By Stanford Murrell
THE ORIGIN of MAN
A Confession of Faith
“In the beginning it pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the manifestation of the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.” (The Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 4, Section 1; study John 1:2,3; Heb. 1:2; Job 26:13; Rom. 1:20; Col. 1:16; Gen. 1:31).
The soul did not emanate from the substance of God for two reasons. First, emanation implies that the substance of God can become disturbed or changed, and this is unworthy of the character of God. God cannot become less than Himself. Second, substance is that in which attributes inhere. If men were able to partake of God’s essential substance they would possess the attributes of God, such as omniscience, infinity, omnipotence, etc. That is not possible. God will not give His intrinsic glory to anyone. (Isa. 48:11)
The soul is not a form of God for that would be Pantheism. God and man are separate beings and are not to be confounded or blended.
The soul is not the product of spontaneous generation. Science knows nothing of spontaneous generation except as a theory. Elaborate experiments and the most painstaking efforts and observation have ruled out spontaneous generation for this reason: "Research sponsored in part by NASA (for the purpose of enabling astronauts to recognize even the most rudimentary forms of life on other planets) has shown that the simplest type of protein molecule that could be said to be "living" is composed of a chain of at least 400 linked amino acids, and each amino acid is a specific combination of four or five basic chemical elements, and each chemical element is a unique assemblage of protons, electrons, and neutrons. It is thus inconceivable (to anyone but a doctrinaire evolutionist) that a living system could ever be formed by chance. (Scientific Creationism, edited by Henry M. Morris)
What the Soul Is
According to the Old Testament usage of the word nepes, the soul is the essence of man in the totality of his being. The breath of God blown into the body of Adam created "a living nepes" (Gen. 1:20; 2:7; Ex. 1:5). The soul is something that can hunger and thirst (Psa. 107:5) and can be distressed (Gen. 42:21). It is often used for the essence of self (Job 16:4; Psa. 124:7).
In the New Testament, the soul (psyche) is the life principle (Acts 20:10; Rev. 8:9) which is distinct from the body. John sees the "souls of those who had been slain," not "those who had been slain" (Rev. 6:9 cf. 20:4; Matt. 10:28; Luke 21:19; Jam. 1:21; 5:20).
Rational Objections to Evolution
¨ ¨ The Great Gaps. Science shows great gaps between different species and that each came without known antecedents in the lineal decent. One evolutionist, former Professor Joseph Le Conte, University Of California (c.1920), has confessed: “The evidence of geology today is that species seem to come into existence suddenly and in full perfection, remain substantially unchanged during the term of their existence and pass away in full perfection. Other species take their places apparently by substitution, not be transmutation.”
¨ ¨ The insufficiency of Time. When evolutionists assign millions and millions of years for the process of producing man, they do so without evidence. The Question may be justified whether the earth has been habitable millions of years. The oldest written records with verifiable chronology only dates back to the first dynasty in Egypt (c. 2200-2500 BC). There is a great discrepancy between the theory which says that man's unknown uncommon ancestors lived 30 too 70 million years ago (true modern man arrived 1-3 million years ago), and the record of civilization. While the concept is intriguing of infinite time to form the earth and all the life that is on earth, there is no evidence to support the theory.
¨ ¨ The Sterility of Birds. Equally opposed to the theory of evolution is the idea of the crossing of the species. Nature herself has closed the door to this possibility (note Gen. 1:24).
¨ ¨ The Remains of Men. The earliest remains of man are of high development, showing that man like the other species came upon the scene in the maturity of his being. There may be evidence for devolution or man going from a higher state of existence to a lower state as per Genesis 1-2, but there no is evidence that any man has going from a lower state to a higher form of existence. Radiocarbon dating methods have proven to be unreliable for establishing dates of antiquity, and evening more damaging is that lack of fossil evidence when population statistics are considered. From all the people that would have lived on earth in the last million years, even with a slow population growth rate, there is little evidence of the preservation of ancient man. If evolution is true, why there so little evidence in the fossil records? In the past, some extraordinary hoaxes have been offered by evolutionists to fool the public.
q q Neanderthal Man. In 1856 in the Neander Valley, near Dusseldorf, Germany a creature was found that was believed to be semi-erect and sub-human. "It is now known that Neanderthal man was fully erect and in most details was indistinguishable from modern man, his cranial capacity even exceeding that of modern man." (Evolution? The Fossils Say No, Duane T. Gish)
q q Java Man (Pithecanthropus erectus, "erect ape man"). It was in 1891 that Eugene Dubois, a Dutch physician made his discover of Pithecanthropus erectus in Trinil, Java. There was a single skull cap found. The next year, still digging in the same area but fifty feet away, Dubois discovered a thigh bone, along with two molar teeth. Assuming all the pieces belonged together, Dubois dated the find as a half million years old, and told the world. What he did not tell the world until thirty-one years later is that he had also found two obviously human skulls at the same time and on the same level as the digs. Just before his death, Dubois conceded that Java man was rally the remains of a large gibbon.
q q Piltdown Man (Eanthropus dawsoni, "Dawn Man"). Charles Dawson is credited with the discovery of "Dawn Man" in Piltdown, England in 1912. From a skull part and a few teeth, the little chap was dated to be from 500 to 750 thousand years old! In 1950, the bones of "Dawn Man" were put under the spotlight of truth: fluoride tests were done and a grand hoax was revealed. The skull portion unearthed had been stained with iron salts and the teeth had been deliberately filed down to give it the appearance of age.
q q Peking Man. Unearthed near Peking, China in 1912 by Davidson Bolack, this find consisted of the fragments of thirty skulls and 147 teeth. Today, Piltdown man is believed to be the remains of some large monkeys or baboons which were killed and eaten by those working in an ancient lime-burning quarry.
q q Nebraska Man ("Western Ape Man). Harold Cook informed the world that he had made a wonderful discovery in western Nebraska in 1922. What did he find? One tooth! ONE tooth! The world was made to wonder as an imagine artist drew a mouth around the ape-man that was declared to be six thousand years old. In 1927 the tooth was discovered to have really belong to an extinct pig.
q q East africa ape (zinjathropus). In 1959, National Geographic Magazine was all to happy to tell the world that Louis S.B. Leakey have made a marvelous discovery in Olduvia, Tanzania. A skull cap and a few bone fragments were produced and dated to be 2-4 million years old. Here at last was a real missing link. Or was it? Just prior to his death, Leakey admitted that he felt his find was nothing more than a variety of australopithecus (Southern ape) found in 1924.
