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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - Commentary

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Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof

What is Total Depravity? Are men as bad as they can be? What is Original Sin? Are we born sinners? What is Federal Headship?

This chapter contains brief comments on the doctrines of Original Sin, Federal Headship and Total Depravity.


§1 Man Was Created Upright And Perfect, But They Fell

  1. 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 honour; 1 Satan using the 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, 2 which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 3
    1. Eccl. 7:29; Rom. 5:12a, 14-15; Gen. 2:17; 4:25-5:3[1]
    2. Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14
    3. Rom. 11:32-34; 2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam. 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28

God made all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31), including man. He gave a righteous law, the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Had he kept it past his time of probation, it would have been unto life. And God threatened death upon the breath thereof, which passed down to all of Adam’s children. But Adam and Eve did not long abide in this honour. They fell by the subtlety of the serpent who subdued and deceived Eve (1Tim. 2:14). In turn, Eve seduced Adam to eat of the tree which he willfully did and transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them (Gen. 3:6). Even this was not outside of God’s providence and decree (as chapter 5:4 says). But was ordained and permitted according to His wise and holy counsel. God had a purpose in ordaining and permitting the Fall, which was for His own glory, which is the purpose and end of all things which He has ordained.


Our Confession is in agreement with Ecclesiastes 7:29 where it is said that man was created upright, but “they” (man) sought out many (evil) schemes. Adam and Eve received a direct command from God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17), which (perhaps) caused the knowledge and experience of a new kind of morality, namely evil morality. There was nothing in the fruit that did that, but it was God’s way of testing them. The Confession is clear that Adam out of his own will took of the tree and transgressed. He was not coerced against his will and desire, neither was Eve. Of this command, we read in Genesis 2:16-17:

Gen. 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Here, this command is directly given to Adam before the creation of Eve. Whether Eve knew of this command directly from God or not, I am unsure. But I have no doubt that she knew that she should not eat of the tree. Adam had one requirement: if he obeyed he would earn eternal life for himself and his posterity, if not he and his descendants after him will be born sinful and be condemned–they will die (see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Works). Adam, in the Garden of Eden, stood in the stead of all people that would come fr...


Total depravity, Radical corruption - Scripture List

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Total depravity, Radical Corruption

Man is dead in sin, completely and radically impacted by the Fall, the enemy of God, incapable of saving himself. This does not mean that man is as evil as he could be. Nor does it mean that the image of God is destroyed, or that the will is done away with. Instead, it refers to the all pervasiveness of the effects of sin, and the fact that man is, outside of Christ, the enemy of God.[1]

Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.[2]

For a case see here.

Man is sinful, evil, unrighteous

Gn 6:5 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.

Gn 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

Job 14:1-4 “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. 2 He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. 3 And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? 4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

Job 15:14-16 What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? 15 Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; ​16 how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water!

Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Ps 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.

Ps 130:3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

Ps 143:2Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.

Prov 20:9Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?

Ecc 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.

Isa 64:6We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Jer 13:23Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Mt 7:17-18 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.

Mt 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 9: Of Free Will - Commentary

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Chapter 9: Of Free Will

I would like to take a look at the freedom of will endued to us by God. Is it a libertarian free will, which most of the non-Reformed find essential for love? Is it another kind of freedom? Does our freedom mean that God is not sovereign? Does God ordain our free actions? These are some questions that we’ll have to wrestle with. For this study and my position on it, I am greatly indebted to the following authors:

  • Jonathan Edwards – The Freedom of the Will
  • R.C. Sproul – Willing to Believe (see review)
  • Thaddeus J. Williams – Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?
  • Scott Christensen - What about Free Will?: Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty

Calvinists have always been leveled the charge that our understanding of God’s absolute micro-managing sovereignty makes men as puppets and robots. One wonders what the reason was for the Westminster, Savoy and 1689 to offer a chapter on free will if they thought that people were merely puppets and robots as many critics like to mock Calvinism.

