How to Easily Prove from the Bible to Any True Christian that Free Will is a Myth.
At a recent get together with a group of friends, a relative of a person who attends my local church, took the initiative to strike up a theological conversation with me. Upon hearing that he lived in a part of town that was very near to where our ministry is situated I invited him to come by sometime. He immediately said, "but I do not believe in monergism." (apparently he had heard from my friend what we were all about) I responded by saying that this shouldn't prevent him from stopping by to say hello. He then said, "but I believe man has a free will." I said "you do?" ... So I challenged his presupposition with a simple question:
"Can a person come to Jesus Christ apart from any work of the Holy Spirit to change his heart?"
He said, "no, of course not."
I said, "then, according to your answer, you do not believe man has a free will. Left to himself, because of a corruption of nature, he will always reject Christ. His will and affections are in bondage to sin ... and whatever is in bondage is not free. You see, this is what we mean when we say man's will is not free, not some external coercion against our will"
Confused and somewhat bewildered he reluctantly was forced to agree.
Like this gentleman, many persons naturally assume that man has a free will. But what do they mean by this? A good way to dig out what they mean is to ask, "Free from what?" "Free from sin?", "Free from God's decree?" No, neither. So what do people actually mean when they claim man has a free will? Perhaps many persons mean to say that man is free from external coercion. In this we all can agree, but just because someone is free from coercion does not mean his will is free. There are other ways in which man's will is not free. If the natural man with unspiritual hostility toward Christ, make sinful choices BY NECESSITY then he also lacks a kind of freedom of the will.
We also might want to consider whether the Bible uses the expression 'freedom' to describe any fallen man. And the answer is no. In fact, the Bible says, UNTIL Christ sets us free (Rom 6) we remain in Adam. Jesus says that prior to grace, persons are 'slaves to sin'. And, last time I looked, a slave is not free. If the natural man is in bondage to a corruption of nature, as the Scripture attests, then he is not, in any sense, free as the Bible defines it. That is, until the grace of God in Christ sets him free. It would be more biblically accurate to affirm that man HAS A WILL and that his choices are VOLUNTARY (that is, not coerced) but this does not make the choices free. Fallen man chooses sin of NECESSITY due to a corruption of nature, and this is just as much a form of bondage of the will from which we need to be set free by Christ, and a more properly biblical way of expression. For "no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit."
So now that it has been established that the natural man has no free will, as all true Christians will agree given the above definitions, the real question then becomes whether or not the grace of Jesus Christ is effectual (which is matter for another day). In the end my partner in conversation agreed to my definition that man has no free will but perhaps next time we could take it a step further to show a clear biblical case that this grace which changes our hearts is irresistible.
So I contend that whenever speaking about the concept of "free will," because of the confusion surrounding it, we should only define freedom as the Bible does: that man's will is not free, but rather is in bondage to sin. I would encourage you to do this rather than import philosophical concepts of the will that foreign to the Scripture. Clearly the Bible affirms that apart from a supernatural and merciful work of the Holy Spirit to change our hostile disposition to Christ, no person would ever willingly receive Christ (John 6:65).
To conclude, please read the following conversation between Jesus and some Jews in john 8 and especially take note of the sections I highlight;
31So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
33They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?" 34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."You Are of Your Father the Devil 39They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abrahamâ€™s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are doing the works your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Fatherâ€”even God." 42Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you CANNOT bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."
Note: only if they were of God would they hear his voice and believe.