A Need For a New Identity: Conversionism and Transformed Theology and A New Tulip

To read the entire post, you can click on the link at the top right, “Foundation” or simply click HERE.

Calvinism and Arminianism have been a major part of the theological landscape for centuries and the debate today is no closer to being resolved than it was in the days of Calvin and Arminius, themselves. A number of attempts have been made to strike a balance between the two. Conversionism and Transformed Theology is an attempt to begin that process. There are a number of ways that one might establish a new identity associated with a change in terminology from Calvinism to Conversionism and from Reformed Theology to Transformed Theology. One way involves modifying the framework that Reformed Theology has built itself around, namely the TULIP which is an acronym representing the five points of Calvinism. By using the same five letters, this section will focus on a new identity that will find its significance in a New Tulip. Consider the following acrostic:

An Argument for Total Lostness
An Argument for Unconditional Love
An Argument for Limiting Atonement
An Argument for Irrefutable Gospel
An Argument for Perseverance of the Savior

In evaluating this new proposed position, it is important to remember that each plank must rest on its own merit based on what the Bible has to say as opposed to interpreting each through the lens of some preconceived premise. For example it can be argued that each of the points of Calvinism have been so developed to support the underlying premise that Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross could not have been for all men because it is obvious that not all men are saved and headed for heaven. While the latter part of this statement is absolutely true, that does not validate the former part of the statement. To be fair, there is always a tendency no matter how well intended, to frame ones theology around certain preconceived theological foundations and frameworks. Just as every man is a product of his own environment, so is his theology a product of his overall evaluation of the Scripture itself. However, when questions concerning theology are presented, it behooves those on both sides of the issue to consider certain arguments on their own merit in light of a standard, which must be the Word of God. Please consider the following points with an open Bible and an objective mind.

An Argument for Total Lostness

The first step in establishing a new identity based on this new terminology being proposed, is an argument for Total Lostness as opposed to the Calvinist plank of Total Depravity. This tenet says that man by willful transgression fell from a state of righteousness and holiness in which he was first created. Man since the fall of Adam has inherited this fallen nature and exists in a state of total spiritual depravity or lostness. This is a state of death in trespasses and sins in which he is held as a slave of sin and an enemy of God. If left in this sinful state, he will face the eternal consequences of his sin in eternal punishment, which is the second death. Sinful man is lost in that he is unable to attain divine righteousness by his own efforts and he must be redeemed and delivered by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is revealed to him by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

Make no mistake about it; man is no doubt depraved in his humanity. The Bible is absolutely clear on this point. All men, both Jews and Greeks are under sin. “As it is written: ‘there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there’s no one who seeks after God. They’ve all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is no one who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” The purpose of the Law was to establish man’s guilt before God and “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “If any man says he has not sinned he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” “All of our righteousness is as filthy rags before the Lord.” As the children of Israel made their way through the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, they repeatedly acknowledged their sin before the Lord.

Because all men have sinned against God, they are hopelessly and helplessly lost. In the 119th Psalm, David acknowledged his sin and says “I have gone astray like a lost sheep.” In Matthew 18, Jesus Himself speaks to this issue of being lost. He says, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” In verses 12 through 14, Jesus asked the question: “What you think? If a man has 100 sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the 99 and go to the mountains to see the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that one sheep than over the 99 that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

Luke expands Jesus’ parable and adds the following statement, “I will say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance. Luke goes on to record two more parables dealing with lostness that Jesus gave. The second parable Luke records is the parable of the lost coin. In this parable Jesus speaks of a woman who had 10 coins and realizes that one has been lost and she searches her house until she finds that one lost coin. Jesus makes the following concluding statement, “likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The third parable that Jesus used as He spoke on the subject of lostness, is the parable of the lost son, which is often referred to as the parable of the prodigal son. In this parable a father has two sons. The younger son comes to his father and asks him for his inheritance, which the father gives to him. The son leaves home and squanders away everything his father gave him. Jesus makes an interesting statement in verse 17; He says, ”but when he (the young son) came to himself, he said, ‘how many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger!’ I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants’.”

