My Problem with the Free Will Argument

9:00 AM

Nobody can snatch you out of the hands of God...but you can choose to walk away.

Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ...except yourself.

Proponents of the free will argument always say this cheerfully. Cheerfully. Every pastor I've heard preach, every layperson who's discussed Calvinism with me, they all say this cheerfully. It seems relieving. Hallelujah! Nothing and nobody but myself can take away my salvation!

And the thing I want to holler in confusion is But that's the only person I want stopped! That's the one person I want to be saved from! 

Maybe I'm more of a sinner than the rest of Christendom. Maybe I'm the only one prone to wander, who often finds herself fascinated with the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the rest of the world in which I'm not supposed to be interested. One side of me starts wandering after shiny sin, and the other side tries to wrestle me to the ground: God, get her before it's too late!

John Donne's Batter my heart, three-personed God is no exaggeration. I pray this prayer for myself. I pray this for people going astray. I pray this for those too calloused to even care where they're going. Tackle them. Batter them. Hammer out their will until it bends towards You. 

For the record, I'm not reading about snipers....

I believe in the strength of free will. We're born with a strong bent against God, against good, against sacrificial love -- even the best of us. That will, harnessed by the Spirit, held close to the heart of God, can accomplish great things. It's a strong force. It can love passionately. It can battle against evil.

Yet even after justification, even while in the arms of God, it can be unruly, swayed by temptation, moved by things other than God's love. Or is that just me?

I realize that the discussion on election and free will is deeper than this. I just want to point out that I feel no comfort in the belief that my free will determines my end. If that's true, I'm doomed. I might as well give up already. And why pray for the friends and family who drift away? If God cannot bring them to Him in the first place, why waste my tears and prayers begging Him to bring them back? I should be begging the wayward soul who has already decided he's done with this Christianity thing.

I can't live with that. I'd just curl up and lose hope. It's a struggle to love God, it's a struggle to pursue sanctification. It seems like there's a war within my members with an uncertain outcome. Will I come out a Christian? Will I come out an apostate? How can I know my end? When I'm scared of myself and the things I might do and the places I might go, it comforts me so much to remember this: while I'm kicking and screaming and wanting to jump out of His hand, God holds on with His sovereign choice. He promises, You can walk away...but my child, I will never let go. 


Do you feel this way, or am I the only one? I'd love to hear a dissenter to election explain why she finds comfort in the free will argument! Please feel free to share!

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14 impressions

  1. Having grown up a Calvinist, Arminianism sounds very weak. Of course, there are degrees of Free Will-ism; some people say that you make the choice to be saved, but once saved always saved. Others say that you can lose your salvation. But if you notice, neither of them pays attention to that little verse that says GOD gives the elect to Jesus, and NO ONE can snatch them out of GOD's OR CHRIST's hands. Salvation begins with God, it is carried out by God, and it ends with God.
    I really can't understand how anyone could find comfort in an Arminian God; actually, I believe like Spurgeon said, that every true Christian is a Calvinist when they pray: if they actually prayed like Arminians, they would be blasphemers.

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    1. This is true...we all pray like we believe that GOD, not people, has the final say in our decisions!

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  2. I have to say that this post is definitely bringing me back around to the predestination side. Because I've definitely seen in my own life how I can just be like, "I am so done with living the righteous life, let's get on to the fun stuff." And then somehow, every time, I end up back with God. And I know it's not me who does that.

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    1. I know, right? I'm tempted to just make an argument for predestination based solely on my life experience....He is so gracious in orchestrating my life and whispering to my heart (or performing a siege operation on it, depending on the moment ;)) so that I come back to him.

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  3. Bailey, you are definitely not alone in "prone to wander!"
    Got questions.org has some really good resources, Here's one I found: http://www.gotquestions.org/is-God-sovereign.html
    I would argue that the person who "loses their salvation" was never truly saved in the first place. Personally, I can't fathom NOT wanting God. :)
    Here's one of my favorite quotes: By faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone.

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    1. Mmm, yeah. I love that quote, Emily!

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    1. Aemi! Thank you for your enthusiastic yes! It's good to hear from you. :)

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  5. I think I might tend to take it the other way, knowing that God has saved me and I am His, and I think,"I can live in this sin for right now. He'll bring me back." So I do, and I lose the joy and peace that comes from living in fellowship with Him. But it is so much sweeter in His arms, when I'm striving after Him, not the ways of the world.
    I'm reminded of that line from In Christ Alone: No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand...
    Amen!
    Thank you so much for this post!

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    1. Oh, gosh...Katherine, you've hit upon EXACTLY the thing that bothers me about Calvinism. I too often think that way...but you're right, it's so miserable. (Why do we go astray?? Silly humans....)

      I LOVE THAT LINE. I sing it so loud whenever we sing it in church!!!!

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  6. "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it." It's a line that always hits me hard, too. Because I DO feel it. So much. I really like what you noted here: "When I'm scared of myself and the things I might do and the places I might go, it comforts me so much to remember this: while I'm kicking and screaming and wanting to jump out of His hand, God holds on with His sovereign choice." So true. If He is powerful enough to save a sinner like me in the first place, how is He not powerful enough to keep me from falling away from salvation or calling me to repent when I do slide backward--again and again and again? Kind of overwhelms me how amazing He is. "How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure." ^_^

    Loved this post.

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    1. I always think of that line and that song when I'm struggling. I love how so many of us are quoting songs -- we have such a rich heritage of great songs that celebrate God's sovereignty.

      And isn't He amazing?? :D

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  7. In the sermon in my church last Sunday, the pastor said, "Grace is God saving you from yourself in spite of yourself." I found this encouraging, because there is NOTHING I can do to make God forsake me.

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    1. Love it, Justine!! It's so encouraging!

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