This post is based on a claim based upon Scripture from Michael Jeshurun’s site: from: 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, “
In answer to this, I’m not at all certain that many of us Armenians would fit the definition given here of the “Armenian”. Whether “total” depravity is fully believed by any or all Armenians or not is really a matter of definition. 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 or somehow contemplate the gospel. Romans chapter one makes the creation itself a vehicle by which God has spoken to man.
So let’s look at those scriptures that Pink lists, and see if we can abide by his statement. First, 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 realize that there were those who were His own (Jews), who rejected Him. These as we know were actually present in the olive tree (wherein exists eternal life for those present) 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 heard the good news; yet they were guilty of unbelief. Did God cause them their unbelief? It is certainly true that God blinded them, — why did He blind them? Was it because of their initial total rejection or because of predestination?
Listen to what is said here: 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: (KJV)
It really doesn’t matter to Pink that God had chosen all Israel and that Gentiles were also to be blessed through that choosing.
What this passage says is that free will Is involved. God gave man the power to become a son of God because of his belief. Yes it is God’s power, but it came from man’s recognition of truth. We either choose to believe in and abide in Him or we chose to ignore. Israel was a chosen Nation, but not all in Israel believed in and followed their God. And not all of Israel was even cut off for non belief.
True the Holy Spirit had to have been and was involved in their original deliverance and placement in the Olive tree in the first place. But, was this a set up by God, just to prove that He could later either place us in or remove us from His salvation irregardless of how we react to Him and His good news? If this were the case “unbelief” really would have had nothing to do with Israel’s being cut off, but it says they were cut off for unbelief. Unbelief apparently causes God to harden one’s heart. But that is very different than arbitrary and capricious action on the part of a God, who so loved the world.
Now if we look at those who received Him in these verses 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 even made clear. Was it that they had received Him because they had a free will or was it because it was all God’s doing? So what is important 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’s of this gift possess free will to exercise that gift for their own benefit or not. If one gives a gift with a right to use it or not — as they see fit — then what else can we conclude? So there are actually two indicators in this passage that at the very least strongly imply free will.
In Pink’s second verse, 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 providing this good news of eternal life, resulting in the rebirth or born again experience that God is the one offering the invitation and drawing men to salvation. But what thrill does God or do His angels get out of hearing a man or women, who is pre programmed, call out to Him in belief; yet the angels rejoice when this happens.
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!”
Man reacts to God’s message; for man to believe the preaching of the word seems to be both natural and it produces the supernatural. A man must hear and be drawn by God’s Spirit, before he can believe and receive the miracle of God’s power abiding in him. God condemns those who have ears to hear and do not hear, and who have eyes to see and yet do not see.
In the third of Pink’s verses Jesus 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 from sins bondage 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 a sin without Christ. But they do it because they decide to do it, just like one decides to diet. But one sin does not represent the sin nature in man. That act does in no way imply that one can exonerate themself from the wrath to come, which requires satisfaction of the debt caused by sin. They cannot save themselves before God, if they have ever sinned they are thus guilty. But neither does it in any way imply that God causes one to become a sex addict or a murderer, or even an unbeliever; 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
This man rejected Jesus which is the greatest sin of all. It constitutes the unforgivable sin.
Jesus said, “if you wish”. Is that not implying free will?
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 attempt 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. Salvation is believing the gospel and receiving by faith this rebirth freely offered, and yes it all occurs by God’s grace. Believing is not saving oneself. We can take no credit for our own salvation. Jesus paid the total price. 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 buy continuing with Him and abiding in Him, for this is God’s will for you, is it your will?
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 control over His creation. I don’t think it is entirely possible to fully understand this friction, without the whole of the word. To deny either’s existence I think would be a critical error. But one of God’s attributes allows us to understand them both. God is all knowing. He knows the end of us and of this creation before it all began. He sits outside of time. And knowing for Him allows Him to tweak things both in our lives and in history to lessen the impact of man’s actions, and to guide us to His Son’s return.
If the days had not been shortened no flesh would be saved but for the elects sake the days shall be shortened. (Matt 24:22).
God’s knowing tells Him these things. Think of predestination in this fashion: a man who has placed his trust in Christ is predestined “in Christ” to eternal life. The man who rejects Christ or removes himself from being “in Christ” is predestined to the lake of fire. God has predetermined that His word will be true and that it can be relied upon.
Tomorrow we will look further into this gift that God has given man.