Category Archives: Total Depravity

The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace

pink-tulips-2009

Tulips are a major industry in the Netherlands, where a controversy over the doctrines of grace was settled by the Synod of Dort in 1619.

God is sovereign in his gracious salvation of sinners. These doctrines have been summarized by the popular acronym, TULIP.

T– The “Total Depravity” of the Sinner
Sinners are so completely sinful that they are unwilling and unable to do anything good to prepare themselves for salvation, let alone save themselves by good works. They do not always do the most sinful thing they possibly could, but no work of any kind that they perform can merit the righteousness they need to avoid eternal condemnation. This doctrine is also called “Radical Corruption.”

Romans 3:10-18

as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.” (Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3)
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive (Psalm 5:9).”
“The venom of asps is under their lips (Psalm 140:3).”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness (Psalm 10:7).”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known (Proverbs 1:16; Isaiah 59:7-8)”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes (Psalm 36:1).”

Romans 8:7

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

U–The “Unconditional Election” of the Father
Before creation, God graciously chose a remnant of fallen humanity and gave them to his Son as his Bride. No righteous merit of any kind in them serves as the basis of God’s gracious choice of these sinners; only God’s own pleasure and will.

Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Romans 9:11-13

…though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Ephesians1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

L–The “Limited Atonement” of the Son
On the cross Jesus Christ paid the ransom to the Father and effectually redeemed the remnant of fallen sinners which God graciously chose to give to him as his Bride. Sinners whom the Father has not graciously chosen are not redeemed by Christ on the cross. Christ’s atonement is necessarily “limited” in one way or the other: either it is limited in extent (Christ dying for the elect alone), or it is limited in power (only able to redeem sinners who by their own free will decide to receive this redemption). Also called “Particular Redemption.”

John 10:11

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Ephesians 5:25

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

John 17:2

…since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him…

I—The “Irresistible Grace” of the Spirit
Those fallen sinners whom the Father has graciously chosen according to his sovereign will and whom the Son has redeemed on the cross will not fail to come to faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit effectually gives spiritual life to the spiritually dead and in this way enables the chosen sinner to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3), and enter it (John 3:5) through faith alone in Christ alone. Also called, “Effectual Calling” (see also 2 Peter 1:10; Romans 11:29)

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 6:44

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (literally, “drags”) him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Acts 16:14b

The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

P—The “Perseverance” of the Saints
Those whom the Triune God has saved in this effectual way according to his sovereign grace and power he will keep, and they will persevere in faith and repentance until the end, be it his own death or the return of Christ.

James 1:4

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Matthew 24:13

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

God Imputes Righteousness, Not Faith

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification (Romans 4:5; 10:10); but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Believing is not a good work. It earns nothing. If there were such a thing as a righteous person other than Jesus Christ, there would be no need to impute his righteousness to him. For this hypothetical person who earns righteousness by his own good works, having Christ’s righteousness imputed or credited to him would be superfluous, redundant, and unnecessary.

Christ did not come to call those who think their righteousness is good enough. God did not send his Son to die for those who never come to admit that they deserve to die because of their sin. In Romans 4:5, Paul describes God as “him who justifies the ungodly.” The ungodly one who despairs of his inability to earn righteousness by his good works is the kind of person whom God justifies, or declares righteous in his sight.

In this same passage, Paul explains that  “his [the ungodly person’s] faith is counted as righteousness.” This is the biblical doctrine of imputation, and Paul elaborates on it in the rest of his sentence which concludes in verses 6 -8: “… just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts [imputes] righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count [impute, KJV] his sin.’” As you see, the Bible teaches that while a man’s faith may in one sense be “imputed,” or “counted” as righteousness, in a greater sense, what is really going on is that Christ’s righteousness is being imputed to the ungodly believer–the righteousness of Christ is counted as the righteousness of the ungodly believer. It is a careless misreading to interpret the Bible as teaching that God imputes faith to the ungodly; rather, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to him.

What, then, is the source of this faith by which we are justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ?  “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:10). In the song, “Rock of Ages,” Christians sing, “Nothing in my hand I bring/Simply to the cross I cling.” It is not the work of our hands by which we are justified, but the gracious gift of faith which emerges from a regenerate, spiritually living heart which has been newly freed from sin and empowered to rest on the finished work of his righteous Savior who has been crucified and risen for him. We may be justified by a righteousness that is not our own, but that righteousness is received by a faith that is very much our own, graciously enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Answer #73 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, then, further denies that the faith by which he is justified was not imputed to him—it was not the faith of another, but his own faith which arises by God’s grace from his own regenerate heart. His faith is the fruit grown on the good tree of his own regenerate heart.

How to make Joel Osteen nervous

Ask him a politically-charged question about biblical sexual morality.

It’s good that Joel was able to get what he’s bound to believe out of his mouth. He would do well to work toward not only believing these things, but also ministering these truths in the way Paul advised Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, which reads,

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For the record, according to Joel Osteen, he believes that the Bible teaches the following:

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…” (Leviticus 20:13).

