The Purpose and the Power of the Gospel in Enabling the Lost

 

Sermon Notes:

“The Purpose and Power of the Gospel in Enabling the Lost.”

Text: John 20:31 and 2 Cor. 5:20

First, I’d like to thank Dr. Patterson for inviting me. We met for the first time at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual meeting where I was asked to speak at the Connect 316 Conference… apparently because I am a recovering 5 point Calvinist.

On that note, I’d like to speak today on one of the truths that led me to leave behind Calvinism, I want us to discuss “The Purpose and Power of the Gospel in Enabling the Lost.”

This is closely tied in with the doctrine of Human Responsibility. Because, after all, God does hold us all responsible to his very Words. Jesus said that his very word would judge us in the final day (John 12:48), and Paul teaches in 2 Thess. 2:10 that those who perish do so because “they refused to love the truth so as to be saved.”

So, clearly God holds mankind RESPONSIBLE to the truth revealed by his Word, the gospel of our salvation.

Now, most Calvinists are quick to say they affirm the Responsibility of Man, but they mean something very different than what most people think of when they say “responsible.”

When a Calvinist says that a fallen man “is responsible” he does not mean that the lost person is actually “able to respond.”

In fact, the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Inability clearly denies that a fallen man has the MORAL ability to willingly respond in faith even to God’s own appeals.

Calvinistic scholar, AW Pink, said it like this:

As a creature the natural man is responsible to love, obey, and serve God; as a sinner he is responsible to repent and believe the Gospel. But at the outset we are confronted with the fact that the natural man is unable to love and serve God, and that the sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe (Pink, Sovereignty of God, 187).

Now, because of those two underlined words, most of us could actually affirm that statement, because none of us believe we can repent and believe if we were left to ourselves.

BUT WE HAVE NOT BEEN LEFT TO OURSELVES! GOD SENT CHRIST, THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS INSPIRED GOSPEL…  We are not left to ourselves.

But, you have to understand this… Calvinists don’t believe that is enough. That don’t believe that what God did in sending Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Gospel in sufficient to enable man to respond.

They believe God has to even MORE…He has to regenerate us, or irresistibly change us inwardly to make us want to repent and believe.

Think about this: Calvinists believe that because mankind is born fallen they are morally unable to respond to God’s own appeal to be reconciled from that fall, yet God punishes them anyway.

When Calvinists says that fallen men are “responsible” they really mean they are “justly punishable even through they cannot willingly respond.”

In other words, they believe God punishes people for unbelief even though He decreed for them to be born unable to believe even His own Word.

  • The doctrine of Total Inability isn’t to be confused with the doctrine of depravity. I want to go on record now clearly stating that I affirm the doctrine of human depravity… I’m a parent of 4…you cannot convince me that depravity is not true (illus: We drug her)

So, to be clear, I believe all orthodox Christians can and should affirm the biblical doctrine of human depravity.

So, please understand, I’m not just talking about the nature of fallen humanity, I’m talking about the sufficiency of the Gospel which was sent for the purpose of making an appeal to fallen humanity.

Paul said, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)

So, this disagreement with Calvinism is really about the power of the gospel, (the “power of God unto salvation” Rom. 1:16) — it’s not merely about the moral abilities of fallen man.

I can firmly agree with my Calvinistic brothers when they quote from Isaiah 55:11 saying, “my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

But the question is this. What is the PURPOSE OF THE GOSPEL?

  • Is the purpose of the gospel to inform the elect they were chosen?
  • Is the purpose of the gospel, to make an offer you can’t refuse?
  • Or, is the purpose what what John 20:31 explicitly states:

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The purpose is clear. God sent the gospel to make an appeal to those who are lost, so that they “may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God…”

So, please understand my point of disagreement with the Calvinistic brethren. I’m specifically addressing the Calvinistic doctrine of man’s innate moral INABILITY to respond willingly to God Himself…to God’s Holy Spirit inspired Word!

  • You need to understand this… Calvinists tend to conflate man’s responsibility to believe and repent with God’s responsibility to save… which is why they will convincingly argue “Salvation is totally of God”

They make man’s responsibility and God’s responsibility into one thing under the label salvation and claim its all God’s responsibility.  He is responsible for they saving, but he is also responsible for you believing.

Calvinists will typically argue three points:

  1. No one can seek God on our own (Rm 3)
  2. No one can fulfill the Law’s demands (Rm 8)
  3. All are spiritually dead in sin (Eph. 2)

And all of us can and should affirm these biblical truths

  • It is TRUE that no one can seek God on our own: But hear me brethren, WE ARE NOT ON OUR OWN! How does the fact that we can’t seek God prove that we cannot respond willingly to a God who is actively seeking us by the POWERFUL Holy Spirit inspired Gospel appeal?

