How does Total Depravity affect the Christian?

Ads

How does Total Depravity affect the Christian? I separate what the Bible teaches about our sinfulness, how to be saved, and after being saved, what we can expect.

Overview

We cannot make up doctrine as we want. Every single doctrine that we believe and the subsequent actions and attitudes that come from a belief must be checked with Scripture. Scripture has to be the rule for what we believe, and when something is just not right with the overview of Scripture, when it doesn’t harmonize with the rest of Scripture, then we need to go back to the drawing board, and try to understand where we went wrong, and reject any doctrine that is not in agreement with the overall teaching of Scripture.

So the doctrine of total depravity simply states that there is nothing good within man.

We can accept that statement at face value. But we need to be very careful about how we stretch and distort this statement. After all, if we say that man is “worthless,” then the question comes up, if man has no value, why did Jesus have to die for us? Here, the entire issue unfolds. God created man in His own image, and because of that being in the image of God, man has some value. Satan’s is exactly this thought, that man is worthless, that man is of no use. Man can never be acceptable or of use in the plans of God. Is your doctrine that man is of value to God, or that man is worthless.

This issue is difficult to get a handle on it. You must understand that you have to take the total depravity statement “in context.” The key issue is in what you are talking about.

Man has no merit to offer God for his own salvation

So, in the context of earning merit with which God accepts man’s good works and will allow man to enter heaven, the statement is true, there is nothing good in man with which man has a right to enter heaven. Our problem is our sin, which is like a moral crime. We are not accepted morally because our moral character is not God’s character. One of sin is greater than all good works.

In other words, a normal person is put into a class of being a criminal because he has broken at least a single law. That is a class which demands justice against the person.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Once a person is a criminal, it makes no difference if he has broken 100 laws or just one, he is condemned. He suffers for that moral crime before God. This is not like a balance where you put your sins on one side and your good works on the other, and whichever side it tilts to determines if you go to heaven or hell. One sin, and you go to hell.

In what context is Total Depravity the Truth?

So when you mention total depravity, the issue is true when we are talking about your salvation, that is, what you have to understand in order to be saved. To focus a little bit more on this issue, you must confess and repent before God listens to your desire to be saved.

I have known a good number of Calvinists over the years, and I have attended churches run by Calvinists, but it is remarkable to me that the issues of repentance, and vileness of their own sins seems to be trampled under foot by these Calvinists. They insist that every single human being is totally depraved. Good. I would expect that there should be a lot of weeping and wailing among these people, who “so well understand the depravity of man.

But the opposite is true. The typical Calvinist is haughty and arrogant. Just the opposite of what the Bible requires on a man saved before God, i.e. humbleness, meekness. Why is that so?

When total depravity is unbiblical

When we examine the issue to find our bearings and identify the false doctrine among Calvinists, we can see where they are wrong. For example, Abraham was known for his faith, a spiritual character that directed his life, and this element pleased God. King David also. Job, Enoch, etc.

Read through these posts, which are just some of the people who pleased God according to the Bible. In every case, these people were not saved by good works, but by their faith. Abraham pleased God because he believed God. He trusted God and His Word, His promises. In none of these examples are comments made of these good Christians which we can infer that they were saved by their works. For salvation, we have no works that are acceptable to God in exchange for salvation.

But in every example, these divine comments, about people who have faith in God and are saved by their faith, these comments are about people who walk according to their faith. You see, the Calvinist purports that he is an expert theologian, but he really doesn’t understand the Bible.  If he did understand the Bible, he would not be teaching Total Depravity.

David, you are splitting hairs

But am I, really? What does it matter? It matters greatly. When a theologian says that there is nothing that you can do to please God, and this includes even after you get saved, then that causes some problems.

How am I saved, then?

The crux of this issue is very serious. God never presents His salvation to a group of people, with the key to salvation being election. Meditate on that for a good while. EVERY PRESENTATION of the gospel in the Bible is always an exhortation for the unsaved to believe, and receive Jesus Christ. Paul teaches us in Romans that the Jews incorrectly believe that because of their ethnic race, a child of Abraham, that they had a guaranteed entrance ticket to heaven. Paul refutes that, and stresses faith is what saves.

How does believing in Total Depravity affect your Christian Life?

God expects things from us. If you misapply total depravity (it is only valid in dealing with how we are saved, not the Christian life thereafter), then you are set up to have a fatalist attitude towards your life in Christ. If nothing you do can affect your eternal life, then why try? Indeed, this checks with my knowledge of Calvinists in that because they are elected (a matter he cannot prove), therefore he will get to heaven no matter how much sin he has in his Christian life. This is a fatalist attitude that will affect his Christian life for the worst.

Satan is behind Calvinism. It is Satan who benefits from Christians with a fatalist attitude towards victory.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Paul’s point is that Christ gives us victory over sin. This is in conjunction with the indwelling Holy Spirit. So to set the person up for defeat, because he can never win over sin or do anything that pleases God, is a ploy of our enemy, it is not from God. Beyond winning over sin, God wants us to faithful serve Him. We all fail, but study the examples above of believers who pleased God, and yet even in their failings, they came “out the other side” and continued to serve God. Is it not more consistent with what we know of Satan and how he works to cut the power of God from Christians by discouraging them anyway he can? So who does Satan use in doing this grand evil? Calvinists.