“…and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error”(Romans 1:27).

“…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7; cf. Gen. 19).

But this next passage shows Joel should have also qualified his initially reassuring assertion to Oprah that “I think [homosexuals] will [go to heaven].” He does clarify that “they need forgiveness of their sins,” but this was an attempt to evade putting the two together until Oprah had to pull it out of him in uncertain terms. In this, he sounds nothing like the apostle Paul, whose inspired assertion is much clearer:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Fortunately for homosexuals who repent and for Joel Osteen, Paul goes on in verse 11 to proclaim:

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

It is the desire of every loving, right-minded Christian that the homosexuals should, by the grace of the Spirit of God,

  • believe the good news of forgiveness through the sinless life, atoning death and enlivening resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so be justified through faith alone…
  • repent of his sins, including the sin of homosexuality…
  • be washed clean in the waters of baptism…
  • learn to obey all that Christ taught, including his and his apostles’ teachings on sexual morality. Or, as Paul put it above “[be] sanctified.”

Short of this, the regrettable fact remains that the homosexual, as well as the sexually immoral, the idolater, the adulterer, the thief, the greedy, the drunkard, the reviler and the swindler, among other kinds of sinner, will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Theology, Ethics and . . . What?

I am currently reading Michael Horton’s Thanksgiving post at Out of the Horse’s Mouth (the White Horse Inn blog), “Joining the Thanksgiving Parade.” In his introduction, he brings up a famous quote–sort of a theological proverb. Here’s Horton’s words:

The Heidelberg Catechism, in fact, is structured in terms of Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude, leading G. C. Berkouwer to conclude, “The essence of theology is grace; the essence of ethics is gratitude.” Or, as we have say around here, duties (imperatives) are always grounded in gospel promise (indicatives). The appropriate response to a gift is thankfulness. (emphasis mine)

In light of this reminder, I simply have a question for students of Reformed theology in general, and the Heidelberg Catechism in particular:

  • If grace is the essence of theology, and gratitude is the essence of ethics, then guilt is the essence of what?

Please submit your answers in the comments thread.

May the grace of God in Christ crucified and risen to atone for your guilt inspire much gratitude in you this Thanksgiving!

A Case Study in Sin

The following long, tedious post is a small way of demonstrating just how comprehensively God’s law condemns the sin of man. It highlights the depth and breadth of our fallen nature that is bent on violating God’s law in every conceivable manner, and shows just how much we all, believer and unbeliever alike, deserve God’s eternal anger and torment.

 The following extensive description of what it means to keep God’s law also shows us just how thoroughly successful the Lord Jesus Christ was in keeping God’s law in every conceivable manner for his elect—those who come to believe.

 Finally, it shows the many-faceted way in which we who believe and have been forgiven for such egregious, heinous sin, can express our gratitude for the active obedience of Christ in perfectly keeping God’s law for us, and for his passive obedience in suffering the penalty of divine wrath which such deep, dark, extensive sin deserves.

 The church my family has been attending for the past year or more, has recently been going through the Heidelberg Catechism. Last Lord’s Day evening we recited, received instruction on, and discussed Lord’s Day 40, which consists of Question & Answer numbers 105-107, regarding what is required in the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.”

 Last night, the Lord showed me just how easy it is to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder. Several ladies converged on my house to carpool to a ladies meeting. One of those ladies brought her husband with her to stay with me and share a pizza and a movie while they are away. My wife and I used to attend another church with this couple, which church has a distinct reputation for hurting many of its members, and used to be a little more legalistic than it is today. In fact, in some ways, it appears to be changing into the very kind of church it used to stand against. Being a wounded former member of such a church provides many temptations to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder, namely by “dishonoring” and “hating” it in our “thoughts,” “words,” and “gestures” and “deeds,” as we neglect to “lay aside all desire of revenge.”

 This kind of sin has become such a habit for me, in particular, that it didn’t dawn on me that this was what we were doing, not even when one of the other members who were in attendance last Sunday evening during the catechism discussion walked in, and I felt compelled to jokingly explain that we were having a little fun at our former church’s expense. It didn’t dawn on me until several hours later. Hence the occasion for the following post.

 While it may appear so, this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but, as I explained above, an amplification of the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of what the Bible teaches about what all God requires of us in the sixth commandment. May it open your eyes to the depth of your sin, the extent of Christ’s righteousness and grace, and may it guide you in expressing your loving gratitude for his free gift of righteousness which can only be received by faith in Christ.

 

Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: (Matt. 5:21-22;26:52; Gen. 9:6) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (Eph. 4:26; Rom. 12:19; Matt. 5:25; 18:35) also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. (Rom. 13:14; Col. 2:23; Matt. 4:7) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Matt. 26:52; Rom. 13:4)

 

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (Pr. 14:30; Rom. 1:29) hatred, (1 John 2:9,11) anger, (James 1:20; Gal. 5:19-21) and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (1 John 3:15)

 

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; (Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10) to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (Eph. 4:2; Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 5:5,7,9; Rom. 12:18; Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 3:8; Col. 3:12; Rom. 12:10,15) and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (Ex. 23:5) and that we do good, even to our enemies. (Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21)

 

What does God require in the sixth commandment?

