Thursday, June 29, 2006

Total Depravity - Mark & Micah's Answers to Murphy's Questions

Papasmurph wrote: Five Short Questions For Micah and Mark
1. What was there in Adam before the fall that made it possible for him to sin?
God made Adam and Eve good yet He did not make them without the ability to sin. God knowingly and willingly placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, tree of life and the serpent to test them. Eve was tempted, succumbed to the temptation and Adam willingly followed her in sin (1 Tim 2:4). There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that Adam was inherently righteous in and of himself Adam and Eve were morally neutral. But Adam’s sin changed things, as Romans 5 states, “the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation”, because that condemnation is unto “all men” it is apparent that the judgment likewise applies to “all men”. Adam’s nature was neutral toward sin, but man is now “estranged from the womb” (Ps 58:3), conceived in sin (Ps 51:5) and rebels from birth (Is 48:8).

2. Satan used only the power of his word to penetrate the heart of totally righteous Adam, leading him to sin. But according to your doctrine God’s word alone is not powerful enough to penetrate the heart of the sinner leading him to righteousness. Thus, Satan’s word is more powerful than the word of God. If not, why not?

No. Satan is a creation of God and is in no way as powerful as God. God has from the beginning allowed Satan to tempt, attack and mislead mankind. Satan's words at no time "penetrated the heart of totally righteous Adam". In fact, Eve was deceived by Satan and succumed to temptation. Adam willingly fell, he was not "totally righteous"... he was at best neutral. God, (and therefore Christ) alone is "totally righteous". The Word of God does not penetrate the heart of anyone apart from the work of the Spirit of God. As Jesus said,

John 6:63
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

Jesus’ words were the very words of God and are “spirit and life” and yet He said, “some of you who do not believe”. Not everyone who hears the word of God believes, nor does their ability to hear the word make them able to believe. For it is as Christ spoke, “while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Why do some not hear and understand? “just as it is written, “GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR, EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT, DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY." God, in His righteousness and justice allows some to remain deaf and blind to the truth while opening the hearts of others. (Acts 16:14)

God’s Word therefore accomplishes the task He intends for it:

Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

3. If man is totally depraved by God’s decree, how can righteous judgment hold him accountable for sin?

All things occur according to God’s decree, God has “[Declared] the end from the beginning” (Is 46:9-10) and nothing occurs that is not part of His plan and everything God desires He accomplishes. Yet we also know that God is righteous, just and good. Adam was a fair representative of all mankind, Adam did just as you or I would have done and he justly represents all of us, hence it is written, “in Adam all die”. Just as the President of the United States acts on our behalf in negotiations and declaration of war (with or without our explicit approval), Adam stands as our representative in relation to God. Choosing sin over righteousness, Adam plunged all mankind into condemnation. “Yet we did not elect Adam”, you might reply. This is true, our representative was chosen instead by the Sovereign, Almighty God and He does not make mistakes.

Total depravity is not a stain God places on the individual prior to or when they are born, it is a stain which is in the very nature of man as a result of Adam’s sinfulness. God has commanded men to obey Him perfectly, and yet because of man’s predilection toward sin, man cannot obey Him perfectly, as is required by His commands. Thus, “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Rom 3:10)

4. Please explain Ezekiel chapter 18 with special attention given verse 20.

Ezekiel 18:1-9, explains that God deals justly with people, not judging them for the sins of their father. Total depravity does not say that we are judged and held accountable for our father’s sin, but that we are born into sin, as the Psalmist writes; we are “estranged from the womb”. The prophet then goes on to explain how God will allow those who obey Him to live. Yet we also must note, elsewhere in Scripture, we are told that there are “none righteous, no not one… all have turned aside” (Ps. 53:1-3, Rom 3:10-11). No man can fulfill the commandments of God perfectly as it requires, (Deut. 28:15) we all therefore “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The passage continues in this vein... however... your real concern, regarding Eze 18:20, is that the “son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity”.

Total depravity does not teach that each person bears the sins of their father and so on. Sins do not compile as such. But that we are all born in a state of enmity with God and estranged from Him. Verse 20 also states: “the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself”. Since the wicked are “estranged from the womb”, and since “there is none righteous", the clear indication from Scripture is that we are all wicked and have all gone astray “from birth”.(Rom 3:24, Ps. 58:3)

The wonderful truth about Eze 18 is not that any man can obtain perfect righteousness as required by God, for we are all estranged from God in the womb, but that which we could not accomplish, born in sin that we are, Christ, the God-man born of woman, accomplished on our behalf. Thus removing that which estranged us from God and making those who are “in Christ” sons of God.

5. Since Jesus was born of woman, making Him a son of Adam (Luke 3:38 ) and since he was “made like His brethren in all things” (Hebrews 2:17) how did He escape total hereditary depravity (THD)?

Christ was born of woman, but was not descended from Adam. Christ’s head was never Adam, but was His Father, God. Christ therefore was not born of man, but of the Holy Spirit. Thus it is written “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”(1 Cor 15:45) Remember, Jesus said, “Abraham was born, I am.” Jesus existed prior to Adam… It is written that Adam was a "type of Him who was to come" (Rom 5:14) Just as Adam was therefore our federal head in sin, Christ is the federal head in righteousness.

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