Maybe this is self-evident, but there are reformed Christians who do not believe this at all. They rather believe that some are created to seek and find God while others are created to be spiritually blind and unable to do so (according to God’s will which is sometimes “mysterious” for us).
Acts: 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be NOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US.
The same text also tells us that we are all commanded to REPENT from our sins, and to make it clear we can read that this applies to “all men every where”. This means that while God can be viewed as being very patient with us, the commandment still stands.
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT
Since all are commanded to repent it means that we are capable of doing just that. Compare with God’s command to Adam (and Eve) in the garden, where Adam is asked to not eat from a certain tree. God informed him about the consequences should Adam take the decision to eat despite of the commandment. (Note below that the English translation/phrase “for in the day”, yowm, Strong’s 3117, according to Blueletterbible can be understood as “when …”, as is the case in my own language in Svenska 1917 års Bibel “när”.)
Gen. 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The fact that God informs Adam of the consequences for being disobedient proves that Adam has a genuine choice. The same is true with all of God’s commandments, such as the one in Acts 17. We are all commanded to repent from our sins, but not all of us will make this choice.
We are also told that God will still judge us in a very fair way. He knows our capabilities:
Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.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.
Reformed Christians might then quote Rom. 3:10-11 where it says that there is no one righteous and “none that seeketh after God”, but they fail to see that the apostle Paul is quoting from a couple of Psalms (“as it is written”), and if we go to these psalms we can read about unrighteous people who do not seek him, but in the same context we can also about righteous people who DO seek him. On top of it all, Paul calls himself righteous and also to having lived with a totally clean conscience (1 Thess. 2:10, Acts 23:1), so he would have contradicted himself if he claimed there were no such individuals to be found. Read more here.
We are promised that we will find the Lord if we search for him with all of our heart:
Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart
Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you
More examples which show that we are able and requested to seek God:
Deut. 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
1 Chron. 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.
1 Chron. 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
2 Chron. 11:16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.
2 Chron. 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.
2 Chron. 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
Ezra 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat
Psalm 10:4 The WICKED, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, LetGod be magnified.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.
Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
Daniel 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
Hosea 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
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 pre-Nicene church fathers did not believe in the sinful nature
It’s not enough to go back to Luther and Calvin to check the views of the early church, but we must go further back than that. If we do, we will soon notice that Luther and Calvin took impression of Augustine, and Augustine believed the contrary to the early church fathers before him when it comes to the issue of the sinful nature and a number of other subjects. Augustine must be blamed for the new unbiblical teachings which were brought into church due to him, and which today are considered truths in particularly the reformed church. We must therefore go back to the early church fathers before Augustine, and then we can see how their stance lines up perfectly with the Bible.
It’s true that Adam’s sin affected us a great deal, because the ground is cursed due to him and we can’t reach the tree of life due to him, which means that his sin brought physical death on all his posterior (including Jesus before he rose again). We’re bound by weakness, shame, fear, suffering and many natural shortcomings due to being related to Adam, but we certainly didn’t inherit his SIN. Romans 5:12 tells us that DEATH (not SIN) passed upon us BECAUSEall sinned. Not because Adam sinned. The physical death that we get due to Adam is not a punishment, but rather something that we get out of the mercy by the providence of God. The only other alternative would be to continue living on for ever without dying – in this present cursed world. That would be a cruel fate.
Augustine’s views about infants who die without water baptism
Unfortunately, Augustine only knew little Greek (unlike Pelagius who knew both Greek and Hebrew) and seems to have misunderstood the teaching of the Greek Fathers who lived before him, because he reached different conclusions than they did. The Manicheans were a gnostic cult Augustine originally belonged to and which advocated that “the nature of man can be corrupt to the point that his will is powerless to obey God’s commands”. Chadwick p. 228(2)
Some quotes from and about Augustine:
But even the infants, not personally in their own life, but according to the common origin of the human race, have all broken God’s covenant in that on in whom all have sinned…Even the infants are, according to the true belief, born in sin, not actual but original, so that we confess they have need of grace for the remission of sins. (Augustine, City of God bk. 16 ch. 27)
As nothing else is done for children in baptism but their being incorporated into the church, that is, connected with the body and members of Christ, it follows, that when this is not done for them, they belong to perdition. / III. 4
such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: ‘Judgment from one offence to condemnation’ (Romans 5:16), and again a little after: ‘By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation’ (Romans 5:18). / On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, ; cf. Study by the International Theological Commission
What is plainer than that the ancient divines, for three hundred years after Christ, those at least who flourished before St. Augustine, maintained the liberty of our will, or an indifference to two contrary things, free from all internal and external necessity! / Simon Episcopius (An Equal Check to Pharisaism and Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume Two, p. 209, Published by Carlton & Porter)
Augustine himself. (A wonderful saint! As full of pride, passion, bitterness, censoriousness, and as foul-mouthed to all that contradicted him… When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.”/ John Wesley
The pre-Nicene church fathers all taught against the gnostic idea that we are born with a sinful nature
You will sometimes see quotes by old church fathers from Calvinists who suggest that they teach original sin, but if you scrutinize those quotes and also read them in context, you will see that they teach no such thing. We also get a clearer picture if we compare with other texts from the same church father, and obviously the church fathers don’t contradict themselves. It’s very common to misunderstand the consequences of Adam’s sin (physical death) thinking it’s about a forced nature. If an original sin is forced upon us, then naturally we would have the best excuse for sin there is, and Jesus (clearly without original sin) would have a great advantage over us.
Ignatius of Antioch, 35-107 AD Bishop of Antioch in Syria. A disciple of the Apostle John and appointed as Bishop of Antioch by the Apostle Peter.
I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but all humanity is made the same,sometimes belonging to God and sometimes to the devil. If anyone is truly spiritual they are a person of God; but if they are irreligious and not spiritual then they are a person of the devil, made such NOT by nature, but by their own choice. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5, + Pg.61 vol. 1)
There is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians chap 5)
Irenaeus of Lyon 120-202 AD. The Apostle John had a disciple named Polycarp, who had a disciple named Irenaeus.
Men are possessed with free will, and endowed with the faculty of making a choice. It is not true, therefore, that some are by nature good, and others bad. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXVII)
Man is endowed with the faculty of distinguishing good and evil; so that, without compulsion, he has the power, by his own will and choice, to perform God’s commandments. (Against Heresies, Book IV, Chapter XXXIX)
Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not worked good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way, nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it. (Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 37)
This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. For there is no coercion with God, but a good will (toward us) is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that those who had yielded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves… (c. 180, Against Heresies 37; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 246)
And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. But communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God. He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord. But separation from God is death, and separation from light is darkness; and separation from God consists in the loss of all the benefits which He has in store. Those, therefore, who cast away by apostasy these forementioned things, being in fact destitute of all good, do experience every kind of punishment. God, however, does not punish them immediately of Himself, but that punishment falls upon them because they are destitute of all that is good. (Against Heresies, Book V, XXVII, 2)
Justin Martyr, 110-165 AD
For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things, he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil. And this is the greatest profanity and wickedness. (Apology 1, Chapter 28)
But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word shows, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” (Apology 1, ch. 43)
But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue.For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. And this also is shown by those men everywhere who have made laws and philosophized according to right reason, by their prescribing to do some things and refrain from others. Even the Stoic philosophers, in their doctrine of morals, steadily honour the same things, so that it is evident that they are not very felicitous in what they say about principles and incorporeal things. For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things, and will appear to have had a comprehension only of things that are destructible, and to have looked on God Himself as emerging both in part and in whole in every wickedness; or that neither vice nor virtue is anything; which is contrary to every sound idea, reason, and sense.” /Apology 2 Ch.7 2 (+ The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol. I, p.354)
But as my discourse is not intended to touch on this point, but to prove to you that the Holy Ghost reproaches men because they were made like God, free from suffering and death, provided that they kept His commandments, and were deemed deserving of the name of His sons, and yet they, becoming like Adam and Eve, work out death for themselves; let the interpretation of the Psalm be held just as you wish, yet thereby it is demonstrated that all men are deemed worthy of becoming “gods,” and of having power to become sons of the Highest; and shall be each by himself judged and condemned like Adam and Eve. Now I have proved at length that Christ is called God. / Dialogue:124
Now, we know that he did not go to the river because He stood in need of baptism, or of the descent of the Spirit like a dove; even as He submitted to be born and to be crucified, not because He needed such things, but because of the human race, which from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent, and each one of which had committed personal transgression. For God, wishing both angels and men, who were endowed with freewill, and at their own disposal, to do whatever He had strengthened each to do, made them so, that if they chose the things acceptable to Himself, He would keep them free from death and from punishment; but that if they did evil, He would punish each as He sees fit./ Dialogue: 88
But neither shall the father perish for the son, nor the son for the father; but every one for his own sin, and each shall be saved for his own righteousness.—Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded,” that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be./ Dialogue: 140Neither do we maintain that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer. Rather, we maintain that each man acts rightly or sins BY HIS FREE CHOICE….Since God in the beginning MADE THE RACE OF ANGELS AND MEN WITH FREE WILL, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. (c. 160, E), 1:190
God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall certainly be punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably (wicked), but not because God created them so. So if they repent all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God. / Dialogue cxli
Clement 2nd, 80-140AD. The first Apostolic Father of the Church. (According to Tertullian, Clement was consecrated by Saint Peter. Early church lists place him as the second or third bishop of Rome after Saint Peter. In Philippians 4:3 Clement is mentioned whose name was written “in the book of life”. Although known as 2 Clement, this document is in actuality an anonymous homily of the mid-second century. The author quotes from some document for the sayings of Jesus.)
Thus although we are born neither good nor bad, we become on or the other and having formed habits, we are with difficulty drawn from them. Pg 273 vol.8
He who is good by his own choice is really good; but he who is made good by another under necessity is not really good, because he is not what he is by his own choice…
So, brothers and sisters, if we have done the will of the Father and have kept the flesh pure and have observed the commandments of the Lord, we will receive eternal life (2 Clement 8:4)
Clement of Alexandria (Titus Flavius Clemens) 150–215 AD. A theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.
Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p.319)
Their estrangement is the result of free choice. (c. 195, Vol. 2, p. 426)
Tatian the Assyrian 120–180 AD Theologian
Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able to reject it again.” (c. 160, Vol. 2, pp. 69-70)
Each of these two orders of creatures [men and angels] was made free to act as it pleased. They did not have the nature of good, which again is with God alone. However, it is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice. In this manner, the bad man can be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault. Likewise, the just man can be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice,he refrained from transgressing the will of God. (c. 160, Vol. 2, p. 67)
Tertullian 160-225 AD
I find, then, that man was constituted free by God.He was master of his own will and power…For a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law.Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience of resistance. (c. 207, Vol. 3, pp. 300-301)
No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice. (c. 207) (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)
Athenagorus of Athens,133-190 AD Apologist
Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to bother virtue and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them and others faithless), so is it among the angels. (c. 177, Embassy for Christians; God’s Strategy in Human History, p. 247)
Aristides of Athens, 134 AD(Marcianus Aristides)
Theophilus of Antioch, –185 (Succeeded Eros c. 169)
Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (Apology to Autolycus, ch. XXVII.—The nature of man. c.180, Vol. 2, p. 105)
Hyppolytus of Rome, 170 – 235 AD theologian
God, who created [the world], did not nor does not, make evil….Now, man (who was brought into existence) was a creature endowed with a capacity of self-determination, yet he did not possess a sovereign intellect….Man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity for self-determination, brings forth evil….Since man has free will, a law has been given him by God, for a good purpose. For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason.Only a bridle and whip will be given it. In contrast, man has been given a commandment to perform, coupled with a penalty.” (c. 225, Vol. 5, p.151)
Hoodwinking multitudes, [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] deceived many persons of this description who had become his disciples. He taught them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin. However, he said that they were beyond the reach of danger because they belonged to the perfect power.—Subsequent to baptism, these [heretics] promise another, which they call Redemption. And by this, they wickedly subvert those who remain with them in expectation of redemption. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.92)
Origen (Adamantius) 185 – 253 AD Scholar, theologian
The Scriptures emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right. We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. FOR IT IS NOT THE NATURE IN US THAT IS THE CAUSE OF THE EVIL; rather, it is the VOLUNTARY CHOICE that works evil”(A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)
the heretics introduce the doctrine of different natures (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 291, Published by Hendrickson Publishers)
The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)
Certain ones of those [Gnostic’s] who hold different opinions misuse these passages.They essentially destroy free will by introducing RUINED NATURES incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost. (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, p. 308)
Cyprian, 200-258 AD Bishop of Carthage
The liberty of believing or not believing is placed in free choice. In Deuteronomy, it says, ‘Look! I have set before your face life and death, good and evil. Choose for yourself life, that you may live. (c. 250, Vol. 5, p. 547)
Novatian, (Novatus) 200–258 AD Scholar, priest, theologian and antipope
When he had given man all things for his service, he willed that man alone should be free. And lest an unbounded freedom would lead man into peril, He had laid down a command, in which man was taught that there was no evil in the fruit of the tree. Rather, he was forewarned that evil would arise if man were to exercise his free will in contempt of the law that had been given him….As a result, he could receive either worthy rewards or a just punishment. For he had in his own power that which he might choose to do. (c. 235, Vol. 5, p. 612)
Lactantius 240-320 AD
We should be free from vices and sin. For no one is born sinful, but if our affections are given to that direction they can become vices and sinful, but if we use our affections well they become virtues. (Ch. 16 bk 4 Divine Inst.)
