Spiritually Dead or Spiritually Separated?

Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Reformed, Feb 25, 2015.

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  1. Reformed

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    The following post was made in the "Unbelief of TULIP" thread. It did not get a response but I believe it is an important enough topic that should be discussed. I editing some parts of the original post since it addressed a specific individual.

    ________________________________________________________________

    From a purely exegetical point of view the Greek word νεκρός (nekros) in Ephesians 2:1 is very specific. It does not mean separation as some have suggested. If Paul meant to describe the separation of the sinner from Christ, he would have used the word χωρίζω (chorizo) as found in Romans 8:39. But Paul specifically used a word that only has one meaning - dead as in physically dead, a corpse. The diagram below provides a visual representation of how often nekros is used to refer to physical death.

    You must click on this link to access the image I made from a screenshot of my computer: https://flic.kr/p/rn3G2A

    I believe Synergists read their presupposition into the text. But the use of nekros in Ephesians 2:1 is so clear that, it seems to me, that Synergists bend the text to fit their presupposition. I also have my presupposition, and I freely admit it. But I am allowing the text to speak its plain normative meaning.

    One more thing. Further down in Ephesians 2 we read this:

    Ephesians 2:4-7 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (emphasis mine)

    New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Eph 2:4–7). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

    Paul purposefully used resurrection language to counterbalance his reference to physical death in 2:1. Christ made us alive. Christ raised us up. No longer are we spiritually dead, but now we are spiritually alive. These words pictures are not accidental. They are intentional on the part of the Apostle.

    Thank you for listening.
     
    #1 Reformed, Feb 25, 2015
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  2. jonathan.borland

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    Ok, my Calvie buddies really like this one: R. C. Sproule's image of a mummified corpse at the bottom of the ocean until a salvific needle is thrust in and pumps everlasting life into it. But in the end it is only a metaphor, and it is not altogether clear to what extent the metaphor of the unsaved man represented as "dead in trespasses and sins" may carried.

    A dead man has no movement, no soul left in him, no rational, emotional, volitive functions, and cannot resurrect himself from his own death. Yet God says to the spiritually "dead" man: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light" (Eph 5:14). A "dead" man can't hear, but God says to him, "Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—" (Is 55:3). Also God tells the spiritually dead to "turn and live!" (Ezek 18:32), even though a "dead" person shouldn't even be able to hear much less respond, choose to obey, and then actually put the choice into action. But more, we Christians are said to be "dead" to sin (Rom 6:2, 7, 11, etc.), "dead" to the law (Gal 2:19), "crucified" (or dead) to the world (Gal 6:14), but does this mean that we can't still sin at times, sometimes be moved to legalism, or never again be allured by the world? Of course not.

    I have more to say about the Calvinist's use of these passage of Eph 2:1 and Col 2:13, but maybe you could begin by expressing exactly to what extent you carry this metaphor, and exactly what the spiritually dead man can and can't do or feel or think, if he can do or feel or think anything at all. I'm reminded of Bart Ehrman confessing in one of his books I read (I think the one on theodicy) that sometimes he wakes up at night in a cold sweat, scared to death. We might then ask, and there are many other similar testimonies, whether a spiritually dead man can feel conviction (or any number of other spiritually related things), even though experiencing such sounds quite impossible for a mummified corpse settled at the bottom of the ocean.
     
  3. DHK

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    Eze 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
    Eze 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
    Eze 37:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
     
  4. DHK

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    It doesn't matter whether or not the word is nekros. It is the word for death. We realize that. But in the Bible it represents a state of separation.

    For example:
    1. Physical Death:
    James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    --Physical death occurs when the spirit departs or separates from the body. Death is separation.

    2. Spiritual Death:
    Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
    --Spiritual death occurs when sin separates a person from God. Reconciliation is needed. (2Cor.5:18-21)

    3. Eternal Death:
    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    --The gift of God is eternal life. Contrasted to eternal life is eternal death, or the wages of sin. Eternal death is separation from God for all eternity.
    Death is separation.

