Does Man Have A Free Will?

(Part Two of Four)


(Editor's Note: The following article by brother Hafley is the second of four appearing in the January, February, March and April issues of Watchman Magazine. Each article consists of 3 sections [or smaller articles]. Combined, they systematically answer the Calvinist doctrines of Total Depravity and Individual Predestination. I commend them to you. To read the January article, click here.)

(Section 1)

MAN'S FREEWILL, HEADACHES, AND DIABETES

In this series on the free will of man, we again quote from Wayne Camp: "Scripture further shows this doctrine that all men have a free will to be a lie by showing that there are some things the natural man cannot do. Augustus Toplady also wrote, 'A man's free - will cannot cure him even of the toothache or of a sore finger, and yet he madly thinks it is in his power to cure his soul.' I awoke this morning with a sinus headache. I was unable to will it away. I finally took some sinus medicine and soon my headache was gone. I am a diabetic. If I could, I would will it to be gone so I need not ... take insulin or pills. But, will as I might, it is there. If I cannot cure a headache by the power and sovereignty of my presumed free will, how could I expect to change a stony heart into a heart to know God? How could I expect to will to come to Christ when every thing in my nature is against doing that? Thank God for his quickening, regenerating, calling power" (The Grace Proclamator and Promulgator, August, 1995, p. 3).

As we cannot "will" to cure a headache, so we cannot "will" to be cured of sin. That is Camp's thesis. First, no one known to me believes that man, by himself, can simply mentally will to be saved, and, presto, and it is done. Second, could Elder Camp will himself into a case of the measles? Did he will himself into diabetes? Was he, "by nature," born with a sinus headache? Third, while Pastor cannot simply will away his headache, he can take God's power to relieve that headache (aspirin) and remove it. Acting in accord with God's laws of nature, he can will to use the power God has placed in aspirin to cure his headache. Hence, what he needs to find is that man with the headache who cannot, of his own free will, choose to apply the remedy for his headache. According to him, the sinner cannot will to be cured of sin. The unregenerate mind cannot choose to apply the remedy God has provided; namely, the gospel. So, to have a parallel case, he, as a diabetic, ought not to be able to will to take his insulin.

The man with the headache simply cannot will the headache away. However, he can will, or decide, to rid himself of the headache by taking the aspirin which God has prepared in the law of nature. Likewise, the sinner simply cannot will away his sins. However, he can will, or decide, to rid himself of his sins by obeying the gospel which God has prepared in the law of the Spirit. "Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). "To you is the word of this salvation sent .... through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified" (Acts 13:26, 38). "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16).

No, man cannot will away his headache; man cannot will away his sins. But he can cure his headache by taking God's power unto its relief. So, he cannot will away his sins by the power of his own mind, but he can accept the remedy, the gospel, God's power unto salvation, and be forgiven of his sins. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat. 11:28).

Elder Camp wonders how he could "will" to change his "stony heart into a heart to know God." I suppose he could do it the same way Israel "made their hearts like flint so they could not hear the law" and the word of God (Zech. 7:12). When Camp explains how they could turn their hearts and make them "like flint" "so they could not hear" the word of God, he will then know how he could turn his "stony heart into a heart to know God."

Despite the aspirin and insulin that God has provided in the natural, medicinal realm, man may ignore them. He may refuse to take his aspirin and insulin. If he does neglect, and if he fails to appropriate the power God has given to relieve him of his malady, he will die in his diabetes with a headache. Similarly, if man refuses the incentives and inducements of the gospel, if he refuses to believe it, he will die in his sins (Mk. 16:15, 16; Jn. 8:24). Thus, to some unbelieving Jews who spurned God's remedy for their sins, the gospel, Paul said, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).

Elder Camp thanks "God for his quickening, regenerating, calling power." But what of the man whom God refuses to quicken, regenerate, and call? Camp thanks God for his power. Shall the condemned man curse God for failing to use his quickening, regenerating, calling power?

  1. What is this quickening power for which Camp gives thanks? "Thy word hath quickened me" (Psa. 119:50). "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63). "Thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:68).
  2. What is this regenerating power for which Camp is thankful? "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible. by the word of God .... And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet. 1:23-25). "I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15). "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth" (Jas. 1:18).
  3. What is the calling power for which Camp is thankful? "He called you by our gospel" (1 Thess. 2:13).

