Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Against Free Will

 

1) God’s Word

Psalm 33:10: "He maketh the devices of the people of none effect."

Psalm 81:12: "So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels."

Proverbs 21:1: "The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."

Proverbs 28:26: "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool."

Ecclesiastes 7:20: "For there is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."

Jeremiah 4:22: "For my people is foolish, they have not known me … they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge."

John 1:13: "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

John 3:27: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."

John 6:44: "No man can come to me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 6:65: "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."

John 15:5: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing."

John 15:16: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you."

Romans 3:10-12: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is no that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

Romans 5:6: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."

Romans 7:18-19: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

Romans 8:7: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

Romans 9:16: "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

Romans 10:20: "I was found of them that sought me not."

Ephesians 2:1: "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."

Ephesians 2:5: "Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened us together with Christ; (by grace ye are saved.)"

Philippians 2:13: "For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

Colossians 2:13: "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

Titus 3:3-5: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."

 

2) Before the Reformation

Augustine: "I once laboured hard for the free will of man, until the grace of God at length overcame me."

Bradwardine: "What multitudes, O Lord, do this day join hands with Pelagius in contending for free will and in fighting … free grace."

Waldensians: "Whosoever upholds free-will absolutely denies predestination and the grace of God."

 

3) Luther

"Free will is an empty term."

"Free-will cannot will good and of necessity serves sin."

"This is plainly to ascribe divinity to ‘free will.’"

"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want ‘free-will’ to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground …; but because even were there no dangers … I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success … But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him.

Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God"  (The Bondage of the Will).

 

4) Calvin

"The Papists … hold that man, through his own free will, returns to God; and on this point is our greatest contest with them at this day."

"Concerning that this clown babbleth of free will, it is sufficiently rejected throughout the whole scripture."

"Faith is a special gift of God, which proceedeth not from our free will."

"Let that ethical philosophy therefore of free-will be far from a Christian mind."

"No free will of man can resist Him that willeth to save."

 

5) Reformation Confessions

Thirty-Nine Articles, X: "The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he can not turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."

Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 8: "Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness? Indeed we are; except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God."

Belgic Confession, XIV: "… we reject all that is taught repugnant to this, concerning the free will of man, since man is but a slave to sin; and has nothing of himself, unless it is given from heaven. For who may presume to boast, that he of himself can do any good, since Christ saith, No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him? Who will glory in his own will, who understands, that to be carnally minded is enmity against God? Who can speak of his knowledge, since the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God? In short, who dare suggest any thought, since he knows that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that our sufficiency is of God? And therefore what the apostle saith ought justly to be held sure and firm, that God worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. For there is no will nor understanding, conformable to the divine will and understanding, but what Christ hath wrought in man; which he teaches us, when he saith, Without me ye can do nothing."

Canons of Dordt, III/IV:3: "Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation."

Westminster Confession, IX – Of Free Will:

  1. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.

  2. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

  3. When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remaining corruption, he doth not perfectly nor only will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.

  4. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to do good alone in the state of glory only.

 

6) 16th Century

William Tyndale: "they go and set up free-will with the heathen philosophers and say that a man’s free will is the cause why God chooseth and not another, contrary to all scriptures."

Robert Ferrar (Welsh Bishop of St. David's martyred in Carmarthen on 30 March, 1555) with ten other reforming ministers: "... we disallow papistical doctrines of free will, of works of supererogation, of merits, of the necessity of auricular confession, and satisfaction to God-wards."

John Knox: "… the general consent of all that sect is that God (by his foreknowledge, counsel, and wisdom) has no assured election, neither yet any certain reprobation, but that every man may elect or reprobate himself by his own free will, which he has (say they) to do good or evil … [All these things are] forged by their own brains, and polished by the finest of their wits, when yet in very deed they are but the rotten heresies of … Pelagius, long ago confuted by Augustine …"

John Knox: "Ye [Anabaptists] be proud contemners of the free grace of God offered to man in Christ Jesus. For with the Pelagians and Papists ye are become teachers of free will, and defenders of your own righteousness" (An Answer to a Great Number of Blasphemous Cavillations Written by an Anabaptist and Adversary to God's Eternal Predestination [London: Thomas Charde, 1591], p. 121).

