Man's original condition

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by AllOfGrace, Jan 23, 2004.

  1. AllOfGrace

    AllOfGrace
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    Forgive me for barging into the forum and adding a new topic. However, in this debate, it seems that the subject of depravity is being neglected. Many false understandings of grace come from an improper view of man's condition.

    Allow me a bit of background — man is a trichotomous being. We are created in the image of God. I believe the Scriptures bare out that means we are "3-in-1" as well. We were created with a body, soul and spirit. Our body (connection to the physical world), Soul (ability to think and will), and Spirit (our ability to be God conscience) makes up our existence.

    (Paul explains in 1Thessalonians 5:23 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit (Greek - Pnuema) and soul (Greek-Psycha) and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.")

    Now, when God told Adam and Eve they would die "in the day" they ate the fruit, did He literally mean that day? Of course He did. God created the day defined as the "evening and the morning."

    Adam and Eve died spiritually and that is the nature they have passed on to their children and to us. We are born spiritually dead. (Anyone who doubts Paul's assertion to that affect should read his indictment of human nature in Romans 3.)

    How then are we to be saved? Eph. 2:1 "you hath He quickened (literally made alive) who were dead ..." Paul is not speaking poetically here. We are literally brought back into spiritual life by the Holy Spirit.

    The connotation to this, of course, is that it is something we are totally incapable of doing or willing in ourselves. It is just as impossible for us to be responsible for our spiritual life through "free will" than it is for a physically dead man to will himself back to life.

    It is truly all of grace.
     
  2. Helen

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    Could you please explain what Paul means in Romans 7, then, when He said that he was alive before the law? He is speaking of himself, personally.

    Or could you explain what Jesus means when He states the angels of children always see the face of the Father in heaven?

    Or perhaps you would like to explain who God was talking to in Isaiah 1:18, and why?

    Thank you.
     
  3. AllOfGrace

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    Helen,

    First, you must remember that physical death and spiritual death are two seperate things in regards to Romans 7. To which is Paul referring here?

    Secondly, Isaiah is written to God's chosen people, the Israelites. I know, from other posts, you don't like the concept that choice is made by God, but He clearly states "ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."

    Instead of replying with questions like this, I would like to see what your opinion is concerning the original point.

    Did Adam and Eve die "in the day?" If so, how? If not, how is God's Word still true?

    I understand that, given posts in other places, the debate here tends to get a bit saracastic and personal. I do not want to do that. This represents my second post on this forum and I look forward to frank discussion of this topic.
     
  4. Helen

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    I appreciate your attitude and thank you. My responses are interspersed.

    Actually, as someone in biology, I am willing to say both. The spiritual death was, of course, immediate. Their physical death evidently began at that point on a cellular level. That aside, I understand your point.

    My point here would be a definition of spiritual death. We, here on earth, see a dead, starting-to-rot body and call it death. But we know the person himself lives on outside of the body. So clearly, death does not mean unresponsiveness, but separation. This, in combination with John 17:4, about what eternal life is, would indicate that spiritual death is separation from God, i.e. not 'knowing' Him in the sense it is used there, of having intimate knowledge. This is also indicated by Adam and Eve being driven out of the Garden of Eden, where they walked with God. They had now become separated from that close, intimate walk with Him. This is spiritual death.

    You are combining two things here which should not be combined. Let's go for the Isaiah passage first. Yes, it can be stated quite accurately that God is talking to Israel. But Israel is clearly in rebellion and the people dead spiritually -- separated from God. And yet God calls them corporately and, granted this is presumption on my part but in line with the rest of the Bible, also individually, to 'come, let us reason together.' In other words, spiritually dead sinners, regardless of nationality or blood heritage, are being called by the Lord to reason with Him. Therefore they must be capable of not only responding to God but of reasoning with Him, in that spiritually dead condition.

    Now, as to the second part of your paragraph -- this has to do with the disciples specifically, and not believers in general. You will find that quote in John 15:16, during Jesus' last discourse, specifically addressing the disciples:

    I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last.

    I included verse 15 to make sure it was apparent who He was talking to. We have record of Jesus choosing the disciples one by one in the Gospels. These are the ONLY people Jesus speaks of as chosen by Him.

    I hope I answered that fully enough.

    I'm not here all day every day, but I will do my best to keep up and, again, deeply appreciate your attitude. Thank you.
     
