“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
This is my fourth newsletter in two and a half years addressing the orthodox teaching of mankind’s bondage of the will in the things above; namely those things of eternal significance, like saving faith, which is “His good pleasure” for us. Two and one half years ago I was thinking about the non-Biblical concept of decision theology which has infiltrated many within Christianity. This is basically glorifying man’s decision (his or her will) to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. I took a piece of scratch paper and wrote “Newsletter—Will.” I then jotted down a couple Bible passages that properly proclaim God’s work, and therefore His glory, for us to have His gift of faith. That scratch paper sits on my desk and I continue to add to it. So here is my fourth article on God’s will in our lives. I will not say it is the last, for this concept has a lot of false teaching surrounding it, especially in contemporary USA Christianity.
I think most of our fellow Christians who have been impacted with this false teaching of decision theology (total freedom of the will) are over-applying certain passages and skipping over others. Example: many of these dear souls can quote the following portion of Joshua 24:15, “…choose for yourself this day Whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Over-applying occurs as a person leaves the decision (choice) of Who they will serve and goes further than Scripture by thinking that they are to choose how they are saved—by choosing Jesus as their Savior. This is not the context of Joshua’s speech. He is focused on all the wonderful things God has done for the people of Israel by leading them out of slavery and into the Promised Land, and the response to serve the Lord who has served them so plenteously. We can also note that Joshua makes his choice and the choice for his “house.” That would include his family and workers who are bound by Joshua’s choice of Whom to serve. This is also true for Christian parents in raising their children. But we are not talking about the saving faith that comes to us through God’s means of grace (God’s work in us to will) which can be rejected by people’s own grievous will.
Concerning the skipping over of passages, I am interested at some decision theology adherents’ surprise when reminded of Jesus’ Word in John 15:16a “You did not choose Me, but I chose you….” May we strive to know Scripture and the power therein.
There is great comfort in the Philippians passage in that it is “God who works in (us) to will and to work for His good pleasure.” He expressly promises that He “desires all to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4), that is “not wishing any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). O Lord, let us welcome Your work in us. This passiveness can be challenging. We basically let go of the reins as God takes over not only the work that we do, but also our will. Surely this requires great trust in God. Yet considering mankind’s (myself included) track record of decisions, I am greatly relieved that He “works in (us), both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
The Lord be with you,