6. I would like to know what you think about the doctrine of the complete depravation (or corruption) of man and about the so called free will



As for the nature of man, I believe and teach that it is corrupt: the Scripture says that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21), that we were shaped in iniquity and in sin our mother conceived us (Psalm 51:5), that all have become corrupt and there is no one who does good (Psalm 14:3). When we were born, we were all children of wrath, the wrath of God was upon us; every man is wicked, he is slave of sin, which repays him with death, fear and unhappiness. Man is at the mercy of the devil, who has sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8), he is under the power of the devil for John says that the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19), and man chooses to sin not only because he has a will but also because his nature is totally and inexorably inclined to sin.

Therefore, since man’s nature is corrupt, man cannot save himself by his own efforts; he needs a Saviour, who is Jesus Christ because only Jesus can set him free from sin for He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. And in order to be saved, he must repent and believe in Jesus Christ; there is no other way. However, both repentance and faith are given by God, as it is written that God “has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18 – NKJV) and faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore if one has repented and believed in Jesus Christ, it is because God gave him both repentance and faith. Man has nothing of his own by which he can be saved, but God in His great goodness gives him repentance and faith according to His good pleasure in order to show man His goodness. So we believed in Jesus not by our own will but by the will of God, for He determined beforehand that we should believe. You know the biblical passages which confirm this; however I would like to remind you of the following one: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16 – NKJV). It was Jesus who spoke these words to His disciples; now I ask you, ‘Was it not His disciples who decided to follow Christ? Take the example of Andrew, for instance, who, together with another disciple of John, followed Jesus without Jesus calling them (read carefully John 1:35-37). But the fact still remains that they came to Jesus because the Father of Jesus drew them: if the Father had not drawn them, they would not have come to Jesus. Many say that man is able or is free to choose salvation or reject it; this is true apparently because we see with our eyes people who accept the Gospel and people who reject it. But actually behind their decision there is a decree of God. Obviously we don’t know who are the vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for glory nor do we know who are the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, but that does not worry us because we know that God will accomplish His purpose and nobody will be able to hinder Him from accomplishing it.

What we, as ministers of the Gospel, must do toward sinners, is not to speak to them about predestination, but to speak to them about salvation in Christ Jesus and tell them that if they don’t believe in Jesus they will go to perdition. Whether they will accept the Gospel or not is something that we will never know as long as we are in this world (at least, with regard to many whom we have evangelized it is so), but in His own time we will know it. When I evangelize sinners, I speak to them as if the salvation of their soul depends on their will. Do not misunderstand me: I mean that I tell them that they must repent and believe (this is what Jesus and the apostles did), and that if they refuse to obey the Word of God, on that day they will be cast into the everlasting fire. Obviously, I know that God, at His appointed time, will qualify those who were predestined to eternal life to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light (Colossians 1:12), while those who were not predestined to be saved or chosen for salvation (only God knows why) will not be enabled to be partakers of His heavenly calling and thus they will go to perdition. Of course, God cannot be accused of being unfair because of His way of acting, because it is lawful for Him to do what He wishes with His own things. Who are we to say to God, ‘What have you done?’

As for the will of man, whose existence we cannot deny, there are many other things to say. Certainly, God is able to turn it wherever He wishes. I could give you dozens of examples taken from the Bible. For instance, look at Joseph’s brothers, at Pharaoh, at the sons of Eli who did not heed the voice of their father because the Lord desired to kill them, at the Jews who rejected Jesus and crucified Him, at Judas who was appointed to betray the Master even though he was one of the disciples of Jesus and had received the ministry of apostle. This is a controversial issue: ‘Was Judas a true disciple of the Lord, even though we know that afterward he went to perdition (for he is called “the son of perdition” John 17:12)?’ I believe he was a true disciple, because the Bible confirms this: to try to demonstrate that he was not a true disciple of Jesus means to waste one’s time. Jesus would not have sent an unbeliever or a son of the devil to preach the Kingdom and to heal and cast out demons. Yet Judas, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, had to go to perdition, that is to say, his name had to be blotted out of the Book of Life. This is what was said by the Psalmist (Psalm 69:28), and thus God fulfilled His word.