Etikettarkiv | choice

FREE WILL is in the Bible, as well as CHOOSE

narrow gateIt’s interesting that words such as sovereign, sovereignty, depraved and depravity are not mentioned in the Bible (KJV), but free will, and choose are used several times – in relation to man’s ability to choose between two or more options. These words must not be present in the Bible for them to be true, because the Bible is replete with people who make choices – and often very bad choices against God’s will. We certainly can’t accomplish all the things we want in this world, but free will is often labeled as the ability to make contrary choices.

The lack of a word in the Bible is of course not necessarily evidence for that the concept of this word is non-existent in the Bible, because most christians believe in both monotheism and the trinity without the actual presence of these words. However, if the words themselves are not present in the Bible, then at least the concept of them must be there – just as the case is with monotheism and trinity. Problems start to arise when people change meanings of words, or add ideas into the Bible that simply aren’t there.

God is ”sovereign” but certainly not in the way that reformed believers suggest. A sovereign God can do whatever he wants, including creating man with free will.

Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into thekingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

He who does the will of God the Father? I thought 100% of all people always did his will – in the calvinistic world?

Free will in the Bible

The following verses are mainly about man’s free will offerings, but if all of our offers are based on God’s decree and predestination, why even using expressions such as ”and of every one that willingly offered a free will offering unto the Lord” as though there is a free will and an actual choice involved? In the reformed view, are not 100% of all offers based on God’s will alone? So why all these confusing ”free will” terms? Isn’t it also strange that words must change meanings in order to fit with a preferred doctrine? It seems like some words have one meaning outside of the Bible, and another meaning inside the Bible – such as the term Free Will. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Leviticus 22:18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering;

Numbers 15:3 And will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord, of the herd or of the flock

Ezra 3:5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the Lord that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord.

Ezra 7:16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem:

Psalm 54:6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

”Choose” – chooseExamples where God is asking man to choose between options, and/or indications of that man can choose the wrong path

Deut. 30:10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.—14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.—19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.—27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

2 Sam. 24:10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. (+ 1 Chron. 21:10-11)

Prov. 1:28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Prov. 3:31 Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

Is. 41:23 Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.24 Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you.

Is. 56:4 For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

Is. 65:12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.

Is. 66:4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Ez. 21:18 The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying,19 Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city

Phil. 1: 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which isfar better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, (NKJV)

”Chose” and ”chosen” – Examples in past tense, where God is asking man to choose between options, and/or indications of that man can choose the wrong pathcalvinism 4

 Gen. 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Gen. 13:11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other

Jud. 10:13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation

1 Sam. 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.—18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; (1 Sam. 12:13)

Ps. 119:173 Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.

Is. 66:3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

Jer. 8:1 At that time, saith the Lord, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves:—3 And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the Lord of hosts.—5 Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.6 I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Luke 10:41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 14:7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. (NKJV)

Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

Acts 15:40 And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

Annonser

It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps? – Jer. 10:23

direct stepsJer. 10:23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to DIRECT HIS STEPS

Some people seem to believe, that if you manage to find ”God directs his steps” in a bible verse or two, then this means that God directs ALL steps of ALL people ALL THE TIME with NO EXCEPTION and with NO involvement by man.

God is in Jer. 10:23 speaking to Israel through the prophet of Jeremiah. God warns the israelites from doing as the heathens (who were acting against the will of God) by not being dismayed by the signs in heaven. Instead of letting the stars direct our steps, we should let God direct our steps – but then we have to seek his will. ”The customs of the people are in vain” according to God, and as an example he gives details about the heathens decorating and erecting false idols to worship. This is actually the same verses which some people commonly use to show that it’s a sin to make use of christmas trees, but they fail to see that this is about building false idols.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

As a contrast to mute and false gods, GOD is a living God! We are also told that his WRATH will cause people to tremble, because apparently people’s behavior sometimes cause God to be angry and to show indignation at their doings. Things definitely don’t always turn out the way God wants, and false gods and other sins always happen against his will.

10 But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Their false gods have certainly not made the heavens and the earth, so they are worshiping them in vain. They are breaking the first commandment, which is to worship God alone.

11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens—14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish.

But not all people are wicked heathens who worship false gods. At least they are not supposed to! God seems to fear that the crimes of the heathen will even affect the children of Jacob.

16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The Lord of hosts is his name.

God’s tabernacle is spoiled, and his children are gone forth of him (even risking to devour the children of Jacob), and God is grieved that they have stopped caring for his tabernacle the way they used to. Even the pastors have become brutish and they have not sought the Lord. For this reason (their refusal to seek the Lord) they shall not prosper, and the consequence will be that their flocks shall be scattered. So not only are the heathens involved in wickedness, but God’s own children are too!

20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

It’s in this context that v. 23 comes in. A man is not supposed to turn his back on God by not seeking his guidance, and to drift away in his own ways. Man is not supposed to direct his own steps, but God is supposed to direct his steps – which is impossible if man doesn’t even seek God. Man is supposed to be corrected by God, but the heathens have chosen to not seek God or call on his name. They have eaten up even Jacob! No wonder God is grieved and uses Jeremiah to warn his unruly people.

23 Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.24 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.25 Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.

The promise is that if we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, HE SHALL DIRECT OUR STEPS!

Prov. 1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

You can also read about Proverbs 16:4-9 here and Proverbs 21:1 here.

