Friday, July 17, 2009

Defending Dordt

Part II

[Programing note: There will be no The Squirrel Can Cook this week, as it is just too hot to cook. Deo Valenti, The Squirrel Can Cook will return next Friday]

Returning to our examination of the doctrines of Calvinism, I would like now to turn to the doctrines themselves. It is difficult to deal with each doctrine separately, as they are all intimately woven together, so there will be some crossover with the other doctrines as we deal with each.

I have come to the conclusion that people who reject the Doctrines of Grace usually do so for a combination of two reasons: 1) an inflated view of man and 2) an insufficient view of God. They fail to grasp just how totally sinful man is and just how absolutely sovereign God is.

The TULIP begins where we must begin, with the Total Depravity of Man. While most people who reject Calvinism point at the doctrine of limited atonement as the point they disagree with most, a little digging shows that it is an inadequate understanding of man’s total depravity that is really the issue. Because if our starting point is a failure to recognize just all sinful man is, and how debilitating to man that sin is, we will fail to understand how difficult saving man really is.

Totally Depraved | Humans are corrupt throughout | Not "bad as can be" – TurretinFan


Most people misunderstand what is meant by that term “total depravity.” And, truthfully, depravity is not the clearest word that could be used. John Macarthur refers instead to man’s total inability; because the Bible tells us that man, in his natural state, is unable to seek God, obey God, or to please God in any way. “Depravity” is not the best choice of words, because when we hear the word “depraved” we think of the worst of offenders; mass murderers, child molesters, concentration camp guards, telemarketers, and the like. We don’t think of ourselves as “depraved.” And, in a sense we are correct (I hope none of my readers are a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Pol Pot.) But, in the theological sense, we are all depraved. Total Depravity does not say that men are as bad as they could be. What it does say is that every part of man is tainted and corrupted by sin.

Cloud defines total depravity this way: “Man is totally corrupt and dead in his sin so that he cannot even respond to the gospel unless God sovereignly enables him, which only happens if he is one of the elect. God not only must enable the dead sinner, but must sovereignly regenerate him and give him the gift of faith.” This is a fairly concise definition, as far as it goes. Mr. Cloud does not address the Calvinist position that man is responsible for his own sin.

The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it this way: “By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body… From this original corruption, hereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.”

So what is the scriptural support for this doctrine? While there are many passages that allude to the doctrine of total depravity, Romans 3: 10-18 is surely high on the list.

“…as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE." "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING," "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS"; "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES." (Romans 3:10-18 NASB)

In these eight verses, Paul quotes from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Psalms to show that all mankind is sinful without exception. He sums it up quite clearly in Romans 3:23 when he writes, “for all have sinned, and fall short of the Glory of God.” Note that Paul, and conversely the Old Testament prophets, say that there is no one who does good and there is no one who seeks after God. Humanity is so unable to please God that the Bible calls mankind “spiritually dead.”

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2 NASB)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but dead people very rarely do anything for themselves. Like, NEVER! A funeral home attendant, while preparing to a body for burial, does not set a pile of clothes down and ask the corpse to get dressed. Just as those who are physically dead are physically helpless, the spiritually dead are spiritually helpless. As Paul says, in Romans 8:6-7, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,” we are, by nature, hostile towards God.

This is not to say that man does not have choices, just that man’s choices are not free. We will not, on our own, choose to do good, or to follow God any more than a lion would choose a pile of bananas over a steaming pile of fresh meat. It is not in his nature.

I hear the questions, because I’ve heard them before, “What do you mean, ‘none who does good?’ Lots of people do good! Feeding the poor; helping little old ladies across the street; supporting the symphony, are these things not good?” I’ll let Isaiah answer that one…

“…all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” – Isaiah 64:6 (NASB)

The literal translation of “filthy garment” (“filthy rags” in the KJV) is “used menstrual cloth,” an undeniably disgusting image. And Isaiah says that that is the value of our righteous deeds! How much more ugly are our unrighteous deeds? But we can see that what we see as good the Bible describes as truly worthless and disgusting in God’s sight. In even the best things that we do there is an element of pride and self-righteousness. Every thought that we have, and every action that we take, is not free from the taint of sin.

