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"...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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  • « Satisfying the Law’s Demand's and Curses | Main | John Calvin's 500th - Collection of Resources »

    No Degrees of Deadness

    The company is not doing well this quarter. Sales are down. Potential customers are not buying. The sales team manager needs to get things moving. Someone has to make a sale and quickly. What is the sales team leader to do? Well one thing he could do is to send his team down to the morgue and have his sales team get some sales amongst the dead, selling their nasal sprays, their foot massager machines and their electronic toothbrushes. But sadly, things don't go too well. The dead seem to have no interest in anything the sales team has to say, in spite of the positive smiles and highly developed and well rehearsed sales pitch.. Even at the morgue, no sales are made; for one simple reason, the dead are, how shall we say it? ... errr.. dead!

    A silly scenario? Yes, of course! But lets think about this as it relates to man's condition outside of Christ. He is not vibrant and healthy; nor merely under the weather a little, and not just extremely sick about to breathe his last breath. God says that man is actually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word for dead here is necros, meaning dead like a corpse. There are no signs of spiritual life. It is a hopeless case.

    DEAD MAN WALKING - Born D.O.A. (dead on arrival) unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Outside of Christ, he has a zombie like existence. He is dead but walks around. He goes to tennis games or movie theaters or even to church - just never to Christ. Its not in him to do so because he is dead spiritually. He cannot come to Christ not because of some physical handicap but because of a morally depraved heart that seeks only independence from Christ. He may at times wish for the benefits of belonging to the kingdom of God - but never does he want the King of the kingdom.

    The dead do not do much. All of this is fairly obvious. Watch the dead for any length of time and you'll notice something - well, more precisely, you will notice a whole lot of nothing. There are no degrees of deadness. There are no semi-dead people, mostly dead people, or really dead people. A person is either dead or alive.

    Jesus knew this and that's why he didn't bother to interview the dead Lazarus and ask for his cooperation so that He might raise him to life? No, Jesus did not expect any movement from Lazarus until He first acted with miraculous divine power, calling the man to life with a call that was far more than an invite, far more than a serious summons, but there was enough power in the call to create life when there was death.

    Was there a special time Jesus waited for? - a time when Lazarus's body would be more conducive to resurrection? A special time of the day perhaps? - or a time when the east wind would permeate the grave? Would any of this help? No, Jesus was looking to nothing in the environment or in the dead and putrefying Lazarus as a source; either in his body or soul or will.

    I am told that there was a Jewish superstition in Jesus' day that said that the soul/spirit of a man hangs around the body of the dead for 3 days. Though I have not been able to verify that for sure, this would explain Jesus showing up at the tomb of Lazarus on the fourth day. For all of the watching crowd, this fourth day after death was the day of no hope. Jesus wanted everyone to see the miracle for what it truly was - a spectacular confirmation of Jesus' words "I am the Resurrection and the life."

    I guess, that's why I am writing this short article too. I want every Christian to realize the amazing resurrection that took place in your life when at some point (though you may not be able to pin point the time on a calendar or watch) God raised you from spiritual death and brought you up from the grave. It was when you were dead that He made you alive!

    I believe this is exactly what Paul is teaching in Ephesians 2:1-5 - And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved...

    Concerning this passage, Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, "Paul provides a graphic description of our spiritual impotence prior to regeneration. He is addressing the Ephesian believers and describing a prior condition in which they all once shared. He adds the phrase "just as the others" (2:3), presumably referring to the whole of mankind. He declares that this prior condition was a state of death: "You were dead in trespasses and sins." Again, this death is obviously not a biological death, as he enumerates activities that these dead, persons were involved in. The characteristic behavioral mode of people dead in trespasses and sins is described in terms of walking a particular course. He calls it the "course of this world" (2:1-2). Here the course of this world obviously refers to a course or pattern that is opposed to the course of heaven. The words "this world" refer not so much to a location as to a style or a point of reference. It involves a this-worldly orientation. Christians and non-Christians alike share the same sphere of operations. We all live out our lives in this world. The regenerate person's course, however, is guided from above. He has his eye on heaven and his ear attuned to the King of heaven. The unregenerate person is earthbound. His ear is deaf to any word from heaven; his eye is blinded to the glory from on high. He lives as a walking cadaver in a spiritual graveyard."

