Monday, February 13, 2006

Eye on Total Depravity

A poster named Eye has made some very astute comments on my "Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth" blog post that I think bear repeating.

Here are Eye's comments:

Dawn,

Thanks for the opportunity to post a comment. I’ve read your posts and I thank God for your stand for the Truth of His Word. I too have looked into this ‘raging’ debate around the systematic theologic construct commonly called ‘Calvinism’. Yes, the debating is centuries old and it will most likely continue until the LORD returns. However, one of the articles I read recently on this topic by a man who is now a former Calvinist struck a chord in me that continues to resonate. He said that if you can cast doubt on the Calvinist’s definition of ‘total depravity’ – that is, man is incapable of searching the things of God, much less exercising his free will to follow God or choose the things of God, then you can topple the rest of the construct. Let me hasten to add that God’s Holy Spirit will lead us into His Truth if we submit ourselves to Him. With that, if I may, I’ll offer acouple of passages and a few comments around them. The first is from the beginning of God’s creation shortly after the fall of Adam and Eve and the second is right after Pentecost. If you will, at the very beginning of the two Testaments!

Genesis 4:3-13
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now [art] thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

Did you see it? God actually singled out a ‘totally depraved’ man – Cain – and confronted him over his offering and his attitude. God also lovingly ‘challenges’ Cain (and I humbly submit that one can easily see God provides Cain with a choice). The choice is to ‘doest well’ as the KJB says and if Cain does the right thing regarding his offering to the LORD, the LORD promises him that he will be accepted by God. Amazing, a ‘totally depraved’ man is faced with a ‘choice’ to seek and obey God or not to seek Him and as a result he disobeys Him. We know the rest of the story – Cain made the wrong choice. Cain had a body and a soul and his spirit was dead as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. Truly he was a sinner in need of a savior. God told Adam and Eve, who in turn had told their children, about God’s plan (Genesis 3:15). I humbly submit that I believe God must have informed them of His desire for a sacrificial system which Abel obviously believed and followed. Abel obeyed and Cain did not – Cain chose to do it his way.

The nuggets I glean from this passage are that even in the beginning of earth’s history, shortly after sin entered into the human race, God was actively persuing His creation. God personally encounters Cain in love and with His holy conviction. God does not force or make Cain do anything. He simply holds him accountable for his actions and He asks him to ‘contemplate’ his sinful state (disobeying the understood proper sacrifice methodology). God’s dealing with Cain is motivated by His desire to see Cain ‘do well’ and follow God. It can’t be any clearer. Cain had a choice, yes even as a ‘totally depraved’ man – a choice to follow God. But yet, the Calvinist rejects the idea that a totally depraved man can do such a thing!

John Piper’s qoute from Monergism.com on Total Depravity, “In summary, total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.

I ask a simple question. Did not God ask Cain to reform, or better yet repent of his sin and ‘choose’ to “doest well”? The resounding answer is YES! Then God, who created frail man certainly knows our limitations and capabilities. Why would God ask His creation to do something He knows they can’t possibly do – to follow the Calvinistic argument of total depravity? Absolutely makes no sense does it? Then I humbly submit that God put Cain to a test that He knew the outcome of, but He still gave Cain a choice. We don’t know how long Cain wrestled with this, but we do know he failed. Again, a totally depraved man had a choice to make regarding God!

I also submit an early Church example right after Pentecost at the beginning of the Church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – Cornelius.

Acts 10: 1-4
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 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.

Notice once again that a totally depraved man is ‘seeking’ God! That’s not supposed to be happening according to our Calvinist friends. Get this, his prayers and alms were actually recognized by God, so much so, He summonsed an angel to inform Cornelius.

Acts 10: 22
And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee."

Again, a totally depraved man that actually ‘feareth God’!

Acts 10:30 - 35
And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Notice above that a totally depraved man fears God and get this – he is also working righteousness! And, let’s don’t forget he is also accepted by God.

Acts 10:44
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Finally, we see that Cornelius heard the Gospel and was saved along with his household. I’m unable to find any reference in these straight forward passages to regeneration prior to placing faith in Jesus! If it’s there, the Calvinist must prove it.