The young man makes his way back home. He is greeted by his father and he asks for his father’s forgiveness. Listen to his father’s response, “bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. Bring the fatted calf here and kill it, let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” The son fully understood his situation. He knew he was down and depraved. He knew he needed help. He knew his father could take care of his needs. He knew all the details with the exception of one: he had no idea what his father’s response would be. This lost son had a choice to make. He could keep on doing what he was doing and he would have kept on getting what he had always gotten. Or, he could get up and make the journey home where he would be able to live.” This son had a choice to make to come home or to continue on in the hog pen.

In the parable of the lost or prodigal son, Jesus adds a very important twist to this issue of being lost. This is Jesus’ third and final parable in this triage of three stories. In verse 17 Jesus intentionally mentions the young man’s “coming to himself”. Now it is clear that in coming to himself, he is still hopelessly and helplessly lost. The importance of this intentional phrase is seen in what the young man does as he turns from his present condition and goes back to his father. While this young man was no doubt depraved, he had not forgotten the provisions his father had provided for him for most of his life. The young son understood that his father represented the only hope he really had. He made a choice to walk away from his immediate past and walked toward a future that only his father could provide. Here is one of the clearest passages in the Bible that will deal with the lost condition that all men are in apart from any relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus understood the tragedy of man’s lostness. Jesus underscored the significance of the inability of the lost coin and the lost sheep to find themselves and no longer be lost. The shepherd went out to find the lost sheep and the woman searched until she found the lost coin. In Luke 19 Jesus spoke to a tax collector whose name was Zaccheaus; He told Zaccheaus to come down out of the tree because he wanted to go to Zaccheaus’ house for dinner. Jesus was criticized sorely as people said, “Jesus eats with sinners!” Jesus’ response was, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus identified what it meant to be lost. In the third chapter of John, Jesus explains to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, what he must do as one who is lost to be found. The Bible is not clear why Nicodemus came to Jesus; it simply says he came. Because Jesus understood Nicodemus’ greatest need, He ignored his flattering tribute and He told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I say to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the spirit.”

Here Jesus equates being found with being born again or being born from above. This is vitally important because just as was the case with the lost sheep at the lost coin, an individual who is lost cannot find himself. He cannot simply come to himself and realize and recognize that he is lost; he cannot correct that on his own. He must do as the prodigal son did as he turned from his sinful present state and the turned to his father. In looking at the prodigal’s “coming to himself” it must be understood that he was able to do this because of the promises and provisions he had experienced personally which was the result of the personal relationship he enjoyed with his father. He came to himself and turned and went to his father. It was his father who forgave him and made him part of his family once again. The son came asking to be a servant; his father restored his sonship. The actions of the young man’s father are what changed his status from “lost” to “found.” Praise the Lord God can do the same to all who come to Him!

In Nicodemus’ case, he too left the comfort of his environment and he came to Jesus looking for answers. Nicodemus no doubt had a number of questions he wanted to ask Jesus. Jesus addressed the only question that mattered. In order to go to heaven, Nicodemus was lost and needed to be found; he needed to be born from above. Nicodemus needed what only Jesus could provide. Jesus goes on to explain what He meant when He said to Nicodemus, you must be born again. Nicodemus asks a very simple question, “How can these things be?” “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?’ Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?’” Basically what Jesus was saying here is that Nicodemus along with the other Jewish leaders and teachers of the Scriptures should have recognized Jesus for who He was for the Old Testament was full of passages that spoke of His coming. Instead of Nicodemus coming to Jesus with questions, he should have been coming to Jesus with answers! The gospel is the same way for men today. God has given mankind every reason to come to Christ just as Nicodemus did.

In verses 14 through 21 Jesus goes on to explain to Nicodemus what it means to be born again or born from above. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Just as the prodigal son came to himself and made his way to his father, so was it Nicodemus’ responsibility to “come to himself” and by believing in the promises of God that are clearly laid out in the Scriptures, Nicodemus would not perish but have everlasting life. By believing in Christ, Nicodemus would be saved or born again and in that process he would pass from death to life, from being lost to being found.