    Dead men left to themselves do not become more and more open to life, and get closer and closer to it. They tend to stay dead and well... just do what all dead things do... stink. John 11:39 says, "Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”

    It was when Lazarus was physically dead that Jesus made him alive by thunderous divine power, and so is the case with you in your spiritual resurrection. Dead to the things of God, He raised you to life in regeneration, you then walked, you came, you trusted in Christ. Until your resurrection you were always dead to the claims of Christ and the gospel of Christ had no interest in them. Though you may well have understood the claims of Christ and the gospel, your heart could find no pleasure or joy in them, you could not receive them (1 Cor 2:14).

    And if all this is true - if the "T" in the acrostic TULIP of Total depravity is true, and ever part of man has been affected by the Fall, being is dead in trespasses and sins, then Divine election would need to be sovereign and unconditional - the "U" in the TULIP - because dead people can fulfill no conditions. Christ would have to die an atoning death for them to cancel their sins and transfer righteousness to them - the "L" in Limited Atonement - and God the Holy Spirit would need to move with the kind of powerful grace that effectively awakens the sinner to life (so that he can respond in faith) - the "I" of Irresistible Grace. Then, God would need to preserve all those He awakened in this way so that none of these elect people are lost along the way - the "P" in Perseverance of the Saints. And in this, God gets all the glory. Those who understand what their spiritual state was outside of Christ recognize this, humbled as they are by the immensity of their sin and the wonder of His grace.

    As Dr. John Piper has stated, "If all of us are so depraved that we cannot come to God without being born again by the irresistible grace of God, then it is clear that the salvation of any of us is owing to God's election. Election refers to God's choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness. We are not saying that final salvation is unconditional. It is not. We must meet the condition of faith in Christ in order to inherit eternal life. But faith is not a condition for election. Just the reverse. Election is a condition for faith. It is because God chose us before the foundation of the world that he purchases our redemption at the cross and quickens us with irresistible grace and brings us to faith." - in "What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism"

    If the "T" in TULIP is true, then it would follow that all the other doctrines of grace would need to be true or else no man would ever be saved. But because it is true we rejoice in the God of our salvation. To Him be all the glory.

    Posted by John Samson on June 17, 2009 06:57 AM

    Comments

    It seems to me that you might be pushing the analogy of deadness beyond its intended meaning. The hidden premise in your argument is the following:

    There is a one to one correspondence between physical death and spiritual death in Scripture.

    However, I am not sure this is a justified premise, according to Scripture.

    Consider the following:

    You say that "There are no degrees of deadness. There are no semi-dead people, mostly dead people, or really dead people. A person is either dead or alive." From this it follows that

    1) If someone is dead, he or she can either act or not act.

    And, according to your argument,

    2) Dead people cannot act.

    And,

    3) Therefore, a person must be made alive before he or she can act.

    However, this is clearly contrary to Scripture. Acts 7:51 speaks of people rejecting the Holy Spirit and Romans 10:21 speaks of a people who are disobedient to the covenant. From this, it follows that

    4) According to Scripture, the spiritually dead person can actively reject the truth of the gospel.

    This stands in direct contradiction to premise 2) of your argument. It therefore follows that either

    5) There is not a one to one correspondence between spiritual death and physical death,

    which undercuts the core (hidden premise) of your argument.

    Hi James,

    Of course as Ephesians 2 makes clear, the spiritual deadness does not mean that man is not "active" in rebellion against God and will resist Him at every turn (to highlight what Acts 7:51 says). The fact is, man will continue to resist the Holy Spirit in active rebellion and disobedience until God says, "enough, this day I will overcome your resistance and you shall be mine," and takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh that beats to know Christ.

    The analogy I used has its limitations because a physically dead person can do nothing, and a spiritually dead person can be active in rebellion though dead to the things of God.. yet I believe it is still useful because it shows that no amount of wooing can entice a dead person towards positive activity towards Christ. It takes much more than wooing. It takes a resurrection, a spiritual birth. Unless a man is born again he CANNOT enter the kingdom (John 3), the natural man CANNOT receive the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14), and the carnal mind (those without the Spirit) is NOT ABLE to submit to the commands of God (Rom 8: 7, 8).

    James

    Perhaps you may be missing the point. Ask yourself, in your view, can a person believe in Jesus Christ apart from any work of the Holy Spirit?

    That is what is meant by spiritually dead. The condition of a person apart from the Spirit.

    Spiritual dead simply means the natural man who does not have the Holy Spirit cannot understand spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14) and is actually hostile to it (rom 8:7). Faith is therefore not produced, generated or come from the unregenerate human nature.