In section 1, we will have our longest discussion of the will. There, I hope, with Edwards’ Freedom of the Will, to lay the understanding of the human will as believed by many Calvinists, which I believe happens to be biblical and logical. I have chosen to do this for two purposes: 1) I want to understand Edwards’ position better first hand from him. Edwards is difficult to read and understand and sometimes you have to read sentences and paragraphs over and over or look somewhere for an explanation to understand what he’s getting at. 2) And I would like you to understand Edwards’ position on the will which is the commonly held view by many Calvinists. Edwards is obviously not without critique, especially on his speculations about the Fall. But some Reformed people also disagree with him on free will, claiming that his view is too mechanistic and deterministic. His discussion clarifies many things for me and from the people I benefited from, who are mentioned above, I’ve not read their criticism on Edwards beside his speculations on the Fall. I mention this so that you know that not every Calvinist agrees with Edwards, though a majority does. Some resources on this subject are found at Reformed Books Online.

In the following sections, we will try to lay some things concerning man’s will in the four states, from innocence until glory.


§1 God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice

  1. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forcednor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. 1
    1. Matt. 17:12; James 1:14; Deut. 30:19[1]

The will of man, by definition and nature, is endued...with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice. This is also one of those things which set us apart from the lower creation. Paragraph 1 does not speak about Adam’s will before the Fall; paragraph 2 will do that. Rather, in paragraph 1, the will of man is spoken of generally without reference to it being enslaved to righteousness or sin. It is by nature free. What does this freedom consist of? That is is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil. Man is not a robot as many non-Calvinists like to caricature Calvinism. No one has done something because they were forced by God in their wills to do so. Rather, they ac...


Irresistible Grace, Effectual Calling - Scripture List

...id not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

More in “Total depravity, Radical Corruption” & “Sovereignty over the reprobate.”


This content is taken from this document

[1] I believe that Irresistible Grace is the logical conclusion to Unconditional Election, so, many of the verses for Unconditional Election apply also for Irresistible Grace, since God has set to save His elect, who can annul His purpose? (Isa 14:27)

[2] James White, The Potter’s Freedom (New Revised Edition 2009) p. 40

[3] “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented” Ed. 2, pp. 7.

[4] Isa 54:13

[5] C.f. Ps 14:7; Ps 53:6; Isa 59:20-21; Jn 4:22; Heb 8:8-12

[6] C.f. Isa 27:9; Rom 9:4; Heb 8:12

[7] Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved..

...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

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Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

What does it mean that God is sovereign? Does God control all things? Does God ordain and is sovereign even over sin? What about election? Does God choose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Did God predestine because He saw what was going to come to pass? Does it matter what we do? Does God ordain the ends as well as the means?


§1 God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity...whatsoever comes to pass

  1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably1 all things, whatsoever comes to pass2 yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; 3 nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather establishedin which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree. 5
    1. Prov. 19:21; Isa 14:24-27; 46:10-11; Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Rom. 9:19; Heb. 6:17[1]
    2. Dan. 4:34-35; Rom. 8:28; 11:36; Eph. 1:11
    3. Gen. 18:25; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5
    4. Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 24:1; Isa. 10:5-7; Matt. 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
    5. Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5

God hath decreed in Himself means that He decreed by Himself alone without considering others. As the modern translation puts it: “From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.” He was not influenced when He decreed everything. But what does it mean that God “decreed”? A decree, in this context, means putting everything in order and planning everything that is to occur in history. This decree of God was from all eternity and therefore is unchangeable. To further stress the “decreed in himself” part, the Confession adds that this decree was made freely. God was not limited by anything outside Himself. Furthermore, this decree was according to the most wise and holy counsel of His own will. It was not arbitrary or random. Rather, it was ordained by the Wisdom Himself Who does nothing without a goal, reason or a purpose (cf. Eph. 1:11). What did God decree? All things, whatsoever comes to pass. There is nothing that occurs that was not already decreed by God from all eternity. But this does not mean that God is the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein. God does not create sin or author it, nor does He have delight in it. Rather, He orders it and ordains it to be for His own holy purposes, according to the most wise and holy counsel of His will. Even evil and sin are ordained according to His holy purposes. Our redemption came about by the greatest sin committed by man, the crucifixion of the Son of God, which was ordained by God (Acts 4:27-28).

When God ordains sin, He does no violence to the will of the creature, nor is their liberty hindered or taken away. Everyone committing sin and evil does so because they will and desire so. In the example about the crucifixion of the Lord, everyone in the act was a willing participant: Judas, the Jewish leaders, the Romans. All really wanted to do these things and they were not forced to will so. Nonetheless, the Scriptures are clear that they came to “do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” According to Reformed theology, God’s decree establishes the liberty of creatures, because their liberty is found within God’s decree. This high and mysterious doctrine shows th...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

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Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

This entire chapter is about the Calvinistic doctrine that has been called Irresistible Grace. Unfortunately, that has been misunderstood to mean that men never disobey and resist God, but that is not how the phrase has been historically defined. Rather, it means that the resistance which natural man always has to the Spirit (Acts 7:51) is overcome when God decides to save a person.

