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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Is the problem "unwillingness" or "inability" ?

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JFW
Member



Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 1043
Dothan, Alabama

 Re: brother Mak

To your original point/post...

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to EVERY man the measure of faith.
(emphasis mine)

Does this not address the question?
How could one be totally depraved and yet have received a measure of faith (by grace) that would surely help to predispose them to turn to God in repentance...?


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Fletcher

 2018/11/29 20:26Profile
makrothumia
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Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 577
Texas

 Re:

Amen Fletcher,

I agree, Paul said as much in his address to the men on Mars Hill. God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one [j]blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being.

God created men, and appointed their place and time in order that they should seek Him. He wants to be found and He is not far from any of us.

mak


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Alan and Dina Martin

 2018/11/29 20:40Profile
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Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 186
Cambodia

 Re:

I don't know if I am being helpful or just stirring the pot but in an attempt to discover the truth I will say to my Brothers' responses first that Paul is addressing "every man among you" which addresses Christians who truly already have faith in God and Jesus.

As to the Mars Hill quote. I enthusiastically agree that God has made Himself clearly known to man in what He has made not just for a self declaration but also for the motive that not only would man seek Him as quoted but also so that man would glorify Him and give Him thanks as previously noted in the Romans 1 conversation. The fact that God makes Himself clearly evident to mankind is actually a confirmation of God's mercy and grace to all man and a confirmation of man's guilt because God did not hide Himself from man and an indictment of mans' depravity of mind, will and desires because God discloses His power and divine goodness to Him and man still chooses self if left to himself.

I can tell from my brothers' tone that we won't descend into quarreling, disputing for no reason or anger so I sincerely appreciate the conversation very much. Thanks.


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Robert

 2018/11/30 4:00Profile
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Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 186
Cambodia

 Re:

Brothers and Sisters,

I know this is probably a dumb analogy but I will put it forward anyway for the sake of maybe bringing some light to the view of "inability" and "unwillingness" because they are actually related in the total depravity position. Here's a dumb analogy followed by a Scriptural teaching that is more clear.

A pig is able to clean itself up and stay out of the mud. It won't do that for long though because its' love and desire is for mud. Eventually, it will always return to the mud no matter how often it is externally cleansed because the mud is its happiness and love. At its nature and core, a pig loves the mud.

The cat on the other hand, hates the mud. Hates it as a matter of nature. It can certainly decide to jump into the mud and if it does, it immediately is sorry it did so because it is against his nature and the cat works feverishly to get clean because it hates the mud and can't bring itself to stay anywhere near it for long.

Both animals are certainly "able" to avoid what it hates and to do what it hates. But, because of their loves and hates, their decisions are directed against what they hate and for what they love.


Such is the nature of man. He is able to turn to God in one sense but because he loves himself more than God by nature, he is never going to do it. This is his inability.

In 1 John, the apostle says the born again man ( the cat in my analogy) loves righteousness, loves the light and does not practice sin because he "unable" to do so. Inability there doesn't mean he can't. It means practicing sin is so against his new nature that he can't bring himself to do consistently that which he intrinsically hates. That wasn't true of himself before the new birth ( when he was a pig)

My second point is this. When Jesus was on the cross, He was to the human eye, a bloody mess and a criminal about to expire. There were two criminals next to Him who saw Jesus just that way, a bloody mess. Suddenly though, one of the criminals saw Jesus differently. Even though he saw the same bloody mess as before, suddenly he said to Jesus "remember me when you come into your kingdom". Question, what in the world changed? All of sudden this man "saw" this bloody suffering Jesus as THE KING OF KINGS and saw him as someone who could save him in eternity; be his Savior. Again, what all of a sudden changed? Same Jesus on a cross. But this man's vision changed whereas the other criminal's limited fleshly vision remained the same.

When Peter rightly understood Jesus to be the Messiah, Jesus said to Peter that flesh and blood did not reveal this understanding to Peter but that the Father had revealed this to him. This spiritual sight and insight of the criminal on the cross and of Peter was "given" by God. Only those who have heard and learned from the Father come to Jesus. Clearly, Scripture is consistent that not all hear and learn even though they can physically hear and intellectually learn.

What changed? God shone the light of the knowledge of the glory of Himself in the face of Jesus into their hearts. All men need this light to shine into their spiritual darkness. The simple preaching of the Gospel is not the shining of the light. It is the opening of the heart that allows one to spiritually see the light of Jesus in the Gospel and clearly not all receive that shining light because not all hearts are opened. Jesus says men will not come to that light because they love the darkness. They on their own close their hearts to the light preferring and loving the darkness. Before any will come to the light, they must first in their hearts have their "loves" and "hates" modified or changed. That is what new birth accomplishes. The blinding influence of the flesh is circumcised from the heart so that it can truly see the light of Jesus and the Father's glory in Him.