¨ ¨ The Discrepancies between Kingdoms. Nature today, and the fossil records of the past continue to testify against evolution by demonstrating that some kingdoms in nature are vastly superiority to others. This would not be the case if evolution were true. Rather, there would be some sort of connection between the kingdoms to form a unified ecosystem. However, there cannot be found in the vegetable kingdom anything from which the characteristic features of animal life could be developed or vice versa. So too there is a vast gulf between the animal and man, despite the attempts of modern science since 1859 to show how similar man and animal are. Some dramatic differences may be noted.
q q Man alone is a rational creature. Animals may solve problems based on a biological urge but only man sits down to think, the way that a philosopher, professor, theologian, or someone in love does.
q q Man alone makes things by reason and free will, not according to instinct. "The instincts of animals remain the same from age to age. The bird still builds her nest and the bee her cell as they did at the Gate of Eden. There has been no progress in their mental development." (David Clark)
q q Only men build machines which are in themselves productive. Animals may use tool, but no animal makes a pattern or die press to stamp out other tools for mass production.
q q Man alone communicates thoughts based upon words and reasons. Animals communicate with sounds and grunts. They communicate emotions and impulses but nothing that can be asserted to be true or false.
¨ ¨ The Law of Entropy. There is a universal law of degeneration which argues against the evolutionary model. The law of entropy says that everything goes from order to disorder. There is a natural breakdown of all things. Physically, modern men is believed to be inferior to the ante-diluvian civilization (and mentally we may not be above the ancient Egyptians either; their inventions rival ours. It will be interesting to see if modern buildings will stand the test of time like the pyramids.) Rather than ascend ever upward, the body of man is wearing down just like all the things he builds and the universe itself. One day, the sun will stop shining, the earth will rotate no longer, and the starlights shall disappear. The universe is winding down, not up.
· · The Lack of Visual Evidence. If evolution is a cosmic process, it should be everywhere apparent and in actual operation before our eyes. Why is there no discernable evolutionary processes going on? Has everything in the evolutionary model reached such a stage of perfection that no advance is possible? Evolutionary science is strangely silence before such questions.
· · The Logical Impossibility of the Evolutionary Process. If intelligent cross breeding has failed to produce a single new species in ideal laboratory conditions, what probability is there that blind chance or natural selection could do so? Natural selection will not be able to do what intelligent selection cannot do.
A theory of Recapitulation
The Embryological Recapitulation Theory argues that the unborn child passes through the various forms that the race is supposed to have traversed. It is argued that each person in the womb moves from the protoplasmic cell, through invertebrate life, to fish, quadrupeds, and finally to man. This theory was once held to be the most convincing demonstration of the evolutionary claims.
In response, it is admitted that there is a cursory resemblance between the fetus of a human and that of some animal forms. But the resemblances are only superficial for one can see life similarities in other things such as unusual cloud formation, rain puddles, and rock formations. King Ahab said that he saw, "a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." (1 Kings 18:44) The following points are worthy of consideration.
· · It is only a pre-suppositional thought that says that the human embryo in its early stages is an actual representation of a mass of protoplasm that is the same as the lower form of life, which is little more than a globule of protoplasm.
· · It is only a pre-suppositional thought that say that the elongation into the form of an infant must necessarily reflect the shape of a fish.
· · It is only a pre-suppositional thought which supposes that as the as legs and arms develop, they have the same likeness to a quadruped.
· · It is only a pre-suppositional thought that sees the folds in the skin of the neck resembling the gills of a fish. In reality, all these things are superficial and prove nothing as to the background of the human race. Besides, the real difference in fetal development lies in that which is not physical but spiritual.
The Recapitulation theory Does not Matter
Even if somehow the recapitulation theory of evolution could be proven true, “what has been accomplished in building the long stairway from the ameba to man if every man must begin for himself at the lowest point, a cell of protoplasm? If man could begin where the animal development left off, there might be some purpose discerned in the evolutionary process. But how absurd it is to suppose that it took the cosmic forces millions and millions of years to do what the human embryo does in nine months! “ (David Clark)
The Harm of Change
The truth of the matter is that the whole science of reproduction demonstrates that cross breeding small hereditary changes do not accumulate to the making of a species. In addition, both macro and micro-mutations have been proven to be essentially harmful to a species over a period of time. Macro mutation refers to the sudden change in a organism such as an arm, eye, or leg suddenly appearing. Micro-mutation refers to small incremental differences from in a species over a prolonged period.
The Fossils Say No!
Evolutionists have always suspected that nature has destroyed millions of life forms. If these discarded life forms could be recovered, they would prove the evolutionary theory to be correct. (Perhaps nature has a sense of humor in that it destroys the very forms needed by its advocates while preserving the rest.) The truth of the matter is that the fossil record bears witness against evolution. In some fossil sites with a continuous deposit being made of nearly two thousand species, all of them appeared suddenly. No fossil has ever been shown as having passed away to be superseded by other forms. Though embarrassing to the evolutionist, some geological sites in the world reverse the order in which life was supposed to appear on the globe. Pre-Cambrian strata (alleged to be the earliest of geological history) and fossils supposedly old lie in complacent conformity to underlying cretaceous (chalky) strata (of the Mesozoic era) and fossils supposedly young. Why is this? The answer is simple: there are no credible signs of the most infinitesimal, let alone intermediate, variations in the fossil records between one species and another. In the beginning, God created all the animals and all forms of life within a six literal day period. Therefore, the Creationist (Christian) would expect to find things together. As far as the rock formations being mixed up, the Bible explains this better than the evolutionist. The Biblical answer is that there was a flood that churned up the earth. (Gen. 6-7) The Genesis model of reveals the Catastrophism of the Flood and is more consistent with the known facts than the evolutionary model of Uniformtarianism that teaches that the earth was formed by layers of rock upon layers.