It is reported that John Bunyan said that there was enough sin in the best prayer that he ever prayed to damn the whole world. That is the essence of Total Depravity.

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34 comments:

Fred Butler said...

You could always do something with tuna fish.

The Squirrel said...

Eating tuna fish... another sign of man's depravity!

:o)

~Squirrel

Mrs. Squirrel said...

For the record...
Mrs. Squirrel likes tuna!
;)

Craig and Heather said...

Wow, I didn't realize that telemarketers were up there with concentration camp prison guards.

And I don't remember poll saying anything in Romans 8:6-7. I thought it was Paul.

But all joking aside, I agree with you here. My inquiring mind struggled with my good deeds being so disgusting until I recognized that this is exactly Satan's sin. HE wanted to be good without God. He wanted to be like God - "hey, I can do that, I don't need Him" in essence. This does not glorify God. God is the source of all that is good, and He will not share His glory with anyone. Good deeds done without God are based on pride. Not a fun thing to think, but what the Bible teaches.

Just my thoughts,

Craig

The Squirrel said...

Craig:

Yes, indeed! "Paul" not "poll!"

I've been using a speech recognition voice writer for a few days now, in an effort to speed up my writing. Pretty much very happy with it, but I do need to edit a little better before I post.

:o)

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

It seems that total depravity according to Calvin makes man even unable to accept by faith the gift of salvation that God has provided. If God even has to accept it for me then I can't even thankfully reach out my hand for his 'life preserver' and glory in the relief of God's salvation. I'm too dead to even know I'm in need of help. I don't see that in the Bible. When Jesus healed people, they often reached out to him, knowing they needed Him and could do nothing to heal themselves. But they could reach out and ask for help, and they could have faith to know that the Son of God could help them if they asked. Again, faith is not a work, and doesn't the Bible say God has given every man a measure of faith? Some just refuse to submit.

Paul said...

Jennie said:

"It seems that total depravity according to Calvin makes man even unable to accept by faith the gift of salvation that God has provided."

Jennie,
It seems that total depravity according to Paul makes fleshly (unregenerate) man unable to accept by faith the gift of salvation that God has provided.

Romans 8:7 (ESV) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

Paul said...

Jennie said:

"If God even has to accept it for me then I can't even thankfully reach out my hand for his 'life preserver' and glory in the relief of God's salvation."

Jennie,
If you did that in an unregenerate (fleshly) state, that would please God. Yet Paul tells us that he who is in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:8 (ESV) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Jennie said...

No, I just looked that up and it's talking about believers each being dealt a measure of faith. Romans 12:3.

Paul said...

Jennie said:

I'm too dead to even know I'm in need of help.

Jennie,
Let's just stop and think for a minute. What can dead people know?

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

In the Princess Bride, Wesley was only mostly dead. But of course, the Princess Bride is only fiction. In the real world, dead is dead. Someone was physically dead is absolutely physically helpless. In the same way, someone who is spiritually dead is absolutely spiritually helpless.

In John chapter 11, we find the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Do you think that Lazarus contributed anything to his resurrection? Did he in any way cooperate with Jesus? Do you believe that Lazarus, hearing Jesus call, could have resisted that command?

It is true that we must respond to the Gospel in order to be saved, but even the ability to respond is a gift of God’s Grace. I will deal with this in more detail when I dress God’s irresistible grace but the short of it is found in John 6:65, “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’” The word δυναται, translated “can,” speaks of ability. Thayer’s says this about that word, “Thayer Definition: 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom.”

~Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

In Romans 12, Paul is speaking of the grace that God gave him when God saved him. That verse needs to be understood, like all verses, in its context.

~Squirrel

Lockheed said...

