Do we really have freewill? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

On occasion, I have engaged in conversation with other Christians about whether or not we have free will and their answer is always yes. They commonly say yes because a Christian can say yes or no to any situation or they will say that God did not make us like robots.

However, logic questions as to whether or not we have free will based on the following premise.

God is omniscient. Therefore, he knows beforehand what every individual has done, is doing, and is going to do. Therefore, is it possible for God not to know before the foundation of the earth was laid, what actions an individual is going to take on a daily basis or who is going to Heaven and who is going to hell? Therefore, God could hand us before birth our autobiographies. What are your thoughts?

-- Anonymous, December 19, 2004


My favourite topic!! We need to ensure that we are very clued up as far as Christology and Soteriology is concerned.

If you are sitting at a corner and the traffic lights shows green for both sides. You can bet you last dollar that there is going to be an accident. Two cars will crash into one another. Just because you know does not mean you caused it.

God is already at yesterday; just as He is at last year and at today. Yesterday, today forever ... Just because God knows where you're going to end up does not mean He caused / willed it.

Love Clive

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2004


This is a very thought provoking topic. And one in which I am sure there will be different opinions. I will share my thoughts. Ephesians 1st chapter tells us that we have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world. That we should be holy and without blame before God. It goes on to say we have been predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself. Having stated this from the Word of God, I must say yes God who is Omniscient, sees all and knows all. But if we rest on the premise that it doesn't matter what we do, God knows and sees all, we will miss out on the life God desires for us.

If we don't choose the way of salvation which is by Jesus Christ our Lord we cannot gain eternal life. If we choose the way of salvation, yet not use the Word of God to live by, we miss out on the abundant life that is promised to believers. We have to get in the Word to know what God has for us. We have to have our eyes opened to understand the richness of God's glory for us.

I think we choose rather to live according to our potential. Do we want to settle for being Christians and gaining eternal life which is promised to all believer, or strive to obtain all that God desires for us. Some examples: If we keep our mind on God, He will keep us in perfect peace. It doesn't mean we won't go through, but we will have peace.

Delight ourselves in the Lord and he will give us the desires of our heart.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all things will be added.

These are just to name a few. I believe there are some pleasures and riches on this side of heaven we will or WILL not recieve because we choose not to acknowlege God in all our ways. We will be like Moses, and only look over to see what we could have had. This doesn't mean you will not receive the inheritance of eternal life, but we will miss the exceeding greatness of his power, according to the working of his power.(Eph. 1:19)

We make the choice of living beneath our priveleges.

If God handed us our autobiographies, we would be scared to leave the house. We can't reach our potential by staying still.

In Christ, Carmen

And does God know, how we choose to walk? Of course he does because he is God.

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2004

Jazzman, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


See Romans 9:14-24

What say you?!

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2004

Ron you let me down an little. You should expound on your interpretation of that passage. Taken in context, it is a message to the Jewish people who turned away from Jesus as the Messiah. It is a message that speaks of God's ability and authority to make choices. Yes God has freewill and total control but I guess in using this scripture are you trying to question whether freewill doctrine has any validity. Come on Ron clear this up for me.

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2004

Greetings Brother Gibson,

I did leave this for the interpretation of the reader, hoping that some would explore this Word to some depth. My invitation and encouragement to do so still stands. And since you insist dear brother, here are my thoughts on freewill.

Freewill, in my estimation, is the arrogant rantings of prideful creatures who though they knew God, they neither gloify him as God nor give thanks to him. Their thinking is futile, and their worldly wisdom has darkened their hearts. Who shall contest the absolute sovereignty of God? God is not just some person of authority who distributes rewards and punishments according to law and promise. He is rather 'owner' and 'benefactor,' giving to the children of men such grace and favor as he has determined in and by his secret and eternal will and counsel. Man does not choose God!!! God Chooses Men! Consider the Scripture. Do we not read the words 'predestined,' 'elect,' and 'chosen!' There is not so much as a hint or suggestion of 'freewill' to be found. This is because the very notion is the invention of the evil one who continues to insist upon it as a condition of his submission.

Bro. Gibson, your interpretation of the verses I gave is only partially correct. The greater part of that Word states in no uncertain terms that all God's reasons of mercy are taken from within himself. He dispenses his gifts to who he will, without giving us any reason; according to his own good pleasure.

Do not be deceived! The children of God walk in the light - because He brought us into the light; We walk in the Spirit because He gave us the Spirit; We serve and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth because before the foundations of the world were laid, He chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight; In him we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Praise the Lord O my Soul! Praise Ye the Lord!!!

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2004

I have read the scripture in Romans, but not until today, did I receive that understanding. Thank you.

God chose me from the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame. My inheritance is secure, not of anything I done, but simply because it is the pleasure of my Father's will. He just wanted it that way.

To God be the glory for the things he has done.

I feel this and I am glad about it. But I have to ask some questions. Why Sunday after Sunday are preachers persuading men to come to Christ, and for those who have come, warning about the perils of not living a Godly life?

And if we feel convicted by the Word, does this not mean that we should want to change and live a holy and sanctified life?

I am very serious with these questions. You've blessed me with your interpretation of Romans 9:14-24. But I can't help but feel there is something I am missing.

We are told in Paul's letter to Timothy, to depart from iniquity. 2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Please help me with this verse.

In Christ, Carmen

-- Anonymous, December 21, 2004

Blessed are you Sister Carmen, for these things were not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

As a child of the Living, True, Most High GOD, make it your ambition to know the Word, to consume the Word, to Live in the Word, because every Word of God is flawless; sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It is living and enduring and stands forever.

Your questions are good ones, let's see what the Scripture says in response. You asked about preachers trying to persuade men to come to Christ and of warning about the perils of not living Godly life. The Scripture says that God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Cor 1:21-31) That God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Preachers preach to call those who belong to the Lord out of the darkness; As a voice of one crying in the wilderness, Preachers call from the light to those yet in darkness. But only those with ears to hear will heed the call and come. Now those once in darkness who enter the light must live as children of the light and the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. Preachers warn of perils of not living a Godly life, just as Paul insists of Timothy to depart from iniquity!

Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. So as children of the light, we are not to be like the others, who are asleep, but rather we have put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet. To the praise of His glory we test everything to see if it of God. We avoid every kind of evil. We strive to present our whole spirit, soul and body blameless to the Lord at His coming. These are testaments to our faith and belief and love of the Lord; of those called according to His purpose.

The Lord's Blessing is on you Sister Carmen. Praise Ye the Lord!!

