The stumbling blocks of reformed doctrines

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ivdavid, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    Certain reformed doctrines are still intensely debated - and given the number of locked threads concerning these, I hope we could focus our discussion on simply the roots of the issues. For eg: instead of discussing Unconditional Election as such, we could try more specifically discussing if God is indeed partial or not, as the doctrine seemingly implies - and instead of discussing Total Depravity as a whole, we could discuss if God commands the impossible of man and still holds him responsible for failure or not. For it's not the reformed doctrines themselves that are problematic but rather the character of God that these paint - we could try discussing if and where we differ on the very attributes of God to clear up possible misconceptions on either side.

    If I may, I'd like to start with the attributes of God as seen in reference to Gal 3.
    Gal 3:17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.

    This is referring to God's promise to Abraham - "In you shall all the nations be blessed" (Gen 12:3, Gal 3:8). And the law is said to annul this promised blessing because of the curse it effects on all (Gal 3:10). And Christ upholds the promise by redeeming us from the curse (Gal 3:13-14).

    Neither can the blessing to the children of Abraham come by means of the law since that would then violate the promise (Gal 3:18) - which we know the law does not and cannot do, since the law was never meant to give life (Gal 3:21).

    The first point I'd like to discuss over is - Is God fair or unfair in holding people to the curse of a law that was never meant to be a provision of life? Is it acceptable to command man to obey the law and judge him for not doing so, while knowing fully the inevitable intended outcome is that of disobedience?
     
  2. WIP

    WIP Staff Member Administrator

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    The only thought I will comment on this is who are we to judge what is or is not fair or acceptable with regard to God and what He does? We are merely the clay are we not? To me that is where we often get ourselves into trouble. God is in control, not us.
     
  3. The_Epsicle

    The_Epsicle Member

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    Sin is completely and utterly our fault, the Law came to combat Sin but as Paul writes:

    "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. - Romans 7:7-8 ESV

    Sin shows us our Sin as we can see from that verse, but Paul goes on:

    "Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure." - Romans 7:13 ESV

    So while the Law shows us our Sin, Sin sees an opportunity to corrupt us ever further. Paul brings this all together now:

    "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." - Romans 7:18-25 ESV

    As for God being unjust to hold us to a standard we cannot in our fallen state attain, it isn't for us to question God. We failed, we messed up, its our fault not His and we deserve the punishment prepared for us, the only reason we are saved is because God had mercy on us and took the punishment upon himself.

    "You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction," - Romans 9:19-22 ESV

    As for any of this being a stumbling block of reformed doctrine I don't really understand, this is a stumbling block of Christianity that is prevalent in every denomination.
     
  4. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    Absolutely true. Perhaps I should've first noted that these questions of mine were purely from an academic perspective and not from one that actually questions or analyses God Himself. I believe God is , that He is perfectly true, righteous, just, loving, sovereign, holy , that He cannot deny His own nature - and that all further doctrines need to be worked backwards from that and not the other way around. I do not hold that our beliefs follow our understanding either - I think understanding follows the truth that's been revealed by God through Scriptures first. I was merely playing devil's advocate to explore the arguments against a doctrine such as Total Depravity etc.
     
  5. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    I guess this sums it up well enough. I am in agreement with the rest of your post too.

    And yes, it is overwhelmingly sufficient a grace - actually a great privilege just to have God reveal Himself to us. He should not further be answerable to our every foolish demand asking Him to prove Himself. It's just that He is also a God who eventually gives us understanding - in His own time - and if it so may be that some in this discussion are able to learn of and share the wisdom behind His ways, then it may thrill our hearts more. Rom 9:20 is first and foremost applicable - and Paul further does venture an explanation to the clay citing Rom 9:22-23. It is that further revelation, if any, that I hope to find over this discussion.
     
  6. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    I suppose so. I guess I've been unclear about what exactly I'm driving at with my OP. I'll simply paste a snippet that I'd copied some time ago, which is in opposition to the reformed doctrine of total depravity -

    "I cannot be UNABLE and RESPONSIBLE at the same time. Consider the legal concept of depraved indifference. If a man watches as a little child falls into a pool and drowns . . . and does nothing to save her . . . you will judge him to be vile and guilty and prosecutable for depraved indifference. But what if you are told that he was watching from a wheelchair, totally disabled from a degenerative disease, and even unable to speak? Is he guilty? Of course not – he was Totally Unable to help the child. ABLE means RESPONSIBLE. NOT ABLE means NOT RESPONSIBLE. Everyone understands justice in such matters. God is not less just than we are."

    I simply wanted to delink this kind of association to avoid the very doctrine of Total Depravity being considered unjust.
     
  7. Malachi

    Malachi Member

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    The way this question is worded should be modified to better reflect what was actually in the Law of Moses.