If God even has to accept it for me then I can't even thankfully reach out my hand for his 'life preserver' and glory in the relief of God's salvation.

You mean you're liked dead, dry bones in the desert? Where have I heard that analogy before?

Thankfully, God is merciful toward His enemies (us) and resurrects them (regenerates, born-again) to life anew in Christ, WHILE they're still enemies, thus adopting them into his family, not because they deserved it, but in spite of their undeserved state.

Lockheed said...

doesn't the Bible say God has given every man a measure of faith?

No, it says that believers are GIVEN a measure of faith. (If they could generate it on their own, why do they need to be given it?!)

Notice, Jeannie, in Romans 8 the pattern that follows:

7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Romans 8:7-8 is talking about UNBELIEVERS, this is proven by v9 in which we are told that those who are in the flesh do not have the Spirit of Christ and do not belong to Christ.

Therefore, in order to not be in the flesh, the Spirit must be dwelling in you FIRST.

Rabbit said...

Not sure if this will help Jennie or not, but I'll try.

The non-Calvinist says, I was dead in my sin, but while still dead I recognized I was dead and in need of a Savior; I saw Christ, reached out and grabbed His life preserver, and was saved.

The Calvinist says, I was dead in my sin and incapable of recognizing my need of a Savior; while I was still dead, God saved me, giving me the gifts of faith and sonship and eternal life. Only then was I able to recognize my sin and my need for a Savior, and since He had already made Himself my Savior, I had no choice but to respond to Him in the faith He gave me, out of overflowing love and gratitude.

Jennie said...

Calvinists say that we are first regenerated and then given faith so we can believe the message of the gospel, because a dead man can't have faith.
Doesn't the bible teach that first our eyes are opened by the Spirit through the preaching of the Word, then we see and believe, and then the Spirit comes in and regenerates us? Cloud brings this out by quoting:
Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
Cloud also says:
The order of salvation is made clear in Acts 16:30-31 in the conversion of the Philippian jailer. “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Note that the jailer was not born again when he asked what he must do to be saved, and Paul replied that he must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously Paul knew that the man could do exactly that and, that by believing he would be born again.

The order of salvation is also made clear in Ephesians 2:8-9--“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Faith is the means whereby we are saved; it is the hand that reaches out to accept God’s Gift.


It seems that the Spirit opens our eyes by the Word, then gives us faith, then regenerates us and washes us.

Bartolucci said...

Man must first be regeneratated before he can believe, but these two things (regeneration and faith) happen concurrently. It's not that someone can walk around for three hours (or three seconds) regenerated, but not converted.

Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit; we see this in John 3:1-8. The fact that the Holy Spirit is likened to the wind demonstrates that this is something that man does not control; the Spirit works as He will bringing regeneration to whom he will (always in conjunction with the Gospel). Compare 1:12. By the way, this is why there are no commands to be born again or to be regenerated in Scripture.

Ephesians 2:1-10 follows suit. We (believers) were dead, "but God made us alive" (that's regeneration). That same passage demonstrates that faith is a gift of God. Grammatically, the antecedent of "this is (touto) the gift of God" in verse 8 is eveything in the first part of the verse including "faith." [cf. A.T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 704.]. (Note also 2 Timothy 2:25: God grants the repentance leading to an understanding of the truth.)

Someone might argue, "We are told that to be saved we must believe." *Absolutely!* The Calvinist says "amen!" to that. That God enables us to believe does not make it any-the-less our act of believing.

Paul said...

Jennie said:
"It seems that the Spirit opens our eyes by the Word, then gives us faith, then regenerates us and washes us."


" Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner's salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in "the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity." Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him. Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Charles Spurgeon:
"Human Inability"

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0182.htm

The Squirrel said...

Let me see if this helps: Imagine a person at the bottom of a deep hole; a hole that that person is unable to climb out of on his own. That person is going to need assistance in getting out of the hole. Now imagine that the person at the bottom of the hole is dead. A dead person is unable to accept any assistance whatsoever.