Tell me this: Is proof that I can’t call the President on the phone, also proof that I can’t answer the phone if he were to call me?

Of course not.  We all agree that God takes the initiative. The real question is whether or not you believe the Gracious Holy Spirit wrought truth of the gospel is a sufficient initiative from God.

  • Number 2: We all agree that no one can fulfill the demands of the Law: But how does that prove no one can admit that fact and place their faith in the One who fulfilled the Law in our place?

Listen, the inability to be perfect doesn’t equal the inability to trust in the perfect On

  • Third, we can all agree that we were all once dead in our sins and trespasses, but are we dead like Lazarus or dead like the Prodigal son? Calvinists insists this means we were corpse-like dead in the way Lazarus was while in the tomb. But, the scripture never draws this parallel.

Scripture does, however, draw a parallel between being spiritually dead and the Prodigal son while he was living in rebellion against his father.  After he returned home to receive the unmerited grace of His father, it was said, “He was lost but now is found, He was dead and now is alive” (Luke 15:24).

  • It’s almost like when a father says to a wayward son, “You are dead to me…” It’s an analogy of separateness, being in need of reconciliation or lost-ness.

Deadness is LOSTNESS, not a lack of moral ability to respond to God’s appeals to be reconciled.

No where does scripture teach that spiritual deadness equals corpse like inability to respond to God’s own gracious appeals.

If you want to take the Biblical analogy that far, then why is it that lost people have very different reactions to the gospel?

Remember, corpses can’t respond positively or negatively, or in any way in between — so that biblical analogy simply cannot be taken too far.

  • See, the biblical analogy of being “dead” to someone is to be “an enemy…or to be separated ”… for instance Paul taught in Romans 6 that believers we are to be “dead to sin.”

But, obviously, that doesn’t mean believers become incapable of sin. It means that just as we were once “separate from God” and “enemies of God.” We now are to live “separate from sin” and to be an “enemy of sin.”

NOTHING in scripture suggests that the biblical analogy of being spiritually dead means “the corpse like inability to respond to God’s powerful, life-giving, Holy Spirit wrought TRUTH….Truth that Jesus described as having the ability to “set you free” in John 8:32

So we can agree with our Calvinistic brethren that we are born slaves to sin…

But, we believe God’s truth may set us free!

We can affirm with the Calvinists that we are by nature enemies of God…

But, we believe that Christ makes his appeal to all His enemies, “Be reconciled to God…”

We agree with our Calvinistic friends, “Mankind is spiritually dead and needs new life.”

But, we also agree with the apostle John who taught that God sent the gospel so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31 (notice the order of that)

 Calvinists insist that new life comes prior to believing, but that is simply not what the bible ever teaches. Let’s observe what the whole counsel of God teaches on this:

Ezekiel 18:30-32

“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Repent, cast away…Rid yourselves…”
  2. “…make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.”

Verse 32 makes it even more simple:

  1. “Repent and…”
  2. “…live!”

Life comes from repentance, not the other way around.

John 5:40

“yet you refuse to COME TO ME TO HAVE LIFE.”

Now, if Calvinism’s ordo salutis is correct, shouldn’t this read, “I refused you LIFE so that you could not come to me.”

The order is clear:

  • “Come to me…” (through faith)
  • “…to have life.”

Acts 15:9

“He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”

Look at the order:

  • It is “…by faith” that
  • “He purified their hearts…”

It does not say He purified their hearts by regeneration so as to make them have faith. Clearly a purified heart is a fruit of faith, not the other way around.

2 Corinthians 3:16

“… whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  • “…anyone turns to the Lord…” (by faith)
  • “…the veil is taken away.”

Calvinists are well intending, but the “t” of their TULIP systematic not only undermines human responsibility, it undermines the POWER and the PURPOSE of the gospel itself.

 The Gospel was not sent to inform a special elite group of elect people about how special they are, and The gospel is not an offer you can’t refuse…

The Gospel is Christ in you making an appeal and pleading with every man, woman, boy and girl, BE RECONCILED to God through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:20)

—-“Who are you, O man, to question God!?”

Back when I was here as a student of Southwestern–a young, restless and reformed Calvinist, I can’t tell you how many times I uttered those words in defense of my TULIP system.