Not once have I read or heard of a person who said yes, I know Jesus is the Messiah and my only hope and I still don't want Him. That should tell us that not all see and not all learn and not all have Jesus revealed to them even if they hear the Gospel, see the miracles, see Him rise from the dead. He may be revealed to the physical eyes but spiritual blindness caused by self love is the problem. The only issue is why don't they see what we have seen. It's a heart problem. They love the darkness because they prefer their love of sin and self. So did we but the Father changed that blindness by an act on the heart.

Inability and unwillingness go hand in hand with spiritual darkness caused by self love.

In this viewpoint of total depravity, man is actually the monster, not God.


Btw, Makrothumia, thanks for suffering long with me in this conversation. :)



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Robert

 2018/11/30 5:57Profile
makrothumia
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Joined: 2005/5/19
Posts: 577
Texas

 Re:

Dear Robert

We are in complete agreement that it takes God shining His light into the heart of man to enable the man to see. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit convincing men of sin, righteousness, and judgment for them to be granted a godly sorrow unto repentance unto life.

The area where we differ hinges on the question of "inability" or "unwillingness". I understand the reasons you have put forth asserting that God must grant man the ability to decide. I believe that sending His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and the establishing of the church, and the preaching of the gospel of grace is just that - His granting men the ability to be saved.

God has decided that men must "choose" to "receive" His gift of grace. He initiates every mercy necessary for men to be able to make this choice.

The entire record of the prophets establishes that God attempted to turn His chosen people, His elect, back to Himself. He spoke to them, He disciplined them, He suffered long with them because He wanted their hearts to be restored to Him. The record is clear - His people were "unwilling" to hear. His people refused to be persuaded to turn from their ungodliness and unrighteousness. God judged them for their prolonged and obstinate rejection of His mercies.

If I were to embrace your way of reasoning, that entire history would mean that God never intended to turn the hearts of His people back to Himself, because despite every description He Himself gave of His attempts to turn them back, He did not "open their hearts" for them.

Is my logic flawed in this, or is this how you would express the reason why Israel did not repent?

I see our Lord Jesus as the light that lighteth every man having come into the world. The fact that this light has come into the world establishes the basis for God's righteous judgment. "Light has come, but men LOVED darkness MORE THAN the light...". This is why men will be condemned, for their unwillingness to receive the light of the gospel. This is where we appear to differ, you do not believe that men are capable of receiving the word that is preached apart from God opening their hearts. I believe that the preaching of the word of God is sent to open men's heart. We agree that apart from God's work, man cannot respond. Where we disagree is that I believe God's spirit and His grace can be resisted and rejected.


Thank you for your participation in these discussions.

If you would like to continue, I am willing to provide more scriptures where the grammar the New Testament writer used clearly points to the issue of "the will."

The Greek word for "ability" is dunamis and the Greek word for will is either thelo or Boulamai. It is significant to note that the New Testament writers could have used the term "not able" far more often, but it is scantly seen anywhere. There are passages in Isaiah that our Lord quotes where "inability" and "unwillingness" are a debatable interpretation.

Our Lord could have said, but did not say - "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I have longed to gather you as the hen gather her chicks under her wings, but you were "unable".
He chose the word "unwilling" instead, because I believe, His coming, His works, His words were all meant to "enable" them to believe.

mak



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Alan and Dina Martin

 2018/11/30 7:23Profile
TMK
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Joined: 2012/2/8
Posts: 4968
NC, USA

 Re:

//In this viewpoint of total depravity, man is actually the monster, not God.//

True, if you leave out the part that in one view God only chooses an exceedingly small number of people to whom He reveals Himself and that the other 99% he dooms to burn.


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Todd

 2018/11/30 7:24Profile
JFW
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Joined: 2011/10/21
Posts: 1043
Dothan, Alabama

 Re: brother Robert

Dear brother thank you, it’s nice to read by someone whom has their emotions in check:)
And yes Paul was speaking TO a group of Christians, but was he not speaking ABOUT every man?
Why would you think otherwise?

Also if the Bible clearly says man has freewill how can it be denied by bible believers?
Leviticus 22:21
And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a FREEWILL (x26) offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.

(emphasis mine)
Edit to add: I have in fact witnessed to someone who fully understands that Jesus is the savior and their only hope but they openly and calmly rejected Him saying ,”Fletcher I know what you are saying and I completely understand it, but it seems difficult for you to understand that I simply don’t want that”


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Fletcher

 2018/11/30 8:28Profile
Gloryandgrace
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Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 825
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re: a difference


Marvin <----pot stirrer!