In the spiritual realm, but using his physical analogy, here is what Camp has: A man is born with a headache; he is "by nature" a total diabetic. God has prepared aspirin and insulin as the measures by which man is to be relieved of these afflictions. However, God has also made the man incapable and unable of even wanting to be cured or relieved. He has made the diabetic man with the headache without a will to choose to take and apply aspirin and insulin. And, unless God performs a miraculous operation on the the afflicted man's heart, he can never "will" or choose to be cured. Further, without that divine operation and spiritual transformation from God, the man will die as a diabetic with a headache and will be sent to hell because he died in that condition. That is the way they practice medicine at Dr. Camp's clinic.

(Section 2)

CAMP'S PROOF TEXTS -- JOHN 6:44

In this section of our series reviewing Wayne Camp's contention that man does not have a free will, we shall examine his proof texts.

John 6:44: Camp says, "Man cannot, without some Divine help, ever come to Christ. This was made perfectly clear by Jesus in his address to the five thousand. They had come to him to make him king, not because they believed on him but because he had filled their bellies. But, they could not savingly come to him without God drawing them. John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Greek word means more than a mere invitation. It means more than a mere desire for them to come. It means 'to draw' as Peter drew his sword, or as the disciples drew nets to the shore filled with fish. It means to draw a boat into dock" (Wayne Camp, The Grace Propagator and Promulgator, August, 1995, p. 3).

First, did the Lord expect these unregenerate men to understand his words? Could they, as dead, alien sinners, hear his words and understand that they could not come to Christ "without some Divine (direct and immediate) help"? If so, these dead men are not so spiritually deaf as Camp contends. If not, why speak to them?

Second, since Camp says it "was made perfectly clear by Jesus in his address to the five thousand," it must have been "perfectly clear" to those unregenerate sinners. Hence, by use of words, Jesus could teach dead, alien sinners spiritual, Divine truth. This plays havoc with Camp's concept that "the natural man," "the unregenerate man," is unable to receive spiritual things.

Third, why did "Jesus in his address to the five thousand," tell them, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life," when he knew, according to Camp, that they could not "labor for that (spiritual) meat" or food (Jn. 6:27)? Was Jesus cruelly mocking them by commanding them to do something which he knew they could not do? Or was he actually expecting these dead alien sinners to obey him and to labor for that "meat which endureth unto evelasting life"?

Fourth, how did these dead alien sinners, who allegedly were without the will to come to God, ask Jesus, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God" (Jn. 6:28)? How could unregenerate men ask such a question, given Camp's view of their total lack of will?

Fifth, why did Jesus tell these wholly disabled, totally depraved, dead men, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent," when he knew they could not do so of their own free will? Or did he expect them to comprehend and comply? According to Camp, the Lord, in answer to their question, should have said, "What do you mean, 'What shall we do?' There is nothing you can do! And, unless God effects a miracle in your hearts, you are doomed to hell anyway."

The Very Next Verse

Camp correctly quotes John 6:44, but he needs to read the very next verse. Note both verses: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me."

John 6:45 explains the drawing of verse 44. How is one drawn? How does one come to Jesus? Was Jesus correct when he said that the prophets had said, "And they shall be all taught of God?" Did the prophets say that? (1) Taught--"Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths" (Isa. 2:2, 3). This is perfectly consistent with the great commission. "Go ye therefore and teach all nations .... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19). "Teach," "walk," said Isaiah. "Teach," "observe," said Jesus.

The one who is drawn is the one who comes to Jesus. Who is it that drawn unto Jesus? "Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (2) Heard--"In whom (Christ) ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:13, 14)? (3) Learned--"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:29). "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32).

Those who have been taught; those who have heard and learned -- these are the ones who are drawn by the Father; they are the ones who come to Christ. To suit Camp's doctrine, John 6:44, 45, should read like this: "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him. It is written in the prophets, And only the elect shall be miraculously and mysteriously regenerated of God. Every man therefore that hath been regenerated of God shall come to Christ while those whom God fails to regenerate shall die in their unbelief and be sent to hell for it. Whether the regenerate ones ever hear and learn of the Father, they are still saved eternally."