I was convinced Paul was putting all you Free Will, synergistic idolaters in your place!

That’s what I thought until I came to learn that the objector in Paul’s diatribe is not a Synergistic Arminian standing in defense of free will while objecting to the horrible thought of God choosing to condemn most of humanity to eternal torment before the creation of the world.

Paul’s objector in Romans 9 is the same one in Romans 3 is a Jew who has grown calloused in his rebellion, and though loved by a patient and longsuffering Creator, this rebellious, stubborn Jew is now being “given over” or “hardened” in his rebellion.

And this hardened Jew is asking why he is to be blamed, or why is God just to bring wrath on him IF his rebellion is actually being used by God to bring about redemption.

God is never said to harden anyone who has not already grown hardened by their own free choice. God longs for Israel’s salvation and has held out his hands to them all day long, Paul says in the very next chapter.

In fact, the same Jews who are cut off in chapter 9 for their unbelief, are potentially grafted back in “IF THEY LEAVE” their unbelief according to chapter 11.

The same Jews who are stumbling in chapter 9, are said to “NOT HAVE STUMBLED BEYOND RECOVERY” according to chapter 11.

The same Jews who are hardened in their unbelief in chapter 9, are those Paul hopes to provoke by envy so that they too may be saved according to chapter 11.

So, the diatribe in Romans 9 is not about synergism verses monergism, as some would like to frame it.  It is about Israel pursuing righteousness by works of the law versus pursuing righteousness by faith.

Back when I was a Calvinist, I don’t believe I rightly understood the Potter and Clay analogy in Romans 9.

I used to think Paul was teaching that the Potter molded and used His vessels however it suited Him in the pursuit of His ultimate goal of Self-glorification.

It’s was all about God’s effort to glorify Himself, even at the expense of humanity

Later in life, I came to understand this analogy in a much different light. I now believe the scriptures reveal a Potter who manifests His glory by sacrificing Himself for the undeserving vessels, not by making vessels morally disabled from birth so as to condemn them in order to display His glory.

In other words, I have come to believe that God is most glorified not at the expense of His creation, but at the expense of Himself for the sake of His creation.

I like the way Dr. Jerry Walls put it…

“God cannot fail to be perfectly loving any more so than He can lie. You don’t have to have children, but if you do you take on an obligation to love them. God’s freedom was in the freedom to create, or not. He didn’t have to create. But once having created, as a necessarily good and loving Being, He cannot but love what He has created. Love is not an option with God…It’s not a question of whether or not God chooses to love, it is WHO HE IS. GOD IS LOVE.”

This is not a weakness of God, but it is His greatest and most self-glorifying strength.  Is it a weakness that I am unable to willingly strangle one of my own children to death? No! That is a strength!

God’s inability to be unloving is not a short coming of God’s strength and power, but the greatest most glorifying characteristic of His eternal nature! To declare God’s universal self-sacrificial love to the entire world reveals God for what makes Him so abundantly glorious! His Love.

We are to love our enemies because God loves His enemies.

Jesus taught us to self-sacrificially love everyone, even our worse enemies, WHY?

Because that reflects the very nature of God Himself.

When God invites His enemies to be reconciled, He is making an appeal from a sincere heart of self-sacrificial love. “‘As surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11).

And the Prophet Hosea said, “The Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” (Hos. 3:1).

Obviously, God does sincerely love even those who turn from His provision and grace. The Gospel is God’s appeal to every man, woman, boy and girl to be reconciled through faith in Christ.

Listen…the only thing more devastating than a lost soul, is a lost soul with no one looking for her. A lost soul that is unwanted by her own God. A lost soul born rejected and hated by her Maker. A lost soul without hope of salvation.

I’m here to tell you that lost soul doesn’t exist on this planet. God genuinely loves and longs for the salvation of every individual and that truth must continue to be the cry of the church, because it was the cry of Christ.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29-29)

HERE is a great resource to support this interpretation of John 20:31 from the original language. (From Thomas “Willie” Adams, PhD)

 

18 thoughts on “The Purpose and the Power of the Gospel in Enabling the Lost

  1. You were clear, well-spoken and spoke with much dignity and import. As you know, I disagree with the nuance of some of your emphasis, but not the thrust. I wish you’d focus and attack more on the I than the T in TULIP, as the T will tread on some of my toes as well—and I’m as convinced as you the Word supports me. But I’ve come to view Calvinism in a more malevolent light; not hating Calvinists as you say, but hating the doctrine itself more as a stronghold of evil. There are unknowns in our Gospel and Calvinism tries to fill those in with certainties that don’t jive with Scripture.

