| Radical Depravity = "Tulip Calvinism"|
Hey first things first
I would not like this thread to start a "Is Total Depravity bibliclal?" Or and "Election" debate. I would just like to ask a question and ask for answers to my question and not the 6 million surrounding election.Calvinism....cool?...cool!
I do believe that we are a depraved creature prior to being "quickened" into Christ (I don't think we should have terms like "total" or "radical" last time I check depraved was depraved ;-) )
Okay so my question
Do I have to believe in "unconditional election" if I embrace Total/Radical Depravity? Why or why not?
| 2008/6/14 23:06||Profile|
| Re: Radical Depravity = "Tulip Calvinism"|
If a man is depraved than he cant choose God.
God promised that His Son would have a bride.
So God Needs to unconditional elect a people to be that Bride.
Because men cant choose Christ.
If men could choose God then they would not be depraved.
| 2008/6/14 23:37||Profile|
| Re: Radical Depravity = "Tulip Calvinism"|
Total Depravity: Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt.
Conditional Election: God's choice of certain individuals unto salvation before the foundation of the world was based upon His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned upon what man would do.
These two beliefs are at odds. Therefore I do not believe one can simultaneously affirm total depravity and conditional election.
Grace and peace brother
| 2008/6/15 0:33||Profile|
Las Vegas, NV
| Re: Radical Depravity = "Tulip Calvinism"|
Do I have to believe in "unconditional election" if I embrace Total/Radical Depravity? Why or why not?
In answer: yes, if you embrace "Total/Radical Depravity" then all that remains is "unconditional election".
If you have any questions concerning "unconditional election", I am more than willing to dialogue with you.
| 2008/6/15 1:28||Profile|
This is an interesting question. If one believes in Total Depravity, must he also believe in Unconditional Election? May God give me grace to answer it rightly, and ears to those who must receive it honestly.
The short answer is, yes. This is simply because if people will not come to God of themselves, and yet God will have a people, He must therefore elect - that is choose - a certain people based on something other than what they will (not) do. But let's consider it a bit more, shall we?
First, I do recommend those interested go to Monergism.com and check out [url=http://www.monergism.com/directory/search.php?action=search_links_simple&search_kind=and&phrase=total+depravity&B1=Go]this page full of articles[/url] on the subject. I suggest John Reisinger's two articles if you have an hour, or A. W. Pink's treatise on Depravity if you have about five hours and want to be very certain, one way or another.
Now, an important insight to keep in mind regarding this subject is that people often misunderstand historical "Calvinism" for teaching that Total Depravity means "men will not come because they [b]cannot[/b]", as if unsaved men would want to be saved on God's terms if only God would stop restraining them. The true Reformed position, and that which I affirm the bible teaches, is that men "cannot come because they [b]will[/b] never". This may sound like a slight difference, but consider it again and you may see the enormity of variance. In the first view, man is restrained by someone else. In the second, man is morally impaired by his own wickedness. A man who hates his brother cannot bring himself to honestly speak kind words to him, though he has all the faculties necessary to speak. It is a moral inability, not a physical disability. Likewise, the essence of Total Depravity is that all men everywhere, born of Adam, have natures which willingly never come to Christ on his terms. This is why men need to be [b]born again of the Spirit[/b], "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13, read it and weep over God's goodness)...
Whatever is born receives the nature of its bearer. The calf receives the nature of the cow which bore it. A pig receives the nature of the sow in which it was conceived, and by this nature it freely chooses to wallow in the mud. Even so, man receives the nature of his fallen father, Adam, and therefore freely chooses to walk in the rebellion of a dark heart. (Rom 1, 3 & 5)
Yet, all hope is not lost. God can impart other natures to his creatures at any time. To the proud king, Nebuchadnezzar, God imparted the nature of a beast. Certainly the ruler did not prefer to have his nature changed, but once it was accomplished the king voluntarily lived in the wilderness for seven years, eating grass until his nails grew long like claws and his hair matted with oil like bird feathers. After God's will was done, this animal nature was removed and Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his former sanity. Even so, the wages of sin brought death to Adam. Upon our forefather came a nature previously unknown, one called dead, blind, darkened, enslaved, and deaf. This sinful nature is passed to Adam's children, even as the whole nature of the oak is passed to the acorn. From this, spiritual death is passed upon all the world; all men exist, therefore, in a corrupt state from the moment of embryonic union. Dozens of scriptures testify to this, saying, "in sin my mother conceived me", and, "they go forth from the womb speaking lies."