In Matthew 19, another wealthy young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Jesus told him, “If you want to enter into life keep the commandments.” The young man beamed, “I have done that.” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” What is the difference in the results of the visits of these two men? Both came essentially asking the same thing. Nicodemus went away with Christ and the other went away sorrowful because he made the mistake of thinking what he had was more important than what Christ had for him. This was a choice the two men made themselves. Jesus did not decide that one would be saved and the other lost.

Make no mistake about it; Jesus understood man’s lost state. He understood the gravity of sin. It was for this reason that Jesus left heaven in the first place. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” Jesus did not need to leave heaven to condemn the world. Man in his sin was already condemned. It was Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross that provided man any hope at all. That’s why Jesus said what He did in verse 18; “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Verse 19 addresses this issue of Total Depravity or Total Lostness. Listen to what Jesus said about the extent of man’s depravity: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Man’s depravity is pictured in Jesus statement that “Light has come and the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Had Jesus stopped there, there are a number of conclusions one could draw. One might even be able to conclude that men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil and they were so depraved that they were blind and could not see the light without God first opening their eyes so that they could even see the light in the first place. The text prohibits that interpretation. First of all Jesus chides Nicodemus for being a teacher of the Law and not understanding these things. Verse 20 explains why men love darkness and hate the light. It is not that men hate the light because they’re blind and cannot see it; they hate the light because they do see it and they do not like what it reveals; for it reveals their evil deeds. Men do not want to be told the truth. They want to do what seems right in their own eyes. But there are those who see the Light for what it is and not liking what they see, they choose to move toward the Light instead of moving away from the Light. This is the choice that Jesus offers those who are lost for whom He has come to seek and to save.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Dear Brother Hadley: I do declare, I almost wanted to howl with laughter as I read your discussion of a new tulip. Why it out calvined Calvin! Thus, the ending was very anemic. If one is lost and helpless,…..? And the rich young ruler was asked to do the impossible as Jesus indicated in Mk.10. You might want to do some research on paradoxical interventions and therapeutic paradoxes.,,,and see John Wesley’s letter re: the fact that he guessed there were some elected, some who reached a state from which they never would fall. Interestingly enough, Spurgeon, I think it was, said, Wesley used language that referred to God putting the pressure to men that he (Spurgeon) would not use. And I suppose you are aware of the fact that many a calvinist has won noted souls to Christ who became noted Arminian ministers, and many an Arminian has won souls to Christ who became noted Calvinist ministers. Yours for the joy of Christ….

    Reply

  2. I am glad you began your morning with a smile on you face; God indeed seems to work in mysterious ways. There is a major difference in what I believe the Bible teaches about being lost and helpless and how others apparently see it and explain it. Your reference to the Rich young ruler’s response in Mark 10 is a perfect example of that. Jesus said of him, “22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” As I read Jesus’ word of warning here, I hear Jesus saying the rich young ruler chose substance over the Savior. If Jesus had been a Calvinist, He would have simply said… “He went away sorrowful because He was NOT chosen.” He did not say that.

    As far as Wesley and Spurgeon and Calvin for that matter, I have no comment on their comments. Sometimes it seems as if folks on both sides of this argument put as much credence on their statements as they do the Scriptures themselves. Just an observation on my part.

    “And I suppose you are aware of the fact that many a calvinist has won noted souls to Christ who became noted Arminian ministers, and many an Arminian has won souls to Christ who became noted Calvinist ministers.” Of course I am aware of that and the reason that I believe your statement is true is because Christ came to seek and to save Calvinists and Arminians who are like everyone else, sinners in need of a Savior. Since He died for the sins of the whole world, fortunately we are ALL included; can I get an AMEN!

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>”

    Reply

  3. Here are the comments posted at SBCToday…

    peter lumpkins says:
    December 8, 2011 at 8:59 am
    Brother Bob,

    I only had time to scan your piece. I’ll take a deeper look later. To offer some encouragement, I like your creativity with the TULIP. You definitely should continue developing the idea. It has literary potential to be sure.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm
    Peter,

    I will look forward to your input. The whole article can be found on my blog under the tab “Foundation.”

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    >”

    Trey says:
    December 8, 2011 at 10:10 am
    How would you say this differs from the first point of Arminianism?