  5. Yelsew

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    AllofGrace,
    You did not ask for opinion in your first post, you made declaration. Helen answered appropriately to your opening. I would have answered the same way.

    I have no great departure from what you posted except to say that you perhaps should think through what you say regarding the composition of man.

    For example, you say that because of sin, man's spirit dies. Jesus told us that the spirit is the life of the flesh. How then can the flesh live if the spirit be dead?

    Further consideration of what it means, from God's perspective, to "surely die". God made man in his image, and since God is Spirit which no man can "see" and live, Man must be spirit which no other man can see either. That is, we are not flesh and bone with a spirit, we are spirit within a body of flesh and bone. If we die, our flesh and bones dies too. If our body dies, we are separated from the flesh, to go somewhere. If we are not "attached" to something Greater than ourselves, we go to the collective of unattached spirits. If however we believe in, that is have faith in Jesus, we go to be with him. Paul tells us that to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. Only the believer can say that.

    God is Holy, meaning pure and unadulterated in any aspect, then it is sin that separates man from God. Being separated from God, our spirit is the same as dead in God's eyes, and is therefore LOST! Jesus said he came to seek and to save that which was lost!

    Our spirit is not dead however because our flesh continues to live, which Jesus says is not possible without a spirit. It is through our spirit that we see God. It is what we feed our spirit that makes the difference in what our spirit sees. Spirit does not consume the food of the flesh, but instead feeds on the word of God, or to say it another way, man's spirit is the seat of his beliefs. That which man's spirit believes is what drives the man. Where do we get the truth about God? From the scriptures. Once our spirit contains a truth, the HOLY SPIRIT of God persuades our human spirit of the reality of that truth. The more truth our spirit is fed the greater becomes our faith in God. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

    Therefore, sin did not cause our immediate death, but it did from God's perspective separate us from Him in that holiness cannot reside within us due to our sin.

    The absence of the Word of God in our spirit causes us to seek truth in other gods.
     
  6. Skandelon

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    Helen, you are on the right track here! Jesus did select the apostles and often Calvinists apply passages having to do with there being appointed to their doctrine of election.

    It should also be noted that God has chosen the Gentiles and not just the Jews, which is just being revealed for the first time to the New Testament people and Calvinists also misapply these passages as proof texts to support their views of election.
     
  7. AllOfGrace

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    Skandelon,

    Actually, Christ is speaking to His church. (Yes, this was a church. It did not begin on Pentecost, but that is another discussion.)

    I am posting again here in order to reassert this topic to the top of the board. A right understanding of man's original condition is the foundation for the Doctrines of Grace. It is, in a way, the first logical building block.

    Consider what Paul said about man's nature after the fall in Romans 3:10-18

    Verse 10 - There is none righteous - man has fallen.
    Verse 11a - There is none that understand - man's mind has fallen.
    Verse 11b - There is none that seek after God - our will is not capable of turning to God.
    Verses 12-18 - Our actions have fallen.

    In Romans 9:16 he says — It is not of him that willeth or him that runneth, but God showeth mercy.

    Man cannot will to come to God.
    Man cannot work to come to God.
    God alone is the one that shows mercy on whom He wills.

    If man's will, which I agree was free in the garden, is still free, then Arminianism is correct. However, if as a result of the fall, man's free will is bound by a sinful nature, then truly Grace is the only answer.
     
  8. Helen

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    Since we have clear record that Christ is speaking to His disciples at this point, and since the Gospels record His choosing of them, your interpretation is going to need something more than your assertion here. How do you back it up with Scripture?

    With all due respect, it is not the doctrines as interpreted by man, but those as put forward in the Bible which are the foundations for biblical theology.

    Granted. All righteousness is in Christ. Always has been, always will be. Out of curiosity, do you think Adam and Eve were righteous?


    Although I understand what you are saying, and really don't disagree specifically, perhaps a clearer way of saying it is that our minds are fogged because of our fall. This is a little more in line with 'now we see through a glass, darkly...."


    This is where Calvinism makes an unscriptural jump. Seeking after God and responding to the truth as it is revealed to you are two entirely different things. We are certainly capable of responding to God, even though we do not actively seek Him. In fact, Jesus said He came to seek US. We can respond or not as we choose. The lack of initiative on our parts does not mean we are incapable of responding to His initiative.


