Sidebar 1–A Pharisee’s Primer on Free Will

A Pharisee’s Primer on Free Will

For many people today it is astonishing that Jesus puts such a value on the sovereign rights of God’s electing freedom that he would speak the way he does to those who refuse him. He speaks in such a way as to prevent them from boasting that they can overrule the ultimate purposes of God. For example, in John 10:25-26 Jesus responded to the skeptics who demanded more and more proof: “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.” Think about this for a moment. Think about what it means, and think about the fact that Jesus would dare to say it to unbelievers….

Picture yourself as a Pharisee hearing the message of Jesus and saying to yourself, “If he thinks I am going to be sucked into this movement along with the tax collectors and sinners, he’s crazy. I have a will of my own and the power to determine my own destiny.” And then picture Jesus, knowing what is in your heart, and saying, “You boast in your heart that you are in control of your life. You think that you can frustrate the ultimate plans of my ministry. You think that the great purposes of God in salvation are dependent on your wavering will. Truly, truly I say unto you, the ultimate reason you do not believe is because the Father has not chosen you to be among my sheep.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “The final boast of unbelief is destroyed by the doctrine of election.” Those whom God chose, he also gave to the Son; and those whom he gave to the Son, the Son also called; and for those whom he called, he laid down his life; and to them he gave eternal joy in the presence of his glory. This is the Father’s pleasure.

–John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Portland: Multnomah, 1991), p. 137-139.