    1. God tells Israel that the provision of life is in loving Him and that "HE IS THY LIFE" (Deut 30:19,20). This is exactly what the New Testament teaches, i.e. that Christ is our Life and our Eternal Life.
    19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
    20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

    2. All the curses are for those who do not meet God's reasonable expectations (Deut 27:9-26). You will not find a single unreasonable expectation.
    That is a completely incorrect conclusion. Since God gave men a conscience, human beings are capable of following the dictates of their consciences (Rom 2:12-16):
    12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
    13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
    16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

    The Reformed doctrine of "Total Depravity" is without any merit, but because it must support certain other erroneous assumptions, it is taken as true when it is false. The truth is that even though all human beings are born in sin and shapen in iniquity (a) they all have a conscience, (b) they all can and do exercise their consciences, (c) they all can respond to the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation, and (d) they all can respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit when they are convicted of their need for the Savior. If this were not true, then we would not have this Scripture (Acts 17:30): And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: How could God command something which was impossible for all men everywhere? That would certainly make Him unrighteous, and God is absolutely righteous.
     
  8. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    This is exactly what is being discussed. I guess my initial concerns are proven right here - there won't be much progress made in discussing whole doctrines such as total depravity etc. until we resolve these specific, more foundational beliefs.

    I'd say you're detracting from the main point here - in any case, Rom 2:12 refers to all perishing, not any who have life by the law.

    But reverting to the main point, if you hold my conclusion to be incorrect -
    1) is it that you believe any single man created in the flesh as being capable of obeying the law unto life?
    2) is it that you believe any such man who has not obeyed the law as per its demands, as not being placed under its curse?

    If you answer NO to both the above, aren't you contradicting yourself? If you answer Yes to either, wouldn't you be negating Gal 3:21 and Gal 3:10?

    Also, the OP has inferences made sequentially beginning with Scripture alone, leading to the final conclusion - since you disagree with the conclusion, could you point out where exactly you find the incorrect inferences before that?
     
  9. The_Epsicle

    The_Epsicle Member

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    They are reasonable expectations when you know that before the Fall we did none of the things forbidden by the Law because we did not know how to Sin.

    It is a completely incorrect conclusion but not for the reasons you stated, even our consciences have been corrupted by Sin and if you don't believe that then you believe that God is the source of temptation since a good conscience would keep people from sinning or even wanting to sin in anyway, and God tempts no one.(James 1:13 ESV)


    I'm curious what are the other erroneous assumptions? It is true that people have consciences and can exercise them but they are not perfect anymore and have been corrupted by our Sin, so they are no longer good guides for us. Which is why God gave us the Holy Spirit, to remind us what is right(John 14:26 ESV). All of your other points are not against total depravity, but are actually evidence of God's immense Grace that He still offers mercy to a people who deserve nothing but death.(Romans 3:23 ESV)(Romans 6:23 ESV)

    You cannot go 6 chapters in the Bible without hearing that God was sorry that he had made us because we are wicked and focused on evil all the time:


    "The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.'" - Genesis 6:5-7


    Verses for the totality of our fallen state: (Psalm 51:5 ESV)(Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV)(Romans 5:12 ESV)(Romans 3:23 ESV)(Romans 3:10 ESV)(Luke 18:19 ESV)(Isaiah 53:6) ext...

    And my favourite passage shows the totality of our fallen state and the greatness of God's mercy

    "For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of life that I made. Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners," - Isaiah 57:16-18 ESV

    No it would not make him unrighteous, God has dealt with us so far that one more undeserved minute on this fallen planet is a huge sign of His patience and Grace. We are unrighteous, God would be justified to destroy all of us as he was to destroy us in the Flood, in fact he would be a righteous judge to do so because we are all unrighteous and deserving of that punishment. His command is impossible for all men, but it is through His Grace that we can have Faith in Him to save us from our unrighteousness, it is impossible for us as fallen humans to reach salvation but it is possible for God.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  10. Deborah13

    Deborah13 Member

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    There was nothing unfair about the Law of Moses. Within the Law itself, there is provision for temporary atonement.
    Yes, of coarse. As I said, within the Law itself there is provision for temporary atonement. The Law was/is a tutor to bring one to Christ. The prophets were for the same. Men were saved the same way then, as they are now. Not one of them was saved by the works of the Law nor because they were a Hebrew Israelite. Ruth wasn't. God provided the temporary atonement to cover their sins until the Messiah came. I don't see it as unfair in anyway, God loved them and all of us needing a Redeemer and so He gave them the Law.
    So who can always love their neighbor or even God perfectly. I know I don't. I just don't have to offer a temporary sin-offering because I'm on this side of the cross, rather than the previous side.
     
  11. Malachi

    Malachi Member

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    Total Depravity may be first on the list, but that teaching is a necessary consequence of all the rest of those erroneous assumptions.