Eusebius, 263 – 233 AD Bishop of Caesarea
The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will,when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again,making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God is has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature! / The Christian Examiner, Volume One, Published by James Miller, 1824 Edition, p. 66)
Methodius, 260-312 AD Bishop of Olympus
Now those [pagans] who decide that man is not possessed of free will, and affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate…are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause or author of human evils. (c. 190, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins 16; God’s Strategy In Human History, p. 252)
There is nothing evil by nature, but it is by use that evil things become such. So I say, says he, that man was made with free-will, not as if there were already evil in existence, which he had the power of choosing if he wished, but on account of his capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will? and this alone is evil, namely, disobedience./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius
For man received power, and enslaved himself, not because he was overpowered by irresistible tendencies of his nature, nor because the capacity with which he was gifted deprived him of what was better for him…I say therefore, that God purposing thus to honor man…has given him the power of being able to do what he wishes,and commends the employment of his power for better things; not that he deprives him again of free will, but wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with him and he receives the commandment; but God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things./The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius + The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 746
I say that God – purposing to honor man in this manner and to grant him an understanding of better things has given man the power of being able to do what he wishes. He commends the use of his power for better things. However, it is not that God deprives man again of free will. Rather, He wishes to point out the better way. For the power is present with man, and he receives the commandment. But God exhorts him to turn his power of choice to better things. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)
I do not think that God urges man to obey His commandments, but then deprives him of the power to obey or disobey…. He does not give a command in order to take way the power that he has given. Rather, He gives it in order to bestow a better gift…in return for his rendered obedience to God. For man had power to withhold it. I say that man was made with free will. (c. 290, Vol. 6, p. 362)
If then, any are evil, they are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and not by necessity. They perish self-destroyed, by their own fault.’For a man is not spoken of as ‘murderer’ but by committing it he receives the derived name of murderer. Evil is not a substance, but by practicing any evil it can be called evil…for a man is evil only in consequences of his actions. For he is said to be evil because he is a doer of evil. It is a persons actions that gives them the title of evil. Men produce the evil and are the authors of them. It is through actions that evil exists. Each man is evil in consequences of what they practice. It all has a beginning./ The Sacred Writings of Saint Methodius
The Divine Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not the cause of these things. (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume Six, Published by BRCCD, p. 696)
Arnobiusof Sicca, –330 AD
Does He not free all alike who invites all alike? Or does He thrust back or repel any one from the kindness of the supreme, who gives to all alike the power of coming to Him. To all, He says, the fountain of like is open, and no one is kept back or hindered from drinking. If you are so fastidious as to spurn the kindly offered gift… why should he keep on inviting you, while His only duty is to make the enjoyment of His bounty depend on your own free choice. Book 2 ,64
Cyril of Jerusalem, 312-386
Lecture IV 18″Know also that thou hast a soul self governed, the noblest work of God, made after the image of its Creator, immortal because of God that gives it immortality, a living being rational, imperishable, because of Him that bestowed these gifts: having free power to do what it willeth.”20″There is not a class of souls sinning by nature and a class of souls practising righteousness by nature; but both act from choice, the substance of their souls being of one kind only and alike in all.”21″The soul is self-governed: and though the Devil can suggest, he has not the power to compel against the will. He pictures to thee the thought of fornication: if thou wilt, thou rejectest. For if thou wert a fornicator of necessity then for what cause did God prepare hell? If thou wert a doer of righteousness by nature and not by will, wherefore did God prepare crowns of ineffable glory?The sheep is gentle, but never was it crowned for its gentleness; since its gentle quality belongs to it not from choice but by nature.”/ Lecture IV 18, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston
Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds ‘If then I do that which I would not’ in the wrong sense, but remember who says, ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,’ and what follows.” (Catechetical Lectures IV . 19)
And you must know your soul to be endowed with free-will, and to be God’s fairest work in the image of himself. It is immortal in as far as God grants it immortality. It is a rational living creature not subject to decay, because these qualities have been bestowed by God upon it. And it has the power to do what it chooses. For you do not sin because you were born that way, nor if you fornicate is it by chance. And do not take any notice of what some people say, that the conjunctions of the stars compel you to fall into unclean living. Why should you avoid acknowledging that you have done wrong by blaming it onto the stars that had nothing to do with it? (Catechetical Lectures IV . 18 (109)
John Crysostom, 347-407 AD Archbishop of Constantinople
All is in God’s power, but so that our free-will is not lost . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end./On Hebrews, Homily 12, God’s Strategy in Human History by Roger T Forster & V Paul Marston
God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for damnation or the crown (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)
Pelagius, 360 – 420, British monk and theologian (with knowledge in Greek, unlike Augustine). Notice below how he is in agreement with all the early church fathers about man’s free will and that we have not inherited Adam’s sin. Pelagius wrote “On Nature” and “Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will”, and in these he suggests that Augustine has been affected by Manicheanism (Augustine was a former gnostic) by mixing christianity with pagan fatalism. Manicheanism teaches that the spirit is God-created, while the flesh is corrupt since it had not been created directly by God. Augustine is the great heretic and has brought in many heresies into church, and Pelagius continues to be wrongly attacked by christians, despite that he was both Biblical and taught the same things as all the church fathers before him.
Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to show what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)
It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creature wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good,which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good – good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not bound by necessity but free to decide for itself. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)
Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press)
And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)
Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature,when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)
Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)
Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press)
Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body. (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)
I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.’ John Wesley
Here is a good video when it comes to the topic of Augustine’s corruption of the church:
“Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.” Deuteronomy 1:39
″Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.” Isaiah 7:15-16
Rom. 5:12, 18-19: ”Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
This passage is supposed to teach that all men are born sinners, and born under the condemnation and wrath of God because of Adam’s transgression.
But this passage does not teach that men are born sinners. It does not teach that they are born under the condemnation and wrath of God. It does not teach that they inherit a sinful nature from Adam. It does not teach that…
To base an entire philosophy/theological doctrine on the idea that man is born naturally depraved and unable to seek God or make morally good decisions, is risky to say the least. If we are BORN dead and depraved, then this should have been stated in the Bible, and in a very clear language, but we find the opposite to be true.
The words “depraved” and “depravity” are not even Biblical words (KJV) so we must first figure out what reformed believers might mean with those words when they claim we all start out naturally depraved, and we must also figure out if we have an obligation to side with their particular interpretation. Note that I’m not saying that something cannot be true only because the words are not present in the Bible, but if neither the words nor the concept can be found in the Bible, then it’s likely not something we must believe is true. Maybe it’s better to focus on the word “dead” since we can find this word in the Bible, and in that way get a clue what it means to be spiritually dead.
Reformed believers often say we can’t do ANYTHING if we are dead, because “dead is dead” and “dead and not wounded”, but a physically dead person can’t do anything bad either. He is dead! If a spiritually dead person can’t do anything at all, then he wouldn’t be able to sin either but for some reason the “reformed” God allows all people (or rather predestines them) to be born into sin and bound by darkness, whereas he only enables some of them to escape this darkness and do good. This doesn’t make any sense at all. Why would a loving God who hates sin prevent most people from seeking him and be morally upright individuals? (And why would he turn around and show wrath towards those who remain in their sins, when he is well aware of that they have no other option?)
Lazarus – a spiritually alive man who died
It’s very common to make a comparison with Jesus’ friend Lazarus’ resurrection that is described in John 11, and suggest that he is a good example of that a dead person must get divine help to come alive and do good. However, if this incident is supposed to show that spiritually dead people can’t do anything at all (and particularly not any good things) then we must ask ourselves why such a good man like Lazarus is selected to be an example, considering that he wasn’t spiritually dead at all but spiritually alive, and a close friend of Jesus and much loved by him. Also his sisters Martha and Mary were believers of Jesus, which they showed both in words and in actions. It’s interesting that Jesus claims that Lazarus, despite being dead, is only sleeping (v. 11).
John 11:11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
John 11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE. Nevertheless let us go to him.” (NKJV)
John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
John 11:42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, THAT THEY MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME .43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
John 11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and HAD SEEN THE THINGS WHICH JESUS DID, believed on him.
John 11:48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.54Jesus THEREFORE walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
Jesus acted (as per v. 40) as though he expected Martha to believe and understand ALL the things that Jesus had previously explained to her, and not only the fact that Jesus is the Messiah and divinely sent by God. However, it looks like Martha had misunderstood certain things that Jesus had told her. Moreover, if people were predestined to believe/not believe (resulting in heaven or hell) before the beginning of the world, then nothing that Jesus would have chosen to say or not say would change the outcome of what is already determined to occur. Yet, we can read that one reason for bringing Lazarus back to life is so that people may BELIEVE in him (Jesus), which turned out to be a successful procedure because many jews did end up believing in Jesus – precisely due to what they SAW with their own eyes. It doesn’t say they started to believe due to having been chosen to believe. Nevertheless, other jews plotted to kill Jesus and THEREFORE Jesus no longer walked openly among them. However, if people are predestined to always act according to God’s will, then there wouldn’t be any reason to take such measures to avoid the jews because it’s not possible to thwart God’s plans in a world where “predestination” is a rule. If God would have predestined someone to kill Jesus, then this would be the result whether Jesus walked openly among the jews or not.
