An Arminian Assaults Calvinism Continued…
The Flower of the Reformation
The Speaker’s Statement.
None of the Five Points of Calvinism are Scriptural, but are a false doctrine.
Sweeping statements and generalities are always troublesome to someone who would like a rational conversation. If a particular belief system, held by many godly people for two thousand years, is dismissed as a “false doctrine,” then there is no need to discuss anything.
The Five Points of Calvinism can be remembered by the acrostic TULIP.
T – Total Depravity, a reference to man’s total inability to affect his own salvation.
U – Unconditional Election
L – Limited Atonement, a reference to particular redemption
I – Irresistible Grace, a reference to God’s effectual calling of the elect.
P – Perseverance of the Saints, a reference to God’s faithfulness in keeping His own.
The Speaker’s Statement.
The speaker made his own affirmation of faith saying, “I believe in the total hereditary depravity of man.” “Do I believe in the Calvinist definition of total depravity? No, I do not.”
What did the speaker mean by Total Depravity? He meant that all people are sinners. In his own words: “We are sinners by nature, and not simply sinners by practice. Because of Adam’s sin, we all now have a sinful nature. We mean that every aspect of man has been affected by sin. The body has been affected by sin. Our minds have been affected by sin. It was said of those in the days of Noah that every imagination of their heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). Our spirit is affected by sin. Because we are sinners we are unable to bring about our own salvation based upon good works or merit. We are unable to save ourselves.”
It is ironic that what the speaker denies, he immediately affirms. The speaker denies the Calvinist definition of Total Depravity, and then provides a classic affirmation of the same with Scriptural support, as an appeal is made to the apostle Paul who said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Rom. 7:18). The speaker has an amazing capacity for inconsistency.
The Speaker’s Statement.
The speaker bemoans the Calvinist position, that a person outside of Christ cannot even repent. The speaker asserts that this is NOT what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that man can repent. He has been commanded by God to repent (Acts 17:3).
It is true that God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. However, the Bible goes on to teach that no man can repent on his own. While man is commanded to repent, he is unable to do what God commands. The Lord desires to show man how weak and helpless he is and how repentance is a gift of grace that must be GIVEN.
God GAVE repentance to Israel. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
God GAVE repentance to the Gentiles. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
God must GIVE repentance to any person, in order for them to acknowledge the truth. “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” (2 Tim. 2:25).
God must GIVE grace to repent, for a sinner, in and of themselves, are not inclined to do this, due to the Total Depravity of the soul.
“First and foremost, repentance is a gift. It is an act that the Holy Spirit works in us, resulting in an act that flows out of us. Although it is our act, it does not originate from within us. In fact, in our naturally stubborn, rebellious hearts, the whole notion of repentance is foreign. Just as our righteousness is a foreign, or “alien,” righteousness from Christ, so is our repentance. It is granted to us by God Himself. We would not even conceive of such a thing left to ourselves. Instead, we would come up with all sorts of excuses for our sin, and would point our depraved fingers at everyone else around. But by His grace, God grants repentance to His adopted children whom He patiently disciplines: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). For even when our minds grow weary, and our hearts doubt the promises of God, He remains faithful to His promises, and patient toward His people in the church “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)” (Buck Parson)
The Speaker’s Statement.
The speaker presents an unsourced quote, saying he does not believe it, because it is not Biblical. Here is the quote.
“Therefore all men, without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, are neither able, nor willing to turn to God.”
The quote the speaker gave may be taken, in part, from the Synod of Dort, Article 3 of the Third and Fourth Head of Doctrine.
“Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.”
The speaker says that this statement is not Biblical teaching. However, a simple appeal to Scripture reveals that the statement is very Biblical. Consider the Word of God, and what the Bible has to say about the natural man, the unregenerate man being neither able, nor willing, to return to God.
Man’s inability to return to God is affirmed in Scripture.
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23).
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8)
“God commands us to believe in Christ. He is pleased by those who choose Christ. If unregenerate people could choose Christ, then they could be subject to at least one of God’s commands, and they could at least do something that is pleasing to God. If that is so, then the apostle has erred here in insisting that those who are in the flesh can neither be subject to God, nor please him.
We conclude that fallen man is still free to choose what he desires, but because his desires are only wicked, he lacks the moral ability to come to Christ. As long as he remains in the flesh, unregenerate, he will never choose Christ. He cannot choose Christ precisely because he cannot act against his own will. He has no desire for Christ. He cannot choose what he does not desire. His fall is great. It is so great that only the effectual grace of God working in his heart can bring him to faith” (R. C. Sproul).
Man’s unwillingness to return to God is affirmed in Scripture.
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22).
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).