“Free will” really isn’t a term that the Bible uses, but if a will were truly free, it would mean that:
#1) that “free will” would be FREE FROM restraint or constraint by other wills and
#2) that “free will” would be FREE TO will what it wants and want what it wills; it would will what it knows to be, “The Good.”
If that’s “free will,” then the Bible is the story of Free Will.
In Genesis One, God wills everything into existence with his Word and then sees that it’s good and declares that it’s good; it’s righteous!
Genesis One is the history of all chronological time: Day One to Day Seven.
But on Day Six, starting in Genesis chapter two, we read about a being whom God willed into existence, that apparently, does not always will what God is willing.
The rest of the Bible then wrestles with this question, if not in these words: Who has free will; who gets his way? Does God create Man (humanity) in his image or does Man create himself in God’s image… by taking knowledge from a tree and applying it to himself?
What happens if a little child always gets his or her way?
What happens if the will of a little child is unrestrained by any other will (free will #1)?
Spoiled children get whatever they want (#1), then don’t want what they get (#2), for they don’t know what they really want—the Good—which is usually the person from whom they’re trying to get what they thought they wanted and therefore willed; Spoiled children don’t like anything, including themselves.
In the iconic VW commercial that we watched last week and this week, the father used his key fob to start his new VW sedan as his little boy, dressed as Darth Vader, pretended to start it with just the power of his will. . . and then stood amazed when it actually started. A father might do that once or twice, but not all of the time, for if he did, his son might actually turn into Darth Vader. And yet, he’d do it once and chuckle , simply because he likes his son. And, perhaps, it would be a “sign” of what is to come. One day that little boy will exercise power like his dad and so start the car whenever he wants to start the car. But his dad is not Darth Vader.
A Good Father isn’t only power; he is always Love and that’s the Good; he is Righteousness.
Romans 10:3 “Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, [Israel, “the Church”] did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
That’s the Righteousness of God that hangs on the tree in the middle of the garden at the edge of eternity and time. As we preached last time, Jesus is the righteousness of God, the Judgment of God, and the Free Will of God. Trying to be God, we take the Life of God, that is the Free Will of God, and… surprisingly that is, in some miraculous way . . . the Free Will of God.
Jesus said, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
Dying for you was not an “obligation” for Him, as if he “had to” die for you; God is Free Will.
Whenever we feel obligated, we obviously don’t want what we will; our will is not free.
If you think that you “have to” do something, it just reveals that you don’t want to do that something, and so you must force yourself to will that something precisely because you don’t actually want that something. In fact, you will that something because you actually hate that something and only will that something because you actually want something else. In other words, you’re using that something… or someone.
And this is the entire law: You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.
The Law reveals that we don’t love God, but use God, because we want what isn’t God… Perhaps, even, that we would be God. That is, a God who isn’t actually God, but something more like Darth Vader… who doesn’t like anything, including himself.
God is Free Will and has Free Will; He didn’t “have to” die for you; He wanted to give his life to you and always wants to give his life to you; He just likes you; you are not an obligation to him; you are his little boy or girl trapped in a Darth Vader outfit, ignorant of the depths of His Love for you; you’re only beginning to know “The Good.”
A Doctor once asked my six-year-old daughter Elizabeth what she liked about herself. Elizabeth looked at me, smiled, and said, “I like being with my Daddy.” This young female doctor responded with an intensity that betrayed a buried wound. “No!” she exclaimed. Then she caught herself, “I mean what do you like about yourself, just you, like that you run fast.”
I wanted to yell “Get behind me Satan! How dare you teach my daughter to like herself because of her own ‘will and exertion,’ her flesh. Her flesh will fail but love will remain. Get behind me Satan!” But then I reminded myself that this doctor was a little girl too, and may have had a very bad Dad, and probably didn’t know she was the apple of her Father’s eye.
It’s not OK to believe that God doesn’t like you; It’s evil.
It was when Elizabeth would doubt my love for her that she would turn into Darth Vader.
The evil one whispers to each of us: “You don’t have a Daddy, and even if you do, he only pretends to love you; he doesn’t want to love you; he actually doesn’t even like you.”
God likes you and will always like you, regardless of whether or not you like him.
God likes his creation and calls it good; he likes his son and daughter.
God does not like Darth Vader, for Darth Vader is a lie about him and thus about you.
God is not the “Dark Father” but the “Father of lights.”
You have been predestined for his image and he is Free Will.
He likes you, for that is who I Am that I Am is.
And he creates you, saves you, and sanctifies you with his Word.
God is not obligated to love you, and he doesn’t want you to feel obligated to love him. . . But you do, for we—his church—have taken the Life of Love and turned him into law.
But he is rising from the dead.
Romans 10:8 “‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,’ (that is the word of faith that we proclaim).’” Paul is saying, “Christ is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” Free Will in us is the righteousness of God in us, not simply imputed to us like an entry in a ledger but rising in us like a life in a tomb. Not just in one moment of time, but every moment of time, in which we choose the Good in freedom; every moment we like God as he likes us.
I am created by Free Will, saved by Free Will, and sanctified by Free Will. But it’s not simply my own free will. It’s God’s Free Will, rising in me, a communion of Free Will in me, that is the New Me. It’s the Word I want to speak, even as it (he) is speaking Me.
You are a little child, sitting on the edge of your bed, but dressed as an adult: Darth Vader.
You are looking at your Dad—He’s broken and bleeding for you and he let you do this to him.
You say, “Why did you have to do this?” He says, “I didn’t. This is who I am and who I choose to be.”
“Now,” he says, “Who do you choose to be?”
You hand him your light saber. He takes off your mask and cape. He undresses you, tucks you into bed, and gives you a kiss, saying, “Today (Friday) you tried to be Darth Vader. Tomorrow, I’ll take you to work with me and it will feel like play. You’ll sit with me on my throne (Rev. 3:21) and together we’ll freely will an entire creation into existence. Then I’ll clothe you with the sun (or Son), as you stand on the moon, and I’ll crown you with stars—twelve to be precise (Rev. 12:1).”
I think I’m starting to love God, not because I have to, but because I want to.