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Total Inability

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Jack Williamson, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. What is often referred to as Total Inability is a teaching that man’s spiritual state is such that he is unable to believe in Christ or come to God on his own. I’d like to lay out the exegetical reasons that I believe this, and feel free to agree or disagree. I’d to read what you think pro or con.
    In John 6:44, Jesus said to a group, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him….” The specific wording Jesus used indicates an inability, “No one can [ability] come….” In both John 8:43 and 8:47, He also said the unbeliever cannot understand the Lord’s words. Jesus also said that those who commit sin are the slaves of sin (Jn. 8:34). In his portrayal of the human race, Paul described us as, “Separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, HAVING NO HOPE and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12, emphasis added). He further stated in I Cor. 1:18 that when the unsaved hear the Word of God, it sounds like foolishness to them. The word is actually the Greek term where the English word moron comes from which indicates that the gospel sounds like nothing but moronic babbling in the ears of the unsaved. The Apostle also stated in 2 Cor. 4:3-4 that the unsaved are blinded to the gospel by Satan himself, and that the unsaved were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). (The word here is NEKROS meaning dead in the sense of unresponsive. It is the most common term used to describe a corpse. If you pinch, kick, or stick a needle in the arm of a corpse, nothing will happen.) If a person lacks the ability to come to Christ, is deaf and blind to the gospel message, without hope, a slave to sin, and is dead to any stimuli, how can he on his own, believe in Christ?
    When Paul and his missionary team entered Europe for the first time in Acts 16:14, they brought the gospel to a group of women attending a riverside prayer meeting. One of the attendees was Lydia, and Luke records, “The Lord opened her heart….” (This is the usual word for open preceded in this instance by a preposition meaning “all the way.”) It was God who opened her heart and she believed in Christ. Would that indicate she was unable to do it herself?
    I’m often reminded of the picture in Ezekiel 37 of the Valley of Dry Bones. Ezekiel is told to go to this valley and preach, and he does. While he is preaching to this dead audience, God performs a miracle of attaching bone to bone and covering the bones with flesh and giving these bones life. Isn’t that a great picture of salvation? The human preacher gives the word and God performs his miracle of salvation and giving eternal life.
     
    Jacoj likes this.
  2. I am hesitant to answer because I think this may lead to a 'predestination argument trap'. But as I believe that all mankind is 'without excuse' as Paul said, I think for the average normal human being there comes a turning point in the maturation process ("age of knowing") that leads them to have to face the facts/ truth of the world around them-both physical and spiritual. Now because I believe in endowed 'free-will" from the creator, that means that even without a preacher preaching the Gospel-humans will somehow have to compensate for the 'spiritual' question. Since the distribution of people across the planet after the flood-peoples/ nations/ races "forget' God and so therefore created their own 'religions'/ practices/ theology. At one time 8 people KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that there was a God who was all powerful and willing to save those who sought after righteousness. To bad it didn't stick for the generations to come...

    So people who 'seek' the truth 'will find' because God will fulfill His promise to provide the message in their life-one way or another....
     
  3. No, there's no trap. Appreciate your views.
     
  4. Ephesians 2:1 kind of sums it up: 'dead in trespasses and sins'. Such people need to be quickened - made alive - by God's grace alone, as the chapter indicates.
     
  5. True: but you can't eliminate the element of faith-to accept salvation-by your own will.

    Ephesians 2:
    1 And a you He made alive, b who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 c in which you once walked according to the 1 course of this world, according to d the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in e the sons of disobedience, 3 f among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in g the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and h were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, i who is rich in mercy, because of His j great love with which He loved us, 5 k even when we were dead in trespasses, l made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together m in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in n His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 o For by grace you have been saved p through faith, and that not of yourselves; q it is the gift of God, 9 not of r works, lest anyone should s boast. 10 For we are t His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

    Faith comes after living in our sins...as the above scripture illustrates the concept. We must humble ourselves to our Holy God recognizing our sin nature in need of a Savior.

    Or we can ignore or reject that need....

