TOTAL INABILITY The Biblical doctrine of Total Depravity does not mean all men are equally

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TOTAL INABILITY The Biblical doctrine of Total Depravity does not mean all men are equally or exhaustively bad. Perhaps it is easier to understand the doctrine as "Total Inability." This is a brief look at Total Inability and the way commercial religion and Roman Catholicism are in agreement about what God can and cannot do to man. Total Inability means, because of Adam's sin, men are spiritually dead (Eph 2:1). Man is not able to love God nor to desire God nor to institute "any action that would result in his salvation." "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn 6:44). God, through His sovereign Holy Spirit, must intervene and grant repentance and belief to sinners. "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father" (Jn 6:65; and see II Tim 2:25; Acts 11:18; Phil 1:29). Without God giving man the eyes to see, man cannot see the Kingdom of God, let alone enter it. "Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He [God] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them" (Jn 12:39-40 & Isa 6:9-10; also see Jn 3:3; I Cor 2:14). Therefore, to teach that man is capable within himself of initiating any move toward God is totally heretical. Only a salva- tion by works can allow man to initiate or "know how to bring such a renewed condition about." The Pharisees thought they were free to initiate moves to God that bring about a renewed condition, but Jesus told them they were slaves to sin. In fact, the Bible shows they were incapable of spiritual understanding: "Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word" (Jn 8:43). A man must first belong to God by spiritual regeneration initiated by God in order to hear the words of Christ. "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God" (Jn 8:47). Those who teach man's ability or that man is "capable within himself of instituting (or even desiring) any action that would result in his salvation" do not understand the fall of Adam and the first five chapters of Romans. One man's sin has made all men spiritually dead and unable to come to God in their own ability. Can man institute or desire an action that results in salvation? The Bible says one man's action has resulted in sal- vation for his people: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). But what about other men? Can they bring about such a renewed condition as salvation from sin? The Bible says if a man is saved, it is by God's grace and not by any act or desire instituted by the man. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph 2:8-9). Surely, there must be a great cry for God in the hearts of men, right? Wrong--the Bible says "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Rom 3:10-12). We know, of course, that men make choices daily. Therefore, men must have the ability to seek and to choose God for their salvation. Is this not obviously true? Obviously not--the Bible says "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom 8:5-8). Commercial religion does not like the idea that a man in the unregenerate state cannot know God. Commercial religion fights the notion that God is SOVEREIGN in choosing men to come into a saving knowledge of Christ. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Eph 1:4). There are no mega bucks to be made if a TV evangelist cannot teach a man how to be saved. The TV evangelists plead and beg for men to know God and tell those men that everything rests on their personal decisions to accept Christ. Essentially, viewers are told they hold the key to their own salvation. But the Bible says salvation belongs to and comes from God. "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him" (Matt 11:27). Commercial religion does not like the idea that the whole human race was represented in Adam. Instead, the TV religious movement teaches that Adam was the father of mankind and because of his fall in the garden the rest of us are suffering in a fallen world. Few popular preachers will teach that Adam's sin was imputed or accounted to his descendants. To do so would require them to teach that likewise the righteousness of the second Adam, Christ, is imputed to His people in the same way. That is, men are not personally guilty of Adam's sin, but they receive the punishment for Adam's sin and are born now as sinners. And men are not personally meritorious of the righteousness of Christ, but Christ freely gives His people His righteousness without them personally doing any work to earn it. The righteousness of a Christian is not his own; it is the righteousness of another. It is an alien righteousness; it is the righteousness of Christ credited to the Christian's account. Many examples of religious entertainers could be made; however, one TV evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, epitomizes the delusion and apostasy that permeates the professing church today. Jimmy Swaggart, in his booklet "False Doctrines in the Church," teaches "that there is a great cry for God in the hearts of most people. They may not understand it, they may not know how to bring such a renewed condition about, but at the same time we feel that most people feel this desire" (FD p.6). This "feeling" could be heartburn or the same thing Mormons "feel" in their heart about their false beliefs. But what does the Bible say? "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom 3:11). Consider this popular TV evangelist alongside teachings from Roman Catholicism. And consider that Swaggart said in his July 86 "Evangelist" "we should love our Catholic friends and do everything we can to help them; however, Catholic doctrine is unscriptural." Swaggart and Rome, however, have much in common. Maybe too much. Swaggart says: "Man's free will will never be tampered with by God....We teach and believe that all of God's promises are con- ditional. Nothing, as far as God's dealings with mankind are concerned, is unconditional....The fact is, man can be saved if he desires to be saved, or he can be lost if he wants to be lost. It's all up to him" (FD p.26-27). Rome says: "But man has free will. He may use it to violate the order God intends, and thus offend God. The will is not forced. God made man free so that man's obedience might be the supreme good in the universe" (p. 30 Lesson 1, of "The Apostles' Creed," by Catholic Information Service). About the fall of man in Adam, Swaggart says mankind is wicked. "However, in the heart of almost every man there is a deep-seated, smoldering desire to reach out and contact God" (FD p.24). About the fall of man in Adam, Rome says: "It is true that amidst all this wreckage some good was left to Adam--his free will, for instance" (p. 10, Lesson 1). Swaggart says: "So if we teach and believe that man is capable of initiating a move toward God, we must also believe that this capability was placed there by God. Even though man has fallen and brought himself the penalty of death, he still demonstrates repeatedly his ability and need to reach out toward God" (FD p.24-25). Rome says: "If anyone says that man's free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God's call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 4.). Swaggart says: "To teach that man is incapable within himself of initiating any move toward God is totally wrong" (FD p.7). Rome says: "If anyone says that after the sin of Adam man's free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing only in name, indeed a name without a reality, a fiction introduced into the Church by Satan, let him be anathema" (Canon 5.). Swaggart says: "We, of course, teach and believe that God has never violated man's free moral agency. We teach that man has the power of choice" (FD p.16). Rome says: "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema" (Canon 9.). Swaggart says salvation is not entirely of God: "If he (sinful man) falls or if he's saved, his fall or his salvation is all due to God; he had nothing to do with it. This is, of course, all false" (FD p.27). Rome says: "An enormous chasm exists between redemption and salvation and that chasm must be filled up by our free will cooperating with the grace of God" (p.18 Lesson 1). Protestant Arminianism (doctrine of free will) has its roots in Rome. This should not come as a great shock, if we remember Erasmus was a Roman Catholic who championed free will against Martin Luther during the Reformation. The Bible teaches men about salvation. Man does not will himself into the Kingdom. Man does not cooperate with God to be born again. Man does nothing because, as the Bible says, "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). That is, man does nothing until he is able, and man is not able to believe until God gives the ability to believe. Man is spiritually dead and must first be resurrected to walk in newness of life with Christ (Rom 6:4-11; Eph 2:1; Jn 6:65; Phil 1:29). "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" (Rom 9:16). Swaggart is not alone; many other false teachers have been deceived and think they are in opposition to Roman Catholicism, while in reality they hold hands doctrinally. "And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel" (Ezek 14:9). Could it be that commercial religion and its outward works are nothing more than sin trying to counterfeit truth? "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt 7:21-23). Tom Brewer 10851 Ansley, Apt. B Baton Rouge, LA 70816


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