We have to take this issue to heart, how are we saved?

But this matter is not a matter of inconsequential theological details. It is at the heart of the gospel. Calvinists are dishonest in their teachings. They very well may accept the statement (and preach it) that we are saved by faith. But my question is what is the deciding fact or element that makes a person saved? I believe that all those preachers in the Bible were exhorting people to have faith because that is what the key point it.

Again, where are there presentations of the gospel in the Bible that doesn’t exhort the unsaved to have faith in God? Isn’t that unilaterally the element that decides a person’s eternal destiny? I never see Jesus preaching election to an unsaved crowd. Why not? If Calvin was right on target, we should be seeing every the gospel is presented to the unsaved the element of election. But it is strangely “NOT THERE“.

In other words, we need to understand the concepts exactly here. The Bible says that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Where is the condition the Calvinist has to accept as essential, if you believe AND ARE ELECTED, then you will be saved.

Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

God’s offer of salvation is based on faith. Faith is a taking of something as real, true, factual, and it also extends to be trust in Jesus the Savior. When you accept Jesus, you are accepting his moral image as the pattern you will follow in your life. The just will live by faith. That means that the guide of his life is God’s character.

Faith is what we believe in to be saved, but repentance is just the other side of the coin of faith. Repentance is what we give up. All of this is the very same thing. You cannot believe in something when you are still holding to an incorrect thing. You have to repent, abandon, stop a certain path of life, BEFORE you can believe.

When you change the gospel or de-emphasize what is an essential element of the gospel, you have another gospel.

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

But if the Calvinist changes the gospel to something else, would it not be different from what the Bible’s preachers have given in Sacred Writ that is that plan of God? I cannot see this as anything other than “another gospel“.

Calvinists are like Jews

When you examine this, the Jews believed that their salvation was in Abraham. The Calvinists are very similar. They believe that their salvation is totally in their election. Both are things beyond their own control. No Jew is a Jew who is not in the lineage of Abraham. Equally, the Calvinist believes that people are saved because of their election.

We do not understand all the workings of God, and election is mentioned in Scripture, but election generally has to do with a person’s use in the economy of God. People are chosen because God sees usefulness in that individual. This is beyond our understanding, but it is not essential to salvation. It gives the Christian (not the unsaved), their purpose for how God sees them and will use them.

But if a Calvinist believes that salvation comes from a person’s election, is that the way the Bible presents salvation? It is not a decision that you have anything voluntarily to do with your eternal destiny? The Calvinist also takes the other side of things saying that all the unsaved go to hell, not because they are sinners, but because of their eternal perdition, i.e. God elected them to hell, like God elected others to heaven, and these unsaved people never had a chance to believe and be saved. The doctrine of perdition is seen in the writings of Calvinists, but it is always hidden.

What we have is a club of elites that God saw some good in them, so He elected them to salvation, the rest He elected to hell. Isn’t this exactly the opposite of Total Depravity? If Calvinists believe in Total Depravity, then how are they elected in the first place? If you just study the verb “to chose”, there is some basis in the election. David chose rocks for his encounter with Golith. Was there not some element that he was looking for when he chose his rocks?

God does not work with the constraints of time like we are under. God takes the entire history of humanity, and he faces it all the same. In other words, Creation is no further or closer than today, nor is the eternity past Revelation is any closer or further from Him. He lives in all of that actively as His “now.” God’s distinction is always the same, those people who believe in God.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The key to all of this is simply faith. Try keeping the idea of total depravity in your mind, that under no circumstance neither before nor after believing in God can a person please God, and read Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Hebrews 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

If God said that these noble examples of believers pleased God (Hebrews 11:5), then how come we allow the Calvinist to spout false doctrine that nobody can please God? What’s more, the Calvinist is destroying Christians with their false doctrines. Doctrines that affect salvation.

Conclusion

Hebrews 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

So we need to bring the truth to the Calvinist. Did Enoch please God? I say he did. The reason why I say he did is because Scripture teaches this. If Total Depravity was not in force in one case, that of Enoch, then can it be in force in every other human’s situation? No, it hails false for all mankind.

I am not advocating that we are saved by good works. I am trying to be precisely biblical. For salvation, your works are all bad, evil. Once you are saved, a Christian can please God with the actions of his life. Many times it is exactly God working through that person, and their own will has little to do with it. How can Sara be considered? God empowered an old woman to conceive. How does that work? She apparently had to believe for this miracle to happen, but there is little that an old woman can do to become pregnant. God is in and through all of this in an extensive way, but that is not at issue, of course He is. But believers cannot rest, do nothing, or worse, accept sin in their lives if they are going to please God.

How does Total Depravity affect the Christian?


Moule Veni Creati
is an old, well known work in studies in the Holy Spirit by Bishop (Anglican) H.G.C. Moule. It has 12 chapters. It is a deep treatment of the Holy Spirit. Although Moule was Anglican, his writings are well written and good.
Downloads:
theWord: Moule Veni Creati
MySword: Moule Veni Creati
ESword:Moule Veni Creati
Adobe Acrobat PDF: Moule Veni Creati

This entry was posted in Calvinism. Bookmark the permalink.

Ads