    There is also the Second Death, when all unbelievers will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev.20:11-15), and be separated from God in that ultimate judgment.

    The Biblical meaning of death is almost always separation.

    In Reformed's link it says:
    --It is not a lifeless corpse, but a living corpse; one who is alienated from God. Even in this link this idea is expressed.

    Walvoord and Zuck, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary say this:
    Death is separation.
     
  5. Reformed

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    DHK,

    This is a remarkable statement. It does not matter? Really? The whole basis for exegesis is to determine what words mean. For instance, nekros is not the word for death. Thanatos is the word for death. Why did Paul not use that word? What did he not use chorizo if all he intended to convey was separation, as you suggest? I am not trying to be cheeky, but there is no need for me to respond to the rest of your reply when you start off your response to the OP with "It doesn't matter". No serious bible scholar or theologian would respond in such a way.
     
  6. thatbrian

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    I think that you are misunderstanding his reply. What he is saying is that he agrees that the word is death, but that does not change his view. His view is that death means separation.

    In essence, what he is saying is that you haven't proven a thing by proving that the word is death. That's why it, "doesn't matter".
     
  7. Reformed

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    Brian, I understand what he is saying, but nekros is a different word than death. It literally means a corpse. Is a corpse in a state of death (thanatos)? Yes. But there is a reason Paul used nekros. He used it to make a vivid point about the spiritual nature of the sinner. The sinner is not just separated from God (chorizo). The sinner is a cold dead corpse. This is taking death and putting a face on it if you will. When we talk about death we could be likening it to many different things. DHK would not be wrong to equate it with separation. But then Paul would not have had to write, "You were therefore, now, dead in your trespasses and sin". He could have written, "You were therefore separated from God by your trespasses and sin". It just does not have the same impact, or communicate the same truth, as nekros. Paul used the word for a reason.
     
  8. jonathan.borland

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    Not to carry a word or metaphor to far, for that is why I'm calling attention to it, because I think Calvinists carry the metaphor farther than Paul does (remember Sproule's lifeless corpse buried at the bottom of the ocean's deepest and darkest and coldest abyss), but anyway...

    (1) We hear the father say, "'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found'" (Luke 15:24; cf. also 15:32). Yet while the son was "dead in his trespasses and sins" (if we may interpose Paul's words here) he remembered his father and "came to himself" (15:17), had a change of mind (15:18–19) that resulted in a change of action (15:20), and also a heartfelt confession (15:21), demonstrating true repentance. Now when did the son become alive again? It is not really clear, but we might say life began to stir in him from the moment he "came to himself" and was completed when his relationship with his father was restored.

    (2) Then we have the members of the church of Sardis, whom Jesus calls "dead," yet who are exhorted to "remember" how they had "received and heard," and also to "hold fast and repent." So at least in this case spiritually "dead" people (or are they something else? anyway, the word NEKROS is used) can have direct communication with God, hear his exhortations, remember past revelation or words from God, and apparently be called upon to act upon a direct command to repent.

    So I repeat my initial request that the writer of the OP might express more precisely to what extent this metaphor of "dead in trespasses and sins" may be carried, and exactly what the spiritually dead man can and can't do or feel or think, or in the end even respond to, whether to accept or reject, the Holy Spirit's conviction and suasion.
     
  9. Reformed

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    The plain normative reading of Ephesians 2:1 has Paul comparing the past spiritual condition of the Ephesian believers to a corpse. It is not putting to fine a point on the word picture Paul is making. Spiritually speaking, the sinner is like a corpse, a dead body. If this is not agreed on then rest of the explanation will be wasted time for the reader.