My apologies for the long post, but this has been on my heart for some time! Keep up the good work and fight the good fight.

In Him,

Eye


Eye, I can agree with Piper's definition of total depravity; however, because of the grace of God He doesn't leave us in that depravity. We are totally depraved because of being born with a sin nature, but God has given us all enough grace to stave off the total part of our depravity. It is what we do with His grace that determines how God will deal with us individually, he either hardens us or sheds more light on us. Some he hardens more than others. I think that is because of what they have allowed to cultivate in their hearts, though He does continue to draw. (Please feel free to point out the error in my thinking as I believe discussion helps us to learn from each other.) I do seem to recall a scripture where he does cease to draw, but I can't remember what it is. And it may be something that I've misinterpreted. I find it very odd that the Calvinist agrees that God's grace is prevalent in every way...BUT NOT when it comes to salvation? The most IMPORTANT part of our lives?

Like you pointed out in the account of Cain and Abel, God's grace is extended to us ALL. He shows us that grace throughout the entire bible! He allows things to happen to us, as sinners (and even when we're His children), so that we will cry out to Him and lean on Him. It is absurd to think that because we're spiritually dead that that means we cannot understand that there is hell to pay if we don't choose the path to righteousness, or that we cannot choose to stay out of hell.

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10 Comments:

At Monday, February 13, 2006 4:01:00 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

Eye, thanks for stopping by and no need to apologize for long posts. They don't bother me one bit.

I was thinking about Cain and Abel the other day along the lines of the scriptures you've provided. I believe when God gave Adam and Eve the coats of skin to cover their nakedness is when he instituted the sacrificial system. Thus, they taught it to their children and so on.

I totally agree. The story of Cain and Abel shows us exactly how it works (among other lessons we learn through the account of Cain and Abel) and the rest of the OT accounts are no different. Neither is the NT, but there are a few scriptures in the NT which, if you have a Calvinist view, seem to say that God chose. But I feel that those are taken out of context.

The other thing about the sacrificial system that disproves Calvinism is the fact that ANYONE, whether they were Jew or Gentile, was allowed to agree to serve God and be circumcised and live as a Jew and participate in the sacrificial system for forgiveness of sins and partake of the passover meal. Belief first and then circumcision. It is the same in the NT. We believe and then we are given a new heart, a circumcised heart.

As we all know, the OT is full of types and shadows of things to come and is further explained in the NT. Did something profound change in terms of salvation between the OT and the NT that we were never told about? NO! We know that God has always looked upon the heart. We know that God has always given man a choice.

Read Exodus 12 & Romans 4.

Great points about Cornelius. It goes to show that those who are truly seeking God, God will shed light to the point that salvation is eventually presented. Though He sheds light on us all whether we seek Him or not so that we are without excuse.

Thanks for the encouragement Eye!

 
At Monday, February 13, 2006 2:03:00 PM, Blogger Nathan White said...

Let me hasten to add that God’s Holy Spirit will lead us into His Truth if we submit ourselves to Him.

By this you are preaching salvation by works –no bones about it. We must do [fill in the blank] to be accepted by God.

Furthermore, by my definition, your sentence is absolutely correct. But my definition does not include our good works as part of the equation –yours does. That is, WHO is it that ‘submits ourselves to Him? As I have said a thousand times but nobody can understand it: it is the ‘all that the Father gives to Me’, and the ‘no man can come to Me unless the Father draws’. I do not preach salvation by works because the only reason we come to Christ is because He has chosen us for salvation (EPH 1:4), but you of course, see some moral goodness within us that leads us to Christ. You teach salvation by works.

It is comical how many times I have to say that people DO come to Christ, but by their coming they prove that they are the chosen, the called, and the drawn. I am even more convinced that some people are so hardened that they do not even read my words.

Did you see it? God actually singled out a ‘totally depraved’ man – Cain – and confronted him over his offering and his attitude. God also lovingly ‘challenges’ Cain (and I humbly submit that one can easily see God provides Cain with a choice). The choice is to ‘doest well’ as the KJB says and if Cain does the right thing regarding his offering to the LORD, the LORD promises him that he will be accepted by God.