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hurt myself;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not willfully expose myself to any danger;

 For this reason, God has granted the right to human government alone to put murderers to death, as the just punishment of murder, and as a deterrent to murder by others.

But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

 In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors envy as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors hatred as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors anger as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors desire of revenge as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

 No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy.

Rev. John Brown on the Inabilities of Natural Reason

John Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible (1859)

The recent unpleasantness regarding Rob Bell’s rejection of orthodox thinking and teaching is sparking a concerted effort among my fellow Reformed bloggers and other online ministries to raise awareness that evangelicalism has been in decline for many years, and it is only accelerating. Bible believing Christians need to get back to the basics of what it means to believe the Bible.

To that end, I will begin a new series of excerpts from my antiquarian Self-Interpreting Bible, by the Rev. John Brown of Haddington, Scotland. One of his numerous helps in highlighting the Bible’s self-attestation to it’s inspiration as well as its self-interpretation, is an essay entitled, “An Introduction to the Right Understanding of the Oracles of God.” Chapter one of this lengthy introduction is called, “Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.”

In this chapter, Rev. Brown begins by demonstrating that there are some things which natural reason is unable to accomplish on its own. Such things are impossible to it without the aid of divine revelation. This fact is often something that even the most devout believer of the Bible forgets, and in such cases, the faith and practice of the church are undermined. Such is undoubtedly the case in the present controversy that has been sparked by natural reason in the form of Rob Bell’s postmodern liberalism.

No man, who is an unbiased free-thinker, can soberly hearken to the dictates of his natural reason, and seriously ponder the absurd and contradictory principles and practices which have been or are prevalent among mankind, without perceiving that the light, or even the law of nature, is altogether insufficient to direct us to true holiness, or lasting happiness, in our present lapsed condition.

It can give us no plain, distinct, convincing, pleasant, powerful, and lasting ideas of God. It cannot direct us in the right manner of worshipping him with due love, resignation, humility, self-denial, zeal, wisdom, sincerity, and fervent desire of the eternal enjoyment of him. It cannot show us our true happiness, which is suited to our highest powers, which may always be enjoyed without shame, suspicion, fear, or dread of loss or danger, and which will in every situation support and comfort us.

It can discover no true system of morality, perfect in its rules, means, and motives. It can discover no effectual incitements to virtue, drawn from the excellency and presence of God the law-giver, from the authority of his law, or from his discovering a proper regard to it in rewarding virtue and punishing vice. It cannot manifest in a striking manner the certainty, excellence, pleasure, and allurement of virtue in our heart, which will ripen us to that proper pitch of religion and virtue in our heart, which will ripen us for the full and immediate enjoyment of God. It cannot show us one perfect example of virtue, either among learned or unlearned heathens; nor give us any promise of God’s assisting us in the study of it.

It can discover no certainty that God will pardon our sins;

no proper atonement;

no actually pardoned sinner;

no happy soul, praising God for his pardoning mercy;

no spiritual worship, appointed by God for rebellious sinners;

no purpose, promise, perfection, or name of God, that his honour, or is intended in his patient bearing with sinners on earth;

nor does it afford any divine proclamation of pardon, nor even any incitement to us to forgive our injurers;

and, in fine, it cannot effectually sanctify our heart, nor produce that bent of will and affection, that inward peace with God, that sufficiency of light and strength from God, or that solid hope of eternal happiness, which is necessary to produce true holiness and virtue.

It cannot support us under heavy and bitter afflictions, by showing us God’s fatherly care of us, his promises to us, or his making all things to work together for our good; nor can it comfort us against death by certain views of his love to us, and providing everlasting life and happiness for us.

Total Depravity Implies Total Inability

Matthew 19:16-26 ESV

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

He said to him, “Which ones?”

And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

You see? The doctrines of grace are biblical, if one would only open his mind, heart and eyes to find them on the surface of the text of the Bible.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is the foundation of the rest of the doctrines of grace, also known as the TULIP. Edwin H. Palmer, in his book, The Five Points of Calvinism (©1972, Baker Books), outlines the doctrine of Total Depravity as follows (pages 9-16):

  1. What It Is Not
    1. It is not absolute depravity
    2. It is not a complete absence of relative good
  2. What It Is
    1. Positively: only and always sinning
    2. Negatively: total inability

i. Man cannot do the good

ii. Man cannot understand the good

iii. Man cannot desire the good

Palmer’s conclusion: “There are three lessons to be drawn from the Biblical teaching of the total depravity of man” (page 19)

  1. Total depravity explains the troubles in our world.
  2. A knowledge of total depravity should also teach us that we are thoroughly bad and in a terrible state of affairs unless God helps us.
  3. A knowledge of total depravity will teach a person that if he has a desire to ask God to help him, it is only because it is God who is working within him to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12, 13).
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