Friday, September 15 2006
"God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong: I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having." Mere Christianity
When I am asked my view of free will I often remark: "I want Will to be as free as he possibly can be!"
But seriously speaking, why does C. S. Lewis assert so vigorously that God gave full freedom of choice to human beings? Is this conclusion based upon natural observation? Certainly one glance at everyday life would suggest that human beings have free will. After all, don't we make hundreds if not thousands of choices, large and small, each day?
However, when one examines the human condition more closely one sees individual choice hemmed in and around by so many forces: genetics, upbringing, larger societal and cultural influences, our natural surroundings, health, and the list goes on. All of these realities impinging on human choice force us to ask: do we really have complete freedom of choice all of the time?
If one cannot confidently conclude, based upon some sort of natural theology or observation, that human beings have complete freedom of the will, is this doctrine then a matter of supernatural revelation? Once again, we get a mixed review when it comes to examining the Scriptures on this subject. Certainly the first humans were given free choice, either to obey God or to disobey. (See Genesis 2-3.) And this is the freedom of choice to which Lewis refers in the quote above. However, ever since the Fall the choices of human beings in regard to a relationship with God have been radically affected by sin. The Apostle Paul quotes the Old Testament when he writes in Romans 3:10-11
There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
How then are fallen, sinful human beings to get right with God? God must make the first move. And that is exactly what Scripture tells us God has done in Jesus Christ. As Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 1:20,
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.
And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
The most important decision ever made in the history of humanity was God's decision to say "yes" to us in Jesus Christ, in spite of our sin.
In the last months of his life, C. S. Lewis was asked by Sherwood Wirt, then editor of Decision magazine, if he felt he had made a decision at the time of his conversion. Lewis responded this way:
That is the most important thing--that we have been decided upon in Jesus Christ. It is only when we hear this "yes" in Jesus Christ that we are called and empowered to make the most important decision of our lives, in response to God's decision.
What is your response to the "yes" of Christ?
The following prayer has brought encouragement to many as they have prayed it in response to the "yes" of Christ:
If you have just prayed that prayer for the first time, I would love to encourage you by sending you some helpful literature. E-mail me today, firstname.lastname@example.org.