This is not my title, but I could not agree with the idea behind the title more. This post is based on a compilation by Michael Jeshurun
On The study of the doctrine of “Original Sin”. He begins with a quote from A.W. Pink
“They (Arminians) deny the total depravity of man, for they insist that he possesses a free will and can accept Christ and be saved by a decision of his own; thus directly repudiating God’s word, as found in John 1:13; 6;44; 8:36; Rom 9:16, “
I’m not at all certain that too many of us in the free will camp would fit the definition given here of the “Armenian”. Whether total depravity is fully believed by any or all Armenians or not is really irrelevant to this discussion. I actually believe in the depravity of man; because all are sinners and lost without Christ, and certainly none are looking for Him at least not until they hear the gospel.
So let’s look at those scriptures he lists and see if we can abide by his statement. John states:
who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:13 NASB, So here is the entire passage concerning this:
He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 1:11-13 NASB
Here is the problem with taking one verse out of context. It allows one to support any conclusion they desire. If we examine the context — First we must hear that there were those who were His own who rejected Him. These as we know from Romans 11, were actually present in the olive tree (representing eternal life) at the time of His coming, and those in that tree were the former called out ones of God (Israel’s chosen ones). They were cut off however, because even though He was and is their Messiah, and even though they saw and heard the good news they were guilty of unbelief. It is certainly true that God blinded them, but what is not clear is why He blinded them. Was it because of their initial total rejection or because of predestination? But I contend that it really doesn’t matter. It could be either and it will not effect these scriptures and their message.
The Holy Spirit had to have been involved in their placement in the Olive tree in the first place. So was this a set up by God, so that He could later prove to us that He is God, as if He needed to do that, and prove that He can place us into salvation or remove us at His will in which case “unbelief” really would have had nothing to do with their being cut off, but it says they were cut off for unbelief. It could have easily stated that they were predestined to be cut off, but it doesn’t.
Now if we look at those who received Him in these verses listed by Pink, we can see that they were born of God. By His grace they were saved, no question about who saved them. God did. The why is not so clear. Was it that they had received Him because they had a free will or was it because it was all of God’s doing? But what is important in this discussion about this verse is what follows, because those who believed — God gave them something. He gave them the right to become the sons of God. “The right to become” certainly implies free will. A gift coupled with a right implies even more implicitly that the recipient has a freedom to exercise that gift. If one gives a gift with a right to use it or not as they see fit — what else can we conclude? So there are actually two indicators in this passage that at the very least strongly imply free will.
Next Jesus says in John 6:
44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:44 NASB
There is no question and no argument that since God is involved in the rebirth or born again experience between man and God that God is the one offering the invitation and drawing men to salvation.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “ How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
Romans 10:14-15 NASB
Believing in the call of God in order for man to be sent and to believe the preaching of the word seems to be both natural and supernatural. Who would do this without reason? A man must hear and be drawn by God’s Spirit, before he can believe and receive, or before he can be effective in God’s service. God condemns those who have ears to hear and do not hear, and who have eyes to see and yet do not see.
Jesus again says in John 8:
36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36 NASB
The implication here is that real freedom can only come from God and it is in His Son. Certainly the freedom to sin doesn’t make one free in the same sense that the freedom does that comes from Christ in salvation. In fact we know that sin creates a bondage. But consider: Some men can actually break that bondage through the treatment from other men. That does not save them, but it is an exercise of free will. How else do they do that without Christ? — other than to exercise their own will? So, many in fact do break free from sin without Christ. But they do it because they decide to do it, just like one decides to diet. That does in no way imply that one can exonerate themselves from the wrath to come. They cannot save themselves before God, because they have sinned and are thus guilty with no covering for sin, which is a requirement under the law, and every man is under the law and its wrath without that covering. But neither does it in any way imply that God causes one to become a sex addict or a murderer, which would be the implication if God has not allowed them free will. If God is in control of every action and man has no freedom to follow or not to follow the desires of his fallen state, then God becomes responsible for that fallen state not man. The rich young ruler said I have kept all the commandments, and Jesus said you have done well, but what did this man of his own free will do when Jesus said: Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be [j]complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
Matthew 19:21-22 NASB
Jesus said, “if you wish”. Is that not implying free will? This man loved the world and the things of the world more than he loved God or even himself.
There is one final scripture listed here by Pink and Jeshurun, so we need to consider it also:
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 9:16 NASB
Salvation is provided for and offered by God, no man can will himself into whatever he himself deems to be heaven as do the Buddhists or save himself by contemplating all his life on his naval, he can only believe in the good news of what God through His Son by His grace has done for him. Salvation is not by his own will, but scripture teaches that it is always God’s will that we be saved. And when salvation which is believing the gospel and receiving by faith this rebirth freely offered, and yes it all occurs by God’s grace. We can take no credit for our own salvation. But we are invited and yes even in places admonished to believe and to follow Him.
Have you believed and received since you heard, or do you have ears to hear and do not hear? Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2, that God will eventually give man over to a reprobate mind, does that not imply that up until that time you have a duty to yourself to search out, to believe what God will show you in His word, and to receive Him the giver of true freedom. Jesus says in Matthew 10:
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
Matthew 10:8 NASB
I have freely received this gift of salvation and now I freely offer it to you. Believe it and receive it and you shall be saved, for this is God’s will for you, is it your will also?
Now, what I have stated here does not account for what scripture says about predestination. There is a definite friction between Gods desire to see all come to repentance, while at the same time being sovereign over His universe to the point of making things happen to bring about certain prophesied results which maintain for Him total control of His creation. I don’t think it is entirely possible to fully understand this friction, but both concepts certainly exist as truth. To deny either as God’s truth I think would be a critical error in ones understanding.