God's Sovereign Conditions and His Grace

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Heavenly Pilgrim, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. Heavenly Pilgrim

    Heavenly Pilgrim
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    One talking point of those either Calvinistic in theology or leaning hard towards Calvinism, is that either you accept the Calvinistic notion of grace or you deny grace. Nothing could be further from the truth. Augustine enforced the same convoluted notion of grace upon those he ruled over, including but not limited to Pelagius. When Pelagius stated that man was gifted by God with everything necessary to repent and believe, even in his sinful state, Augustine charged him with heresy, claiming that by doing so Pelagius was denying the grace of God was needed for salvation. Nothing could have been further from the truth or further from anything Pelagius said or wrote that I can find.

    Grace by no means precludes the God given abilities all men possess in their sinful state, i.e. the necessary abilities and capacities to repent and have faith in God. No man, once he has sinned, has any hope or ability to do something meritorious in order to be saved. If any man is saved, it is due to the grace of God alone, God's unmerited favor. Grace does not preclude the fact that God is Sovereign, and in His Sovereignty chose to place some conditions upon His grace, only showing mercy upon those that would comply with certain conditions. There is absolutely nothing about grace, regardless of the wails of "salvation by works' from the Calvinistic crowd, that in any way precludes or diminishes the fact that God, in his Sovereignty, calls upon man to exercise his will in repentance and faith in order to receive of the grace of God in salvation. God demanding for man to fulfill the conditions He set forth in no way demeans or diminishes His grace in the least. A Sovereign God can, and indeed has, chosen to grant grace subsequent to, not antecedent to, His stated conditions being met.

    Just as a pardon is by the grace of a governor in no wise precludes that certain conditions must be met by an prisoner to be pardoned, antecedent to any just governor pardoning a prisoner by grace. Nothing a recipient of a pardon could do would ever merit a pardon, yet some things must be accomplished by the prisoner himself, before one will ever receive a pardon from a just governor.

    Such is the case in salvation. Once we are sinners, nothing we can do will ever merit a pardon from God. Nothing we do can force God to pardon us, not even our repentance or faith. Still yet, there are some conditions a Sovereign God has chosen for man to be willing to do antecedent to showing him grace in a pardon from sin. Repentance and faith are not works God performs for man, nor does God have to grant us any special powers to be able to fulfill His commands. God grants to all men the necessary abilities to be able to repent and exercise faith. it is up to man to voluntarily yield themselves to God and voluntarily, of their own free will, yield to his commands in repentance and faith. That in no wise takes away even the least scintilla of grace being the grace that it is from God.

    Repentance and faith will never merit us a pardon, but neither will any salvation be accomplished apart from fulfilling the conditions mandated by God, which are initially repentance and faith.

    Oh the wonderful riches of God's grace as evident when man fulfills His stated conditions!!
     
  2. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    Philosophize all day long but your "Biblical" problem remains the same.

    Repentance and faith are gifts of God and not "of works"

    1. "For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH faith and THAT NOT OF YOURSELF, for IT IS THE GIFT of God, NOT OF WORKS" (Eph. 2:8-9) rather we are first "created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works" - Eph. 2:10

    2. It [justification] is OF FAITH that it [justification] might be OF GRACE" - Rom. 4;16

    3. "if it is by grace then it is NO MORE OF WORKS otherwise grace is NO MORE GRACE." - Rom. 11:6

    4. We are "justified FREELY BY GRACE....through faith in his blood.." - Rom. 3:24,25

    6. "But to him that worketh not, BUT believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
    6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, - Rom. 4:5-6


    As long as you confuse regeneration unto works with justification without works you will never understand Bibical soteriology.

    As long as you confuse the POSITION of "the ungodly" in Christ before God in heaven by justification with the CONDITION of the believer who has Christ in him before the world you will never understand Biblical soterilogy.
     