Dead in trespasses and sins?
It’s always a bad idea to sin and thus be dead in trespasses and sins. Satan LIED and said that sinning will NOT cause spiritual death (which he said to Eve in Eden), but the truth is that trespassing the law – which is sinning – WILL separate us from God and cause spiritual death. We have the opportunity to repent of course.
Sin is thetransgression of the law, John says, so that means we are not sinners due to having the nerve to be born but rather the moment we choose to break the law and SIN. If we are sinners already from birth, then John must be incorrect for suggesting that we are not sinners until we break the law of God, and the law of God doesn’t say that it’s a sin to be conceived or to be born into this world. It’s hardly our choice to be born, and why would that be a sin or against God’s will?
1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Some christians suggest that we are BORN “dead in trespasses and sins“, but that is not what the Bible says.
Ephesians 2:1: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Paul explains that the Ephesians in time PAST walked in sin, but he doesn’t expect them to continue like that. Also note that in order to commit the sins that Paul lists, you must at least be an ADULT. Babies are not aware of the law and they are unable to:
have a need or reason to be ”quickened”
perform TRESPASSES and SINS and through them be dead
walk according to the world
walk according to Satan (the prince of the power of the air)
be disobedient through following Satan
walk in the lusts of their flesh
fulfill the desires of their flesh
fulfill the desires of their mind
We can be labelled either children of God or children of Satan depending on our life styles. We can also read that the ”children of wrath” are also called ”children of disobedience” so it’s clear that in order to fit the bill you must be able to DISOBEY – which is something that babies cannot do. Eph. 2 doesn’t suggest we are BORN as children of wrath, but it provides details for how we can BECOME children of wrath by the way we live. Even the Ephesians WERE dead due to their choice to sin, but thanks to the blood of Jesus, and through their own repentance of their sins, they were restored. Paul says”hath raised us up together”, but that is a picture of our future with Christ, because he continues the sentence with ”in the ages to COME”. We haven’t been elevated yet. Moreover, in Romans 2 we can read about people who obey the law “by nature”, so apparently we are not born with a sinful nature. You can read more about the gnostic idea of the sinful nature in this blog article.
Col. 2:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.—8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.—13 And you, beingdead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross
Paul warns the Colossians (and all of us) extensively because there is always a huge risk that we will fall from our salvation due to sin. If we could never risk to go from being spiritually alive to being spiritually dead, then there wouldn’t be any reason to warn true believers the way Paul does. We can become cleansed, regenerated and righteous by confessing our sins and repenting, because then our sins will be blotted out.
Sins/iniquities/transgression of God’s law (same things) have always separated us from God ever since Adam, and continue to do so
If we sin, we are dead (in trespasses and sins), and then we must seek God, come to him, confess our sins and repent in order to be cleansed and regenerated. Then we become “born again”, because we are no more spiritually dead.
Daniel 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him
Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, IF we faint not.
The prodigal son is an excellent example of a person who was LOST and DEAD (according to the words of his own Father who is a picture of God the Father), and still capable of making an excellent decision to repent, return to his Father and confess his sins before him. Loads of people say “but he never ceased to be a son!”, but what does it matter to be a physical son of someone when he is still LOST and DEAD? And quite obviously a person who lives together with prostitutes in unrepentant sin is (during this time) nothing but 100% lost and dead, unless we must believe that heaven will be a place full of unrepentant sinners.
Luke 15: 24 For this my son WAS DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN; he WAS LOST, and IS FOUND. And they began to be merry.—30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was DEAD, and is ALIVE AGAIN AGAIN; and was LOST, and is FOUND.
Again, to base an entire doctrine on something that the Bible doesn’t say is extremely unwise, and especially if this false doctrine necessitates that we erect other false doctrines to save that first one, and which in the end makes God to be the author of sin and very illogical. Are we born depraved and with a sinful nature that makes us sin ACCORDING to God’s will or AGAINST his will?
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth (Rom 9:17)
God’s had not YET destroyed Pharaoh in order to further demonstrate His power. God spared Pharaoh for a while, instead of destroying Egypt more quickly. Rom. 9:17-18 is a reference to this verse:
Exodus:9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.17AS YET EXALTEST THOU THYSELF AGAINST MY PEOPLE; THAT THOU WILT NOT LET THEM GO? (KJV)
Notice in this reference, that Pharaoh is suggested to have exalted himself against God’s people by refusing to let his people go. This was an idea coming from Pharaoh himself and not from God. Another translation is:
Exodus 9:15-16 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up [or have spared you, NIV mg.] for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.
The word hardened consists of three different Hebrew words used to describe Pharaoh’s heart condition. Kabed which has the idea of to be heavy, insensible, or dull, qasah which conveys the sense of being hard, severe, or fierce, hazaq, meaning to be or grow firm, strong. The plagues are called “judgments” (7.4), because God judged Egypt in its treatment of Israel. We can read in the Bible that people “perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:10) and that would have been an option also for Pharaoh. Instead he ended up much like the rebellious people spoken about in Romans 1, who God gave up to a depraved mind because of their wickedness.
There were to be ten wonders in all, each time a sign judgment would be delivered for the purpose of freeing Israel. These become more severe as the months go by (approximately 6 months). The magicians finally acknowledged; “This is the finger of God” (8:19) so the judgements were apparently effective. Pharaoh admitted this off and on through the ordeal (9.27; 10.17), the officials did likewise (9.20; 10.17), the Israelites (14.31) and many Egyptians (12.38) went with the Israelites (and were saved during the Passover judgment/plague–12.48-49), and the Philistines in Canaan honored Israel’s God and knew all about Pharaoh’s folly (I Sam 4.8; 6.5-6).
Pharaoh hardened his own heart numerous times before God did. If Pharaoh started out to harden his heart first (even though the Bible says the opposite) wouldn’t this mean that Pharaoh’s heart was NOT hard/hardened BEFORE this occurred? This is usually not what reformed believers believe could be the case with “non-elect”, but rather that wicked people have hardened hearts all the time. When is a person’s heart in risk to be hardened?
Hebr. 3:7Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness
This means that it’s our responsibility to not harden our hearts, and we can see that we get hardened hearts when hearing the voice of God and refusing to hearken to him. This could explain why we can read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart at the same time as we read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Before the first contact with Moses and his God, Pharaoh’s heart was not hard/hardened because he had never faced any options about adhering to God’s requests or not. (I’m not saying Pharaoh was necessarily “saved” during that time, because he could still have lived in sin and against his own conscience.) Some might experience hardening of their own hearts and lives if they know that God is calling them to come to him – maybe through another person who evangelizes for them – but due to fear, peer pressure, or similar, they decide to reject the calling even though they believe it’s divine. They have then hardened their hearts, or we could say it’s the evangelist who hardened their hearts since he is the one who “caused” the hardening to happen by evangelizing to them. Had he not done so, they would remain in their ignorance. So both alternatives are valid depending on how we look at it. The same evangelist might approach the same people yet again, and once again “harden” them when he reminds them of that God wants them to repent for their sins and accept him as their Savior. If they once again reject the calling, they have once again hardened their hearts (or the evangelist did). I believe street preachers constantly “harden people’s hearts” when they preach to them about repentance and that God is calling them to come to him to get life. Even though some of them realize that they do live in sin and really should turn their lives around, they still choose to reject the offer.
