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Grace Alone: The Divine Initiative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2021 12:01 am

Grace Alone: The Divine Initiative

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 14, 2021 12:01 am

Why do some people respond to the gospel while others do not? Today, R.C. Sproul outlines the gracious initiative of God in salvation.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind. Our salvation is of the Lord in the election is the God's manifestation or outworking of his saving grace. And that's when people say what Paul anticipated they would say in Romans nine that's not fair because not everybody gets the same opportunity you heard the gospel in your freedom of the gospel. You become a believer in your friend did not what's the difference between those who accept the gospel and those who rejected the first it's important to understand what the elect and not elect have in common with looking at what's known as the five solos of the Reformation that were saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. According to Scripture alone for the glory of God alone must join RC now run to continue now with our study of the five solos to lectures on cellophane day and the first lecture on sobriety and were going to continue in our soul. Roger and that is the second of the five that were looking at and we saw that the author of this idea was St. Augustine of hippo and it came out of his debates with the British monk Pelagius in the so-called Palladian controversy night and the last time telling you that the church condemned Pelagianism as a heresy, but Pelagianism has reemerged of different periods in church history. It appeared in the 16th century and the so Simeon movement, which was heretical and then again in the 19th century on two sides of the theological spectrum. On the one hand, the radical liberalism of 19th century theology was still carried over in the 20th century was basically Palladian with respect to man's nature, denying a historical fall into corruption but also another strange Palladian that most evangelical Christians will believe when I sign this position to that person was Charles Finney, the famous evangelist of the 19th century who made mass evangelism popular within his systematic theology and he denies the fall denies original sin categorically denies the doctrine of justification by faith alone when I tell that to evangelicals. They just simply don't believe me. And so rather than try to persuade him. I asked him to go ahead read Finney for yourself and see the light of trust that I haven't distorted what he says he so clear about these things, but in any case Pelagianism tends to rear its head in every age and one form or another, and so historically we have this battle between Augustinian views on theology and pledging views of theology, but there emerged after this initial dispute. A so-called middle ground position by a man by the name of John Casiano's whose Anglicized name is John Cassie and Cashin was disturbed about some elements of Augustine's teaching, and though he rejected pure Pelagianism gave a modified view which since that time has come to be described as quote semi-Palladian is and that means partial Pelagianism. I like to say that there was Pelagianism attributed to Pelagius and then semi-Pelagianism was introduced by his cousin semi-but that's not really true in it worse by Cassie Anis and Emily just give you a brief recapitulation of the seven main points of Cassie and this is semi-Palladian position as he originally articulated my deal with that again in the book, willing to believe as I mentioned in the first lecture the first point of Cassie and and his supporters was this that Augustine's views are new and represent a departure from the teaching of the church fathers, especially Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome Cason himself was a student of Chrysostom and he believed that Augustine was taking the church in a new direction. Second, Augustine's teaching on predestination as it related to solar Garcia quote cripples the force of preaching, of reproof, and moral energy and plunges men into despair and introduces a fatal necessity, a moment to say at this point, but semi-Pelagianism has manifested itself in many, many movements throughout church history and I would say the dominant theology of modern evangelicalism is semi-Palladian to the core. I believe that Roman Catholic theology is basically semi-Palladian at its root, and again what Cassie and was really opposing was Augustine's view of predestination because he thought that it crippled the force of preaching and we hear that all the time. Even today that reform. Theology cripples preaching.

Because if God has elected certain people from all eternity on the salvation what's the point of our being engaged in evangelism that questions asked every day. Will Cassie Nast that many centuries ago. He also said that Augustine strong views are not necessary to refute the errors in the heresies of Pelagius and so what the fundamental point was this that Cassie Anis believed that God's grace is necessary for salvation is not just something that helps but it's absolutely essential for salvation and semi-Pelagianism then and now believes that there really was a fall in Adam.

There really was a change in the constituent nature of human beings.

After the sin of Adam and Eve and that this fall did very serious damage to the moral capacity and moral power of fallen human beings semi-Pelagianism acknowledges that we are born sinners and that we have an inherent corruption that the will, the soul and the heart are severely weakened by sin.

However, it is not so serious that man is left in the state of complete moral inability with respect to the things of God. Let me go back to the summary of Cassie though God's grace is necessary for salvation and assists the human will and doing good. It is man, not God who must, in the final analysis will that which is good. Grace is given quote in order that he has begun to will may be assisted not to give the power to have faith itself. In other words, what they are saying. Historically is that the initial conversion of man and the coming to Christ is a synergistic work.

It is a cooperative venture between God's grace and man's will.