In Christ,


-- Anonymous, December 21, 2004

My Brothers and Sisters,

You can be certain that our loving, God and Creator did not create any robots or automotons. Thus, we find from Genesis to Revelation that He has given free will to all the living creatures that He has made.

The Bible informs us that before the worlds were ever made, Lucifer, the Angel of Light, used his free will unwisely and caused a rebellion in heaven with one-third of the angels following him. Thus, Satan the Prince of Darkness now dwells in Hell with one-third of those who once belonged to the Heavenly Hosts. Adam too chose freely to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil despite God’s warning that in the day you eat of this fruit, “you shall surly die.”

In the 24 Chapter of Joshua, he laid this choice before the Children of Israel when he said,

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

John The Baptist went before Jesus in the wilderness saying REPENT, which is to say, make a deliberate decision to turn around and go a different direction than you have gone.

The Rich Young Ruler came to came to Jesus saying “all these thing I have kept from my birth, now what else is required of me that I might be saved”. Jesus’ reply gave this seeker a definite choice when said “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” The Bible tells us that the ruler made a choice, perhaps one of the few, if not the only record of an individual who chose to say NO to a request, which Jesus had made of him.

The man Jesus, who became flesh and lived as one of us, made a choice in Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed:

“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless NOT AS I WILL, but as thou wilt.

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, the Apostle Paul tells us that we even have free will in what we give to God.

“Every man according as he PURPOSETH in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

In the First Chapter of the Gospel of John we read,

“But as many as RECEIVED him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.”

John 3:16 says:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Thus, each time we come together as the Body of Christ the call is given to make a choice. “WHOSOEVER WILL let him come!” Though many have made the choice to come, many have yet chosen not to come and despite the invitation, we know there are those who will never CHOOSE to come.

The Book of Revelation gives us the summary of it. The ultimate choice of our free will is this:

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have WASHED their robes, and MADE them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

So the choice goes on while our loving Creator gives us life and breath but the conclusion of the matter rests with what Joshua said to the Children of Israel so many centuries ago,

“ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Well, if there is no freewill a whole lot of Free Will Baptist church members are in for a rude awakening. A careful reading of Psalm 139 reveals the three fundamental theological characteristics of God - omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresence. Yes, God knows what we are going to do yet he does not "impose" his authority to redirect us in a different path. Our existential experience is defined according to the choices we freely make. The OT Prophet Elijah (greatest prophet ever, bar none) succinctly described the situation on the classic contest on Mt. Carmel when he admonished the followers of Baal - "How long halt thee between two opinions? If ye believe in God follow Him, if Baal folow him" I Kings 18:21. This passage happens to be my "favorite Scripture" :-) We must make decisions and we must be decisive. If we do not have freewill if would violate the sacred principle that God is seeking volunteer loyalty and love. I worship and serve a Risen Saviour not because I feel like it is obligatory but because I choose to do so. QED

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Brother Matthews and Dickens,

Is there no end to the length to which the adversary would go to deceive? What you propose by your litany and what all free-willers insist upon is that the Scripture contradicts itself, that the Word of God says one thing when it really means another. To read free- will from the verses you sited is pure contrivance. What is worse, is that where the Scripture is clear in such matters, all manner of invention are used to evade, avoid or explain it away. Those yet in darkness, swollen in vain pride, consider it a personal affront that they do not choose, and blaspheme in their hearts by calling God unjust! While the children of light, hoping and trusting and believing in and loving the Sovereignty and Grace and Loving Kindness of God our Father the Most High, rejoice in the knowledge of our salvation in Christ.

Are you not familar with the Scripture that reads "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord ,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord , did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt 7:21-23).

In the name of the Lord I set before you a challenge. Describe to us how free-will works if this passage from God's Word is true... For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Rom 8:29- 30) I counsel caution loved ones - the Lord reigns. Do not distort the word of God. On the contrary, set forth the truth plainly and commend yourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

Finally, the Scripture says, "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Rom 8:19-21) Rejoice and be glad brothers and sisters, our Lord is Faithful and True.

All that I say here I say in Love as the Lord gives me utterance. I eagerly await your response.

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Sublime silence - the refuge of the wise!

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Discussion of free will are wonderful discussions to have in terms of denominational beliefs. The presbyterian belief in "predestination" A great place to begin is with our 25 articles of religion that state what Methodist believe. Then we should look at the writings and teachings of John Wesley the founder of methodism. The ame church has stayed closer to teachings of John wesley than the united methodists. Here are our 25 articles of religion which state what we belief.

The Articles Of Religion

1. OF FAITH IN THE HOLY TRINITY There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this God-head, there are three persons of one substance, power and eternity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. 2. OF THE WORD OR SON OF GOD, WHO WAS MADE VERY MAN The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the God-head and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who suffered, was crucified, dead and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men. 3. OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST Christ did truly rise from the dead, and took again his body with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and sitteth until he return to judge all men at last day. 4. OF THE HOLY GHOST The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God. 5. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE FOR SALVATION Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation; so that whatever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture, we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

The Names of the Canonical Books:

Genesis The Second Book of Chronicles Exodus The Book of Ezra Leviticus The Book of Nehemiah Numbers The Book of Esther Deuteronomy The Book of Job Joshua The Psalms Judges The Proverbs Ruth Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher The First Book of Samuel Cantica, of Songs of Solomon The Second Book of Samuel Four Prophets, the Greater The First Book of Kings Four Prophets, the Lesser The Second Book of Kings The Chronicles

All the books of the New Testamemt as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical. 6. OF THE OLD TESTAMENT The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and the New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore, they are not to be heard, who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments, which are called moral. 7. OF ORIGINAL OR BIRTH SIN Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the corruption off the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually. 8. OF FREE WILL The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works without the grace of God; by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will; and working with us, when we have that good will. 9. OF THE JUSTIFICATION OF MAN We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ by faith, and not by our own works or deservings; Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort. 10. OF GOOD WORKS Although good works, which are the fruit of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgments; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that they by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by its fruit. 11. OF WORKS OF SUPEREROGATION Voluntary works, besides, over and above God's Commandments, which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as mach as they are bound to do, but that they do more for His sake than of bounden duty is required: Whereas Christ said plainly," When ye have done all that is commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants." 12. OF SIN AFTER JUSTIFICATION Not every sin willingly committed after justification of the sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have receive the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and by the grace of God, rise again, and amend your lives. And therefore they are to be condemned who say they can do no more sin as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent. 13. OF THE CHURCH The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. 14. OF PURGATORY The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, pardon, worshipping, and adoration, as well as images, relics and also invocations of saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of scripture, but repugnant to the word of God. 15. OF SPEAKING IN THE CONGREGATION IN SUCH A TONGUE AS THE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND It is plainly repugnant to the word of God, and the custom of the primitive Church, or minister the sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people. 16. OF THE SACRAMENTS Sacraments ordained of Christ, are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and Gods good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our faith faith in Him.

