Are You Saved? Saved From What?

You have desires. Your desires determine your choices. If more than one desire is active in you at one time, the strongest desire will win. You have a desire to lose weight and therefore have decided to do daily morning exercise. You wake up at five o’clock in the morning and discover there are two desires working against each other in your mind: Stay in your comfy bed for another hour, or get up and exercise. If your desire to lose weight is stronger than your desire to stay in bed, you will get up. If the opposite is true, you will go back to sleep.

Your desires determine your choices, and you can’t choose your desires, at least not in the moment. You can shape your desires over time by your choices. You can create a lifestyle with systems and habits which develops certain desires in your life which then determine your choices. This is difficult and you’ll probably need outside help.

What about moral desires? If you are evil, and your desires are evil, your choices will be evil. How can you change this? How can you know what is good? How can you desire what is good?

You need to be transformed by the only one who can transform you: Your Creator.

The Christian gospel is not primarily about being saved from hell. It is about being saved from being evil. Being evil will send you to hell, but if you were somehow able to avoid hell, that wouldn’t mean that you were then good. The avoidance of hell doesn’t make you good. Christ’s salvation makes you good.

Free will is not the ability to choose A instead of B. Even a person whose will is enslaved to evil is able to choose A vs B. Free will is the ability to always choose the good. To choose the good is to know the good and to desire the good. Free will = good desires. Enslaved will = evil desires.

Christ offers to all salvation from enslavement to evil. You already know the good enough to know that Christ’s offer is true. You already have the desire within you to be saved, no matter how evil you might be. Therefore, Christ’s salvation is available to you right now. To choose that salvation is as simple as asking for it, which you can do right now.

But be warned, Christ’s salvation is no small thing. Your life as you’ve known it will be torn apart, you will die, and there’s no turning back.

Sovereignty

God is sovereign. What does this mean? It means that God can do whatever He wants to do. No one can stand in His way and say, “No!” What it does not mean is that all that happens is what God wants to happen.

What God allows and what God wills are not always the same thing. Some would argue they are: “If God can stop an evil thing from happening, and then doesn’t stop it, it’s the same as wanting it to happen.” No, it is not. Do not turn God into a computer program.

Anyone with kids knows: What you want your kids to do, and what they choose to do are not always the same. You could stop them from doing the things you don’t want, but because you want them to have a certain amount of freedom, you do not stop them. What you will for them and what you allow them to do are not always the same thing.

God is sovereign, but He is not a robot. God is not a binary computer program which must do what it was programmed to do. God is alive. He does what He wants and He allows what He allows. He gives us the truth, and the truth gives us the freedom to follow Him, to know Him, and to live forever under His good and perfect sovereign rule.

Free Will and Evil

Free will is often described as the ability to choose one thing over another without coercion. The problem with that definition is that that type of choice would always have to be arbitrary. Why did you choose A instead of B? No reason. I chose A just because I could. I could have also chosen B. No matter. But, is that how we make choices? Of course not. There is always a reason you chose one thing over another, and that reason is the result of factors which are most often beyond your control. Why is a man attracted to one type of woman instead of another? Why do you enjoy certain kinds of food and hate others? Why are you drawn to this career and not that one? A man cannot simply will himself to be attracted to blonds instead of brunettes.

People who hold to the above definition of free will also tend to believe that the opposite of free will is no will. You either have free will or you are a preprogrammed robot. But, what is the opposite of freedom? It is slavery. Therefore, it is better to say that the opposite of free will is not “no will”, but rather “enslaved will”.

If we are created beings, then our Creator gave us certain desires. God did not create blank slates with arbitrary free wills. Rather, God created beings with a specific design and purpose. We were never created to be anything other than what we were created for. Therefore, free will, rather than being the ability to arbitrarily choose whatever, is best defined as the ability to freely be what God created us to be. Defined that way, the opposite free will is enslaved will–the inability to be what God created us to be. If we were created to be good, loving, and perfect, then our inability to be those things shows that our wills are enslaved to some fallen and corrupt condition. Welcome to planet Earth.

Any salvation plan then, would have to be one which frees us from our enslavement and once again place us in a condition where we can exist exactly as God intended. This is the claim of Christianity. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, destroys the old world of enslavement, and creates a new world of freedom. Humanity finds its freedom through union with Christ.

But, why and how did this fallen condition occur in the first place? If humans were originally created perfect and with a disposition toward God and the good, why did our first parents willfully sin? Were they deceived into doing so? By the devil? How and why did the devil fall?

The problem of evil is a perplexing one. How can an all powerful good God be reconciled with the existence of evil?

Related reading… Predisposed to Rule