"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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    Enoch and Elijah Sinless?

    Question: I'm trying to find anything on Enoch and Elijah relating to inherited sin. Some say we cannot have inherited sin because of these two. Or whatever. I hope you understand the many opportunities available to use them as theological footballs.

    Response: Thanks for the email. This is perhaps the first time I have ever heard the argument that these prophets had, through self-effort, pleased God to such an extent that they had no need for a Savior and thus ascended to God. This is the kind of thinking we might expect from the arch-heretic himself: Pelagius, who believed that we did not inherit Adam's sin and could, by nature, reach up to God through our good choices (See Rom 5). In other words, in the view of those who argue we did not inherit Adam's sin, as far as Enoch and Elijah are concerned, neither prophet had any need whatsoever of a sinless Savior who fulfilled the law on their behalf, that it was not by the regenerating grace of God the Holy Spirit, but by their own natural choices (apart from the Holy Spirit) which led to God's favor on them. Is this not a trusting in their own merit, disposition and works? Such a view cannot even be considered Christian.

    If such were the case, these prophets would then be completely outside and even above the covenants of God since they would have no need for God's covenants or promises. They would be self-sufficient, autonomous, holy in and of themeselves, and that, apart from God. Not only is this contrary to all of Scripture, which declares all persons, apart from Christ, to be under the wrath of God, but is itself a form of unbelief, for it denies the need for Jesus Christ, and affirms that some persons can save themselves by reaching down into their own natural resources. Those who hold to this view would seem to have no concept at all of God's holiness (read Isaiah 6) and man's incapacity to live apart from his bondage to sin even for one minute. Those who affirm that a person can live sinlessly, I would argue, have no idea what sin is. A Christian is someone who completely despairs of himself and only glories in Christ for their salvation.

    Can anyone naturally love God and their neighbor perfectly for even a day? 1 John says that such persons who claim to have no sin are still in darkness and are calling God a liar. It would appear that the apostle is saying that persons holding to such a view are, perhaps, apostate, and have no true knowledge of the Savior.

    We are all redemed by grace and grace alone. Christ alone fulfilled the law. Neither Elijah nor Enoch are shown to be sinless, having fulfilled the covenant themselves, apart from grace. No other man, apart from Jesus, has done so even for an hour. Such a low view of sin is, unfortunately, rampant in our day and indeed a sign of the church of our times, but it is a complete misapprehension of the gospel. OT saints and NT saints are all born with the same fallen condition and need Christ. The word "unspiritual" is used of men without Christ. "Unspiritual" means that they are without the Holy Spirit. We are not born into this world with the Holy Spirit and then sometime later lose Him. No, we are born into the corruption of our natures and need the Spirit to quicken us if we are to have any hope at all. Any belief that salvation can be found outside of Christ through self-produced merit is promoting a patently unChristian belief.

    A hermeneutical problem exists for those who think Enoch chose God apart from grace. There are many passages which, in isolation, says things like, "...believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved". If read in isolation one might be led to believe that this implies we have a free will because it is not read against what else is taken for granted in Scripture. There are plenty of other passages which say things like, "no one says 'Jesus' is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit... no one can come to me unless God grants. it.... etc.... Also the command to do something (like believe the gospel) does not imply moral ability, apart from grace.

    So my point is that we must always interpret Scripture with Scripture. If we bring our own idea to the Scripture then we are more likely than not to read it wrongly in isolation. If a passage said that someone pleased God and He took him up to heaven, we cannot automatically assume that this took place apart from grace .. even though the text itself did not mention it. As noted above, other passages do and we must take heed to them .... In 2 Chronicles chapter 30 when couriers with a message of repentance passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, those who heard laughed them to scorn and mocked them when they were called to repent, "Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 30:11-12) The text says some resisted the call, but all those tribes which the hand of God gave a heart to obey the Word, repented.

    So yes, Enoch "chose" God .. there is no doubt about it. But would anyone be so bold as to claim that people repented at any time in history without the illumination, grace and help of the Lord? Do persons do this naturally or does the Spirit need to change our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, if we are to believe (see 1 Thess 1:4, 5).


    Posted by John on May 18, 2006 11:47 PM

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