Jerome Zanchius: "No free will of the creature can resist the will of God" (quoting Augustine).

 

7) 17th Century

Henry Ainsworth: "we grant evil freewill (or freewill to evil) is remaining in all natural men: we believe that freewill to good, is from grace and regeneration."

Daniel Featley: "many men have too much Free-will, and take to themselves too free liberty now a days to advance and maintain free will."

John Preston: "not by the power of free will but by the infused grace of His spirit."

Peter Moulin: "It is proved out of the holy scriptures that an unregenerate man is altogether destitute of the power and liberty of his will, in those things that pertain to faith and salvation."

John Owen: "the whole Pelagian poison of free-will … a clear exaltation of the old idol free-will into the throne of God … That the decaying estate of Christianity have invented."

John Owen: Free will is "corrupted nature's deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds" (Works, vol. 10, p. 150).

William Jenkyn: "The bending of men's hearts to believe and persevere are the supernatural fruits of God’s eternal decree, and not the natural fruits of man’s depraved and frail free will."

John Trapp: "The friends of free will are the enemies of free grace."

Thomas Watson: "This crown of free will is fallen from our head" and "If it be God’s purpose that saves then it is not free will."

Francis Turretin: "The word "freewill" (as also "self-determining power" [autexousiou] used by the Greek Fathers) does not occur in Scripture … I Cor 7:37 does not mean freedom of the will."

 

8) 18th Century

Matthew Henry: "The counsels and decrees of God do not truckle to the frail and fickle will of man."

Augustus Toplady: "A man’s free will cannot cure him even of the toothache, or a sore finger; and yet he madly thinks it is in its power to cure his soul."

George Whitefield: "Man is nothing; he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him" and "you dishonour God by denying election. You plainly make salvation depend, not on God’s ‘free grace’ but on Man’s ‘free will.’"

William Huntington: "This brought me out of the free-will fog, and truth shone in my heart like a comet … from that moment I waged war against free will."

 

9) 19th Century

J. N. Darby, early leader of the Plymouth Brethren: "This re-appearance of the doctrine of freewill serves to support that of the pretension of the natural man to be not irremediably fallen, for this is what such doctrine tends to. All who have never been deeply convicted of sin, all persons in whom this conviction is based on gross external sins, believe more or less in freewill" (Man’s So-called Freewill, p. 1).

 

10) Charles Spurgeon

"I will go as far as Martin Luther, where he says, ‘If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly.’"

"Free-will doctrine—what does it? It magnifies man into God. It declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent on human action. Denying election on the ground of injustice, it holds God to be a debtor to sinners."

"His will cannot be neutral or ‘free’ to act contrary to his nature."

"Free will has carried many souls to hell, but yet never a soul to heaven."

"I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, "You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself." My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will."

 

11) 20th Century

Arthur W. Pink: "if the will is their servant then it is not sovereign, and if the will is not sovereign, we certainly cannot predicate ‘freedom’ of it."

Louis Berkhof: "Freedom of the will is a psychological fiction."

John Gerstner: "We have already shown that there is no such thing as free will. That’s a will-o’-the–wisp. You never make choices without reasons, not as a responsible or a rational person" (A Primer on Free Will, p. 11).

W. E. Best: "God’s character is maligned by every person who believes in free will."

Gordon H. Clark: "The Bible consistently denies free will."

R. C. Sproul: "The neutral view of free will is impossible. It involves choice without desire."

James White: "Then why do you embrace Christ, and your moral Buddhist neighbour across the street does not? Are you smarter than he is? More spiritually sensitive? Better, in any way? What makes you to differ? Is the Holy Spirit working just as hard on him as He did on you? If so, why do you believe, and he does not? No matter how hard you try, you can’t avoid coming to the conclusion that, in a 'free will' system of salvation, those who believe do so because there is something different about them. If the Spirit is bringing equal conviction to bear upon each individual, the only deciding factor, given equality in everything else, is something in the person himself. I believe the only possible difference between the redeemed in heaven and the guilty, condemned, punished sinner in hell is a five-letter word ... It’s called 'grace.'"

Steven Houck: "This free-willism is a serious error which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures."