Does Man Have A Free Will?

(Part Four of Four)


(Editor's Note: The following article by brother Hafley is the fourth and final in a series 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. To read the February article, click here. To read the March article, click here.)


(Section 1)

Free Will "To Dye For"

A modern colloquialism to express great desire for a certain thing says the item is "to die for." Wayne Camp, in an effort to show that man does not have a free will, cites three tests or principles which he says proves that man does not have a free will. We examined his first test in our last article. In this segment, we shall discuss his last two principles, one of which is "to dye for."

"The Hair - Color Principle"

To suit Mr. Camp, Matthew 5:36 should read, "Neither shalt thou be saved by using thy free will, because thou canst not make one hair white or black." That is not what the text says. However, that is what it must say if Camp is correct. It does not, and he is not.

So, as my will, according to Camp, cannot play a part in my salvation, neither does it affect or effect my damnation! So, whose fault is it if I am lost? Since one's hair color is according to God's will and God's choice, so is one's salvation or his damnation solely a matter of God's will and choice. So say the creeds. What saith Camp?

Dennis Rodman could not simply "will" the color of his hair. However, he could take the dyes and bleach God has made and use them to change his hair color. Dye and bleach are God's power to change hair color. Mr. Rodman "willed" to use and apply God's power to change the color of his hair. Dennis Rodman could not simply "will" himself to be full if he were hungry. However, he could "will" to eat meat and potatoes, God's power to quell hunger, and be full. Likewise, Mr. Rodman cannot "will" his salvation. He can, however, will to utilize God's power unto salvation, the gospel (Rom. 1:16). When he does so, he will be saved. "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:40, 41). None of those people could simply "will" to be saved, but by appropriating and applying God's power, they could "save" themselves. The Spirit said they could. Camp says they cannot. "If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself" (Jn. 7:17). "And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17).

"The Height - Change Principle"

Note Luke 12:25, 26, which Camp cited. To suit him, the passage should say: "If ye then be not able to add one cubit to your stature, why do you think that your will plays a part in your salvation?" But that is not what the passage says. That is not the point the Lord is making. Elder Camp has misapplied the text, and in so doing he has perverted it.

Immediately after his stature statement, the Lord spoke of the lilies of the field and how they, though they made no clothes for themselves, were more gloriously arrayed than Solomon in all his sartorial resplendence (Matt. 6:28, 29; Lk. 12:27, 28). One cannot "will" himself to be clothed, but that does not mean he has to be naked. God will clothe a man, but he will not do so miraculously. Man must "will" to be clothed. He cannot clothe himself by the sheer power of his will, but in cooperation with God's gifts, he can will, or choose, to get dressed.

Indeed, no man can add one cubit to his stature. So, Camp concludes that man's will has no part in his salvation. No man by taking thought can subtract one cubit from his stature, either. Mr. Camp, does that mean that damnation does not involve the will or action of man? Is his damnation all of God, separate and apart from any condition of man?

Mr. Camp seems not to have noticed the context of Matthew 6:27. First, in verses 19 - 21, Jesus says, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," and "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where is your heart? It is where you lay up your treasures (Lk. 12:34). That necessarily involves the free will decision and choice of man. Second, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). God will provide physical and material blessings -- "all these things shall be added unto you." Our duty is to "seek ... first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." Does one "seek" for that which he already possesses? Third, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven (Who will, Lord? Who will enter into the kingdom of heaven?); but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). The man who hears and does the will of the Father is the one whose house shall stand (Matt. 7:21-27).

Free Will And Matthew 21:28 - 32

"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, the first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him" (Matt. 21:28 - 32).

The first son "willed" not to go work in the vineyard. Later, "he repented, and went." That is, he "willed" and went. The first son represents the publicans and harlots. One would expect them to refuse to enter the kingdom, but they "repented and went." They "willed" to enter the kingdom.