In The Same Context

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63). The words Jesus spoke are spiritual, and they are life giving. "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:68). Jesus "giveth life unto the world" (Jn. 6:33). But, how? He does so through his words. They make alive. The Spirit quickens or makes alive through the word -- "Thy word hath quickened me" (Psa. 119:50). Remember, (1) "It is the spirit that quickeneth;" (2) "The words that I speak ... are spirit." Conclusion: The words that Christ spoke are the "spirit" that gives life! "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (Jn. 5:25). "These things I say that ye might be saved" (Jn. 5:40).

How could Jesus say that his words have saving, life giving power if he knew they had no such power? How could he say that spiritually dead men could "hear" his voice and "live" if he knew they could not possibly do so? How could he allow Peter's statement, "Thou hast the words of eternal life" to stand, if he knew he did not have such words? If the sinner must unconditionally receive the irresistible regenerating, life giving, work of the Spirit on his heart before he can "will" to believe, then none of the statements in the last paragraph are true! Jesus' words cannot quicken. They cannot give life. They cannot be "the words of eternal life." They cannot be heard by the spiritually dead. They cannot be spoken "that ye might be saved." Is Jesus a liar? Did he lie about the power and effect of his word? He did, if Camp's contention is correct.

Drawing A Sword, A Net, A Boat

Camp refers to the fact that God will "draw" the sinner to Christ. He likens it to Peter's drawing of his sword, of the disciples drawing their nets, and of drawing a boat to shore. These facts do not address the issue. No one denies that God draws men to Christ. The question is, Does he do it directly, immediately, without agency, or does he do it by using an agent, an instrument?

Peter used his hand to draw his sword. The disciples used their arms and perhaps equipment to draw their nets. Drawing a boat to shore may involve the use of a rope. If one uses a rope to draw a boat to shore, does that mean he has not drawn it? No, the agency employed does not detract from the fact that the man drew it to shore. For example, (1) if one says, "Charles chopped down the tree," and then says, "Here is the axe that chopped down the tree," no one thinks there is a contradiction. Charles chopped down the tree through the agency of the axe. (2) If one says, "John killed a deer," and then says, "Here is the rifle that killed the deer," no one thinks there is an inconsistency. John killed the deer with the rifle. (3) If one says, "Bob caught a large fish," and then says, "Here is the pole that caught the large fish," no one thinks that Bob did not actually catch a fish. Bob caught the fish by using the pole.

So, likewise, God draws men to Christ, but he does it by means of the gospel. Is there a conflict? No, God draws men to Christ through the word. (1) God calls men into the fellowship of Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). "Whereunto he called you by our gospel" (2 Thess. 2:14). Conclusion: God calls men to Christ through the agency of the word. (2) God sanctifies. "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). Conclusion: God sanctifies men through the agency of truth. (3) Salvation is of God (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8; 2 Tim. 1:8). (a.) The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). (b.) "Who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:14). (c.) "Whosoever among you that feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent" (Acts 13:26). (d.) "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). Conclusion: God saves men through the agency of the gospel. (4) God begets us (Jas. 1:18). We are born of the Spirit of God (Jn. 3:3-6). (a.) "I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15). (b.) "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth" (Jas. 1:18). (c.) "Being born again ... by the word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23). Conclusion: We are born and begotten of God through the instrumentality of the word of God.

The question of John 6:44, 45, is, "Who is able to come to Christ?" The answer is: (1) "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (2) "Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." See the word, "therefore"? What is the word, "therefore," there for? Because of the testimony of the prophets that "they shall be all taught of God," "therefore, every man that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." Surely, Jesus knew who it was that could come to him. Question: "Who is it, Lord, that is drawn of God and can come to you?" Answer: "Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto me." Camp says, "No, Lord, you are mistaken; only the elect who unconditionally have received your irresistible, direct working on their hearts are regenerated and enabled to believe. Those whom God chooses to ignore, and those upon whom God refuses to do his work, are left to perish in hell."

Wicked men, by "speaking perverse things," can "draw away disciples" (Acts 20:30). Through the agency of words, men can "draw away disciples" and subvert souls (Acts 15:24). Is God less powerful? Is his word less able to "draw" men? No! As evil men and seducers employ words to "draw away disciples," so God uses his word to "call" and draw men "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 1:22-25; 2:9; 2 Thess. 2:14). There are "enticing words of man's wisdom" that are able to allure and draw men into error, and there is the gospel, the power of God, to draw men to salvation (1 Cor. 1:18-21; 2:1-5; 4:15; 15:1-4).