”I will have mercy on who I will have mercy”, but not unconditionally – Rom. 9:15

moses

Rom. 9:15 FOR HE SAITH TO MOSES, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion

This is a very famous and popular verse, and there are some (reformed) christians who translate this verse into ”God says to us all; I will elect certain individuals for salvation, and I will place no conditions whatsoever on those that I choose…”. Just because God shows mercy to individuals, groups of people and entire nations, it doesn’t mean that they will be saved, and neither does it say anywhere in Romans. 9:15 that God shows mercy unconditionally. Paul is here making a reference to Exodus 33:19 where God is speaking to Moses, so in order to get Paul’s point we should both read both the context in Romans 9 (which is about God’s right to make the offer of salvation also to the gentiles and under the conditions that he himself chooses) as well as checking the passage that Paul is referring to in order to understand his full point.

Ex 33:2 (God) And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments.For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.—(Mose starts out)16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.17 And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.18 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

As we can see, Moses is having a huge problem with the people that he was a leader for, and that’s because they were stiff-necked and rebellious against the God who Moses was a true servant of. Man’s free will is fully displayed in this passage (and throughout the entire Bible) because naturally God doesn’t want people to be disobedient to him and to walk on their own evil ways. The only reason God is threatening to consume them, is due to their sinfulness and stubborn hearts. Moses is pleading with God to show mercy on his people and he is successful because God has indeed seen Moses’ heart and therefore decided to show him grace and listen to his requests.

As we can see, the phrase that he ”will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” is not in reference to God unconditionally electing people to salvation, and neither can this phrase be understood that way in Romans 9. Moreover, just because God decides to show mercy on a person, it doesn’t mean this person will necessarily be saved because mercy (or kindness or grace) might not even be in relation to the person’s soul. And even if it is in relation to the person’s soul, it doesn’t say ”Once God has shown mercy on a person, this person forever remains in his mercy and is forever saved”. Just like we people can choose to be kind or not to others depending on their actions, so can God.

That people are being stiff-necked in the Bible can be seen here with many examples.

Compare with the words of David, who claims that God will be merciful to those who are merciful – which is how God has chosen to treat people:

2 Sam. 22:25 Therefore the Lord hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight.26 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.27 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.28 And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

We are told to be merciful as our Father is merciful

If the idea is that God has a certain lucky and elect elite that he has decided to show mercy on while he turns his back on all others, can we act in the same way by showing mercy (being kind) to only SOME? Not according to the Bible that says we are to be good to all. If we show mercy to others, we can be expected to get mercy ourselves, and God expects us to show mercy to others.

Luke:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

1 Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Ja. 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Broader context from Romans 9. Read more about Romans 9 in this article.

Rom. 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory

Mercy is often in relation to individuals who are being righteous

It makes sense that kind-hearted and obedient people are prone to receive mercy themselves.

Genesis. 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Genesis 24:27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abrahamwho hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.

Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

1 Kings 3:6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.

Isaiah 14:1 For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

Conditions that are required for getting mercy, and when God does NOT show mercyKärlek

It looks like God is keen to show mercy on people who LOVE HIM AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. We can see this requirement throughout the below verses.

Ex. 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Deut. 5:Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

Deut. 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;10 And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers 

1 Kings 8:23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart

2 Chronicles 6:14 And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts

Nehemiah 1:5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Isaiah 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

Isaiah 30:18 And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.

Isaiah 47:6 I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

Hosea 2:4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.

Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.

Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Romans 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Gal. 6 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Psalms and Proverbs about mercy

In Psalms and Proverbs we can see the conditions for getting mercy, and they are the same as above.

Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.

Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalm 37:21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

Psalm 62:12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work

Psalm 86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

Psalm 118:4 Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 130:7 Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

Psalm 147:11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Psalm 145:The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Proverbs 14:22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.

Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

Proverbs 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

We are not saved because we have always done the right thing, but because we are able to be cleansed in the blood of Jesus upon our repentance and faith in his holy name.

Titus. 3:For we ourselves also WERE sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost

It’s a choice to be CHILDREN OF WRATH – Ephesians 2

Children of wrath and God’s election in Ephesians 2

There are some who believe that God randomly selects people to be saved and ignore the rest, and they try to use Ephesians 1-2 as support for this theory. The truth is that God wants ALL people to be saved because he IS a merciful God and he wants us to take after HIM when it comes to showing mercy. (We shouldn’t strive to be merciful to SOME and ignore the majority.)

2 Peter 3:The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

In Ephesians we can read about a corporate election, and the body of Christ IS indeed chosen to inherit his kingdom. I believe God decided before the world began that true believers shall inherit his kingdom, but the question is if we as individuals would like to join the body of Christ (the Church) or not. IF we so choose, the wonderful promises are also tied to us. ”Elect” is about value and can mean precious, and we are indeed precious if we choose to believe in our Savior and live holy and separate. The book of Ephesians concerns what BELIEVERS can look forward to in the future. Pay attention to how many times IN him, THROUGH him, etc, are mentioned in Ephesians 1-2. Being IN HIM is the condition for being one of the elect! Also pay attention to the warnings addressed to christians. Paulus starts out his letter by addressing FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS who therefore are HOLY and very special (elect):

Ephesians 1

When Paul talks about US he refers to both jews and gentiles who believe in Jesus ChristPaul puts a lot of emphasis on trying to get the jews to understand that they are not on the way to heaven just because they are born jews and are his chosen people. It’s through JESUS that we can be saved. It’s through his blood because only his precious blood can cleanse our sins. What God had decided from eternity past is NOT which individuals to provide faith and eventually save, but rather that whoever is IN HIM (”us” v. 4) are ELECT, and chosen to be holy and blameless before God thanks to the blood of Jesus! The condition is therefore that we must be IN HIM in order to reach the state where we have all the mentioned wonderful promises tied to us.  What is foreknown is that those who are IN HIM will through Jesus Christ be taken up as his holy children. Those who are not IN HIM are not forgiven for their sins and redeemed in his blood, resulting in that they are lost. We as believers have redemption through his blood, and that means we are on the safe side. We are therefore adopted as children and can expect an inheritance, but only as long as we’re not getting off the transportation going to heaven. (Let’s not forget that a son can be disinherited though.) Who is Paul addressing when he mentions all the wonderful promises? The saints. To the faithful in Jesus Christ. No one forced them to be saints and faithful, but they chose to be this by themselves. As such, the wonderful promises that Paul talks about, are theirs, provided of course that they continue on that path.

