As I briefly mentioned in a note on Facebook, I wanted to pontificate more and build on the ideas of free will and relate that back to salvation. I will be entering the "talking out my @$$" mode, so please do not assume that I think I am 100% correct - this is more me sharing how I understand and view things so if you have some element you'd like to share please let me know. On to it then!
To briefly sum up the note on Facebook, I said that we can control our decisions but not necessarily the context those decisions are made in. How does this relate to salvation?
Let me give a setup. On computers, there is software called "Text-to-Speech" (TtS) which allows one to enter text and hit a button and the computer will speak the text. Using this backdrop, the following situation occurs:
Person: (Enters text into TtS software)
Person: Computer, what do you think of me? (Hits speak button)
Computer Voice: I think you are great.
Person: Yay! You think I am great. (Warm fuzzy feeling)
It does not take much to see that the person was in complete control of the situation and that the computer was at no point able to choose to not say "I think you are great." Lets take this even further...
Person: (Enters text into TtS software on two different computers)
Person: Computers, what do you think of me? (Hits speak button on Computer 1)
Computer 1 Voice: I think you suck.
Person: What a horrible thing to say! I don't like you anymore. What about you, Computer 2? (Hits speak button on Computer 2)
Computer 2 Voice: Computer 1 is a meany, you're really cool and I like you a lot.
Person: Yay! I feel so much better now. I really like you Computer 2. (Warm fuzzy feeling)
Again, in neither case did the computer have a choice in what to say. Not only that, the computers don't even have a choice of when to say it. The entire interaction is controlled by the Person.
Now, in each of the above situations, replace "Person" with "God", "Computer" with "Human", and finally "TtS Software" with "Soul". What do you think of that?
What I think is that there are a lot of people who are running around with theology that follows that exact mold...or something close enough to it that it may as well be the same thing. They do not believe that humans are capable of choosing God.
I might ask them, then, if they've ever done something they didn't want to do.
I find that a huge disservice to God's creation manifest in man, and a foothold for some very destructive thoughts. For instance, the propensity to devalue humans in order to exalt God. What is that saying about people's impression of God?
If God is not worthy of worship on his merits alone - why bother? If God is not capable of standing on his own, what does that tell you about your definition of God?
So again, how is this relating to free will and salvation? This weekend is a special tradition - one in which we honor the sacrifice made by Christ. Not because humans are great, but because God is Holy. He has created creatures that have free will and he wants to reward those who out of that free will chose to sacrifice for God's glory and benefit.
Pat close attention to the words being used to describe the nature of this sacrifice.
Pay close attention to whether God is being exalted on his merits alone or not.
Pay close attention to whether salvation is termed as a choice or divine providence.
Ask yourself whether you view salvation as a choice.
Ask yourself if you follow God on his merits alone.
The answers will help you understand where you are at in your relationship with God, and help provide you with a framework for how you see God. Perhaps you are happy with it, perhaps you aren't. The point, though, is to start by asking the questions and answering them truthfully, and looking at the answers you have provided.