There are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord, in the gospel; that is to say, baptism and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five commonly called sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not the like nature of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because they have not any visible sign, or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith. 17. OF BAPTISM Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptised; but it is also a sign of regeneration, or the new birth. The baptism of young children is to be retained in the church. 18. OF THE LORD'S SUPPER The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves on to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch, that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of Our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant tot he plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The Body of Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner - and the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance, reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped. 19. OF BOTH KINDS The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both parents of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to administered to all Christians alike. 20. OF THE ONE OBLATION OF CHRIST, FINISHED UPON THE CROSS The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone,. Wherefore the sacrifice if masses, in which it is commonly said that that priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, it is a blasphemous fable, and dangerous deceit. 21. OF THE MARRIAGE OF MINISTERS The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore, it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness. 22. OF THE RITES AND CEREMONIES OF CHURCHES It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's word. Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant to the word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common order of the church, and woundeth the consciences off weak brethren.

Every particular church may ordain, change, or abolish, rites and ceremonies so that all things may be done to edification. 23. OF THE RULE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The President, the Congress, the General Assemblies, the Governors of the United States of America, according to the division of power made to them by the Constitution and the Councils of State s delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, and by the Constitutions of their respective States. And said States are a sovereign and independent nation and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction. 24. OF CHRISTIAN MEN'S GOODS The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally, to give alms to the poor, according to his ability. 25. OF A CHRISTIAN MAN'S OATH As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden, Christian men by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and James, his apostle; so we judge that the Christian doth not prohibit that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in cause of faith and charity, so it be done according tot he prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment and truth.

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

In Bible study it never fails, when we get on the subject of predestination, it usually means a long lengthy discussion. Unfortunately, we never come to a point where everyone agrees. I believe it is because, as the Word tells us, our thoughts our not his thoughts. His are so much higher than ours. We just can't attain it all. Paul said he wanted to know the Lord in the power of his ressurection and the fellowship of his suferrings. That is an awesome request, and Paul's writings and how he died is proof that he was really getting acquainted with God.

How could Paul, one who persecuted christians, change so drastically? I believe it is because this was his destiny. Before he was in his mother's womb, his calling was to bring light to the gentiles. He had a change of heart; but was it of his own will. Our transformation has to begin with the Spirit of God. It is only by the spirit that we can be made conformable to the image of Jesus.

As I read everything on the thread, I realized everyone was saying just what they read in the scriptures. And we know the Word of God is right, and there is no variance in God. So I thought if we can continue the conversation, and focus on the one thing we all agree on, and go from there continuing the conversation.

I think we all agree that God is Omnipotent, Omniscience, and he knows the beginning from the end. It is as if we are living a story that's already been told. We are not robots, but God who is the author and finisher of our faith does know our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows.

This means, God was aware that Adam would disobey and eat of the fruit. Adam, was no robot. I think we agree this far. This brings up another point of discussion.(which we don't have to go into now) Did God have to change a plan. For example was there a plan A and Plan B.

I'll stop here. I think this is a good beginning where we can have agreement. I just think this is a good topic of discussion. And Jesus said we are his friends. For all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

In Christ, Carmen

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Thank you Rev. Rogers for providing the full text of the Articles.

Allow me to direct the attention of the reader to Article 8 - Of Free Will. The Article states: "The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works without the grace of God;..."

Let's not neglect the Catechism either. Question 26 asks "Wherein may we come to the very edge of Calvinism?" The answer is given as "1st. In ascribing all good to the free grace of God: 2d. In denying all natural free will, and all power antecedent to grace; and, 3d. In excluding all merit from man; even for what he has or does by the grace of God."

Now we have the Word of God, the Articles of Religion, and the Catechism all testifying to the Sovereignty of God and the folly of the unfortunate doctrine of free-will. I pray this will suffice. Glory to God in the Highest. Peace and goodwill to men on earth.

Merry Christmas,

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

I read nothing in the Sacred Text nor the Articles of Faith (#8) that rebukes the doctrine of free will. I agree with Carmen this is a good exchange but as of December 22, 2004, I'm not an anti-freewill thinker. QED

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Bro. Harris, I do invite you to study the history of Methodism, Article 8? Does talk about free will. In a nut shell we are all sinners and can not have "holiness" a methodist term without free will.

God gave us the gift of free will, we can chose him or not chose him. Article talks about the impossibility of transformation unless we choose God.

Free will in the Methodist tradition is based solely on whether we accept God, Jesus and the Holy spirit into our lives. Methodism was always thought to be a faith that required daily attention to prayer, and bible study. Without such discipline we would wallow in our depraved state.

Wesley was seen as radical in comparison to John Calvin whom he did admire. For John Calvin the founder of the presbyterian church believed that some were predestined to a life in heaven and others were predestined to hell. He felt it was irreversible, one's destiny.

Wesley says NO! Because of God's grace we all have a chance to me with God in heaven, provided we use our free will to chose God.

Methodism is a powerful tradition and encourage all to read about Methodism.

John Wesley asked 38 questions on faith and provided the answers. I suggest our readers cut and paste the web address below.

In order to get the answers click on the question.

One of the challenges that we have in our denomination is that there are many, including pastors that do not know what methodism it. We were the first "holiness" movement.

Here is the link, please cut and paste to your browser

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

I, too, wrestled with "free will" and chosen by God, etc. These are some things that help me to sort out this.

We can agree that we are made in the image of God. Therefore if God has free will within his sphere; then man has free will within his sphere of control.

If God is god; he must be Holy, Perfect without spot or blemish. Therefore he must not be a deceiver or liar, etc. If those individuals to be saved are predetermined, no amount of preaching will change that; then God by calling preachers to go and make diciples is practicing deception, making God a liar and therefore not God.

We have free will. Abram could have stayed in UR of Caldees. David could have said, "No, get someone else to be king." The scriptures are consistent. When we see inconsistencies, it is because we do not fully understand God or the scriptures. Most of us tend to view God through eys of flesh, our eyes. If we are selfish, then we see God the same way. If we do not forgive others, we cannot believe that God forgives us. We have to see him through our spiritual eyes. That is why Isaiah realized how unclean he was when he "saw" God through the eyes of the Spirit rather than flesh.