I will be graceful to Eye and suppose that she/he has not read my previous arguments, but for Dawn to post this ignorant to the fact that it has nothing to do with the actual argument is sad to see. When did I ever say man is not faced with a choice? When did I ever say that God does not demand we chose to obey? When do I ever say that God does not promise to redeem all of those who come to Him in repentance?

Amazing, a ‘totally depraved’ man is faced with a ‘choice’ to seek and obey God or not to seek Him and as a result he disobeys Him.

And this hurts my argument how? Clearly, this has no bearing on anything I have said before.

God’s dealing with Cain is motivated by His desire to see Cain ‘do well’ and follow God.

Salvation by works again; all glory for his ‘doing well’ goes to Cain instead of God. In this drastic slander of scripture you have attempted to steal God’s glory by reducing Him to a desperate child sitting in the corner begging His creatures to stop disobeying. That is not the God of Scripture; that is not a God worth worshipping. That is what scripture calls an idol.

But yet, the Calvinist rejects the idea that a totally depraved man can do such a thing!

I have asked several times for an exegesis or even a coherent explanation of ‘no one does good, no not one’ of Romans 3, as well as other passages that say the same thing. But of course, all I get is ‘but look at this scripture over here’ without any consideration of the pertinent passages.

No one does good, no one seeks God, no not one etc, clearly refutes your argument without even the slightest of exegetical effort necessary.

Did not God ask Cain to reform, or better yet repent of his sin and ‘choose’ to “doest well”? The resounding answer is YES! Then God, who created frail man certainly knows our limitations and capabilities.

So I guess you would say that we have the ability to ‘be perfect for your heavenly Father is perfect’? Or to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’? Do we have the capacity in our nature to do this?

Somehow, but not through exegesis, the assumption is that God only commands things we have the ability deep within ourselves to do. But your fatal flaw is when you make the statement ‘God, who created frail man’. For your error is obvious: man was created with the ability to choose between good and evil. He chose evil. Adam fell and brought death to all men. We blew our choice. God is not obligated to re-grant every man complete free will to choose good and evil.

Then I humbly submit that God put Cain to a test that He knew the outcome of, but He still gave Cain a choice.

If I’m not mistaken, the author of this blog (Dawn) holds to the ‘foreknowledge’ view of God’s election. That is, God sees in the future what our free decisions are and then scrambles to make some eternal decrees and election. Why does God then create a world where He knows what will happen (through foreknowledge) and yet still acts like men have a choice? For if foreknowledge is true, then those ‘foreseen acts’ are permanently fixed –they cannot be changed. Thus, your statement above runs into the same problems you assume.

Again, a totally depraved man had a choice to make regarding God!

I never said man didn’t have a choice. The bible teaches that without grace intervening in a life, man will always, 100% of the time, choose evil. “NO man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

Notice once again that a totally depraved man is ‘seeking’ God!
Hmm, Romans 3 says that ‘no, not one’ seeks after God. Interesting, would love to see an exegesis on that one.

Actually, Cornelius was an old-testament believer who had not yet heard of the risen Christ. I think the burden is on you to prove he was unregenerate. Cross reference the Lydia example I gave in my last reply. Same thing. She believed in God, she just didn’t know about the risen Christ. And actually, she was one the was unregenerate, for the scriptures say “God opened her heart to head the words spoken by Paul”.

Again, even if we do believe that Cornelius was unregenerate at the time of his prayer and ‘seeking God’, this STILL does not hurt my position in the least. For you fail to understand that the scriptures teach no one can do good unless they have the Spirit indwelling in them. That is, for Cornelius to do good works, the Lord was in the process of calling him to Himself.

Dawn said: however, because of the grace of God He doesn't leave us in that depravity.

Please show a scripture reference for this assertion.

We are totally depraved because of being born with a sin nature, but God has given us all enough grace to stave off the total part of our depravity.

If grace is given to all men, then why is it called grace? Again, your argument for this is fallacious. I see nothing of the like from scripture –at least not from reliable exegesis.

It is what we do with His grace that determines how God will deal with us individually, he either hardens us or sheds more light on us.