Eph. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, TO THE SAINTS which are at Ephesus, and TO THE FAITFFUL in Christ Jesus

V. 5 below uses the word ”adoption” but this word didn’t mean exactly the same thing 2000 years ago as it does today in our modern world. The Greek word ”huiothesia” refers to the standing of someone who is ALREADY a son and Adoption is thus the inheritance or promise that the son can expect to receive as an heir. Huiothesia is not the same as salvation but it is the promise of God received by those who are believers in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:22-27).  The body of Christ is predestined to God’s kingdom and to receive the inheritance, and the question remains who would like to join and who will remain to the end. The body of Christ is heading there, but are YOU? Join the body-of-Christ-bus, but stay on the bus to the end station!

Eph. 1:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST:According as he hath chosen us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame BEFORE HIM in love:Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted IN THE BELOVED.7 IN WHOM we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace

The Holy Spirit is like a  deposit for us christians (and all the spiritual gifts will one day pass away when we enter God’s kingdom), but just like in all legal contracts our particular ”contract” with God can be broken (just like the old covenant was broken) if either of the party doesn’t follow the agreement. If you take a loan to buy a car and stop paying for this loan, the car will be seized despite that it was once in your possession. It’s also beneficial to keep your ”guarantee receipt” because it entitles you (if it hasn’t expired) to certain rights, but if you throw it away or if you lose it, then it won’t do you much good despite all the promises that are listed on it.

Having the Holy Spirit is often likened with being ”sealed”. This doesn’t mean anything unbreakable as shown here, but it means that we are ”marked” as very special and holy people who can expect a great inheritance. (As long as we remain in Christ of course.) We are separate from all others who do not have this seal, due to their refusal to repent and believe. The sealing occurs AFTER that we believe, and we can read in Acts 5:32 that the Holy Spirit is given to all those who OBEY him, so belief and obedience must come before we get the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that OBEY him.

We can also read that God works all things after the counsel of his own will. Does this will exclude the possibility that he might want to place conditions for salvation on us? No of course not, because God can do anything he wants and it’s clear that he require US to repent, believe and show good fruit. He is not going to do this for us. The mystery of his will is that he will one day gather all believers together and give them the inheritance – those who are IN CHRIST! And we can read that TRUST plays an important role in order to be one of the elect. God is not ”trusting” for us. WE are supposed to trust in him and we can read that Paul says that trust comes AFTER hearing about the gospel of our salvation.

Eph. 1:Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first TRUSTED in Christ.13 In whom ye also TRUSTED, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye BELIEVED, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Paul prayed a lot for the Ephesians, indicating that we can absolutely change the outcome of things with our prayers, and in this case Paul prayed for wisdom. Our prayers can influence others to be enlightened and to know what the HOPE is for God’s calling. We can read once again that it’s the SAINTS who get the benefit of the inheritance. We can also read that the CHURCH, which is the body of Christ will ultimately and once for all be under his feet. This is what the beginning of Ephesians is all about. HIS CHURCH – THE BODY OF CHRIST, consisting of BELIEVING SAINTS.

Eph. 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the HOPE of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the SAINTS,19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward WHO BELIEVE, according to the working of his mighty power,20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the CHURCH,23 Which is his BODY, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2 starts with Paul telling us that God has quickened us who were dead in trespasses and sins. I can only say that it’s a very bad choice to  be dead in trespasses and sins! When are we spiritually DEAD according to the Bible? That is when we SIN because this separates us from our holy God.

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Luke 15:(The prodigal son) 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was DEAD, and is alive AGAIN; and was LOST, and is found.

Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest that spiritually ”dead” people cannot make any good moral decisions or that they are unable to seek God. And nowhere does it say that we are totally depraved (words not even in the Bible), BORN as children of wrath or born with a sinful nature. On the contrary, even evil unbelievers can do much good, as can be seen here. How then do we become quickened/alive from the predicament that our sin has brought us into? We must of course REPENT for our sins and let the blood of Jesus cleanse us so that we can be born again and become righteous! Then we are no longer dead since we are alive in Christ and new persons. He removed all traces of sins on our account and we have left the old man behind. Paul explains that the Ephesians in time PAST walked in sin, but he doesn’t expect them to continue like that. Also note that in order to commit the sins that Paul lists, you must at least be an ADULT first. Babies are not aware of the law and they are unable to:

  • have a need or reason to be ”quickened”
  • perform TRESPASSES and SINS and through them be dead
  • walk according to the world
  • walk according to Satan (the prince of the power of the air)
  • be disobedient through following Satan
  • walk in the lusts of their flesh
  • fulfill the desires of their flesh
  • fulfill the desires of their mind

So don’t get confused about the expression ”children of wrath” because the description fits only grown ups , and we can be labelled either children of God or children of Satan depending on our life styles. We can also read that the ”children of wrath” are also called  ”children of disobedience” so it’s clear that in order to fit the bill you must be able to DISOBEY – something that babies cannot do. Does God want people to disobey him? Clearly not! Evidently Eph. 2 doesn’t suggest we are BORN as children of wrath, but it provides details for how we can BECOME children of wrath by the way we live. Even the Ephesians WERE dead due to their choice to sin, but thanks to the blood of Jesus, and through their own repentance of their sins, they were restored. Paul says ”hath raised us up together”, but that is a picture of our future with Christ, because he continues the sentence with ”in the ages to COME”. We haven’t been elevated yet.

