Thursday, September 8, 2022

Man’s Radical Fallenness (Ephesians 2)

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) …" (Eph. 2:4–5).

Foundational to the understanding of the doctrine of election is a correct view of humanity. We learned in the previous studies on predestination and free will that both semi-Pelagianism (Arminianism) and Pelagianism believe that man has the ability (and virtue) within himself to turn to God. While these views understand the extent of that ability differently, that ability must be present in both their schemes for salvation. Calvinists, however, believe that man has no ability within himself, no remaining virtue, to put his faith in God. This is why election is so necessary in salvation. Charles Spurgeon understood this point, writing, “I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.”

Spurgeon understood that man was a sinner, that man entirely lost the moral ability to do anything righteous. Paul said that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Thus, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless it is given to him by the Father” (John 6:65). None of us can come to Christ because we are totally depraved, touched by sin in every part of our being. This sinful state prohibits us from freely choosing to come to Christ. A person can come to faith in Christ only when God changes his heart, enabling him to put his faith in Christ. When Christ said that God draws men to Himself, this implies, not that God entices men, gently urging them to come to Him, but that God drags us to Himself, compelling us by an irresistible power.

Before any person comes into the kingdom of God, they must be born again. The flesh can only give birth to flesh, so the Spirit is needed to give birth to that which is spiritual. The flesh is sinful, hostile to God and His righteous law. But when the Spirit renews the heart of fallen man, he turns to Christ, kneels before the cross, confesses his sins, and receives eternal life. Such is the glorious, irresistible grace of God.

Read the passages below. What do they say about man’s state after the fall? What bearing does this fact have on man’s ability to repent of his sins and turn in faith to Christ? Explain in your own words why it is necessary to God to renew men’s hearts prior to faith.