The Power of God's Word in Salvation - For Calvinists

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Skandelon, May 29, 2006.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    I have recently being doing a study on the power of the word in converting the soul and have been confronted by the well known Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity (or Total Inability).

    I think we all agree that Adam's Fall lead to a huge negative impact upon the nature of mankind, but what in scripture would lead anyone to believe that the powerful words of our God are not sufficient to enable a response from fallen creatures?

    Calvinists insist that a man must be born again (regenerated) in order to respond in faith, but I just don't see that taught in scripture. In fact, I see quite the opposite. The Bible tells us to "believe so that we may have life," not the other way around.

    Are there any Calvinists here who could please help me to understand why you all have come to these conclusions. I'm not looking to fight anyone, just a civil Christ-like discussion among brothers in Christ. Thanks.
     
  2. whatever

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    The powerful words of our God are absolutely sufficient to enable a response from fallen creatures. That enabling is what we call regeneration.

    Plus, the Bible does say it the other way around as well, as in Acts 13:48, so that point is inconclusive.
     
  3. 2BHizown

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    Ephesians 2:1

    And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
    Read the whole chapter and it tells that before regeneration we were dead and by God's mercy we were regenerated.
     
  4. doulous

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    2B provided a good passage to consider (Ephesians 2:1-5). The word for "dead" in Ephesians 2:1 is "nekros." It means to be dead, as in a corpse. The unsaved man is spiritually dead. Dead people do not make volitional choices. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." The natural man is unsaved, therefore he is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). He is unable to understand the things of the Spirit of God. Left to his own devices man would not and cannot seek God.
     
  5. Scott J

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    I agree with what has been posted already with this caveat. Man doesn't lack the physical or mental faculties to hear, understand, believe, etc. What he lacks is goodness and specifically goodness of will.

    The words of God are more than sufficient as is Christ's sacrifice. The deficiency is all man's. His nature must change so that he will possess goodness of will.
     
  6. 2BHizown

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    Left to himself man is only able to choose what is not pleasing to God. That is, until God Himself has effected a work of regeneration in the heart. There is none that doeth good, no not one!
    A spiritually dead person is doomed to hell unless and until God touches that heart, quickens it with life, causing it to turn to God, ask for His mercy and seek His will through His word. That very act was justification which then leads to a journey of sanctification and growth and maturity as a christian! None of this is possible without Christs substitutionary sacrifice on the cross! Without that we would continue in sin and into hell to pay for our own sins ourself! Thanks be to God we now have access to Him through Christ death and payment for our sin!
     
  7. J.D.

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    John 3:3 Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

    The change from blindness to sight is the first step in God's salvation. Having been made able to see, man can then hear the Gospel and see it's truth, which brings life and light to knowledge and makes faith and repentance vital and meaningfull in his life.

    1 Pet 1:23 "Being born again, not of curruptable seed, but incorruptable, by the word (logos) of God which liveth and abideth forever"

    We are born again by God's seed, his generative work in us, creating us in Christ Jesus unto good works. The word is made effectual by this generative power of God.

    John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Notice they which believe were (past tense) born of (identifies the source) God.

    Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

    Why did she attend to the things that Paul spoke of (the Gospel)? Because the Lord had opened her heart.

    1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    Notice it is not the power of God to the lost, but to the saved. How is that? In order to sense the power of the Gospel, man must first be born again by the spirit of God. "Unto us which are saved" - as in, "regenerated", the preaching of the cross is the power of God. The preaching of the cross explodes in my heart and overflows to change my thinking and behaviour. It is effective because the Spirit of God has blown into my soul as he listeth (wills).

    1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

    The natural man must first be Spiritual (born again) before he can discern spiritual things, or even receive them.

    John 10:26 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

    Only the sheep can hear the voice of their master, and having heard that voice (new birth), THEN they will follow him (in faith, repentance, and good works).
     
  8. 2BHizown

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    faith

    Actually 'faith' is a gift to the elect from God! With this faith after our heart being regenerated by Him we come to Him for mercy in great gratifude! It is not about us! It is about Him, what He does, is doing, will do! Its all about God, honoring God, praising and worshipping God, humbly bowing to Him for the great gift of salvation He gave to us!
    Eph 2:8
    Read John 6, how He is the bread of life for HIs chosen ones, the elect! God is so good to those who humble themselves before Him.
     
  9. Scott J

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    I agree with your conclusion and your rationale.

    My point about "ability" is only this, God didn't put the road block in front of man that keeps him from believing. "Inability" creates a stumbling block for some people since they naturally assume this means God didn't give them the "faculties" they need. If this were true the argument goes then God is unjust for telling them to do something they "cannot" do.

