Man's Will: Before and After the Fall

Augustine and the Calvinistic tradition in general define the will's freedom, or lack thereof, in relation to sin. Why? Because this is how the Bible defines it. Jesus declared "everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. ... So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:34-36) Augustine understood that before the fall, Adam was "able to sin and able not to sin", that he, as representative of the human race, was in a probationary state, not sealed in righteousness (like the glorified saints). Likewise regarding man's condition after the fall he said we are in the sad condition of being "not able not to sin" So Augustine understood the Bible to be teaching that Adam (pre-fall) was free in regards to sin's bondage but his willful act rendered his post-fall descendants to be in bondage to corruption; to have a will that is no longer free at all (apart from grace) to make God-pleasing redemptive choices. It is worthwhile to remember this in your discussions about free will, because the historical debate about free will refers to man's condition in sin after the fall.


Related Resources
Human Nature in Its Fourfold State Thoughts on Augustine's View on the Will

Human Nature in its Fourfold State (eBook) by Thomas Boston



"To will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace." - Augustine

If man has lost his freedom, and is forced to serve sin, and cannot will good, what conclusion can more justly be drawn concerning him, than that he sins and wills evil necessarily?" - Martin Luther BW pg. 149

Thu, 11/24/2016 - 14:48 -- john_hendryx

Life Changing Sermons

by Nicholas Batzig

Many of those who have been born of God’s Spirit can testify to the reality of having been regenerated upon hearing a particular sermon. Some, upon hearing a sermon for the first time, were converted–immediately brought from death to life. Others, after sitting under the preaching of God’s word for many years, finally experience the remarkable work of God in their souls in giving them new life in Christ. I belong to the latter group, namely, those who grew up in the church and heard the Gospel hundreds, if not thousands, of times but who, finally came to repentance and faith in my mid-twenties. After I was converted, I couldn’t listen to enough sermons–both in the local church to which I belonged, as well as online. Sermons seemed to have a greater impact on my soul even than reading theological works. I suppose that is, in part, on account of the fact that God promised to bless the preaching of His word in a unique and unparalleled manner (1 Cor. 1:18, 21). Here are what I would consider to be 10 life changing sermons that I’ve heard (either in person or online) over the past 15 years:

Tue, 11/22/2016 - 14:18 -- john_hendryx

Self-Rescue Vs. Heartfelt Confession of our Need to be Rescued

by Paul David Tripp

Since sin is deeper than bad behavior, trying to do better isn’t a solution. Only grace that changes the heart can rescue us.

There is a difference between a person in whom disappointment leads to self-reformation and someone in whom grief leads to heartfelt confession. I think that we often confuse the two. The first person believes in personal strength and the possibility of self-rescue, while the second has given up on his own righteousness and cries out for the help of another. One gets up in the morning and tells himself that he’ll do better today, but the other starts the day with a plea for grace. One targets a change in behavior, and the other confesses to a wandering heart. One assesses that he has the power for personal change, while the other knows that he needs to be given strength for the battle. One has to hold on to the possibility of personal reformation, but the other has abandoned that hope and therefore runs to God for help.

Self-reliant personal reformation and the penance that follows is the polar opposite of heartfelt confession with the repentance that follows. People who acknowledge that what they’ve done is wrong and then immediately lay out plans to do better unwittingly deny what the gospel of Jesus Christ says about them, how real change takes place, and where help can be found. What they have omitted or neglected is confession. When you confess your sins to God, you don’t just admit that you have sinned; no, you also confess that you have no power to deliver yourself from the sin you have just confessed. True confession always combines an admission of wrong with a plea for help. The heart then, encouraged by the forgiveness and presence of Jesus, longs to live in a new, better way (repentance).

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:26 -- john_hendryx

The Consummation: A Biblical Scenario

A Guest Post by Dean Davis .

NOTE: This essay is the concluding chapter of my book, The High King of Heaven: Discovering the Master Keys to the Great End Time Debate (Redemption Press, 2014). For a close study of many of the biblical texts cited here, please see the book itself, along with the relevant essays posted on my website and blog.



We have come to the end of our journey. Having traversed many a biblical foothill, having scaled many an eschatological mountain, we have reached the summit. Now it is time to take in the view.

From the beginning our goal has been to behold—with clarity and conviction—the Blessed Hope of the Church.

To this end we embarked on our journey by looking closely at the Kingdom of God. First, we discerned its true nature: that it is, in essence, a direct spiritual reign of God, through Christ, by the Spirit; and it is also the realm that that reign creates. Next, we discerned its structure: that the Kingdom enters history in two simple stages: the Kingdom of the Son (already here), followed by the Kingdom of the Father (not yet here), with the two stages being separated by a single Parousia of Christ at the end of the present evil age. To our surprise and joy, we found that this careful NT investigation of the Kingdom actually enabled us to discern the true biblical outline of all Salvation History.