Great conversation guys, I love reading this thread.

Inability and unwillingness are linked in the human heart by way of the fallen human condition.

The fallen human condition is no impediment to God's working and man's salvation.
Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
The answer of course is no, there is nothing to hard for God.
Israel's obstinacy, Israel's unwillingness, Israel's rebellion is no hindrance to God doing exactly what he wants in who he wants.

In Israel's history various leaders, prophets, men and woman represent in type and shadow Jesus Christ and in direct relation the condition of the human heart whether that person be in covenant or outside the covenant.
In many cases those people represent both Christ and fallen humanity. In fact there is no one outside of Jesus Christ who does not represent fallen humanity either in covenant or out.

All that to say, we see ourselves in them and at times we see Jesus too.

When I read the old testament accounts of men and women I am reading men and women functioning under a lesser covenant, a lesser anointing, lesser priesthood, a lesser level of freedom from guilt. The book of Hebrews validates all of this.

So, I must say as Jesus taught us...Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

We who are new covenant believers are 'greater than he' because we have the kingdom of God in us by way of the Spirit of God dwelling in us.

I said all of this to make sure I lay this simple foundation at the outset...to be careful when making comparisons between someone in the old testament and a Spirit-filled believer in the new.
They are a Jesus-fulfillment-of-prophecy apart. This makes a massive difference when discussing sins, commands, knowledge of God and ability or inability.


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Marvin

 2018/11/30 12:11Profile
Gloryandgrace
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Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 825
Snoqualmie, WA

 Re: a difficult truth


God is sovereign and that is so well established in scripture you have to be ignorant of scripture to deny it.

Allow me to jump in with the stir stick and make a few assertions.

1. People do not get saved simply because Jesus is a means to that end.
2. People do not get saved simply because they have found a better alternative to a bad situation.
3. People do not get saved simply by reason of making confessions, accepting creeds, 'willing' to acquiesce to various Church rules and demeanor.
4. People do not get saved unless God himself has determined to save you.

Many folks don't like #4 because if its true, you don't get to hold the "If I am willing to believe" ace. You might think that such a thing is not an ace but a duce and will not win you anything.
But when it comes to working out ones theology where man's will and its response/ability/inability/incapability are considered...that "If I am willing to believe" becomes more than a response to the gospel it becomes the pivot upon which the gospel must move.

That little piece of theology for them trumps any "election" or "predestination" or "making" or "determining" by God. They have a theology that elevates their decision as the pivotal point upon which God is permitted to move.
Due to this kind of reverse-engineering of the sovereignty of God, you must do away with Election altogether, you must silence any texts dealing with predestination, and by all means relegate any divine decisions under the 'if man cooperates with God's spirit'.

For me, it is these things that create the dissention/disagreement between brothers. (I mean this in a theological way not carnal fighting).

There is unanimous thought among the orthodox as to the willingness of man to believe and disbelieve as there are myriads of scripture and current examples to be had.
But behind disbelief for many is a theology of an absent/inactive/disconnected God.
God seems to sit back and wait it out...'who's going to believe today God says?" For many, since they believe God has no elect except "those who elect themselves" These must focus their faith and attention on the condition of a man's heart, they by reason of their own theology must put the emphasis upon man acting.

The post is running long, I'll end here. I assert that prayers to God to bring in an Elect he knows he will save and he knows where they are and who he will send to them, should be prayed. My faith is focused upon the God who elects and because of that I have genuine hope. Those who do not believe that, must turn to hoping in a right heart, a right condition, a right atmosphere, a right word because the pivotal point is 'man's right to autonomous willing'.


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Marvin

 2018/11/30 12:37Profile
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Joined: 2017/2/12
Posts: 186
Cambodia

 Re:

Brother Alan,

Here are a couple of Scriptures about Jews in OT to consider:

Deu 10:16 - Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Deu. 30:6 - And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Then there is Ezekiel 26:36 which is God’s reasoning for establishing the New Covenant.

Then there is the OT passage where God says one day He would put a Spirit of fear in His people so that they would no longer walk away from Him.

Paul says not all Israel is true Israel. Only those with circumcised hearts are true Israel.

Paul also says the law was weak and unable to give the power to obey God.

Finally Jesus says in John 3 that unless one is born again he cannot “see” which means “perceive” the Kingdom of God. He was surprised that a teacher of the OT didn’t understand that basic teaching.


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Robert

 2018/11/30 12:39Profile





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