If Total Depravity is true, why did Christ need to hide his message in parables?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Apr 9, 2011.

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  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12*so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN." (Cross reference Luke 8; Matt. 13)

    Notice that this passage tells us that Jesus used parables so that certain Jews wouldn't believe and be forgiven. But why?

    If Calvinists assumption, that men are born unable to believe in Christ without an effectual calling, is true, then why would Christ need to hide the message in parables to prevent them from believing? Notice that it says they "might return and be forgiven," proving that the parables kept that from possibly happening.

    Jesus must have believed that they could have believed and "returned" to Him, otherwise why would he say this?

    In short, why would you hide a message from people so they can't believe it when those people were born unable to willingly believe or even understand that message in the first place?

    Please refrain from personal attacks, questioning other's intentions, or responding in a non-Christlike way. Such posts will be reported and ignored. Just respond to the topic at hand or refrain from posting. Thank you.
     
    #1 Skandelon, Apr 9, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2011
  2. Skandelon

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    Any answers to this question?
     
  3. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    This is a great question! I am being serious.

    These are the kinds of questions that serious thinkers struggle over.

    Most of the crud that is brought up on this site is not legitimate.

    THIS is an excellent topic for discussion.

    You and I need to further discuss the other things we were discussing before I engage on this worthwhile conversation.

    We'll have to start a new thread but I commend you for these good thoughts.
     
  4. freeatlast

    freeatlast
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    I am interested to see the answers on this one.
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    The message of Jesus changed in Matthew 12 (I am in that chapter in my weekly exposition) as Jesus had to change methodology because of the open hatred and desire to kill Him by the Pharisees.

    Instead of the open teaching, miracles, signs, etc, there was an intentional shift to a less confrontational message. This was to allow time to teach His disciples and prepare them for church-building BEFORE His crucifixion.

    The quotation is Isaiah (context) in the darkest days of Israel when Uzziah died. The people refused to repent and turn to God - which of course is biblical/calvinistic position. This is what men unregenerated by the Spirit do. They are enemies of God and all things righteous. They cannot even think, much less do, anything righteous in the sight of God.

    Because the nation had rejected the message (hearing but not understanding, seeing but not perceiving) they were to be judged for unbelief. They would not even be given the opportunity any more to accept the message, believe, repent. This was fulfilled initially in the subsequent captivity in Babylon and fulfilled in just a year to those who rejected and crucified Jesus.

    Jesus didn’t use parables to blind people (to keep them from repenting), but because they were blind. “Therefore Jesus used the parabolic method, not in order to blind them, but in order to make them look again; not in order to prevent them coming to forgiveness, but in order to lure them toward a new attention.” (G Campell Morgan)

    “So, that their guilt may not accumulate, the Lord no longer addresses them directly in explicit teachings during the period immediately preceding His crucifixion, but in parables.” (Geldenhuys)
     
  6. psalms109:31

    psalms109:31
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    A child

    It is a hard thing to come to Jesus as a child, instead we want to teach Him when we already have all the answers.

    To begin again to start a new, to be a child willing to listen and learn.

    Parable's are nice little stories when you do not listen and learn from them.
     
  7. Aaron

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    The sermon on the mount wasn't given in parables. Neither the discourse recorded in John 8. And in many other places parables weren't used. If the Gospel plainly preached is not received, then much more the deeper mysteries of the Kingdom.

    So, the fact that the human heart is at enmity with God and will not respond to the Gospel is not an assumption, as was libelously asserted, but an objective, empirical reality.

    Second, the parables are opened up for us today in the Scripture, and most who hear them read and expounded remain in unbelief. They still see and not perceive, and hear and not understand.

    The Jews' condition: gross hearts and dull ears.

    The Judgment: the Gospel is not merely withheld, but taken away. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.

    There is nothing that Christ revealed that was not forshadowed in the law, and the testimony of the apostle is that the Gospel was preached to Israel in the wilderness (Heb. 4). The Jews had the Gospel, but even that was taken away.

    Second, far from being a testimony of residual goodness in the human heart, it is a testimony to the power of the Word, the Promises of God, and the preaching of Christ, especially when expounding upon the mysteries, that "even" in their dull and gross state, the Gospel, like Elisha's bones, has the power to resurrect.
     
  8. Skandelon

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    How does that explain the statement regarding how they, "might return and be forgiven," if not for hiding the message in parables?

    How is that uniquely Calvinistic? We believe people can resist God's revelation too. Not everyone in Israel during the time of Uzziah refused to repent and believe, the group generally rebelled, but there is nothing to suggest they couldn't have done otherwise due to some inborn nature.

    Agreed, which is why God sent his enemies an appeal to be reconciled to him. That message of reconciliation in Matthew 12 is being purposefully hidden so that they can not repent at that time.

    Incorrect. In fact, in Acts 2 many of the same Jews who cried out "crucify him" came to faith after Peter's sermon. This was after the gospel had been sent into all the world and the Holy Spirit had come, before this point Christ wasn't drawing all men to himself.

    Paul said, "11 Again I ask: Did they [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! 13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them....23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

    Notice that Israel has been cut off or hardened, but that doesn't mean as you said, that, "They would not even be given the opportunity any more to accept the message, believe, repent." They can be grafted back in if the "leave their unbelief." Those being hardened can be saved once provoked by envy.

    That is like saying: I turned out the lights on these people because I didn't want them to see the truth and respond. And then explaining it later by saying:

    The people I turned the lights out on were born blind which is really why I turned out the lights on them. The passage specifically says that the light being turned off is what prevented them from seeing. It doesn't say, as you have presumed, that the light was turned off BECAUSE they were already unable to see.