The second son said, "I go, sir: and went not." He represents the "chief priests and elders of the people," the religious leaders of the day. One would expect them to hear and heed the call to enter the kingdom. They "went not," but they could have! They could have "willed" to enter the kingdom, but they did not "will" to do so. Even after they heard John preach the "way of righteousness," and after they saw the changed will of the publicans and harlots, they "repented not afterward, that (they ) might believe." It was purely and simply a matter of their will.

Jesus did not say the first son was enabled to go by a direct operation of the Spirit on his heart. He did not say the second son was unable to "will" to go and do his father's bidding. No, it was a matter of choice, a matter of their own free will. Likewise, the publicans and harlots "believed" John's preaching. Exercising their will, they chose to believe him. The chief priests and Pharisees chose not to repent that they might believe John' preaching. The fault was their own.

Consequently, God "will miserably destroy those wicked men" (Matt. 21:41). For their refusal to repent, God will condemn them. But if Camp is correct, God will "miserably destroy" those who, through no fault of their own, could not "will" to do otherwise. God will banish them to hell forever because he did not regenerate them, because he refused to enable them to respond to John's preaching. A doctrine that so slanders God cannot be true.


(Section 2)

Two Rich Men and Free Will

Wayne Camp believes the sinner is unable to believe and be saved until the Lord directly and miraculously regenerates his heart. He argues that man does not have a "free will" with which to choose to obey God. As proof thereof, we extract the following:

"The Blasting: They Myth of Free Will Blasted
by the Account of the Rich Fool"

Camp "Mythed" The Point Of Luke 12:13-21

Mr. Camp begins with Luke 12:16. He should have begun in verse 13. One man, after hearing the Lord discuss the insight and knowledge of God, could think of only one thing; namely, "Here is one who can settle my inheritance dispute with my brother." Jesus denied such a role and said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." That is the point of the parable. Free will is not under discussion. Those not rich toward God are doomed. Those who believe their lives consist of what they possess are spiritually bankrupt. "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, but is not rich toward God." Camp does not cite this verse. It is the conclusion of which verse 15 is the introduction. Both establish the context of the Lord's parable and ruin Camp's contention. His ignoring of them does not do away with them, but since they do not fit his purpose, he conveniently left them out.

Camp says the rich "fool" is in "the torments of hell." Why, what evil hath he done? Remember, according to Camp, the man was born totally depraved, made opposite to all good, and was unable to do other than he did. Before the man could be rich toward God, God would have to send his Spirit to renew and regenerate the man's heart. But God did not do his work. He left the man in his helpless, hopeless, hapless state. The man simply did as he was born, made, and "fitted" to do. He had no choice in the matter. He could not choose to be rich toward God. Still, God sent him to the "torments of hell." That is some God you have there, Mr. Camp!

Camp says the rich man uttered "a dangerous declaration." How was it dangerous? The man was one of the non - elect. He was totally depraved. Christ did not die for him, did not shed his blood for him. The Spirit did not regenerate his lifeless heart. So, how was anything the man said, "a dangerous declaration"? It certainly was not dangerous to him, since he was bound for hell anyway. On the other hand, the elect, the righteous, those who are rich toward God, cannot utter "a dangerous declaration." They are unconditionally, eternally saved. They cannot be lost. So, how could they utter "a dangerous declaration"? Since neither the elect nor the non - elect can utter "a dangerous declaration," Elder Camp needs to tell us who can. He says it can be done. By whom, Mr. Camp?

Camp says the rich fool learned a lesson -- "what a lesson he was to learn, and how quickly he was to learn it." Elder Camp, can the dead alien sinner learn spiritual truth? You say this man "quickly" learned "a lesson." How did he learn it? When did he learn it? Did he learn it after death? If so, then God must have operated on his heart after his death; God must have regenerated his heart after his death while he was in "the torments of hell." Camp says the unregenerate cannot "learn" spiritual truth. So, if this man learned a spiritual lesson, he learned it after he was regenerated in the torments of hell. And that is another problem for Mr. Camp. Now, he has a "regenerated" soul "in the torments of hell." But he says those who are regenerated cannot go to hell. Elder Camp has "blasted" himself into a bundle of blunders.