So Pharaoh could have repented even though he was a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction? And by the way, this is just more salvation by works –giving all of the glory to man and robbing it from God.

Some he hardens more than others.

Please show scriptural reference for this. That is, where there are ‘degrees’ or hardening.

I think that is because of what they have allowed to cultivate in their hearts, though He does continue to draw.

Why does John 6 say that only the one’s He draws will come, and that only the one’s who He draws will be raised in the end? Are you a universalist Dawn? Do you believe that every man without exception will end up in heaven?

I find it very odd that the Calvinist agrees that God's grace is prevalent in every way...BUT NOT when it comes to salvation? The most IMPORTANT part of our lives?

It is the most important part of OUR lives, but if you would get your eyes of us and onto God you would see how He protects His glory and it not obligated to any man. Who gets the glory if the FINAL MOST IMPORTANT DECISTION EVER MADE is made by our will? If we make that crucial call, then that decision is to be gloried above and beyond anyone, anything, or any so called god.

SDG

 
At Monday, February 13, 2006 2:07:00 PM, Blogger Nathan White said...

P.S. Dawn, I'm sure 'Eye' is a troll who wondered over from Anotonio's free grace blog.

Just to let you know, Antonio is not just anti-calvinistic, he is a antinomian. He preaches a false gospel, a heresy, and I caution you about allowing him to post here.

As I said before, Calvinism isnt necessary for salvation, and some forms of Armininanism are not heresy. But Antonio's gospel is a damning doctrine that does have eternal implications.

SDG

 
At Monday, February 13, 2006 10:40:00 PM, Anonymous Eye said...

Nathan said: Somehow, but not through exegesis, the assumption is that God only commands things we have the ability deep within ourselves to do. But your fatal flaw is when you make the statement ‘God, who created frail man’. For your error is obvious: man was created with the ability to choose between good and evil. He chose evil. Adam fell and brought death to all men. We blew our choice. God is not obligated to re-grant every man complete free will to choose good and evil.

What about Abel? His offering met with favor.

Nathan said: Furthermore, by my definition, your sentence is absolutely correct. But my definition does not include our good works as part of the equation –yours does. That is, WHO is it that ‘submits ourselves to Him? As I have said a thousand times but nobody can understand it: it is the ‘all that the Father gives to Me’, and the ‘no man can come to Me unless the Father draws’. I do not preach salvation by works because the only reason we come to Christ is because He has chosen us for salvation (EPH 1:4), but you of course, see some moral goodness within us that leads us to Christ. You teach salvation by works.

You must be assuming I’m lost – I’m not, I’m simply following this verse: James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Nathan said: I will be graceful to Eye and suppose that she/he has not read my previous arguments, but for Dawn to post this ignorant to the fact that it has nothing to do with the actual argument is sad to see. When did I ever say man is not faced with a choice? When did I ever say that God does not demand we chose to obey? When do I ever say that God does not promise to redeem all of those who come to Him in repentance?

Heres the point Nathan – actually a couple of them. First, God did call Cain. He actually sought him out and spoke to him audibly. He also asked Cain to examine himself and then He encourages him to ‘doest well’. Obviously from the text we know that Cain did not do these things. Now then, In the Calvinistic construct, I thought that if God calls and draws, then man will follow and your position calls this ‘irresistable grace’. What happened here? Second point, there is no question Cain is depraved, but is he ‘totally depraved’ as you would say? If so, why again is God wasting his time asking him to repent and obey via His sacrificial system if Cain doesn’t have the ability to do so? Obviously Abel did and he obeyed! Abel clearly is in heaven now (Matthew 23:35 and Hebrews 11:4). Just think Nathan, if Cain had ‘done well’ and made the right decision, he too could be there. It is really that simple from Scripture.

Nathan said: Salvation by works again; all glory for his ‘doing well’ goes to Cain instead of God. In this drastic slander of scripture you have attempted to steal God’s glory by reducing Him to a desperate child sitting in the corner begging His creatures to stop disobeying. That is not the God of Scripture; that is not a God worth worshipping. That is what scripture calls an idol.