    With that established what is the significance of it? A corpse cannot respond to any outside stimuli, and it certainly provides no internal stimuli. Not to sound maudlin, but a corpse cannot go for a walk or carry on a conversation, and it most assuredly cannot make choices. Applying this to the spiritual state of the sinner, the sinner is dead to God. The sinner is still a spiritual creature, but there is no positive response to the things of God. We see the sinner as a spiritual creature because "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" (Eph. 2:2). This is Luther's "Bondage of the Will" at work. While dead to God, the sinner is "alive" to death, i.e. sin. By nature sinners are "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3).

    In the TULIP thread a poster appealed to 1 Corinthians 2:14 to explain the spiritual inability of the sinner. I would add to that Romans 8:7. The sinner does not respond positively to any gospel call because he is not capable of responding. He possess no latent faith separate from what God gifts to him during the process of salvation. Faith itself is part of the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Paul makes a similar reference to Ephesians 2:1 in Colossians 2:13.

    Can the sinner respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit without the same Spirit making a positive response possible? No. Can the sinner positively respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit if that same Spirit illumines the sinner's heart? Yes. Not only yes, the sinner cannot help but positively respond to the gospel call.

    Back in Ephesians 2, this is why I see significance in Paul's "But God" in verse 4. Even while the sinner was dead as a corpse spiritually, God made him alive in Christ. No action is recorded by Paul on the part of the living corpse, the sinner. Instead God takes unilateral action. The sinner will believe by faith, but only after the Holy Spirit has illumined him and made belief possible.
     
    #9 Reformed, Feb 26, 2015
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  10. convicted1

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    Wait for it...wait for it...wait for.....swish!!

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    Homerun!!!! Now Brother, tip your cap as you run into the endzone after scoring the winning goal....
     
  11. Iconoclast

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    Yes....Those who actually study the languages are quick to point out that corpse is used....

    Those who oppose this truth need a wounded Adam.....not a corpse.They believe man is a Zombie. That state the obvious...that dead men can be religious.It does not change the truth of man's total inability that is taught in scripture.
     
  12. Reformed

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    (emphasis mine)

    Anthony, it begins and ends with presuppositions. We all have them and we all bring them into our understanding of the text. The honest exegete will admit his bias and take that into account when interpreting the text. It is much easier to just say "I believe total inability is true, so the text needs to support my belief" or "I believe total inability is false, so the text needs to support my belief". The hard thing to say is, "I believe total inability is true/false, so I need to purposefully interpret the text separate from my bias".
     
  13. jonathan.borland

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    At the risk of talking past one another . . .

    Like the "corpse" in Luke 15:24, 32? Or like the "corpses" in Rev 3:1? Or like the "corpses" to sin in Rom 6:11?

    What I can agree upon is that you haven't dealt with the other passages that also use the same "corpse" word, much less proven from them that the corpse is such that it cannot respond to God's direct and indirect dealings with it without God first compulsorily forcing it to do so with no participation or cooperation of the corpse in terms of mind, will, emotion, action, etc., with the divine dealings. Until you do that your further explanation indeed is nothing more than "wasted time for the reader." But nevertheless I continue . . .

    Nothing has as yet been established as regards to usage of "corpse" in this place in light of its similar use elsewhere in the NT.

    Yet Jesus speaks to "corpses" in Rev 3:1 fully expecting a response. And the "corpse" in Luke 15 came to himself and repented. I cannot follow your line of reasoning, since you haven't even dealt with the fundamental issue of what a spiritual "corpse" can mean in Scripture.

    How can we give application to a word whose meaning (as used elsewhere) hasn't yet been studied or understood? All agree that lost people are "dead" in their sins, because that's what the Bible says.

    At the risk of sounding banal, there is no positive response to the things of God until there is a positive response to the things of God.

    It is a sublime truth that all Calvinists should believe, that all, even the elect, were previously "children of wrath" until they repented and believed the gospel.