    Thanks

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I am not an expert on Arminianism and do not proport to be so; I am not commonly accused of being an expert on Calvinism either. My position will not sit well with any theological position that begins with total depravity. Arminianism seeks to define election from a foundation laid by total depravity. It is not that I am denying the idea of man’s depravity; I do not believe he is totally depraved as the term is defined and applied in most theological discussions that I have read.

    I would be interested in your take on your own question.

    >”

    Joshua says:
    December 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Bob,

    Are you aware of the term “semi-Pelagianism” and its definition? If so, how does your position differ?

    Trey says:
    December 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Thanks for your reply.

    The claim may be to total depravity, but not in the sense of the Total Depravity of Calvinism, i.e. man is not dead.

    Here is the first article or “point” of Arminianism:
    “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.”

    My reason for asking the question is that I really did not see any difference between the two. Man being effected by sin is stated, however, as you conclude. “there are those who see the Light for what it is; and not liking what it reveals, they choose to move toward the Light instead of away from it.” IOW man is able in and of himself to choose God. He is wounded, but not dead. To me, this would contradict such passages as the Rom 3 mentioned, and Eph 2, 1 Cor 2; in addition to 2 Cor 4 which states our minds have been blinded.

    A reading of the Remonstrants and Synod of Dort would perhaps prove profitable…

    Blessings!

    Steve Lemke says:
    December 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Bob,

    Sometimes Calvinists and Arminians alike utilize the phrase “Total Inability” to indicate that without God’s grace, we are unable to respond to God. (For Arminians this happens by God’s prevenient grace through the Holy Spirit, for Calvinists through irresistible grace). They both do so to avoid Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism, which in various degrees affirm that unaided humans can take the initiative to seek God. Short of Semi-Pelagianism, do you agree with people from the Reformed perspective that we are “dead” spiritually and thus cannot respond at all to the Holy Spirit, or do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    To Trey:

    You wrote, “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.”

    As I read what is written in this paragraph, I do not have a problem with this statement as such as long as it is understood that man in and of himself is not able to repent apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. This is where the Pelagian and Semi-Pelagian arguments come into play. Pelagianism is the teaching that man has the capacity to seek God in and of himself apart from any movement of God or the Holy Spirit, and therefore that salvation is effected by man’s efforts. In the latter, man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then increases and guards that faith, completing the work of salvation.

    Both of these positions are faulty as I see them because they do not require anything outside of man to bring about his conversion. Basically both are virtually the same as far as conversion is concerned and the latter pickes up God’s grace after conversion in the process of sanctification. Seems that is a lot of argument concerning these two terms that is commonly misapplied to this whole argument.

    I am not comfortable with the concluding statement, “Faith is the sinner’s gift to God; it is man’s contribution to salvation.” Have not seen that statement before. I am not saying I disagree with it; I just am not sure how comfortable I am with it.

    Dr. Lemke: To your question, “Short of Semi-Pelagianism, do you agree with people from the Reformed perspective that we are “dead” spiritually and thus cannot respond at all to the Holy Spirit.” No, I categorically disagree with this statement. The Bible tells us “the wages of sin is death.” What does sin do? Sin separates us from God. If Jesus is life as He claims He is, (John 14:6) then it seems plausible to me that the absence or separation from Him would be death; death is the absence of life.

    I believe the principle difference between my position and Calvinism is this: To the Calvinist, Regeneration is the catalyst to conversion. To me, Revelation and Reconciliation are God’s initiative to confront us and our sin; both require a response on our part. Adam’s sin in the garden was a conscious choice; his sin separated him from God. We inherited the same condemnation of separation. Our lives are the product of the choices we make. The challenge that God has given to us is to look to Him for the best choices as opposed to self or the world. The problem that I see that mankind has is this; sin has blinded our eyes and we are separated from God and therefore lost and condemned because of our sin to an eternity demanded by God’s judgment. His initiative at Calvary brings about His initiative of revelation and reconciliation to fulfil His purpose to “be our God and for us to be His people.” In short, Jesus’ death on the cross was to bridge that gap that sin has caused. If revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives as I believe the Bible teaches, then human response is required and we are responsible for our response. What happens when we are converted? The Holy Spirit takes up residency in our hearts; the separation from God is corrected and we are born again and we inherit life.