In order to save a person who is dead in their trespasses and sins, God must first make that person alive so that they are able to accept His salvation. When we look at the story of the Philippian jailer, we see these events from the earthly point of view; he feels his need, is drawn to the Gospel, responds to the message with faith, and is saved. That is the way in which we perceive these events.

But from God’s view point, all we have to do to understand why the Philippian jailer responded positively to the Gospel is go back a few verses to Acts 16:14, where we read regarding Lydia that “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” Or we could turn to the clearest passage on the order of salvation to be found in the Scriptures, Romans 8:29-30, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

“Foreknowledge” does not mean that God looked into the future, saw who was going to believe, and then predestinated that person to salvation. God is omniscient; he cannot at any time acquire knowledge. And so we must understand foreknowledge in a different way. To know someone does not mean to have knowledge about someone, it means to have a relationship with someone. I might know a lot of facts about a person whom I have never met, but that does not mean that I know that person.

God’s foreknowledge refers to God having a predetermined relationship with His elect. Salvation is all of God, from beginning to end. It is all His decision and entirely His action.

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

Whatever the order of salvation is, which I don't think is clear from what has been said so far, what I said isn't any less 'all of God' than what everyone else said. God opens our eyes by His Spirit through the Word, gives faith, and regenerates, etc. It's still all of God. I think you're stretching the 'dead' analogy too far, but what's important is that the gospel is preached, and that those whom God enables to hear and respond, will hear and respond.

Jennie said...

By the way, this is why there are no commands to be born again or to be regenerated in Scripture.

Hi Pastor Tony,
I didn't see your name at first. You said there are no commmands to be born again, but there ARE commands to believe, which seems to imply that we have a choice at this point whether to believe or not once the Spirit opens our eyes. Then we can choose to believe or to rebel against the call. So I don't think it fits to say we are regenerated first; The Word opens our eyes and then we can see the truth, and obey or not obey the command to believe. If we obey, then we are regenerated. My husband and I were talking about this yesterday, because I wanted to clarify the concept in my mind. He's been reading the Institutes, and doesn't agree with all of it.

Jennie said...

Squirrel,
In order to save a person who is dead in their trespasses and sins, God must first make that person alive so that they are able to accept His salvation.

'Inconceivable!' as my favorite Sicilian would say. I just had to fit that in somehow, since you brought up The Princess Bride, which is probably my favorite movie of all time. (Please don't judge me on that revelation:)

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

:o)

Not having done an exhaustive search, I can think of multiple places in the scriptures where it says, “God chose you.” But I do not recall any of the epistles congratulating people for choosing God. As Jesus said, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”(John 15:16) Or, as John put it, “We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Noticed Jesus’ choice of words in John 10:26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” He does not say, “you are not of my sheep because you do not believe,” but exactly the opposite!

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

LOL:D

Everyday Mommy© said...

Squirrel:

Great discussion thread and great post. Sorry I've been away, but glad to be back.

Your friend,
Jules
www.everydaymommy.net

Jennie said...

Hello Jules, I hope you're doing well.

Squirrel and All,
When I talk about choosing whether to believe or not, isn't it possible, since believing (faith) is submitting to God, that it is He who enables us to submit by His grace, but if we choose to rebel, then that is our own responsibility since our eyes were opened to the truth and we refused it? So maybe we are saying the same thing in a different way, or just need to add some missing understanding to each of our views.

The Squirrel said...

Jennie:

Here’s something to think about, until I get around to covering Irresistible Grace in more detail.

When God saves someone, He removes spiritual blindness, and opens the heart to respond. But that is not all that He does, He gives a new nature which desires God. If it is not technically correct to say God overrides our will, He most certainly does change our nature and our will.

In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” we are mistaken by thinking that “draws” should be understood as “wooed, ” “courted,” or “enticed.” the word “draws” is translated from ελκυση (elkush Strong’s #G1670.) If you have Strong’s or Thayer’s, go ahead and look it up… If you don’t have any of these resources, Google it.