Man is free to lay up treasures for himself. He is equally free to lay up treasures in heaven and be "rich toward God" (Matt. 6:19-21; Lk. 12:21). Man has a free will to choose either course. See the word, "therefore," in Luke 12:22 and its connection with this context.

 The Rich, Young Ruler

Quoted below are the comments of Benjamin Franklin. (Also, see the author's article, Baptist: Rich, Young Ruler Saved, published in Guardian Of Truth.)

(1) According to Camp, the Lord should have told this man there was nothing he could do or even will to do. (2) What prompted the man to ask about eternal life? If he was an unregenerate sinner, he could not ask the question. Or, if he had been regenerated, there would be no need to ask it. (3) The man refused to obey Jesus, so if the Spirit had regenerated him, the Spirit did a very poor job! (4) Jesus "loved him," and all whom Jesus loves he died for; those Jesus loves are of the elect, says Camp. But this man went away and could not inherit eternal life, even though he was "loved." Again, Camp's theory has been blasted.


(Section 3)

Things Man Can Will to Change

We have ceased our review of Wayne Camp's Calvinistic concepts. As our readers may know, Camp teaches that man is born totally depraved. In this state, man can neither hear nor believe the gospel. He cannot act in any way to effect his salvation. He is devoid of free will. His spiritual heart is dead, and, like a stone, is impervious to moral incentives and spiritual inducements. This is taught despite the fact that the Bible says "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). We have documented and examined these views in past issues of this series. Presently, we wish to show some things man can will to change.

What We Do Not Deny

First, we do not deny the sovereignty of God (Jas. 4:12). Second, we do not deny the force of figures of speech regarding the state of sinful man, i.e., that he is "dead," has a heart of "stone," or is a tree that produces evil "fruit" (Eph. 2:1; Zech. 7:12; Matt. 7:18). Third, we do not contend that man alone, by himself, can save himself (Jonah 2:9; Jn. 15:5b.; Acts 2:40). Fourth, we do not deny that salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9).

What We Do Deny

First, we deny that salvation is bestowed unconditionally (Lk. 13:3, 5; Jn. 8:24). Second, we deny that conditions required of man impeach or negate the sovereignty of God (Deut. 28:1-32:52; Jer. 18:7-10; Ezek. 3:17-21; 33:11-20). Third, we deny that obedience to Divine commands makes void the grace of God (Rom. 3:24; 6:17, 18). Fourth, we deny that figures of speech regarding the state of sinful man (that he is "dead," for example) makes it impossible for man to act of his own free will and choose to obey God and be saved (Jn. 5:25). It is to this point that we address this article.

Negative Arguments

As we have seen, Calvinists argue that man's heart, mind, will, and nature have been so utterly, totally and completely corrupted by the stain of original sin that he is absolutely unable to act or take part in his salvation. Argues the Calvinist: Can a dead man comply with conditions to receive physical life? No, therefore, neither can a spiritually dead man act to receive spiritual life. Can a stone hear and obey your command to move out of the way? No, therefore, neither can the sinner with a heart of stone hear and obey commands. Can a fig tree change its nature and produce apples? No, therefore, neither can sinful man, who is compared to a tree bearing evil fruit, produce the good fruits of righteousness. Can a goat transform himself into a sheep? No, therefore, neither can a sinner change his sinful nature into a righteous nature.

As it would take a direct, immediate act of God to raise a dead man to life, apart from any action on the part of the dead one, so spiritual regeneration is imparted without any condition being obeyed. As it would take a miraculous act of the Spirit to change a stone into a being with the ability to hear and act, so the Spirit must act on the stony heart of man to enable him to hear and obey God. As it would take a direct work of God to alter the fig tree and make it produce apples, so a direct working of the Spirit is required to change the nature and fruit of man. As a direct operation of the Spirit would be required to transform a goat into a sheep, so a direct action of God is required to change the nature of sinful man.

