What can unregenerate man do?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Luke2427, Oct 31, 2010.

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  1. Luke2427

    Luke2427
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    On two different threads this has been a matter of debate. It is worthy of more discussion.

    Feel free to address any Calvinism vs Arminianism issues on this thread.

    But here is the main issue here:

    Can unregenerate man do "good" things as God defines goodness?

    Is there REAL goodness apart from the way God defines goodness?

    There is no doubt that unregenerate man can do things that men consider goodness, but is it not done with godless motives? Can something be good and godless?

    Can the unregenerate man, still totally dead in his sins, turn to Christ and trust him for salvation?

    Does that really even make sense?

    And finally, address this situation.

    John goes to heaven. Jack goes to hell. Why?

    The question is valid because for what ever reason each went where he went will be the same reason any goes where he goes.

    This scenario will be followed with several "why" questions until we get to the bottom of it.
     
    #1 Luke2427, Oct 31, 2010
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  2. jbh28

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    You are really getting down to the core issue with this. I'm busy now and don't have time to really respond. I was talking about his very subject with a couple of my friends tonight.
     
  3. zrs6v4

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    As God defines goodness "no". I think of true goodness is in light of our love for both God and man.

    Luke 6:32, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them."

    It seems the verse above speaks of unsaved people loving people. Yet it does not imply a love that loves people unconditionally as God does. I'm not sure if "ove for those who love you" is goodness at all, maybe on some level but not the level that Jesus tells the disciples to be at.

    John 15:5 seems to imply that apart from Him we can do nothing good. This is in reference to the disciples, but if the disciples must abide in Christ for good works, then how much more unbelievers?

    I would say when someone is not right with God and God isn't their Lord then who/what is? The answer is that either they are their lord or another. Jesus is our Lord through faith in Him, and without faith we cannot please Him as Hebrews says. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and we can only do so through right relation with God, then is there anything good that doesn't glorify God? I'd say no in the sense of true goodness.

    The questions are: Is that the nature of an unregenerate man? Is that a good and God glorifying? At the very least we must acknowledge that the Spirit must draw the sinner to Christ as John 6:44 says. There is much Scripture (particular passages and context of Bible truth) to be examined. I personally am convinced that the work of God in a sinner to bring him to Christ is a complete work of God that leaves no room for boasting in the end.

    John goes to heaven because God chose to have mercy upon him, and Jack goes to hell because his sin remains. In my mind the only reason someone goes to hell is because of their sin against God, it really isn't a matter of accepting or rejecting Christ although that is a secondary factor.


    To sum up, I don't want to leave unregenerate men with an excuse, but I see the complete helplessness. They do have choices just can't make the good ones without God. They literally can do nothing without God. I would also like to pose the question:

    If an unregenerate person can, in his nature, choose to believe, then, does our hope rest in the sinner to make the choice or the power of God to save according to His will?
     
    #3 zrs6v4, Oct 31, 2010
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  4. zrs6v4

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    Excuse me for my sketchy writing I didn't go back to review what I wrote. If there are any confusions just ask and Ill clarify my point.

    I said, "If the chief end of man is to glorify God and we can only do so through right relation with God, then is there anything good that doesn't glorify God?"

    I meant if we aren't glorifying God through relationship then nothing we are doing is good. An unregenerate person does nothing from the heart to glorify God, therefore he does nothing good.
     
  5. Luke2427

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    Very good. I look forward to the discussion.
     
  6. Luke2427

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    Very, very good input. Stick around. It'll get heated over the next couple of days- in a good way, of course.

    Iron can't sharpen iron without a little bit of friction.

    Very good thoughts.
     
  7. kyredneck

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    There's none good but God. Any genuine goodness from man has to have been wrought in God.

    But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God. Jn 3:21

    God can/will/does use 'godless goodness' for the sake of His own.

    No. Dead men do nothing.

    John belongs to the Lord. Jack belongs to the devil.
     
  8. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Jacks a slang for John, same name....sooooo, is this a trick question? LOL.....Luke, honestly, you have too many questions crammed into this...IE your making it too complicated. Wouldnt it have been better just to cut it back to a basic & then elaborate thru the discussion?
     
  9. Tom Butler

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    Let's consider some scriptures which speak to the question at hand.

    II Tim 2:25-26 "..In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

    Acts 5:31 "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

    Romans 8:7-8 "For the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

    John 8:36 "If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed."

    Finally, Philippians 1:29 "For unto you it has been given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him but also to suffer for his sake."

    From these scriptures, if is evident the unregenerate will is not completely free, or it would not require that God (or the Son) set it free.

    That said, I suggest that we express our wills freely within our nature, and without coercion. But our will is held captive by our nature. Thus, those who are in the flesh not only can't please God, but, in fact, will not want to.

    Further,

    Is there anyone here, Calvinist or non-Calvinist, who believes one may be saved independently of the work of the Holy Spirit.
     
