“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
The belief in free will where God is concerned has become so self-evident that to many it is beyond questioning. The Gospel amounts to an offer that God makes to freely willing consumers. After all, the objection goes, we’re not puppets are we?
It is hard to see the real value of Christ Jesus and His cross under such circumstances. Oh sure, God crossed the eons of eternity, was born in the flesh, lived among us, resisted the Devil, suffered, died and was buried, and on the third day was raised from death , but now I must also do something. In the final analysis it’s up to me. Really? Doesn’t this smell just a little fishy?
What the so-called free will argument is really concerned with is not preserving human freedom where God is concerned – we don’t have any. The real concern is preserving the autonomy of the self; to remain a continously intact self that remains in charge.
It is no wonder that folks who are saddled with this belief are constantly pushed to choose improvement, to become better disciples, to chase the abundant life. The problem with free will Christianity is that you never arrive. The freely willing will must keep willing! There is always more work to do where God is concerned.
But the logic of the Gospel assumes not a free will where God is concerned but a bound will. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” The Bible could not be more clear. The Gospel is not an offer to the free will, “Make your decision for Christ”, it is a proclamtion to the bound will, “Christ has made a decision for you! Your sin is forgiven for Jesus’ sake!” This is the promise of your baptism.
The one message sends the sinner on a hopeless quest of spiritual self-improvement under the illusion of freedom to choose; the other creates freedom in the midst of bondage and brings the sinner to rest in the all-sufficient grace and mercy of the crucified and risen Lord.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”