  3. lakeside

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    Eph. 2:8-9 - we have been saved by grace through faith, not because of "works," lest anyone boast. This much-quoted verse by Protestants refers to the "works" of the Mosaic law or any works performed in a legalistic sense, where we view God as a debtor to us, and not as our heavenly Father. Paul is teaching us that, with the coming of Christ, we are now saved by grace through faith, not by Mosaic or legal works.

    This is why Paul refers to “works of ourselves” and so we can’t “boast.” Paul says the same thing about “works” Rom. 4:2,4 – if Abraham was justified by “works,” he would have something to “boast” about. Here, the wages are not counted as grace, but debt. “Boasting” does not attribute works to God, but to oneself. But good works done in faith are necessary for justification (James 2:24, etc.) because we receive rewards by grace, not by legal obligation, and we attribute these works to God, not ourselves.

    Eph. 2:10 - in quoting Ephesians 2:8-9, Protestants invariably ignore the very next verse. Right after Paul's teaching on "works" referring to Mosaic law, Paul says we are created in Christ for "good works" - a clear distinction between "works of law" (Mosaic law/legal payment) and "good works" (law of Christ/reward of grace).
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    Romans 4:2-4 demonstrates your whole interpretative view that Paul is only dealing with works of the Mosaic Law or works performed in a legalistic sense is wrong! Abraham lived 430 years prior to Moses and the law and therefore "works" in Romans 4 cannot possibly refer to works of the Mosaic law or works performed in a legalistic sense.

    Romans 4:2-4 is talking about Abraham's PERSONAL PARTICIPATION in justification before God as Romans 4:17-22 proves. God's promise is performed by God's power without the active PERSONAL PARTICIPATION of Abraham contributing anything in justification before God.
     
  5. The Biblicist

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    Likewise, Romans 6:7 provides this work of justification without personal participation as the basis for sanctification. We are dead to sin POSITIONALLY by justification (Rom. 6:7) but alive to God by REGENERATION both of which are visibly protrayed in baptism (Rom. 6:4-5).

    Paul's argument is very simple. Justified persons do not continue in sin because they are in addition to being justified, also regenerated. The baptismal figure includes both (1) death and burial - positional justification in regard to sin; (1) resurrection life - personal regeneration in regard to sanctification.

    It is on the basis of our justified POSITION (dead to sin) that we PRACTICE righteousness by the resurrection/regenerative LIFE of Christ that is in us through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.

    Hence, there is no such thing as a justified person who is not also regenerated and both are seen in the figure of baptism (death to sin and resurrected life to God).
     
  6. lakeside

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    James 2:24
    "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

    In addition to their belief in the Bible alone ("sola Scriptura"), most Protestants believe that all one has to do is accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior in order to be justified by God (justification is the process by which man, moved by grace, turns toward God and away from sin, and accepts God’s forgiveness and righteousness). Thus, most Protestants believe that one is justified and saved by His faith in Christ alone (called "sola Fide" or Faith alone). But if this is true, then why does James say that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone?

    James says this because we are justified, and ultimately saved, through both our faith and works, and not just faith alone. In fact, the only place in the Bible where the phrase "faith alone" appears is in James 2:24 where it says we are justified by works and NOT by faith alone. So the Bible never teaches anywhere that we are justified, saved, or anything else, by faith alone. While on its face the Catholic position seems obvious, the theology of faith and works in the matter of salvation is actually quite complicated, and has been one of the main sources of division between Catholicism and Protestantism. Hence, a couple of points should be made to address the controversy and clarify Catholic teaching.

    First, Catholics ultimately believe that we are saved, not by faith or works, but by Jesus Christ and Him alone. Jesus Christ's death and Resurrection is the sole source of our justification (being in a right relationship with God) and salvation (sharing in God's divine life). But as a result of Christ's death and resurrection, we are now able to receive God's grace. Grace is God's own divine life which He infuses into our souls. It is what Adam initially lost for us, and Christ won back for us. This grace initially causes us to seek God and to believe in Him (the "faith" part). Non-Catholics generally stop here.