    In a nutshell....we all come from the same stew pot. Verses 2 & 3

    Christ did the work-we have too accept that. Not by our own doing. FAITH is the first key to the kingdom. Once we recognize our need-God begins His work in us and will lead us to the truth of Salvation. Could be seconds, minutes, years.....

    We are made alive IF we have faith that God will provide...
     
  6. Sorry, Friend, but I don't see why you seem to find my post somehow unbalanced or threatening (I may have gotten a misleading impression). In terms of what Ephesians 2 says, the post seemed to reflect a plain fact. Blessings.
     
  7. I don't? My post was actually just and extension-further clarification on the portion of scripture you provided...

    The original question/ opening post:

    "What is often referred to as Total Inability is a teaching that man’s spiritual state is such that he is unable to believe in Christ or come to God on his own. I’d like to lay out the exegetical reasons that I believe this, and feel free to agree or disagree."

    So we are talking about an 'initial faith' issue-in my opinion. What I will call 'initial faith' is the recognition of our God and need for a savior. Can one come to that without the prodding of the Spirit? I believe yes-we have to make that choice in our personal spirit. Then once we acknowledge in spirit our need-THE Spirit comes along and works in us to guide us to the knowledge of salvation in Christ. But our initial response is our own:

    A: Acceptance
    B: Willful ignorance
    C: Rejection

    (I suppose you could include A1: Confusion-but eventually the Holy Spirit will lead a true seeker to the knowledge they need.)

    So my response to the opening post is: we MUST come to God on our own-we may not understand it at the time, but once we recognize by faith something greater than we are-His Grace moves in....

    Coming to God is our choice.

    Do I think that there are other circumstances that lead people to be 'saved': yes, but for the most part the majority follows this path.

    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:
     
    Rusty likes this.
  8. As I see it, according to the way the Lord Jesus proclaimed faith and repentance, He issued a command: 'Repent ye and believe the Gospel' (Mark 1:15). He was not engaging in a sort of citizens' negotiation in order to achieve cooperation; it was much more like a Commander-in-Chief issuing an order.

    The internal logic of Ephesians 2 seems to introduce faith in that context: those who are dead in trespasses and sins entirely depend on the wondrous grace of God to make them alive in Christ, to be received by simple, trusting faith in Him and His sin atoning work: by grace, through faith, not of works: sola gratia, sola fide.

    Blessings.
     
  9. So does everyone "repent and believe"? Just like some folks chose to follow one commandment and not another, yet Christ said:

    John 14:15
    If ye love me, keep my commandments.

    It's a good thing His Grace covers ALL sin past present and future....
     
  10. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
    Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
    Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

    But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
    Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
    And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
    That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast
    . (Eph. 2:1-9)

    Amen. Ephesians 2:1-9 shows the complete inability of any of us to come to Christ on our own. We were all headed on a path of destruction, and were "by nature children of wrath, even as others". But those wonderful words "BUT GOD.." appear in the middle of these verses. Divine intervention---complete GRACE stepped into our paths. God "made us alive (quickened us) in Christ," And it was a free gift.

    We had about as much ability to come to Christ as Lazarus did lying in that grave. Until Jesus called "Lazarus come forth!" he was as dead as he could possibly be. There was no way to make himself alive. None of us can choose to be "born-again"----we are "made alive" BY GOD HIMSELF. Praise the Lord salvation is a free gift---there is no room for boasting---there is no room for claiming we had some part in our salvation. Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ!
     
  11. Fish123:

    Well, exactly.

    It's all of grace.

    'All of grace, yes, grace surpassing,
    Such a portion to bestow,
    But the love, all knowledge passing,
    Grace has taught us now to know.

    Love that bore the stripes and sorrow,
    Love that suffered on the tree,
    Love that shares the bright tomorrow,
    With the loved ones, you and me.'

    Blessings.
     
  12. Jack is 100% correct. We owe EVERYTHING to God for every step of our salvation, including the faith that He gives us which makes it all possible.

