Get yourself a new heart?

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seer
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:58 pm

A man in his natural state can chooseto do so, and in making that choice steps through the door of salvation from sin. However, he cannot consistently carry out this choice apart from the grace of God. The only way he can appropriate that enabling grace is through co-operation with God, through faith.

I am not saying that God did not do the "prior work" of drawing him. Christ said, "If I be lifted up (on the cross) I will draw ALL people to me." So no one is going to miss out on the drawing.
That is a contradiction. You said that a man in his natural state can choose to come to God, then you suggest that God did a prior work. Which is it?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

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steve
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:00 pm

Hi Jim (Seer),

I think Paidion said it quite well, and without any contradiction. The only reason a Calvinist would see a contradiction where you see one is that Calvinism assumes the "prior work" is the unilateral work of regeneration. Paidion is not assuming such a thing—nor should anyone. To suggest that regeneration is the only work that God can do upon the sinner is completely arbitrary.

It is quite legitimate to recognize God's prior gracious working in bringing conviction of sin, in presenting tokens of His mercy and goodness, and in allowing the sinner to hear the word of God preached—without even approaching the idea of God regenerating the man.

Calvinists believe that their doctrine alone preserves for God all the glory for man's salvation. However, if we recognize prevenient expressions of grace as being prerequisite to a man's repentance, without importing the unbiblical doctrine of regeneration preceding faith, we still have exalted the grace of God as the first cause in salvation. Where I differ from Calvinism is in my belief that human nature, given such graces, is capable of responding favorably to them. Coming to Jesus necessarily precedes regeneration ("eternal life")—

"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." John 5:39-40

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seer
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:11 pm

I think Paidion said it quite well, and without any contradiction. The only reason a Calvinist would see a contradiction where you see one is that Calvinism assumes the "prior work" is the unilateral work of regeneration. Paidion is not assuming such a thing—nor should anyone. To suggest that regeneration is the only work that God can do upon the sinner is completely arbitrary.

Steve, I said nothing about regeneration. My question was simple - can a man in his natural state decide to love God, or come to God, without God first doing a work to draw him? If not, why not?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

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steve
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:26 pm

Jim,

You wrote:
"Steve, I said nothing about regeneration."

Actually, yes, you did say something about it. You did not use the word, but you did speak of regeneration when you said that Paidion was contradicting himself by saying, on one hand, that man in his natural state, is able to choose God, and on the other hand, that there must be a prior work of grace. There would be no reason for you to see a contradiction here unless you were equating "work of grace" with "regeneration"—because the contradiction you are suggesting is between a man receiving a "work of grace" and his being still in a "natural state."

The only alternative state for a man to be in, other than his "natural" state is his "regenerated" state. In claiming that it is impossible ("a contradiction") for a man to be in his natural state and also have had a prior work of grace in his life, you thereby suggest that a work of grace necessarily changes a man out of his natural state—thus you are referring to regeneration, right? If not, you could find no contradiction in Paidion's statements.

In answering your scaled-down question, I would say no man can do anything before God acts graciously in his life, since even life and breath are God's gracious gifts (Dan.5:23), and God's gracious acts toward a person (any of which might eventually draw him to God—Hos.11:4) begin long before he could possibly have cognizance of them. For example, God's disclosure of His eternal power and deity in the creation (Rom.1:20) predates any man's arrival here to observe it. By the time we have the sense to see it and be impacted by it, it has already been there, declaring the glory of God (Ps.19:1), for millennia before we were born.

If the invisible God did not choose in some way to reveal Himself, no one would be able to know of His existence. Thus, every theist, whether saved or not, already, by his acknowledgment of God's existence, bears the mark of God's previously having taken the initiative in making His existence knowable. No one repents of sin prior to God giving him a conscience and sending the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But since these works of God could be said to be universal gifts to humankind (John 1:9/16:8), it follows that the opportunity to seek after and choose God is universal (Acts 17:27), and that those who do so are simply responding to gifts that God has provided to every man, before any of us was here.

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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by Jim » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:00 pm

seer, you asked.

You are missing the point. Can a man, in his natural state, choose to love and obey God? Without God doing a prior work, drawing the man?
A man in his natural state does not seek God though the evidence that is around him e.g. the earth, stars, life, etc, but man does know there is something more powerful than he. What imo does happen is the God convicts us of our sin through the power of His Gospel which cuts like a knife. Now if someone is incline to seeks truth they will respond to the light and power of the gospel, but someone who loves the darkness will turn away and harden their heart. What calvinist deny is imo the power of love in that God must do something extra ordinary to change a heart prior to repentance, when love in and of itself changes a mans heart for good or ill of the one being loved.
IMO God has given us all we need in the world to see and understand how he works, especially in the dynamics of human relationships if one is willing to look.
Remembering our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by Homer » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:57 pm

Seer wrote:
You are missing the point. Can a man, in his natural state, choose to love and obey God? Without God doing a prior work, drawing the man?
Can a man in his natural state choose to learn to love and obey God? Isn't that what an apprentice (disciple) does? Where is it written that a man can not?