We must understand the difference between mankind and individual men/women when reading and applying the scriptures. Some of the scriptures cited in various answers apply to mankind and others to individual men.

Be Blessed

rev al paris

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Is there no free-will thinker able to take up the challenge?

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 22, 2004

Ron asks -

"Is there no free-will thinker able to take up the challenge?"

A careful reading by Matthews and Rogers provide a splendid theological defense of the doctrine of free will. As an unapologetic free will thinker, I for one, "choose" to use my scarce time in discussing other pertinent issues. QED

-- Anonymous, December 23, 2004

Youth of delight come hither. And see the opening morn, Image of truth new born. Doubt is fled & clouds of reason. Dark disputes & artful teazing, Folly is an endless maze, Tangled roots perplex her ways, How many have fallen there! They stumble all night over bones of the dead: And feel they know not what but care; And wish to lead others when they should be led.

-- Anonymous, December 23, 2004

Just as I suspected!

Though the learned Mr. Dickens reads no rebuke of the free-will doctrine in the sacred texts and asserts that the other Free-will supporters in this thread provide a splendid theological defense of the doctrine; despite his choice to "discuss more pertinent issues," the challenge put to the free-will believers goes predictably unanswered. And so shall it be. For how does one defend the indefensible?

For those who do find this issue 'pertinent,' read the catechism, read the articles of faith, read the Word and judge for yourself. See if you don't find those who are licensed to preach the Word in our Churches, (and take it upon themselves to teach free-will) in contempt of our doctrine and discipline. Reconcile if you can the Soverignty of the Most High and the fictional rendering of the so called 'gift of free-will.' Be NOT a respecter of persons as you seek out the Good and Perfect will of the Father, but in fear and trembling, rightly divide the Scriptures and see if its not as it is written - "the truth will set you free."

God Bless You,

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2004

Here is the REAL problem in this free will debate:

We are three-dimensional creatures trying to understand a multi- dimensional god.

How do you describe the color "red" to one blind from birth?

How do you describe the theory of relativity to a Neanderthal?

Look, God knew that humankind would be led astray by Satan, by desire, by sin. He knew that we would challenge his authority, stone his prophets, manipulate his words for own our use, reject the earthly leaders he sent, lose faith in him, and lose sight of the goals.

He WANTED ALL OF the Israelites (his chosen people) to reach the Promised Land (sounds like predestination ..ouch...bad pun), but He KNEW that very few of them would. They had free will. They could serve Him, or they could serve another god. Many of them, through disobedience, chose to serve another God (Baal, Asherah, Ishtar, Molech, Satan). They missed out on the EARTHLY blessing.

Each of you has the same choice. God wants you to do the right thing. He doesn't WANT you to miss out on the earthly or HEAVENLY blessing, but he knows some of you will.

Who will be to blame for that? All of us. The people who didn't choose God, as well as those of who didn't share the gospel with them. one is forcing you to share the gospel, are they? Hmmm....another example of free will?

-- Anonymous, December 27, 2004

Rev. Harper,

We have the Word. Its purpose and pleasure is to impart to mere humans the perfect Will of the Father. This debate rages because people disagree about what the Word says - and because, otherwise intelligent people, simply don't know what the Word says - yet make noises like they do. If free-will can be proved-out by the Scripture, I would happily acknowledge my error, pray for forgiveness from my brother, and repent. But, to-date, after many years of being in the Word, I tell you again, the doctrine of "free- will" is an abomination - a perversion of the Word - a deception by the adversary and a most skillful one at that. I can not convince anywone by my word or arguement, and so it is left to the individual to seek out the truth for themselves. We have the Word so there is no excuse.

Yours in Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2004

Dear Ron: Pure logic using the whole body of scripture will give you the evidence you need. The Bible begins, "In the beginning God. . .". If does not beleive that phrase, then they need not read any further; there is no god and man is a free will creature. And if you accept God, then this god must be perfect and not a deceiver. A perfect god will not deceive preachers by sending them out to preach a gospel that gives men the choice of accepting His salvation, deceiving them also. Therefore if God is . . .; then man is a FREE WILL Creature, able to accept or reject God.

Another approach is this: There is no evidence in the Bible that even suggests that man is not a free will creature. I find no person in the Bible who has been forced by God to do anything against their will. God tells us what is best for us but He does not force us to do His will. If He did, Jesus died needlessly. I have heard preachers say that God would not leave them alone until they accepted the call to preach. That is a lie. God calls us to a life that is better than where we are and if we have good sense we will accept His call. When He called Abram, He offered Abram the choice to remain where he was or go to a land of promise. By faith, Abraham left and you know the rest of the story.

Be Blessed

pastor paris

It seems so simple to me that I do not understand

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2004

I am increasingly amazed at the shallowness of the free-will arguement made by its proponents on this board. How did you become believers in Christ? By any internal energy of your own? Speak, believer, was it your free will that brought you to the Savior's feet, or was it God's free grace? The Lord alone shall have the glory of that opening hour of love. Men may hold free-will doctrine as a matter of theory, but you never find a believer hold it as a matter of experience. You mentioned Abraham's Faith. Surely we realize that Faith does not come to one by the operation of free will and to another by free grace, but to every one by the same Spirit. (Jude 1:3)

The free-willers object to this great truth, which seems to me to be self-evident, that Christ should choose his own spouse; they want to have entrusted to them the selection of a bride for him. They want God to be lackey to the free will of man, and that none of His purposes should be carried out unless man permits it; their notion is that the great Creator must sit and wait till He gets His creature's permission to be gracious.

As for me and my house, beloved, we adore the glorious truth of His electing love, we admire the sovereignty of His grace, and we delight to know that He does as He wills among the inhabitants of this world, and deals out His mercy, as Paul puts it, "according to the good pleasure of his will" Eph 1:5. We rejoice that we are His! No one believes that Jesus is the Christ but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6), says Christ.

Much has been said here about free will, but free will has never done anything in this world yet - unless moved by free grace - except to ruin mankind. Leave men to themselves, and they are sure to choose that which is evil. As naturally as the river runs downwards to the sea, so does the heart of man turn towards that which is unclean. If the heart ever ascends towards holiness, and Christ, and God, it is because it is drawn upward by grace, and the Lord is working in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure. From the first sigh of repentance to the last hymn of thanksgiving, everything in us that is good is his workmanship; and so, in that respect, OUR SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.

The world does not like this doctrine, and there are many professing Christians who do not like it. They say, "Salvation is of man's free will; salvation is of the works of the law; salvation is of rites and ceremonies;" and so on. But we say, with Jonah, "Salvation is of the Lord. He works it from beginning to end, and therefore He must have all the praise for it for ever and ever.