(Section 3)

BAPTIST CREEDS AND FREE WILL

Wayne Camp contends, "Man cannot, without some Divine help, ever come to Christ." And, "Man by nature cannot comprehend the true meaning of the word of God and purpose of Christ coming into the world." Again, ""Jesus set forth this inability of men to comprehend the things of God and of the kingdom in his discourse with Nicodemus. He informed Nicodemus that one must be regenerated if he is to see (comprehend) the kingdom of God." Further, "All men are commanded to repent but the unregenerate cannot obey that command." Finally, "God has commanded men to believe on his Son .... (but) One who has not been regenerated cannot believe."

Camp On Baptist Confessions Of Faith

"As most Baptist confessions of faith set forth, repentance and faith are inseparable graces wrought in the soul in regeneration. Look at the confession of faith your church adopted ... and see if that is not set forth in the article on repentance and faith and possibly in the article on regeneration. Since the unregenerate cannot be subject to God's law, he cannot repent and believe unless he is granted repentance and faith. This inability renders him incapable of pleasing God for without faith it is impossible to please him.

"'...But Bro. Camp, confessions of faith are not rules of faith and practice. We don't go by the confession of faith. We go by the Bible.' That all sounds good and noble on the surface. But, I ask you, 'Why would a church adopt a confession of faith which they did not believe? Why will Southern Baptist Churches adopt confessions of faith which they do not believe? ....Why will ... messengers adopt a doctrinal statement which stands in direct contradiction to their adopted confession of faith?' Again, I say, 'Check the confession of faith adopted by your church.' See if it does not say that repentance and faith are 'inseparable graces wrought in the soul in regeneration' .... See if it does not say that regeneration produces repentance and faith, rather than repentance and faith producing regeneration. Are you in agreement with or in opposition to your church's confession" (The Baptist Proclamator and Promulgator, August, 1995 Pp. 3, 4)?

The Proper Order

Is it regeneration first and then repentance, or is it repentance and then regeneration? Must one receive the new birth before he can repent and believe, or must he repent and believe in order to be born again? Camp presses his brethren with the inconsistency of their creeds, or confessions of faith, and their doctrinal positions. Your creeds, he says, correctly argue that one must first be regenerated before he can believe. However, you, my brethren, teach that one must believe before he can be regenerated. You contradict your creeds! Why, Camp asks, do you adopt a confession of faith that you do not believe or preach? Camp's unstated conclusion is: Be consistent, accept my views, and be true to your confessions of faith. In order for a man to repent and believe, he must be regenerated, born again, because, according to Elder Camp, the heart and mind are so defiled at birth that they cannot "will" to come to God.

Regeneration, Camp reasons, results in one being enabled to see or comprehend the kingdom. At that time, after the new birth, which God effects without obedience to conditions on the part of man, he is given the ability and the will to repent and believe. Let us compare this order with the Bible. We have no doctrine to compromise. We have no confession with which to harmonize. We have no concept to patronize. We have no creed to idolize. "To the law and to the testimony" shall be our appeal, for, someday before it we all shall kneel (Jn. 12:48).

First, Camp has one being born again without repentance and without faith. Regeneration is the new birth, and "regeneration produces repentance and faith." Hence, one is born again without faith and repentance. Camp has one born again and in the kingdom who cannot please God, for "without faith it is impossible to please him" (Heb. 11:6).

Second, Elder Camp has one regenerated and in the kingdom of God who has not yet done the will of God. This, says no less an authority than Jesus the Christ, is impossible. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" -- Then, who, Lord, will enter the kingdom? -- "he that doeth the will of my Father" (Matt. 7:21). And what is the will of the Father? (A) "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 17:5). And what will be the result of hearing the Son? "And they that hear shall live" (Jn. 5:25, 34; 6:34, 63, 68). (B) "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life" (Jn. 6:40). Observe the order: (1) Hear, see, the Son; (2) "Believe on him;" (3) Receive "everlasting life" (Jn. 5:25; 6:45, 63, 68; 6:40).

To enter the kingdom and to have eternal life, one must obey the voice, the word of the Son, for he is "the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:9). Until one hears, sees, believes, and obeys the Son, he cannot be born again and "enter into the kingdom of heaven," (Matt. 7:21; Jn. 6:40; Heb. 5:9). However, Pastor Camp says that "regeneration (the new birth) produces repentance and faith." It is a choice between Camp or Christ, between Baptists or the Bible.

