The Heart of the matter:
Well, if you were here last week, you heard my answer to one of the toughest and most divisive questions in the church, Essentially, is our salvation by our free will, or are we predestined?
I told you last week that I would probably get to more of the question this week, and so I will.
One follow up question that came after the message was actually a statement, but I think I know what they were getting at, and it essentially was that if we are not free to choose God, then is God responsible for our sin?
So, today as a follow up I want to look at what I would say is at the heart of the mater for us as we look at this question, and that is How bad are we really?
Now, before we go any further, I want to pray and ask God to help us once again understand and apply HIs word.
OK, so what I want to do today is ask you a question. it is very simple, but its answer will reveal to you how you view the Biblical idea of predestination. How good are you?
You see the question of predestination has as much to do with God choosing us, as it does with our ability to choose God. Now, once again, I want to stress that while I do have my perspective on this, and I believe it very strongly, my goal is not as much to convince you in my time here, but to agitate you enough to go to the word for yourself and find truth there.
So, when it comes to the human heart, there are three big buckets that a lot of people fall into. I want to explain them to you, give you a little history on them, and then some scripture to go along with them.
1. The first view I want to discuss is called Pelagianism: Pelagious was a philosopher who believed that man was basically good and that while God’s grace is good for helping people, it was not necessary for salvation. He did not believe that we have a sin nature and therefor have the power within us to choose right from wrong without help from any external force. Now, while no Smart Christian would expose this view, many in our culture at large believe and preach this idea. We are told that we need to follow our hearts and be true to ourselves, as if the true us is the best version of us, and any deviance is a result of not being true to the real us. We need to be on guard big tim against this view, mostly as we engage a culture that embraces this idea, but also as we see more and more so-called Christian authors spouting this view.
2. The second approach to our basic nature is whats called Semi-pelagianism. This belief acknowledges that we are fallen, and we need grace, but we still have a spark of godliness in us that enables us to be able to choose God. It is a Christian theological and soteriological school of thought on salvation; that is, the means by which humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. Semipelagian thought stands in contrast to the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (in which man is seen as effecting his own salvation), which had been dismissed as heresy. Semipelagianism in its original form was developed as a compromise between Pelagianism and the teaching of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine, who taught that man cannot come to God without the grace of God. In Semipelagian thought, therefore, a distinction is made between the beginning of faith and the increase of faith. Semipelagian thought teaches that the latter half – growing in faith – is the work of God, while the beginning of faith is an act of free will, with grace supervening only later. This belief hold that the work of salvation is a synergistic act in which we work hand in hand with God to help Him bring about our salvation. God Comes so far, and we must reach to Him out of our own free will to make the work complete.
The third view of our nature is one that has been held since the early church, it is called total depravity. Now, this view is held by almost all streams of orthodox Christianity, although, it may be seen differently by some.
The basic Idea is this, when Adam fell to temptation in the garden, not only was the relationship broken between him and God, his nature was fundamentally changed to reflect on that follows after the sinful craving of the flesh, rather than follow after God. And the sin nature that Adam possessed was handed down to us through our parents. The nature by which we live our lives is fundamentally depraved. Now, you really don’t have to look far at all to see evidence of this in the world. How about you start with children. Now, who taught your children to hit and bite and scream when they don’t get there way? Who told your school age kids that school os no fun? Why is it that we have to force our children to eat their vegetables and yet, they will eat sugar until they throw up. No one had to teach them to be selfish. It was in there to begin with. Their little hearts are selfish idol factories from the start. And the biggest lesson we can teach our children as they grow up is that it is not about them. Ok, so enough with the kids, lets talk about us. Why is it that our natural tendency is to laziness? Why is it as a man that I have to work hard at getting involved in my kids lives? Why doesn’t selflessness come naturally to me like selfishness does? Because the nature of your flesh is to only serve you! That is a serious indictment, but my story is merely anecdotal. Lets look at some scripture…
So, if we are depraved people, so much so that we cannot recommend ourselves to God, and we will always choose what most desire, which is sin take for us to be made right with God? How does His grace get to us? Here is where the rubber meets the road, and two groups distinguish themselves a bit.
prevenient grace in election
sovereign grace in election