Praise God, even as the Lord returned the nature of a monarch to that beastly Babylonian, so is God sovereign and powerful to grant gracious restoration of life and holiness to his chosen people - even to them who are mysteriously called "all who will believe". This new nature brings with it an innate, instant, free desire to place faith in Christ's person and work alone for one's justification. This gift of faith, as it is certainly called in Ephesians 2, is granted to the elect of God, not according to works of righteousness which we did, but according to his kindness in grace. (Titus 3:5) If you have not yet experienced this "newness of life", in which "all things are become new", then I compel you this minute to cast yourself down before All-powerful God and ask Him to be gracious to a sinner, to give a new heart to you on account of Christ's righteousness, and to grant faith to your wayward soul. God is no liar - Jesus says, "all who come unto me, I will in no way cast out." Come, and welcome to Jesus Christ. If you have come to faith in Him alone for justification, you are this day a new creation.
| 2008/6/15 3:16||Profile|
| Re: Radical Depravity = "Tulip Calvinism"|
It is a matter of will. God wills that all men
come to repent and find the saving grace of His
truth and the love of the Saviour expressed in
His dying upon the cross. Man is a selfish,
prideful creature who will not come unless the
power of the love and Spirit of God draws him.
God knows from the beginning who will believe
and receive His grace and His gift of eternal
life because He is omniscient. He determines
our ultimate destiny and He has plans to give
us a hope and a future with Him.
Martin G. Smith
| 2008/6/15 17:50||Profile|
Here is a portioon of a piece I wrote entitled "John 6." ........
"Here is an interesting quote from Justin Martyr, Bishop of Antioch, writing to the Roman Emperor in his First Apology. "And we have been taught that in the beginning He of His goodness, for peoples sakes, formed all things out of unformed matter: and if they by their actions show themselves worthy of His design, they are accounted worthy, so we have received, of reigning with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering. For as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so we consider those who likewise choose what is pleasing to him, on account of their choice, counted worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him. For the coming into being was not our choice, but in order that we may follow those things that please him, choosing them by means of the rational powers He has given us, He both persuades us and leads us into faith."
So we see from the earliest possible sources that believing, was but a step towards salvation and an exercise of our rational powers, which we all have.
If believing is not the totality of Salvation, then what does the Scriptures say about what is Salvation.?
The above piece was taken from a post I wrote about John 6 and how it is the pivotal chapter in the Gospel of John. If anyone wants the whole piece, let me know, it takes swipes at Arminuius and Calvin :).......Frank
| 2008/6/15 20:21|
Las Vegas, NV
teaching that Total Depravity means "men will not come because they [b]cannot[/b]", as if unsaved men would want to be saved on God's terms if only God would stop restraining them.
The true Reformed position, and that which I affirm the bible teaches, is that men "cannot come because they [b]will[/b] never".
This may sound like a slight difference, but consider it again and you may see the enormity of variance.
Well said, sir. I can't tell you how much I wanted to write that out; but for that very reason, I could not. Thank you.
| 2008/6/15 22:27||Profile|
Glad that helped you, boG. (By the way, does your moniker stand for "born of God"? Just a guess.)
I have prepared a rather lengthy rebuttal. May God bless whoever reads it.
Thus we see from the earliest possible sources that believing, was but a step towards salvation and an exercise of our rational powers, which we all have.
This is poor logic. We may as sensibly argue that "we now see from the earliest possible sources" that error is prone to include itself in even the most ancient Christian literature. Satan's lies have been with us from the garden, and vintage is no assurance validity. Did not Paul warn that many would come shortly thereafter teaching doctrines of demons? The proper test of verity is not age, but conformity to scripture, which in this case Justin fails abysmally. If I sound bold, it is for the cause of God and truth. Let us look carefully at Justin Martyr's statement and compare it to God's word, and see how it affronts the very gospel.
Justin's words appear in bold, with italics added:
[b]We have been taught that in the beginning, He of His goodness, [i]for peoples sakes[/i], formed all things out of unformed matter.[/b]
Great equations are miscalculated by slight errors. Single degrees of miscourse will lead at last to a ship's destruction. Justin's first misunderstanding is to elevate the reward of man as the cause of God's creative impulse. The scriptures are emphatic, however, that God formed all things for a fundamentally different purpose, namely His own glory.
"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and [b]for thy pleasure they are and were created[/b]." (Rev 4:11)
"For of him, and through him, and [b]to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever[/b]. Amen." (Romans 11:36)
"The LORD hath made all things [b]for himself[/b]: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov 16:4-5)
This includes the preservation and final salvation of men.
"Bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for [b]I have created him for my glory, I have formed him[/b]; yea, I have made him." (Isaiah 43:6-7).
"Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; [b]I do not this for your sakes[/b], O house of Israel, but [b]for mine holy name's sake[/b], which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. 23 And [b]I will sanctify my great name[/b], which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes." (Eze 36:22-23)
"[b]For My name's sake[/b] I defer my anger, [b]for the sake of My praise[/b] I restrain it for you,that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you but not like silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. [b]For My own sake, for My own sake I do it,
for how should My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another[/b]."
