W.E.Best on “Freedom of the will”

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Some believe that Adam was created in a state of equipoise, or indifference. He was inclined toward neither good nor evil. Hence, he could turn to either the Creator or the creature. Since he turned to the creature, he made the wrong choice. This erroneous view has been refuted by great scholars of the past. Scripture disproves the assertion that Adam was created in a state of indifference.

Uprightness includes several characteristics. Adam was created upright, an adult, a spirit, and with a will. He did not come into the world as all others have. The first man was created mature, without the necessity for physical and mental growth and development… Adam’s maturity proves that he had an inclined will. He was not in a state of equipoise, but his will was inclined toward God, his Creator.

Therefore, his maturity enabled him to not only name the animals but commune with God. Adam was created a spirit (Gen. 2:7). The creation of a finite mind, or spirit, implies the creation of uprightness. Spirit must be distinguished from matter. Furniture is matter and must be moved by force. Adam was self-determined from within. His ability to move from within signifies his freedom. He was self-motivated and not moved by external force. Self-motion is self-determination, and self-determination is the act of the will.

Adam’s will was a free will because it was self-determined. That which is not forced from without is free—but not absolutely. Adam was responsible to God. He was free in the sense that he was unconscious of any necessity imposed upon him. God’s freedom is immutable, but Adam’s freedom was mutable self-determination.

After his fall, Adam passed from inclination toward God to inclination toward sin. The radical change of his will cannot be accounted for by an antecedent choice from an indifferent state of the will. The radical change could not have occurred if Adam had been created in a state of equipoise. He fell from a state of mutable uprightness. To fall from a state of indifference would not have been such a tragic fall.

Since Adam’s fall, the will of every person is inclined toward sin by nature. It remains so until the Spirit of God regenerates him. Then, his will is inclined toward God by grace. The work of regeneration in an individual produces as radical a change as the fall caused in Adam. A regenerated man has been created anew in Jesus Christ: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…” (Eph. 2:10). The new man “…is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10). “And you hath he quickened, who were dead…” (Eph. 2:1). “…God…worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). God gives a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:25-27).

Wilbern Elias Best (1919-2007) was the pastor of Kingwood Assembly of Christ in Texas until his death last year. The quotes above are from his book called FREE GRACE VERSUS FREE WILL. Every sentence in the book is full of substance and yet the ideas flow with ease. Do read the whole book if you can.

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