On Total Depravity

More from our mid-week Bible study examining what God says about the doctrines of Calvinism:

“God says in the scripture that man is a wicked sinner, guilty before God, defiled, unrighteous, lost, disobedient, and  unable to save himself. These terms and concepts are readily seen throughout the Bible. Yet NOWHERE, are there any verses that expressly state that man cannot choose to obey God, or that man has no free will, or that man is incapable of responding to the gospel. These ideas, which are at the heart, root, and foundation of Calvinism, are conjecture at best, or speculation that reads itself into scripture.”

What does the Bible say about “free will” and “total depravity”?

There are actually seventeen references to “free will” in the Old Testament, check them out: Leviticus 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Numbers 15:3; 29:39; Deuteronomy 12:6, 17; 16:10; 23:23; 2 Chronicles 31:14; Ezra 1:4; 3:5;7:13, 16; 8:28; and Psalm 119:108.

Did you know that there are zero references to the phrase “Total Depravity” in the Bible?

“Now remember this, no saint in the Old Testament was ever said to be “regenerated,” or “in Christ,” or “born again.” These are New Testament terms for believers only. Yet all these unregenerate men are said to be able to offer a “free will” offering to God, and do so.”

Total Depravity or Total Inability?

Calvinists use the term “Total Depravity” when what they really mean is “Total Inability,” which really has nothing to do with man’s sinful state, but rather the supposed result of his sinful state. Man is so depraved, that he is unable to repond to the gospel, unless he is one of the chosen elect.

But biblically, while God foreknew (in His omniscience) those that would believe the gospel and receive Christ, it is our responsibility to believe or not. We become the elect when we, by faith, believe. If we believe not, we are condemned already (John 3:18).

The Scripture’s Command to Believe

Today we shall look at scripture verses that not only contain a command to believe, but also indicate mankind’s ability to believe.

Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else.”

Mark 1:15, “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

Acts 17:30, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”

1 John 3:23, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

John 7:37 , “In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”

Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

“If the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity is true, then what are we to make of these verses: Is God mocking man? Would God present salvation to a man knowing that the man would never even will to receive it?” 

 (from class notes on Part 3 of Total Depravity Refuted)

Bottom line? Man cannot be condemned for his inability to do what God expressly commands him to do. He can be condemned for his ignorance, or his unwillingness to do what God has commanded, but never for his inability. Would we ask a baby to do an adult’s job, and then condemn him for his inability to proceed?

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