    I would use obedience to the law as a parallel to expose this fallacy.

    Can we obey the law? Yes, we can. Each decision to obey or disobey the law is a real choice. But in accordance with his depraved nature and will... man wills to disobey the law. He would obey if he were "good" but "will not" because he is not good. That lack of sufficient goodness is because of his own choices as well as the inherited nature from our representative Adam. We can be certain that no one will obey the letter of God's moral law though in the abstract, that possibility exists.

    By a parallel abstract reasoning, one could accept Christ... if they were "good". Since they are not, and willfully so, we can predict with 100% accuracy that no one "will" come to Christ without God having changed their nature by regeneration.

    I hope this makes sense but the term "unable" is insufficient IMO to accurately convey "Why" a person doesn't believe. If God had created them in such a way that they lacked the mental or physical faculties to obey then the argument that He is guilty of electing some to hell gains a small amount of merit.
     
  10. Scott J

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    At the risk of seeming to parse words, I don't disagree with the conclusion you draw but with the form of the argument.

    Indirectly, I would agree that saving faith comes from God. But I believe that it is the natural "free will" choice of one whose nature God has changed. IOW's, just as unbelief, sin, and rebellion are 100% predictable products of an unregenerate nature, saving faith is a 100% predictable product of a God quickened spirit. It is none the less a "free will" choice yet resulting from an act of God that serves as the "prime cause".
    Amen and Amen.
     
  11. Skandelon

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    First, allow me to say that I do not have time to respond in full to every response rendered here. I must "ELECT" to whom I will respond, and I know you all can appreciate that. :laugh:

    This doctrine of Total Depravity is what I'm wanting to address. You say that men are lacking and have deficiencies and I cannot disagree, obviously. Another post said...

    And I certainly agree with this as well, but my point is that we are not "left to ourselves." We have the powerful gospel truth sent to us though the Bride of Christ who cries out to all, "Come!" Is that gospel, a powerully wrought work of the Holy Spirit, insufficient to enable a fallen will to freely respond in faith? Is an irresistable act of regeneration necessary for a faith response?

    I am aware of most of the Calvinistic proof texts which certainly indicate that men are born guilty and and in need of reconcilation with the Father, but I have yet to see one that shows us that men are so fallen that the powerful life-giving message of truth is insufficient to save apart from an irresistable work of regeneration.

    If you would like to present a text that you feel meets this demand I'd be happy to look at it, but remember it must be speaking about the inability of someone who is actually being confronted by the powerful gospel of truth.

    NOTE: Scott, while I appreciate your attempt to better define what Calvinists mean by "total inability," the fact is that you believe men are unable to be willing and thus must be "enabled" and it is that ability to which I'm referring.
     
  12. 2BHizown

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    Depravity!

    The man at the bottom of the pool cannot reach out and take your life saving rope! He is dead. Not just unable to reach but DEAD, spiritually dead! When a spiritually dead person sits in church next to another spiritually dead person and they hear the words of the gospel preached, one may be convicted of his sin and see himself as one that is lost, doomed to hell and in desperate need of God's forgiveness and mercy! The other may hear the same words yet have a ho-hum response and never have truly heard or been touched by this at all! Why? Well, the Holy Spirit is doing a work in one of them, causing him to see himself as a sinner who will never reach heaven if something doesnt change! What? He must be born again! He hears this and as the Holy Spirit works in his heart his interest in things spiritual grows and he starts to listen, read, talk to christians, seeking what else he needs to do to be certain of his salvation! His heart is being regenerated by the Holy Spirit and yes, he does need to respond to this with his will and take some responsibility for where it all leads. So one person may immediately ask the pastor or deacon or a friend for help in a great desire to hasten along the way! He wants to know all he can about the gospel, salvation, and right off wants to share this with friends and others, if it is a genuine thing occuring in him.
    Each of us in one way or other have been in this same place. Some make profession of faith but in lacking sincerity and a genuine change they at some point fizzle out, even if its years later. All true christians are disciiples of Jesus but there are many disciples or followers of Jesus that are not christians, not genuine, not born again. Perhaps they grew up in a christian family but never met the Lord and asked him to lead their life! I dont know it all but I do know that those who ask for God's mercy, admit they are a sinner and lost without Christ to save them will show fruit in their life bearing witness to the work of the Holy Spirit. When truly saved they will never totally fall away even though they may fall briefly they will be reclaimed as they belong now to Christ and His family! That other person on the pew may experience that same thing at some other point in their life, at the time of God's choice. The point is that as the verse says, 'No man can come to me, unless the Father draw him.' Praise God when and if this change has happened in your life! Think how very blest you are!!!
     
