Can mankind understand the gospel message?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by William C, Apr 22, 2003.

  1. William C

    William C
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    Calvinists often point to 1 Cor. 2:14 as proof that man cannot understand the gospel message and therefore could not believe it and be saved unless the Holy Spirit first indwelled the man and gave him understanding of the gospel truth.

    This is a poor application of this text. In just a few sentences following this verse Paul writes: Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, because you are still fleshly.

    The believers, the ones with the Spirit already residing in them, were NOT ABLE to receive the Spiritual matters that Paul is refering to in this passage. If Paul were talking about understanding the gospel for salvation then we must induce that the Corinthian church members were unsaved, because according to this passage they "were unable to receive it" just like the "natural man" of verse 14. This passage is clearly talking about understanding the "deep things of God" after you have received the Spirit which the Bible teaches comes through faith (Gal. 3:14).

    In addition, Romans 1:19-20 clearly shows us that the natural man can understand the things of God:

    19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

    Notice that their understanding of God and his attibutes was what made them without excuse for the day of judgement. If Calvinists claim the lost cannot understand the revelation of the gospel message then the lost will have an excuse on that day of judgement.

    What do you think?
     
  2. KenH

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    I think this is written to Christians who were having difficulty growing up spiritually in Christ. Remember we are still in unredeemed, sin-soaked fleshly bodies.
     
  3. KenH

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    Understanding that God exists through His creation is not the same as understanding that one must come to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith to be saved.

    Again, man is responsible for his spiritual inability, not God. Man brought his troubles upon himself and he cannot be excused from his responsibility for being a sinner.
     
  4. DanielFive

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    I agree with Ken.
     
  5. William C

    William C
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    Understanding that God exists through His creation is not the same as understanding that one must come to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith to be saved.</font>[/QUOTE]It doesn't say that, it says, "What can be known about God is evident."

    What does that include? His invisible attributes and eternal power. That is not just understanding His existance as you suggest.

    Plus, why would you think man could understand God's existance through creation without outside help, but he couldn't understand the simple milk of the gospel?

    It's interesting that in this passage which talks about how the natural man can understand the things of God, you don't want it to be applied to the knowledge of the gospel, but in 1 Cor 2 you do. 1 Cor 2 doesn't specify what knowledge about God he is refering to. He doesn't specify if it is concerning salvific matters in 1 Cor any more than in Romans 1. In fact, it seems just that salvation would be more in view in Romans one than in 1 Cor 2. Why?

    1. Romans 1 says they are without excuse. What is that about if its not judgement in regard to salvation.

    2. I Cor 3 says that the "brothers" in Corinth were "unable" to understand the "deep things of God" that Paul is refering to in this passage; therefore, if Paul is speaking about understanding salvific matters then the people of Corinth were not saved.
     
  6. William C

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    Do you really believe that unbelievers can't understand the concept of repentance and faith in Christ?

    If you sat down with a non-elect person and explained the gospel would they just not understand your words or the concept?

    I know lost people who could fully expound upon the gospel message. Paul even speaks of false teachers preaching the gospel. How could they preach that which they don't understand? They must understand to some extent in order to speak about it, how much can they understand without really understanding in the manner you believe Paul is speaking of?

    It seems to me that you can understand something without accepting it as truth. (Just like those spoken of in Romans 1)
     
  7. Yelsew

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    Brother Bill,
    It is clear that Calvinism does not recognize that man was given by God the ability to hear the gospel message, or the ability to reason concepts or to form belief based on the presented information. That only God can instill ideas and concepts into the the human spirit. That is their message!
     
  8. KenH

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    Amen. [​IMG] Only God can regenerate a spiritually dead sinner.
     
  9. KenH

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    Absolutely. [​IMG] But the ability to come to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith requires more than mere knowledge and understanding of words. It requires "want to".
     
  10. KenH

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    Sure it does. It is talking about spiritual matters, not mere knowledge of God's existence that we can see around us in nature.

    Paul calls the Corinthians brothers, not lost sinners. They were saved people. They were immature in Christ and needed to grow up spiritually in Christ.
     
  11. Pastor Larry

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    It's clear once again that you do not know what you are talking about. Man can hear and reason concepts about the gospel. Unregenerate man will always reject it willfully, having heard it. Why is that so difficult to understand? Why can you not move on to dealing with our position honestly?
     
  12. russell55

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    Of course lost people can have a technical understanding of the gospel.

    What they can't do is understand the true value of the gospel. An understanding of the true value of the things of God comes through the work of the Spirit.

    Anyone who understands the true value of the gospel through the calling of the Holy Spirit embraces it because they treasure it as the wisdom and power of God that it is. Those who are not called may certainly have an understanding of the teaching of the gospel, but rather than seeing the words as "words of life", they continue to see them as foolishness or offensive. They don't accept those "words of life" because they don't have an understanding of their true value, for an appraisal of the value of the things of God is done through the inner work of the Holy Spirit.

    Same thing for the guys in Romans 1. They understand a bit about God's attributes from what they see in creation, and know that they ought to worship Him. Why don't they worship Him? Because they didn't think the knowledge of God was worth retaining. They valued the lie more than they did the truth, and thought exchanging the lie for the truth was to their advantage.
     
  13. tyndale1946

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    Can mankind understand the gospel message?... Don't you all think before we go off on a tangent on this that Brother Bill better give better clarification on what the gospel message is that he is talking about?