Pretty strong language there Nathan. Remember, Abel did do well. Obviously he repented and obeyed God with regard to his sacrifice. Even though he was murdered, God tells us what happened to him – he’s in heaven. Therefore I submit to you that Abel’s ‘doing well’ resulted in his salvation. After all, that was the last sacrifice he ever made. Does Abel’s ‘doing well’ show salvation by works and brings glory to him instead of God?!??! You don’t get it my friend. So you think I’ve slandered Scripture? Let the readers of this post determine who has slandered Scripture. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Your word picture of God are your words, not mine...


Nathan said: So I guess you would say that we have the ability to ‘be perfect for your heavenly Father is perfect’? Or to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’? Do we have the capacity in our nature to do this?

As a Christian empowered by God’s Holy Spirit you do; although there are few of us (you and I included) that hit the mark with any regularity. ;-) Again, Abel was ‘perfect’ enough to go to heaven when he died.


Nathan said: Somehow, but not through exegesis, the assumption is that God only commands things we have the ability deep within ourselves to do. But your fatal flaw is when you make the statement ‘God, who created frail man’. For your error is obvious: man was created with the ability to choose between good and evil. He chose evil. Adam fell and brought death to all men. We blew our choice. God is not obligated to re-grant every man complete free will to choose good and evil.

Abel didn’t choose evil.

Nathan said: I never said man didn’t have a choice. The bible teaches that without grace intervening in a life, man will always, 100% of the time, choose evil. “NO man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

In the case of Cain, God ‘drew’ him… Cain still rejected God’s plea. It couldn’t be any clearer.

Nathan said: Again, even if we do believe that Cornelius was unregenerate at the time of his prayer and ‘seeking God’, this STILL does not hurt my position in the least. For you fail to understand that the scriptures teach no one can do good unless they have the Spirit indwelling in them. That is, for Cornelius to do good works, the Lord was in the process of calling him to Himself.

You are going to have to do a better job of explaining this Nathan – you aren’t clear. I’ve already proven from Scripture that Cornelius was lost and God says ‘he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him’. And, Cornelius didn’t have the Spirit indwelling him and neither did Abel! By the way, the Scripture in Genesis is silent on God calling Abel, but it clearly states that God called Cain!!!

In Him,

Eye

 
At Wednesday, February 15, 2006 6:50:00 AM, Blogger Leo said...

Interesting dialogue! With all this writing about Calvinism, may I recommend going over to CCEL.org and checking out what Calvin himself had to say about these things - like Acts 10. Some may be surprised to learn that Calvin in his commentaries is rarely as extreme as some of us Calvinist's tend to be.

 
At Wednesday, February 15, 2006 4:46:00 PM, Anonymous Eye said...

Thanks Leo for the link. I do find this passage interesting in context of 'total depravity'. Again, how can a lost man do the things mentioned below by John Calvin in his writings unless they experience 'regeneration' first? In Calvin's examples, the Scripture does not give us any indication of that -- it is simply assumed to be part of the logical Calvinistic construct.


From Calvin's Institute: Some examples are brought forward as repugnant to this view. When Naaman the Syrian made inquiry at the prophet as to the true mode of worshipping God, we cannot (it is said) suppose that he was informed of the Mediator, and yet he is commended for his piety (2 Kings 5:17-19). Nor could Cornelius, a Roman heathen, be acquainted with what was not known to all the Jews, and at best known obscurely. And yet his alms and prayers were acceptable to God (Acts 10:31), while the prophet by his answer approved of the sacrifices of Naaman. In both, this must have been the result of faith. In like manner, the eunuch to whom Philip was sent, had he not been endued with some degree of faith, never would have incurred the fatigue and expense of a long and difficult journey to obtain an opportunity of worship (Acts 8:27, 31); and yet we see how, when interrogated by Philip, he betrays his ignorance of the Mediator. I admit that, in some respect, their faith was not explicit either as to the person of Christ, or the power and office assigned him by the Father. Still it is certain that they were imbued with principles which might give some, though a slender, foretaste of Christ. This should not be thought strange; for the eunuch would not have hastened from a distant country to Jerusalem to an unknown God; nor could Cornelius, after having once embraced the Jewish religion, have lived so long in Judea without becoming acquainted with the rudiments of sound doctrine. In regard to Naaman, it is absurd to suppose that Elisha, while he gave him many minute precepts, said nothing of the principal matter. Therefore, although their knowledge of Christ may have been obscure, we cannot suppose that they had no such knowledge at all. They used the sacrifices of the Law, and must have distinguished them from the spurious sacrifices of the Gentiles, by the end to which they referred—viz Christ.