Pharaoh is said to have hardened his heart in the below verses
Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Ex 8:32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
Ex 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. (Here we can read that Pharao SINNED by hardening his heart, so if we want to believe God is the one hardening it, then GOD is the one who forced Pharao to sin.)
1 Sam 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? (Here the pagan kings understood the root cause of Pharaoh’s problem was HIS OWN hardening.)
Verses in Exodus with no source of agent mentioned
7:13 “Pharaoh’s heart was hard (“and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken” / Young’s Literal) 7:14 “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding 7:22 “Pharaoh’s heart was hard 8:19 “Pharaoh’s heart was hard” 9:7 “Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding” 9:35 “Pharaoh’s heart was hard”
God is said to have done the hardening in the below verses in Exodus:
4:21 “I will harden his heart” (future – a prophesy) 7:3 “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (future – prophesy) 9:12 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” 10:1 “I have hardened his heart” 10:20 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” 10:27 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” 11:10 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” 14:4 “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” 14:8 “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” 14:17 “I will harden the Egyptians’ hearts”
This means, that the first mention of someone hardening Pharaoh’s heart is in Ex. 8:15, where Pharaoh is said to have done it. Not that it matters, considering what I’ve written above. This is what might have happened to Pharaoh:
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleannessthrough the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:—28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;—31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Examples of hardening of a heart
2 Chron 36:11Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.13And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.
Ps 95:7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Pro 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.14Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Pro_21:29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
Isaiah 63: 17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.18The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. (Notice that one could be aware of this condition and ask God to change it. Pharaoh could have done the same thing.)
Dan 5:18O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 20But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him (Note the means of self-hardening was pride. In this case, God punished the ruler with deposition rather than additional and prolonging hardening)
Deut 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward
Jer. 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Deut 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Notice that God will circumcise their hearts AFTER they return to Him which is a condition.)
Ps 119: 17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Notice that the writer can see well enough to know he needs ‘more visibility)
1 King. 8:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:60That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (Notice that one can ask God to turn our hearts)
2 Chron. 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.
1 Chron. 29:18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: 19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision.(Notice that these things can be prayed for)
Mark 9:23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (This person expressed faith and asked to be given more faith. We know when we need “unhardening” or renewal)
According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear (Rom. 11:8)
God does not arbitrarily cause certain unfortunate people to be spiritually blind and deaf and neither does he turn around and punish them for not seeking him – which he prevented them to do in the first place. However, if PEOPLE reject him and rebel against him, he can give them over to a reprobate mind. IF God would be the one to make people spiritually blind and deaf (for no reason at all), it must mean that they were NOT blind and deaf from the start – despite that they were adults and had been around for a while. (Something for reformed thinkers to think about, because they believe we were all blind and deaf before we are regenerated and able to believe and do good.)
When we check the passages in the Bible where we can read about God giving people over to blindness and deafness, we can see that this is their own fault due to hardening of their own hearts. We can also see that God EXPECTED Israel to see and hear due to the many miracles that he did before them, and he always has great anger towards people who refuse to give up their idols and other sins. In Romans 11:7-11 Paul is referring to Isaiah, so it’s essential that we study the context in Isaiah to understand why people’s eyes and ears have been shut.
Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: 10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
Isaiah 29:9 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.10 For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.11 And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:14Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
Isaiah 44:9They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.—17And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.18They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. 19 And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?20 He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
Ps. 69:22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.23Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
Jesus encourages us to walk in the light, LEST darkness will come upon us. and IF we choose to believe in the light, we can become children of light. Despite that Jesus did many miracles, the pharisees still did not believe in him and that is because they had purposed in their hearts to not come to the light. A person who hates the light remains in darkness, and he is spiritually blind.
John 12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.36 While ye have light, believe in the light,that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
John. 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John. 12:38 is a quote from this passage in the old testament:
Jesaja 6:9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.
Compare with this passage where we can see that Paul is blaming people for not being able to see or hear. Paul did his utmost to persuade people to believe in Jesus, but if God is the one to make people spiritually blind and death, Paul would be wasting his time:
Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.25And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, andtheir eyes have THEY closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Other verses in the same chapter (John 12) show man’s free will and responsibility to seek and come to God. Clearly God would not predestine people to NOT believe in him, follow him, confess him, receive him, abide in him, etc. God would not close the door for people, only to ask the same people why they have not seeked him. We can see that there is an option to reject Jesus, and that is of course against God’s will.
John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.—42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.-—46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.—-48He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Below we can read about people who forsake God and who have eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear, and they are considered foolish by God. Naturally he wouldn’t create people to revolt against him and to have rebellious hearts. We can read that it’s their INIQUITIES which have caused themselves to be withheld from the good things of God:
Jer 5:19And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the LORD our God all these things unto us? then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not your’s. 20Declare this in the house of Jacob, and publish it in Judah, saying, 21Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: —23But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. 24Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. 25Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. 26For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. 27As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. 28They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. 29Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? 30A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; 31The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Other verses which show that people have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear – due to their own doings
Hes. 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house,which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not:for they are a rebellious house. 3Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.
Zechariah 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.12 Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.13 Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts:
Ps 135:15 The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 16They have mouths, but they speak not;eyes have they, but they see not; 17They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. 18They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.
Deut.29:2And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 3The great temptations which thine eyes have seen,the signs, and those great miracles:4Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.-–20 The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousyshall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.— 24Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of thisgreat anger? 25Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:
Mark 8:17And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? 18Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?19When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
Verses that show that people can and should seek God in order to find him and get life
Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
2 Chronicles 15:2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Isaiah 65:1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.2I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick
Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
It doesn’t say anywhere that God randomly selects people who he will cause to not see or hear. The reason why the farisees did not see or hear is that they chose not to follow Jesus to listen to his teaching and to get edified. Instead they came to him in order to mock him and/or find faults – if they even came to him at all. If people were chosen to be elect/non-elect before the world began, then of course Jesus wouldn’t have to speak in parables in order to hide his message, because the non-elect would be blind and deaf regardless.
Luke 8:10 — Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand
Jesus warns his disciples in the same chapter that they must HEAR in the right way and also DO it, which shows there is a risk they won’t.
Luke 8:18Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have. —21And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
The Bible doesn’t anywhere that we first must be “regenerated” before we can seek God. God calls us and we must respond, and if we do come to him we must believe that he is, and if we are willing to get to know him we will be revealed the DEEP things of God.
Hebr. 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.
1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the DEEP things of God
There is no better passage than Romans 1:18-32 to show the reality of when people reject God even though they know better and have the opportunity to seek him and find him. For this reason God gives them over to reprobation.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23)
Jeremiah 2::32 asks “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Well, no – what bride would forget her wedding attire? That is simply out of the question, so the answer should then be “NO WAY” and yet we read on:
“—yet my people have forgotten me days without number”.
So the answer is YES after all. Jeremiah 13:23 is a question and not a statement, and it’s like God wants to show Israel how difficult it is for people who are accustomed to do evil and who have hardened their hearts, to change their behavior. But we can be delivered from our sins and spots. We must choose to come to God so he can change us and help us to change our bad habits. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. What else does Jeremiah 13 tell us? We can read about a group of evil people who refuses to obey God, which is very disturbing to him. Due to their rebellion and their refusal to listen and obey, God will punish them. We can read about a people who have forgotten about God and trusted in FALSEHOOD. Does God want his chosen people to trust in falsehood? Clearly not. We can read that it’s due to their wickedness that God will put them to open shame. It’s due to their own actions which they themselves are responsible for, because God certainly didn’t cause them to perform adulteries, neighings, lewdness of whoredom and other abominations that we can read about. God is mighty upset with his peoole for constantly acting against his will. See for yourself:
10This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.11For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.
16Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock is carried away captive.
22And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.
23Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
24Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness. 25This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.26Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear. 27I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?
We are told we can keep ourselves unspotted from the world
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
1 Timothy 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Peter 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Why would God take the time and give so many warning to Israel in Jeremiah (and elsewhere) not to do evil if He knew they were destined to do evil because their nature was evil? A change requires serious effort because of being accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah tells the people to correct their behavior. How can man correct his behavior if he can’t change it and doesn’t have a choice? Man defiles himself by sinning.
Mark 7:20And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Rom. 2:13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14For 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: 15Which 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;)
Rom 1:19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Paul said, “Bear one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
What is the law of Christ? The law of Christ is the body of commands and teachings He taught to His disciples and they in turn were to teach every new disciple. (Matt. 28:20)
Paul equated Christ’s law to God’s law. (1 Cor. 9:21)
“To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.”
Paul told the Christians in Galatia to carry each other’s burdens, and in doing so they would fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:2)
Paul also said such things as “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16)
What is the word of Christ?
It has to do with everything Jesus taught and commanded! I have heard people try to get away with what Jesus taught by claiming it belongs to another dispensation in the future; that what Christ taught cannot be applied doctrinally to the Christians in the Church Age.
The word “doctrine” simply means “teaching or instruction.” It is not some mystical word that is hard to grasp. Whatever Jesus taught applied to the apostles, to those at that time, and to us! If one does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, he does not have God.
2 John 1:9 says, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.”
As one author has well stated,
“It seems strange that men should forbid Jesus the privilege of teaching, during His earthly ministry, and great principles governing man’s relation to God – not only during the few remaining days of His brief earthly ministry, but throughout the age to follow, for which He was even then preparing His disciples. It seems even stranger that men who so easily reject much of our Lord’s later teaching as ‘not applicable to the present dispensation’ do not hesitate to accept much of His earliest teaching (to Nicodemus, for example) as being fully applicable to the present age. (One friend, in conversation with the author, even denied that our Lord’s words in John 15 have any bearing on the question of our relation to Christ today, since they were spoken ‘before Calvary’ – a few hours! What delicate, fragile hairs skilled ‘rightly dividers’ can sometimes neatly split with one swift, sure stroke of their hermeneutical broadaxe!)
It is true that Jesus made reference to certain legal and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic economy which are not applicable today. But it is also true that He enunciated cardinal principles governing man’s spiritual relation to God which are as valid today as the moment of utterance. One of these principles, according to His teaching in the Parable of the Law of Forgiveness, is that true repentance toward God is inseparably associated with our attitude toward our fellow men and cannot exist apart from a charitable, forgiving spirit toward others.
Such true repentance, like sincere faith and the faithful retention of the saving word of the Gospel, is necessary, not merely for a fleeting moment at the occasion of one’s conversion, but continually and habitually, as an essential condition of forgiveness and salvation. ‘So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you,’ warned Jesus, ‘if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.’ It is possible, warned Jesus, that Peter and others who have known the forgiving grace of God might forfeit that forgiveness. The forgiving grace of God cannot dwell in bitter, unforgiving hearts. He who refuses to forgive his brother has no real sense of need for the forgiveness of God and no just claim on His gracious forgiveness. ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’”
What does Jesus expect from us?
Jesus expects us to obey Him. He was not suggesting it, nor did He say it was for another dispensation. Jesus said true believers are those who obey Him. Jesus said if you love Him, keep His commandments (John 14:15).
We are to abide in the doctrine of Christ. When we abide in the doctrine of Christ, we are fulfilling the law of Christ and it shows that we have both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)
God’s will is expressed in the Law of Christ.
The law of Christ is anything Jesus taught in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and is considered the will of the Father. (Matt. 12:50)
Jesus said whoever hears these sayings (of Jesus), and DOES THEM, is likened to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matt. 7:24)
The teachings of Jesus come from the Father.
Jesus said His teaching were not His own, but came from the Father. (John 7:16-17) Everything Jesus taught and commanded came from God. (John 8:28; John 12:49-50; John 14:10; John 14:24; John 14:31) Jesus obeyed the Father perfectly. Everything Jesus did was the will of God.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Teach them to obey all that I commanded you”. By teaching others to obey all that Jesus commanded, is teaching the will of God.
The law of Christ is a law of the heart and mind.
When one starts talking about how we should obey Jesus, immediately the cry is, “You are teaching a works salvation!” Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible never says one can earn his salvation, but what the Bible does say iS to WORK OUT your own salvation (Php. 2:12). You can’t work out what you don’t have! On the other hand, all they teach is that one can’t help but sin every single day in thought, word, and deed. Throughout both Testaments God wants people to forsake wickedness. Jesus told people to “go and sin no more,” and Paul said, “Awake to righteouness and sin not!” But on every side we are attacked by Satan’s followers who say you can keep sinning and never die (the same lie from the Garden). Just listen to this clip ”Today’s Gospel” of what is being taught out there, and hear how God’s word refutes them!
The secret to living a holy life, free from the bondage of sin, is LOVE. The purity of your actions is not only from the mind, but from the heart. What is in your heart will fill your mind as well. Jesus called the teachers of the law and Pharisees hypocrites. They were beautiful on the outside, but inside were full of dead men’s bones. People, from the outside, can appear as righteous but inside are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matt. 23:28) It is from out of the heart that proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matt. 15:19). Jesus is not looking just for external actions to be pure, but his desire is for us to be pure in heart and mind as well.
Will the Holy Spirit be given to those who do not obey Jesus – who claim to continually sin everyday in thought, word, and deed?
Jesus said the Holy Spirit will only be given to those who obey Him.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14:15-16)
This is corroborated by Peter.
And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:32)
John tells us,
“And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24)
The Holy Spirit whom God has given abides in those who keep the commandments of Jesus! For those who claim to sin everyday in thought, word, and deed cannot have the Holy Spirit, for they do not obey God. They even write off what Jesus said as for another dispensation and therefore it doesn’t apply to them doctrinally! Why? Because it will knock down the wall of a false teaching called Unconditional Eternal Security! When you listen to all these false teachers, and get rid of all the fluff in their sermons, it all boils down to one thing…..you can keep on sinning and you won’t die! It’s the same lie the Serpent told Eve in the Garden.
The Bible is clear that if you don’t obey and abide in the doctrine of Christ, you do not belong to Christ, nor do you have the Holy Spirit. (2 John 1:9; Rom. 8:9)
Jesus said whoever obeys His commands, he is the one who loves Him. And He who loves Jesus loves the Father. Again, if anyone loves Jesus, he will obey His teachings. (John 14:21; John 14:23)
The reverse side is true just as well. Jesus said those who do not love him do not keep His words. (John 14:24)
Jesus’ love is conditional as long as we continue to obey.
Jesus’ love is NOT unconditional. Note the condition in the words of Jesus,
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10)
Being friends with Jesus is also conditioned upon our obedience.
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14)
If we hold to the teachings of Christ, we are the real disciples of His.
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
We are assured by Jesus we will never see death if we keep His word.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” (John 8:51)
It is obedience to the teachings (keeping His word) that causes the blessings. Just as blessings were promised for obedience to the law of Moses, so are the blessings promised to us based on our obedience to Christ.