Praise the Lord O my Soul!! Praise Ye the Lord!!!

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 29, 2004

In opposition to Calvinism John Wesley said, “The Doctrine of Predestination is NOT a doctrine of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself. It destroys several particular braches of holiness such as meekness and love for our enemies. It destroys the happiness of Christianity especially of those who believe themselves to be reprobated and have a fear of it. It presents the notion that millions without any preceding faults of their own are doomed to everlasting burning in Hell.”

Wesley said it destroys the doctrine of zeal for all good works but particularly the saving of souls from death. Most of all, Wesley said, it is BLASPHEMY because it represents God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, and more unjust.

The complete text of what Wesley said of this may be found in the link, which I have provided below.

In response to George Whitfield’s opposition on this subject, Wesley wrote:

London, August 9, 1740

My dear Brother,

I thank you for yours, May the 24th. The case is quite plain. There are bigots both for predestination and against it. God is sending a message to those on either side. But neither will receive it, unless from one who is of their own opinion. Therefore, for a time you are suffered to be of one opinion, and I of another. But when his time is come, God will do what man cannot, namely, make us both of one mind. Then persecution will flame out, and it will be seen whether we count our lives dear unto ourselves, so that we may finish our course with joy. I am, my dearest brother,

Ever yours,


It is said that even Calvinist preached the Gospel of the Salvation of Christ and hid their beliefs as they preached. These being that many, without any fault of their own, would be doomed to Hell.

The Catechism of Faith found in the Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church states that while there is some Biblical basis for Calvinist and Antinomianism beliefs, we are in grave danger of leaning to closely to them. By so doing we deny the Justification of Faith made perfect by righteous living, obedience and good and holy works. Thus, we endanger ourselves either by sins of commission or omission, of forfeiting the free grace of God.

In summary this is what Methodists believe concerning ‘Free Will” and some of the Biblical texts for our belief in it are these:

"Calvinism seems directly opposed to the whole tenor of Jesus’ teaching on Good Works (That is to say Faith and Works) and Jesus’ constant exhortations to us to make the right choices. Why should He have spent so much of his ministry on this sort of teaching if we did not have the Free Will to profit by it? This is one reason why Free Will has always been so important to the historic Church, and why our deeds, (or works) are vitally important.

We can see that the Bible also denies the idea of irresistible grace, showing that our Free Will does affect its action:"

2 Cor 6:1 - As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. (NIV).

"The Bible shows clearly that God wants EVERYONE to be saved, and that He has not predestined anyone for damnation."

1 Timothy 2.3-4 - This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but EVERYONE to COME to repentance. (NIV).

1 John 2:2 - He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD. (NIV).

John Wesley's Sermon

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2004

Ron, A simple question...

If I send you money via PayPal, you do not have to accept it. The funds would sit in limbo, wasted. But I sent it. You chose not to accept it, and so you miss out on a financial blessing.

God's gift of salvation has been given to all of us, but we do not, I repeat do not have to choose it.

You would, of course, be a fool for not accepting it.

Now, IF I don't have a choice. IF I am saved no matter what I do, then:

Why in the name of the Lord am I not in the club, knee-deep in sin?
Why am I not sitting on my duff enjoying the NFL on a Sunday morning? Why am I tithing?

Answer that......

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2004

Wow!! The Lord Be Praised!!

Brother Matthews, what a powerful and wonderful sermon you have given us from John Wesley ( Link to John Wesley's Sermon ). I will take some time to absorb, ponder and pray over Wesley's words before I offer a response, but wanted to thank you for directing us to that word.

God Bless you,

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2004

Ron, you need to listen to Rev, Harper. John Wesley was wrong.

Be Blessed

pastor paris

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Rev. Paris,

I'm trying to take it all in! Its conceivable that Wesley, Harper, Dickens, Matthews, Rogers, Buchanan, Gibson, Pillay, Jazzman, etc. are all right - based on where they begin, i.e. from their perspective. What I seek is that common starting place so that the truth can be revealed. It is proving to be a wonderful and challenging study - a blessing. I'm close to posting a response to Matthews and Harper (and Wesley) and look forward to the dialog that will follow.

God Bless you all in this New Year,

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2005

I have been Methodist most of my life. I grew up in the United Methodist Church and answered my call in the United Methodist Church. I was a united methodist pastor before switching to A.M.E.

The reason I have stayed Methodist is because I believe the doctrine and the 25 articles of faith.

Our roots and foundation are Wesleyan, and that is very important to consider and understand for it defines who we as A.M.E.'s are.

Ron you have a perspective also. But it does not seem to be a Methodist perspective. Are you wrong? No, you have a belief that is different than Methodism.

As a pastor I am deeply concerned whether the church as a whole fully explains what are beliefs are. There are even pastors who believe we are a congregational system. And are totally shocked when they are moved.

Ron your question raises another issue that is extremely important. Do we all know what Methodist believe?

This discourse can go on and on but the bottom line is the tenets of Methodism stay the same.

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year Rev. Rogers,

I too grew up Methodist - African Methodist Episcopal - in a family with roots and ties to the earliest moments of its inception. We are proud and pleased to be AMEs. However, when it comes to salvation, denomination has nothing whatsoever to do with it, and although there is an inescapable 'branding' of persons who belong to a particular denomination, in my case, it no more defines me or my beliefs, than does the kind of music I enjoy. I follow Christ and believe the Word. Methodism - what I know about it - is merely form and association.

That said, I agree that many Methodists don't know what it means to be Methodist. The same can likely be said for members of the other myriad denominations too. A testimony to the importance of denominationalism! In any case, let's not let denomination get in the way. Its the sharpening of our swords, and an understanding of the truth of God's Word that we seek. Wesley, Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Pink, Edwards, etc., are all learned Christians worthy of a hearing - but these must all give way to Paul, Peter, James and John.

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 01, 2005

Rev. Rogers,

What are the tenets of Methodism with respect to this subject? What do 'Methodist' believe? Could you give a brief explaination of your understanding of the relevent Articles of Faith, especially Article 8?

Thank You and God Bless You,

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 02, 2005

It's encouraging to read in the New Year that Brother Ron's intellectual "jihad" against the doctrine of free will and its followers (like me), is in recession. Yet further evidence that miracles remain in our midst :-) QED

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year Bro. Dickens,

You must have misread something in one of my posts! Though I remain of the same opinion with regards to free-will, I make every effort to be a thoughtful, reasonable man, able and willing to 'hear' the opinions and views of others without drowning out the truth of them by the sound of my own voice. Humbly, prayfully, I desire only the truth and since haste of words does not serve that end, I pause; pause to tighten the belt, straighten the helmet, and sharpen the sword. Never fear, be patient but a while, I will not tarry long!