For what reason are the saints saved? Is it primarily to increase the happiness of "worthy beings", as Justin refers to the recipients of salvation?
"According as [b]he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world[/b], that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having [b]predestinated us unto the adoption of children[/b] by Jesus Christ to himself, [b]according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace[/b], wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:4-6)
"[b]Unto him be glory[/b] in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:21)
"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and [b]to make his power known[/b], endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might [b]make known the riches of his glory[/b] on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 [b]Even us, whom he hath called[/b], not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" (Rom 9:22-24)
God is no idolater. He does all things ultimately for Himself, and will not idolize the benefit of man above His own glory. Yet, God is good, gracious, and has chosen to display His saving love to a multitude no man can number. The Lord's mercy is not impugned by His withholding it from any sinner He chooses to pass over, as if He were bound to give blessings to the damned. No fallen man deserves it. Nor do believers obey God in order to "become worthy" of His fellowship. Even as our Christian conduct is not for merit, neither is it for the purpose of our own praise, lest we become like pharisees who lifted their voices in long, public prayers. Our obedience is out of gratitude and to the glory of God. It lends to our assurance of faith, but cannot add to or replace faith. What does the bible say is the final purpose of obedience?
"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, [b]do all to the glory of God[/b]." (1 Cor 10:31)
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and [b]glorify your Father which is in heaven[/b]." (Mt 5:16)
"If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of [b]the ability which God giveth[/b]: that [b]God in all things may be glorified[/b] through Jesus Christ, [b]to whom be praise and dominion[/b] for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Pet 4:10-11)
Now that we have exposed Justin's faulty root, let us look at the hemlock that sprouts from such poisonous seeds. Justin writes,
[b]"If they, [i]by their actions[/i], show themselves worthy of His design, they are [i]accounted worthy[/i]... those who likewise choose what is pleasing to him, [i]on account of their choice[/i], (are) counted [/i]worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him[/i]."[/b]
I speak boldly, that if this is one's notion of gospel truth, he is yet dead in sins. Hear the word of God and not the word of man,
"[b]We ourselves[/b] also were once [b]foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another[/b]. 4But after that, the [b]kindness and love of God our Saviour[/b] toward man appeared, 5[b]Not by works of righteousness which we have done[/b], but [b]according to his mercy[/b] he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That [b]being justified by his grace[/b], we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:2-7)
"[b]By obedience to the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight[/b]: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21But now [b]the righteousness of God without the law[/b] is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, 22Even [b]the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ[/b] unto all and [b]upon all them that believe[/b]: for there is [b]no difference[/b]: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being [b]justified freely by his grace[/b] through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a [b]propitiation through faith in his blood[/b], to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27[b]Where is boasting then? It is excluded[/b]. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a [b]man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law[/b]." (Romans 3:20-28)
"For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath something to glory in himself; but not before God. 3For what saith the scripture? Abraham [b]believed[/b] God, and [b]it was counted unto him for righteousness[/b]. 4Now to him that [b]worketh[/b] is the reward [b]not reckoned of grace, but of debt[/b]. 5But [b]to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness[/b]. 6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom [b]God imputeth righteousness without works[/b], 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Romans 4:2-7)
"It was not written for his sake alone, that it was [b]imputed[/b] to him; 24But [b]for us also[/b], to whom [b]it shall be imputed, if we believe[/b] on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was [b]delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification[/b]." (Rom 4:23-25)
"Therefore being [b]justified by faith[/b], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1)
"God commendeth his love toward us, in that, [b]while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us[/b]. 9Much more then, being [u][b]now[/u] justified by his blood[/b], we shall be saved from wrath through him."
"For the wages of sin is death; but [b]the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.[/b]" (Rom 6:23)
"Knowing that a man is [b]not justified by the works of the law[/b], but [b]by the faith of Jesus Christ[/b], even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be [b]justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law[/b]: for [b]by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified[/b]." Galatians 2:16
Paul's warning to the Galatians stands like a pillar of salt today: "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."
Men are not saved by [i]faithfulness[/i], as Justin and many others would have us to believe. Neither are men saved [i]by faith[/i], specifically. Salvation is not by faith, nor is our faith to be placed in faith itself or in our enduring faithfulness, but in the [b]person and work of Christ Jesus[/b], who was crucified, buried, and resurrected to the satisfaction of God. Salvation is [b]by the grace of God, through the means of faith[/b], which demonstrates itself in a reformed heart and life. True faith is known by its fruits, just as a rose is known by the aroma which rises naturally from it. And true faith, and the salvation that accompanies it, is a gift from God, implanted into the believer by regeneration.