  10. glfredrick

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    I'm of a mind that there are all sorts of good things that we can do in an un regenerated condition. That we can do anything at all that resembles good (or ANYTHING at all!) is due to God's grace to creation. God makes the rain to rain on the just and the unjust... That principle illustrates God's common grace.

    We can love, propagate, bear witness to God, be used for His glory, build, have relationships, make beautiful things, work, etc., etc., etc., all of which are "good things."

    But...

    What we cannot do are good things that are righteous. We cannot merit our salvation by doing good things. We cannot earn favor with God. We cannot do things that will pass the test of time and enter with us into eternity. We cannot reach out to God. Why? Because works that are "good works unto salvation" are not, because we are positionally and existentially dead and apart from God's kingdom. In a sense, we do "good things" for naught in our sin. Unless and until we are reborn into God's kingdom (position) and have "all things made new" (existentialism) we can do no good thing with eternal consequence.
     
  11. webdog

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    First, I think you need to define "good". If you mean righteous, or deeds done to merit righteousness it's no. If it's just "good" things like giving your child bread when they ask and not a rock, it's yes.
    Again, are we talking about righteousness?
    First part of the question...not necessarily, second part...yes. Case in point, 2 lost millionaires donate a large sum of money to help children with cancer. Person 1 does it anonymously where only he and God know it was done. Person 2 holds a press conference and has a ward of the hospital named after him. The second scenario most definitely was godless...the first, well that is between he and God.
    Not left to himself, but the good news is God doesn't leave him to himself.
    Like Lazarus, we can respond to Christ when He calls.

    We've been over Jack and John :) Unless we can claim to know their minds, all we can do is speculate one way or the other. There is no nice theological package that will explain it, we can only say what we know, and that's why we did.
     
  12. Luke2427

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    Perhaps, but they are all related to the central topic.

    And no tricks here. Jack is just lost "everyman" and John is just saved "everyman".
     
  13. Amy.G

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    Apparently.

    Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?


    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary
    Bad as our fallen nature is, the father in us is not extinguished. What a heart, then, must the Father of all fathers have towards His pleading children!
     
  14. Luke2427

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    Excellent Tom. This gets down to the core of it.

    God does not drag anyone kicking and screaming into heaven. They are willing to go.

    God does not lock the doors of heaven to the unregenerate. They have no desire to go. They hate the place and what it stands for and who rules it.

    These verses you quote really prove that, in my opinion.
     
  15. Luke2427

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    I know that unregenerate man can do what we tend to consider good things. A lost mother can love and care for her child. A lost father and husband can work hard and provide a good living for his family. These are things we consider to be "good".

    But are they really?

    Proverbs tells us that the plowing of the wicked is sin. Plowing? What could possibly be evil about plowing a field to provide for one's own? The fact that the man who is doing it is evil to his core- and even plowing that field is done with the vilest of motives.

    He will take that produce that God causes to come up from the ground and he will devote it to his own purposes. He will rob God refusing to give God any of what God has blessed him with. Not a dime of that money will be used to get the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth. This man will take what God has invested in him and use it for his own desires with no concern whatsoever to the will of his Maker. He counts his own desires supreme to that of God who gave him the field and the plow and the produce and the strength to work. This is GREAT WICKEDNESS.

    He puts his family above his Creator- and why? Because they are his. He thinks the things that are his are more worthy of devotion than God. This makes him a blasphemous idolator.

    Every drop of sweat he releases into the dirt of the field he plows is reprehensible.

    And what he does is not good for his family, either. If he loved his family he would teach them to love God by devoting his firstfruits to God. But he teaches them NOT to love God. He teaches them to love their own instead of God. He plows his way down into hell with his children chained to the plow dragging them behind him.

    The plowing of the wicked is sin.
     
  16. Luke2427

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    This is a very good verse to apply to this discussion. I address this in post 15.

    I think the idea of the passage is that even evil people look out for their own. How much more does God?!

    But does that mean that looking out for your own with no regard for God is good?

    See if I address this to your satisfaction in post 15.
     
  17. Amy.G

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    Yes. It's still good. Caring for our children is good, whether a believer or an unbeliever.
    Will good works get a person into heaven? NO.


    Good works are good works but no matter how good a person's works are, they still have the problem of sin being on their account. One must believe in the sacrifice of Christ in order to have their sin blotted out from their account and have "paid in full" stamped on their bill.
     
  18. Luke2427

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    Good thoughts, Webdog- and I'm honestly not patronizing you. I know I have said that to several on here, but I actually do think that good thoughts are coming in from both sides on this issue.

    To the millionaires anecdote- I think I address that pretty well in post 15. If not, tell me where I have fallen short.

    Concerning Lazarus- He was regenerated by the word of Christ. He did not do anything while dead. He was made alive first- then he acted.