Questions Raised by the theory of Evolution
The theory of evolution raises a number of religious questions that are not easily dismissed by conscientious Christians. (proposed by David Clark)
· · “Is there a beginning as recorded in Genesis 1:1, or is there only an eternal becoming?”
· · “Is God infinite and eternal, according to the Scriptures, or only a finite and developing deity, a figment of the minds of men who are themselves only the product of time plus space plus chance?”
· · “Does God reign supreme over His universe, or does He even exist?”
· · “Is God subject to a higher power or a community of powers?”
· · “Was man, in his entirety, created in the image of God, or has his body and soul developed from the beast?”
· · “Did man fall from the image of God, or did he arise from animalism and savagery?”
· · “Is sin contrary to God’s will, or is sin merely the lack of full spiritual development?”
· · “Are the doctrines of Judaism and Christianity a divine revelation, or only the outgrowth of innate human tendencies?”
· · “Did man begin to worship God with fetishes and grew to monotheism, or did man begin worship with monotheism and fell into fetishism and animism?”
· · “Did the Bible produce civilization, or did civilization produce the Bible?”
· · “Are the Scriptures inerrant and infallible, a revelation from God, or are the Scriptures merely the record of progressive religious experience?”
· · “Is salvation a supernatural intervention into the affairs of sinful men, or just the outgrowth of inherent natural forces seeking to feel sorrow?”
· · “Does prophecy maintains its predictive element, and miracles their supernatural power or. are do these things that have a natural explanation?”
THE ORIGIN of the SOUL
How Does the Soul Come into Existence?
While people are very careless with their souls, the Bible teaches us its immortal value. Jesus said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36,37) Because the soul is of utmost importance, it is good to consider the basics such as the origin of the soul. Concerning this issue, various positions have been advocated.
· · Man being a single entity, consisting of soul and body, must be one; so that he may not be both older and younger than himself--"that in him which is bodily being first, and the other coming after" (Eastern Church father, Gregory of Nyssa, c. AD 331-c. 396 )
· · The fact of hereditary traits in a person’s mental and moral make up.
· · The sinful nature passed on from Adam to his posterity. Special note: Apart from Traducianism, it is hard to maintain the justice of God in the punishment of inherited sin. It is difficult for Creationism's position (i.e., that each soul is created individually) to explain how each soul is created sinful. Traducianism best accounts for the universality of sin.
v v Special note. Among the angels, some fell (Rev. 12:4) and some did not (Psa. 148:2) because there was no racial connection and no transmission of sinful nature from one to another in the act of procreation.
Arguments From Scripture for Traducianism
One of the strongest arguments from Scripture for Traducianism is the fact that as all animals were derived from the first parents, so all men are derived from Adam (Gen. 1:27). Only once is the spark of life said to be breathed into man, and he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7, cf. 2:22; 1 Cor. 11:8; Gen. 4:1; 5:3; 46:26; cf. Acts 17:21-26; Heb. 7:10). After God created man, He is said to have ceased from His creative work (Gen. 2:2) though His sustaining work continues for it is "in Him we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Then there is the matter of heredity whereby the sin nature is passed on and even judged in the third and fourth generation (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9). Jonathan Edwards understood this principle and prayed for his children and his children's children to the end of time. He believed that the superintending of all things were under the hands of Divine Providence.
John 1:13 "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." This verse contrasts spiritual birth with natural birth, implying that natural birth is traducian.
John 3:6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." In this citation the word “flesh” is understood to mean the whole man is unregenerate.
Romans 1:3. "Concerning his Son who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh."
Romans 5:12 "By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for that all sinned."
1 Corinthians 15:22 "As in Adam al die."
Ephesians 2:3 "By nature the children of wrath even as others."
Hebrews 7:10 "For he [Levi] was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him."
Isaiah 57:16 “The souls that I have made.”
Ecclesiastes 12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it.”
Hebrews 12:9 “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
Zechariah 12:1 “The Lord who formeth the spirit of man within him.”
Critics of Creationism
In addition to the Scriptures, Individuality is often urged as an argument for Creationism. It is argued that there are dramatic distinction between the parents and the child that cannot be explained by mere reproduction. Those who oppose Creationism note that the dramatic distinctions between parent and children exist for a logical reason: every child has two parents, four grandparents, eight great grandparents etc. This mixed heritage provides a sufficient cause for the great variety of personalities and individuality between parents and children.
Concerning the passages of Scripture speaking of God as creator, they may be regarded as expressing God's mediate agency in the origin of the soul. God is also said to be the Creator of the body (cp. Psa. 139:13,14; Jer. 1:5).
Also, in opposition to Creationism, there is the matter of man being better than the animals. If man produces the body through procreation and God creates the soul, then man is not better than the animals for they produce body and spirit after their own image.
Finally, God is not the direct author of moral evil which Creationism would have to advocate.
Concerning Creationism and Traducianism, it can be noted that each view faces a difficulty. Creationism must explain the sinful nature of each created soul while Traducianism must explain how an indivisible spiritual substance transmits itself.
THE NATURE of MAN
Dichotomy: a Division between Soul and Body
According to Genesis 2:7 man is composed of two substances, and only two, body and soul. Genesis 2:7 declares that, “The Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The body is material substance; the soul is spiritual substance. Substance may be defined as that which has being, properties, and potency (power); substance is that in which attributes inhere.
The attributes or properties of matter are: bulk, weight, hardness, form, etc. The attributes of spirit are: thought, volition (choice), affections, and conscience. These substances, body and spirit, are different because their properties or attributes are different and opposite. The properties of matter do not belong to spirit, and the attributes of spirit do not belong to matter and yet these two substances do unite to constitute man. There is the body, which is matter; there is the soul, which is spirit. There are no other substances to man. Of the two, the soul is the more important for it is the soul that gives life to the body. When the soul is withdrawn, the body is dead for the soul is the seat of the personality. Consciousness of these things can lead to a favorable view of the dichotomy: individuals know themselves to be body and soul.
Scriptural Evidence of Dichotomy
In the creation record mention is made of man's body and soul, but nothing more. Elsewhere, the Scriptures frequently mention body and soul together, but nothing more.
1 Kings 17:21 "Let the child’s soul come to him again."
Ecclesiastes 12:7 "The dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit unto God who gave it."