Here is RC Sproul's partial definition of regeneration: Regeneration is not the fruit or result of faith. Rather, regeneration precedes faith as the necessary condition for faith. We also do not in any way dispose ourselves toward regeneration or cooperate as co-workers with the Holy Spirit to bring it to pass. We do not decide or choose to be regenerated. God chooses to regenerate us before we will ever choose to embrace Him. To be sure, after we have been regenerated by the sovereign grace of God, we do choose, act, cooperate, and believe in Christ."

From his book, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, by R. C. Sproul

JI Packer says this: Regeneration is a New Testament concept that grew, it seems, out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.”

I'm sorry, but I thought a person was either 'saved' or 'lost' to use those clear Bible terms. The Bible clearly teaches that Abraham was 'saved' as he believed (faithed) the gospel! The only simple difference I can understand between an OT saint's salvation experience and a NT saint's salvation experience is the indwelling Holy Spirit after Pentecost. OT saints were looking forward to the cross and we look back to it. I can't find a single example -- somebody show me if it is there -- of a person being 'regenerated', especially unknowingly to them, and then they have enough faith to place saving faith in Jesus. You have to read that into Acts 10 if you believe that -- it's not otherwise discernable to the reader.

I may have read this before as noted by Packer but it didn't register -- that is 'regeneration' is a New Testament concept. So does this mean Naaman and all the other OT saints were never regenerated? Of course they were 'Old Testament' saved since that was prior to the Cross of Jesus. I tell you, the more I look into this, the more confusing it becomes...

In Him,

Eye

 
At Wednesday, February 15, 2006 9:20:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Nathan: "That is, WHO is it that ‘submits ourselves to Him? As I have said a thousand times but nobody can understand it: it is the ‘all that the Father gives to Me’, and the ‘no man can come to Me unless the Father draws’. I do not preach salvation by works because the only reason we come to Christ is because He has chosen us for salvation (EPH 1:4), but you of course, see some moral goodness within us that leads us to Christ. You teach salvation by works."

I'm certain that we all understand exactly what you're saying. We SEE what you are saying, but we are saying that we don’t agree that that is what the bible, as a whole, teaches. Those of us who are born again WERE chosen from the beginning BECAUSE we believed and received. (John 1:12) We (whosoever will) were chosen from the beginning due to foreknowledge of our belief. (Romans 8:29-30) God, from before the foundation of the world, decided that He would create human beings. He knew they would sin. But because He loves His creation He provided a way of salvation. That way of salvation was that a man who knew no sin would come and redeem the people through His blood. (Hebrews 2:9) That man was God come in the flesh, Jesus the Christ. (John 1:14) It is from the heart that man believes. (Romans 2:29; 10:9-10)

Did God choose to save people from their sins because of anything that was within man? NOOOOOO! Man is depraved in the eyes of God. ONE sin makes us depraved. So there was NOTHING within us that was worthy of salvation. NOTHING! Therefore the saving grace of God IS unmerited favor. We don’t deserve salvation, period. The caveat is that we believe on Him. Believing God is in NO WAY a work. To say so is absolutely absurd. When the bible says that we are saved through grace and not of works it means that we cannot work our way into salvation by feeding the poor, being kind to others, attending church every time the door is opened, etc. Those works in and of themselves are as filthy rags. It is FAITH IN the blood of Jesus that saves us. (Romans 3:25-27) None of us is preaching salvation through works. FAITHING IS NOT A WORK. In fact, Romans 3:27 states otherwise.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

Ephesians 1 explains it all. It was predestined that WHOSOEVER (US) will believe on Jesus we will be saved. It is the good pleasure of God’s will to provide a way of salvation. That WAY is for the gospel to be preached to every creature (Mark 16:15) that WHOSOEVER will believe and receive has everlasting life. (John 3:16) Once we believe and receive we THEN submit ourselves to God by the POWER of God. (John 1:12)

Ephesians 1:4-13

According as he hath chosen us [believers] in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will [that those who would believe would have eternal life], To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise (emphasis added)

Where in these verses does it say that God MADE ANYONE believe or changed their hearts FIRST?