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year to everyone on this Board.

I've waited before posting again to think about what I've read so far. Rev Rogers' presentation from the 25 Articles of Religion was a splendid way to begin to reason. It reads Article 8 - Of Free Will. The Article states: "The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works without the grace of God;..."

My interpretation of this is since the fall of Adam, we do not have the ability to do good works on our natural strength. Without the grace of God we are lost. Any good that we do, if we think we are doing it by our own will we are in error. For it is by the spirit that any good can be done in us.

This made me think of the struggle Paul had in Romans 7: 18-25. When we walk according to the flesh, we are using our freewill. And we will constantly have this war with flesh and spirit. The goal for us is to walk in the spirit. We then relinquish our free will, and move according to God's will and purpose in our life. Not easy because just as with the disciples who couldn't stay awake while Jesus prayed, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is week."

Jesus who is the only begotten of the father prayed and said "Not my will but thine be done." In order for his mission on earth to be accomplished, he had to let go of his will.

I believe when we take credit for the good we do, and say it is by our will there is a danger of thinking too highly of ourselves. Remember Paul said "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not."

Paul goes on asking how he can be delivered from this body of death. He knew as long as he was in the body this battle would be continuous. But he also came to the conclusion "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God;(Giving himself over the will of God) but with the flesh(his own will) the law of sin.

So I conclude that I do have a will, but I need to put it under subjection. Because it never fails, when I do things of my own will, I fail. But when I walk in the spirit, spiritual fruit will appear. I did something just the order week, and after doing so, I realized, "Carmen that was of your own freewill". Had I walked in the light of the Spirit of God, my behavior would have been different, and the outcome pleasing to God.

Our free will needs to come under subjection, actually it will be better if we gave it up. I am talking about us Christians as I say this. Paul said " I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Let us be careful not to fool ourselves. If our righteous was determined by our own selves, then Christ would not have had to die for our sins. But he did, because we were all lost.

I think Wesley was a bit strong in saying "“The Doctrine of Predestination is NOT a doctrine of God, because it makes void the ordinance of God; and God is not divided against himself." God's Word in Ephesians 1: 4-7 confirms we were predestinated according to the pleasure of God's Will.

In Christ, Carmen

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year Beloved Carmen!

Well said! God Bless You.

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2005

Well said Carmen. However, you make the case for Free Will. You make a choice to give up your will to the will of the Father. You choose to let God's will overrule your will. That is what I mean when I say that all men can choose to serve or not to serve the Lord. Serving the Lord means that you by your own free will submit to the will of God.

Praise the Lord

Pastor paris

-- Anonymous, January 03, 2005

Thank you Mr. Harris and Rev. Paris.

I still believe that God chose me to serve him. I really would like to think that I am saved because I said yes to his will; but actually deep in my heart even at that, I was powerless over the Word of God. I believe the power in the Word of God is so strong that it convicts the heart and draws a person to Christ. This is the only way we can come to Jesus. The Spirit has to draw us. It's just like Jesus said to Paul, "It's hard to kick against the pricks".

I think this way of salvation is so awesome, that it has nothing to do with our free will. I believe we surrender. We obtain the "Can't help its." Like the song. What is this that makes me feel so good inside...What is this .....Whatever it is, it won't let me hold my peace." Sorry can't remember all the words. It is an old song.

Jeremiah had it, when he wished he could be quiet, but it was like fire shut up in his bones. It just wouldn't let him.

I do believe as a chosen people, we have to learn to walk in the will of God. And I believe our wills are very strong, this is why we must read and meditate on the Word of God. I believe our aim is to reach the point where we give up our will and be upheld with God's free spirit.

In Christ, Carmen

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2005

Rev. Paris,

Do you find any irony in the contention by those 'called to preach' that they do so by their own free will?

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2005

Can the soul be convicted of sin without the aide of the Holy Spirit?

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2005

The power of God is demonstrated by His willingness to allow us the freedom of choice, free will, and not force us or deceive us into acceptance. The weakness of Satan is demonstrated in that he MUST deceive us in order to get us to serve him.

The Holy Spirit is essential to the one being convicted (convinced in his/her mind of sin, the need for salvation).

be blessed

al paris

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2005

Brothers and Sisters,

First, thank you to those who have participated in this dialog. It has been a blessing to me and I hope to you as well. This subject goes directly to what we believe and why we believe it and to a large degree, defines our relationship with the Lord. It is reminiscent of the question that Christ asked Peter – “who do you say that I am?” I’m sure we all desire to hear those wonderful words that Christ spoke to Peter after Peter gave his answer. Thank you also to Rev. Harper and his faithful service in providing this forum. Ok, here it goes…

Despite a confession of God’s omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, some will yet sue for the ‘dignity of man’; for pride’s sake, for a doctrine of free-will (Rom 1:21-22).

Since we do not live presently in eternity as does the Most High, we can lay no claim to an empirical knowledge of what God knows about it, or the fullness of His workings therein. To know the will of God is the desire of the whole creation (Rom 8:19), an experience of God, the quest of every creature. Yet this is possible only by the Grace of Him who accomplishes all things in accordance with His good pleasure. By Grace, we are given His Word and by His Word, His Spirit, and by these an incorruptible inheritance and the joy of knowing Him. We do not know what He knows, but rather we know His nature, His attributes, His Love and Will for us – we know him as Father.

Grace cannot be invented or manufactured or conjured (despite the vain attempts by those yet in darkness). We cannot take it to ourselves, or demand it as the reward for work well done or expect it as ‘just-due’ for a right choice. For if it was so, then it would no longer be Grace (Rom 11:6). It is by Grace that we are saved (Eph 2), not by any work, or desire or choice. It is the free gift of God, given us before the beginning of time (2 Tim 1:9-10) by his great love for us.

Some argue that ‘free-will’ is a gift, given man by God. That without such a ‘free-will’ God is unjust, either because He would then be the Creator of robots and ‘automotons,’ or because men would be condemned by no fault of their own. It is further suggested that if the elect knew of their election, then they would have no need to serve God because their fates are sealed regardless of what they do - and likewise for the condemned believing themselves to be so. Finally, some contend that injustice, even wickedness would reign, if the promise of Salvation was given to those who have no possibility of obtaining it. These are scurrilous blasphemies born of ignorance or pride or darkness. (John 1:5) Despite what the Scripture says of God’s desires for us (John 3:16-21; 2 Peter 3:3-9; Rom 10:9-13; 1 Tim 2:4-6; etc) they say God cannot be truthful in these unless men can choose their destinies.