    This is how, I believe, the Bible teaches salvation takes place. Man is dead in his sins, totally incapable of coming to God. Christ quickens him by his word- this is regeneration. Now the spiritually alive man comes to Christ. He lives spiritually because Christ told him to.

    Jack and John are useful. Let me tell you why.

    Jack goes to hell and John goes to heaven.

    Why?

    Jack did not trust Christ- John did.

    Why?

    Jack's heart was harder

    Why? How did John's heart become soft?

    God softened John's heart through the Word of God.

    Why did God not soften Jack's heart?

    Jack would not let him.

    Why would John let God soften his heart and Jack refuse to let God soften his heart? Was John less depraved? Was Jack more sinful from his mother's womb?

    Jack was raised by (whatever you put here works) a fundamentalist bigoted preacher who turned Jack away from God. John was raised by tender loving Christian grandparents.

    OK. Did Jack have any say concerning what circumstance in which he would born? Did John?

    No. God controls that.

    Bingo! No matter how you slice it- God controls who gets saved.

    No, no, no, no! Man is to blame for Jack's condemnation. If Jack's father were not such an evil hypocrite then maybe Jack's heart would not have been so hard to the Gospel.

    OK. Why was Jack Sr. such a hypocrite? Why didn't he come to Christ when his childhood friend John Sr. did?

    ...


    And you follow this out and you will come to the same conclusion all the way back to the fall in Eden.

    The conclusion will always be that God controls who comes to Christ.

    You can blame society, you can blame Christians, you can blame whoever you want- and all of those blames would be legitimate. But no matter how you slice it- God controls who gets saved.
     
    #18 Luke2427, Nov 1, 2010
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  19. Luke2427

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    Certainly. I do not think for a second that anyone on either side of this issue believes that a sinner can do any good works to earn salvation. I am convinced that everyone involved in this discussion is firmly settled on the fact that, for salvation, all man's righteousnesses are filthy rags.

    But the question is- are what we consider good works done by the unregenerate really good works?

    Could it be that even those "good works" are iniquity before God?
    And if yes- then isn't what God considers iniquity- iniquity? If God says, "It is not good to me" then can we not say- "Then it is not good period"?

    If the sinner cares for his own because they are his own- whether of his family, his country, or the human race- is it necessarily "good"? Why? What makes it good?

    While caring for his own he does not care for God and it causes his every deed to be carried out with the vilest of purposes: godless motives, which will always, no matter how beneficial to others, always be idolatry.

    He might say to God at the judgment- "But Lord, Lord have not we cast out devils and prophecied in your name and do many wonderful WORKS?"

    But God will say to them- "Depart from me you WORKERS of iniquity. I never knew you."

    What they, and many of us, considered wonderful works- God considers iniquity.

    Therefore it IS iniquity because God is the measure; he is the definer.

    This passage in Matthew 7 I refer to is in the context of the "Know them by the fruit they bear..." remarks by Christ.

    Here is what he said: "A bad tree CANNOT bring forth good fruit..."

    It is impossible. Nothing, no works, no matter how wonderful and apparently beneficent to one's own, no works are good that come from an evil, unregenerate tree. No not one. He puts his own before his Maker. He will not give of his own to His Maker- not his money, not his children, not his country- he holds it as his own from God. So he CANNOT bring forth truly good fruit because he is godless and a self-worshiper. Everything he does comes from that corrupt tree and is as corrupt as its source.

    What do you think, Amy? Am I off?
     
    #19 Luke2427, Nov 1, 2010
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  20. webdog

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    If you are referring to the Proverb, you made the act of plowing the sin and not the heart condition behind the plower. True, putting one's family above God is sin...but...God also has instilled in into the heart of man His moral law of right and wrong (conscience) and requires us to care for our families regardless of our heart. Keeping God's law is always good regardless of the intent behind keeping it. Besides, if the plowing is reprehensible, is not the plower decreed to be reprehensible by God?
    I'm sorry, but in the zeal for supreme sovereignty this view strips Christ of any. If man has to be made alive IN ORDER to respond to Christ, Christ is powerless over death! I hear many reformed say the Holy Spirit had to resurrect Christ as well as Lazarus. Bologna! Christ is the Way the Truth and THE LIFE. There is no order of power in the Trinity.
    Here is where it falls apart and made me turn from this doctrine...the inconsistency. God softened John's heart (apart from John letting him) but God could not soften Jack's heart because Jack wouldn't "let him"?!? I thought Jack was a corpse and "it's all God"? How did Jack wield this power over God making Him powerless to do to him what He did to John?
    How can God control Jack's physical birth, but Jack controlled his spiritual one by not allowing God to do to him what He did to John?

    I agree God controls who is saved and regenerated, btw. He has decreed believers will be. He is in control (sovereign) over the whole salvation process without being controlling, which is not necessary to be sovereign.
     
    #20 webdog, Nov 1, 2010
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