    A lot of people (including me before I came to understand the Doctrine of Grace) believe that we have "free will" to "accept" or "reject" God. I think we believe this because we think we perceive this through experience. Unfortunately, the Bible does not teach this. In truth, the "free will" that we experience is an illusion. We freely "accept" God's grace because He calls us to Him as Jack clearly illustrated in his original post.

    Before this calling, before God regenerates us and gives us faith, we are unable to do this because in our default, unregenerate state we are hostile to God. God gives us the faith that we have. We cannot generate faith on our own accord.

    The unregenerate sinner is totally depraved. The following verses clearly show this:

    No one is righteous. No one understands. No one seeks God. No one does good. NO, NOT ONE. (Rom 3:10-12)
    He does not fear God. (Rom 3:18)
    His mind is hostile to God and CANNOT submit to God's law. (Rom 8:7)
    He CANNOT please God. (Rom 8:8)
    His heart is like stone. (Ez 11:19) (Ez 36:26)
    He is spiritually blind. (Eph 4:18)
    He is trapped in a domain of darkness. (Col 1:13)
    He is enslaved to sin. (John 8:34)
    He is UNABLE to hear God's word. (John 8:43)
    His heart is desperately wicked. (Jer 17:9)
    All sinful acts come from his heart. (Mark 7:21-23)
    The Gospel is folly to him. (1 Cor 1:18)
    He does not accept spiritual things. He is UNABLE to understand them. (1 Cor 2:14)

    A person who has a heart of stone, who is spiritually blind, enslaved to sin, trapped in a domain of darkness, hostile to God, desperately wicked, unable to hear God's word, who perceives the Gospel as foolishness will never exercise his "free will" to generate his own faith because he is unable to do this. It is not possible without God FIRST drawing us to Him, regenerating our heart so we can perceive spiritual things.

    God assigns you your measure of faith. (Rom 12:3) This is REAL grace.
     
  13. Hi Kurt75:

    You're right, and what you say is consistent with what the Lord Jesus Himself taught in John 6:44.

    "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him".

    Saving faith really is all of grace and not of works, and definitely not by some supposed meritorious works cooperation packaged as faith.

    Blessings.
     
  14. Look-I am not trying to win any arguments on this-just trying to offer a different perspective.

    Grace was given:

    "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters......And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth...And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul....And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."


    When you deny 'free will" you deny:

    "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons....And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

    Mankind was "predestined" to be 'like' God at the beginning-but not ALL men will come to Him that made them. ALL men are sinners in need of a Savior.

    Once you fall into the 'predestined' anti-freewill trap you are forced into thinking an 'elitist' mentality which is the same trap the Jews fell into believing that they were saved by 'bloodline' rather than by God's Grace & Mercy. They quit having 'faith' in God and put their faith in 'being born a Jew' rather than a Gentile. Now we do the same thing by saying 'God picked me'. God did pick you-He picked ALL of us-but most of us will end up rotten fruit without bearing any roots or additional fruit. The seed must die and go into the ground do that more fruit will spring forth. Some will become the roots, some branches, some fruit, some will be pruned, some will rot.

    We are called to serve our fellow man and to preach/ teach the Gospel. God wants the Church-the body of Christ to be responsible in creating and harvesting the next generation-this is how we LOVE our LORD. We appreciate the life he has given us and we become 'fruitful and multiple'. We teach the next generation to be in the Spirit-to 'remember' our God and where we came from...

    But the next generation doesn't have to chose God; I think that is pretty obvious looking at the state of the world. If the plowers, planters, waterers, pruners and harvesters aren't doing their job-the field goes to waste.
     
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  15. Brother Mike: I think that what the writer Molina called De Liberi Arbitrio is part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    But you are right in a sense that doctrinally it goes right back to the Fall, which is why people are 'dead in trespasses and sins', and in need of the grace of God in Christ.
     