On the contrary, an honest reading of the Genesis account of the fall of man, reveals that upon having disobeyed God and taking from the forbidden tree, that mankind inherited a curse, and was driven from the garden, in part, so that he could not “reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Gen 3:22 NIV). Any ‘free-will’ man may have had, to take up eternal life for himself, was forfeit by his sin. Does this not settle the matter of man’s ability to choose life!? No you say! This is no longer in effect!? You say Christ changed all that? Let us reason together. Isn’t He the Tree of Life! How will you by your desire or effort or will obtain Christ? Remember what Christ told those who asked Him to tell them whether or not He is the Christ (John 10:22-38)? He told some that they were not His sheep, not of the ones given Him by the Father. Is God unjust? No! Man is sinful.

The Word is replete – from first to last - with the truth of God’s Sovereignty. We read of Moses and Joshua and Aaron and Joseph; of Abraham, Issac and Jacob; of Israel, of kings of prophets (which one became a prophet of their own free-will?), of Rahab, Ruth, and Rebecca. We are given the testimony of eye-witnesses to the light, their inspiration and revelation. We have Christ and the Holy Spirit which testify of the Father. What arrogance! What folly, that continues to assert that one can by his/her own free-will, take from the tree of life!! They insist upon any alternative to election by Grace and assert a time-bound God, who is busy fixing errors and adlibbing as events in time dictate. They point to instances where man clearly made choices to do what pleased God - or no, forgetting that although mankind can make choices in time and upon the earth, he cannot work or will himself into life, into eternity, or into Grace. These are the exclusive province of our Sovereign Lord. (Romans, Ephesians, Peter, etc.)

In Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2005

Ron, you are right, it was good to have this discussion regarding free will, for helps define what we as methodists believe.

As a Methodist pastor over the years I have encountered many people in my church who have a set of beliefs that are contrary to what Methodist belief and they have spent time trying to persuade others to their beliefs. Some are "enemies of Christ" who come to destroy and bring confusion. Others have not had many church experiences or know church history. The latter I have taken time to work with and help them clarify what they believe and what they want from a church.

Of that group most are "pentecostal" and don't know it! One of my best clergy friends is the assembly of God Pastor in my town, and I have sent a few to his church and it is a good fit, he has also sent some my way. Part of being a pastor is to be able to articulate one's faith journey, call to ministry and beliefs of the denomination.

IfAs I have read your posts over the time you have been on the board, I wonder if your true leaning is "Pentecostalism" and not methodist. (Though the irony the azusa movement and subsequent pentecostal movement are based firmly in the theology of John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley) for the first "holiness" movement was the Methodists.

Baptism by immersion, speaking in tongues, regeneration of the soul, wiffful disobedience to God, thus resulting in a sinful nature of man. (They do not use inclusive language)healing with oil etc. are hallmarks of the pentecostal movement. Again, they have built upon the foundation of the Methodist movement.

Ron, I invite you to research Methodist History and Pentecostal History it is fascinating. And one other thing John Wesley believed in the word and power of scripture and his interpretations are based solely on the bible. His bible commentary is still in use today.

Below are the 16 beliefs of the Assembly of God Church 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God These are nonnegotiable tenets of faith that all Assemblies of God churches adhere to. This list is derived from the official Statement of Fundamental Truths. View the full Statement of Fundamental Truths in English or in Spanish. Click on any truth below to see the complete original statement with scriptures.

WE BELIEVE...The Scriptures are Inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind.

WE BELIEVE...There is only One True God–revealed in three persons...Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (commonly known as the Trinity).

WE BELIEVE...In the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. As God's son Jesus was both human and divine.

WE BELIEVE...though originally good, Man Willingly Fell to Sin– ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual, into the world.

WE BELIEVE...Every Person Can Have Restored Fellowship with God Through 'Salvation' (accepting Christ's offer of forgiveness for sin). [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]

WE BELIEVE...and practice two ordinances—(1) Water Baptism by Immersion after repenting of one's sins and receiving Christ's gift of salvation, and (2) Holy Communion (the Lord's Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ's suffering and death for our salvation.

WE BELIEVE...the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a Special Experience Following Salvation that empowers believers for witnessing and effective service, just as it did in New Testament times. [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]

WE BELIEVE... The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is ‘Speaking in Tongues,’ as experienced on the Day of Pentecost and referenced throughout Acts and the Epistles.

WE BELIEVE...Sanctification Initially Occurs at Salvation and is not only a declaration that a believer is holy, but also a progressive lifelong process of separating from evil as believers continually draw closer to God and become more Christlike.

WE BELIEVE...The Church has a Mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin. We believe 'the Church' is the Body of Christ and consists of the people who, throughout time, have accepted God's offer of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ.

WE BELIEVE...A Divinely Called and Scripturally Ordained Leadership Ministry Serves the Church. The Bible teaches that each of us under leadership must commit ourselves to reach others for Christ, to worship Him with other believers, and to build up or edify the body of believers–the Church.

WE BELIEVE...Divine Healing of the Sick is a Privilege for Christians Today and is provided for in Christ's atonement (His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins). [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]

WE The Blessed Hope—When Jesus Raptures His Church Prior to His Return to Earth (the second coming). At this future moment in time all believers who have died will rise from their graves and will meet the Lord in the air, and Christians who are alive will be caught up with them, to be with the Lord forever. [1 of 4 cardinal doctrines of the A/G]

WE The Millennial Reign of Christ when Jesus returns with His saints at His second coming and begins His benevolent rule over earth for 1,000 years. At that time many in the nation of Israel will recognize and accept Him as the Messiah, the Savior who died for them and all mankind.

WE BELIEVE...A Final Judgment Will Take Place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a punishing lake of fire.

WE BELIEVE...and look forward to the perfect New Heavens and a New Earth that Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on Earth. 'And so shall we forever be with the Lord!'

Good luck on your spiritual journey, and I strongly suggest that you learn more about our rich history as methodist for of all the Methodist denominations, theologians say the A.M.E. Church has remained true to the original intent of Methodism. It is one of the reasons that I and other former united methodists switched to become A.M.E.

I am also proud that whether one is black, white, native american, hispanic everyone is welcomed in our denomination.

A.M.E. African in our name, humanity in our hearts!!!!

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2005

Rev. Rogers,

I must confess a certain confusion with your obvious preoccupation with denomination, as it relates to the subject before us. With some notable exceptions, Christian denominations use the same cannon of Scripture, are called to the same hope, have one Lord, one faith, one baptism; and one God and Father of all (Eph 4:5-6).

