Comment: Do you believe there is an absolute morality? It appears that in the days that we live society determines morality, and it has changed quite a bit from biblical times. There is no commandment against child abuse. Very little is mentioned in the bible that protects children. But, children need special protection because they are vulnerable. There are tribal wars in the bible and ordered killing of women, children, and babies in the bible. And there are many other acts and principles that we do not accept as moral today.
Visitor: There are some issues that original sin bring up. Is it moral to punish everyone for a sin committed by Adam and Eve? Or do you consider the passage to be an allegory ? Excessively harsh punishments are immoral. For example if a man stole a loaf of bread would it be moral to put him in jail for life? The sins that one may commit in his or her life are not bad enough for eternal damnation. It does not seem right that God would create man imperfect and punish him forever for not having the ability to be perfect.
Response: It is not reasonable or coherent to call God immoral unless you can point to an absolute standard of morality that is greater than He. The whole concept of immorality requires a standard to appeal to, or you are only giving a personal preference which has zero authority. So anyone who claims NOT to believe in God and yet appeals to moral absolutes which He should be subject to is being inconsistent with his relativism and committing intellectual suicide. He reveals deep down he knows there is a just God.
Also, it does not follow that if God created man with the ability to make voluntary choices that He "created man imperfect." God declared his creation of Adam and Eve to be "very good".
As for excessive punishment ... if you sin against an infinitely holy God by your rebellion against Him then you are working with an entirely different idea than if you merely sinned against a man. Eternal damnation is not the result of man merely stealing a loaf of bread but of putting ourselves in the place of God as the ultimate authority. All sin is a direct challenge to the first commandment - a rejection of Him as our parent and His authority. And we continue to sin and rebel against God's authority -- as if we were cheering Adam on in his sin against God. Our sinful actions demonstrate that we are sons of Adam and maintain solidarity with him.
Visitor: It seems that Calvinism believes that all were not created equally but that some were preordained to eternal life and some to eternal damnation. Aren't there some moral problems with this view point?
Response: First I think it is important to note that the Bible teaches that ALL men are EQUALLY guilty of sin so it would be just if God saved no one. If anyone is saved it is pure unconditional mercy. If anyone is damned it is justice. God is not a respecter of persons so He does not choose people based on ANY advantage, merit, good will or virtue He sees in them. And he did not damn them apart from the fact that they were sinners.
In what may seem ironic to some, it is actually the non-Augustinian/non-Calvinist who believes NOT ALL were created EQUALLY .. since in such views they must ascribe their repenting and believing to their own wisdom, humility, sound judgement or good sense (at least partly) and not to Christ alone. In other words, synergists have to concede that they believe in Jesus and their neighbor doesn't because of some native wisdom they have that their neighbor doesn't. This means that skeptics of 'grace alone' believe God's love is CONDITIONAL... we must meet a condition if we are to trigger God's love toward us so that He will save us. But the Bible does not teach grace is a reward for faith but the cause of it.
The only "free-will" natural man has is willful blindness (Deut 29:4, Rom 3:11-20), so it is not "free-will" that we need but mercy ... mercy to disarm and deliver us from our inflexible, obstinate, fortified self-will and its captivity to sin and the Devil. (John 8:34-36, 2 Tim. 2:26; Rom. 9:16).
Unbeknownst to many modern Christians, this was a foundational principle in the Reformation. With this same idea in mind, Luther in his "Bondage of the Will" said,
"I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want "free-will" to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground ; but because even were there no dangers. I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success.¦ But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God." - Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1957), 313-314.
The following numbered items are common assumptions made by synergists (Arminians, Roman Catholics and semi-Pelagians) in rejecting the bondage of the will and God's sovereign grace in salvation.
Fallacy #1. God would not command us to do what we cannot do.
God gave the Law to Moses, The Ten Commandments, to reveal what man cannot do, not what he can do.
If you claim Christ is your king and you are His subject, how is it that He came to occupy the highest place of your affections and trust and that throne atop your heart?
Prior to your redemption, the flesh and Satan quietly possessed your greatest affections, and like the rest, you were Satan's slave, his vassal. And since he reigned over your heart (and was much stronger than you) how did this transformation to Christ take place? How did you escape from the captivity he had over your heart? There is no doubt that Satan would have never willingly relinquished his reign of power over you. And you, being under the bondage of your own corrupt nature and Satan's dominion over you, would not have been willing to simply relinquish, nor able to resist the Devil's binding power, since he had taken you captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26). For the flesh, the world and the Devil were enemies too powerful for you ... they were greater than your weak and corrupted will and had vast superiority over your base affections. You were the Devil's plaything and most willingly followed his suggestions. You could not untangle yourself nor did you want to, for you loved darkness (John 3:19 ) and most willingly suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18 ). Mere exterior persuasion did not scratch the surface of your heart.
Once in a while I will receive an email like the following from someone who is worried that some sin they have committed may have crossed the place of no return to God's favor.
Visitor: Even after I was sealed for the day of redemption, I still have sinned against God. I continue to fight addicting sin(s), and though most of the time I defeat the sin, sometimes I foolishly give in to it. I'm so sorry that I have given in to foolish and sinful lusts, and all I want to do is to cast away those actions forever, and to be forgiven, and sin no more. But I don't know if I am saved anymore, because I have really been scared that my repentance is not true, because I have again sinned, and that God has cast me away. Please help me, because I am very scared. I want to be forgiven and be different.
Question: How can I know if I’m elect?
Response: First of all, the Bible does not teach justification by election, but that our just standing before God is by grace alone in Christ alone as evidenced by our faith. Election does not save but is a blueprint of what God intends to do in time in Jesus Christ. If you are a sinner who has cast aside all self-righteousness and trusts in Jesus Christ as your only hope for salvation, you can know, based on God's certain promise that He has done a work of grace in you, that your sins are forgiven and are, therefore, counted among the elect.
God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. But when someone actually comes to faith in Christ we can know from Scripture that it was God who, in His great mercy, opened their blind eyes, unplugged their deaf ears and gave them a new heart to understand and obey the command (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Matt 16:16-17; Rom 9:15, 16). When God removes the scales from our eyes, when He turns the heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26) there is no longer resistance because the heart is no longer hard like stone. All resistance has been disarmed.
"Our Lord did not come to tell us what we have to do in order to save ourselves; He came to save us... The Christian doctrine of salvation and redemption is this - that Christ Himself is the salvation."- Martyn Lloyd-Jones
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"Now someone asks, How has Christ abolished sin, banished the separation between us and God, and acquired righteousness to render God favorable and kindly toward us? To this we can in general reply that he has achieved this for us by the whole course of his obedience. This is proved by Paul’s testimony: “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience we are made righteous” [Romans 5:19]. In another passage, to be sure, Paul extends the basis of the pardon that frees us from the curse of the law to the whole life of Christ: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, subject to the law, to redeem those who were under the law” [Galatians 4:4-5]. Thus in his very baptism, also, he asserted that he fulfilled a part of righteousness in obediently carrying out his Father’s commandment [Matthew 3:15]. In short, from the time when he took on the form of a servant, he began to pay the price of liberation in order to redeem us.