  13. 2BHizown

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    the road block

    Scott, the road block of which we speak that is between us and God and must be dealt with is 'sin'! Becoming aware that it is present and must be dealt with to allow a relationship with God to come into being is due to regeneration.
    When we spoke of faith I referred to Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God! (fact and definition)
    Then in Hebrews 11 faith is both defined and numerous examples of God's working it out in the lives of His own is given that are so spectacular they are just overwhelming!
    Ephesians told us faith is a gift from God. Hebrews tells us through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear!
    Hopefully we're on the same page, having cleared up our understanding of both the 'sin' barrier and of 'faith' being given to us by God to allow our understanding of His great work!
    Blessings!
     
  14. Skandelon

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    I think you may be reading to much into Paul's analogy of death, brother. In Romans 6 Paul also says believers are dead to sin. Does that mean they are totally unable to sin? Of course not. Being spiritually dead means we are separated from God and need to be reconciled. You have may have heard a father who says to his rebellious son, "You are dead to me." Which means that the relationship is severed, but it doesn't necessarily imply that the can be no response of reconcilation once the powerful message of reconcilation is proclaimed. What do you think?

    With all due respect but I think you are begging the question. Isn't the message that is being preached a "work of the Spirit," in and of itself? Couldn't it be that the reason one guy has a "ho-hum" response is because that is his free choice to resist the Holy Spirit? Why would you assume that its because he is unable to willingly believe? Why would you assume that its because he has not yet been born again. The Bible tells us to believe so that we may have life, not the other way around. Salvation is accomplished through faith, not the other way around. We become sons through faith, not the other way around. We recieve the promise of the Spirit through faith, not the other way around.
     
  15. Skandelon

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    Can someone please explain why this discussion would be moved to under Bible version/translations?
     
  16. Scott J

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    Are men "able" to obey the law? I am not asking you what you know men will do but simply could a person answer every temptation correctly? My hypothetical answer is "yes". But we know that men will not be willing, right?

    This is the same sense that I understand the necessity of God's changing one's nature so that they will freely choose salvation.
     
  17. 2BHizown

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    coming to God

    He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.Heb 11:6

    He can only come to God after the Holy Spirit regenerates his heart and causes him to diligently seek Him.
    Before that above quoted verse is the phrase: But without faith it is impossible to please him.
    That faith is what is spoken of in Eph 3:8 that is a gift of God.

    Therefore, after the Holy Spirit does a work of regeneration and bestows a gift of faith, then one begins to diligently seek Him.
     
  18. Skandelon

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    No, Romans 8:7 say, "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."

    So, though man may be able to appear to submit to God's law in some respects, he is unable to completely fulfill the laws demands. But that is not why men are condemned. The law was not sent to condemn us, it is a tutor that is meant to reveal to us the need we have for grace. It is Christ's very words that we will be our judge on the final day, not our breaking of the OT laws.

    One problem with that. The Bible never says that one's nature is such that it could not freely believe when confronted by the powerful word of truth. That is merely assumed by Calvinists in as much as I can tell from my experience. Please show me where I'm mistaken.
     
  19. Skandelon

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    Ok, I believe and accept the first phrase because it as a chapter and verse following it, but from where does that second phrase come? With all due respect, I already know what you believe. I'm looking for the biblical foundation for such beliefs. Is this just a conclusion you draw from various texts?

    I agree that faith is a gift of God, but it should be noted that in Eph. 3:8 when it says, "this is not of yourselves," it is not referring to faith specifically but to the whole of salvation. I believe even Calvinistic scholars affirm this interpretation.

    When I say "gift of God," I do not mean that faith is not a geniunly free response of man. I mean to say that God is the one who provides the ability and opportunity for a faith response, but like any gift of God (money, intellegence, reason etc) it must be applied correctly. So, when God sent the word for us to hear he granted us the ability to make a faith response. That is a gift, eventhough its certainly not irresistable. Many people have the ability to believe in Christ but choose instead to believe in false gods. They have abused their God given ability. They have misused their gift and will be accountable for that choice because of it. They truly have "no excuse" for their unbelief, whereas, if they were not given the ability to believe they would have the perfect excuse.

    The Lord: Why didn't you believe in me?

    The non-elect: Because after Adam fell we all were condemned to a nature without the ability to respond to your message of reconcilation. And when you went around regenerating men you passed over me. What else could I have done?
     
  20. Brother Bob

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    I cannot see why they moved this thread either. All are Baptist and the Thread is a discussion of Scripture so Why??
     

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