"[b]But God[/b], who is rich in [b]mercy[/b], for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were [b]dead in sins[/b], hath [b]quickened us[/b] together with Christ, ([b]by grace ye are saved[/b];) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8[b]For by grace are ye saved through faith[/b]; and [b]that [u]not of yourselves[/u]: it is the [u]gift of God[/u][/b]: 9Not of [b]works[/b], lest any man should boast. 10For we are [b]his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus[/b] unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:4-10)
Friend, is your hope of acceptance with God based on a carnal notion that He foresaw some obedience on your part, however small, to any of His commands? If so, I am frightened for you. Have you forgotten that "God now commands all men everywhere to repent?" (Acts 17:30) John Bunyan warned of such a person in Pilgrim's Progress, named Ignorance, who thought that Christ's death sanctified his act of faith, rather than his person, therefore proving he had no true faith at all.
I commend you to the grace of God, to read Romans 9 and consider whether your voice is that of Paul's opponent,
"The children being not yet born, [b]neither having done any good or evil[/b], that the [b]purpose of God according to election[/b] might stand, [b]not of works, but of him that calleth[/b];) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, [b]Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.[/b] 14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, [b]I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.[/b] 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18[b]Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?[/b] Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22[b]What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?[/b]"
One final comment, regarding the hatred of Esau and the love of Jacob. Psalm 5:5 is the key to understanding this hard passage. "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity." From eternity God knew the willful fall and subsequent sinfulness of all men, who are together a race of iniquitous rebels. For this reason, from eternity God rightly and justly hated all men according to their sin. Yet, He chose to manifest His graciousness and long suffering toward these vessels of wrath who would always resist him. Furthermore, according to God's purpose in election, and to make known the glory of His grace in Christ, God predestinated unworthy Jacob with love to receive salvation by faith in God's imputed righteousness through Jesus. This faith was given to Jacob without regard for any work or obedience on his part. The necessary obedience he showed was the result - not the meritorious requirement - of God's eternal, covenant love in Christ.
For more info, check out:
[url=http://gospeldriven.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/the-glory-of-god-and-the-gospel/]Glory of God in Salvation[/url]
| 2008/6/16 4:13||Profile|
Hi Openlife. Can I first say that I celebrate you as a brother in Christ. Even if after our discussion, you remain a rampant Calvinist and I am still correct, then we will still love each other and celebrate the fact that We are brothers in Christ and will have an eternity to discuss these mattere :)
I quoted Justin Martyr in a piece I wrote entitled "How Great the Darkness," based on John 6. I have never actually publiched it as there would be little interest I belive. But I am putting it below brother, even if it is only you and I that read our lenghty articles :)
I want to say, for whatever reason, I attended Calvary Baptist Seminary. This is a Calvinist school. Most of the Profs are allumni of Dallas Thelogical. The quirky thing about Calvary was that it is a 4 point Calvinist school. They just could not stomoch "limited atonement." It goes against the Scriptures and it was not good enough for them to argue away what Scriptures meant when it it talked of the "World," and the "whosoever." I give them credit for that, although it is not an honest Calvinistic position. Since Calvinism is a logical theory, then take out one of the points and the pack of cards falls.
Yet even this school taught that the closer to the source that you got, then the more accurate one could determine how the Apostles thought on any particular subject. Of course, Justin was supposedly a Disciple of the Apostle. Anyway, that is neither here nor there. You have chosen to reject that counsel which you are perfectly at liberty to do. All things must be tested in light of Scripture, I will certainly go along with that. Although I do not state it the following piece, I do not accept that the chief end of man is to glorify God.
Sounds shocking, I know. I believe that we were created to walk with God, to walk with God in fellowship, much like Adam or Enoch or Moses or perhaps Abraham. I do not beleive that God was bored one day and thought, I know, I will create a race of beings to glorify me. Now, do not get wrong brother, everytime I come into His presence, it is on my face and I am overcome with the Glory of God and I feel like the Prophet when he says"Woe is me, for I am a man undone." Yet the chief end of man is fellowship with God. Sin broke that relationship, and Jesus restored it. Our free will is the greatest asset of humanity. It allows us to choose to come to Him and to worship Him freely. God had no intention, nor did He create humans to be automated. He did not merely program them, like computers, to worship Him. Anyway, if we met in the flesh I think you and I would have a good time discussing these issues. Bottom line my friend, if you know Jesus, if you have genuinly been born again, you and I are brothers in Christ. Always keep that in the forefront of your mind in any discussion, and the Lord can still be glorified, even if we disagree, which I am pretty sure we will. Since this is not 1600s and we are not at Dort, then I feel sure you will not call for my execution as a heretic, but perhaps I should hold my judgement :)...............Frank
How Great is the Darkness?