  16. If I may just pick up on just one of your points: The problem which we face here is, How can a person be a free and responsible agent if his actions have been foreordained from eternity? If God foreknows an event as future, it must be as inevitably certain as if fore-ordained; and if one is inconsistent with free agency, the other is also. For example, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all the world should be taxed. That act of that one man was foretold in the pages of holy writ centuries before it occurred. Did Augustus have free will in that act? Could he have not issued that decree? If he hadn't, the prophecy would have failed. If we have a God who is limited either by an outside force or by his own acts, we have only a finite god who is not God at all. Consider Isa. 10:5-15. God says that He will send the Assyrians against a profane nation. If nothing else, this passage demonstrates that the king of Assyria, a proud and ungodly man, was but an instrument in the hands of God, just as the ax, the saw, or the rod in the hands of a man, to execute his purposes upon the Jews and that God had perfect control of him. It teaches, in the second place, that the free agency of the king was not destroyed or impaired by this control, but that he was perfectly free to form his own plans and to be governed by his own desires. For it is declared that he did not design to execute God's purpsoes, but to promote his own ambitious projects.
     
  17. #17 KingJ, Aug 5, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013
    Yes, sure we are all in sin / totally deprived. But we are not deprived of our free will to accept God from our state of depravity. Yes, when in a sinful state our heart is hard, cold, doesn't fear God, is spiritually blind.... but...everyone living has time from God and hope!! 2 Pet 3:9 Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    The Calvinist spin on total depravity goes against the grain of the word and requires us to ignore many scriptures. Like Acts 7:51 You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Hence, we have the ability to resist the Holy Spirit and this would obviously result in no regeneration. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Clearly stating we can all choose to submit to God. John 7:30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.). Note it says they rejected. Ie they had a choice!

    How many of us would be Christians if the message to come to Christ was ''Go into all the world, tell your family and friends that God so loved the world that He died for SOME of you and me''. (n)

    T = Total depravity (y) = All need a Saviour!
    U = Unconditional Election by God (n) = God is not partial!
    L = Limited atonement (n) = God is not partial!
    I = Irresistible Grace (n) = God is not partial!
    P = Perseverance (y)
     
  18. KINGJ: Why not call the OP total depravity?

    JACK: I could have. In my mind, Total Inability is a subset of Total Depravity. The famous five points of Calvinism were actually developed from the Synod of Dordt in response to the Arminian Remonstrates who offered their five points first. I think the English language version was altered in order to fit into the acronym of TULIP.

    KINGJ: Yes, sure we are all in sin / totally deprived. But we are not deprived of our free will to accept God from our state of depravity. Yes, when in a sinful state our heart is hard, cold, doesn't fear God, is spiritually blind.... but...everyone living has time from God and hope!! 2 Pet 3:9 Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    JACK: Perhaps on this issue we genuinely disagree. When Augustus decreed all the world to be counted and taxed, was he exercizing his free will? Yes, but that act on his part was foretold by the prophets centuries before and was an essential element to the God's plan in the birth of Christ. Could Augustus have done anything differently. No. You mentioned 2 Peter 3:9. Remember to whom Peter was writing. "...to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (1:1). He was writing to Christian believers. Hence, God is not willing that any [Christian believer] should perish and we don't. This is a great verse for the perseverence of the saints; the eternal security of the Christian.

    KINGJ: The Calvinist spin on total depravity goes against the grain of the word and requires us to ignore many scriptures. Like Acts 7:51 You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Hence, we have the ability to resist the Holy Spirit and this would obviously result in no regeneration. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Clearly stating we can all choose to submit to God. John 7:30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.). Note it says they rejected. Ie they had a a choice!

    JACK: Actually, the verse you quoted is ideal for total depravity. I'm not sure why you would say this. Doesn't it spell out the depravity of man? Of course, we have the ability to resist the Holy Spirit. Every Calvinists on the planet would agree with that. Man is always resiting the HS. Of course the Pharisees rejected God, that is evidence of a total depravity. You keep offering passages that say exactly what we Calvinists say.
     
  19. KingJ: John 8:36 says: 'If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed'. I would have thought that strictly speaking, the person is truly free in the exercise of his or her faculties after being born again rather than before.

    (Two cents'.)

    Blessings.
     
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