    When I say depravity I mean this—we don’t make the defense of God’s justice by saying he must give everyone a chance. That’s a failed road that if someone takes seriously, and pursues it seriously to it’s very logical ends, could result in a shipwreck of faith. It’s not enough to grin and say “Oh, people everywhere that didn’t hear about Jesus got a plenty good, fine and well chance to be saved.” Because when we take Scripture seriously, and we think about what salvation means, we’d being doing the lost a disservice by sending missionaries to them—they have everything they need. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard,” and “he who does not believe will be damned.” There’s no way out of that paradox; many people are victims in this spiritual war. Free will theodicy still works, it’s just that God entrusted people to watch over each other, to keep the knowledge of him; by one man, the many die, not by the decree of God.

    When we accept TD for what it means, we know not to defend God’s justice by the “he must give everyone an equally fair chance” defense. That will never Biblically work, as much as it makes us feel good and better about God. This TD means God can damn every human after Adam at any time, and he is fair and just to do so. He owes them nothing. He does not owe them Jesus. He does not owe them a chance. He does not owe them grace. And we can then accept that babies don’t somehow circumvent the agony and blood of Jesus’ death, by being born pure and angelic, but rather inherit a sinful nature they have yet to express—that which is flesh is flesh—or might express sin (struggling with a twin) or grace (jumping for joy) even in the womb. After all, Christians want to say fetuses are real souls, and show them hiccup and beat their heart in the womb. But many don’t want to say they could possibly be sinful or not love God with all the heart.

    When we accept TD for what it means, all humans really do stand condemned before a holy God and on their own they can do nothing about it. We don’t set up a system of works or deeds or laws or do’s and don’ts, because Scripture says the Law is a spiritual thing and our flesh is sold to sin. If we think we just one day choose to break God’s Law like Adam and Eve one day chose to break God’s Law, we miss the dimensional fact that Adam and Eve had no sin nature enslaving them, but we all do without Christ. Sin has real power. Sin has real chains, that need breaking. Paul said “the sting of death is sin.” Notice Paul puts death first—just as in Romans 5 because all died, therefore all sin. He does not say “the sting of sin… is death.” We sin because we are sinners; we do not sin to become sinners.” Sin reigned in death, because all sinned in Adam; through the trespass of the one the many were constituted sinners. Life can reign because by faith we can be born again in the second Adam. The power of the Gospel is all wrapped up in another man standing in our place: Adam or Christ. No new life with no new birth, period.

    I remember in several of your very old podcasts you claim you wanted people not just to praise but to challenge you as well. To be honest I’m such a huge fan of you, it’s hard for me to say the slightest critical thing (you may not believe that LOL but it is true). What you are doing is POWERFUL and helping cut a huge spreading cancer out of the body of Christ. I honestly have lived such a humiliated life I don’t even feel worthy to comment on these weighty matters. But I do love the truth with a passion. And if you or anyone reads or thinks about my comments, I feel immeasurably honored and just hope and pray one thing: that you see Jesus. Much love, even if my Arminian toes get stepped on!

    God bless.

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    1. Dizerner,

      I think I understand where you are going with your comments but at the same time I have to bring up the exceptions to much of what you are saying.

      “When I say depravity I mean this—we don’t make the defense of God’s justice by saying he must give everyone a chance. That’s a failed road that if someone takes seriously, and pursues it seriously to it’s very logical ends, could result in a shipwreck of faith. It’s not enough to grin and say “Oh, people everywhere that didn’t hear about Jesus got a plenty good, fine and well chance to be saved.” Because when we take Scripture seriously, and we think about what salvation means, we’d being doing the lost a disservice by sending missionaries to them—they have everything they need. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard,” and “he who does not believe will be damned.” There’s no way out of that paradox; many people are victims in this spiritual war. Free will theodicy still works, it’s just that God entrusted people to watch over each other, to keep the knowledge of him; by one man, the many die, not by the decree of God.”

      I think you may confusing (1) maintaining God’s justice in condemning sin and (2) depravity. Depravity is our tendency to sin, which Paul characterized as being “slaves of sin” as nonbelievers. God condemning sin is just because God’s character is perfectly moral and he hates sin. As he hates sin due to his perfect moral character he has to condemn it. Fortunately for us, he can both condemn sin and love the sinner by means of the cross of Christ.