One cannot have salvation without repentance followed with obedience.
The Scripture says,
“And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (Heb. 5:9)
It doesn’t say salvation is given to those who sin every day in thought, word, and deed. God does not want people to sin. He tells people to forsake their sins and follow Him. Jesus commanded that all men to repent, but modern man will tell you repentance is not part of the Gospel. It’s a lie. God wants repentance preached (Luke 5:32; Luke 24:47; Acts 20:21, etc. etc.).
There is a “godly sorrow.” “For godly sorrow worketh repentance TO SALVATION not to be repented of;” (2 Cor. 7:10)
Jesus said of the Holy Spirit,
“And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8)
And as we read above, God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. (Acts 5:32) When a person feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit about his sinful condition, he can shrug it off, or he’ll come to God to forgive him of such a sinful life style. He will want pardon through the mercy of God. He knows his only hope is through Jesus who provided a way for his salvation and freedom from sin. He will hate his sin because he can see what it has done to him and where it will send him. He will not have a desire to do it anymore. At that point of repentance, he wants to give up sin and not do it again. Some people may be bothered for weeks under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, some may be a few days, and for some it may be on the very day (process of repentance). He will not have rest until he comes to that crucial point of “godly sorrow” that leads to salvation. He has to believe (faith) that God is able to forgive him of all the sins he has committed up to that point in his life, and his heart must be dead set against sinning again, which it would be if he is truly under godly sorrow. Jesus came to set us free from sin, that it no longer has to have dominion over us. His repentance will be proven by his deeds (Acts 20:26). One’s deeds (obedience – NOT disobedience) will prove his repentance! God will give that person strength if he will obey Him. He gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. From there, as he reads the Scriptures (needs to grow in the faith), he will be warned not to go back to the way he once walked. He can quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The Scripture shows us certain sins will not let one inherit the kingdom of God, but instead lead one to eternal doom (Gal.5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:3-6; Rev. 21:8, etc.). The Bible doesn’t say we work FOR our salvation, but it does say to WORK OUT our own salvation, and that with fear and trembling! (Php. 2:12).
Salvation is conditional upon the fact that we continue to abide in Jesus. One who abides in Jesus will not sin. Remember, Jesus said if you love Him you will obey Him and His teachings. The Scriptures tell us,
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
The Scriptures also say,
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4)”
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thess. 1:8)
And you want to claim that you SIN everyday in thought, word and deed? This is simply being disobedient!
Which one is it – believing or obeying?
Some Scripture passages say salvation is a result of obedience while other texts say salvation is through faith. Is this a contradiction? No. Paul said,
“By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: (Rom. 1:5)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8)
Faith comes first and obedience is the evidence of the faith. The Gospel is to be obeyed for salvation sake.
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2 Thess. 1:8)
Disobedience is manifested in unbelief.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them thatbelieved not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18-19)
So if you are disobedient, sinning everyday in thought, word, and deed, you are walking in unbelief. Among the sins that will send one into the Lake of Fire, the “unbelieving” is one of them.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)
The Bible is clear that a past moment of acceptance of Christ does not guarantee anyone eternal salvation regardless how they live afterward. If they don’t continue in the faith they will suffer the consequences in Hell for all eternity.
Scriptures say that there will be Christians who will depart from the faith (departing from the faith doesn’t happen to lost people!) (1 Tim. 4:1). The widows turned from Christ and started following Satan (1 Tim. 5:11-15). Demas is another example. He was a traveling companion of Paul (Col. 4:14; Phm. 1:24). They worked together and endured various troubles and persecutions preaching the kingdom of God. But what happened to Demas? Paul said, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;…” (2 Tim. 4:10). Demas, a saved man, fell away and went back to loving this present world. He loved the world more than God. The god of this world is Satan! (2 Cor. 4:4). Demas got deceived and it affected his behavior. In his unrepentant state, he lost his salvation for he did not endure! (1 John 2:15; James 4:4)
Those who obey Jesus’s commands live in him. Paul said to examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). John corroborates Paul by saying, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” (1 John 3:24)
Those who have a true saving faith in Christ will obey His teachings and commands. Obedience is natural evidence of saving faith. Those who are disobedient display their lack of saving faith. Jesus NEVER asks us to do something we cannot do. If you love Jesus, you will obey Him, and to obey Him is fulfilling the law of Christ.
CHALLENGE to CALVINISTS to please explain the contradiction of Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1:
A Calvinist writes: “[God] does not actively work unbelief into the non-elect. All are already under sin. God is not responsible for the sin of Adam, or the fall of mankind. God is not the author of evil. “
Q. Who then *is* the author of evil? Who did work unbelief into the heart of men? If all men are under sin, what was God doing when it happened – did it occur behind his back / outside his sovereign causality? Calvin wrote: (quote):
“..the will of God is the supreme and primary cause of everything…” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Ch. 16, Sect.
“We also note that we should consider the creation of the world so that we may realise that everything is subject to God and ruled by his will and that when the world has done what it may, nothing happens other than what God decrees.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.66)
“…the devil and all the ungodly are reined in by God, so that they cannot conceive, plan or carry out any crime, unlessGod allows it, indeedcommands it. They are not only in bondage to him, but are forced to serve him. It is the Lord’s prerogative to enable the enemy’s rage and to control it at will, and it is in his power to decide how far and how long it may last, so that wicked men cannot break free and do exactly what they want….” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book I, Ch.17, Sect. 10)
= And again. WCF3.1 says God ordains EVERYTHING that happens.
Q. How then, having asserted this position, can Calvinism claim God is not authoring these things – THAT’S WHAT AUTHORING MEANS – (to conceive a plot, and via third parties cause a narrative to come into being, and then to publish it via secondary agents, for the world to experience it’s reality.) i.e. by the normal definition of the words, Authoring IS ordaining / decreeing / causing / predetermining, by creative design.
I really hope you guys can take this challenge on – because it lies at the heart of Calvinism’s claims of sovereignty. These are not complex questions, and are based on what Calvinism clearly states. I’m not pulling a clever trick on you here, but asking how you reconcile this contradiction: To quote Calvin again:
“First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world; and yet God is not the author of evil.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169)
“Whatever things are done wrongly and unjustly by man, these very things are the right and just works of God. This may seem paradoxical at first sight to some….” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.169)
Too right it seems paradoxical!….. It IS. Again. My questions have not been answered -I’ve received lots of references to God being “passive” while people go do things that God is not *actively* in control of, whilst simultaneously claiming God is in control of everything.
PROBLEM 1.) If God stands back and lets a man do something that God himself has not actively caused to be, then you are opening up space *outside his sovereign will* by claiming he stands by and lets things happen he did not cause.
PROBLEM 2.) Calvinists seem to also be claiming God IS in fact in TOTAL control of every atom in this universe etc. Thus you cannot claim God is in total control and at the same time shelve the effective causailty onto someone else… This question is normally responded to by Calvinists by stating “you do not understand Calvinism – go back and relearn”. I am – I have – I am taking you at your word and asking questions about it – please dont refer to charts or other material – I need to know how you square this circle personally. Or do you switch your mind off and accept mutually exclusive opposites as compatible truth… ie ‘A = NotA’
Sovereignty = total control / causality (predestination = ordination).
Soveriengty = active causality to salvation
Sovereignty does not = active causality to sin
Sovereignty does not = total control / causality
(Thanks to Stephen Thomas. Also read his long list of verses which show that TULIP is incorrect here)
“Regenerate”and “regenerated” are not found in the KJV Bible. Not in the NIV either for that matter. Neither is “regeneration” found in the NIV but it’s found twice in the KJV.