    The Calvinist says that regeneration is required as a condition for repentance and saving faith where I believe revelation and reconciliation demand our response that brings about regeneration.

    As to the second part of your statement, “do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?” Since I do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable of hearing God’s voice or responding to the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit, this is really not applicable and is illustrative of what I see as one of the major problems in a lot of theological discussion. This notion of total depravity dominates so much of the theological discussion, people force themselves to define their positions based on what I believe is a faulty foundation in the first place. It is one of the reasons that Calvinism seems to make so much sense and makes everything else seem so illogical. If we do not begin with total depravity THEN the tables are turned and things may not seem so illogical. (just some theological rambling here.)

    Grateful to be in His grip!

    >”

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Bob,

    One of the problems, at least as I see it, is that you seem to avoid the implications of what you state. One example is this reply to Dr. Lemke:

    He asks, ““do you think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response?”

    And you respond, “Since I do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable of hearing God’s voice or responding to the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit, this is really not applicable…”

    You appear to want to avoid the implication of NOT believing in total depravity. If you do not believe that man is “spiritually dead and incapable…” then you must believe that some spark of spiritual life remains and that man is indeed capable of hearing God’s voice and responding…”

    Now granted, you seek to make new definitions of god’s overtures to man (revelation and reconciliation) but the fact remains. It seems to me that no matter how you define it, you do believe that man is spiritually capable (since he is not spiritually dead) apart from God’s enabling, to initiate his response to God (i.e. the gospel call by a preacher).

    Am I missing it?

    Blessings,

    Les

    Joshua says:
    December 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Well put Less. This is my observation as well.

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    “You appear to want to avoid the implication of NOT believing in total depravity.” That makes me a terrible communicator or you a poor reader. I have said in what I believed to be clear and undeniable terms that I DO NOT BELIEVE IN TOTAL DEPRAVITY. I do not know how I can make that statement any clearer. (You already know that.) Since I see revelation and reconciliation as requiring a response, I do believe that man is fully capable of responding to God… otherwise I would be saying that God is incapable of revealing Himself and reconciling a lost world unto Himself… and since that is what HE SAYS HE is doing, I simply stand on His Word.

    I am not making “new definitions of god’s overtures to man (revelation and reconciliation)… revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiative and require a response… See Romans 5:11 and 2 Corinthians 5:18 and I am hoping the issue of revelation does not need confirmation!

    >”

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Bob, I’m sorry for not being clearer. I said, “you seem to avoid the implications of what you state.” Emphasis on implication. I’m clear on the fact that you deny total depravity. Wjhat I’m not clear on is if you’ll state if you “think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response.”

    Do you?

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Bob,

    I wold also point out what the bible says:

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
    (Ephesians 2:1 ESV)

    and…

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
    (Ephesians 2:1 ESV)

    I find it difficult to get around what these verses say. Dead is, well, dead.

    volfan007 says:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I believe that man is dead to God in the sense that he is separated from God. Death really means “separation.” When a person dies a physical death, his soul separates from his body. It’s not that he ceases to exist. He’s just separated from his body, which goes into the ground, while his soul goes to be with Jesus.
    When a person dies an eternal death. It’s not that he ceases to exist. He still feels and thinks and lives…but, he is separated from God…separated for all eternity…separated from God in Hell.

    And, a person who is lost is separated from God. The Holy Spirit does not live inside of them. They are dead to the things of God. But, they’re still able to feel, think, and make choices. They’re more like the man, who is in a stormy sea, who cant get back to the boat. He cant stay afloat much longer. He cant save himself. He will drown without help. That is the condition of man. And, the only thing that can save him from certain death is the Lifeguard, the Lord Jesus.

    I dont believe that man being dead is a man laying on the sidewalk, who can feel nothing from God, think nothing about God, and cant make any choices. Laying there like a corpse, with no awareness whatsoever of what’s going on around him.

