GOD GAVE MAN FREE WILL

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

GOD GAVE MAN FREE WILL

"We should understand that while God knows all things
beforehand, He does NOT predestine all things. For He
knows beforehand those things that are in our power, but
He does NOT predetermine them. For it is NOT His will
that wickedness should exist, nor does He choose to
compel virtue." (St. John Damascene).

Our Creator God created man with free will. Our Lord Jesus Christ casts man whom He has created free, like a wonderful seed, into the world prepared for him. The act is that of a sower tossing seed into the earth that has been plowed and made ready. "All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men" (John 1:3-4).

In the Old Testament account of creation, God created mankind and established a place for him in Paradise. He also gave him a commandment regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. "And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying, "You may eat food from every tree in the garden, but from the tree of the knoledge of good and evil you may not eat; for in whatever day you eat from it, you shall die by death" {Genesis 2:16-17). The words "you shall die" indicate a spiritual death through separation from God. Adam willingly and freely chose to disobey this commandment of God and fell from God’s path to perfection, thus separating himself from His Creator, the Source of Life. Adam’s act of disobedience indicates clearly that by using his free will in this manner, although he was commanded by His Creator not to do so, his rebelliousness, and rejection of God’s love and God’s will.

According to our Holy Orthodox Church God desires our cooperation or synergy. Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians describes this synergy beautifully: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God Who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (2:12-13). We "work out" our "own salvation" while "it is God Who works in" us to do His will.

Although the Holy Orthodox Church has been teaching about man’s free will throughout its history, Western theology has been teaching that God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have predestined a significant number of people to everlasting torment in hell.

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all occurrences have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual destiny of the individual soul. Some of the Protestant Reformers e.g., John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli, also held a strong belief in predestination. "The Calvinists believe that God chose those whom He will save and bring with Him to heaven before the world was created. They also believe that those people God does not save will go to hell. John Calvin thought people who were saved could never lose their salvation and the "elect" (those God saved) would know they were saved because of their actions."

Saint Theophan the Recluse in response to "What is the relationship between the Divine provision and our free will?" states:

"The fact that the Kingdom of God is "taken by force" presupposes personal effort. When the Apostle Paul says, "It is not of him that willeth," this means one’s efforts do not produce what is sought. It is necessary to combine them: to strive and to expect all things from grace." It is not one’s own efforts that will lead to the goal, because without grace, efforts produce little; nor does grace without effort bring what is sought, because grace acts in us and for us through our efforts. Both combine in a person to bring progress and carry him to the goal. (God’s) FOREKNOWLEDGE is unfathomable. It is enough for us with our whole heart to believe that it never opposes God’s grace and truth and that it does not infringe on man’s freedom. Usually, this resolves as follows: God FORESEES HOW A MAN WILL FREELY ACT AND MAKES DISPOSITIONS ACCORDINGLY. Divine determination depends on the life of a man and not his life upon the determination."

According to Saint John of Damascus, "One must bear in mind that God’s original wish was that all should be saved and come to His Kingdom. For it was NOT for punishment that He formed us but to share in His Goodness, inasmuch as He is a good God. But inasmuch as He is a just God, His will is that sinners should suffer punishment… Bear in mind, too, that virtue is a gift from God implanted in our nature, and that He Himself is the Source and cause of all good, and without His cooperation and help we cannot will or do any good thing. But we have it in our power either to abide in virtue and follow God, Who calls us into the way of virtue, or to stray from paths of virtue, which is to dwell in wickedness and to follow the devil who summons but cannot compel us. For wickedness is nothing else than the withdrawal of goodness. Just as darkness is nothing else than the withdrawal of light while then we abide in the natural state we abide in virtue, we come into an unnatural state and dwell in wickedness.

Repentance is the returning from the unnatural into the natural state, from the devil to God, through discipline and effort.

Man, then the Creator made male, giving him to share in His own Divine grace, and bringing him thus INTO COMMUNION WITH Himself, and thus it was that he gave in the manner of a prophet the names to living flyings, with authority as though they were given to be his slaves. For having been ENDOWED WITH REASON AND MIND, AND FREE-WILL AFTER THE IMAGE OF GOD, he was fully entrusted with dominion over earthly things by the common Creator and Master of all." {Source: Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith)

____________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"-

– Saint John Chyrsostomos

+ + +



With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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