    A person who is not regenerated will ALWAYS resist the outrward work of the Holy Spirit. Only when the Spirit opens blind eyes and unplugs his deaf hears will he believe. The Spirit gives life the flesh counts for nothing that is why, Jesus said, that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it (John 6:65)

    "but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
    1 Corinthians 1:23-24


    "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." 1 Thess 1:4

    John S,

    You admitted all that I was arguing for, namely, that your hidden premise (i.e., "There is a one to one correspondence between physical death and spiritual death in Scripture.") is false. For as you noticed, your analogy has its limitations; I merely suggest you push it past its limitations, just as you suggested my counterpoint, which takes the analogy a step further, is pushing it too far.

    Now you are making a distinction that is speculative, at best, which does not fit with the "deadness" motif you are arguing for in the above post. You say that man is dead and that there are no degrees of deadness. Yet, this dead man is not fully dead, for he can actively (?) reject God. To use the same type of analogy that you did, if you go into the graveyard and want to pick a fight, you will get no active participants, only dead bodies lying in the ground. How are dead bodies lying in the ground in any way "actively" rejecting your beckoning to fight them? I don't see how this is possible.

    Your analogy leaves no room for active rebellion, which, I suggest, should show that we are pushing the analogy past its limits, since, as you admitted, active rebellion is clearly stated in Scripture. And remember, if a man can act, he is not dead, according to what you said above.

    However, if your analogy breaks down, then it seems you are begging the question to assert it as proof for an ordo salutis in which regeneration precedes faith.

    I could just as easily cite Romans 3:22-25, 5:1-2, 5:9-10, Ephesians 1:13-14 and 3:17 to support that support an ordo salutis in which faith precedes regeneration, since if a man can "actively" rebel against God there is no reason to assume that he cannot "actively" accept the call of the gospel through the moving of the Holy Spirit in a model of prevenient grace. That is, if your hidden premise is false, which you admit, then it is at least possible that a different understanding of the ordo salutis is true.

    John H,

    (see above)

    I feel that I answered your question above. I don't think I am missing the point, for certainly you are aware that there are other models of salvation wherein the work of the Holy Spirit is the only means of being united with Christ. You don't have a monopoly on this position as a calvinist.

    James,

    Admitting that the analogy has its limitations does not negate the fact that it is scripture that talks of man being dead. I am not being original here. It is an analogy found in Scripture. It does not describe man as healthy or sick but dead like a corpse. I also explained what this spiritual death means, as Ephesians 2:1-3 describes. The spiritually dead man is dead towards God, unresponsive to Him, though active in resistance and disobedience. I believe I have accurately described the use of the term "death" in its Scriptural context.

    In that it is the Bible that describes man's unregenerate condition as "dead" what word or analogy would you prefer to use James?

    John S,

    I absolutely agree with you that Scripture speaks of humanity being dead in sin. However, your analogy, to the extent that you were pushing it, imports meaning into the text that is just not there. You can't have it both ways. We can't be dead and unresponsive yet still "actively" reject God.

    All I am saying is that this incongruity suggests that what it means to be "dead in trespasses and sins" does not necessitate the interpretation for which you are arguing (i.e., that regeneration precedes faith).

    Perhaps to be dead in sin means that our spiritual nature because of sin is lacking the life-giving vigor of union with Christ. Or, to put it in the Barthian sense, it is lacking its "true being." This interpretation would seem to fit with the flow of the passage in that Paul moves to union with Christ in verse 5. This is at least one possible alternative interpretation.

    Hi James,

    I understand you but strongly disagree. You say "We can't be dead and unresponsive yet still "actively" reject God." My position is that this is exactly what Ephesians 2:1-5 teaches. We Christians were spiritually dead like a stinking corpse - yet we were at the same time walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air and the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.. by nature we were children of wrath... BUT GOD raised us from spiritual death (unilaterally, monergistically, without the help or cooperation of man).

    My whole point is this - I believe I have used the term "dead" in the way Paul used it in Ephesians 2.

    great article John S.

    Great edification John H.!

    James, hmmmmmm, I have to agree that you have missed the point.

    Now realizing that, "not" until one is "made alive together" with Christ, would one be able to not miss it, I have to say, just because you are missing it does not at all mean you won't "grow" up and mature in the "life giving Spirit", Who is Christ, being conjoined to and reanimated to Him by the power of God and gain the insight being taught in this article.