    But God desires us to respond to His grace by putting our faith into action (the "works" part). This is why Jesus always taught about our salvation in the context of what we actually did during our earthly lives, and not how much faith we had ("whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to Me." Matthew 25:40,45). When Jesus teaches about His second coming where He will separate the sheep from the goats, He bases salvation and damnation upon what we actually did ("works"), whether righteous or evil. Matthew 25:31-46. In James 2:14-26, James is similarly instructing us to put our faith into action by performing good works, and not just giving an intellectual assent of faith. James says such "faith apart from works is dead." James 2:17,26.

    So we must do more than accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. Even the demons believe Jesus is Savior, and yet "they tremble." James 2:19. We must also do good works. Faith is the beginning of a process that leads us toward justification, but faith alone never obtains the grace of justification. Faith and works acting together achieve our justification. Saint Paul says it best when he writes that we need "faith working in love." Galatians 5:6. We are not justified and saved by faith alone.

    Secondly, it is important to distinguish between the "works" James taught about in James 2:24 and the "works of the law" Saint Paul taught about in Rom. 3:20,28; Gal. 2:16,21; 3:2,5,10; and Eph. 2:8-9. Protestants generally confuse James' "good works" from Paul's "works of the law" when they attempt to prove that "works" are irrelevant to justification and salvation. The "works of the law" Paul taught about in Ephesians 2:8-9 and elsewhere referred to the Mosaic law and their legal system that made God obligated to reward them for their works. They would thus “boast” about their works by attributing their works to themselves. Cf. Rom. 4:2; Eph. 2:9. Saint Paul taught that, with the coming of Christ, the Mosaic (moral, legal, and ceremonial) law which made God a debtor to us no longer justified a person. Instead, Paul taught that we are now justified and saved by grace (not legal obligation) through faith (not works of law). Eph. 2:5,8. Hence, we no longer “boast” by attributing our works to ourselves. We attribute them to God who gives everything to us freely by His grace.

    Therefore, we are no longer required to fulfill the “works of law,” but to fulfill the “law of Christ” Gal. 6:2. This is why Paul writes that the “doers of the law (of Christ)” will be justified. Rom. 2:13. Of course, the “works of the law” Paul wrote about in Rom. 3:20,28; Gal. 2:16,21; 3:2,5,10 and Eph. 2:8-9 have nothing to do with the “good works” James is teaching in James 2:24 or the “law” Paul is teaching about in Rom. 2:13 (because they are part of the same Word of God which can never contradict itself).

    In summary, based on the Scriptures, the Church has taught for 2,000 years that we are justified and saved by the grace and mercy of Christ through both faith and works, and not faith alone. We are no longer in a legal system of debt where God owes us (creditor/debtor). We are now in a system of grace where God rewards our works when done with faith in Christ (Father/child). This also means that we must continue to exercise our faith and works to the end of our lives in order to be saved. This is why Jesus told us to "endure to the end" to be saved. Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13. This is also why Saint Paul warned us that we could even lose our salvation if we did not persevere. cf. Romans 11:20-23; 1 Corinthians 9:27. This Catholic belief contradicts the novel Protestant notion of "once saved, always saved."
     
  7. The Biblicist

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    Couldn't deal with Romans 4 huh? James 2 is an entirely different context. Your theology depends upon pitting scripture against scripture instead of harmonizing scriptures. Paul is dealing strictly with justification by faith without works before God. James is dealing with evidential justification by faith by works before men.


    James is demonstrating the very same thing Paul is in Romans 6 - there is no justification where it is not evidence by regenerative life in the same person. Where there is no regenerative life there is no justification by faith. Hence, works are evidential of the justified man but works do not justify anyone before God only before men.

    While you are correct that the phrasology "faith alone" appears on in James 2:24, you are not correct that the concept of faith alone in the sense of without works does not appear anywhere else (Rom. 3:27-28; 4:5-6; Eph. 2:8-9; etc.).