One of the most pivotal chapters in the NT is the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter is almost exclusively responsible for division down through the centuries. This is not a negative but a positive thing as the Truth is divisive, it divides truth from error.
While Sola fide, faith alone, has received all the theological attention, and was indeed the precursor to the Reformation, chapter 6 has methodically been going quietly about its business of dividing truth from error. This writer would assert that even more than faith alone, this chapter rightly divides the ,visible church, into two major groups, the wheat and the tares.
The proponents of faith alone should not be comforted by this fact and automatically assume that they are wheat and light to the world. The world can handle darkness much better than dimness that masquerades as light. We shall see that the Word of God cuts very sharp and is more discerning than to bestow light on those who merely give mental assent to the truth. We shall also see that not only did the Reformation , rent in two, the visible church here on earth, but that the Protesting faction was fractured beyond imagination by the deeper truths of Chapter 6 and the Word in general.
Chapter 6 starts out by Jesus feeding the 5000. The timing of this miracle, like every detail of Jesus life had nothing to do with happenstance. Every step, every word, every action was ordained by God before time itself. Verse 3 gives us the clues as to why the miracle occurs, Our Fathers ate manna in the desert: as it is written,He gave them bread from heaven to eat. So we see that the loaves and the fishes would be symbolic and a reenactment of Gods sustaining power in the desert for the children of Israel. It is an important point to remember that every single one of those who were sustained in the desert, bar two, died in the desert due to grumbling and discontentment. Physical bread from heaven clearly sustains the physical body, but to the shame of the Israelites, it did nothing for their ungrateful and forgetful hearts.
Now here we are, 1500 years later, and once again people are following God for physical food. V26.. Most assuredly I say to you that you seek Me not because you saw the sign, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. One sees that man has learned nothing and has not changed at all, they are still seeking the gift and not the giver. This is a reflection on the human condition and wicked heart that is corrupt and self-serving.
This is undoubtedly where proponents of Calvinism would jump in and use the abuse excuse, and teach us about Total depravity. They would argue that man could only react in this way because of the falleness of his nature and total depravity of his heart. This argument reduces Gods displeasure, of such depravity to a nonsense. His punishment of the children in the desert makes no sense if one is to believe that there was only one way for them to react. Calvinism would have us believe that while one could not possibly respond in any other way, because of total depravity, one still had the responsibility to respond in the proper manner and still be held accountable for their actions. Since this makes no sense to anyone, it is called a Mystery. This explanation is not good enough.
So we now know why the people were following Jesus that day, V26 establishes the reason. The people should have been following Him because of His teachings, His Word and yet they were selfish and self-serving. This is a condition that all true Christians must guard against. Jesus has now identified the primary problem of the human condition. Right from the beginning the Lord has been seeking a people who will, of their own free will, worship Him, serve Him and follow Him not for what He can do for them, but for who He is.
The question then , since it has been established that physical bread does nothing for the heart, what is Spiritual bread? What leads to life and not death? How does one truly serve God? The last question is asked and answered in v28-29 Then they said to Him, What shall we do that we may work the works of God?. Jesus answered and said to them ,This is the work of God, that you believe in whom He sent. And so Jesus teaches us that men must believe,in whom God sent. This belief has to come on the unsaved side. Now one could start a long debate about the nature of Grace and what it takes for a man to initially believe in the first place, yet this debate would have to take place outside the realms of Scripture because Jesus did not say that He had come to enable us to believe, He merely commands us and shows us what it takes to do the works of God.
At this point He is not talking to regenerated people. He is talking to people who are merely following Him for a free meal. To assert that it takes a special Grace for these people to carry out what He has just instructed is to insert into the Scriptures something that is simply not there. It is precisely because the Protestants have made believe in Him,the totality of Salvation that this problem occurs.
And yet, we shall see, that believing in Him comes in many forms and is a first step in a serious of teachings and commands from Jesus on how to attain eternal life, a NT concept and the exclusive teaching of Jesus. Here is an interesting quote from Justin Martyr, Bishop of Antioch, writing to the Roman Emperor in his First Apology. "And we have been taught that in the beginning He of His goodness, for peoples sakes, formed all things out of unformed matter: and if they by their actions show themselves worthy of His design, they are accounted worthy, so we have received, of reigning with Him, being delivered from corruption and suffering. For as in the beginning He created us when we were not, so we consider those who likewise choose what is pleasing to him, on account of their choice, counted worthy of incorruption and of fellowship with Him. For the coming into being was not our choice, but in order that we may follow those things that please him, choosing them by means of the rational powers He has given us, He both persuades us and leads us into faith." So we see from the earliest possible sources that believing, was but a step towards salvation and an exercise of our rational powers, which we all have.