James 2:26 "The body apart from the spirit is dead."
Matthew 10:28 "Able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”
1 Corinthians 5:3 “For I being absent in body but present in spirit.”
The relation of the soul and body to each other is mysterious and almost incomprehensible. How the body acts on the mind, and how the mind acts on the body, cannot be fully comprehended though the experience is known each day. The mind compels the body to act and it acts. The body conveys impressions of the external world to the mind and the mind receives the same. Emotions of the mind affect the body so that their is blushing, or confusion. Diseases of the body, especially of the brain, affect and disorder the mind. Back and forth the interaction of body and mind moves to produce a great mystery.
Trichotomy (from tricha, 'in three parts' and temno, "to cut" = composed of three parts) is the view that man is composed of three substances: body, soul, and spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Church has generally held to Trichotomy. Their belief is best articulated by the Greek Orthodox priest John of Damascus (c. 675-749) who speaks of the soul as the sensuous life-principle which takes up the spirit--the spirit being an emanation from God. The Western church, on the other hand, has generally held to dichotomy. An appeal for Trichotomy is made from the Scriptures.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Arguments against the Trichotomous theory
Those who advocate the Trichotomous Theory are not united as to what constitutes the substance of soul and spirit independently. Therefore, the following arguments are used against the Trichotomous Theory.
The Scriptures use the terms soul (psyche) and spirit (pneuma) interchangeably.
Genesis 41:8 "His spirit was troubled.”
Psalms 42:6 “O my God my soul is cast down within me.”
John 13:21 "He was troubled in spirit.”
To state the matter simply: the soul is the same as the spirit. The term for soul (psyche) speaks of man's immaterial part in its inferior powers and activities. Man is a conscious individual. He has a basic form of life along with appetites, imagination, memory, and understanding. However, there is a need to bring attention to the higher capacities which resides within man's faculties. The term spirit (pneuma) does this by bringing the individual into the presence of God. In the presence of his Makes, created in His image, man manifests powers of reason, conscience, and will. (A.H. Strong) In summary, “The distinction between psyche and pneuma is a functional, and not a substantial distinction.”—W.W. Goodwin
¨ ¨ The terms spirit and soul are used of the animal creation.
Ecclesiastes 3:21 "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"
Revelation 16:3 "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul [i.e., fish] died in the sea."
¨ ¨ The soul is ascribed to the Lord.
Amos 6:8 "The Lord God hath sworn by Himself" (lit. "by his soul")
Isaiah 42:1 "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth."
Jeremiah 9:9 "Shall I not visit them for these things? Saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"
Hebrews 10:38 "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
¨ ¨ Those who are dead are called souls.
Revelation 6:9 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held."
¨ ¨ The highest expressions of religion are ascribes to the soul.
Matthew 22:27 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul."
Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul."
Luke 1:46 "And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord."
Hebrews 6:19 "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul."
James 1:21 "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."
¨ ¨ To lose one's soul is to lose everything.
Mark 8:36 "Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
¨ ¨ Those passages expressing a three-fold division may be explained.
q q In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul does use the expression “spirit and soul and body,” but only to express man in his totality; his spiritual nature, his bodily nature, and the functional life due to their union.
q q In like manner, Hebrews 4:12 speaks of dividing "the soul and spirit"; however, the sense is not that of separating one from the other, but cutting, or smashing through, as you might cut a steak into two pieces. The words are not meant to two things per se, but the cutting in two of a single thing.
q q In the account of man’s creation and death mention is made of only two substances, the one matter, the other spirit. Therefore, Ecclesiastes 12:7 is right to speak of the spirit going back to God. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit to God who gave it.”
The conclusion is this: the spirit of man is not something higher than the soul of man, nor different from the soul. The soul and spirit are one and the same. "As to the distinction between “soul” and “spirit” perhaps it is best to say that soul refers to the immaterial part of man regarded as a human personality, while spirit refers to that same immaterial part with reference to its substance, or as to its divine origin." (David Clark)
Three Main theories as to Free agency
Within the soul of man is the capacity to make choices. The question arises, "Is man a free agent?"
¨ ¨ Fatalism. This doctrine teaches that all events are determined by a blind necessity. There is no freedom of the individual, no liberty of choice, and no self-determination. All things must be as they are with no possibility of being different. In this view there is no free agency. The cause of this necessity may be in the nature of things, or the uniformity of natural laws over which there is no intelligent control, or even in the decree of God. Fatalism destroys all responsibility and therefore destroys all morality.
¨ ¨ Self-determination. This doctrine teaches that man’s will is independent of his other faculties. Man decides, or may decide, something irrespective of his knowledge, feelings, conscience, desires, inclinations, or inducements. If this is true, it means that man is free to act irrationally.
Self-determinism is partially true: man is free to choose. However, the will does not act regardless of all considerations, but is determined by the contents of the other faculties. The will is always influenced by character or nature and by external inducements. The will is always bound by God and subject to the laws of the universe in which man live's including the laws of his own being. Properly speaking, it is not the will that acts, but the whole man that wills.
¨ ¨ Free agency. The doctrine of Free Agency teaches that a man acts free from compulsion by some external power. Man acts in accordance with his own nature and under the influence of his knowledge, desires, feelings, inclinations and character.
No one denies that man has a will, that is, a faculty of choosing what he wishes to say, do and think. “God has indued the will of man, by nature, with liberty and the power to choose and to act upon his choice. This free will is neither forced, nor destined by any necessity of nature to do good or evil.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 1, Section 1; study Matt. 17;12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19)
q q Observation. While the will of man is not forced, neither is it neutral. The Bible teaches that the will of man in Adam is weak. This is easily proved by circumstances (Gen. 50:20 cp. Prov. 16:9; Jer. 10:23; Luke 12:18-20), and by wrong moral choices (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 3:12; 1:21; 3:11; Jer. 13:23). What man must openly confess is that he is not independent of God, nor of the laws of the universe, nor of his own nature.