If God gives us no grace. We could hear the preaching of the gospel every day and never come to faith because we could not exercise faith without God's help and the help that God gives us to exercise grace and to come to Christ for our salvation is unnecessary. A for that to happen, but that grace that assists people to come to Christ and to embrace him in faith is resistible, back when we were talking about the Roman Catholic view of salvation. How that in the sacrament of baptism. Grace is infused into the soul, but for person to be justified. The person had to cooperate with that grace and ascent to that grace in order for that person to be justified. So God the Holy Spirit in his grace helps Wu's lumens attends the preaching of the gospel to stoop to our weakness because we are severely weakened by the fall, but in the fall, there remains as I said in another context a little island of righteousness unaffected by the fall were still there. Is this power left in the will that can be stirred by the fallen person. While there is yet unconverted and un-regenerated, there is still the power in the will to either accept the offer and advice or excuse me the assistance of grace or to reject it.

The choice is ours. Again, we couldn't be saved without grace because were so weak but were not so weak that God actually has to create faith in us for us to come. He offers his assistance. If we accepted we are saved.

If we don't we are lost. And of course, it's up to us to make the choice. That's why so much of evangelism and semi-pledging camps focuses attention on the human decision. This is decisional conversion. The way you become a Christian is you make a decision to follow Christ. You think back to the Old Testament were Joshua gave his covenant renewal speech that second one he says, choose you this day whom you will serve. If God is God, follow him. And if God is not then prevails God fall hip best for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Now, obviously both sides of this controversy believe that people are called upon to make decisions and make choices every day I'm confronted with a myriad opportunities of possible choices that I can choose to do this or to do that to go one way or to go another way.

And the church is always called to make that decision to follow Christ to choose the things of God but here were talking about the initial point of conversion where we are transformed from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of life where we are raised from spiritual death to spiritual life there. We want to know how the will is involved and what the reformers Calvin and Luther taught following Augustine was that in the fall. The power of making choices freely was not lost that human beings are created with certain faculties by God. We are given a mind with which to think we were given a heart with which to have affections and we are given a will, by which to make choices.

That is, we are volitional creatures. Creatures who are held responsible for our decisions that we make and the choices that we make that are of a moral sort so Calvin and Luther Augustine Edwards all believe that in the fall the will of man was not destroyed, but man is still a volitional creature that he still makes choices.

The problem is that will is imprisoned by sin, and so that the choices we make are made according to our sinful impulses are sinful desires you think of a person who is a drug addict or an alcoholic or something like that and they say I try to stop using heroin. But I can't.

The enticement, the desire is so great that when I'm confronted with that drug. I use it.

It's like I cannot do otherwise, but at the same time using it because they choose to use it.

But the reason why they choose to use it is because their desire for is so overpowering that that leaves them in a moral situation of paralysis and this is what Augustine and Calvin and Luther were going at this and don't think like the pagans do or like the humanist do or like Pelagius did, that the will is left unaffected by the fall. The problem is is that the flesh in your fallen condition has no desire inherent in it. To do the things of God. You don't want God in your thinking, your mind is at enmity with God. Your heart is far removed from God, you're still making choices, just like the devil makes choices. Every single thing every time he acts and so the sinner chooses he still free in the sense that nobody is forcing him to do what he does. Nobody outside of himself is forcing him to sin. He sends because he chooses to sin and he chooses freely in the sense that no one is coercing him but freedom is a fairly magnificent word to apply to somebody who's bound to their vices whose incarcerated by their moral condition. Again, the language of the Bible uses to describe what were like in the flesh is that we are dead in sin, biologically alive spiritually dead of the semi-pledging existences.

Man is sick. He's very very sick desperately sick can't possibly survive without the help of God.

But he's not spiritually dead, he still has this ability this pulse that exists in him that, when confronted with the assistance of God's grace can reach out and say yes rather than but he can also say no and some people exercise their will.

While there still unconverted to say yes then when they say yes with faith, then they are reborn.

What Augustine was saying what Calvin was saying what Luther was saying what that were true saying with classical reformed theology says is the fall is so great, that leaves us in a state of moral inability still make choices, but we will never choose the things of God because they are contrary to the flesh and the flesh profits nothing.

This was the point Luther was making harassment, etc. Rasmussen somewhat sarcastically says that nothing is not a little something Jesus says to his audience. In John six. No man can come to me unless it is given to him by the father and Jesus doesn't say no man can come to him unless God helps, he says no man can come to him unless God in fact gives it to and that no man can is what we would call a universal negative in terms of propositions and it says that the universal situation of fallen humanity is moral impotence. Nobody can come to Christ on our own and for me to go to fallen people and say decide this data believe on Christ is an exercise in futility. Unless God the Holy Spirit so attends the preaching of the word that the spirit doesn't just enable the person to come, but the spirit actually penetrates the soul of the person changes the disposition of that heart then gives that person now an internal desire for Christ, so that now that person chooses Christ because he wants Christ because he now has a desire for Christ that prior to the intervention of the Holy Spirit. He did not have as for Jesus speaking to Nicodemus when he says unless a man is born again, born of the spirit he can't even see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it semi-Pelagianism have's unregenerate people seeing the kingdom entering the kingdom choosing the kingdom in order to be reborn, so therefore semi-Pelagianism always faith comes before regeneration. That's what the issue was then that's what this was in 16th century that's what it is today. David Hondas written a recent book against reformed theology. Calling a great distortion. He uses my name is exhibit a for teaching people all the time that regeneration or rebirth comes before faith.

