Friday, January 25, 2008

Radical Depravity

By William D @

I am running out of time, and I need to take the other side of the argument this week! In preparation for my ordination, I am going to be engaging in a sparring match with Pastor Tom Pryde as he debates me from both sides of the issue on Thursday evening January 31st at 7:00pm at the church where I am the pastor. So, for the rest of the week, I am going to argue from a Calvinist standpoint, the doctrine of salvation. Let's start with the depravity of man. Just how bad are we?

Assertion #1: Man, under the curse of original sin is so radically infected by sin that it has infected every part of his being: his mind, heart, will, desires, affections, and even his body. This state of total corruption makes it impossible for Him to desire, understand or even respond favorably to spiritual things since that would go against his nature. Hence, man cannot repent or believe in Christ for salvation unless he is assisted by God to do so. The proof for this assertion is found all over scripture. I will start by pointing out that the Bible describes sinners as being spiritually dead:

Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. This isn't a suggestion, as the wording can appear to be, it is a matter of fact. We have been raised from the dead to walk in new life.
If the sinner is spiritually dead to the things of God, then he has no ability to respond spiritually to anything and therefore, cannot please God because He is in the flesh. The Bible goes on to explain why:
Romans 8:6-8 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
A person who is carnally minded, or who is in his natural fallen state, is in a state of death, and his mind is at constant defiance against God and the fallen sinner has no ability (that's what is meant by neither indeed can be and neither can he know) to be subject to Gods law nor understand spiritual things. Since the call to salvation is a command (Matt. 7:13, 11:28, Acts 3:19), not merely an offer, the sinner would always be inclined to disobey and therefore, left to himself, would never choose to be saved.
The other analogy that is used by the Bible to describe our radical depravity is that of a slave:

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Sinners are so captivated by sin, that all they can do is serve it like a slave. Therefore, the only escape from sin is for the Son to make you free. This leads me to my second assertion....

Assertion #2: The only way that man will repent, believe and come to Christ for salvation, is if the Father grants him the ability to do so. God does not grant all men this ability otherwise, all sinners would choose to be saved.

John 12:37-40 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
John makes it very clear that they did not believe, because they could not believe, and God had blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts so that they would not believe and be converted. The blinding and hardening on God's part is passive, since man is already inclined toward that.

The only way anybody will ever believe is if God reveals Himself to them in a personal way so that they can acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord:
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

John 6:63-66 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
In this passage Jesus tells them that the Spirit makes alive, but the flesh is worthless, and the reason they didn't believe Him was because they were not of the Spirit. And then He told them straight up, you cannot come to me unless it is given by the Father to do so. The Father must grant repentance and faith for people to come to Christ to be saved.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
This verse couldn't make it clearer that the Christian must teach with patience waiting for God to give repentance to the sinner so that he can acknowledge the truth. The reason that he can't believe is because he is captured by the devil. They are children of the devil, and they can only will to do what their father wills to do. John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

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