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August 16, 2022 12:01 am
While our wills remain chained to sin in our fallen state, we will never turn to the Lord unless He first shatters our bonds in regeneration. Today, R.C. Sproul explains John Calvin's biblical reflections on the freedom of the will.
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What did Jesus mean when he said no man can come to me unless the father draws him certainly not talking about the lack of ability for somebody to walk down the street and walk up to Jesus and so use lecturing and teaching and healing the sick when he talks about coming to me means that coming to him saving away no one can embrace him as the son of God by his natural ability featuring Dr. RC school series willing to believe the controversy over free will, the disagreement through the ages has boiled down to this God choose us were we choose him their strong feelings on both sides of this debate. And today I'm Renewing Your Mind. Dr. scroll explained the view held by Luther and Calvin when we get to the role that John Calvin is played historically theologically in this whole question of human freedom and original sin we get to the name of the theologian who is most closely associated in the public thinking of denying the doctrine of free will, in light of Calvin's view of election and predestination is a couple of things about that before we actually explore Calvin's views first place. Calvin, like Luther was devoted to the study of St. Augustine and if you would read the works of Calvin you would see that the person that Calvin quotes or sites more often than any other theologian in history is Augustine himself. And I think it is accurate and safe to say that there is nothing in Calvin's view of election or on his view of free will and Original Sin that wasn't first and Augustine and second in the Luther that may surprise people because the Lutheran church. For example, differs sharply from the Calvinists on their view of election and that's chiefly due to the change within Lutheranism that came shortly after Luther's death, when Luther's chief lieutenant Philip Melanchthon on modified Luther's views on these matters that may come as a surprise to you that Luther wrote more on the subject than Calvin did. And if entity to theologians where on the same page on an issue.
These two were so Calvin gets the wrap that Calvin really was just an echo of Luther when it comes to these issues of free will and divine sovereignty but be that as it may, we're still left with the impression that Calvin is the architect of this view, and some of the reason for that is in the popular phrase that we have the acronym tulip which is supposed to summarize the five points of Calvinism not going to go over all of them but the first two are the ones that are most relevant to our discussions here. The first when the T stands for total depravity, not what is meant by Calvin and Calvinism with regard to the doctrine of total depravity is not that man in his fallenness is as wicked as he possibly could be. It does not mean utter depravity. If you can conceive.
For example, of the most evil person you've ever known to say somebody like Adolf Hitler as wicked as Hitler was. You can still conceive of his being even worse than he was, might be hard to get save of his being worse than he was, but it's possible he could have killed even more people shamelessly than he actually did, but rather what total depravity means in the Calvinistic scheme of things is that the depravity that comes as a result of the fall in facts, the totality of human existence that are fallenness penetrates the whole person.
The total person it affects our minds. It affects our hearts. It affects our bodies and it affects our will so that in our depravity.
We are so fallen and prone to sin, we are left in the state of moral inability meaning. Not that we are incapable of being moral creatures.
We are moral creatures because Calvin insisted that the will was not lost by the fall, and following Augustine. Calvin even argued that fallen man has a free will insofar as that the fallen person still has the ability to make choices and still has the ability to choose what they want. Not only that Calvin gave goes a step further and says that in our corruption and in our fallenness. We are still capable of achieving what Calvin calls civil or civic virtue, namely that there are all kinds of things on the horizontal level of human interaction where fallen people can do good things to and for each other. A person who is unregenerate.
For example, can be very industrious rather than lazy can be brave rather than cowardly can be honest rather than a thief can be chased rather than being licentious in this horizontal level of living. In fact, Calvin even go so far as to say that unconverted people can in some respects be altruistic in their ethical behavior at an earthly level, and on an earthly plane, but when Calvin speaks of the corruption of the will and the corruption of the soul, he restricts that corruption to the vertical dimension to whether fallen man has any desire or inclination to do the things of God. It is the spiritual dimension in which man finds himself morally incapable of the proper motivation and behavior. So that's what Calvin is stressing when he talks about moral inability.
The inability of the soul in its fallen condition to turn change incline itself for direct itself to the things of God. Now the second point that so much in dispute in the Calvinistic system which is related to this is his doctrine of election which is popularized in this acrostic by the term unconditional election and in quick and simple terms what that means or seeks to comprehend is the idea that when God elects certain people to salvation. He doesn't do it on the basis of his prior knowledge of those individuals meeting conditions.
That is, as some people regard election.