If believing is not the totality of Salvation, then what does the Scriptures say about what is Salvation. How does God make a way for a people who will follow after Him for who He is and for this purpose alone? Jerr 31:31-33 Behold the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.My Covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.But this Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after these days says the Lord, I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts and will be their God and they shall be my people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother saying Know the Lord , for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. Ezek 11:19 Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh and they will walk in my statutes and keep my judgments and do them and they will be my people and I will be their God. We can see from the Scriptures that the Lord had a definite plan for the human heart and condition.
As Justin Martyr said, each man on earth has the capacity in the rational mind, to believe in the Lord and that belief will lead to faith. This goes against the Prevenient grace of Arminius, the Grace of Calvary, enabling men to believe the Gospel. If one believes that the ability to believe in the rational mind is a gift from God, which of course it is, then it can certainly be called Grace. Yet it cannot come under the strict definition of Grace, which would be unmerited favor, because this part of the rational mind is a vital necessity to the human state and the plan of God for salvation. It is part and parcel of His infinite and perfect judgment.
Therefore it was engineered into humanity from the very beginning.
The whole concept is an awesome one. The Lord Himself had come to earth to teach the people how they could do the works of God. The plan was to give the people a new heart. The old human heart was detestable and followed only after its own desires. This is not to say that all men were detestable in all their actions, men made rational decisions, some good and some bad, but their heart was far from God. In order for perfect judgment to be carried out by God, then Salvation was made available to all men everywhere. The Lord was and is seeking a people who would no longer desire to sin, a people who would follow His commands not because they had to to earn salvation but because Salvation had already been attained and it was now the desire of their hearts to please their heavenly Father. He is seeking a people who will treasure their relationship with Him more than their sin and the desires of their heart.
When this is achieved then the desires of their heart become His desires. The only way to accomplish this is a death of the old heart and a birth of the new.
Jesus says in John 3 that Unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. And so the people of John 6 were faced with the ultimate choice. Did they want to follow Jesus which would lead to the death of their sinful hearts, or would they continue to serve their, bellies,? Jesus leaves them in no doubt that their can be no partial salvation, either they take all of Him or they take none of Him. Most, at this point, chose to continue to serve themselves and reject Jesus. If we make the mistake of taking Jesus literally when He says , Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood , you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, then that error will condemn us to continued death in the flesh. The symbolic act of taking a piece of bread and drinking some wine can in no way substitute for the new heart.
Since Jesus has already stated in John 3 that we must be born-again to enter heaven we must search the Scripture further to see what else Jesus says about eternal life.
What else does the Scriptures say about eternal life and how we attain it. We must first realize that eternal life is a New Testament concept. The phrase, eternal life, will not be found anywhere in the OT. Eternal life is the exclusive teaching of Jesus. The only time that the word eternal is used in the Old Testament is in reference to God or His attributes. This is exactly why there was a split in the OT community. The Sadducees and their scribes did not believe in life after death at all. On the other hand, the Pharisees did and this gave them an impetus to live ascetic lifestyles in order to please God .
The Pharisees originally started as a genuine movement to follow Gods laws and commandments. They believed they would be rewarded with eternal life for their efforts, for their own righteousness. And so it is left to Jesus to reveal the truth about life after death and the eternal destiny of a mans soul. A phrase study of , eternal life, reveals that this phrase is used 42 times in the New Testament and none in the OT. Of the 42, 16 are to be found in the Gospel of John. Another 6 is found in 1st John so we can see that over half of the teachings of eternal life come from the Apostle John.
So what does it take for a man to gain eternal life? Seven times out of the 42 it is stated that one must believe. The first reference in the Scriptures to , believe, in conjuction with eternal life is found in John 3:15 where it is stated that we must believe in Him, Him meaning Jesus of course. John 3:16, 36 states the same thing. John 5:24 has a slight variation but in essence says the same thing. So there can be no doubt that believing in God the Father and His Son Jesus is a major element in salvation and eternal life, but, is that all that the scriptures say?
In order to fully understand what the Scriptures tell us about eternal life we must take the totality of what it has to say about eternal life. If 7 out of the 42 references compel us to believe, then what do the other 35 references tell us to do? A pivotal Scripture is John 6:68. Remember, the Gospel of John can be summed up as the Gospel of belief versus unbelief. More than any other Gospel, it exposes the different types of unbelief. A good example of this would be chapter 8 where Jesus is talking to believing Jews, but before the chapter is finished, these same believers, are ready to stone Him. John 6:68 But Simon Peter answered Him Lord, to whom shall we go? For you have the Words of eternal life. And also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ , the Son of the living God.