Eph. 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of DISOBEDIENCEAmong whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,Even when we WERE dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

And don’t get confused just because it says ”by nature”, because 1) it still doesn’t indicate we are BORN that way, 2) we can see below in Rom 2:14 that people can by nature do the things contained in the law, and 3) those who by nature are the children of wrath are those who have made a habit out of sinning and hardened their hearts. (Read more in Romans 1 about how certain men hardened their hearts to the extent that God eventually gave them over to a reprobate mind.) A diligent alcoholic might feel that it’s totally natural for him to get drunk once in a while, and in combination with a refusal to repent his habits might turn him over to become a child of wrath/disobedience. 

Rom. 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Eph 2:8-9

Now we have arrived to the famous verses which are likely the most cited verses in the entire Bible. These couple of verses are often used as an attempt to show that we can be saved even if we don’t show any fruit, and even if we SIN. That’s not what the verses are saying though.The gift of God in these sentences is NOT ”faith” but that we can be saved. You can read more why the Greek original text makes this clear here. We are either saved by the law OR by grace, and most of us can agree on that we haven’t chosen to obey the law to 100% so the only other option is GRACE (God’s mercy). To suddenly start to make good deeds will never cover for our PAST sins. It’s thanks to the blood of Jesus that we can be cleansed and saved. So does Eph. 2:8-9 suggest that it’s no longer damaging for our souls if we would sin and/or not provide any work? NO! It does not say that! It only informs us that salvation is by grace through FAITH. Nothing we do or believe can ever MERIT salvation, but there are still conditions. We must repent for our sins and believe. Breaking the moral law (the ten commandments) are just as important today as it was during the time of Moses, and as it was during the time of Cain and Abel. Sins always separate us from God whether we live in the old or new testament. Faith without works is dead, and works without faith is also dead.

Eph. 2:For by grace are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: IT is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Verse 10 is not nearly as popular and it’s rarely cited. This verse tells us that we are supposed to WALK unto good works.  Do you believe that God will accept us the way we are even if we would NOT walk with him and show good works? Hardly!  So this is a warning towards christians. Neither will God do the walking for us, because WE are created to do the walking. However, we can do nothing without Jesus so we have to be IN HIM. 

Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Paul continues to talk about the good news and what we can accomplish THROUGH Jesus, whether we are jews or gentiles – as long as we are believers. We are united together in one body through the power of the cross. Once again, Ephesians is about the Church and the body of Christ as in God’s family. Are you in or are you out? You decide and you know the conditions.

Eph. 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in ONE BODY by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Keep the parable in Matthew 22 in mind where we can read ”many are called but few are chosen”. The ”chosen” ones are those who freely accepted to go to the party, and who also went.  As opposed to others who were on the guest list and expected to come by the King himself, but who still declined to go. We can place ourselves among the chosen elect if we choose GOD and show it by our actions.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect, and God purposed from the creation of the world to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. So election is grounded in Christ’s sacrificial death to save us from our sins (and we are only cleansed upon repentance), and election in Christ is primarily corporate (an election of a people). Therefore, election includes individual persons only as they associate themselves with the body of Christ, and there was a similar story for Israel, and those who identified themselves as the children of Abraham by having faith (leading to obedience) just like Abraham. The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain, but the certainty of election for individuals remains conditional on their personal living faith in Jesus Christ and perseverance in union with Him. God’s eternal purpose for the church is that we should be holy and without blame before him, and this refers both to forgiveness of sins and to the church’s purity as the bride of Christ. Fulfillment of this purpose for the corporate church is certain, but the fulfillment of this purpose for individuals is conditional. Christ will ”present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: IF ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel”. 

At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body by the Holy Spirit and thereby becoming one of the elect. Predestination concerns what will happen to God’s people (all genuine believers in Christ). So the church (of christians) is chosen by God to be his very own vessel, and all who desire to be a part of this elect vessel can do so through a living faith in Christ. As long as they are on the vessel they are among the elect, but if they choose to abandon the vessel, they cease to be part of the elect. because election is always only in union with the captain and his ship. Predestination tells us about the ship’s destination and what God has prepared for those remaining on it. God invites everyone to come aboard the elect ship through faith in Jesus Christ.

See also this article from Jarom.net about the uses for the word ”elect” (eklektos) in the NT (so not the Greek words eklegé, eklegó as per above), where it’s shown to have a meaning of quality, or being precious. If we have chosen to remain IN CHRIST, we are truly precious and of good quality. We are God’s holy and unique people

Quotes from old church fathers, supporting Free will and objecting to the Sinful nature

The first 300-350 years AD we had a complete agreement among the early church fathers that man has a free will, that we are not ”once saved always saved” and that we were not born with some kind of sinful nature which is holding us back to depravity and inability to seek and find God. Are we to believe those years were full of darkness before Augustine entered the scene (354 -430 AD) to finally give us light? The only ones who taught against free will were the gnostics.  All of the early church up to the time of Augustine was unanimous in their belief and understanding of the nature of sin being that of choice.