He believes that's a terrible, terrible heresy and terrible distortion.

And so he's writing with all of his passion to refute me and Augustine and Calvin and Luther, and Edwards, and I believe the apostle Paul and Jesus himself.

The point is that were dead in sin and trespasses, unless the Holy Ghost quickens us well were still a mess than death. Nobody will ever come to Christ will see that what's working in the background here is not just the doctrine of original sin with the doctrine of election. Remember, what was the bothered casting so much about Augustine view was assistance really weakens the force of preaching because that means that the only the people.

Whoever believe will be the elect. And if you're not elect. You won't believe and if you're not elect. He won't be saved. Augustine say yes yes with Josť for trying to tie as for the Bible teaches that our salvation is of the Lord and the election is the God's manifestation or outworking of his saving grace. And that's when people say what Paul anticipated they would say in Romans nine that's not fair because not everybody gets the same opportunity pulses remind you what the Lord said to Moses, the divine prerogative for mercy and grace is I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. That's his prerogative.

God does not owe saving grace to anybody. And even if he gives it the one he still not obligated to give it to anybody else. He never treats anybody unjustly, but only the elect receive the grace of regeneration that brings them to faith and to Christ and all the elect receive that regeneration. They receive the gift of God. The changes their heart, so that now they have faith in their souls.

The dog gives them that gift is were saved by grace through faith and that the antecedent of that is faith is not of ourselves.

It is the gift of God.

That's what Augustine was saying that for common symptoms.

Luther was saying to Rasmussen the faith by which you are say is the gift of grace and that that grace is a factual, that is, it brings to pass what God intended for it to do when God brings that grace to bear on your soul. It works when the Holy Spirit accompanies the preaching of the word. Your heart is change, you may go down and now and if you do, the only reason you do it truly is because the Holy Spirit is change the disposition of you are there lots of people go down owls who haven't been regenerated in their down at the next meeting going down the alley again because we are not saved by making decisions were not saved by professions of faith we are saved by faith and that faith is the gift of grace and that's why Luther said the issue behind the controversy of justification 16th century the issue. Grace to me just finish up this way I talk to my Armenian friends all time about this and say look at me. I should question why isn't that you're a believer. Many members of your own family or friends that you have are not believers. When you've both heard the gospel miscible because I respond of the gospel nail person device okay you said yes to the aid of God's grace, God gave the same offer to your neighbor and your neighbor said no I want to know this. Why did you say yes and your neighbor said no because I'm free. I said I understand the why and your freedom. Were you inclined to say yes to grace in your neighbor said no is a because you're more righteous than that person is not what would any Arminian say of course not. I don't believe that I'm in there because I'm righteous is it, why not what your friend.

It was the wrong thing. It's a sinful thing to say no to an offer of divine grace for salvation when Jew agreements we I said in the right thing is to say, yes, I suggest in the final analysis, the reason why you're safe and that person isn't because you did the right thing they did the wrong thing is you really think that that's the reason you're safe.

The danger herein is in actually trusting in what you have done. Rather, somebody else and that's why Packer and Johnson were so severe when say how far away is that from wrong.

If you really believe that's what you did that make the difference solid rock to says salvation is Mounir gestic at the beginning regeneration is solely the work of God's grace in your soul. Now after he makes a change in your heart after he changes the disposition of your soul.

You come you believe you work for you for entire Christian life in cooperation with sanctifying grace and the rest of the Christian life is synergistic, but the beginning is by the divine initiative and you are being rescued from the kingdom of darkness and from the state of the flesh is by God's grace and by God's grace alone. That's the dog so aggressive when from our perspective firm. Salvation seems to be by her own volition, we heard about Christ felt convicted of her sin and we made the decision to repent. But what we've heard today from Dr. RC Sproul is how salvation works from God's perspective. He moves first on our behalf and makes us alive. Then, in the only then can we repent. Thank you for joining us for Renewing Your Mind were very portions of doctors ProSeries God alone.

RC is explain the doctrine of justification through the lens of the five solos of the Reformation. There are 10 messages in the series and would like for you to have this three DVD set, just request them with your donation of any amount when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org or when you call us. Our number is 800-435-4343 Dr. scroll and his wife vested began later ministries 50 years ago as a study center there in the hills of Western Pennsylvania from the beginning RC wanted to help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it how to live it and how to share it. While technology has changed over the years.

Our mission has not, and if you'd like to know more about the Bible, theology, and the historic Christian faith. Let me encourage you to download our free app for your phone or tablet to find articles daily Bible studies, videos, and an archive of this daily radio program Renewing Your Mind.

Simply search for linear in your app store will tomorrow it's going to be a pleasure to hear RC read one of his children's books. The barber who wanted to pray. I hope you bring the whole family together to join us next Friday.

Here on Renewing Your Mind

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