    Just like Adam and Eve continued on seemingly alive, yet dead after partaking of the fruit they were pre-planned to eat, they came to know death. So it is that when once one is made alive together with Christ, equally pre-planned to be made alive by the Life giving Spirit, Who is Christ, the same course seems to follow before one comes alive and knows, sees and understands "Life".

    My only question for you James is this: do you believe Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, suffered, died and rose again? If you do not, you will never come to understand what John is teaching no matter how educated you get on the Scriptures. But, just because you do believe He came in the flesh, suffered, died and rose again, is no guarantee that you will ever come to know and understand the Truth in this teaching. I refer you to Hebrews 6:3.

    I have been walking with the Lord now over 35 years and it just amazes me how little I really know. The more God brings me into understanding Spiritual matters it seems the less I understand Spiritual matters! I realize I know nothing as I ought! I have been reduced to live daily with God in Christ Jesus and the Holy Ghost.

    I do have an assurance in my spirit now that wasn't there before and I have a Great Peace and I am more and more content than when I first began living in His Godliness in Christ Jesus!

    Praise God!

    Whoa, Michael, I am not sure how you jumped from my argument to assertions that I am either not alive together with Christ or an immature believer who needs to grow to "mature" Christian doctrine. I find both of those suggestions non sequiter, unhelpful, and uncharitable.

    I am not sure how your Adam and Eve comment even applies; we all know that they were not physically dead and therefore continued living, but that is irrelevant to the discussion.

    Moreover, how could one even think that because I don't hold to one particular interpretation is Scripture that I may not believe in the incarnation, dead, and resurrection of Christ? That would be like unto us disagreeing on millenial views and me asking you if you really believe the gospel.

    I understand how this post is supposed to be edifying, and I was attempting to deal with the truth (or lack of it) behind the edification.

    John S,

    Thanks for the discussion; I appreciate your interaction. I certainly understand your position, but I think the logical entailments of that position are contradictory to Scripture's teaching. Since you acknowledged that the ULIP of TULIP are logically entailed and necessarily follow from the T, it would seem to me that other philosophical concerns should be taken seriously as well.

    As I said before, I believe the meaning you are attributing to the text is one you are imposing upon it due to preconceived notions about a given system.

    Anyway, agree to disagree, but strive to be faithful. We both, in my estimation, love the Jesus of the gospel and want to please him with our lives. So for that I am grateful.

    James you said: >>>I feel that I answered your question above. I don't think I am missing the point, for certainly you are aware that there are other models of salvation wherein the work of the Holy Spirit is the only means of being united with Christ. You don't have a monopoly on this position as a calvinist.

    James. You did not answer the question. Can a person come to Christ in his natural state apart from the work of the Holy Spirit?

    The answer is plainly no. "no one can say "Jesus is Lord" apart from the Holy Spirit." In other words, if you agree with this, you also agree that a man is completely dead to the things of God, unless the Holy Spirit does something to man's heart. The analogy stands, even for an Arminian. Reason alone cannot convert a man. This is all that we mean when we assert that people are dead in sin. Unless the Holy Spirit acts, man's natural condition will ALWAYS be rejection of the gospel. The natural man cannot and will not understand spiritual truth. He is dead to it.

    Even an Arminian who embraces 'prevenient grace' believes the same thing. That man is utterly depraved and unable to believe the gospel unless the Spirit works prevenient grace in his heart. So even the Classic Armininian believes man is dead in sin, that is, dead to Spiritual things i.e. cannot respond to the gospel, unless the Spirit acts.

    However, we know that prevenient grace only begs the question, for if two persons hear the gospel with prevenient grace, and only one ultimately believes, what makes the two persons to differ in their response? It was not the grace of Jesus, for both had grace but something other than Jesus. The Arminians here must create an unbiblical category that there is a place in-between the unregenerate and regenerate. But the Bible never gives a hint of this. There are, in fact, only two types of people, regenerate and unregenerate (no degrees of deadness) AND we all know that faith does not come from our unregenerated human nature, which the Bible clearly says cannot understand Spritual things.

    We understand that Arminians also believe that man is dead in sin prior to regeneration in the same way we do. But we do not believe that there is any Biblical warrant for prevenient grace, and so they darken the counsel of God with their unaided philosophy.

    It is God and God alone who saves.

