Discourse on Free Will by Erasmus and Luther,

trans. Ernst F. Winter.  New York:  Ungar, 1961. 

This book deals with the disagreement between DESIDERIUS ERASMUS and MARTIN LUTHER concerning free will. In between the years 1517 and 1520. A heated exchange - via letters - between the two men, representing the doctrines of their respective churches.

"Consequently, Erasmus and Luther argued over what they and their contemporaries thought was the characteristic difference between the evolving Catholic and Protestant positions concerning human nature, namely, the question of the freedom of the will." {Pg. V - intro.}

Basically, Erasmus believed that man has a free will and therefore is punished or rewarded according to the choices that he makes. Luther disagrees.

"The essence of Christianity which you (Erasmus) describe -- is without Christ, without the Spirit, and chillier than ice ---" (Pg. 105)

"You say: Who will endeavor to reform his life? I answer: Nobody! No man can! God has no time for your self-reformers, for they are all hypocrites. The elect who fear God will be reformed by the Holy Spirit. The rest will perish unreformed." (Pg.110)

"For if it is not we ourselves, but God only, who works salvation in us, it follows that nothing we do before HIS working in us, avails unto salvation." (Pg. 111)

"This is what we mean by the necessity of immutability: that the will cannot change itself, nor give itself another bent, but, rather, the more it is resisted, the more it is irritated to crave, as its indignation proves. This would not be the case if it were free or had a free will ---" (Pg. 111)

"Thus the human will is like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes whence God wills; as the Psalm says, "I was as a beast of burden before thee" [Psalm 72:22]. If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek. But the riders themselves contend who shall have and hold it. (Pg. 112)

"However, with regard to God, and in all things pertaining to salvation or damnation, man has no free will, but is a captive, servant, and bond slave, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan." (Pg. 113)

"For I have shown that free will belongs to none but God alone." (Pg. 119)

"The law requires works, the Gospel faith." (Pg. 121)

"Christians, however, are not led by a free will, but are driven by the Spirit of God, as Romans 8:14 tells us. To be driven is not to act or do oneself. But we are so seized as a saw or an axe is handled by a carpenter ---." (Pg. 127)

"We are subject to God's working by mere passive necessity --- God is incessantly active in all His creatures, allowing none of them to keep holiday ---" (Pg. 130)

"--- if God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity, and it was not in the power of Judas, nor any creature, to alter it, or change his will from that which God had foreseen ---" (Pg. 131)

"So I say that man, before he is regenerated into the new creation of the Spirit's kingdom does and endeavors nothing to prepare himself, and when he is regenerated he does and endeavors nothing toward his perseverance in that kingdom. The Spirit alone, without ourselves, works both blessings in us, regenerating us and preserving us when regenerated ---" (Pg. 132)

"Therefore we must go to extremes, deny free will all together and ascribe everything to God." (Pg. 133)

"--- As for myself, I frankly confess, that I should not want free will to be given to me, even if it could be, nor anything else be left in my own hands to enable me to strive after my salvation." (Pg. 135)

"But now that God has put my salvation out of the control of my own will and put it under the control of His, and has promised to save me, NOT ACCORDING TO MY OWN EFFORT OR RUNNING but --- according to HIS own grace and mercy, I rest fully assured that HE is faithful ---'

"I am certain that I please God, not by the merit of my works, but by the reason of His merciful favor promised to me. So that, if I work to little or badly, He does not impute it to me, but, like a father, pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying which all the saints have in their GOD." (Pg. 136)

What a blessing to have confirmed, the very things God had opened my eyes to see. If Luther were to share these things today in many of our churches, he would be thrown out of the pulpit. For many teach of what we should DO and not of who we ARE.

How many really comprehend? HE WHOM THE SON SETS FREE IS FREE INDEED