      “When we accept TD for what it means, we know not to defend God’s justice by the “he must give everyone an equally fair chance” defense. That will never Biblically work, as much as it makes us feel good and better about God. This TD means God can damn every human after Adam at any time, and he is fair and just to do so. He owes them nothing. He does not owe them Jesus. He does not owe them a chance. He does not owe them grace.

      You continue to confuse depravity and God’s justice in condemning sin here. One of my mentors summarized what you have said here about God condemning sin in this way: “don’t ask for justice you will get hell, ask for mercy and you may be saved.” That is just it, if we received pure justice for our sins we would all be condemned and go to hell. But God is not only just he is also loving and merciful and He desires to have mercy on all through Christ (cf. Romans 11:32).

      “And we can then accept that babies don’t somehow circumvent the agony and blood of Jesus’ death, by being born pure and angelic, but rather inherit a sinful nature they have yet to express—that which is flesh is flesh—or might express sin (struggling with a twin) or grace (jumping for joy) even in the womb. After all, Christians want to say fetuses are real souls, and show them hiccup and beat their heart in the womb. But many don’t want to say they could possibly be sinful or not love God with all the heart.”

      I believe that babies and the mentally disabled are an exception. The normal operating procedure for God to save a sinner is through faith (this was true in the OT and also in the NT). But when it comes to those incapable of having faith through life circumstances, it seems to me that the nature of the atonement kicks in here. The atonement has both a provisional element (it is provided for all) and an applicational element (it is applied to those who believe [i.e. able minded folks] and God in his mercy can apply it to those incapable of faith [i.e. babies, the mentally disabled, those before the age of accountability]. You speak of a baby not loving God with all the heart, well they cannot do that neither can they hate God. Seems to be that the concept of God and what goes along with it is beyond their capacity as babies.

      “When we accept TD for what it means, all humans really do stand condemned before a holy God and on their own they can do nothing about it.”

      I would say that all humans who are capable of sin and have sinned on their own stand condemned before a Holy God. I don’t see a person who lacks the mental capacity because they are a baby or mentally disabled as having the capacity to sin.

      “We sin because we are sinners; we do not sin to become sinners.”

      I think this is close but not quite accurate. I would agree that all have a tendency to sin (meaning as soon as they have the capacity to sin they will choose to sin): you could call that the sin nature. But I also believe we become sinners when we actually choose to sin for ourselves (which again does not apply to babies and the mentally disabled).

      “No new life with no new birth, period.”

      You are leaving out the atonement’s application here. There is no new birth unless an able minded person has faith. Once they have faith the atonement of Christ is applied to them. But that presupposes they have the capacity to have faith and make the choice to trust. If they cannot have faith (i.e. babies and the mentally disabled) then God does not apply the atonement to them when they have faith, it must be applied to them by the mercy of God alone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robert, you make some excellent points in a very considerate tone. I agree with the concept of vicarious faith in some instances where the people are incapable, and see it verified in verses like “you and all your household will be saved.” I don’t know exactly how far it extends. What I feel is intuitively important is is that our nature is not just a “tendency.” Because our old man is still totally depraved even when we are no longer slaves to sin. Our nature is who we are in Adam, depraved and sold to sin by nature, not by tendency. The real power of the Gospel is for me, to completely throw out a works/deeds/actions based understanding, and go to the heart of our nature, or the nature of our heart. Lemon trees produce lemons, apple trees produce apples, and if they produce something else it would be an anomaly. This is why all human beings everywhere must be crucified with Christ to be saved—that’s not just a metaphor for holy living or separation from the world. The Act of the Cross is what is all our power and all our life and all our salvation, because of the extreme identification we have with what Christ did there. But I will continue to think and pray about what you said and I think you make some good points.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Dizerner,

        “What I feel is intuitively important is is that our nature is not just a “tendency.” Because our old man is still totally depraved even when we are no longer slaves to sin.”

        I use the word “tendency” because our “natures” do not necessitate that we make certain choices. Take the believer with a new nature, we still choose to sin. If the new nature necessitated that we do the right thing then believers would never sin. But we still do sin! We cannot blame God for when we choose to sin. So the new nature leads to a tendency to do the right thing, but does not necessitate that we do the right thing (and conversely the sin nature leads to a tendency to sin, but does not necessitate that we sin).

        “Lemon trees produce lemons, apple trees produce apples, and if they produce something else it would be an anomaly.”