The Bible teaches that a man is a free agent, bids him choose, and holds him responsible for his choice. If man were not a free agent, he would have no responsibility. On the whole, man acts as he thinks and feels and in accordance with his character or nature. Free agency, however, has its limitations. The limitations are severe due to the fall into sin. “Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but he was unstable, so that he might fall from this condition.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 9, Section 2; study Eccles. 7:29; Gen. 3:6)
“Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 9, Section 2; study Rom. 5:6; 8:7; Eph. 2:1,5; Tit. 3:3-5; John 6:44).
q q Because of the Fall there are many things in which man’s free agency plays no part. No man has ever had a chance to say whether he would initially exist or not. His consent is never asked in the matter. When existence was given to man, he never had a chance to say either yes, or no. Existence has been thrust upon man, and a heavy hand impels him through a series of experiences, of joys and sorrows, of tears and fears, of wants and woes, of triumphs and tragedies, without pause, without stop, without retreat, or even the possibility of them. Because "Someone" is making a lot of choices on behalf of every person on planet earth, the power of Free Agency should not be overemphasized.
q q “We must recognize the limits of free agency; that we are bounded by God and His absolute sovereignty; and by certain laws and conditions which God hath impressed upon our being and the universe in which we live. We are free agents within certain limits, and beyond these limits we are absolutely dependent on the God who made us, and whose providence controls the arrow’s flight and the sparrow’s fall.” (David Clark)
Charles Gore, formerly Bishop of Oxford wrote, “No doubt the free will of men has been absurdly exaggerated. As a fact it is strictly limited. There is no such thing as human independence. All the forces which any man employs, in choosing or carrying out his choice, are drawn from beyond himself. His conditions determine the channels along which he must use the powers which are available. Nevertheless, in the heart of this world of determinate and determinated forces and laws there lies this mysterious and unique thing free choice.”
C. H. Spurgeon stated forcefully that, "Free will has carried many souls to hell but never a soul to heaven."
The Relation of Free Will to Regeneration
It is to be remembered that regeneration comes by divine intervention to change the nature and determine the life. No free agent is above God. This is proven by the fact that no man is an agent in his regeneration. While the new creation or new birth is not a violation of free agency any more than man’s initial creation at birth violates free agency, the truth is this: “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin, and by grace alone He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. But because of his remaining corruptions he does not only (or perfectly) will that which is good, but also wills that which is evil.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 9, Section 4; study Col. 1:13; John 8:36; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 7:15,18,19,21,23).
If God does not regenerate man, if God does free individuals, then they are certain to remain in bondage to sin and, consistent with "free" will, they will continue to act according to a depraved nature. The choices will always be sinful (Rom. 6:16-17; John 8:34). A sinner can do nothing but sin (Rom. 8:7-8) until grace sets the soul free (Rom. 6:14-15,18,22 cp. 2 Cor. 5:17).
THE ORIGINAL STATE of MAN
From the Hand of God
The Soul was Created in the Image of God
This includes knowledge, holiness, moral nature, rational nature, free agency, dominion, etc. Man was created capable of communion with God. The implications in this fact are many and important; bearing on the being of God, the nature of God, the a priori certainty of a revelation etc.
How did God Create Man?
God created man male and female after his own image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness with dominion over the creatures.
Selected Views of Man's Original State
The teachings of Pelagius arose because of a desire to make man responsible for his acts. Unfortunately, nothing is really said about the character out of which the acts proceed which need to be turned away from and that is the heart of the issue. The Scriptures show that acts proceed from character. In the final analysis, Pelagianism is nothing more than rationalized moralism. It knows nothing of redemption.
A covenant is an agreement or promise between two or more persons based upon specific conditions. God being infinitely superior to Adam might impose a covenant with or without consent; but there is every believe that Adam acquiesced in it.
Genesis 2:17. "But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
Genesis 2:16,17 “And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
¨ ¨ The parties of the First Covenant were Adam and God.
¨ ¨ The conditions of the First Covenant demanded perfect obedience on the part of man.
¨ ¨ The penalty of this First Covenant was spiritual and physical death.
¨ ¨ The promise of the First Covenant went beyond natural life for Adam already had that. The promise is not stated in the narrative but implied in the alternative of death according to Scripture.
Romans 10:5 “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.”
Galatians 3:12, “And the law is not of faith; but, the man that doeth them shall live in them.”
¨ ¨ All the plan of redemption is presented as a covenant: to Noah, to Abraham, and to Israel. The old and new dispensations are covenants. So evidently here. Here are all the signs and parts of a covenant.
The observance of this covenant for a certain time constituted a fair probation because Adam was fortified by his holy nature, a happy environment, fellowship with God, and positive warnings and promises. Tragically, Adam’s holiness was not established by a long continuance in a state of innocence. Because he was not indefectible and because of a capacity to sin, Adam yielded to the insinuations and persuasion of Satan and fell as did all of his posterity with him. Had Adam stood the test his character would have become fixed and immutable like the elect angels in heaven.
When God first created man, he was not confirmed in holiness. Confirmation was to come in the form of a test after a period of probation. If Adam was tempted to sin and resisted, not only would the elect angels rejoice, but also Satan was to have been removed from Eden as righteousness reigned on Earth. The day of testing came. The conditions were clear. Man was not to eat of a particular tree in the garden. It was as simple and as serious as that.
“Besides the law written in their hearts, they [Adam and Eve] received a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which whilst they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 4, Section 3; study Gen. 2:17; Gen. 1:26,28).
The Bible records what happened. Ignoring the specific commandment of the Sovereign, Adam ate of the forbidden fruit and immediately fell from an exalted state to an inferior position. Though a fall is denied by evolutionist, pantheists, and others, it remains a historical fact taught in Scripture and supported by the Saviour.
¨ ¨ A psychological difficulty. How could a holy creation such as Adam entertain a desire to sin? How could a sinful volition originate in a holy will? If desire and character determine volition, how can a holy character have a sinful volition?
¨ ¨ A moral difficulty. Why did a holy God permit sin?
God could have prevented sin but He chose to allow sin for reasons not known. The only thing that is certain is that God made man a free agent to choose for himself-- and man chose to do wrong. That is the bad news. The good news is that God can still over-rule acts of sin for eventual good. The best news is that He does. The love of God is more evident in redemption than if man had never sinned. Still, after all is said, the origin of sin must ever remain a mystery and the reason for it inscrutable.