    As per the Scripture you cite which you say could evidence faith preceding regeneration. The only things you have show here are imperatives or commands as what we ought to do. 'Do this', "if you are willing", "if you hear", "if you do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. Nothing more is signified by verbs in the imperative mood than what ought to be done, and that what is done or can be done should be expressed by words in the indicative. How is it that as soon as you get hold of a single imperative verb you infer an indicative meaning, as though the moment a thing is commanded it is done, or can be done? "Does it follow from: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove,
    but the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power..

    I absolutely agree with Gordon, that there are many things dead men DO (eg. believe in false gods) and that the notion that you must be specially enabled to believe in the true God, is biblically unsupportable. No-one denies that without the seed of the word there's no enlightenment, as John H points out:

    Unless the Holy Spirit acts, man's natural condition will ALWAYS be rejection of the gospel. The natural man cannot and will not understand spiritual truth. He is dead to it.

    In order to understand why this is so, we've been given the parable of the sower. It is right, unless someone sows the word, nobody can believe and hence, bear fruit. Pauls says the same thing, without someone preaching, nobody can believe and be saved.

    But why does one respond to the word and not the other? The difference lies with the ground and the ground only. The word falls on everywhere alike, without respect to the ground. The sun shines on all grounds alike. The rain falls on all grounds alike. What makes the difference? -- The ground, that is man's part.

    a helmut.

    You said >>> The difference lies with the ground and the ground only. The word falls on everywhere alike, without respect to the ground. The sun shines on all grounds alike. The rain falls on all grounds alike. What makes the difference? -- The ground, that is man's part.

    So, in other words, you are arguing that we ourselves break up the fallow ground of our hearts? You are not looking deep enough if you think so. The ground (of our hearts) is all naturally fallow and the farmer must come and break up that fallow ground. The only seed which germinates rightly is the one in the ground which God (the Farmer) has prepared. All other fallow ground, i.e. those left to themselves, is hopeless.

    So how can the ground be man's part? Are you then asserting that some men's hearts are naturally good and others naturally evil? That the difference is that one man was naturally evil and so rejected the gospel and the other good and so believed it? So God's love then, in your view, is conditined upon whether one's heart is good by nature or not? Think about it a helmut, why are some men's "ground" fallow and others prepared? Who did that? Who gets the glory for that?

    To believe man ultimately prepared his own fallow ground is not trusting in Christ alone but in something else for salvation.

    Hello John,

    First I'd like to say, since this isn't the first time for me to comment here, I know that sometimes my responses aren't published anymore and so I'm not sure if it is worth continuing a critical dialogue on this blog. Anyway, I'll respond to this now in hope that I won't have typed all this in vain.

    You are not looking deep enough if you think so. The ground (of our hearts) is all naturally fallow and the farmer must come and break up that fallow ground.

    We should not stretch the meaning of the parable (one of the few parables Jesus is explaining) beyond its intended message. And the message is clear. There are two parts under consideration here, God's and mankind's. The parable portrays a dualism, God on the one hand, man on the other. And it distinguishes different men, focussing on the different human predispositions.

    The only seed which germinates rightly is the one in the ground which God (the Farmer) has prepared.

    Here we go, this is the point where you stretch the parable and mix a concept in it, which simply isn't part and parcel of the message conveyed at all. There is nothing about a farmer and his preparation here at all, there is nothing about "breaking up" fallow grounds here, neither does the text plainly say so, nor does the narrative implicitly suggest this. So the idea cannot even be held indirectly without dismissing the entire meaning of the parable. To the contrary, the utter impartiality of the seed and the plain decisiveness of the ground as the key to the maturation of fruit, is the clue here. You need very thick "reformed tradition glasses" in order to have the text support a farmer's work and preparation as the decisive aspect. The narrative is far from even allowing for such a twist.

    So how can the ground be man's part? Are you then asserting that some men's hearts are naturally good and others naturally evil?

    Please note, these questions are solely based on the pseudo problems just mentioned above. These questions assume problems that just aren't there to begin with. It's like someone who first plays with fire in order to have a reason to call the firefighters. The ground is most clearly man's part. The dualism between God's part (seed) and man's part (ground) is evident in the parable. Making the ground actually God's part is to throw overboard the entire intention of the parable, which is to provide an answer why men respond differently to the word of God. Making the ground God's part is to throw overboard the whole parable right from the start -- it would be meaningless!

    That the difference is that one man was naturally evil and so rejected the gospel and the other good and so believed it?