The material in this chapter has a connection with what we have already dealt with. There would be no effectual calling if there was no predestination, so that should be kept in mind. Predestination is dealt with in chapter 3, so I will not make a case for predestination here, but will take it for granted.


§1 Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call

  1. Those whom God 1 hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, 3 effectually to call, 4 by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; 10 yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. 11
    1. Rom. 8:28-29[1]
    2. Rom. 8:29-30; 9:22-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-28; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9
    3. John 3:8; Eph. 1:11
    4. Matt. 22:14; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; Rom. 1:6; 8:28; Jude 1; John 5:25; Rom. 4:17
    5. 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 1:23-25; James 1:17-25; 1 John 5:1-5; Rom. 1:16-17; 10:14; Heb. 4:12
    6. John 3:3, 5-6, 8; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6
    7. Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10
    8. Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:10, 12; Eph. 1:17-18
    9. Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:33
    10. Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; John 6:44-45; Eph. 1:19; Phil. 2:13
    11. Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18

Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He, in His appointed and accepted timeeffectually calls to Himself by His Word and Spirit (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; John 3:5-6; 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6). That which was planned from eternity is applied and actualized in time. They are called out of that state of sin and death (Eph. 2:1-6) and transferred to the “state of grace” (chapter 9:4). He enlightens our minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10; Eph. 1:17-18 ), for fallen man cannot accept and understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). He takes from us that heart of stone, which is full of sin and gives a new heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), which desires to love and obey Him. He renews our wills and sets us free from slavery to sin. The ability and willingness to desire and do the good comes by His almighty power (e.g., Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21). It is by grace alone and it is the work of God in us. He draws us to Jesus Christ in such a way that we will effectually and certainly come to Him, yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace (Ps. 110:3; John 6:37; Rom. 6:16-18 ). God changes our nature and gives us the desire to believe and come to Christ. This is the miracle of regeneration. No one comes to Christ against their will. But the Holy Spirit works so powerfully in us that those who did not desire Christ, come to desire Him and most willingly and freely ca...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

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Chapter 11: Of Justification

Now we come to the great biblical and Protestant doctrine of justification. Calvin said that “Justification is the main hinge on which salvation turns.” There is no salvation without a proper understanding of justification. This is not a secondary issue, it is a foremost essential of true and biblical Christianity. It is one of the things which separates confessional Protestantism from Roman Catholicism. There will be a lot of things which I will point the interested reader to previous chapters, rather than expound again here.


§1 Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth

  1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. 4
    1. Rom. 8:30; 3:24[1]
    2. Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7
    3. 1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 5:17-19
    4. 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Titus 3:5, 7; Rom. 3:22-28; Jer. 23:6; Phil. 3:9; Acts 13:38-39; Eph. 2:7-9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Pet 1:1

Those whom God has predestined He effectually calleth (chapter 10) and He also freely justifieth (Rom. 8:30). In this chapter, the Confession is setting forth the biblical doctrine of justification as well as countering the doctrine of justification as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. This justification is not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous...for Christ’s sake alone (Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7). God does not mix righteousness in us, but puts the righteousness of Christ into our account and counts it as our own. It is on this basis alone that we are righteous before God. Faith and obedience are not our righteousness, but our righteousness comes from Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; chapter 8:5). We stand in this righteousness by faith, but even this faith is not of themselves but is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9; see also chapter 14:1). Therefore, even the condition for our justification and life with God was provided by God. This is the glory and greatness of the New Covenant of Grace in which we stand and have our relationship with God. All the requirements of the covenant are provided by God through His Spirit based on Christ’s work and obedience.


Now that we’ve dealt with the first three things in Romans 8:29-30, namely God (1) foreknowing us and (2) electing us (chapter 3) and (3) effectually calling us (chapter 10), we come to the 4th point in the five-pointed chain—justification. What is justification? Dr. Wayne Grudem defines it in this way:

Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.[2]

We could go on and on by giving Protestant theologians who defined justification in this way. Louis Berkhof says:

Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the ba...