Nathan: “It is comical how many times I have to say that people DO come to Christ, but by their coming they prove that they are the chosen, the called, and the drawn. I am even more convinced that some people are so hardened that they do not even read my words.

That is not what the bible teaches. It teaches that God invites all men (Matthew 22:9) and whosoever will receive and believe (Acts 16:30; Romans 4).


Romans 4:2-25

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for US also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Where in these verses does it say that God CAUSED Abraham to believe?

You are right, we MAY be “hardened” to what YOU are saying, but we certainly are not hardened to the word of God.

Nathan: “When did I ever say man is not faced with a choice? When did I ever say that God does not demand we chose to obey? When do I ever say that God does not promise to redeem all of those who come to Him in repentance?

Talk about a switch and bait. We KNOW what you say about choosing. We KNOW that you submit that we can only choose God AFTER we are born again. What do you think God is teaching us here with the account of Cain? He is teaching us that Cain is doing things HIS way and not GOD’s way. God is teaching that there is only ONE way to HIM and that it is through HIS sacrificial system (looking to Jesus). God is revealing Cain’s heart here. (Hebrews 11:4) It is CLEAR that Cain is being given a choice and it is because of his choice that He is not accepted by God. You probably believe that Cain was not born again; therefore, he could not choose to obey God.

Where in the account of Cain and Abel does it state that Abel was born again FIRST?

Eye: “Amazing, a ‘totally depraved’ man is faced with a ‘choice’ to seek and obey God or not to seek Him and as a result he disobeys Him.

Nathan: “And this hurts my argument how? Clearly, this has no bearing on anything I have said before.

It very much has a bearing on the things you affirm. Again, please tell us where in Genesis 4 that it states that Abel was born again first.

Nathan: “Salvation by works again; all glory for his ‘doing well’ goes to Cain instead of God. In this drastic slander of scripture you have attempted to steal God’s glory by reducing Him to a desperate child sitting in the corner begging His creatures to stop disobeying. That is not the God of Scripture; that is not a God worth worshipping. That is what scripture calls an idol.

Huh?! No one is trying to steal God’s glory and no one is portraying God as a desperate child. God is showing US that we are to do it HIS way. It is through FAITH IN GOD that we are born again. The proper atonement for forgiveness of sin was through the sacrifice of animals which was a shadow of things to come. God is showing us that it is ONLY through the blood of Jesus that man is saved. It is not through Buddha, Mohammed, etc.

Genesis 4:7 "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."

Did God not say that if He doest well, that he would be accepted? And that if he did not, it was sin?

What is God saying here Nathan?

Nathan: “I have asked several times for an exegesis or even a coherent explanation of ‘no one does good, no not one’ of Romans 3, as well as other passages that say the same thing. But of course, all I get is ‘but look at this scripture over here’ without any consideration of the pertinent passages.

Paul is quoting from the Psalms. In those Psalms, David is speaking of the wicked and the fool (those who don’t believe in God). In context (you seem to keep forgetting the context), Paul is stating that the Jews are no better than the Gentiles. For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, EVEN the Jews, so why shouldn't the Gentiles be included in salvation. Do the Jews have an advantage? Yes, in every way. Because they were chosen to transcribe the oracles of God. We see in Romans 1 that God has shown Himself to man so that man is without excuse. I see that as a kind of grace. When man rejects God he is further hardened as in the account of Pharaoh. Therefore, there is none righteous, no not one, there is none who seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way unprofitable and none of them does good. The ultimate hardening is being given over to a reprobate mind.

On our own we don’t seek after God. It is only through the grace (whatever form of grace that may be) of God that we seek after Him. God’s grace is with us all. He draws us all. He pours rain on the just and the unjust. The law of sowing and reaping abounds. I see that law as a form of grace. Like I’ve said before, if there was no form of grace whatsoever, we would all end up with reprobate minds. This scripture doesn’t prove unconditional election. Rather, it proves that without the grace of God we would not seek Him, ever. Saving grace is a whole other thing.