    Note, there are few treatises in the bible on the question: "Why do some believe and others don't?" -- however, the parable of the sower IS such a biblical response. This IS the biblical response and we shouldn't overload it with our own views how things should function according to us.

    So God's love then, in your view, is conditined upon whether one's heart is good by nature or not?

    The seed falls on every ground alike, without respect. This is a key element in the parable. What makes the ultimate difference? -- The quality of the ground.

    why are some men's "ground" fallow and others prepared? Who did that? Who gets the glory for that?

    This is raising a pseudo problem.
    Since the parable doesn't answer why some grounds are good and others are not, we must be very careful not to introduce answers from our traditional bias which have nothing to do with the intended meaning of the parable. If the meaning of the parable were NOT the focus on man's part as the quality of the grounds, then wouldn't we expect to have at least a slightes hint towards this? But neither the parable itself nor Jesus' explanation thereof draw our attention towards an alleged work of a farmer on the ground as the decisive element. So if this isn't eisegesis, then I wonder what eisegesis is.

    To believe man ultimately prepared his own fallow ground is not trusting in Christ alone but in something else for salvation.

    Note, the raising of this pseudo problem, has no fundament. The parable is very clearly drawing a distinction between God's part and man's. Declaring man's part to be really null and void seems next to impossible, in face of this parable.

    Two questions concerning hermeneutics: What does the parable of the sower actually say?

    A) That there is a farmer secretly at work, preparing some grounds?

    B) That the maturation of fruit depends on the quality of the grounds?

    And note, this parable IS the biblical answer to the question why the word of God succeeds in so different ways.

    -a helmet

    Thus, the ultimate difference lies on man's side and only on man's side. When the seed has fallen, everthing that follows depends on the quality of the ground, in other words, on man. There's no secret going on behind the veil.

    -a helmet

    >>>>We should not stretch the meaning of the parable (one of the few parables Jesus is explaining) beyond its intended message. And the message is clear. There are two parts under consideration here, God's and mankind's.

    a helmut, stretch the parable's meaning? If you are going to play that game you need to be consistent with your self. No where does it explain that the soil was good in it's own right or explicitly teach or assume how it got that way. The parable explains only that there was good soil. It does not in ANY WAY presume that it got that way by itself. That is not even implied in the text. You fall by your own rules you make for me. For all the people hearing the parable would know that soil only gets that way BECAUSE OF THE FARMER, not by itself. It is implicit in the parable while your meaing is not because soil would never get that way by itself and EVERYONE knows that. No where in nature or anywhere else would people assume the parable means that some men's hearts are good by nature. That you think the parable teaches this is simply your bias being read into it.

    Such false unbiblical teaching needs to be crushed in the loins so no false teachers would be raised up afterward who continue to teach that some people are naturally inclined to the gospel and not others. That some soild just happens to be good and some bad. Salvation by our goodness or merit is nowhere taught in Scripture and is condemned. And that is exactly what you teach when you say that some people who had 'good soil' by nature believe the gospel. How did their soil get that way? Give glory to God and not man.

    James,

    Thank you for your candid response. At least we know each other's positions now.

    First, you responded: "....Whoa, Michael, I am not sure how you jumped from my argument to assertions that I am either not alive together with Christ or an immature believer who needs to grow to "mature" Christian doctrine...."


    I am puzzled how you see my response as "jumping" from your argument? I was directly responding to it.

    Is it that maybe what I said doesn't fit into your frame of reference, your argument?

    As for the non sequitur, unhelpful and uncharitable part, it is your opinion then that that is my response? If so, let me apologize now and ask you to forgive me for being offensive?

    I do not accept that my response is off the target of John's article. You are either dead or alive. Your argument, in your frame of reference is not a fallacy, so it makes perfectly good sense to me that my response would be considered a non sequitur to you. And I might observe that by virtue of your taking the time to respond to it, now my response, and John's patience to allow my response to be published herein, it seems to me my response is helpful and charitable for no other reason than now we are engaged in this process?

    I may have missed argument, and if so, having missed it completely, then it makes sense that you would deem it "unhelpful".

    But to charge me with being uncharitable seems to be taking what I have responded to, your response to John's article, ironically, into uncharitable waters. Wouldn't you agree?