    This is pure semantics and ultimately a redefinition of "grace" to include good works. You do not believe we are justified by Christ alone through faith (Rom. 4:24-26) but through sacraments which impart grace, regeneration, faith, eternal life, etc. and through which that grace is maintained. Hence, you confuse justificaiton with sanctification and you confuse faith "in" with faithfulness "to" Christ.


    He does not condition their salvation upon their works as that even contradicts you own position above. Saved people are the only people on earth capable of doing good in God's sight and recognized as "good" in God's sight. All else "there is none that doeth good" and "there is none good" outside of Christ.


    James is instructing his readers that those really justified by faith will evidence it by what they do not that what they do justifies them before God ("shew me....shew you by my works").

    Your confusing intellectual faith with gospel faith. Demons have no gospel faith because gospel faith requires repentance from sin before faith in Christ's provision. In reference to evidential justification before men where there is no works there is no true justification because justification before God always accompanies regenerative works.


    This distinction does not exist and Romans 4:1-6 proves it. No Mosaic law existed as Abraham lived 430 years prior to Moses and so the works in Romans 4:1-6 are his only personal works of participation. This is proven again by Romans 4:17-22 as there were not personal participant works included as Abraham received the promise by a faith that rested solely upon the power and promise of God "without" any works by him.

    We are justified FREELY by grace based upon the provision of God in Christ received "through faith in his blood" or His righteous life given in death as the complete and full propitiation for our sins by faith "in" Christ WITHOUT WORKS on our part of any kind or sort (Rom. 3:24-28; 4:1-6; 17-22).
     
    #7 The Biblicist, Nov 26, 2011
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  8. The Biblicist

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    All who embrace salvation by works must redefine "works" in such passages as Romans 3:28; 4:1-6 and Ephesians 2:8-9 to mean something other than active personal participation of the one being saved, justified.

    However, Romans 4:1-6 denies that the term "works" refers to the Mosaic Law because Abraham preceded Moses by 430 years. Hence, the whole developmental argument by Paul from Romans 3:27-4:25 of which Abraham is the chief illustration asserts that justification by faith in Christ excludes any form of personal active participation as the basis or as instrumental in justification.

    Biblical justification is based strictly and only upon the faithful works of Christ (life) given in death as the complete propitiation (satisfaction) of God's demands for eternal life received by faith "in" the good news of Christ and not instrumentally through divine ordinances or signs (Rom. 4:9-11).

    Where Rome and all those who embrace a works mentality err is they confuse regeneration with justification in regard to "good works." It is not that "good works" do not accompany salvation but they are the created product of regeneration (Eph. 2:10) rather than justification.

    Justification is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone without our works but justification is not alone but there are other things that accompany justification (regeneration, sanctification, good works, etc.) but are not included in justification. Salvation is a large unbrella term that includes various distinctive aspects that all have logical cause and consequence relationships to each other.
     
  9. savedbymercy

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    hp

    Thats works salvation. Both repentnace and believing are things men are commanded to do ! Acts 17:30

    30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

    1 Jn 3:23

    23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

    Teaching Salvation by keeping commandments, that is works and totally against Grace...
     
  10. The Biblicist

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    The command places the responsibility for sinners but does not address their ability to repent. Jesus described their resistance in the terms of love and hate. They hate the light and WILL NOT come to the light because they darkness. Their inability to repent lies in what they "will not" do because of their heart condition. That is why God the New Covenant involves God giving a "new" heart. Thus repentance is something God grants:

    Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.


    John is writing to those who are already born of God and professed believers not lost people. He is not talking about salvation but about faithful continuance in obeying the commandments of the Lord or progressive sanctification.


    You are confusing faithfulness as children of God with justification by faith which is a gift of God (Rom. 3:24,25; 4:16; Eph. 2:8-9). You are confusing the fruits of regeneration (repentance and faith) as gifts of God with progressive sanctification.
     
  11. savedbymercy

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    bib

    That does not matter a bit ! If one believes they are saved because they kept a commandment of God, that is works salvation all day long..

