Comments on De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of Will

JeffLogan's picture

Response to "Luther's proposition has faulty consequences"

Response to "Luther's proposition has faulty consequences" Submitted by michael_legna on Sat, 2011-07-02 11:41.

ML, I hope I have clarity with regard to your comments. I want to try to get my mind around some things you wrote and give a simple response for you to consider.

ML: "I think Luther was inconsistent in his reasoning, if your summary is accurate. This can be seen easily if we notice one simple point. That point being that Luther seems to leave open the possibility of rejecting God's grace."

Jeff: Could be a carryover from his earlier training. He kept a lot of what he had learned.

ML: Now if we can truly choose "in that hour" to either accept or reject God's grace (and I think we can) then we must have free will prior to receiving grace. At least a will free enough to make such decisions.

Jeff --

I don't believe your premise is necessary to arrive at this conclusion. In fact, I believe it's impossible for us to have free will prior to receiving grace. What I mean is this. Scripture paints a very bleak image of man's hopes to save himself from sin and the results of sin, death. In fact, Paul says in Romans that it's impossible for the carnal mind to be subject to God's will. Impossible! So this would seem to indicate that man is a prisoner of sin, a slave, and cannot escape. There is in that condition no choice for man to make. He is captive to sin and does as it commands. Thus, there is no free will in that situation.

But when Jesus offered himself in man's stead then a choice opened up for man. But still, man's condition was carnal and the carnal mind is at war with God and cannot be brought into subjection to God's will. So man could not make a choice between sin and righteousness as long as he was ruled by his carnal nature. In fact, he wouldn't even desire to make that choice in that condition. Therefore, God sought after man and bestowed upon him His grace so that man might regain the power of choice and subsequently, with choice and the power of choice restored, decide to either pursue it or reject it.

Jesus said, Unless you're born again, of the spirit, you will not see heaven. So a change of nature must occur. But how is man to effect that change? Where will he go to obtain this new birth? And how can he muster up the desire to even want such a thing? It is God's grace that restores in man a desire to change and the hope of being able to choose once presented with the options.

Once man is freed from the captivity of sin by God's grace then he has freedom to choose. But he must first be freed from the prison of sin. God places man where he has the choice to remain free or return to slavery to sin. At that point it becomes man's responsibility to decide which path he will follow. But those who choose to follow God do not suddenly become masters of their own selves. They do, however, become "slaves" to righteousness with Jesus as their Lord. But unlike their earlier condition in the prison house of sin where they had no choice, the Lord does not trample upon their will for "where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." So God not only restores our freedom to choose but He continually respects it and thus we find that some do turn around and go back to a life of sin.

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