    BTW, you (and another poster) did not address the Scriptures I presented, but went around them. So we will probably be talking past each other.

    Unless you can give us a satisfactory answer as to why God would now command ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent, if he Had no plans to save all men, and if all men could not possibly repent, nothing else will matter.

    Let's focus on this and find a satisfactory answer from Scripture. Or let's frankly and honestly admit that the Reformed doctrine of Total Depravity is utterly false.
     
  12. The_Epsicle

    The_Epsicle Member

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    I did address your scripture in Romans however I removed the text for the sake of brevity, I thought I addressed Deuteronomy but my page refreshed and I guess it was after I addressed it and I lost that section, I apologize for this. I do not subscribe to Calvinist theology or Arminian theology for that matter, I am a Lutheran, "TULIP" has basically everything else wrong with it in my opinion but total depravity is correct. You also seem to misunderstand total depravity, it doesn't state that God did not have a plan to save all men or that men cannot repent(unlike TULIP). It does say that man cannot repent without the help of God or come to knowledge of their Sin without Him, but to say that it denies the salvation of the entire Earth is a misunderstanding on your part, you are confusing total depravity with double predestination which is not at issue in this topic as per the OP, you can believe in total depravity without believing in double predestination or limited atonement, as I do.

    For a refresher here's the Deuteronomy verse you referenced, if you don't mind I'll use my preferred translation:

    "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”" - Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV

    God gives the Israelites a choice here, to follow God and keep his commands with his help, or turn away and worship Baal and Mammon and die, but the key here is not the options in the choice(though they're important too), but the person who gave it. God gave the choice and set it before them so they can choose "life or death" it was very clearly their choice, but without God there is no choice and the Israelites are just another group of fallen sinful people. The ability to choose life comes from God in this and every instance since the Fall. As a sidebar which I will not mention again, I believe that God predestines some to eternal life because that's what the Bible says(Romans 8:29 ESV) but I do not believe the opposite is true because Christ died for the whole world(1 John 2:2 ESV) and it cannot be true because God desires everyone to be saved(Ezekiel 33:11 ESV) therefore total depravity is correct, predestination is half correct, and limited salvation is completely incorrect. I'll tie that back into the choice I mentioned from Deuteronomy, through Christ we have once again a choice: follow Jesus and live, or reject him and die, but again the ability to choose life does not come from us but from God. With the understanding that the ability to choose is given by God and the understanding that we are fallen and sinful completely you can see the God giving us a choice here is a sign of his Grace towards our fallen universe.

    Taking this a step further I believe that any man who rejects God has his own blood on his hands, but the man who chooses God has played no part in his Salvation even with his choosing because no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit(1 Corinthians 12:3 ESV). The only reason the person who rejects God does not have the Holy Spirit is due to a hardened heart(Ephesians 4:18 ESV), and the only reason a person who has accepted God has the Holy Spirit is because of Grace(Titus 3:4-7 ESV).

    Does that clarify my position or is there something I did not explain well?

    EDIT: I didn't address chapter 27 of Deuteronomy here because I felt my explanation in my previous post, in the context of our fallen state, was sufficient.

    EDIT 2: To clarify my position on our consciences being corrupted by Sin(which I also notice I failed to do) I offer Jeremiah 17:9 ESV, Romans 2:5 ESV, and the most specific verse being Titus: 1:15-16
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  13. Deborah13

    Deborah13 Member

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    Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    This is the way I understand these scriptures. Those who love God believe in His Son and obey Him. But what is God's purpose, because understanding the following verses, relies heavily on what is God's purpose. If we look at the OT, God called a nation to be His chosen people, Israel. But Paul gives us the revelation that not all those of the nation of Israel, are God's chosen people Israel. In the NT, it is revealed (the prophets did speak of this) that God would offer the same relationship with Him to the gentile nations. He first reveals His purpose in Genesis 17 and 18.
    Gen 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
    Gen 18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
    God is building Himself a nation, a chosen people of God, that are from all the nations of the earth. He started with those in Israel, who chose life, not death. He added, those in the gentile nations, who chose life, not death. In Romans 8, Paul is talking about this other flock of Christ, the gentiles.
    Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    Foreknow, in verse 29, is in the sense of being designated. Who did God call according to His purpose, a group of gentile people who chose life, and He predetermined that the people who chose life, would be conformed to the image of His Son.
    Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
    And this same group of people, that responded to the Holy Spirit's promptings/chose life,in Christ, He justified and glorified.

    Nowhere in the OT does it say God chose people on an individual bases for salvation and that is not what it is saying here either.
    Even though we know that there are certain individuals, that were chosen for certain purposes in His plan, like Paul.