    II Corinthians 11:[3] But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

    [4] For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

    Like I said taking into consideration my Calvinist and Primitive Baptist brethren what is the gospel message?... Brother Glen [​IMG] & [​IMG] Sister Charlotte [​IMG]
     
  14. William C

    William C
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    Absolutely. [​IMG] But the ability to come to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith requires more than mere knowledge and understanding of words. It requires "want to". </font>[/QUOTE]Here is where you contradict yourself. You all say "they can't understand." Then I show you that they can understand and you change your position to "understanding is not enough they must have the desire. " Which is it? Or is it both? Please pick a position and defend it. Either they can understand or they can't. :rolleyes:

    I believe that they can understand which is what gives man the ability to reason and consider the cost to determine what their desire is based upon the information given to them. The ability that we as humans have to reason it out is what separates us from animals who act on pure instinctive desires. I do things I don't desire to do everyday because they have to be done. I get up every morning and exercise, which I hate. I could never reason with my dog and convince him of his need to exercise, he wouldn't understand and even if he could understand human language he wouldn't excercise because animals are instinctive animals without reasoning capabilities.

    Calvinism reduces man to the level of animals making us out to be ones who can only act upon our instinct. We are not animals, we are made in God's image with the ability to reason just as God calls us to do.
     
  15. William C

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    Again, Romans 1 is not just about knowing God exists. It says they know, understand and clearly see his invisible qualities and eternal power.

    This is my point. He is speaking to Christians about not being able to understand these "spiritual matters" that are in question; therefore, it is clear that he cannot be refering to understanding the simple gospel message. If he were just talking about the gospel then these "brothers" wouldn't be "brothers" because they don't understand these "spiritual matters" either.
     
  16. KenH

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    I am sorry that each post I make is not a 1000 page tome to cover every possible question or nuance that may come into your mind. :rolleyes:
     
  17. KenH

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    1) Agreed. [​IMG]

    2) Exactly. [​IMG] That is why Paul shows frustration in his writing to them as they should have matured more in Christ than they had since they had been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and given spiritual life in Christ Jesus.
     
  18. William C

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    Oh, there is a "technical" and "non-technical" understanding? I didn't know that. Where is that in scripture?

    This sounds like just another way of saying that they can understand the claims of the gospel but decide not to believe it is true. Or to use your terms, "They can have a 'techincal understanding' but decide its of no value to them." Why might they draw that conclusion?

    First, the Holy Spirit calls all through the gospel which goes throughout all the world.

    The scripture doesn't support the view that there is a special inner working for a select few as you suppose. Christ draws all mankind to himself.

    A bit?

    Let me quote you the verse again:

    19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

    Do you like to refer to the things I just highlighted as being just a "bit" of knowledge? And it doesn't say they didn't understand all of these things, in fact, in specifically makes the point that these characteristics and attibutes were EVIDENT, CLEARLY SEEN, and UNDERSTOOD. Why do you seek to downplay that by saying they "knew a bit?" I think its because you know that this verse contradicts you presuppostion that man cannot understand the things of God, when in fact we know from this passage they can and they do understand.

    If you try and argue that this has nothing to do with knowledge concerning salvation I would have to beg to differ. You have to know in order to understand and you must at least have a basic understanding in order to have faith. Showing that mankind can attain the knowledge and understanding of God shows they have the all that they need to place their faith in Him. Just as some men hear of Budda or some other false teachers and place their faith in them, so to they can place their faith in Christ once they have a 'technical understanding' of who He is. This is why Paul and the other gospel writers spend so much time warning believers of false teachers and warning them from following deceptions. If it wasn't possible for "the elect" to fall away I doubt they would have spent near as much time with these types of warnings.

    Also, look at the point Paul is making by showing that these men have this full understanding. He say, "so they are without excuse." Excuse for what?

    Excuse for being condemned! If that ain't about salvation, what is?

    Apparently Paul felt that their knowledge of God through creation is sufficient to lead them to faith in God otherwise he wouldn't claim that are without excuse in regard to being condemned. If their knowledge and understanding of God was not sufficient to enable them to meet the covenant requirements of faith then why would Paul declare they are without excuse because of that knowledge and understanding. It just don't line up.
     
  19. William C

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    I am sorry that each post I make is not a 1000 page tome to cover every possible question or nuance that may come into your mind. :rolleyes: </font>[/QUOTE]That's not what I asked for. You're exaggerating to avoid the point. I asked for consistancy. You argue that man cannot understand in one post, then you come back later and argue that he can understand but he doesn't have the desire in another post. I'm not sure which you truly believe. Do they understand or not?
     
  20. William C

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    1) Agreed. [​IMG]

    2) Exactly. [​IMG] That is why Paul shows frustration in his writing to them as they should have matured more in Christ than they had since they had been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and given spiritual life in Christ Jesus.
    </font>[/QUOTE]1) I glad you have come to an agreement on this point. Unless of course, you change you position again later when it comes back to bite you. :cool:

    2) You still don't get it do you? The fact that these immature people, who are still considered by Paul to be saved, are UNABLE to understand the spiritual things that are in view in verse 14, PROVES that understanding these spiritual things was obviously not required in order to be saved. Make sense now?

    Let me say it once more so I know you got it. Saved, born again, believers in Corinth are unable to understand the same spiritual matters that the "natural man", who is unsaved, cannot understand. So, both; immature saved people and all unsaved people; are not able to understand these spiritual truths. Therefore, these spiritual things cannot be in regard to salvation otherwise those immature believers who were UNABLE to recieve it would not be saved. OK? Ok
     

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