    That does not matter, to believe is an imperative, a command to do. When Paul answered the Jailor who asked what must I DO to be saved, Paul wrote, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that word believe in the orginal is an imperative, a command just as 1 Jn 3:23 is..

    If you or anyone teaches that keeping or obeying a commandment of God results in salvation, that is works..which is contrary to Grace..

    I am not confusing anything, I am stating with scripture to back me, that if you teach that man is saved by keeping a commandment to believe, that is works Salvation. Man is saved by Grace through Faith apart from works, or anything he did !
     
  12. lakeside

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    The Church understands that we are all sinners in need of a savior (Rom 5:12-21). We are inheritors of original sin and all its consequences, and by actual sin we distance ourselves from God. We can't save ourselves, but we don't need to: Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation comes through Jesus alone (Acts 4:12), since he is the "one mediator between God and man" (1 Tm 2:5-6).

    The saving grace won by Jesus is offered as a free gift to us, accessible through repentance, faith, and baptism. We turn away from our sins, we are sorry for them, and we believe in Jesus Christ and the gospel. Repentance shows our willingness to turn from things that keep us from God, and baptism renews us, filling us with the grace necessary to have faith and to live it. This belief is more than just "head knowledge." Even the demons have that (Jas 2:19). It's more than just believing you're saved. Even the Pharisees had that (Jn 5:39). True, saving faith is one lived and exhibited daily: It is "faith working through love" (Gal 5:6, cf. Jas 2:1-26).

    Sometimes the Church is accused of teaching "salvation by works," but this is an empty accusation. This idea has been consistently condemned by the Church. Good works are required by God because he requires obedience to his commands (Mt 6:1-21, 1 Cor 3:8, 13-15) and promises to reward us with eternal life if we obey (Mt 25:34-40, Rom 2:6-7, Gal 6:6-10, Jas 1:12). But even our obedience is impossible without God's grace; even our good works are God's gift (Rom 5:5, Phil 2:13). This is the real biblical plan of salvation.
     
  13. The Biblicist

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    Your own words refute your idea that saving faith is a work.

    Paul refutes you in Romans 4:16 "it is of faith that it might be of grace"

    Paul refutes you in Ephesians 2:8-9 "By GRACE are saved THROUGH faith and that not OF YOURSELF, for it is a GIFT of God NOT OF WORKS"

    Paul refutes you in Romans 11:6 "And if by grace then it is no more of works otherwise grace is no more grace...."

    Faith is OF GRACE - Rom. 4:16 - Faith does nothing - IT RECEIVES
     
  14. lakeside

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    Eph. 2:8-9 - we have been saved by grace through faith, not because of "works," lest anyone boast. This much-quoted verse by Protestants refers to the "works" of the Mosaic law or any works performed in a legalistic sense, where we view God as a debtor to us, and not as our heavenly Father. Paul is teaching us that, with the coming of Christ, we are now saved by grace through faith, not by Mosaic or legal works.
     
  15. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Faith is, at its core, a direct act of the will.
     
  16. savedbymercy

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    the bib

    Believing in Christ is a work, it is something man does ! Its an act of obedience, a keeping of a commandment. 1 Jn 3:23

    23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

    I agree with Paul here !

    I agree with Paul here !

    I agree with this statement. For it receives the Knowledge of its Justification. I have no problem with those things, however it is when one makes this receiving a condition man must meet to get saved, then it becomes a work..

    If a man says he get saved or Justified before God BECAUSE he believed, that is works..
     
    #16 savedbymercy, Nov 27, 2011
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  17. The Biblicist

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    The will is but a servant of the heart and it is "with the heart man believeth" (Rom. 10:10). Any heart that loves darkness and hates light "WILL NOT COME" to the light. The will "will not" express anything different than what the heart loves and hates and therefore the will cannot change the heart but only can express the heart. That is precisely why Jesus says the person with such a heart that loves darkness and hates light "WILL NOT COME" because the will is incapable of changing that heart condition.

