I am troubled by the “answers” believers are given regarding the act of “free will” in a person’s life. Primarily the answer that “the Holy Spirit is a Gentleman”; my real problem is that none of the answers may be readily found in Scripture. It is not as if I have decided that I am not being told the truth, as much as it is that the truth is probably evident and those who claim to be speaking for God are found to be speaking for themselves. If a person was created with “free will” why did God give us Ephesians 2? Also, is it Paul who is speaking to the hearer/reader, or is it God speaking through Paul?
The inquirer doesn’t say from whom the “answers” referenced came. ThyWordIsTruth has certainly never made such a statement. It has said that the Holy Spirit is a person, is God the Spirit, and a member of the Trinity. It is certainly true that Scripture never refers to the Holy Spirit as a “gentleman.” When Jesus referred to him as the “Comforter,” he used the masculine form. Whatever term is used, whether masculine or neuter, such as “holy” and “spirit,” the scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit is God. See What About The Trinity?
Once again vague references are made to people who “claim to be speaking for God [who] are found to be speaking for themselves.” Once again there are no specifics. Everything said on this website is supported by scripture, but if the inquirer thinks otherwise no specific instances are cited and no argument is presented.
If the references are simply to “free will” are general statements read and heard concerning “free will” with no recollection of source, it is difficult to respond. What he read or heard cannot be addressed if what he read or heard is not stated. The last two sentences do contain two questions that can be addressed.
For a short discussion of free will see Questions and Answers, #22. Many books are written on the subject and a full discussion would require another book.
The second question also relates to free will, but seems to imply that if we had free will God would not have given Ephesians 2. No reason is given for that conclusion thus making it difficult to address. Suffice to say that God did ordain from the beginning that the sacrifice of Jesus would bring salvation to Jew and Gentile alike. That is what Ephesians 2 is discussing. Jesus broke down the middle wall of partition and made the two (Jew and Gentile) one flesh. That salvation did not extend to all, but only to those who exercised their God-given free will to be saved by faith through grace. How one is saved by grace through faith has been discussed several times on this website. Go “Search the Site” and search on “Ephesians 2:8” (include the quotation marks).
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)