“Regeneration” is a translation from the Greek noun παλινγενεσίᾳ (palingenesia Strong’s 3824) and can also mean new birth, renewal, restoration, etc. When we are forgiven and cleansed from our sins we are washed, born again and a child of God. Regenerated! God wants us all to repent from our sins and come to him so that we can be regenerated and born again. Here is the first verse:
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The second instance is this one below (in the genitive form), and some reformed believers build a whole new doctrine on this verse alone:
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
This verse does not say that a person must be “regenerated” in order to seek and find God, but it’s clear that we cannot cleanse our own sins by suddenly doing good things. Our PAST sins must be dealt with first. We can only be cleansed and declared righteous thanks to the blood of Jesus , and this happens when we ask for forgiveness for our sins, repent and start living in the light. If we break the Law even once, we are in need of a Savior and we are saved thanks to God’s MERCY.
When we are born again we have been moved from death to life and we are washed, regenerated and renewed of the Holy Ghost. We are all asked to come to God in order to be born again, and we learn that regeneration comes AFTER that a person has repented for his sins and been cleansed from them. Only THEN is he a new regenerated person and the old things have passed away. Let’s also remember that the prodigal son was spiritually DEAD and yet he took a personal decision to return to his Father and ask for forgiveness. No one else persuaded him or forced him.
If conversion occurs at some point after regeneration, then we have a person who is regenerated but not yet converted, and therefore a person who is regenerated but not yet saved. A person is not saved when he receives the ability to repent and believe, but when he is actually cleansed/regenerated. The very moment that a sinner is regenerated he is saved because regeneration is not distinct or difference from conversion.
Verses that show that faith comes before regeneration/rebirth
Heb. 11 he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently SEEK him.
John 1:12 But as many as RECEIVED him, to THEM gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name
Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;—26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord
Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee
2 Cr 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death
1 John 1:9 IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
Rev. 2:21 And I gave her SPACE TO REPENT of her fornication and she repented not. 22 Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation except they repent of their DEEDS
2 Tim 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.21 IF a man thereforepurges himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
2 Chron. 15:2 The LORD is with you when you are with him. IF you seek him, he will be found by you, but IF you forsake him, he will FORSAKE you.
Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded
Jeremiah 4:14 Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved
Ezekiel 18:31 Make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die…
Mat 6:14,15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The whole point of seeking God is to find him and become regenerated/cleansed
Until we find God we are not forgiven nor regenerated. Reformed type of thinking reverses the sequence by which God works and shuts up the Kingdom of Heaven against men, claiming specialness for themselves and barring for the vast bulk of humanity. God instructs men to seek God, and in fact, we are told that nobody can come to God UNLESS they seek him. Acts 17 states clearly that God created all men in the hope that they would SEEK HIM AND FIND HIM,and that he is not far from any one as in him we all live and move and have our being. Then he determines the way to find him – he commands all men everywhere to repent. Being born of God comes as a result of, or at the same time as, finding God.
Man cannot find God before God reveals himself to man, and he has! This is the good news! He has enlightened all men born into this world – Jn 1:9 and Romans 1 – and he has shown all men within themselves his eternal power and godhood – this is quite comprehensive revelation. So that they know the truth about God and they have no excuse…(Romans 1:19-21).
Regeneration means redemption in the blood of Jesus, which is forgiveness of sins at the new birth. Regeneration is a result of repentance and consequently does not occur before repentance.
There is one verse that describes regeneration in Titus:.“according to his mercy he saved us, by the WASHING OF REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5).
Here we see that regeneration = the washing.
Revelation 1:5 tells us what this washing is: “from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our SINS in his own blood“
Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have REDEMPTION through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
This happens consequent upon REPENTANCE: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31)
So first; we receive, repent, seek, return to, etc and THEREAFTER God cleanses, pardons and makes us the sons of God.
DEPRAVED and DEPRAVITY words not found in the BIBLE!
“Depraved” and “depravity” are words not to be found in the KJV Bible, but 6 times in the NIV where the meaning is never that a person is 100% dead and unable to make good moral decisions without the awakening of God. It’s also interesting to see that the words
Reformed believers usually base their whole philosophy on the idea that man is “depraved” and they repeatedly use this word, which they have their own interpretation of. I checked the words DEPRAVE, DEPRAVED and DEPRAVITY in the entire NIV and none of the six places indicate a person is depraved out of his/her own control. It’s always a BAD CHOICE to be depraved:
Ezekiel 16:47 You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they.
Comment: Here we can read about people choosing to FOLLOW bad ways, and these ways are DETESTABLE according to God. We can read that they became MORE depraved than others due to this unfortunate selecting of ways to follow.
Ezekiel 23:11 Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister.
Comment: Here we can read the reason why Oholibah was MORE depraved than her sister. It was due to her lust and prostitution. There is no obligation to live like that.
Romans 1:28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
Comment: Here we can read the REASON why God gave people over to depraved minds. It was due to their choice to not seek it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. We can read that they do what OUGHT NOT to be done which is a good indication of that they had an option to live in another way. This is a good example of something happening against God’s will. It was God who gave them over to a depraved mind, but 1) it was due to their own rejection of him and 2) apparently they did not have a depraved mind to start with. The rest of Romans 1 makes is clear that people have no excuse for not coming to God and for acting wickedly.
2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.
Comment: Here again we can read about people who OPPOSE the truth. God naturally did not want them to oppose the truth. IF God wanted them to reject the truth and thus force them to reject the truth, then they shouldn’t be held accountable for it. They wouldn’t have any choice but to act just like God made them act, so they would actually be “obeying God” by rejecting the truth. God wants us all to accept the truth and we can all do this if we so choose.
2 Peter 2:2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
Comment: Here again we read about people who choose to FOLLOW their depraved conducts, and by doing so they will bring the way of truth into disrepute. Bad choice on their part!
2 Peter 2:7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless
Comment: Lot was a righteous man among loads of depraved people. Naturally God didn’t want those people to be depraved but they ended up in that way against God’s will and according to their own free will. Again, if God wanted them to be depraved then they would be innocent victims for God’s ruling, which they had no choice but to obey. Just the fact that Lot was called righteous and the others depraved shows the distinction between obeying God and not obeying God.
Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.
Comment: These are examples of wicked behavior and since God is not the author of sin, naturally we can’t blame God for filling these people with all kinds of wickedness. Since they have “become” filled with evil, it makes us understand that this was not always the case in their lives. The better option would have been to live in the light.
2 Peter 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.
Comment: We can read in KJV Rom. 6:16:“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves tosomeone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey whether you are slaves to sin, which leads todeath, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
WE are the ones doing the choosing to whom we should obey. God is the one to whom we owe our worship and obedience, so if we obey someone else it’s always against his will. Both Peter and Paul are warning us to not obey the wrong master. We are told to be obedient and continue to be righteous.
“Sovereignty”and “sovereign” are words not found in the KJV Bible. “Sovereignty” is found in the NIV in a couple of cases where it does not refer to God (Dan 5:18, Dan 7:27) and “sovereign” is used several times in the NIV. The lack of this word in the KJV is also quite interesting since many calvinists claim that Free willers have changed the meaning of “sovereign” – when we suggest that a sovereign God can create man with Free will – eventhough this word is not even present in the Bible. Naturally God IS sovereign but there is no obligation to understand the nature of God the way calvinists prefer to view him. God is so sovereign that he is able to create us with free will. That is how powerful he is!