    This inability spoken of there to receive the things of God is limited, or else no one could be saved. How is it limited? It is limited by the circumstance that those who rely on human wisdom to understand heavenly things do not and indeed cannot know and receive God's things because they are foolishness to him (1 Cor 1:18, 21, 23). But as soon as these "wise," "mighty," and "noble" men are called, although they be few, even they too can believe when they rely not on their fleshly wisdom but on the wisdom that God gives, even the Holy Spirit himself, so that no flesh can glory in his presence. And since no one in this debate asserts that one can come to and understand and believe in God without the assistance of the Holy Spirit, I wonder why this point is still so hotly contested by the Calvinists, as if the other side pretends that men can believe on their own without God's direct and indirect assistance.

    To this my comments above apply, except here the focus is more against the mindset of the one who thinks he can be saved by obedience on the level of the flesh (Paul says not once but twice that he "cannot," Rom 8:7, 8), but above it was more against the Greeks/Gentiles who believed human wisdom more than God's wisdom. Still I wonder why these verses are relevant to those who fully agree that no one can ever be saved through on human wisdom or the works of the law.

    This, at least, is not what the verses just discussed were written to mean. Now if you had said that the natural (or contextually, wise) man cannot believe until he repudiates his idol of wisdom and that the one who glories in his adherence to the law in all particulars of the flesh cannot believe until he repudiates his idol, all in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (from other passages), then fine. For the "cannot"s in those places do not have the unlimited force you suppose them to have, just as Paul writes to his readers that they "cannot" receive his teaching (1 Cor 3:2) -- not that they can never receive it -- unless something changes, i.e., they stop being carnal, or in the cases above, unless they stop relying on the natural or carnal things by which no one can be saved.

    That verse does not specifically say that faith is a part of the gift of God, although it could be, were not faith appearing thousands of times in biblical characters as a human response to God that allows salvation to operate and individuals to receive what God already accomplished through Christ.

    And likewise those don't talk about the intricacies of the process any more than what we discussed above, but just that we were dead/lost/unsaved but now are alive/found/saved.

    Your "without the same Spirit making a positive response possible" is not biblical language. More biblical would be words like, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13)


    Yet we have every man who comes into the world being illumined by none other than the Light of the world himself, yet not all of these illumined ones repent and believe the gospel. And also we have Acts 7:51, ". . . You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you," which shows that the Holy Spirit can be, was, and no doubt is resisted all the time.

    Yes, not even faith is mentioned as necessary or even a component in that concise metaphor, and that is why the metaphor is not meant to be carried to the extent that Calvinists seem predetermined to carry it to!

    What other action could God ever take?

    This is a better way of stating it than your other statement.
     
  14. Reformed

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    Luke 15:24, 32 - the parable presents a vivid picture of the wayward son being just as spiritually dead as the Ephesians former condition in Eph. 2:1.

    Revelation 3:1 - The church at Sardis was facing impending judgment because they were falling away (3:3). Nekros was used to emphasize the things that had died and were dying.

    Romans 6:11 - Paul starts the chapter by asking a rhetorical question, "Shall we continue to sin that grace may be about? May it never be? How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" Paul emphasizes this by telling his audience to consider themselves like a corpse to sin; unable to respond to sin.


    That has been remedied.

    I have proven it, just not to your satisfaction, which is perfectly fine.

    I believe it has.


     
  15. jonathan.borland

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    But with faculties of apparent remorse, will to change, and actual change, apparently left intact, i.e., the "dead" in that story by the fact that he repented was capable of repentance.

    And the "dead" at Sardis were exhorted to "repent" without any indication that by being "dead" they were incapable of repentance.

    And yet Christians "dead to sin" still sin when they have a reckoning problem.

    Hardly.

    I don't expect satisfaction from the BB.

    Okay, "dead" means "dead" and that's all "dead" means. Now what does dead mean? At least the dead are exhorted to awake from the dead, the dead are exhorted to repent, the dead are exhorted to do good deeds. Why? Because they're spiritually dead but desired by God to be spiritually alive. But none of the "dead" verses specifically mention whether or not they can or cannot change or repent in response to God's invitation to do so. But if we only look at those verses, it is more implied not only that they should but also could, than denied.