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 14:42 -- john_hendryx

Can Free Will Explain the Conversion of Sinners?

A guest post by Scott Christensen

How many times have you heard someone say, “I chose Christ of my own free will”? In many Evangelical circles such a notion is so self-evident as to be proverbial. “Well, of course we must exercise our free will in order to be saved!” So goes the conventional wisdom. Christians sling the phrase free will about with the same ease Tom Brady throws footballs to Rob Gronkowski. But do most really have any idea what they mean when embracing the notions that stand behind these overwrought words? Free will is part of the stock parlance of Arminian theology, and those who employ it with a little sophistication mean something like that which is advanced by philosophers known as libertarianism. And no, we are not talking about Gary Johnson! On the other hand, Calvinists have usually disparaged the use of the term, avoiding it like the scourge of Black Death. But of course Arminianism and its many step-children believe that Calvinism puts the grip of death upon the freedom and responsibility of human beings. In their mind, the dreaded Calvinists would have all humans beings consigned to a vast kingdom of droids.

Is this true?

Thu, 11/03/2016 - 07:54 -- john_hendryx

Do Christians Want to Impose a Theocracy?

One recurring comment I read from secularists at threads on websites like NPR is how Christians should be forbidden from imposing their religion on the rest of society by voting for laws in accordance with their convictions and conscience. ... yet ironically these same people seem perfectly content to impose their own view and laws on the rest of society which are in accord with their own convictions and conscience. Ask them how they know their view is right and true and you get hemming and hawing because they know deep down that their their own convictions are by faith alone. There is nothing objective or scientific about their views yet they proceed as if they were .... a convenient justification for a monopoly on power - an imposition of a kind of secular theocracy, as it were.

Take the issue of abortion, for instance. According to this kind of secularist logic, it is well and fine for secularists to use the democratic process their own subjective unscientific views about their nature of human beings on Americans with their pro-abortion laws, but Christians, because they are "religious", should not be allowed to fight for the right of human beings to live, or else they would be violating separation of church and state. Folks, we live in a Democratic republic. If we can, by the grace of God, persuade 50.1% of the people to vote for biblical laws, that is the will of the people. Outlawing abortion should be our goal.  To achieve our goals we are using the same legal methods as everyone else. Someone's laws are going to be imposed, even in a democratic republic. So to decry that Christians cannot theocratically impose their views is an attempt to silence a whole portion of the population when secularists are doing the very same thing they accuse their philosophical opponents of. 

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 14:22 -- john_hendryx

Moral Constructivism vs. Divine Command Theory

The following are some excerpts from a conversation I was having online with a friend who embraces a theory called moral constructivism.  It began after I posted the following quote by John Calvin.

"We shall never be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first know assuredly we have no righteousness of our own." ~ John Calvin

Visitor: To me, it is a fact of free human reason that there will be different interpretations of what moral obligations we are under. That doesn't mean that there aren't basic moral values which guide our reason. These moral values are a part of human reason. Moral constructivism is not the same as moral relativism.

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 13:45 -- john_hendryx

This Year's Vitally Important 500th Anniversary

A guest post by Jason A. Van Bemmel

I love church history. Like most leaders in the Reformed Protestant tradition, I'm excited about next year's 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Whether you are Protestant or not, this is an important milestone in the history of the world and one for which you should be thankful. But that's next year.

Mon, 10/31/2016 - 16:15 -- john_hendryx

Lectures on Preaching

Dr. Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D. C., speaking at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky

1. The Symbol and Significance of Preaching

2. The Use of Preaching

3. The Art of Preaching


Thu, 10/27/2016 - 14:14 -- john_hendryx

Resources for Studying the Law and the Gospel

Adapted from Jon English Lee

A proper understanding of the relationship between the law and the gospel is crucial for any minister hoping to be effective in his preaching and counseling. Indeed, a flawed understanding of the relationship between law and gospel leads to all sorts of problems:

Errors in this doctrine have spawned dispensationalism, theonomy, the New Perspective on Paul, hypercovenantalism, legalism, antinomianism, shallow evangelism, shallower sanctification, worship errors and unbiblical mysticism.

Regarding the importance properly understanding the law and the gospel, Charles Bridges once wrote in his excellent work The Christian Ministry that:

The mark of a minister “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” is, that he “rightly divides the word of truth.” …This revelation is divided into two parts—the Law and the Gospel—essentially distinct form each other; though so intimately connected, that an accurate knowledge of neither can be obtained without the other.”[2]

Because such a proper understanding is so important, and because there is such a lack of teaching on the subject in both seminaries and in many churches, below I have compiled a list of resources for those seeking to grow in this area. If you have others to suggest, please list them in the comment section. Happy Reading!

Law/Gospel Resources:

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 17:21 -- john_hendryx


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