Volume. XXVIII, No. 52
Sunday, 29 June 2014


How Total Is Our Depravity?


My Dear Reader,

How blessed we are to be able to join on this, another Lord’s Day, to continue rejoicing in the news that Christ has risen from the dead! Remember that it was one week later when Jesus again met with His disciples on the first day of the week. That became the day of worship and fellowship for those who believed in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation. By the end of the 1st century AD, Christians had become accustomed to referring to the first day of the week as “the Lord’s Day.” You will find that identification in Revelation 1:10 as John described his encounter  with God.

As in Romans 3,  we understand from Scripture that all of humankind is under the bondage of sin, or as the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:2, we were born “dead in trespasses and sin.” When the summary of Old Testament teaching about our human condition is presented in Romans 3:10-18, it is anything but attractive. The passage announces that none of us is righteous, that none of us, not even one, seeks after God. Rather our lives, priorities, and passions are detoured after other things with the result that we become worthless. Our best efforts that appear to be good are tangled and come from motives that are distorted. The Apostle Paul cites passages that refer to our speaking: throats are graves, tongues are used to deceive, or worse to attack with the intensity of a poisonous snake, mouths saturated with muttering curses and expressions of bitterness. That is an intense list. Our mouths look so harmless, until we begin to think of the power of biting or of what comes from them as the expression of our hearts. Then the Apostle Paul addresses our feet and notes that what we say is matched by what we do in carrying out what we have spoken. All of that is because we have lost any vision or awareness of who God is and who we are before Him. We are rendered powerless to resist the final verdict of GUILTY before God! It is not surprising then that he writes, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But that brings up the question of how depraved one is. Are my actions affected by sin but is my will or mind free?

The first of the historic Five Points of Calvinism is Total Depravity. It should be noted that when we speak of “the five points” we are referring to the response that was made in Holland to the five points made by the followers of Jacobus Arminius, known as the Five Points of Arminianism. You will look in vain in the writings of John Calvin to find a listing of “the Five Points of Calvinism.” Below, I have posted the summary of the two positions on human depravity.

Free Will or Human Ability

Although human nature was seriously affected by the fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with man’s freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will, and his eternal destiny depends on how he uses it. Man’s freedom consists of his ability to choose good over evil in spiritual matters; his will is not enslaved to his sinful nature. The sinner has the power to either cooperate with God’s Spirit and be regenerated or resist God’s grace and perish. The lost sinner needs the Spirit’s assistance, but he does not have to be regenerated by the Spirit before he can believe, for faith is man’s act and precedes the new birth. Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.

Total Inability or Total Depravity

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

Source: “Graceonlinelibrary.org”

When we speak of Total Depravity, we do not mean that humankind has committed every evil that he or she could do. Rather it means that every area of our lives is affected by the fall, or the rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Even someone as committed to evil as Adolph Hitler (or any other notoriously wicked person) did not commit every sin that he possibly could have committed. But there was no area of his mind, will, emotions, or actions that was not affected by sinfulness. Neither is there in my life or yours. One sin is sufficient to send us to Hell (James 2:10).

Thomas Aquinas was an influential Roman Catholic theologian of nearly 1,000 years ago. He contended that our minds are “free” and capable of thinking in a way that escapes the effects of sin. This opened the door for thinking that one can be religious in actions but have the ability to think freely with her or his mind. This is why those in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches, can focus on religious practices (works) to satisfy their spiritual debt but their thought life is free. Others like Arminius have used the term “will” and have argued that it is “free.” They say that a person only needs to continually choose the right and good thing so that she or he can choose to please God. Those who hold to such a position then argue that in the heart of every person, God opens a window, for an uncertain period of time, when He suspends the effects of sin upon that person so that she or he can choose to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior by their own choice, unaided by God’s work in the heart of the person. According to this position, God remains detached and waits for the person to make the choice. Then once the choice is made, and only then, He validates it. The missing factor for this position is that it does not have Scriptural support.

What hope then have we in the face of such a universal fallen condition? God is a generous God and He graciously and freely saves all who come to Him. Romans 10:13 invites, “Whosoever calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That includes you, your family, your neighbors, your enemies. We have made it a major focus of ministry to freely invite all to come to Christ. At the same time, we are very aware that unless the Lord works in the heart of a person, she or he will not accept Jesus Christ. If one comes to Christ, there has been an amazing complex of things that God has done to bring her or him to Himself. Do not ignore the Gospel call. If you have never accepted the payment Jesus Christ provided for your sin, I invite you to do so right now! If you know Him, invite others to come to Him.

Hoping to point you to Christ,

Dr Carl Martin
(New Life BPC, London)


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Sis Xiao Hui Chye. Next Lord’s Day: Volunteer.

*Saturday Theology Class for men starts  next Saturday at 6:15 am sharp. All men are requested to attend.

*No BSAG Prayer Meeting & Bible Study next week.

*ACM Proxy Nomination forms available on the foyer table for those who are unable to attend.

*2013 Christmas Concert & 2014 Family Bible Church Camp Media Order forms available on the foyer table. Please note: closing date for orders is next Lord’s Day.

*Adult & Junior RPGs for next QTR available on foyer table. Donation: $1 per copy.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Ps Ki (Adl); Bro Houston Li & Sis Jan Sing (Overseas); Bro Aaron & Sis Monica Tan & family (Melb); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Dr Priya Shanmugalingam & family (Cleve); Sisters Sarah Carpenter (Adl) & Joelle Lam (S’pore); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Ministry in Singapore (Calvary Jurong BPC): Ps Ki.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

5. Sis Joelle Lam’s contribution to Hope BPC.

6. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

 Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Herbert (Dilly) Anderson (Kenya), Raymond Ang’s father (S’pore), Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Queenie Lau, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Iris Surman’s brother, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Susan Weng & Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai); & others in affliction.

2. God’s strength, guidance & provision: Sis WolHee Kim & her two daughters (S Korea).

3. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

4. Cambodia Missions - Rev Srun Chivan & Minsitry (Sihanoukville); Bro Thi Chhay & Ministry (Kratie).

5. New Life BPC (London) - strength & encouragement for congregation; Resident Preacher Mok.

6. Future ministry - God’s provision & guidance for Bro David & Sis Susan Weng. 

7. Ministry in Ebenezer BPC (June): Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe.

8. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Bro Houston Li & Sis Jan Sing; Bro Aaron & Sis Monica Tan & family; Bro David & Sis Susan Weng & family (Adl); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl);  & others travelling.

9.  Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

10.  Final Weeks of pregnancy & preparation for caesarean: Sis May Lau

11.  Health in pregnancy: Sis Tabitha Tan.

12.  PR application: Bro William Song; Sisters Xiao Hui Chye & Yashu Qin.

13.  Scholarship application: Sis Katrina Loh.

14.  High school & university students - strength & endurance in study & exams.

15. Vacation Bible Study: Speaker - Pr Hai Seng Lim; organizers, helpers & children.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063