The beginning of sin and apostasy is usually in some slight defection that does not shock the moral sense. But the first step having been taken, the descent to greater iniquity follows with increasing rapidity. Adam, having disobeyed, and corrupted his nature, gave a bias to his posterity. Quickly did the fruits appear. The first man born killed the second, and the degeneracy of the race went on by leaps and bounds till it culminated in destruction by the deluge (Gen. 6-7).
The Fall was more than a mere misfortune, it corrupted the spiritual nature of the human race. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” (John 3:6) All mankind inherited a sinful nature, which in itself is sin. Sinfulness is sin; and all sin and sinfulness is condemned by the law of God. “We are by nature the children of wrath even as others.”
(Eph. 2:3) The human race was lost in the fall.
According to Scripture, the relation of Adam to posterity is set forth as being a federal representative.
Romans 5:12 “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all [have] sinned.”
Romans 5:14 “Death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.”
Romans 5:17 “By the offence of one death reigned by one.”
Romans 5:19 “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.”
1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die.”
There has been much debate over whether there was a mediate or an immediate imputation of Adam’s sin to the human race. A mediate imputation means that sin is passed on through the medium of natural generation or heredity. An immediate imputation means that there is a direct imputation of sin without any medium whatsoever. Did the penalty of sin fall on the human race directly, or indirectly through the medium of an inherited corrupt nature?
The evidence indicates that there is an element of immediate imputation of Adam's sin to the human race for death is the direct and immediate consequence of sin in every generation. The conclusion seems obvious. The human race was prospectively dead the moment that Adam sinned. But there is an element of mediateness in the fact that the corruption of nature and the penalty on the individual took actual effect through a natural generation or transmission of nature.
The existence of sin is pointedly set forth in Scripture.
Jeremiah 17:9. “The heart of man is deceitful above things and desperately wicked.”
Psalms 14:3. “There is none that doeth good no not one.”
Isaiah 53:6. “All we like sheep have gone astray.”
Romans 3:9. “We have before proved both Jew and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.”
1 John 1:8. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
1 John 1:10. “If we say that we have not sinned we make him a liar, and the truth is not in us.”
Consciousness distinguishes between pleasure and pain; between happiness and misery; between perceptions and intuitions. So it also distinguishes between right and wrong. It thus bears testimony to the fact of evil. The fact of sin is universal conviction. All nations under all forms of religion are conscious of sin, and that sin is a specific thing different from all other affections of the soul. The heathen religions are so many witnesses to the facts of human nature, and all display a consciousness of sin and need of reconciliation with a Supreme Being. Every babe that was ever thrown into the fires of Moloch, or into the pit of a heathen temple or cat into the Ganges to feed the crocodiles, and every act of asceticism, or flagellation, or bodily humiliation, every altar that ever ran red with the blood of a victim is an outstanding confession of the consciousness of sin. The heathen religions are but the mighty efforts of the human spirit to express its religious convictions and solve the age long Question propounded by Job, “How shall a man be just with God?” Man everywhere feels himself subject to a law of right and knows that he ought to do the right and refrain from the wrong. He knows also that he has not done the right and has done the wrong.
The testimony of consciousness goes farther, it leads to a personal God. The universal human heart feels responsible to a being higher than man and over all men, who commends or condemns him in conduct and character. The sense of obligation in men always relates itself to a being who may be pleased or displeased, and that being and his will constitute the law of right and wrong. Thus man’s innate being bears witness to sin.
Sin is one of the most obvious and persistent facts in the history of the human race. It has filled the world with misery from Adam’s day till now. No one can escape the evidence of it. Every broken heart, every blasted home, every scene of carnage on the battlefield, every reeling drunkard, every felon behind the grated door of a prison presents the sad evidence of sin. It confronts us every day in every scene we look upon. No man can shut his eyes to it, nor shut the consciousness of it out of his heart. If any man denies his own sinfulness it will be quite sufficient to ask his neighbors. Mr. Moody said, “If any man claims sinlessness, I should like to ask his wife.”
A missionary relates that he was once telling a company of heathen that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin,” when a heathen man arose and said, “I deny your premise; I am not a sinner; I have no sin.” The missionary was disturbed for a moment, he had never heard any one so categorically deny the fact of sin. He paused a moment to form an answer; but he had no need. A voice arose from the assembled crowd: “HO! he cheated me trading horses.” Promptly another voice shouted, “HA! he defrauded a widow out of her inheritance.” the boaster dropped his head, disappeared and never came back. It is not easy to deny the fact of sin.
A Biblical Definition of Sin
The Bible says that sin is failure to conform to the will of the Lord; it is the transgression of the moral law of God.
1 John 3:4. "Sin is the transgression of the law."
1 John 5:17. "All righteousness is sin."
The true nature of sin is that it is contrary to God. “This is what makes sin to be sin—not limitation, nor selfishness, nor sensuousness, but discord with God. If there were no law of God there would be no sin, neither would there be any moral good.” (David Clark) The intent of sin is to live supremely for oneself at all costs. There is no ignorance involved in sin.
John 9:41 "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
James 4:17 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
John 15:22 "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin."
John 15:24 "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father."
· · Sin is not a slip. Sin is premeditated, deliberate, and treacherous (1 Tim. 2:4).
· · Sin is not a corruption of the substance of the soul.
· · Sin is not the mixture of some other substance with the soul. After the fall the soul of man was still a spiritual substance, or a spiritual substance inhabiting a body.
· · Sin is a corruption of the faculties and especially of the moral character of the soul.
· · Sin has relation to the law of God in that it is a departure from God and from His law.
· · Sin includes pollution and guilt. Guilt embraces the two ideas of blameworthiness and liability to punishment. Christ in assuming our guilt took our liability but not our blameworthiness.
An indulgence in Sin
Individuals will pay a high price to indulge themselves in sin if only for a moment.
1. 1. Adam and Eve, for one bit of luscious fruit when they were not even hungry, brought sin, suffering, shame, and death upon themselves and the human race (Gen. 3).
2. 2. Lot's wife, revealing her longing for the things that pertain to earth, took one look back at Sodom and became a pillar of salt (Gen. 19).