The major denominations rose as a result of men led by the spirit, possessing learning and knowledge of the Word, who could not abide the abuses of a church hierarchy drunk on worldly power. They challenged the Catholic Church's interpretation and use of the Word, resulting in schisms that endure to this day. People followed the protestant leaders not because they necessarily absorbed and believed their theological dissertations, (since most were ignorant of the Word, depending instead upon their trust in men and institutions) but rather to escape the heavy hand of their Catholic oppressors.

Today, denominationalism is all but irrelevant. We tend to attend the churches of our mothers and fathers, or simply seek out a worship service that best suits our sensibilities. For the more learned among us – doctrine is all important – and we are able to tell at once whether we agree with the teachings of a church/denomination or not. As for me, the AME church is the church of my father’s, father’s, father. I believe our doctrine to be sound and I’m comfortable with the traditions and polity of the church. I love its people and am well pleased to serve them as the Lord gives me strength.

But as for denomination in general, I again refer you to the Word. Chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians pretty well sums up my view.

God Bless you,

Yours in Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2005

Bro. Harris, I had to laugh, when you said I am pre-occupied with denominalism. For I am preoccupied with one denomination and it is A.M.E.! I have never attended a church because my relatives did. If that were true, I would be baptist. Even as a child I never felt comfortable in the baptist church. And I hated hearing how God was going to strike me down at every turn I made. I was tired to hear how horrible and deprived I was. I was suppose to be baptized at 5 but the pastor gave a whole sermon while he held the head of the little girl in front of me under water. I ran out of the church. I did not get baptized until I was 25. It was then I learned of grace.

Denominations are the first doors people walk through to learn of God. Our jobs as a denomination is to point them to the word of God and the power of God.

Not only is there history with denominations, they are often times born of strife, theological differences etc.

Out of the environment of racism and oppression the ame church was born, it is the living testimony of "The theology of the Cross" a doctrine of Paul the apostle which states "God will lift the lowest of low on high for his glory and purpose."

We have been here since 1787 and through it all we are still here. A non-denominational church has nothing for me to stand on or lean on.

When I come under attack from the KKK, or other reasons I turn to God and the connectionalism of the ame church. God says to me "If I can take care of 27 year old ex slave Richard Allen in a livery stable, I can take care of you. God shows me concretely through his son and the church of allen, Miracles are still happening. God shows me through the ame church the work to be done in Africa.

I know the power of 2.5 million ame's my goal as a pastor is to be obedient and join him in unleashing the power of this church to the world.

I am grateful for my spiritual journey, baptist, nation of islam, then Methodism. For my love of God and my denomination makes me work harder to glorify God and to further methodism.

Lastly, I ask all to pray to God about ways we as a denomination can witness more powerfully for our savior, how we as a denomination can be more generous to the poor.

For the ame church may be the door that someone walks through to find and understand God.

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2005

I have followed Bro. Ron and his various dialogues with great interest. For a proper exegisis of Genesis and the Fall, I refer Bro. Harris to a sermon preached at the Washington Annual Conference of the 2nd Epispocal District by Presiding Elder Dunn. Her topic was "Choose Life." I am sure he can check with someone in the District to obtain a tape of the sermon. Secondly, I have heard another sermon (which is not coming readily to mind) by the Pastor of First AME Church Manassas that gave an excellent explanation of free will. I would ask Bro. Harris to call that church and have a discourse with the Pastor.

I also heard quite the exegesis on Salvation and choice, based on the Gospel of John, by Cain Hope Felder. This was aired on WHUR on 1/10/05. Perhaps Bro. Ron can obtain a copy for his review.

Be blessed.

-- Anonymous, January 10, 2005

Greetings Sis. Karen,

Thank you for the resouces you've provided. I'm persuing them even now. I'm a member of and worship and serve in the mighty 2nd district and have some relation with those you mentioned - particularly the beloved Pastor of First AME Manassas. One thing I find very useful in my study of the Word is the use of Bible commentaries, dictionaries, interlinears, concordances, etc. Here's a link where you can some very good ones online ( HREF=" ">Link to CrossWalk Bible Tools ) Take a look at what is said about Gen 3:22. I find Matthew Henry, Jameison, Fausset, and Brown to be very instructive. Wesley's Notes are a little thin, but useful.

Thank you again and God Bless You,

Yours in Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2005

Here's that link again...

Link to CrossWalk Bible Tools

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2005

One More Time!! ( Link to CrossWalk Bible Study Tools )

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2005

Bro. Ron,

I appreciate your kind offer of a website link. However, I must demur. All seminarians and true theologians (such as Cain Hope Felder) will tell you to never rely totally on commentaries as a source for proper exegesis (i.e., rightly dividing the Word of God). While I am not disputing the validity of Matthew Henry, etc., contextual and internal witnesses supersedes some of the points raised in these various venues. I am a little disappointed, though, that you were not forthright in admitting that you are a member of First AME of Manassas, which would put you in direct opposition to your Pastor's viewpoint and teachings on the matter. I find this amazing because when I visited your church I discovered that you are the Superintendent of Sunday School for that very kind and friendly congregation. That said, my brother, I encourage you to perhaps enroll in Seminary as it is obvious you would like to move to a different level in Christ, for which I commend and applaud you.

Wishing you the best.

Sis. Karen (not an AME, but observing through this medium and visiting various churches in Manassas).

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2005

Sis. Karen,

I am (as you aptly point out) neither a seminarian nor theologian. As it is, I simply love the Lord and His Word. I would never recommend that one should totally rely on anything except these two. Yet, these type tools do provide learned opinions that have been recognized by seminarians and theologians alike as useful in the study of the Word. You don't have to agree with what they say.

With respect to your disappointment, I don't understand? For many on this board (you included so it seems) my membership and service is no mystery or secret. Elaboration on those facts just didn't seem necessary to the conversation. You go further however and compare my view to my Pastor's. I see a flag on the field. The ref is signaling 'illegal procedure.' This is a fifteen yard penalty or half the distance to the goal line. Unless you wish to have the play reviewed, I'll decline the penalty and play the down over again. Agreed!?

Sis. Karen, you visited with us once upon a time. Please do so again and make yourself known to me, I'd love to meet you. As you saw, FAME is a warm and loving congregation and our Pastor truly blessed of the Lord. If its a church home you're looking for - look no further. I'll look for you on Sunday.

God Bless You,

Yours in Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2005

Oh Yes, Church School begins and 9:30 sharp. See you then.

Yours in Christ,

-- Anonymous, January 12, 2005

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