    Except this is not what the verse of this thread says or teaches. It teaches that the dead were made alive. Later on it says how, by grace. And by what means, by an individual's faith.

    But whom in the Bible does the Holy Spirit not allow to repent and be saved who wants to repent? We don't know, since all who repent we must assume (by your terminology, not the Bible's) were "enabled". Yet we have instances of people resisting the Holy Spirit, and Jesus saying that the Jews were not willing to come to him, and therefore they would not have life.

    In other words, unless I'm mistaken, you believe that you are born again or regenerated without any assent on your part (or cloaked in the term "enabled"?) in order that you may believe. While I would agree that the Holy Spirit enables the lost to believe, I would not cloak the terminology or your beliefs, unless I'm mistaken in your monergistic beliefs.


     
  16. DHK

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    In Ephesians 2:1 death means spiritual separation.
    If it meant literally "corpse" then not only would he not be able to choose that which is good or even Godly, but he wouldn't be able to choose bad either. He would be unable to choose anything. A corpse would have absolutely no choice at all. But it is evident that he does. Every person in this world makes choices every day. What makes us different than the animal kingdom is that we are able to reason and make choices. The unsaved are able to think and make choices that the animals are not. They are not just corpses. They respond.

    Not only do they respond to one another, they respond to God in a way that God says they have no excuse (Rom.1:20).
    Paul says (Rom.2:14,15) that God has put his law in the hearts of every man. The know innately when they have done wrong. They know immediately that it is wrong to lie, steal, commit murder, adultery, etc. Why? The law of God is written in their hearts.
    Not only the law of God, but also God has given everyone a conscience. They feel guilt about the wrong they have done. And just like Adam and Eve they begin to excuse themselves and accuse others. They lie and point the finger at others even if they are guilty. It is human nature. But the conscience will always bother them, telling them that they are in the wrong.

    They are not corpses. They are responding to God's law, the conscience that God gave them.
    God also gave them natural revelation that declares Him.

    The heavens declare the glory of God and firmament showeth forth his handiwork...

    Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    A corpse cannot be without excuse.
    --He can be separated from God, but he cannot be without excuse.

    His problem is that he needs to be reconciled to God.
    God has given unto us the ministry of reconciliation.
     
  17. webdog

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    death
    deTH/Submit
    noun
    the action or fact of dying or being killed; the end of the life of a person or organism.

    At what point did the life end spiritually of the individual? Its intellectually dishonest to say "at the moment of conception" as death is the ENDING of life. The OP is a false dichotomy.
     
  18. savedbymercy

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    Both , for Death consists in separation !
     
  19. Iconoclast

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    DHK


    While death and sin separate a sinner from God....the word the Holy Spirit used....was "corpse" no matter how many times you try and deny it and force everyone into your little fundy box. If your theology cannot allow for the language God used...time to leave the error for the true.:thumbs:

    There is no if??? It is the word corpse.
    Whatever it means, or does not mean...the word is corpse.
    Reformed has explained what the implications are very clearly.

    the natural man cannot choose the things of God until God enables him to.

    We make choices everyday, but because of sin we do not seek the things of God being alienated from the life of God.

    T

    No...what makes us different is we are image bearers of God.

    because you do not see in what way men are corpses does not mean we do not see it.


    They respond alright...in rebellion against God and His word.

    They are corpses according to scripture.They cannot welcome God's word, they cannot seek Him on His terms. they can be religious and worship.....idols.

    They sin against God's law everyday.

    they are without excuse
    Sure he can...Who says he cannot, besides you....All men are corpses before God before Paul wrote this truth.

    His is both separated and without excuse....
    His problem is from head to toe.....
    4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

    5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

    6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
    :thumbs:
     
  20. The American Dream

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    Man's free will is bounded by his fallen state. Its that simple. He can choose what seems good to the world, but without the Holy Spirit, quickening, whatever you want to call it, man cannot respond to the Divine.
     
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