        This is too simplistic when it comes to human persons. A lemon tree producing lemons is a deterministic process. But humans and our choices are not a deterministic process. Again, if having a new nature involved a deterministic process then once we became believers and had a new nature we would never sin again! Look at this bluntly without theological jargon, believers both do the right thing and do the wrong thing at times. The logical inference is that we must have two natures, neither which necessitates all of our actions. We are not lemon/apple trees are we? We seem to be folks that at times produce delicious apples and at other times produce lemons. Calvinists try to pull this nonsense about natures determining all of our actions, but that is neither reality nor what the Bible presents.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree it’s too simplistic but the point is to illustrate a principle. Sin is not just a “choice” or there would be someone, somewhere, who one day just chose to never sin. Sin is something we can’t help any more than the biological functions of our nature—it is naturally inbuilt into us. It’s part of the Gospel not just that our sins are forgiven—but our old man, the “sin factory,” must be put to death and die in Christ. This is sin in Paul that he said “he no longer does it” just as Paul took no credit for what “Christ living in me” would produce.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pastor Flowers writes, “When a Calvinist says that a fallen man “is responsible” he does not mean that the lost person is actually “able to respond.”

    In fact, the Calvinistic doctrine of Total Inability clearly denies that a fallen man has the MORAL ability to willingly respond in faith even to God’s own appeals.”

    The Calvinist says that Adam’s sin had two significant consequences. First, Adam became spiritually dead meaning that he no longer had a viable faith unless God gave him faith. Second, Adam became morally corrupt and a slave to sin which slavery would continue until God freed him. Spiritual deadness and moral depravity was then passed on to all humanity (Calvin called this the horrible decree).

    Calvinists and Arminians recognized the condition accruing to mankind because of Adam’s sin and both concluded that God’s grace must be extended to the unsaved in any were to be saved, To the Arminian, this was prevenient grace; to the Calvinist, it was saving grace.

    Opposing the Calvinist and Arminians were the Pelagians who denied that man was born without faith or so depraved that he could not believe without direct help from God’s grace.

    Despite his condition, the unsaved is responsible for his sin for reasons explained in Romans 2. First, the unsaved judges others for doing what he has determined to be wrong and then turns around and does those same things. Second, the unsaved sins because his desire is to sin without being coerced to do so. “…when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law…” (Romans 2:14)

    Pastor Flowers appears to be using the arguments of the Pelagians to distinguish depravity from inability.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pastor Flowrrs writes, “See boogie man article. This charge is fully refuted there.”

        Not exactly. In that article, you quote someone to say, “Pelagianism, therefore, has become known historically as “the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit, and therefore that salvation is effected by man’s efforts.”

        Maybe one might get that impression of the past. TODAY, when Calvinists make the charge of Pelagianism, it means that “Sola Fide” is being violated. Usually, a person has based salvation on faith plus something else.

        Your Pelagian bent is revealed when you say, “The Gospel is God’s appeal to every man, woman, boy and girl to be reconciled through faith in Christ.” Then earlier, “No where does scripture teach that spiritual deadness equals corpse like inability to respond to God’s own gracious appeals.” The denial of Total Depravity as Total Inability reinforces this.

        The key word you use is “appeal.” Your point is that God “appeals” to a person who is responsible to act on his own (as he is not a corpse) to accept the appeal without receiving further help from God. By using “appeal,” you restrain God to providing only the means by which a person can be saved (e.g., faith) but God cannot seal the deal – the person must personally respond positively to what God does and this through his own ability and only then is the deal sealed and the person saved. That is thoroughly Pelagian – it says that God provides the means for someone to be saved yet salvation depends on the person taking advantage of those means.

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  3. “BUT WE HAVE NOT BEEN LEFT TO OURSELVES! GOD SENT CHRIST, THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS INSPIRED GOSPEL… We are not left to ourselves.”

    Could the Calvinist argue that those methods/tools is God irresistibly regenerating man? It then becomes the “chicken or egg” argument. It’s not man responding to them but rather God using these methods/tools to give a new heart.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts…

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  4. Another encouraging post, Leighton! Thanks again.

    Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

    Rom 10:18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

    Acts 17:27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

    17:30 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

    No guilt came from Adam’s sin in my view, but just a nature. The guilt comes when God allow the nature to come to an age of accountability, and then of its own will it sins and is concluded by God in unbelief and guilt. But God promises to speak to each and everyone through creation and conscience. He makes them “hear” so that they are without excuse if they do not seek. If they seek, they will find! Since the dawn of creation God designed each nation so that their inhabitants could seek and find. And now He continues to command everyone everywhere to repent! His light is sufficient to draw them, but He commands us to give them even more light and even more testimony of His love for them and desire for them to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth that He has paid for their sins through the death of His Son. Praise His name.

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