    If you look at what Paul is quoting, you may have a better understanding of what he is referring to. verse 12 is from Psalm 14, which starts out "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Thus, these references are to those who deny the reality of God altogether. Many non-Christians are not that extreme.

    Verse 13a is a reference to Psalm 5:9, and David is talking there about his enemies whom he describes in verse 6 as bloodthirsty and deceitful men. Not all non-Christians are bloodthirsty and deceitful men!

    13b is from Psalm 140:3, where David is taling about evil and violent men whom he wishes to be rescued from.

    verse 14 is from Psalm 10:7. The subject there is the wicked man who hunts down the weak and "boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord."

    Verses 15-17 are from Isaiah 59:7-8, and is part of an address to Israel, stating, "...your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things...." The interesting thing is that Paul is also addressing the Israelites in Romans 3:9-20, if you look at verse 9: "What shall we conclude then? Are WE any better? NOt at all!..."

    It is at that point he points out all the past judgments of God against people in ISRAEL.

    And verse 18, finally, is from Psalm 36:1, is specifially about 'the wicked', which, if you look at the rest of the Psalms and the way David uses that word, means those who are purposefully and violently wicked, and does not refer to the average man in the street.

    So while I am no way saying that anyone is free of sin, to use the verses you used to accuse all people of all time of this degree of nastiness is not what Paul seemed to have in mind at all. First of all, he was talking to the Jews in this part of his letter. Secondly, he was reminding them of their past, and God's judgment concerning them and the violence they had practiced, and third, he was using this reference in terms of the Law they had been given.

    So while all sin and fall short of the glory of God, it is not a correct exegesis to attribute the passage that you did to the general condition of men. I think we all know a number of non-Christians who are not violent, bloodthirsty people looking to hurt and plunder others! But this is the kind of person, specifically, and also in reference to the Jews in particular, that these references are talking about.

    Which simply means we can't rescue ourselves, any of us, be that we depend on God's mercy for that.

    Yes he can, when God has confronted the man with truth. Man's heart TENDS or INCLINES always toward evil, but that does not lock man's will into evil! Plenty of unregenerate people, both in the Bible and in our lives, try to do good. That is their will. It's just that their actions cannot save them. But many of these, when aware of the truth, if they have wanted the truth, will respond and joyfully, or perhaps fearfully, turn to God.

    In addition, you must not ignore the verses that tell all men to seek God. In order for these verses not to be contradictory to Paul's references in Romans 3, it is necessary to understand who Paul was talking about and why. For there are plenty who do seek the truth and seek God. "Seek Him while He may be found...."


    Please note Romans 11:32 -- For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

    Of course man can work to come to God. But He cannot save himself. That is a different thing altogether. The Jews in particular worked VERY hard at coming to God -- they just did it the wrong way, attempting to 'arrive' via the Law, which could only condemn them in the long run.

    Man's will is influenced heavily by his sin nature, but not bound by it completely, or God could never have called to the sinners in Israel in Isaiah 1:18 "Come, let us reason together." Jesus would never have been able to say, in John 7, when, talking to the Jews in the Temple, Jesus says (verses 16-17), Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.

    Now, whether anyone is fully capable of doing God's will on his own is not the point here. The point is that Jesus was referring to the fact that a man can choose to do God's will, and being a follower of Jesus is not a requirement according to that passage.

    The Calvinist doctrine of total depravity is simply not biblical. It not only states we all sin, which the Bible also states, but that we are incapable of responding to God in an unregenerate condition unless God chooses to bring the person alive spiritually so he can respond. This simply is not in the Bible. As looking at the verses used above show, Paul was not referring to all men, but to the Jews who had been so wicked and violent in the past, despite knowing the law.

    The more one actually looks at the Bible and studies what is being said, the more Calvinist theology appears to be the result of some very unbiblical things:

    1. An attempt by man to reconcile some things he does not understand in Scripture.

    2. An incomplete knowledge of Scripture.

    3. Laziness -- not looking up what is being referred to by New Testament authors who quote what we know as Old Testament Scripture.

    When one approaches Scripture with an open mind, and some Concordances to track words and meaning, as well as enough time to do so, Calvinism disappears down the drain in the light of what is actually being said.
     
