THE POWER OF CHOICE
This is an interesting topic that has often been impressed on the mind of this writer for many years. Certain portions of Holy Scripture seem to always bring to mind the absolute power that accompanies our “choices”
One such passage is in Genesis chapter two where God placed Adam and Eve in the garden. There were two trees in this garden and God told them that the fruit of one of them was not to be eaten. Why were there two trees? This indicates the need for a choice, and God made it clear to them which tree they were not to choose. There were no restrictions against their eating from the tree of life, only from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had a reason for giving them this restriction, He wanted them to completely depend on Him for their source of knowledge and not to be independent from Him, and be able to choose for themselves what they thought was right or wrong. This is the first recorded opportunity for the first created human beings to exercise their God given ability to make a choice. There had to be two trees in order for them to make that choice.
God could have only placed the tree of life there and then there would not have been a choice to be made. The tree of life, of course as we find out later in God’s Word, represented Jesus. What a different outcome to the history of the world would this have made if there had never been that chance for a choice. God didn’t want a race of created beings that only obeyed Him, like robots that couldn't do anything else, but would by the exercise of their own free will, choose to obey Him. This was always His “Divine Intention” from the beginning, that man would love and obey Him, not by force but by choice.
This has been a source of controversy in the church for years. The sovereignty of God verses the free will of man. There are scriptures that seem to support both sides of the argument. A man named John Calvin championed the Sovereignty of God, and this teaching became known as “Calvinism”. The other side of the debate became known as “Arminianism” named after Jacob Arminus. This debate still rages in some circles and whole denominations have taken a stand on one side or the other of this issue. Each side have their “proof texts” which they loudly proclaim as the truth and this doctrine has split churches and separated family members from each other.
Paul Billheimer has written a book called “Love Covers”, in which he addresses this issue. He points out that this is one of those things that have no right or wrong side to it. Both sides represent a scriptural truth. Yes God is sovereign, and yes He created man with the ability to make a choice. He suggests that problems such as this one can only be solved by the application of more of God’s love. In the Greek language the word for this kind of love is “agape”. In scripture we find it used to describe God’s love, which is only available to humans when we come to know Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and thereby become part of His family.
Someone has explained Calvinism in the form of an acrostic, using the letters T.U.L.I.P.
The T stands for total depravity----U stands for unconditional security----L stands for limited atonement----I stands for irresistible grace----P stands for perseverance of the saints. You can see where the other camp that believed in the free will of man would disagree completely with this doctrine. Most mainline Protestant churches are either Arminian or Calvinist, or a combination of both, in their doctrine. As we stated above brother Billhiemer is undoubtedly correct when he says that the only solution to this problem is the application of more Agape type love.
As we said earlier Adam was given the choice between the fruit of two trees in the garden. He chose the wrong one, even though God had warned him that if he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die. We know the tragic results of that one wrong choice. God gave Adam at creation, tremendous knowledge. We see the result of this when He allowed Adam to name all the animals. Have you ever considered what an awesome task that would have been? Imagine deciding what to call a giraffe or a hippopotamus! There is no indication that God helped him make these decisions so we can safely assume that Adam must have had the ability, given to him at creation.
When God formed the body of Adam from the dust and breathed the breath of life into him he became a living soul, we are told in Genesis. We are not told what kind of life this was. The writer always understood that this was the divine life of God, similar to that which we receive when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives at the moment of salvation. Recently a new thought came while reading a book about creation. The life that was imparted to Adam was “Natural” life and not “Spiritual” life like we receive when we are born again by the Spirit of God. It was pointed out that there is a big difference between the two. This writer has known for some time that there is a difference between our soul and our spirit but never considered that the life breathed into Adam by God might be natural, or soul life and not spiritual life.
The study of the tripartite nature of man is very interesting and very scriptural. We were created in the image and likeness of God, who reveals Himself as a Trinity, or a three part being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a truth that most of us accept by faith as a scriptural principle, but we can’t really understand it with our finite minds. One way to understand this profound truth is to compare it to common ordinary water, or H 2 O. We know that water can be a liquid, a solid like ice, or a gas like vapor or fog. Each of these is composed of the same basic elements of H 2 O. but each is uniquely different from the others. So it is with the members of the Trinity. They are all basically God and yet each one has their own unique function in the Godhead.
So our main choice as human beings is to make the proper choice between settling for only having the "natural life" we were born with, or receiving the "spiritual life", that is available to us through the "new birth".(John 3:3) Have you exercised your "power of choice" in this matter? Your eternal destiny depends on your right choice!