to all. There were two unknown thieves on the Calvary hill next to Christ. Both left indelible impressions on history one of damnation the other of life.

(3) An inordinate love of money philarguros,

Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Those who look to themselves above all will deny the truth in any form.

2 Timothy 3:2; philarguria, For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Corruptible man is incapable of walking upright in the Lord

1 Timothy 6:10; the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Note money in itself is not the root of all evil. It is the love of money over the love of God. Who or what is your IDOL. What or who is it you put before Christ? When my wife and I married our Pastor made a point to counsel us never to put one another before Christ. It is a word of wisdom I never fail to pass on.

Hebrews 13:5, Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Our conversation (life) should be one of gratitude. There is nothing wrong with asking for improvements (better running car, home, job etc.) but we should not let that become the focus of our desires. Our focus should always remain on God.

If we are going to call ourselves a Christian we must align our actions with those honoring God. Our will, our ability to choose our deeds and actions must be based upon His precepts His laws not our covetous desires. Otherwise we are nothing more than false witnesses to the Cross.

Next week part II Free Will in Salvation.

 

PRAYER

Inmate Requests

Sean’s daughter health and healing after miscarriage

Will asks prayer for his release, a job upon release, his family, the homeless, the lost and all the victims of the recent tornadoes

Bobby asks, all the sick and shut ins, his family, the officers, his release and walk with God, the ministry at HCHC

Clayton asks, pray for his son, his son’s mom and step dad, his release, a job and a Christian environment to live in, his family

A nameless inmate asks, for spiritual guidance and strength in overcoming battles as he is going through some tough times.

Ronnie asks, prayer for his mom who is seriously ill and his sister, for the staff at HCHC, for his parole, all the inmates also

Another asks prayers for his Aunt Ramona who has been diagnosed with cancer and Aunt Melody who is getting divorced

Willie asks, prayer for his family especially his wife and kids; a favorable parole hearing in July

Robert asks, pray he can find a good place to go when released in Sept.

Clifton asks, prayer for his fellow inmates, peace and all manner of evil on the block be removed, for all the tornado victims of MS, and for God’s will to be done in all our lives.

Gary L. who has just been released to have a successful transition into society

Tony D. who is having a tough time getting good legal representation.

Andy who is battling illness

Lakeshore Baptist Church

Pray for Pete a volunteer from Atlanta who was seriously injured on the job Friday. He is back home recovering.

Pray for Ms. B. and her continued battle with heart issues

Praise for Mr Sam’s good news that his cancer is in remission

Shayna who is expecting twins

Mr David and Ms Doris traveling to Arkansas

Continued Prayers for Naida and I in our work in Lakeshore.

Pray for the ministry work at Hancock County Jail

Continued healing prayers for:

Rich B. and his continuing health issues

Bob and Vickie B. Multiple Scoliosis

Shelia W. diabetes related issues

Employment for;

Robert O., Aimee, and others

Fellow Ministries

Springfield (MA) Rescue Mission

Come and celebrate the graduation of Ken and David on May 6th.

Wells of Hope Academy, Uganda:

Please pray God will continue His divine providence over this ministry and provide the funds needed to finish the construction projects and run the school.

You can contribute or follow on facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/139936426116070/ or Website: www.wellsofhope.org Telephone; 256772407716

Prison Fellowship

Prison Fellowship invites you to join us in praying for the work being done in prisons throughout the country, and for the lives being touched by this ministry.

Prison Fellowship's Prayer Team offers volunteers the opportunity to take the needs of prisoners before God during regularly scheduled intervals. To learn more about the prayer team, and how you can participate, click here.

International Network of Prison Ministries (INPM)

Please prayer for the financial well-being of this organization

Serge Taran, Founder **International Network of Prison Ministries; http://prisonminist ry.net/support. htm

True Freedom Outreach New Zealand, ministering to Kanater Prison Egypt

Dear Friends of the Kanater Ministry,

I am attaching the new newsletter, which I hope you can download all right.