    Explain what this means please. What does he mean by "lure them toward a new attention?"

    Again, can you explain what this means? What does the "accumulation of guilt" matter to a reprobate destined to an eternity in hell? And why doesn't he "address them directly?" Could it be as the passage states, that they "might come to repentance?"
     
  9. Skandelon

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    First, the gospel is an appeal made by God to his enemies for reconciliation. To assert, as you have done here, that being "at enmity with God" somehow makes a divine message sent to bring reconciliation with an enemy cannot be received by enemies because they are "at enmity" is what is libelous.

    And we know, that Israel, being hardened (not from birth but through rebellion and now through judicial means) are prevented from responding to the gospel temporarily.

    From birth as Total Depravity presumes? NO!

    The "become calloused" and they "grow hardened" over time after rebelling again and again. God chose to seal them in that rebellion by hiding the truth from them temporarily so as to accomplish redemption.
     
  10. freeatlast

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    Skandelon I have to agree with your assessment. It makes no sense for the Lord to say that He speaks to those people in parables so they cannot believe if they cannot accept because they are not part of the elect. That passage alone makes it clear that it is the word of God that renews the person so that they can accept, not election, but while they can accept they can also reject. One can only conclude that every person who hears the word is a possible soul to be saved, but in the end they determind if they will receive the truth or not.
     
  11. Skandelon

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    Correct.

    But it has been my experience that this is where most Calvinists will bail in a discussion. They recognize the difficulty of this passage and how it completely undermines their system. They usually give one to two pat answers and rarely stick around for follow ups. I did the same thing when I was a Calvinist. Sometimes it is easier to ignore the difficult passage rather than deal with them objectively and honestly.

    I was surprised by Luke's response. I look forward to his take on the subject. He sounded as if he would at least deal with the question objectively.
     
  12. Skandelon

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    So, I'm wondering why few want to engage with this topic?
     
  13. webdog

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    :laugh: I was going to respond in similar fashion...but using death and an electric chair.

    It is strange that there is not more interaction on this thread. A system should be able to plug any passage of Scripture in and the answer given plainly. I'm hoping I get some discussion on my Ecc. 3:11 / compatibilism thread as well...but so far the resident compatibilists have not joined in the fun. :)
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Here is another difficult passage.

    John 12:39-40
    This is a quote from the book of Isaiah, when God called Isaiah to preach to the Israelites. He basically told Isaiah, you can preach, but they won't listen, because I've fixed it so they can't. The way I read it, God is telling Isaiah (Ch 6) it will be your preaching that blinds their eyes and hardens their hearts.

    Somebody wanna 'splain that ?
     
  15. Skandelon

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    I know of people who have been turned off to Christianity and the gospel. It seems the worse thing you can do is try and shove it more down their throats. Once they have rebelled and grown hardened to it, continuing to preach it just hardens them further.

    This was the state of Israel, who had been rebelling for generations despite Gods desire and effort to "gather and save them." (ref. Matt 23:37; Rom 10:21 etc)

    Jesus quotes this passage as a reference to their current condition as well. Like Pharaoh, God chose to harden or blind Israel to seal them in their already rebellious condition. He knew that the gospel truth might persuade them to believe, so he kept it hidden in parables and sent a "spirit of stupor" to ensure they remained in their already rebellious condition for a time.

    Why? To accomplish redemption when they killed Christ, and to allow room for the Gentiles to be grafted into the church. (Rm 11).

    There is a very clear distinction between the Jews and Gentiles at this time in history. Israel was being hardened, but the Gentiles "will listen." (Acts 28:28) Which is why we know that a universal natural condition of total depravity is not a biblical concept.
     
  16. Crabtownboy

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    So give us the solid answer ... if there really is one.
     
  17. Crabtownboy

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    Perhaps they were blind because their own belief system depended on too literal interpretation. Thus they could not see the forest because of the trees of their own planting.

    I just finished reading the book The Lost Map. This is about the last large cholera outbreak in London. Almost all doctors at that time laughed off the possibility that the disease could be caused by the water people drank. Of course this was the reason, the water was contaminated with the cholera bacteria. Even after another doctor proved it was the water it took a number of years before the idea was accepted.

    It is much the same in any discipline and especially in most people's belief systems. The new truth cannot be accepted if it means I have to adjust long held, long loved beliefs. Most humans hate ambiguity, hate to have to think through new truths that force them to adjust their thinking, their beliefs.

     
  18. Skandelon

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    Luke, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. :) Go ahead and post here. We haven't been discussing anything on any other thread in a while anyway.
     
  19. LaymansTermsPlease

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    I read the board a lot, and don't post that often. I'm almost reluctant to post this because it feels like I repeat these verses a lot over the years in the few posts I make, but it's so direct I seem to come back to it often.

    The people were "so depraved" in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom that Christ says His miracles would have caused them to repent. Now Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum repented not, even with the miracles.

    He states pretty clear though that Tyre, Sidon, and even Sodom would have turned to Him IF He had done the miracles there.

    God's utter sovreignty as exercised by choosing to perform miracles in cities He knew would reject them is another issue. The fact is that He KNEW who would and would not respond and He acted according to his will.

    This and the parables issue at the least should let us know that this sovreignty/command/ability to respond issue is not cut and dried according to our finite understandings of time, space, etc.

     
  20. Luke2427

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    I'll be glad to.

    But I want you to commit to stick with the other while we discuss this too.
     
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