    David

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    The other verse should have been…

    even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
    (Ephesians 2:5 ESV)

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    David that is fine for you to believe that. But I do’t think you can support that belief from scripture without redefining what scripture says.

    Someone else has said, and I agree, that it is like a man, not floating on the water needing a life vest tossed to him so he can reach out to it. Rather, he has drowned and has settled on the ocean floor and rigor mortis has set in. He is DEAD. Only the Savior coming down to him and breathing life into him can save him.

    Blessings,

    Les

    Trey says:
    December 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Bob,
    Can you provide us with any theologians who share this view? I’m becoming a little confused with what your view is…

    Thanks

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Les,

    Your interpretation of “dead in our trespasses” as illustrated by the example you sited is no more Scripturally based than David’s… which echoes at least to some degree what I said earlier. (Being careful not to put words in David’s mouth!) I do not believe that Paul was saying that we are “Dead” as your illustration seems to allude to.

    That poor guy on the bottom of the ocean floor who is DEAD cannot sin either. So… I guess in some respect, you are correct in your assertion for him to respond to the Savior Jesus is going to have to do something for Him! The problem is, the gospel is preached to those on top of the ground and ocean, and revelation and reconciliation are God’s method of touching our hearts and convicting the lost of their sin and need for Christ who died on the cross paying the penalty for their sin, redeeming them if they would place their trust in the finished work at Calvary and repent and believe in their hearts that Jesus rose from the dead and because He lives we can life for Him today and with Him forever.

    Regarding the issue of what it means to be dead, here is what I wrote earlier: “Adam’s sin in the garden was a conscious choice; his sin separated him from God. We inherited the same condemnation of separation. Our lives are the product of the choices we make. The challenge that God has given to us is to look to Him for the best choices as opposed to self or the world. The problem that I see that mankind has is this; sin has blinded our eyes and we are separated from God and therefore lost and condemned because of our sin to an eternity demanded by God’s judgment. His initiative at Calvary brings about His initiative of revelation and reconciliation to fulfil His purpose to “be our God and for us to be His people.” In short, Jesus’ death on the cross was to bridge that gap that sin has caused. If revelation and reconciliation are God’s initiatives as I believe the Bible teaches, then human response is required and we are responsible for our response. What happens when we are converted? The Holy Spirit takes up residency in our hearts; the separation from God is corrected and we are born again and we inherit life.”

    Trey… I am commenting on MY theological position so I cannot refer you to someone else to clarify that. Sorry.

    >”

    Les says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Bob,

    The illustration is just that. Of course we are referring to spiritual things, not physical. My point was to show David a better illustration of the Reformed position.

    Anyway, you wrote:

    “…then human response is required and we are responsible for our response.”

    Of course. I agree completely. Reformed folk believe both. Where we differ, as we’ve noted before, is on how. Reformed folk believe the scripture teaches that man is born spiritually dead and therefore, similar to every other definition of “dead,” is unable to respond to the outward preaching call. Further, he is unwilling in his state of “enmity with God” to respond positively. He must have a Savior…One who changes his inability and unwillingness to ability and willingness. In short, he must be “born again” to be enabled and be willing.

    Then, the regenerated man enthusiastically embraces Christ.

    But we’ve been here before. Thanks again for the discussion.

    Les

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    You are right; we have been here before. As for the comment above, I was really kidding on the not being able to read part… so glad you graciously overlooked that… so thankful for grace!!!

    I did not respond to the wording of the statement… “think some living spark remains from the image of God, even though greatly damaged from the Fall, to permit such a response.”

    My point is that I do not believe man’s ability to make decision was impaired by the fall… it was his source of reference that changed. Sin looks inward; God wants us to look upward. So… technically a “spark does not remain” in my thinking. As I stated earlier, I am not going to participate in a discussion that has as its foundation “total depravity”… where my position is concerned.

    Appreciate the dialogue!!!!

    >”

    Ron Hale says:
    December 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Bob,
    I enjoyed reading your article and look forward to how they build and connect to each other. I like the term “Transformed Theology.”

    Bob Hadley says:
    December 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks Ron. Look forward to your input as well. Appreciate you brother!

    >”

    Reply

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