The printer sent it in a different format.

May God bless each of you out of his abundance, and also the men and women we care for in Kanater.

With love in Christ, and thanks for your ongoing involvement in prayer and in giving,

Jeanette Grimmer

(For a copy of the entire newsletter and prayer needs email us)

Missionaries

Campus Crusades for Christ – Ben and Becky Rivera

Thank you for your prayers. Becky saw another woman at the pregnancy center pray to trust Christ and keep her baby! A great double victory. Looks like I will be opening 2 and possibly 3 new campus ministries in the next couple of weeks. God is moving. Blessings, Ben

That Ye may Prove

Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I remember in the days of my youth trying to prove I was big enough to hang with the older guys. This usually resulted in my getting totally embarrassed or having some serious bumps and bruises. I was attempting to “prove” I was grown up, bigger than I really was, and therefore deserved something, in this case hanging with the big guys.

The Apostle Paul is not asking us to “prove” anything is that context. We have nothing to test only to proclaim. No here we are by our actions (words and deeds) “proving” (To ascertain the genuineness or validity of; to verify; as, to prove a will) God’s will.

Amplified 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Let’s break it down some:

The word prove:

In Greek Dokimazo: to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

Calvin: As all were not true prophets, the Apostle here declares that they ought to have been examined and tried. And he addresses not only the whole Church, but also every one of the faithful.

a. Who is proving? ALL BELIEVERS SERVING GOD and as believers we are to prove or test all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Prove all things,.... That are said by the prophets, all the doctrines which they deliver; hear them, though they have not the gift of tongues, and all desirable advantages; do not reject them on that account, and refuse to hear them, for so, many useful men may be laid aside, and the Spirit of God in them be quenched; try their gifts, and attend to their doctrines, yet do not implicitly believe everything they say, but examine them according to the word of God the test and standard of truth; search the Scriptures, whether the things they say are true or not. Not openly erroneous persons, and known heretics, are to be heard and attended on, but the ministers of the word, or such who are said to have a gift of prophesying; these should make use of it, and the church should try and judge their gift, and accordingly encourage or discourage; and also their doctrines, and if false reject them, and if true receive them.
Hold fast that which is good; honest, pleasant, profitable, and agreeable to sound doctrine, to the analogy of faith, and the Scriptures of truth, and is useful and edifying, instructive both as to principle and practice; such should be held fast, that no man take it away; and be retained, though a majority may be against it, for the multitude is not always on the side of truth; and though it may be rejected by men of learning and wealth, as Christ and his doctrines were rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees, and rulers of the people; and though it may be reproached as a novel, upstart notion, or a licentious one, since these were charges against the doctrine of Christ, and his apostles; and though it may be attended with affliction and persecution, yet none of these things should move from it, or cause to let it go

Proving all things is especially true for your calling. I think God wants me… is no substitute for God has clearly called me to …

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try ( or prove) the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

b. What is being proved? That which is GOOD, acceptable, and perfect

Let us look at some “good” things ALL believers will do

Profess God, Christ and the Holy Spirit Ps 14:1The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Notice apart from God there is nothing “GOOD”. All works done by unbelievers are corrupt.

Helps others, Prov 3:27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

Submits to authority Rom 13:1-4 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. The caution in this verse is that those in authority doing antichrist things, anti-biblical things are not to be obeyed.

The good will of God will always agree with scripture.

Now let’s look at some acceptable things:

Our words and deeds must be pleasing to God PS 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Proclaiming the Good News is acceptable Is 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

Righteous work that is not controversial is acceptable Rom 14:16-18 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

Now let’s look at some perfect things:

God’s Law is perfect Ps 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Displaying God’s Perfect love Matt 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Perfection is only obtainable in Christ Col 1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

c. Why are we proving it? To demonstrate by our conversation (life) the will of God to unbelievers, fellow believers and ourselves.