The interesting thing about these verses is that it clearly divides between believing that Jesus is the Christ , the Son of God and the fact that Jesus words were Eternal life. The Greek word for words in this Scripture is RHEMA (HRAY-MAH) One of the translations for this word is , Commands, and so the Scripture would read You have the commands of eternal life. So what are Jesus commands to us for attaining eternal life? We have already looked at believing, which of course is an intregal part, but is it the whole? James chapter 2 You believe there is one God, you do well, even the demons believe and tremble.
This Scripture should be an enormous red flag to the Protestant world. A mere mental assent to the abstract truth that Jesus is the Son of God will not save you. And before the Catholic world looks on smugly, one should know exactly what James was talking about when he talks about works. You have faith, I have works. Show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works. Clearly this passage from James has been highly controversial.
One side says that faith alone saves and that works are merely the overflow of that faith. The other sides maintains that unless faith is accompanied by works then there can be no salvation, eternal life. So it would seem that unless we have a working definition of the word , works, we can have no resolution to the problem. Catholics believe that , works, is the Sacraments. They believe that it is through the Sacraments and participation in them that one does the works of God. And that by participating in the Sacraments one is endowed with grace which will work towards salvation. Anything lacking will be made up for in purgatory.
The Protestant world is a hodgepodge. Many of the major denominations, such as the Church of England and Episcopalians also believe in works being the Sacraments. Baptists in general and Pentecostals and Non-denominational Evangelical organizations believe in works more along the lines of , doing good, helping people in distress, helping the poor and so on. Is this really what James was talking about?
James is identifying hypocrites. He is highlighting people who say they are believers but there is no change in their lives. When a person is born-again he is a completely new person, with a new nature , a new Love of God , love of man , love of His Word, love of His neighbor. If one claims to be born-again, but they do not exhibit any change or any of the aforementioned attributes, then that person is the person that James is talking about. Now here is the crux of what the Scriptures is teaching in regard to works. It is not charitable deeds, it is not Sacraments, in fact, it is nothing that you do. Remember Jesus Himself said that to do the works of God is to believe. And so when one truly believes, a belief that leads to Salvation and eternal life, then one will be changed in all the ways mentioned above. And that very change is the , works.
Not your works, lest any man should boast or believe that somehow God owes us something, for He owes us nothing, but His works, for it is He who changes the dead man who believes, into a man who is alive in Him. Every change in the genuine believer is a work of God. It is this work that brings glory to God, not charitable works or good works, for indeed, God has told us to do all those in secret, not letting the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Heb 4:9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself ceased from his works as God did from His.
The works that the world must see is the works of God in the redemption and sanctification of man. In this way, the Catholics are actually closest to the Truth than most Protestants in that they recognize that it is what God does for man through His grace that is to be seen by the world.
Their problem is they have mere symbol through their sacraments and no reality. The reality being a transformed life of one who is genuinely born-again. And so we have two groups of people, one group still wandering in the desert, looking merely to be fed and sustained, and another who have actually entered into the promised land and His rest. The wandering group crosses all denominational lines. Those who have entered the promised land and have entered His rest will be self-evident, not by their good works, but by His good works in them.
And so it is those who were alive in the flesh, died, and were born-again through the Spirit that are the genuine believers. Another pivotal Scripture that provides what must come after belief, is Matt 16:24 where Jesus states emphatically what must take place for a mans soul to be saved, If anyone desires to come after me (belief) let him deny himself, and take up his cross , and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it(people in the desert)but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
It is clear that one must desire to lose his life spiritually, in order to gain eternal life. And so while many believe in God, very few desire to lose their lives in order to be born-again . All of this leads us back to the Reformation and what has happened since then. Not only are the Catholics lost to symbolism, but also most Protestants, who have been deceived into believing that all they have to do, is believe and they will be saved. As we have just discussed , it is so much more than that and the Lord alone knows the desires of the heart and of those who are willing to lose their lives for My sake. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this in the few year before he was killed by the Nazis in the book Cost of Discipleship,
Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Churchs inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generosity, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace we suppose , is that the account has been paid in advance; and because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure the remission of sins. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out an eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow , and it is grace because it call us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life............ Yet the outcome of the Reformation was the victory, not of Luthers perception of grace in all its purity and costliness, but of the vigilant religious instinct of man for the place where grace is obtained at the cheapest price. All that was needed was a subtle and almost imperceptible change of emphasis and the damage was done.
Bonhoeffer makes a brilliant point here. What he is saying is that the phrase all you have to do is believe, is the exact opposite of what drove the Reformation for he adds further down
That experience taught him (Luther) that this grace had cost him his very life . When he spoke of grace, Luther always implied as a corollary that it cost him his own life which was now , for the first time subjected to the absolute obedience of Christ.
