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#56527 Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:40 AM
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042Dave Offline OP
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Free Will compatible with Sovereignty

Many wrestle believing free will is incompatible with Divine Sovereignty. But I think the Westminster Confession solved this paradox some 300 years ago.

CHAPTER 3; OF GOD’S DECREE

In modern English provided by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

1. God, from all eternity, did—by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will—freely and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass. Yet he ordered all things in such a way that he is not the author of sin, nor does he force his creatures to act against their wills; neither is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

The way I understand this is, we freely choose what we want based on the reasons (secondary causes) God sent to create our choices.

Another way to say it is that every free choice people make stems from a reason or situation God created for them to base it on, from eternity.

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"Free Will" as historically defined by non-Reformed churches, sects, cults, etc. is the ability of a person to choose whatever he wants/desires without restriction. They believe that the "will" is an independent part of man and determines all that a person will and can do.

The Bible and historically, the creeds and confessions of the original churches that were part of the Protestant Reformation and those that followed them rejected the Arminian/semi-Pelagian doctrine of "Free Will" because it violates the doctrine of "Total Depravity/Inability". Jonathan Edwards, in his treatise, "The Freedom of the Will", correctly stated that man is free to choose whatever he so desires according to his nature. Thus, an unregenerate person will ALWAYS choose that which is evil and contrary to the will of God because they are spiritually dead.

Martin Luther preceding Edwards understood this same truth which he wrote most marvelously in his well known book, The Bondage of the Will.

The "secondary causes" are simply God in His providence using situations, things, etc., to determine the 'path' of individuals, whether good or bad to accomplish His 'good pleasure (indeterminate council) (cf. Prov 16:9; Isa 46:9-11; Acts 2:22-24; et al).


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042Dave Offline OP
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I agree with the Reformed understanding. But I believe the Westminster Confession takes it one step further and shows how people incur guilt in their choices. Because it is what they want most to do. And yet God controls their choices by sending the various reasons they base their choices on. So this is how the world operates in general before salvation comes into view.

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Originally Posted by 042Dave
But I believe the Westminster Confession takes it one step further and shows how people incur guilt in their choices.
My only hesitancy in the above statement is that I would have stated it as: 'and shows how people incur further guilt in their choices', since all are guilty before God having the penalty of Original Sin (inherited corruption of nature and the imputed guilt of Adam's sin) upon them. grin


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042Dave Offline OP
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All incur greater guilt in time. Degrees of suffering in Hell depict this. God's judgements show far greater sin being committed by those under his wrath than the rest.

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Originally Posted by 042Dave
All incur greater guilt in time. Degrees of suffering in Hell depict this. God's judgements show far greater sin being committed by those under his wrath than the rest.
So, help me out here. Why is anyone going to be cast into the Lake of Fire? Does ANYONE do good (Rom 3:10-18)? What is sin but the transgression of the law of God. Thus, everyone whom God has not elected to salvation is worthy of damnation for none will have ever had one thought, not one deed, no not even one holy desire to do good from their conception to death. And, even if one could have lived a perfectly holy life, they would still be under the just wrath of God for they are guilty of Adam's sin (Rom 5:12-14, 9:6ff; 1Cor 5:21,22). So please tell me, why would God give less punishment to someone who has never done good over another? What "good deed" would "merit" any alleviation of eternal punishment? scratchchin

Oh, can you be so kind as to provide me with some biblical passages that clearly teach that there are going to be different levels of punishment in Hell? It has been my understanding over many years that one transgression of sin is worthy of the full wrath of God and eternal damnation. Perhaps I am in error. And if I am then by all means I truly desire to be corrected so that I can cast that error far from me... Thanks! grin


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042Dave Offline OP
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I'm surprised you are a moderator and are not aware of the degrees of suffering in Hell.

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Originally Posted by 042Dave
I'm surprised you are a moderator and are not aware of the degrees of suffering in Hell.
Please set aside your "surprise that I am a moderator" (I am not aware that holding to a doctrine of decrees of suffering in Hell is a prerequisite to being a moderator of this board?) and respectfully respond to the first part of my response to you above and honor my sincere request to provide biblical support for "degrees of punishment in hell".

Thank you


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Sorry. But for your info, scripture teaches degrees of suffering in hell as it does degrees of reward in heaven. Here's a couple of passages to consider; There will be degrees of punishment Mk 12:40 pp Lk 20:47 See also Mt 11:22,24; Lk 12:47-48

Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.


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