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

I found this interesting conversation online when I searched for the word you suggested: http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?p=772019
I haven't read it all yet, but it seems like there is alot of controversy about the connotation of the Greek words. I'm not a Greek scholar, so I don't have a clue who's right, except that it seems to destroy the scriptural metaphor of the 'Bride' when we try to say the Greek words mean 'dragged by force.'

Jennie said...

What's the point of God using the word of the Gospel to draw people if they have no choice? The Word shows us the goodness of God, the Beloved, and the Spirit uses it to open our eyes so we can see His goodness and respond to His call. If we can't respond or accept it, then why doesn't He just grab whomever He chooses and make them Christians by just causing them to know the truth all at once without having to hear it and think about it? Language is supposed to communicate and convince, and God's word is the ultimate language.
Just some thoughts that occurred.

The Squirrel said...

Jennie,

Here is something to consider; the bride in the ancient world did not have the amount of freedom of choice that modern young ladies possess. And when the bride was a purchased slave girl, she had no freedom. In addition to the analogy of death, the unregenerate are also called “slaves to sin.” In fact, it would not be stretching the point to say that there are only two types of people in the world, and we are all one or the other, slaves to Christ or slaves to sin.

~Squirrel

Paul said...

Jennie said:
"Language is supposed to communicate and convince, and God's word is the ultimate language."

Jennie,
This is true. And when God creates life he speaks:

Genesis 1:3 (ESV) And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Craig and Heather said...

Squirrel,
I see what you mean about people not understanding the extent of total depravity.

We look at depravity and think of the mass murderer, etc. That is not the essence of depravity. The true essence of depravity is that we are by our very nature God Haters. Every thing else is incidental. The picture is this. Let's say Jesus goes to the gates of hell right now as we speak and unlocked them. Then he says to all inside, (even those who died in the flood and have been there for 5000 years),"Ok, you can all go to heaven right now if you only ask my forgiveness and confess that I am your Lord" They would slam the door and lock it from the inside unless HE does something supernatural to change their very nature. The essence of our depravity is that WE ARE GOD HATERS. Romans 1:30 is part of the condemnation on all of mankind. It applies to every person who has ever lived save One. Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

It is not that we do not have a choice. It is that on our own we would never chose God. Never in a thousand eternities.

Not a fun thing to think, but it is what the Bible teaches. This is part of why it is so awesome that the God of Heaven chose to display His glory to all of creation by showing mercy upon US, the vilest of the vile. In so doing, he displays His love and mercy in a way that makes all of creation pale by comparison.

Just My Thoughts,

Craig

Jennie said...

Paul,
This is true. And when God creates life he speaks:

Genesis 1:3 (ESV) And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


Based on these verses and Genesis 1, the order of creation matches more what I said; God spoke the word, and light appeared (the light of the word shines in our hearts and we see the truth); then He differentiated the light from the darkness (compare this to showing us our sinfulness compared to His Righteousness);and so on; then the last thing God does before the sabbath rest is create life in man. And I do see that the man had no choice in being given life; but later they both had a choice to obey God's command, and chose not to.

I don't want to just be argumentative (is that a word?) but maybe things aren't so 'cut and dried' as we all like them to be. It seems much more glorifying to the sovereignty of God that He can allow us to choose (with help) and still work everything together for good within His plan. He can weave all the threads of our lives to make His plan complete. He can be sovereign and still allow us to choose to submit or not submit; in the end every knee will bow to Him, whether willingly or not.

Jennie said...

I just hope we've learned from the past, and can agree to disagree, and still call each other brothers and sisters, unlike those in Calvin's day; we each may think the other has some false beliefs or misunderstandings, but as long as we are growing in Christ, we can love each other. There are false doctrines that preclude salvation and there are false doctrines that don't. I think Pastor Cloud was wise in what he said on that subject in his article. And there are things we are just not going to be able to reconcile in this world. (though my poor tired brain keeps trying)