They say that God looks down through the corridors of time, and he knows in advance who will respond positively to Christ and who will reject Christ and on the basis of that for knowledge or precedents, God makes his decision. That is, he lacks people that he elects them conditionally. He will only elect somebody whom he knows will give the proper response that is somebody who will meet the necessary condition to be included. Calvin argues for unconditional election, meaning that God's decision is not based on the foreseen behavioral patterns, actions or choices of human day because his Calvin would argue if God looked through the corridors of time to see who would respond positively to the gospel that the only people that God would see would be people who would not respond positively to the gospel because Calvin was convinced that no one left to themselves, whatever respond positively to the gospel because they are in this bondage to sin. What Calvin says is this that regeneration is a necessary requirement for a person to be liberated from the bondage to sin, and he suggests is the mind cannot discern spiritual things without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. So the flasher of the fallen nature of man will not incline itself to God without first receiving the grace of regeneration and Calvin like Luther before him paid close attention to what we are taught in the New Testament, particularly in John's Gospel, and in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We recall that Jesus and his discussion with the Pharisees said that that which is born of the flesh is flesh that we are born in this flesh condition of fallenness and he added to that. This observation and the flesh profits nothing in the flesh dwells no good thing, and apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. We have no profit with respect to the things of God, and Luther, in answer to a Rasmussen said that when Jesus says the flesh profits nothing. He did not mean by the term. Nothing a little something he meant that the flesh is utterly and completely incapable of moving or directing itself toward God. And so, Calvin also spends a lot of time dealing with the texts of the New Testament that are involved here and he says that man is unable to free himself from his spiritual bondage by exerting his will of flesh and here's what he says quote when the will is and chained as the slave of sin. It cannot make a movement toward goodness far less steadily pursuant for every such movement is the first step in that conversion to God, which in Scripture is entirely ascribed to divine grace. However, there remains a will which both inclines and hastens on with the strongest affection toward sin.
Man, when placed under this bondage was deprived not of will, but of soundness of will notice that distinction. Calvin is saying is that in the fall. We didn't lose the faculty of choosing just as we lose our minds. We still have minds and we still can think we don't think soundly with respect to the things of God because our foolish minds were darkened.
Given over to sin, we have minds of flesh we have what the Bible calls reprobate mind and our minds are at enmity with God, and by nature. We don't want to have God in our thinking. So the mind has been seriously affected by the fall, but it is not been destroyed.
We still have minds, we still have a faculty of thinking we still can add to two and come up with for and with respect to this aspect of the fall just as Calvin talked about the civic righteousness or civic virtue that we still can perform apart from regeneration. He also talks about the intellectual achievements that we can have without divine illumination that comes through the Holy Spirit, he says, for example, that some of the greatest craftsmen. Some of the greatest literary geniuses. Some of the most talented and gifted people in history have been non-Christian unregenerate people who have been extraordinarily bright and extraordinarily capable again on the earthly plane, but with respect to the things of God the mind of fallen man is darkened and will not apprehend the beauty of God unless the Holy Spirit opens his mind to them as Paul tells us in Corinthians that the spiritual things of God are spiritually discerned.
And no one knows them, save the spirit of God within reveals them to a hospital in similar manner. Calvin makes the distinction not only between having a mind is supposed to be having a sound where of thinking so he said under the fall we were deprived not of will, but of soundness of will.
Moreover, Calvin goes on when I say that the will is deprived of liberty is letter dragged by necessity to evil.
It is strange that any should deem this expression harsh saying there's no certainty in it and it is not at variance with pious use. It does however offend those who do not know how to distinguish between necessity and compulsion that sound familiar first place.
He says that we and our fallenness are not deprived of will, but of liberty.
Remember the distinction that Augustine made between a free will and liberty, free will is intact. The liberty is lost and now he makes a distinction between necessity and compulsion wordage last year that again. That was the very distinction that Luther made in his debate with harassments so again in working with the Scripture.
Calvin, in looking at the text of Scripture, particularly with respect to John chapter 6 verse 44 where Jesus declares that no one can come to him unless he is drawn by the father. Calvin writes these words quote to come to Christ being here used metaphorically for believing the evangelists in order to carry out the metaphor in the opposite clause says that those persons are quote drawn whose understandings God enlightens and whose hearts he bends and forms to the obedience of Christ. We ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the gospel because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ on that's the cardinal point, no one will ever of himself be able to come to Christ and I recall that in John chapter 6 when Jesus is teaching this in which caused quite a negative reaction from his hearers to the extent of some left him and come back to be with them. Jesus made the observation.
