2 Sides of the Coin: The Issue of Choosing Salvation

Oh, That's Where My Fork Went

Have you ever been traveling and come across a fork in the road? What did you do?

You either picked it up, or you left it.

You made a decision, didn't you?

Yup, you used good old free will and decided either to leave that fork there or pick it up and add it to your illustrious “Forks of the World” collection. Yup, good old free will.

Or was it that free?

Was your decision exempt from external authority, interference, pr restriction?

Yes! No! Maybe?

Well, let's think about that. If to be free means to be exempt from external authority, interference, and restriction then if your choice was exempt from external authority, interference, restriction it would be free! But was it exempt from external authority, interference, restriction?

Let's think of it in a different way.

Can you order a taco at McDonald's? Of course not. So when you enter McDonald's is your will free or are you a slave to the will of McDonald's? When you enter McDonald's you submit yourself to the authority of McDonald's and the restrictions of their menu. Thus inside a McDonald's you have no free will. You have a limited will, one that is defined by the rules of the arena.

But do I have the freedom to choose within that arena?

In theory, yes. In practice, no.

How can this be. At McDonald's I have the freedom to choose from anything on the menu, correct?

Wrong. You can only choose what you can afford. If you order a value meal, and you only have $1.06, then you are limited to only the items on the dollar menu. So now your will is limited not only by the arena, but also by your abilities.

But certainly I must have the freedom to choose whatever I may as long as it is within the arena and within my ability.

Wrong again. I don't mean to be so negative, but *shrugs*. Now that your arena and ability have whittled down your choices, there are two more factors: desire and consequence. This one is tricky; so I will explain. Desire in this instance means that of greatest importance to you: living, breathing, etc. Desire is complimented and refined by consequence. You “choose” that which will give you the desired consequence. The two are essentially the same.

Now, let's get back to the menu. Your arena and ability have limited you to just the dollar menu. For the sake of illustration lets say you have the choice between french fries or a grilled chicken wrap. You know that if you eat the french fries you will be consuming large amounts of harmful fats and excess calories, but it taste amazing, while the grilled chicken wrap is better for you, it just doesn't have the same flavor as french fries. You will “choose” which ever one fits your desires. Thus desire (and by association consequence), further limits your will.

There is one point I want to clarify. I only used the McDonald's theme for the sake of unity with my spiel, but drug addiction is a much better example. Those people sacrifice everything for their one overriding desire. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

I don't understand. What are you trying to prove? Is this world really materialistic? There is a theory that says the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including our decisions) are the result of material interactions.

Well yes and no.

Yes in that the only thing that exists is God; all things are created by Him and all phenomena (including our decisions) are the result of divine mandate. But this isn't true in the fact that God is not matter.

Why is this important?

Because this singular fact is the background to the glory of grace. Without it, grace would be tarnished by the vainglory of works. If we could choose, then we would become worthy of grace because we choose it. Choice would be the deed by which we could claim worth. Thus salvation would be by works, not grace.

What does all this mean for our faith?

You tell me, leave comments or questions, and I will be sure to respond promptly.

Andrew Hughes

Picture © Bluefishrun at Devianart.com: http://bluefishrun.deviantart.com/
Is God the Puppet Master?

Have you ever watched a puppet show? The basic idea behind a puppet is easily understood - the puppet master is able to control every movement of the puppet with his/her hand. The puppet (Pinocchio excluded) has no ability to control any aspect of what it does. When it comes to salvation, this type of control is often attributed to God. That He is the puppet master, and humans have no ability to accept or deny salvation. Rather, He controls their "choice." Today we'll be looking at salvation and, using the Word of God, trying to decide the place of human "choice" as it pertains to salvation.

Eph 2:8-9 - 8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Often the "human" part of choice is thrown off by some because they believe it to be a work. Obviously, Eph 2:8-9 states that we are not saved by any works of our own; so truly, that line of thought is not flawed. There are no works we can do to "earn" salvation. Rather, we are saved through faith, and salvation is a gift of God.

So, is "having faith" a work? Let's look at a few other scriptures talking about salvation:

Acts 16:31 - So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Romans 10:9 - that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

These scriptures are echoed quite a few times in the New Testament. From what these and other scriptures teach, salvation comes from: Believing that Jesus came to the Earth, died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3) and was raised from the dead on the third day. We must believe this. Rom 10:9 then adds to this, stating that we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe, and we will be saved.

So from these an other scriptures we understand that we are to believe, confess and have faith (Eph 2:8-9). The latter of these is interesting, because faith can be translated as "trust." I don't know about you, but if I command someone to have faith or trust in me, I want them to make tat choice. For indeed, if God were to make the "choice" for us, would it truly be us having "faith" or "trust" in him? He doesn't want puppets. He wants willing beings who love and trust in him.

Just to reiterate the importance of faith/trust:

Galatians 2:16 - "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."

So, is "choosing" a work? I don't think so. Works, when spoked about while pertaining to scripture, are things that people thing they do to earn their own salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven, and we don't have to, because Jesus has paid the price. We are not justifying our salvation by saying we choose, but rather our salvation is justified by what Christ has done. When we accept the salvation that God has offered us, we are not doing anything to earn that gift, but are rather accepting the work that Christ has done.

Look at it like this: Say you needed some money to pay off money you owe to, say, the IRS. It's a huge amount of money, and no matter what you do yourself, all the work you do and all the people you borrow money from, you just can't pay it off. Then some rich, generous guy who you don't know walks up to you and holds out a wad of cash that would cover your debt. All you have to do is take it, he say. Now, you didn't work for that money at all. You didn't do anything at all to earn it. He earned that money, and now he is offering it to you, so that you can pay off your debt and be free from it. He choose to give this gift to you, and all you have to do is choose to accept it.

Free will when it comes to salvation is sort of like that. Jesus did all the work for salvation. He did everything, and all he asks is that we believe that he did all the work, and have faith in Him. By accepting that and having faith, we are indeed choosing, but it is not a "work" as Ephesians chapter 2 warns us of. Remember that it all rests on Jesus. That it was his atoning sacrifice that gave us the freedom from sin, if only we would believe; have faith. He paid for it, He did all the work for it. We only have to accept it, to choose it.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me this free gift.

In Christ's Love,
Anthony DiGeorgio

Suggested reference: http://www.biblelife.org/election.htm
Picture © Electronic Arts / Godfather Video Game

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