Bonhoefer is arguing that belief and the desire to die comes before the grace that leads to salvation. It is vital that this point is not overlooked or, as Bonhoeffer says, the damage is done, This is a very subtle point, but one of no greater magnitude. One must believe and have the desire to die, before one will be a recipient of the grace that leads to salvation.
Without the desire to die, belief will do nothing for a man. As Bonhoeffer says, one of the reasons that it is costly grace is that it required the death of Jesus Christ, but, just as our Master, it also requires our death. Now that death, just like Jesus , must be sought by our free will. Jesus was not forced to go to Calvary, He chose to go.
We too must choose death in order to gain eternal life. This is no mental exercise. The death of a man who is born-again is as real as physical death. Bonhoeffer The upshot of it all is that my only duty as a Christian is to leave the world for an hour or so on a Sunday morning and go to church to be assured that my sins are all forgiven. I need no longer try to follow Christ for cheap grace, the bitterest foe of discipleship, which true discipleship must loathe and detest , has freed me from that. Grace as the data for our calculations means grace at the cheapest price, but grace as an answer to the sum means costly grace.
It is terrifying to realize what use can be made of a genuine evangelical doctrine. In both cases we have identical formula- Justification by faith alone. Yet the misuse of the formula leads to the complete destruction of its very essence.
This is a powerful indictment of the modern Protesting church. It has used and abused the Justification by faith alone, doctrine and turned it into a formula that in essence is devoid of reality, the reality of a genuinely born-again man. The alter call, championed by Charles Finney and taken up by Billy Graham has been the sales rally for cheap grace. In a moment of emotion, when one is told , all you have to do is believe, a man responds for many different reasons. Yet , if the reasons are not the reasons which are laid down by Christ, then there is no salvation.
And just as Finney received reports from his workers in the field that within a few short weeks or months of their , conversion, that people were back to living their old lives, then so too with the Billy Grahams of the world. This is not to say that there are no genuine salvations at Billy Graham rallies, for of course there are, this writer would just argue that it is in spite of the cheap grace that they are saved. Let as look at an alter call by the Lord Himself...........
Matt 7:21 Not everyone who says to me Lord , Lord shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them , I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness. Therefore , whoever hears these sayings of Mine , and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock ; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, he will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house ; and it fell. And great was the fall.
This is a typical alter call from Jesus. Number one, He says that only those who do the will of my Father, shall enter into heaven. Number two, He states that it is the man who hears These sayings of mine, and does them whose house will stand, it is the man who hears them and does not do them whose house will fall and who practice lawlessness. Jesus did not say this saying of mine, singular, He said , these sayings of mine, plural. This is important because there is no single act that leads to salvation, it is a culmination of belief and a desire to die and a willingness to make Jesus the Lord of your life that saves. It is interesting that when Jesus is telling those people to depart that He calls them , You who practice lawlessness.
What is lawlessness? If you lived in a lawless country, there would exist a state of anarchy. No authority, no ruler, each man to his own devices. People who practice lawlessness are under no ones authority, they are a law unto themselves. In the scriptural sense, these are the people who do not follow Jesus sayings, they are , believers, (for they address Him as Lord) but they are not under His authority for they never died and were never born-again.
Let us look at another alter call of Jesus where we will find more conditions of discipleship, of Salvation, eternal life.
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned around and said to them, If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it- lest , after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him , saying This man began to build and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king , does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise , whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.
In this scripture we see what has to be done in order to be saved, one must love Jesus more than all his family, bear his cross(must die) count the cost to see if one is willing and able to follow Jesus and finally must be willing to forsake all, in order to be a disciple. These are all very real preconditions that one must submit to in order to come to Christ. While it is a fact that not every single genuine believer would be conscious of every single one of these conditions prior to his conversion, it is a fact that God the Father knows our hearts and only those who are indeed willing to follow Christ under all these conditions are truly saved. This is the will of God for every one who would believe ,that they would follow Christ all the way to Calvary and beyond. While it is true that most modern Christians will never actually be asked to forsake everything for Him, it is no less of a precondition to discipleship.
All of this brings us back to John six. In John six Jesus laid it on the line. He revealed who He was and what it would take to follow Him. Unless we are willing to take all of Him, not just the parts that appeal, then we will be lost. Jesus requires it all, and just as in John 6, most of His followers, His , believers, turned back at this point. As it was then, so it is today, many are called but few are chosen. It is only when Jesus is truly revealed, it is only when the true cost of Discipleship is preached, that the sheep are separated from the goats. Perhaps you have been a believer , all of your life. You have been raised and taught that , all you have to do is believe, and now know that this is not the case. I would ask you the same question that Jesus asked, once the Truth had been revealed , Do you also want to go away?
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