”Gnostics also believed that mankind was wholly evil and some sects even renounced marriage and procreation. They also believed in two gods, one evil god and one good god. Their teachings are believed to have influenced Saint Augustine in the development of his theology of ”total depravity” of mankind and concept of God. For nine years St. Augustine adhered to Manichaeism, a Persian philosophy proclaimed in southern Babylonia (Iraq) that taught a doctrine of ”total depravity” and the claim that they were the ”elect.” He then turned to skepticism. Next, Augustine was attracted to the philosophy of Neoplatonism. He blended these beliefs with his later Gnostic Christian teachings. His teachings were in turn passed on to John Calvin in his extensive study of Augustine’s writings. It is very easy to follow the trail of John Calvin’s theology from the pagan religion of Mani in Babylonia to his writings in France and Geneva”  Read more here

Unfortunately this new teaching (well, not really knew since the gnostics taught it before Augustine, and he was a former gnostic) lead to many consequences:

A. If we sin, it’s not our fault because our sin nature made us  do it. We are victims – not guilty.
B. A life change is not essential for salvation.  We are not perfect, just forgiven.
C. Jesus was born without sin and therefore different from us and had an unfair advantage. He couldn’t sin and we can’t help but sin. This minimizes what Jesus did for us.

It’s of course possible to take quotes out of a context and make them sound like a person has views he in fact doesn’t have, but that would be nothing but deceptive. A more honest approach would be to quote someone’s clear and general views instead of trying to find some odd quotes out of context to ascribe views to a person he doesn’t have. With or without a broader context, the old church fathers DID hold to the views the quotes clearly reveal. I have seen some attempts where reformed thinkers have listed quotes from early church fathers with the aim to show that they spoke against free will, but after having read them 1) most often the quotes don’t actually say what they claim they say, and are at best ”vague”, and 2) the context and other writings from the same person show that they have the opposing views.

”I read through most of the early Church writings and gathered the quotes personally – to be sure to understand the context and to no miss things. But it is amazing to me that I seem to find more quotes I did not have all the time. It is amazing how much the Early Church was against TULIP! —they [the reformed] refuse to acknowledge it, or must assume that the Early Church fell from the truth taught to them by the Apostles immediately after the Apostles died.” (Lyndon Conn)

Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) 160-225 AD

Apologist and a polemicist against heresy. He is perhaps most famous for being the oldest extant Latin writer to use the term TrinityCyprian’s teacher.

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and powerFor a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)

No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.  (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Some people act as though God were under an obligation to bestow even on the unworthy His intended gift. They turn His liberality into slavery…. For do not many afterwards fall out of grace? Is not this gift taken away from many? (Tertullian On Repentance chap. 6.)

The world returned to sin…and so it is destined to fire. So is the man who after baptism renews his sins.  c.197

However, in the case of little children…Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the “remission of sins? ”…If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay.

Irenaeus of Lyons 120-202 AD

The Apostle John  had a disciple named Polycarp, and Polycarp had a disciple named Irenaeus.

”But although we shall be understood, from our argument, to be only so affirming man’s unshackled power over his will, that what happens to him should be laid to his own charge, and not to God’s, yet that you may not object, even now, that he ought not to have been so constituted, since his liberty and power of will might turn out to be injurious…Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of him self;… At present, let God’s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will.” /Chapter 6

And again, who are they that have been saved, and received the inheritance? Those doubtless who do believe in God and who have continued in His love… and innocent children, who have had no sense of evil.

But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect similar to God HAVING BEEN MADE FREE IN HIS WILL, and with power over himself, is himself his own cause that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff. (c. 180, E/W), 1:466

This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves…  (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)

”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds”…And ”Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of manFor it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good.” (c.180, Vol. 1, p. 519)

Nor, again, does God exercise compulsion upon anyone unwilling to accept the exercise of His skill…. They have been created free agents and possessed of power over themselves. (c. 180, Vol. 1, p. 523)

But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it. Chapter 10

Christ will not die again on behalf of those who now commit sin because death shall no more have dominion over Him…. Therefore we should not be puffed up…. But we should beware lest somehow, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins but rather be shut out from His kingdom (Heb. 6:4-6) [p. 65].

And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book V, XXVII, 2)

Those who do not obey Him, being disinherited by Him, have ceased to be His sons. c.180

[Irenaeus quotes 1 Cor. 6:9-10 about inheriting the kingdom of God.] It was not to those who are outside that he said these things, but to us, lest we should be cast out of the kingdom of God by doing any such thing. He proceeds to say, ”And truly such were you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” [1 Cor. 6:11]. And just as [under the old covenant], those who led vicious lives and led other people astray were condemned and cast out, so also even now the offending eye is plucked out, and the foot and the hand, lest the rest of the body perish in the same way. (Against Heresies, IV:27:4)

Ignatius 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.

And pray ye also without ceasing for the rest of mankind (for there is in them a hope of repentance), that they may find God. Therefore permit them to take lessons at least from your works. (Letter to the Ephesians 10:1)

Do not err, my brothers. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If, then, those who do this in regard to the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with anyone who corrupts the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified, by wicked doctrine? Such a person, becoming defiled, shall go away into everlasting fire and so shall everyone that listens to him. (Letter to the Ephesians 16)

I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same, sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such not by nature, but by their own choice. Pg.61 vol. 1.

There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life.

Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD

A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.

We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 217)

To obey or not is in our own power, provided we do not have the excuse of ignorance (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 353)

Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame. (c.195, Vol. 2, p. 226)

Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)

We have heard from the Scriptures that self-determining choice and refusal have been given by the Lord to men. Therefore, we rest in the infallible criterion of faith, manifesting a willing spirit, since we have chosen life. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 349)

The Lord clearly shows sins and transgressions to be in our own power, by prescribing modes of cure corresponding to the maladies. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 363)

Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)

Believing and obeying are in our own power. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 527)

Nor will he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate. But above all, he will speed to salvation voluntarily and of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 534)

Choice depends on the man as being free. But the gift depended on God as the Lord. And He gives to those who are willing, are exceedingly earnest, and who ask. In this manner, their salvation can become their own. For God does not compel. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 593)

Clement, 80-140 AD 

The first Apostolic Father of the Church.  According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century.

Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8

But inasmuch as inborn affection towards God the creator is sufficient for salvation to those who love Him, the enemy tries to pervert this affection in men, and to render them hostile and ungrateful to their Creator…But if mankind would turn their affection towards God, all would doubtless be saved, even if when they have some faults they would be open to correction for righteousness, but now most of mankind have been made enemies of God, their hearts the wicked one has entered, and has turned aside towards himself the affection which God the Creator had implanted in them, which He, God, desires that they might have towards Him. Pg.101 Vol.8

1 Clement 7:4 Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and understand how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our salvation it won for the whole world the grace of repentance.

1 Clement 7:5 Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.

For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments. 2 Clement 6:7

…with what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works? 2 Clement 6:9

For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He saith, `Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle unto all flesh’. 2 Clement 7:6

So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)

So then He meaneth this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life. 2 Clement 8:6  

Let us, then, not only call him Lord, for that will not save us. For he says, ”Not every one that says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall be saved, but he that does righteousness.” Therefore, brothers, let us confess him by our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery, speaking evil of one another, or cherishing envy; but being continent, compassionate, and good. … By such works let us confess him, and not by those that are of an opposite kind. It is not fitting that we should fear men, but rather God. For this reason, if we should do such wicked things, the Lord has said, “Even if you were gathered together to me, into my very bosom, yet if you were not to keep my commandments, I would cast you off and say to you, ‘Depart from me … you workers of iniquity.‘” (2 Clement 4) Hermas, c. A.D. 160

It is therefore in the power of every one, since man has been made possessed of free-will, whether he shall hear us to life, or the demons to destruction. 

He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice… 

For no other reason does God punish the sinner either in the present or in the future world, except because He knows that the sinner was able to conquer but neglected to gain the victory.

Justin Martyr 110-165 AD

For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative Chapter 28

Let some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever occurs happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to THE MERIT OF EACH MAN’S ACTIONS. Now, if this is not so, but all things happen by fate, then neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it is predetermined that this man will be good, and this other man will be evil, neither is the first one meritorious nor the latter man to be blamed. And again, unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and CHOOSING GOOD BY FREE CHOICE, they are not accountable for their actions.  (c. 160, E), 1:177

But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or wronglyThe stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God, in the beginning made the race of men and angels with free will they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed, and this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both. (vice and virtue) 2 Apology ch.7  (+ The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p.354)

In the beginning, He made the human race with the power of thought AND OF CHOOSING the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God.  (c. 160, E), 1:172

I have proved in what has been said that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault. Rather, each man is what he will appear to be through his own fault. (c.160, Vol. 1, p. 269)

Neither do we maintain that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer. Rather, we maintain that each man acts rightly or sins BY HIS FREE CHOICE….Since God in the beginning MADE THE RACE OF ANGELS AND MEN WITH FREE WILL, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed.  (c. 160, E), 1:190

He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous. And He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free will. (c. 160, Vol. 1, p. 250)

I hold further, that those of you who have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back for some reason to the legal dispensation, an have denied that this man is Christ, and have not repented before death – you will by no means be saved . c.160

Methodius 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus.

I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things – has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)

God is good and wise. He does what is best. Therefore, there is no fixed destiny.” (c. 190, Vol. 6, p.343)

Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)

Because there is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become suchman was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he so wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will.

If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them. It is through actions that evil exists. Each man is evil in consequences of what they practice. It all has a beginning.

For man received power, and enslaved himself, not because he was overpowered by irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him…I say therefore, that God purposing thus to honor man…has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes, and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that he deprives him again of free will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things.

Arnobius 297-303 AD

Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64

Aristides of Athens – 134 AD (Marcianus Aristides)

And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God, and if furthermore, it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. Apology to Hadrian

Tatian the Syrian 110-172 AD

Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)

Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice, he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)

Lactantius 260-330 AD

We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues.’ Ch16 bk 4 Divine Inst.

Melito -180 AD Bishop of Sardis near Smyrna

There is, therefore, nothing to hinder you from changing your evil manner to life, because you are a free man. (c.170, Vol. 8, p. 754)

Athenagorus 133-190 AD

Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them and others faithless), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)

Theophilus

If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)

Hyppolytus 170 – 235 AD

God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason. Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)

The Word promulgated the divine commandments by declaring them. He thereby turned man from disobedience. He summoned man to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity – not by bringing him into servitude by force of necessity. (c. 225, Vol. 5, p. 152)

Man is able to both will and not to will. He is endowed with power to do both. (c. 225, Vol. 5, p. 152)

Origen (Adamantius) 184/185 – 253/254 AD

The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

This is also clearly defined in the teaching of the church, that every rational soul has free will and volition….we are not forced by any necessity to act either rightly or wrongly. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 240)

It seems a plausible thing that rational natures, from whom the faculty of free will is never taken away, may be again subjected to movements of some kind. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 272)

Since those rational creatures themselves… were endowed with the power of free will, this freedom of the will incited each one to either progress (by imitation of God), or else it reduced a person to failure through negligence. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 292)

In the preaching of the church, there is included the doctrine concerning a just judgment of God. When this teaching is believed to be true, it incites those who hear it to live virtuously and to shun sin by all means. For they clearly acknowledge that things worthy of praise and blame are within our own power. (c. 225, Vol. 4, p. 302)

Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages. They essentially destroy free will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost.

Novatian 200–258 AD

When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)

Eusebius 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea

A Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon. Considered the father of “Church History” for his extensive writings in ecclesiastical history.

The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature!

The devil in his oracles hangs all things upon fate, and taking away that which is in our power, and arises from self-motion of free will… brings this also into bondage to necessity.