3. 3. Esau, to satisfy one hour of fleshly appetite, lightly esteemed his birthright and forfeited his right to the ancestry of Christ (Gen. 25).
4. 4. Achan, for a garment he could not wear, and silver and gold he could not spend, paid with all his possessions, his family, and his life the spoils of sin (Josh. 7).
5. 5. Samson, for the caress of a careless woman, lost his eyes, and finally his life (Judg. 16).
6. 6. David, wanting the wife of another man, left a legacy of adultery, shame, and tears (2 Sam. 11).
7. 7. Ahab, coveting another's vineyard, claimed it for his own after killing for it and heard his own funeral oration, "In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall the dogs lick thy blood, even thine" (1 Kings 21).
The doctrine of Original Sin may be established.
¨ ¨ Baptist. “Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honor, Satan using subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to His wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 6, Section 1; study Gen. 2:16,17; 3:12; 2 Cor. 11:3).
The Scriptures and Original Sin
Psalm 51:1. "Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Genesis 8:21. "The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth."
Matthew 7:16-19. "Do grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?"
Job 14:4. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?"
Job 15:14. "What is man that he should be clean and he that is born of woman that he should be righteous?"
John 3:6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh."
Ephesians 2:3. "We were by nature the children of wrath even as others."
Psalm 58:3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."
The Universality of Sin
If Adam’s sin were nothing but a bad example, as the Pelagians hold, there would naturally be many that would escape that example. A sense of sin and guilt has always attended the human race. There is a consciousness of sin as innate and this consciousness as well as the practice of sin is universal. It can be explained on the ground of inborn depravity. There is proof of Original Sin in its early manifestation. Before observation, training, or example become effective the child manifests an evil nature.
Personal Experience with Sin
An honest evaluation of personal experience and consciousness in regard to sin leads the heart to conclude that the beginnings of sin cannot be limited, or ultimately traced, to a definite volition; but goes back to an internal bias in the nature that prompts the volition. There is in the soul what is termed an “immanent preference” for evil. This preference or bias constitutes character out of which choices spring. And, more often than not, the choices bring bondage. Every person has discovered the hard way that, "The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." A. W. Tozer called upon people to be honest when he wrote, "All our heartaches and a great many of our physical ills spring directly out of our sins. Pride, arrogance, resentfulness, evil imaginings, malice, greed: these are the sources of more human pain than all the diseases that ever afflicted mortal flesh."
The Nature and Effect of Original Sin
“Is Original Sin part of the nature of sin?” Also, “Does Original Sin condemn the soul to an eternal death?” The answer to both questions is, “Yes.” Original Sin is indeed of the nature of sin and it does condemn the soul to an eternal death. John Calvin wrote, “We are on account of this very corruption, considered as convicted and justly condemned in the sight of God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity.”
The Consequences and Characterization of Sin
Because of sin fellowship with God is lost. The souls is the object of His holy wrath and curse (Rom. 1:32; 2:14-15; Ex. 34:6-7). Sin has left souls susceptible to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever. "You have heard," said C. H. Spurgeon, "of the Spartan youth who concealed a stolen fox under his garment, and although it was eating into his bowels, he would not show it, and therefore died through the creature's bites; you are of that sort sinner, you are carrying sin in your bosom, and it is eating out your heart. God knows what it is, and you know what it is; now you cannot keep it there and be unbitten, undestroyed. Why keep it there? O cry to God with a vehement cry, God save me from my sin!"
Salvation is needed because sin constitutes the natural character as evil and leaves the soul in a state of spiritual death. Sin is the root out of which actual sin springs. The root cannot be better than the fruit which it bears. “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murder, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness.” But here is the problem.
"The nature of sin, as sin, is not only to be vile, but to hide its vileness from the soul. Hence many think they do well when they sin. Jonah thought he did well to be angry with God (John 4:9). The Pharisees thought they did well when they said, Christ had a devil (John 8:48). And Paul thought verily, that he ought to do many things against, or contrary to, the name of Jesus; which he also did with great madness (Acts 26:9,10). (John Bunyan)
Romans 6:6. "Our old man is crucified that the body of sin might be destroyed."
Romans 7:5. "When we were in the flesh, sinful passions wrought in our members."
Galatians 5:24. "They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh its affections and lusts."
James 3:11-12. "The fountain and the tree produce according to their nature."
1 Corinthians 15:22. "In Adam all die."
Romans 5:14. "Death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s first transgression."
Romans 5:16. "The judgment was by one to condemnation."
Romans 5:18. "By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation."
The penalty of spiritual death falls on all including infants who have not actually transgressed. If one part of the penalty of Original Sin takes effect on all, it is logical to conclude that the other part does also.
The doctrine of total depravity does not teach that any man is as bad as can be, but that the whole person is depraved by sin. This depravity affects the totality of the faculties of man with two distinct effects: sin cripples the will and weakens the mind.
Opposed to the doctrine of total depravity is the Pelagian view that teaches that sin consists in voluntary acts or deliberate choices of evil by individuals. However, there is no "original sin" imputed to others because of Adam's transgression. Adam may have set a bad example but that is all. All are born as pure and holy as Adam at his original creation which means that all, by nature can do what is required by God to live a virtuous life. Individuals may live without sin, and often do. Salvation is man’s own act of choosing the right. In essence, man saves himself.
This modified position of the Pelagian view argues that individuals are not dead in sin though they are "sick" with it having been weakened by the fall. What is needed is the help of divine grace in salvation to complete and perfect the work of redemption. No, man cannot save himself but he can begin the moral movement towards reformation and then God will assist his efforts in the final work of salvation.
The Dutch theologian Jacob Hermann (Latin, Arminius, 1560-1609), gave the world a system of theology known as Arminianism. The following positions are commonly held by Arminians.
· · Sin consists in acts of the will.
· · Adam’s guilt was individual and was not imputed to his posterity.
· · Man's depravity as a result of the Fall is not total for man has not lost the faculty of self-determination or the ability to choose the good.
· · The human will is to be viewed as one of the causes of regeneration (synergism).
· · Faith and good works are a ground of acceptance with God.
· · There is no imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer.
Remarks on Arminianism
Arminianism in general embraces much evangelical truth, but Scripture cannot support many things such as an alternative understanding of the nature of Original Sin.