The last point I wish to make today deals with God’s will. The often asked question is “How can I know what God’s will for my life is”? Before one can begin to answer that we must understand God’s will.

The following from R.C. Sproul on the will of God taken from Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

1. The three meanings of the will of God:

(a) Sovereign decretive (directive) will, the will by which God brings to pass
whatsoever He decrees. This is hidden to us until it happens.

(b) Preceptive will is God's revealed law or commandments, which we have the power but not the right to break.

(c) Will of disposition describes God's attitude or disposition. It reveals
what is pleasing to Him.

Doris Day sang a popular song entitled "Que Sera, Sera," "What will be, will be." At first glance this theme communicates a kind of fatalism that is depressing. Islamic theology frequently says of specific events, "It is the will of Allah."

The Bible is deeply concerned about the will of God---His sovereign authority over His creation and everything in it. When we speak about God's will we do so in at least three different ways. The broader concept is known as God's decretive, sovereign, or hidden will. By this, theologians refer to the will of God by which He sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass. Because God is sovereign and His will can never be frustrated, we can be sure that nothing happens over which He is not in control. He at least must "permit" whatever happens to happen. Yet even when God passively permits things to happen, He chooses to permit them in that He always has the power and right to intervene and prevent the actions and events of this world. Insofar as He lets things happen, He has "willed" them in this certain sense.

Though God's sovereign will is often hidden from us until after it comes to pass, there is one aspect of His will that is plain to us---His preceptive will. Here God reveals His will through His holy law. For example, it is the will of God that we do not steal; that we love our enemies; that we repent; that we be holy. This aspect of God's will is revealed in His Word as well as in our conscience, by which God has written His moral law upon our heart.

His laws, whether they be found in the Scripture or in the heart, are binding. We have no authority to violate this will. We have the power or ability to thwart the preceptive will of God, though never the right to do so. Nor can we excuse ourselves for sinning by saying, "Que sera, sera." It may be God's sovereign or hidden will that we be "permitted" to sin, as he brings His sovereign will to pass even through and by means of the sinful acts of people. God ordained that Jesus be betrayed by the instrument of Judas's treachery. Yet this makes Judas's sin no less evil or treacherous. When God "permits" us to break His preceptive will, it is not to be understood as permission in the moral sense of His granting us a moral right. His permission gives us the power, but not the right to sin.

The third way the Bible speaks of the will of God is with respect to God's will of disposition. This will describes God's attitude. It defines what is pleasing to Him. For example, God takes no delight in the death of the wicked, yet He most surely wills or decrees the death of the wicked. God's ultimate delight is in His own holiness and righteousness. When He judges the world, He delights in the vindication of His own righteousness and justice, yet He is not gleeful in a vindictive sense toward those who receive His judgment. God is pleased when we find our pleasure in obedience. He is sorely displeased when we are disobedient.

Many Christians become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the "will" of God for their lives. If the will we are seeking is His secret, hidden, or decretive will, then our quest is a fool's errand. The secret counsel of God is His secret. He has not been pleased to make it known to us. Far from being a mark of spirituality, the quest for God's secret will is an unwarranted invasion of God's privacy. God's secret counsel is none of our business. This is partly why the Bible takes such a negative view of fortune-telling, necromancy, and other forms of prohibited practices.

We would be wise to follow the counsel of John Calvin when he said, "When God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry." The true mark of spirituality is seen in those seeking to know the will of God that is revealed in His preceptive will. It is the godly person who meditates on God's law day and night. While we seek to be "led" by the Holy Spirit, it is vital to remember that the Holy Spirit is primarily leading us into righteousness. We are called to live our lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. It is His revealed will that is our business, indeed, the chief business of our lives.

Recapping this series we find the Apostle Paul (as should all reputable teachers of God’s word) begging the reader to present themselves holy and acceptable to God. This can only be accomplished by our determined effort to not be like the world around us. But by a total renovation of our minds; we focusing on the things of God; can by our very lives prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God to all.