  9. Helen

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    I should have been a little more explanatory in the last part of my post above. I just finished responding to a PM asking me if I considered the writer, who is a Calvinist, to be lazy and ignorant. Here is the majority of my response to that very diplomatic and kind sender of the PM:

    The ignorance I was thinking of was, actually, Calvin's. The laziness I was thinking of was the rest of us. It has taken me THIS LONG (I've been a born again Christian for over 30 years now...) to do a study on the word 'elect.' We'll have it ready to post in a couple of hours, and as I have done it, I have been stunned at how much the Calvinists have ignored.

    Why? I refuse to call them deceitful. I just refuse to do that. The faith so many exhibit is sincere and real.

    So it can only be laziness in refusing to check references and context -- deep contexts, not just a couple verses before and a couple after the quote in question.

    I did not know what I was going to find with the material in the thread in question until I started chasing it down. Then I realized, for the first time, actually, what Paul was actually doing there and who he was actually referring to.

    So why should an old lady in the hills be the first on the board to deal with it in context? Why not the preachers and teachers?

    That is what I was referring to as laziness. We have so much of a tendency to simply believe what we are told to believe by other Christians. I don't think that is the way God wants it...

    God bless.

    In Christ,
    Helen
     
  10. AllOfGrace

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    Helen,

    While you are correct about the references Paul is making, you have made, I believe, incorrect assumptions to reach your conclusion.

    First, Paul is not refering to Jews only here. The context clearly states that. I'm sure you know it is unfair to read only a portion of a verse and suggest it explains the context.

    You said Paul is writting to the Jews because verse 9 says "What shall we conclude then? Are WE any better? Not at all!..."

    In reality, a fair look at Romans (Not Hebrews) is that it is written to "all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Romans 1:7.

    In addition, had you used the entirety of verse 9, it would have been much more clear that Paul is making a statement about the nature of all mankind.

    Romans 3:9
    "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin."

    Exactly, by the way, my point.

    And Paul is clearly using the verses in Psalms and Isaiah to make his point about human nature. They are all connected in that, according to Paul, they describe all people. We all, by our nature, reject God.

    What everybody needs to ask himself or herself is, "Is that an accurate description of me?" Honesty about our condition makes us rely on God's Grace.
     
  11. Helen

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    If you look at the beginning of chapter 3, you will see this: "What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? At the close of the material you quoted, Paul is dealing with the Law. This was given to Jews.

    Every reference you gave above was given in regard to those who specialize in wickedness, the fool who says "There is no God" etc. Otherwise we have a real problem with sections of your quote such as "there is no one wh does good...their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways..." etc.

    I would ask you, are all the non-Christians you know like this? If so, I would strongly suggest moving out of that neighborhood!

    Paul is making a point in Romans 3 (and I have no idea why I wrote 'Hebrews...') that not only does the law not save, it does not even make those who have received it better than any others -- and then he quotes from all those Psalms and from Isaiah to make his point -- the Jews, and in particular some of their leaders who know the law best, have evidenced some pretty awful things in some of their lives. Have there been Jews who have said "There is no God"? Yes, there have. Then, as now, there were Jews who considered themselves Jewish by blood but not by faith; by worldly culture but not by belief.

    Understand WHY Paul is using the quotes he is. He has plenty to say about human nature in general in other parts of Romans (and other letters), but this is a much more specific passage than those are and the application limited by the rest of what he is talking about.
     
  12. AllOfGrace

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    Helen,

    You asked: "Are all the non-Christians you know like this? If so, I would strongly suggest moving out of that neighborhood!"

    I think I need to explain (to you and anyone reading) what my description of total depravity is.

    Arminians seem to think that Total Depravity means that all people are "as BAD as they can be." That isn't true. We can look at people and see it isn't true. Even the most evil men sometimes do good things (almost always it is for the wrong motive.)

    My understanding of Total Depravity is all people are "as BAD OFF as they can be." I actually prefer the description "total inability" rather tha total depravity. That is what Paul means — there is none that seek after God.

    Let me again say, I enjoy this discussion we're having. AOG
     
  13. Helen

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    I understand your description of 'total depravity.' But what Paul is talking about is NOT your description, is it?

    And we ARE talking about what Paul is saying in these quotes, not a definition of Calvinistic 'total depravity.'

    Unless, however, you are claiming the two are the same, in which case I am mentioning, with a smile, that perhaps you ought to move out of your neighborhood! [​IMG]
     

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