Arminianism and the Nature of Original Sin
The Scriptures teach that man’s moral inheritance from Adam is of the nature of sin, and that all men are under penalty of eternal death. Man is by nature the children of wrath. Man is condemnable for what he is as well as for what he does. The depravity of nature is as truly heinous in the sight of God as the actual transgression that springs from it. Arminianism does not fully recognize the evil inherent in human nature. Arminianism does not appreciate the fact that there are no small sins because there is no small God.
Synergism and Salvation
In the end, the Arminian doctrine of salvation divides the effectiveness of salvation between the divine and human will. This mode of salvation is called synergism. The doctrine of sovereign grace assigns the efficiency to God’s will alone, and makes human co-operation the effect of Divine grace. “The dependence upon grace in the Arminian system is partial; in the Calvinistic system it is total” --William G.T. Shedd
“Our First parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 6, Section 2; study Rom. 8:23; Rom. 5:12ff; Tit. 1:15; Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-19).
¨ ¨ The Pelagian View. Man has no inability but has full ability to do all that God requires. There is no need of regeneration, or any divine grace in sanctification or spiritual growth.
¨ ¨ The Semi-Pelagian View. Man was weakened by the fall, but not all ability was lost. He needs divine grace to assist his personal efforts.
¨ ¨ The Augustinian (Reformed) View teaches that man, in Adam, was totally disabled by the fall, and so became wholly dependent on the Spirit of God for the inception and development of spiritual life. “They [Adam and Eve] being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 6, Section 3; study Rom. 5:12-19b; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Psa. 51:5; Job 14:4; Eph. 2:3; Rom. 6:20; 5:12; Heb. 2:14,15; 1 Thess. 1:10).
The Pelagian says man is well; the Semi-Pelagian says that man is sick; the Reformed view says that man is spiritually dead before God. “From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 6, Section 4; study Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; James 1:14,15; Matt. 15:19).
· · Inability is not the loss of any faculty of the soul: intellect, feeling, will or conscience.
· · Inability is not the loss of free agency.
· · Inability does not mean that fallen man possesses no virtues. Fallen and unregenerate men often display many qualities that are admirable.
· · Inability does not mean lack of capacity to know God and to receive grace.
· · Inability does mean that fallen man is unable to keep God’s law and merit life by good works.
· · Inability means that man is unable to reinstate himself in God’s favor.
· · Inability means that man is unable to change his nature, regenerate himself or become holy.
· · Inability means that man is unable to exercise right affection or inclination toward God.
John 3:3. "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
John 3:6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
John 6:44. "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 15:4. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."
John 15:5. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
Romans 8:7. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
1 Corinthians 15:10. "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
2 Corinthians 3:5. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."
1 Corinthians 4:7 "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"
Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
· · A person can prepare the heart to receive the King of glory. The people of Israel were told by John, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Mark 1:3) One way to prepare the heart is by considering the content of the gospel message.
· · A person can listen to the gospel, learn of the sinfulness of sin and the soul's inability to save itself, and remember that confessing sins is no substitute for forsaking them.
· · A person can examine the perfection of God’s Law and discover how far he falls short of it. "You see the Law in the hands of the Holy Spirit shows a man the sinfulness of his nature. Sin is not merely a matter of actions and deeds; it is something within the heart that leads to the action. Our Lord said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." He does not say, "as long as you do not do the act, all is well." No! He said, "that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.'" (L.R. Shelton, Jr)
· · A person can try to obey that Law, which will serve to convince the soul of how impossible it is to keep the Law and earn salvation. "Hear it again! The Law was never given to save us, but to show us the exceeding sinfulness of sin and our far distance from a thrice Holy God. Romans 3:23 tells us the truth: "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We have come short of God's glory as revealed in Christ, short of His holiness, short of all that He is in His perfection and therefore abide beneath the curse of His Law. For we read in Galatians 3:10: "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." And what says the whole Law of God? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength and to love thy neighbor as thyself.'" (Mark 12:30-31) (L. R. Shelton, Jr)
· · A person can learn that there is no hope for without divine grace.
· · A person can call on God to do the work that cannot be done oneself. The soul can plead with David: “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psa. 51:10)
· · A person can receive the love of God by grace through faith and say in the day of salvation:
Loved, when a wretch defiled with sin,
At war with heaven, in league with hell,
A slave to every lust obscene,
Who, living, lived but to rebel.
¨ ¨ Argument. “If man does not have a free will, then he is not under any moral obligation to keep God’s Law.”
q q Answer. That depends on how the inability arose. If it is a created inability then there can be no obligation. But if the inability is acquired, the obligation remains. The Bible teaches in Genesis 2 that man acquired the inability to please God through the sinful act of deliberate disobedience. Therefore, man is still responsible despite the fact that his will is no longer free. The will became enslaved to sin and needs to be set free from the power and pollution of sin's bondage..
¨ ¨ Argument. “If man is unable to obey the divine law then he is not free.”
q q Answer. This objection grows out of a confused idea of freedom. A man is a slave to sin, but acts out of his own inherent proclivities and so is free.
If the question is asked, “Can a sinner repent if he will?” the response is, “That depends on the meaning of 'will.' If by “will” it is meant that thee is an inclination or being willing on the whole, then the answer is, “Yes.” But that is itself repentance and so all that is meant is, ”Can a sinner repent if he repents?” Pharaoh seemed willing to repent each time the hand of Divine discipline fell on him. However, he could not change his nature and close with the Lord in genuine conversion. If by “will” volition is meant, the answer is, “No!,” for a man cannot change his nature by a mere volition.
¨ ¨ Argument. “If there is no ability, then there is nothing for man to do.”
q q Answer. While a person cannot heal himself, he can apply to the physician. Man can go to the Savior and ask for salvation.
¨ ¨ Argument. “If man has ability to repent in and of himself, then God will wait upon him.”
q q Answer. God’s time is now. If man feels his own ability is the issue, then man will take his own time.
¨ ¨ Argument. “Why would God command a man to do what he cannot do?”
q q Answer. Because God bids us to do so. And further God supplies the needed grace, “My grace is sufficient.”
Agape Chapel Ministries
PO Box 59084
Norwalk, CA 90652