Saturday, July 15, 2006

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18 niv

If Paul wanted to teach that no one has the ability or the desire to accept Jesus as his Savior how could he have said it more clearly than this? Honestly, how can anybody read this and come to the conclusion that man has any desire to seek God on his own? He uses the phrase “no one” four times and “not even one” twice in a small paragraph! What did the Apostle mean when he said there is “no one who seeks God”? When God says, “no one” what do you think He means?

God’s no means no, none means none, not even one means not even one. That means that you did not understand God, did not seek God, did not turn towards Him (you were part of the “all” who was turned away) your life was worthless and you did not do good and you were totally ignorant of the way of peace…so how is it that you have faith in Christ? Let’s strip the “Calvinist” labels and tags off and let’s just think this through.

It is important to drive this point home. All Christians (in my opinion) have the understanding that no man has the power to save himself. That is clear from this passage and a multitude of others. The point that really needs driven home is this: not only do we see here that man has no power to save himself…man has no desire to be saved! Look at it again “no one who seeks God. All have turned away…” These statements are both statements of the will, are they not? Why don’t they seek God? Cause they don’t want to. Ever. Why have they turned away? Well, cause that is what they want to do, right? It is clear here that there is no such person who cries out to God, on his own, and says “God save me, I can’t save myself”. Remember, the key words are “on his own”. If you cried out to God like that it is not because of any inward desire that you had, although it might have seemed like that. God must have suddenly put that foreign desire in your heart first, right?

Want more scripture to support this? Good, I’m glad your thinking like that.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5 niv

Again, I don’t think Paul could be any more direct or clear. When he says that we were “dead” in our transgressions and sins, what do you think he meant? I would suggest, like the great Rush Limbaugh always says, “words mean things”. Seriously, can dead people make choices? How can a person who is spiritually dead towards the spiritual seek and make a spiritual decision to obey and submit to Christ? How then are we saved? “…Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, mad us alive with Christ…” Wow, when did He do this? After we sought Him? After we accepted Him? After we recognized our need? NO! “….even when we were dead in transgressions”. Let’s think this through friends; He made us alive when we were D-E-A-D. Not half dead, not coming out of a coma, not sleeping, not day dreaming and not distracted. He did it when we were dead, before we could make a choice! Does that not scream off the pages of your Bible?

Here’s one more passage just to nail this concept of Christ making us alive apart from any ability or willingness on ours to “accept” Him.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, Colossians 2:13 niv

When did He make us alive, read it again, “when you were dead in your sins…”

So what is the point? The point is that no person has the ability to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior unless God makes that person able. Furthermore, no person has the desire to be saved until God gives them that desire because indeed, unless God miraculously changes the heart, opens the eyes and transforms the mind of a sinner that sinner will never want God, he will never want to turn from sin and he’ll never do what is righteous.

Think about it in your own life; especially those of you who were saved in your late teens or adulthood. Do you remember what you thought about God before your conversion? Wasn’t He a totally blur, a mystery and not anything that concerned you? Didn’t you feel totally uncomfortable around people when they were talking about God? Wasn’t He, many times, the last thing on your mind (unless you were having a hard time and you needed something)? Then, think about the events that lead to your conversion. Think back, wasn’t it like something happened and then you began to think about God and start being drawn to Him? Like something clicked or a light bulb starting going off? The thing that made no difference to you started to matter. Think about the moment of your conversion…wasn’t it like blinders being lifted? Didn’t you feel all of a sudden like “everything makes perfect sense” when it came to your need and the solution? Friend, that was because the Lord changed your heart and your mind. You can not take credit for your conversion and you can not take credit for the desire of conversion either.

If you think you can, I’d love to see your scriptural support listed below.

This is called the doctrine of “total depravity” by the way, which is the T in the famous TULIP acronym of Calvinism.

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out…
Luke 11:43-44 niv


Anonymous said...

I do not have to believe that God made a list before the foundation of the world of who would be in and who would be out to agree with this passage. This passage is about the total depravity of man not about his sovereign choice.

I still believe that God’s quickening hand was in every act that he has did post fall. Without his activity man would have no choice. Here is my Calvinist score:

Total Depravity Yes
Unconditional Election No
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement) No
Irresistible Grace No (need if you do not believe in limited atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved) Yes

Anonymous said...

Good argument, but for argument/debate sake, why does God tell Israel time after time that if they will worship Him as opposed to the foreign idols, He will save them from disaster. Why does He give them a choice to worship Him if they can't of themselves "seek God"? Where does choice fit in at all... I am a puppet!

Les Puryear said...


There's a real good book that will answer all of your questions. It's entitled, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God," by J. I. Packer. Also, "The Pleasures of God," by John Piper.

Then maybe you'll not have to hide behind "anonymous."


Les Puryear