No man can look at this before can come to me unless I says this twice one hand he says unless it is given to him of the father or the other time he says unless the father draws him again I remind you that the phrase no man is what we call a universal negative proposition. It includes everybody within the category of humanity or in this case negatively and excludes all people from something that are something that nobody is included in the doing and he talks about Jesus is no man can we know that Western canon may use had the same third-grade teacher I did. Can I go to the restroom venture. As you can.
The questions may you write may pass it with permission can has to do with power or with ability and Jesus is saying no man can which means no man has the ability, no man has the power to do something. What is this power that we all lack what is this ability that no one has recorded Jesus. No one has the power or ability to come to him. I certainly not talking about the lack of ability for somebody to walk down the street and walk up to Jesus to cease lecturing and teaching and healing the sick. Anybody had the power to walk down the street to come and see him when he talks about come to me. Obviously, as Calvin is indicating is every commentator agrees means that coming to him saving way no one can embrace him as the son of God by his natural ability. The word and less indicates the presence of a necessary condition sine qua non, something has to take place before the desired effect can follow Jesus and nobody can come to me unless what lessons given to him or in the other passage unless the father draws him. Here's how Calvin deals with this text to come to Christ. As I mentioned, we ought not to wonder if many refuse to embrace the gospel and so on. Because no man will ever of himself be able to come to Christ.
But God must first approach him by his spirit and hence it follows that all are not drawn, but that God bestows this grace on those whom he is selected true as to this kind of drawing. It is not violent so as to compel men by external force that instills the powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit who makes men willing, who formerly were unwilling and reluctant is a false and profane assertion therefore that none are drawn save those who are willing to be drawn as if man himself, made himself obedient to God by his own efforts for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from God himself who has formed their hearts to obey him. So what Calvin is saying here is that those who are drawn are not simply those who are willing to be drawn, but no one will come unless they are first drawn know what the word drawn means in the New Testament becomes a matter of the enormous controversy later on with the word writings in the work of Arminius because, in his teaching, and in subsequent generations of Arminians. The text of drawing people has to do with God's inviting, enticing, offering persuading Loring so the idea there is no one can come to Jesus unless God first entices or attracts him in some way SSM in some way, whereas for Calvin. He understands the meaning of the verb to draw there in John's Gospel for God to do more than externally insight or encourage or invite, but rather for God to work internally in the heart and soul of that person to make someone willing to come who previously and if left to themselves would not be willing and when God does this work according to Calvin that person. In fact, becomes willing and where they were formally reluctant and because of their lack of desire for Christ would never come to Christ and never turned to Christ.
Now God changes their hearts, changes their disposition so they willingly come now for Arminius, as we will see. He would say yes, God has to draw God has to be gracious God has to do something and some will come willingly, but some will not come willingly and then the whole controversy boils down to the question as we will see of whether God's grace is resistible, the grace of regeneration. They all agree. Grace is necessary, they disagree as to whether we have the power within ourselves to resist it or to incline herself and that we will explore in our future session. John Calvin wrote when the will is and changes the sleeve of sin.
It cannot make a movement towards goodness far less steadily pursue it.
We are pleased to feature Dr. RC Sproul series willing to believe this week you're on Renewing Your Mind.
It's important to understand the relationship between free will and the sovereignty of God and beyond that, we need to know the effects of the fall in our lives. Dr. scroll series is an invaluable resource that will help you work through these issues will send you the 12 lectures from the series on three DVDs when you contact us today with a donation of any amount there a couple of ways you can reach is one is by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can make your request online at Renewing Your Mind.a word. This series contains more than were able to share with you this week so I hope you'll contact us and request all 12 messages more than four hours of teaching led the videos to your online learning library plus will have access to the study guide there as well. We do hope to hear from you again. Her phone number is 800-435-4343 and her online address is Renewing Your Mind.a word with you your ministries is committed to making biblical truth accessible to as many people as possible and when it comes to difficult doctrinal issues like the one were studying this week we want to provide you with many study resources table talk magazine is been a trusted provider of sound biblical teaching for more than 40 years with your subscription.
You can search a large archive of past articles. Learn more and firstname.lastname@example.org will before we close today. Let me pose this question to you is grace cooperative. In other words, is our participation necessary. A man named Arminius certainly thought so.
His writing sparked a controversy in the church that continues to this day that will be RC's focus tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
I hope you make plans to join us