    When God gives a new heart, he works in us both "TO WILL" and "TO DO" according to His purpose as this new heart loves light and hates darkness. That is why it is "of faith that it might be OF GRACE" (Rom. 4:16). That is why "for BY GRACE ye are saved THROUGH faith and THAT NOT OF YOURSELF for it is a GIFT OF GOD and NOT OF WORKS."
     
  18. savedbymercy

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    lakes

    The word works in Eph 2:9 is the greek word ergon which means:

    business, employment, that which any one is occupied

    a) that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking

    2) any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind

    3) an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opp. to that which is less than work

    The word covers all works performed, even that which is accomplished or performed by the mind.

    Now thats the word Paul was inspired by God to use. Limit it if you want to, but in doing so, you are contrary to what is written..
     
  19. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: When one speaks of the heart of man, he is simply speaking of the inner man. The inner man is comprised of three distinct parts, the intellect, the will, and the sensibilities. All three go to make up the heart of man, or the inner man. When one speaks of the heart, it can be referring to any or many aspects of the inner man, some the seat of morality and others mere influences upon the moral center of man, i.e., the will itself. Referring to th ewhear of man in a morla sense, one might speak of an evil heart, a rebellious heart, a vindictive heart, etc. In other cases a mention of the heart of man can speak directly to the sensibilities of man, involving the emotions or sense of feeling as opposed to the seat of morality. In such a case the heart may be said to be a sad heart, a happy heart, a faint heart, a burdened heart, an excited heart, etc. No morality can be predicated of any of these states directly for they are for the most part involuntary responses to outward stimuli upon the sensibilities of man. The sensibilities are simply reacting to influences upon them, form within or without. To confuse these notions of the heart, the inner man, with the will itself is sheer philosophical folly. Man does not simply will something because the sensibilities are exited, sad, or happy, nor whether we feel pain or pleasure, or take in pleasant sights, sensual sights, or even past habits necessarily, but rather the most evil man on the planet can at times act contrary to every influence the sensibilities throw at the will.

    I have seen some of the most vile men I know completely change some their actions for the better apart from giving their hearts to the Lord. I am not suggesting that one thing they changed on their own made them any less a sinner than what they were before. Nothing they can do in and of themselves can wash away the least stain of sin.....BUT they might become better citizens than they were, such changes might be a real blessing for their families and society as a whole. If what you are saying is true, and man is but a puppet and cannot express anything other that the heart they have, changing their behavior would be absolutely impossible apart from a new heart. Even some heathen have shown remarkable progress in changing their outward lives and actions for the benefit of all around them. Did they get a new heart?? No way. Only God can change the heart and that does not happen apart from giving their hearts and lives to the Lord. My point is that unsaved men and women almost daily act in opposition to their base inner desires and impulses at times. That does not signify a new heart, but rather it shows that the will can and does often act to choose in direct contradiction to their inner impulse, sensibilities, and even former habits. The will, in a moral agent, an agent that understands clearly the intrinsic value of a known commandment by God, whether given intuitively via conscience or by Scripture or other means, is not, nor can it be and remain accountable for its choices and intents, coerced and forced by any such influences. If the will is to be accountable it must be able to do something other than what it does under the very same set of circumstances.

    If the model of the will is as you say it is, the will is bound to act according to the forces and influences upon it, in like fashion to a puppet on a string. One would be as just in punishing a puppet for its moves as to punish a man that was totally and completely a slave to its sensibilities. Your model of the inner man is devoid of all morality. If a man driven by his desires etc., completely as you say he is, can be held accountable for his outward responses, you could justly hold a puppet morally accountable for his actions as well.

    The model of the inner man you paint is as far from representing a moral being. Your insistence upon confusing the sensibilities and forces and influences that play upon the will, with the will itself, makes a mockery of any just accountability for ones actions and destroys all notions of man as a responsible moral being.
     
    #19 Heavenly Pilgrim, Nov 27, 2011
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