Eye on Good Deeds of the "Lost"
A poster named Eye has responded to a portion of Nathan's response to my "Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth" blog post. I think Eye has made some very good points so I've brought them here as a blog post. Hopefully Nathan, or anyone else who holds to Calvinism, will respond.
Here are Eye's first comments on total depravity.
Here is Eye's comment:
I read in one of Nathan’s previous posts some things that didn’t square with Scripture. Since you and I are discussing Cornelius, I thought I would take the liberty to review one of Nathan’s comments in light of Acts 10.
Nathan said: “Furthermore, your example of ‘lost’ people performing good deeds is a little ridiculous. Any deed that is done out of a heart that is not submitted to Christ is not a good deed –it is from selfish motives. Someone who has elevated something else above Christ (they have not submitted to Him as Lord and savior) does good deeds only for whatever else is elevated above Christ: namely self.”
Interesting comment from Nathan in light of the fact that Cornelius, after Pentecost, as an unregenerated man (the Calvinist must prove by Scripture he was regenerated), actually did do good deeds – see Acts 10:2 ‘A devout man, and one that feared God with his entire household, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.’
Wow – let’s see what the Bible says about Cornelius. Sounds to me like Cornelius had more going on in the ‘good deed’ categories than most so-called Christians I know! He was ‘devout’, oh and he feared God, and not only him but his entire household, and let’s not forget that he gave ‘much alms’ to the people. Now that’s a good deed, and I dare say there were no tax deductions in that day so he was most likely giving of his wealth with no strings attached right off the top. Most impressive indeed -- now I submit that Cornelius did these things because he ‘feared’ God. Cornelius was seeking after God as an unregenerated man. The Calvinist must imply that he was regenerated because it is clearly not in the text. Moreover, as we established from Acts 10 in the previous post, God sent an angel to Cornelius to confirm that his prayers and alms came up for a memorial before God. I do believe praying to God and giving alms to the poor are considered good deeds – just ask any first grader.
Acts 10:3-4 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. The above referenced passage says that Cornelius was afraid. Notice the angel did not say ‘fear not’ to him. I believe the Scripture is clearly affirming the fact that Cornelius is not regenerated, and obviously not saved – and this is after the Cross and Pentecost. Based on the Calvinistic construct you must first be regenerated so that you can then place faith in Jesus so that you then can become born again. There are numerous other places in Scripture where people are confronted by angels and those who are in covenant with God are told they need not fear. However, in this case, there was no ‘fear not’ issued. Those who are estranged from God are left in their fear, because ‘fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ Proverbs 9:10. Therefore I humbly submit that Cornelius was not born again yet, nor was he regenerated. Now, let’s check out this verse.
Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
This verse in Romans 1:16 clearly states that the ‘gospel of Christ’ is the POWER (dunamis – superantural power of God; we get dynamite from the root dunamis) of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (believeth -- pistus in Greek – same word as faith). What’s incredibly interesting to me based on this verse is the fact that the Bible says the gospel of Christ is the power or catalyst that gets one saved, not some mystical or ‘secret work of regeneration’ that occurs prior to someone placing faith in Jesus. I’ve yet to find that teaching anywhere in clear Scripture. Actually the opposite is what the clear teaching of Scripture states. We must first place our faith in Jesus before we can be born again. Please see this Scripture:
John 1:12-13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Now the word power (EXOUSIA) is indeed a very interesting word in the Greek – please see Strong’s definition below. For brevity, I stopped after the 3 point – it continues in detail beyond…
1) power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases
a) leave or permission
2) physical and mental power
a) the ability or strength with which one is endued, which he either possesses or exercises
3) the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege)
This clearly teaches that the new birth is conditioned upon you receiving Jesus Christ. To qoute one old preacher, “There is not a case in the history of the universe where any man was ever ‘born again’ until he received Jesus Christ, and to say that total depravity extends to acts of the will is nonsense.” EXOUSIA pretty much confirms that – see definition above. First you must ‘receive’ Him, and then He gives you the power to become the sons of God. You don’t receive in a vacuum; again just study Cornelieus’ testimony as outlined in the Scripture.
Nathan – in case you read this, don’t you realize that John 6 is before the Cross and prior to Pentecost? In other words, it is still technically during the Old Covnenant. I don’t believe the Scripture supports the idea that any ‘Old Covenant’ saint was ever regenerated before placing their faith God. We do know that Abraham was saved because Galatians 3:6 says so. So, he here is an example of a man that was ‘Old Covenant’ saved by believing (FAITHING) the promise that Messiah would come and He would become sin who knew no sin. 2 Corinthians 5:14 – 21 clearly teaches ‘that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them’. Again in John 6, Jesus is specifically addressing his ‘chosen’ disciples and the Jews in that passage. Moreover, have you ever ‘seen’ Jesus with your two eyes like the people who were beholding him during that famous passage? John 6:40 says that everyone that ‘seeth’ the Son and believeth on Him, him will He raise up at the last day. I haven’t seen any Calvinist with enough honesty to preach that – literally seeing and believing ensures you are resurrected. To take this chapter and clearly build a construct and apply it to the entire counsel of Scripture is foolish. We do see where Jesus later confronts Thomas and tells him in John 20 that there will be those who do believe in Him and they haven’t had the ability to ‘see’ Him! Will they be resurrected? Of course they will!
Excellent post, Eye!