Commodianus 250 AD

Being a believing man, if you seek to live as the gentiles do, the joys of the world remove you from the grace of Christ c.240

Cyprian 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage

It is written, ‘He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved’ [Matt. 10:22]. So whatever precedes the end is only a step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation. It is not the final point wherein we have already gained the full result of the ascent. (Cyprian Unity of the Church sec. 21)

The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (c. 250, Vol. 5, p. 547)

Shepherd of Hermas

The Muratorian canon, a list of canonical books from about the 3d century, says Hermas was written by the brother of Pius, Bishop of Rome, about 140-154. Author still remains unknown.  The document was composed over a longer period of time. Visions I-IV were composeed during a threatened persecution, probably under Trajan (the Clement of 8:3 could be Clement of Rome). Vision V – Similitude VIII and Similitude X were written perhaps by the same author to describe reprentance to Christians who were wavering. Similitude IX was written to unify the entire work and to threaten those who had been disloyal. This last phase must have occurred before Irenaeus (ca. 175). A preferred date would be 140. On the basis of this internal analysis multiple authorship seems necessary (Giet 1963), though the work could have been composed by one person over a long period of time (Joly 1958).

He that does not know God,” [the angel of repentance] answered, ”and practices evil, receives a certain chastisement for his wickedness, but he that has known God ought not to do evil anymore but to do good. If, accordingly, when he ought to do good, he does evil, does he not appear to do greater evil than the one who does not know God? For this reason, those who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death, but those who have known God and have seen his mighty works and still continue in evil shall be chastised doubly and shall die forever. This is the way the Church of God will be purified.” (Shepherd of Hermas III:9:8)

If you do not guard yourself against anger you and your house will lose all hope of salvation. Hermas c.150

The Epistle of the Apostles 2nd century

A work from the New Testament apocrypha. The work was lost to the West until a complete version in Ethiopic translation was discovered and published in the early twentieth century. The text was used regularly by the relatively isolated Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and was evidently not considered heretical by that church. A fragmentary Coptic manuscript of the fifth or fourth century, believed to be translated directly from the original Greek, and one leaf of a Latin palimpsest, dating to the fifth century, were then identified as deriving from the same text. The text is commonly dated to the 2nd century, perhaps towards the middle of it.

 27 ”For to that end went I down unto the place of Lazarus, and preached unto the righteous and the prophets, that they might come out of the rest which is below and come up into that which is above; and I poured out upon them with my right hand the water (?) (baptism, Eth.) of life and forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have done unto you and unto them that believe on me. But if any man believe on me and do not my commandments, although he have confessed my name, he hath no profit therefrom but runneth a vain race: for such will find themselves in perdition and destruction, because they have despised my commandments.”28 …Then said he unto us: Verily I say unto you, all that have believed on me and that believe in him that sent me will I take up into the heaven, unto the place which my Father hath prepared for the elect, and I will give you the kingdom, the chosen kingdom, in rest, and everlasting life. 29 But all they that have offended against my commandments and have taught other doctrine, (perverting) the Scripture and adding thereto, striving after their own glory, and that teach with other words them that believe on me in uprightness, if they make them fall thereby, shall receive everlasting punishment. We said unto him: Lord, shall there then be teaching by others, diverse from that which thou hast spoken unto us ? He said unto us: It must needs be, that the evil and the good may be made manifest; and the judgment shall be manifest upon them that do these things, and according to their works shall they be judged and shall be delivered unto death. And we said unto him: Lord, will they that believe be treated like the unbelievers, and wilt thou punish them that have escaped from the pestilence? And he said unto us: If they that believe in my name deal like the sinners, then have they done as though they had not believed. And we said again to him: Lord, have they on whom this lot hath fallen no life? He answered and said unto us: Whoso hath accomplished the praise of my Father, he shall abide in the resting-place of my Father.

Epistle of Barnabas 70-100AD

A Greek text preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament. It is traditionally ascribed to Barnabas who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. A form of the Epistle 850 lines long is noted in the Latin list of canonical works in the 6th century Codex Claromontanus. It is not to be confused with the Gospel of Barnabas.

The Lord will judge the world without respect… of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

We take earnest heed in these last days, for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing unless now, in this wicked time, we also withstand coming sources of danger, as befits the sons of God. (Letter of Barnabas 4)

Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, says God to Jeremiah, Jer. 1:5

MageBefore I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (Jeremiah 1:5)

This verse shows God’s plans for Jeremiah before he was born, and it doesn’t imply that Jeremiah could not have resisted God’s purpose for him. The case could also be that God foreknew that Jeremiah would accept the ordination, and therefore expressed himself the way he did. Also Paul was appointed for a certain service, and he chose to not be disobedient to it.

Acts 26: 19Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision20But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

There are other verses in the book of Jeremiah that show that people can act in total contrast to God’s will.

Jeremiah 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY HEART.

Jeremiah 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, NEITHER CAME IT INTO MY MIND.

The book of Jeremiah also contains many poetic and prophetic descriptions and analogies. There are many verses we can’t take literally. Just look at the rest of the text in the very same chapter; Jeremiah 1.

6Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

But children CAN speak if they are old enough, and surely Jeremiah wasn’t a child when he spoke to God?

8Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

If God predestines everything that comes to pass, then God should really have said ”I will make sure you will not be afraid of their faces” instead of warning/advising Jeremiah for not being afraid of their faces.

9Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Surely God didn’t literally use his hand of flesh and blood to touch Jeremiah’s mouth.

10See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Is the idea that Jeremiah was supposed to literally do all those things, as in literally build something (buildings?) and PLANT something (seeds?) I don’t believe God’s words are hard to understand as long as we recognize the poetic and prophetic descriptions involved.

15For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

Are we supposed to believe that ALL families (100%) of the kingdoms of the north will come and set their thrones (literally?) at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem?