    Just my, rambling opinion.....Blessings
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  14. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    Could you elaborate on how you mean this -
    1) if you meant the "provision for temporary atonement" as a symbolic foreshadow of spiritual things to come, we're in agreement - but then there still wasn't an effective solution from within the law. (I am not addressing the provisions outside of the law here).
    2) if you meant it as actually being effective in atoning the sins of the Israelites for a time from within the law itself, then why are all placed under the curse of the law still (Gal 3:10) and why do they need an external provision in Christ?

    Just to reiterate my position, neither do I find anything wrong or unfair with either the Mosaic Law or the ways of God. And I'm not focusing on the larger picture of salvation - I'm simply narrowing down our focus to just the act of God giving man the law. My objective is for all of us to concur that God is righteous even when He requires something impossible of man, while holding him responsible to it.
    True. And the Law was never meant to be a means of getting life (Gal 3:21). And we see God giving this very law to His people -
    Lev 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
    ...And which if a man does not, he shall be cursed and shall die in not doing them.

    Again, we observe God commanding man to obey and attain unto something that God knew man would never attain unto (which is why there is need of an external provision outside of the law). And yet He holds man responsible to it and judges him under its curse (wherein we feel the desperate need of the Messiah). Can't we simply look at this statement and accept it as one of the wise ways of the Lord? I'm guessing you might - it's just hard to get everyone to concur on this.
     
  15. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    That would be similar to why God commanded ALL His people the law of works to obey and live(Lev 18:5), when He had No plans to save any of them through the law(Gal 3:21), and when none could possibly obey the law (Gal 3:10).

    We most probably might - given you didn't address any of the Scriptures in the OP either.
    And I did ask what purpose your reference to Rom 2 serves - if anyway it doesn't end up concluding that it is possible for man to obey the law of works.
    We could devote the next several pages of this thread to Rom 2 - but what use is it if anyway you don't hold it possible for man to be justified by the law?

    So, in order to proceed, could you please share your beliefs on whether any person under the law could have obeyed and been justified by the law as given to them by God, or not...
    Again, I personally am not interested in entering a debate over total depravity and original sin and the likes until the simpler, more foundational beliefs are cleared up.
     
  16. Deborah13

    Deborah13 Member

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    Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
    The only way any man has ever been justified is by faith. Whether he looked forward to the Messiah Redeemer or looks back.
    No one was Justified by the Law, he only had a temporary covering, until the cross.
    Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
    Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
    Gal 3:10
    For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
    Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

    The Law is not of faith. So even though one could repent and give a sin-offering as a temporary covering, it never justified them. Some understood this and had faith in the coming Messiah Redeemer. The OT saints, like Abraham. God accounted his faith as righteousness. John the Baptist's parents, were said to be righteous.

    Paul is addressing the fact that there were Jews among them who were telling them that they must do the works of the Law, in order to be justified. They were mixing the Law and Grace, and corrupting the Gospel.
    So the problem wasn't the Law, it was the idea that the works of the Law could justify and if they believed that, they were still under the curse, because they were without faith. They really didn't believe/have faith, that the blood of Christ was the only thing that could Take Away sin and only faith in Him could justify them.
    Their faith was in the works of the Law.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  17. ivdavid

    ivdavid Member

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    I guess I agree with most everything you've said. Just so I understand clearly, are you implying that "the idea that the works of the Law could justify" was not from God and was not contained within the Law itself? Because I thought that was a foregone conclusion given the Lev 18:5 Law of works.
     
  18. Deborah13

    Deborah13 Member

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    Lev 18:3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
    Lev 18:4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
    Lev 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.

    The ordinances they had learned and lived by in Egypt could only teach them death.
    But God's ordinances teach life. They teach love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. They teach Love your neighbor as yourself. They teach what sin is, repentance, sin-offering, and Christ. So if they did them it was life to them.
    But you can't just say forget about their teachers like Moses, Aaron, etc... You can't just forget about the prophets teaching them. And you can't forget about their knowledge about Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. And Abraham's faith. And you can't forget about the Holy Spirit.
    God provided them with more than a list of rules. He provided away, if they were listening, to understand faith. Not faith in the works themselves, but faith in God. David understood, Ruth understood, many understood.
    Job made sin-offerings for his children, but he had faith in the coming Redeemer.
    Job_19:25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
    If we obey Christ and Love our neighbor, that is works of faith.
    So if they rescued their neighbors donkey, and their faith was in God as their source of life, was that a work of the Law, or a work of faith?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  19. Chopper

    Chopper Member

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    DEFINITION OF TOTAL DEPRAVITY: Calvin, No one is capable of saving oneself. You find something wrong with that?
     
  20. Malachi

    Malachi Member

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    Actually it goes beyond that (defined in Theopedia and other sources):
    As a consequence, Calvinists believe that people are regenerated BEFORE they believe. The Bible teaches the opposite (Jn 1:12,13).
     

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