Note some negative arguments. (1) God planted his people, Israel, and called them his "choicest vine," his "pleasant plant," and "a noble vine, wholly a right seed" (Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21). Later, instead of producing good grapes, Israel, his vine, produced "wild grapes" (Isa. 5:2, 4). God's "noble vine" was "turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine" (Jer. 2:21). This evolution, this change in their nature and fruit, did not require a direct operation of the Spirit of God. They changed their nature. But if Calvinism is correct, such a transformation could not occur without a direct operation of the Spirit of God. Did God change Israel from his "choicest vine, pleasant plant, and noble vine" into a "degenerate, strange vine" that produced wild grapes? Obviously not; so, if a good vine (God's people) can change its nature and become a bad vine, why should it be thought contrary to spiritual law if a bad vine may act and become a good vine?

(2) Israel was "the sheep of (God's) pasture" (Psa. 74:1; 100:3). Later, God said of them, "You are a swift young camel entangling her ways, a wild donkey, accustomed to the wilderness" (Jer. 2:23, 24 -- NASB). How did sheep become camels and wild donkeys? Did God work on their hearts and change their natures without their choice or will? Calvinism says the sinner (wild donkey) cannot be turned into a sheep without a direct working of the Spirit on the heart of the sinner, so why does it not take a similar act of God to transform sheep (God's people) into wild donkeys? The truth is, Israel changed her nature and character -- "How can you say I am not defiled ... Look at your way in the valley! Know what you have done" (Jer. 2:23)! Why, then, should it be labeled blasphemy to argue that a sinner can respond to the gospel and have God change his nature based on his obedience?

(3) Can the spiritually "dead" act? Is it possible for them to respond to the word of God? Can those who are "dead in sin" comply with conditions and have a part in receiving spiritual life? If not, how do we explain the following: (a.) "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live" (Isa. 55:3). If the soul "shall live," then it was previously "dead." Next, note the action verbs. Those who were spiritually dead were expected to "incline your ear, come unto me, and hear." (b.) "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (Jn. 5:25). Spiritually dead men can "hear ... and they that hear shall live." To hear the voice of the Son of God is to hear his word. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63). They are spiritual, and they are life giving. "Thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jn. 6:68). (c.) "Wherefore he saith, awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14). Spiritually dead men are spoken to -- "he saith." The dead are commanded to "wake ... and arise from the dead." When they do as instructed, then "Christ shall give (them) light."

(d.) Whereas sinners are "dead in sin," saints are "dead to sin" (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 6:2; 1 Pet. 2:24). If, as Calvinism argues, those spiritually dead in sin cannot act and respond to the gospel, then it should follow that those who are spiritually dead to sin cannot respond to sin. If death means the inability to act, then those who are "dead to sins" should not be able to sin. If a direct operation of the Spirit is required to enable the dead sinner to respond to the gospel, it should follow that a direct operation of the Devil is required to enable those dead to sin to respond to temptation. But is this the case? No, those who are spiritually "dead to sin" are still capable of sin (Rom. 8:12, 13; 1 Jn. 1:8-10). Therefore, to be declared spiritually dead does not mean that one is incapable of responding to moral incentives and spiritual inducements, whether good or evil.

Things Man Can Change

Man Can Change His Heart: Negatively, one can harden his heart (Heb. 3:8; 4:7). He can make his heart as an adamant, impenetrable stone (Zech. 7:12; See an earlier article in this series). Positively, if one can harden his heart, he can also soften it. One can "purify" his heart; God commands us to do so (Jas. 4:8). If man is incapable of purifying his heart, why does God command it? The Calvinist does not believe that elect, regenerated ones have an impure heart, so God cannot be speaking to them. Hence, he is talking to doubleminded "sinners."