16And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Here we can read that God will judge those who have FORSAKEN him, burned incense to other gods and worshiped the works of their hands. Did God WANT them to forsake him, burn incense to other gods and worship the created things instead of their true Creator? Clearly not! Those things are nothing but SINS and God doesn’t want us to sin but to OBEY him. Since the people spoken of were disobedient, it shows man’s free will in action.

17Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

”Gird up thy loins” is a well-known idiom, and once more we can read here that God advises Jeremiah to NOT be dismayed at their faces. IF he would still choose to do this (LEST) God would in his turn confound Jeremiah before them. So whether God would confound Jeremiah or not depended on Jeremiah’s actions.

18For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

God didn’t literally do all those things that particular day.

19And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.2Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.

In the next chapter Jeremiah 2, we can see more evidence of people acting against the will of God. 

5Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?6Neither said they, Where is the LORD that brought us up out of the land of Egypt—7And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 8The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.9Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.10For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing.11Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.12Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.—16Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of thy head.17Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, when he led thee by the way?19Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.20For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.21Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?22For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD.23How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;—27Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.28But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.29Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD.30In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.31O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? 32Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.—35Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned.

It’s rather silly to ignore all the above examples of man thwarting God’s hopes and plans, as well as God pleading with man  (just like the rest of Jeremiah, and the rest of the BIBLE) and select one verse out of context just to support a certain doctrine. God could have created us with NO free will if he wanted, but seeing this would make us into robots, he apparently created us with Free Will and THAT would be a godly decision we could NOT change even if we wanted.

The potter acts depending on the clay – we have a free will – Romans 9

Hath not the POTTER power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Rom. 9:21

We are often told that we are like clay in a potter’s hand, as though we have no free will of our own but turn out exactly as the potter (God) wants us to turn out. IF that idea is true, then we can only blame GOD ALONE if we turn out as murderers and thieves. We would be poor victims in the hands of the evil potter since WE didn’t ask to become murderers and thieves, and we apparently have no say in the matter if the case is that the potter alone makes the decisions and also implements them.  CLEARLY this is not the picture the Bible gives us, since all of us are expected to obey God’s commandments which are NOT too grievous for us to keep, and WE are responsible for each one of our transgressions. If God is the one who decides how we will turn out, why doesn’t he make us ALL vessels unto honor? What interest would he possibly have to purposely make some of us into bad vessels? Doesn’t God want us to be obedient and godly human beings? Of course he does. The vessels of mercy are ”afore prepared”, and the vessels of wrath are ”fitted/prepared” for destruction (two different Greek words), which means that the verse doesn’t tell us that God prepared beforehand to destroy a certain amount of people – unless of course they themselves sinned and caused their own demise. People who have chosen to be wicked are those who are fitted for destruction, and hell awaits them for their unfortunate choice to be wicked.

2 Tim. 2:21 tells us that MAN is expected to PURGE HIMSELF from the vessels of dishonor, and if he does he will be a vessel unto HONOR. Man is expected to recover himself out of the snare of the devil, and he can do this through obeying the instructions we can read about below:

2 Tim 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore PURGES HIMSELF from these, he shall be a vessel unto HONOUR, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 

So man is asked to 1) purge himself from the vessels of dishonour, 2) flee from youthful lusts, 3) follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, etc, 4) avoid foolish and unlearned questions, 5) instruct in meekness those who oppose themselves, 6) leading to that they will recover themselves out of the snare of the devil by doing so. Lots for us to DO.

Read also below in Jeremiah 18 that the vessel that the potter made of clay was MARRED in his hands. Is it likely that a potter wants the clay he is working with to be MARRED? Clearly not. A potter hopes the clay will cooperate and turn out as planned. If the clay doesn’t cooperate and refuses to turn out as hoped, then the only rightful place for the clay is on the scrap heap. All useless clay has fitted themselves for destruction, just like a murderer’s proper place is in jail (or in the electric chair). This however doesn’t mean we want clay to be useless or people to turn out as murderers. Read also the many IF:s involved in the text. God reacts depending on OUR actions:

Jeremiah 18
1The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. 3Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. 4And the vessel that he made of clay WAS MARRED in the hand of the potter: so he made it again ANOTHER VESSEL, as seemed good to the potter to make it. 5Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.  7At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;  8IF that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I WILL REPENT of the evil that I thought to do unto them.  9And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I WILL REPENT of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. 11Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.12And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

Below is more information about the clay and the potter, and we can read that men have ”removed” their hearts from God. Bad choice on their part. They will have to take the consequences for their actions. 

Is. 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14Therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?

The rhetorical question asked of the prophet is not whether the clay can talk back to the potter, but whether it ought to talk back to him. Surely we must agree on that people HAVE spoken back to God numerous times in history? Both angels and men have even rebelled against God on several occasions, so we CAN indeed speak back against God. The point is that we shouldn’t and WE must then take the consequences for not conforming to God’s will. Romans 9 is about God’s right to bring about his plan of salvation in the way he wants, which means to open up also for gentiles to be saved, upon the condition of FAITH and not the ceremonial law. God therefore has his full right to reject those with no faith and/or bad fruit, and welcome those who have faith and show good fruit. That is his prerogative. We wouldn’t read words such as ”endured with much longsuffering” in this text unless there is synergism involved.

Romans 9:20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?25As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

It doesn’t say in Rom. 9:22 that GOD is the one who ”fitted” people for destruction. Some people are in fact heading for hell due to their destructive way of living, and they are then fitted (prepared) for destruction, and that’s their own doing. God hopes that they will repent for their sins and live, so he shows much long-suffering for such sinners, fitted for destruction, not wanting anyone to perish The verse should read: “What if God…who endured with much patience vessels of wrath which fitted themselves for destruction…

Ez. 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for  why will ye die, O house of Israel? 

Ez.33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?