Third, the unregenerate, those not born again, "cannot repent," says Camp. Before they can repent, they must be given life, or regenerated, born again. (1) Regenerated; (2) Life; (3) Repentance -- this is Camp's order; this is the order of Baptist creeds and confessions of faith. What, then, shall we do with Acts 11:18? "To the Gentiles (God) granted repentance unto life." First repentance and then life. That is God's order. It is the reverse of Camp's order. That makes Camp out of order.

Fourth, the unregenerate heart, one that is not born again, "cannot believe," says Camp. Before one can believe, he must be given life, regenerated, born again. (1) Regenerated; (2) Life; (3) Belief, faith -- this is Camp's and Calvinism's order. (A) What, then, shall we do with Romans 10:10? "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness." First belief and then righteousness. That is God's order. It is the reverse of Camp's order. That puts Camp in disorder. What kind of heart does this one have who believes "unto righteousness"? It cannot be a righteous, regenerated, heart, for it believes "unto (in order to) righteousness." Yet, Camp says the unregenerate heart is so defiled and "depraved" that it "cannot believe." Let Elder Camp tell us what kind of heart it is that man believes "with ... unto righteousness." It cannot be a depraved, unregenerate one, he says. But Romans 10:10 does not allow for a regenerated heart to believe, because the passage says that the belief is "unto righteousness," and if the heart were already regenerated, born again, it would not lack righteousness. So, Mr. Camp needs to clarify the quandary and tell us what kind of heart it is.

(B) What, then, (if regeneration, life, and belief is the correct order) shall we do with John 3:36? "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life" (Jn. 3:36). First belief and then life. That is what the Lord said, but Camp says that one "cannot believe" until he is first regenerated, born again, and given life, for, says he, "regeneration produces ... faith." Camp has one regenerated with life, in the kingdom, but with no faith, since "regeneration ... produces faith." He has children in whom is no faith! This contradicts all of the religion of Christ. There is no reward, no remission, no righteousness, no regeneration without faith. Sonship and citizenship in the fellowship of the Spirit begins and ends with faith. There is nothing without it (Heb. 11:6). That is what Elder Camp has in his system of regeneration before faith -- nothing!

Fifth, In the parable of the sower, "The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Lk. 8:11, 12). Note the order of God: (1) the sinner hears the word; it is sown in his heart. (2) the word in the heart produces faith (Cf. Rom. 10:17; Acts 14:1). (3) Having believed, the sinner is saved. Why does the devil take "away the word out of their hearts?" "Lest they should believe and be saved," a thing which Camp says is impossible. So, the word is in the "heart" of the unsaved; hence, as per Camp's view, the word is in the totally "depraved heart" which cannot believe. But the devil knows something Elder Camp does not know -- he knows that the word in the heart produces faith which saves, which is why he removes it.

Camp says that God has to perform a divine operation on the heart, regenerating it, giving it life. Then, and only then, says Mr. Camp, can the sinner believe. His order is: regeneration, life, entrance into the kingdom, belief. The word of God is not a factor in Camp's regeneration, in the new birth. In fact, it cannot be sown in the heart of the unsaved. The unsaved heart is totally depraved and defiled and is incapable of being willing to receive it. How does Camp explain the presence of the word of God in the heart of the totally depraved, unsaved sinner? It is there in Luke 8:12. How does he explain that this word in that heart is capable of being believed, resulting in salvation? Jesus said it was (Lk. 8:12; Jn. 6:63). Camp's doctrine will not permit what Christ taught.

What If "Inseparable Graces" Are Not Given?

(Jesus separated these allegedly "inseparable graces" in Matthew 21:32, "Ye ... repented not afterward, that ye might believe." But that is not our point.) Read again, at the beginning of this article, where Camp says that it is impossible for the unregenerate, depraved heart to repent and believe. "Since the unregenerate cannot be subject to God's law, he cannot repent and believe unless he is granted repentance and faith." What if God never sees fit to regenerate the unregenerate soul? If God never does his work, never regenerates the soul, never grants it repentance and faith, whose fault will it be? Imagine meeting God at the judgment, having characterized him as the God who demanded repentance and faith, but who knew all along that the sinner could not obey, and then, failing to regenerate the poor soul, sends it into everlasting fire for not doing what he knew it could not do without his aid! I tremble for those who have to face the Almighty One having so charged him!


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