Homer

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seer
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:55 am

In answering your scaled-down question, I would say no man can do anything before God acts graciously in his life, since even life and breath are God's gracious gifts (Dan.5:23), and God's gracious acts toward a person (any of which might eventually draw him to God—Hos.11:4) begin long before he could possibly have cognizance of them. For example, God's disclosure of His eternal power and deity in the creation (Rom.1:20) predates any man's arrival here to observe it. By the time we have the sense to see it and be impacted by it, it has already been there, declaring the glory of God (Ps.19:1), for millennia before we were born.>

Let me get this straight Steve, the natural man can respond positively to God, actually seek God, simply on His disclosure in nature? So men look at the starry hosts at night and decide to worship the one true God - under their own inward steam?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

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steve
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:42 am

Hi Jim (Seer),

You wrote:

"Let me get this straight Steve, the natural man can respond positively to God, actually seek God, simply on His disclosure in nature? So men look at the starry hosts at night and decide to worship the one true God - under their own inward steam?"

Why not? Romans 1:20 says that these evidences alone render a man "without excuse." This certainly implies man's capability and responsibility to respond to such stimuli in the environment as God has placed there to make Himself known. If man cannot respond to this, then he certainly has an "excuse" for not doing so. What better excuse can one offer, but that the thing required of him was beyond his human capabilities?

On the other hand, I am not prepared to say that the contemplation of the starry skies has ever, exclusive of other factors, caused any man or woman to repent and seek God. It may well be that this is has happened, but there are so many other factors working simultaneously on the consciousness and the conscience of every man at any given time that it would be impossible for us to know which of these factors played the greatest role in leading a man to repentance.

Paul says that the "goodness of God leads...to repentance" (Rom.2:4). Since every person has experienced tokens of God's goodness since birth (e.g., even the nurture of a mother or other caretaker, which accounts for the very survival of every infant), it may be that appreciation for such tokens conspires with the awe one feels in the contemplation of nature to bring about the desired response in a man.

Obviously, the preaching of the gospel itself has got to be the most cogent element in bringing men to Christ—since, in it, "the righteousness of God is revealed" (Rom.1:17). Such righteousness may well appeal to that longing for righteousness that we see in every human being.

Where do we see the evidence of this longing in every human being? How about in the satisfaction an audience feels at the end of a movie when the evil man receives his just deserts, or, alternatively, how empty and dissatisfied we feel when he seems to have gotten away with his acts of cruelty? How about the protestations of every child that "it isn't fair," whenever an injustice against itself is perceived? Or, more to our point here, how about the persistent compulsion observable in every sinner to justify himself in his own eyes by countless rationalizations of his own bad conduct? All of these behaviors testify to an innate desire (however twisted in our own favor) for there to be ultimate justice, and for ourselves to be justified. The gospel is the message of God's justice (or righteousness) winning the day, and, like cool waters to a thirsty soul, it is truly good news from a far country to those disillusioned with a world where justice too seldom is found to play out, and where self-justification ceases to be convincing.

I would comment that you have far less appreciation than has scripture of the capabilities of a man's "own inward steam." It is an inappropriate metaphor, in the first place, because it derives from the image of a steam engine, and thus conveys the idea of strength and power. To do something "under one's own steam" usually refers to something involving what we sometimes call "heavy lifting." No one here is talking about innate strength or power—at least not in the sense of power required to accomplish some strenuous task. What we are talking about here is desire.

Your question really boils down to this, "Is there anything in natural man that can cause him to desire God's mercy and grace?" Our answer is, there is much. And why would this diminish the role of God's grace in the salvation of the sinner? Is it not God's grace itself that is the lovely thing to which the sinner may be attracted?

I have found the Calvinist doctrine somewhat insulting to God's loveliness. Calvinists know, as we all do, that a fallen man may be drawn to a lovely and desirable person or object—whether it is a beautiful woman, a luxurious home, a kind parent, a good example, etc.

Yet, according to Calvinism, God holds no such loveliness in Himself so as to attract the prodigal to Himself (quite contrary to the story of the prodigal son, where it was the very attractiveness of the father and what he had to offer that moved the son to make his way home). According to Calvinist doctrine, then, there is nothing in God that a natural man would find very attractive—and this may indeed be the way the Calvinist assesses Him, as would any who believed such libels about Him as Calvinism teaches. When a Calvinist says, "I would never have loved God, had God not supernaturally changed my heart and made me do so," he is saying what might rightly be paraphrased thus: "There is no way that I would be attracted to such a person as God is, without His first twisting my arm and forcing me to do what was entirely against my tastes." Would your wife be flattered if you said the same about her?
Last edited by steve on Sat Nov 01, 2008 1:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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seer
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by seer » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:09 am

I would comment that you have far less appreciation than has scripture of the capabilities of a man's "own inward steam." It is a inappropriate metaphor, in the first place, because it derives from the image of a steam engine, and thus conveys the idea of strength and power. To do something "under one's own steam" usually refers to something involving what we sometimes call "heavy lifting." No one here is talking about innate strength or power—at least not in the sense of power required to accomplish some strenuous task. What we are talking about here is desire.

So a man can desire God, without God first doing a inward work (like opening ears, eyes, heart etc...) Man in his natural state can desire God simply by responding to external events/conditions? Isn't that what Pelagius taught, that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought? Apart from any inward work of God?
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. Wordsworth

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steve
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Re: Get yourself a new heart?

Post by steve » Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:15 am

Why should anyone be concerned about what Pelagius taught? Who even knows? The question is what the scripture teaches. You don't seem to be interacting with us on that level here. You are only raising your eyebrows and asking leading questions. Have we not answered them? Now perhaps you can answer the scriptural points I have raised.

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