(A) One may, of his own free will, prepare his heart as Ezra did, or one may fail to prepare his heart and live a life of sin (2 Chron. 12:14; Ezra 7:10). (B) One may "apply (his) heart unto instruction" and wisdom, or he may give his "heart ... to know madness and folly" (Psa. 90:12; Prov. 23:12; Eccl. 1:17). (C) One may seek the Lord with his "whole heart," or he may choose "not to set (his) heart aright" (Psa. 78:8; 119:10). (D) One may inscribe kindness and truth on the tablet of his heart, or he may allow his heart to be overwhelmed and overcome with "drunkenness" (Prov. 3:3; Lk. 21:34). (E) One may engrave truth on the tablet of his heart, or he may be like those in Jeremiah's day, "prophets of the deceit of their own heart" (Prov. 3:3; Jer. 23:26). (F) One may allow immorality to "take away (his) heart," or he may place the word of God "in (his) heart, that (he) might not sin against (God)" (Hos. 4:11; Psa. 119:11). (G) One may keep or guard his heart "with all diligence," or he may backslide in his heart (Prov. 4:23; 14:14). (H) One may prepare "his heart to seek the law of God," or he may make his heart "as an adamant stone, lest (he) should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent" (Ezra 7:10; Zech. 7:12).

Man Can Change His Mind: As the barbarian island inhabitants "changed their minds" regarding their view of Paul's spiritual state, so, of his own free will, one may change his mind regarding sin and salvation. This process is repentance (Matt. 12:41). It is brought about by the preaching of the word of God (Acts 11:14, 18; 26:20). The mind can be "renewed" (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23). Individuals are responsible for their mind set. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). One may choose to possess the "mind of Christ," or he may allow his mind to become corrupt and defiled (1 Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:15). One may choose to give himself "over to a reprobate (depraved--NASB) mind (Rom. 1:28). Note that his mind is not born "depraved," but the individual gives himself over to such a mind.

Idolaters, "transgressors," are to remember the folly of their idolatry. "Remember this, and show yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors" (Isa. 46:8). The responsibility was theirs. God would not do it for them. One must choose to set his "mind" or affections on things above (Col. 3:2 -- NASB). One must gird up the loins of his mind for service to God (1 Pet. 1:13; 4:1). Again, see earlier articles in this series on the mind of man.

Man Can Change His Nature: Calvinists cite Matthew 7:18: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." They then reason that as a direct working of God's Spirit would be required to change the nature of a tree, so a direct, Divine operation of the Spirit is necessary to change the nature of sinful man. But Jesus said, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit" (Matt. 12:33). Too, John the Baptist appealed to corrupt trees and urged them to "bring forth ... fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:8). Individuals decide, of their own free will, if they shall "either make the tree good ... or else make the tree corrupt."

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Their nature was not like that of a little child, hence, Jesus told them to be "converted," or turned, changed in their nature; otherwise, they could not enter the kingdom. Through what means is this conversion accomplished? "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Psa. 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

Man Can Change His Will: (See articles in this series, "Free Will To Dye For" and "Free Will Proof Texts -- Psalm 110:3" ). God spoke of those who "will not hear the law of the Lord" (Isa. 30:9-11). He did not say they "could" not; he said they "will not." Jesus said, "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life" (Jn. 5:40). To those who willed not to come to him, Jesus said, "These things I say, that ye might be saved" (Jn. 5:34). The problem was their "will," but how could Jesus appeal to them with words "that (they) might be saved," if he knew their will was impervious to his word? "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under he wings, and ye would not" (Lk. 13:34). Was Jesus deviously mocking these people? Were they unable to "will" to come to him as Camp and Calvinism asserts? If so, why did Jesus say, "Ye would not"?

"If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine" (Jn. 7:17). To suit Calvinism, the text should say, "No man can will to do my Father's will, but if I make him willing, he shall know of the doctrine whether he wants to do so or not!" "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). To fit Calvinism, the text should say, "And whosoever God wills to make willing, he shall take of the water of life whether he wills to do so or not!"

Conclusion Of This Series: This series of articles has extended longer than initially intended. Still, it is only part of a review of Mr. Camp's first article. Since then, he has written two more lengthy articles on the same subject, to which no reference has been made in this series! These articles will be made available to Mr. Camp. If he has the free will to do so, we might even debate this material with him.


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