    I agree with John. You cannot be part dead, just like your wife, if married, cannot be partly pregnant. Either she is pregnant and a life exists in her womb or she is not. Some women "think" they are pregnant and they are not. Some women "think" they are not pregnant, and then bam, the next thing she knows, is, she is going into labor pains thinking she is having a major malfunction within. It is not until the crying baby comes forth does she realizes, whoa, I was pregnant. Whoa, whoa, what was I thinking? I thought those pains within were something that now I realize they were not! I had life in me all the while I thought those pains were not "life"! Hmmmmmm?

    You further wrote in response:

    "....I am not sure how your Adam and Eve comment even applies; we all know that they were not physically dead and therefore continued living, but that is irrelevant to the discussion...."

    Well, were they or were they not "dead"? How quickly did death appear upon them from God’s perspective? Was it when God said they were dead or when, after laying forth the foundation for all of humanity, Cain and Abel and Seth, they passed from this present world experiencing “Death’s” power? They were dead. Yes? Or was there some degree of dying that brought them to "spiritual death" and Death’s power?

    Better yet, "when" is a person considered "alive"?

    Could it be when "God" makes them alive in Christ or after we "see" the fruits of repentance? How quickly does God make a person "alive"? Does He take some time and gradually makes them alive or does He simply immediately "make them alive in Christ" when He does?

    According to the Scripture, I was made alive in Christ before the foundation of the world. Believing that "Truth" then, I find new meaning in these words:

    Psa 89:11 The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
    Psa 89:12 The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
    Psa 89:13 You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand.
    Psa 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

    Finally James, if I were going to charge you with a non sequitur, it would be with this question asked of me:::>

    "....Moreover, how could one even think that because I don't hold to one particular interpretation is Scripture that I may not believe in the incarnation, dead, and resurrection of Christ?....".

    I don’t know. All I can say is, I was blind and now I see. I understood what John was teaching in the article. You are either dead. Or, you are not dead. If you are not dead, then you are alive. The “Life” John was pointing to is the “Life” one is made alive with and conjoined to and reanimated to when God makes someone dead in their trespasses and sins, “alive together with Christ”. When you wrote in response to John’s article: “….It seems to me that you might be pushing the analogy of deadness beyond its intended meaning….”, I didn’t get it, your response. Why? Because I got it, I understood him and began seeing that he too is “alive” in Christ! Praise God!!

    James, I don't know what you hold to and how you interpret Scripture and what you believe, even now. I asked you a simple question so that I could be sure basis your belief not what John S. or John H. "know" about you. I am grateful to both of these brothers for their insights into this whole question. In fact, John H. seems to have a preceding reputation as being anti-Christ in some circles, which I find hilarious. He most likely does too? He might not. He will have to address that. All I can say to you in here is I understood John’s point of being all dead and all alive. It wasn't until God, by His Grace, caused me to see that I found out just how dead and blind I was! The progress is on the side of the "Living" not on the side of the dead as Paul taught, here:

    1Ti 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
    1Ti 4:14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
    1Ti 4:15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
    1Ti 4:16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

    Apparently Jesus and Paul and Peter and well, all the writers of the Epistles think John’s point is so important, they wrote on the subject too:::>

    Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered them, "See that no one leads you astray.
    Mat 24:5 For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray.

    Jud 1:2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
    Jud 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
    Jud 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
    Jud 1:5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

    This article rates very high in my opinion and we need more men like these two Johns, rising up and defending the Faith because of the subtleness of the “dead” pretending they are the “Living” in this world devils full.

    John,

    when I read this response to helmut:

    "....Such false unbiblical teaching needs to be crushed in the loins so no false teachers would be raised up afterward who continue to teach that some people are naturally inclined to the gospel and not others...."

    I thought of these "Words" of God and said within my heart, Go John, go::::>

    Psa 149:1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
    Psa 149:2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
    Psa 149:3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
    Psa 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.
    Psa 149:5 Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
    Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
    Psa 149:7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
    Psa 149:8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
    Psa 149:9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

    Excellent analogy, John S!

    I also found the combox exchange with James most interesting and edifying.

    Sadly I can't say the same about the portion where "a helmet" waded into the discussion.

    Unfortunately we had to block him from our blog due to the fact that he set up camp, spewing forth incessant and diabolical false proclamations, such as those exemplified above.

    I'm loathe to appear uncharitable here, but I can't help but speak the truth in love, and offer a fair warning about "a helmet" who appears all around the internet at Reformed/Calvinistic blogs seemingly for the sole purpose of spreading his false, unbiblical doctrines.

    In Christ,
    CD

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