Maybe that’s not a good enough answer for you. If not, hopefully someone else can explain it better than I.

Nathan: “So I guess you would say that we have the ability to ‘be perfect for your heavenly Father is perfect’? Or to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’? Do we have the capacity in our nature to do this?"

No. We are only perfect through the blood of Jesus. And we can only love God once we are born again. We love Him because He first loved us.

Nathan: “Adam fell and brought death to all men. We blew our choice. God is not obligated to re-grant every man complete free will to choose good and evil.

I agree, God isn’t obligated to re-grant every man complete free will to choose good and evil, but the beauty of it is that He did! And it was of His own good pleasure to do so. :-D (Luke 2:10, 14, 30-32; Romans 5:18-19; Ephesians 1) That is the love of God and that is the grace of God.

Eye: “Then I humbly submit that God put Cain to a test that He knew the outcome of, but He still gave Cain a choice.

Nathan: “If I’m not mistaken, the author of this blog (Dawn) holds to the ‘foreknowledge’ view of God’s election. That is, God sees in the future what our free decisions are and then scrambles to make some eternal decrees and election. Why does God then create a world where He knows what will happen (through foreknowledge) and yet still acts like men have a choice? For if foreknowledge is true, then those ‘foreseen acts’ are permanently fixed –they cannot be changed. Thus, your statement above runs into the same problems you assume.

I do believe in foreknowledge, but it does not necessitate God scramble to anything. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. With all those qualities I think He has no problem whatsoever in dealing with our free-wills, especially when His will will ALWAYS override our own to suit His purposes. But in the case of salvation, HE has CHOSEN to give us free-will. Since God is the author of our free-will then there is no glory taken from Him. I have no problem with believing that things are permanently fixed because God knew our choices and has determined the beginning from the end before it even began. Just because He knows everything from the beginning to the end does not mean that He can't or doesn't allow the natural course of things to flow and intervene where He would and answer prayer one way or the other, etc. Foreknowledge doesn’t prevent God from doing anything.

Are you saying that God cannot foreknow everything from the beginning to the end? Or that if He does, then He can't perform His purpose? Or that if He chooses to give us free-will that He isn't ABLE to deal effectively with that? What kind of God do you think we have? A wimp?

Nathan: “I never said man didn’t have a choice. The bible teaches that without grace intervening in a life, man will always, 100% of the time, choose evil. “NO man can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

You effectively state that man doesn’t have a choice when you speak of irresistible grace. For under your system, when man is given this irresistible grace he is born again and therefore he cannot choose to reject God. Right? So man has no choice in the matter when it comes to salvation.

I agree that without grace man would choose evil 100% of the time. But grace is with us all or we wouldn’t be capable of doing anything that is good according to human goodness. We wouldn’t be able to keep ourselves from murder, etc.

Do you deny that that type of grace is prevalent? If so, then how can we control ourselves since we're so totally depraved?

Nathan: “Hmm, Romans 3 says that ‘no, not one’ seeks after God. Interesting, would love to see an exegesis on that one.

Hmm. You’ve already admitted that unregenerate man does seek after God.

Nathan: “Actually, Cornelius was an old-testament believer who had not yet heard of the risen Christ. I think the burden is on you to prove he was unregenerate.

Where in the OT does it state that a man must be born again BEFORE He can believe and receive God?

Dawn said: “however, because of the grace of God He doesn't leave us in that depravity.

Nathan: “Please show a scripture reference for this assertion.

Romans 1.

If it is not the grace of God that keeps us from a reprobate mind, then please tell me what it is.

Nathan: “So Pharaoh could have repented even though he was a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction? And by the way, this is just more salvation by works –giving all of the glory to man and robbing it from God.

God knew that Pharaoh would not repent and that is why he was a vessel of wrath fitted for destruction. God used Pharaoh for his purposes. And no, this is not salvation by works. God gets all the glory.

Dawn: “Some he hardens more than others.

Nathan: “Please show scriptural reference for this. That is, where there are ‘degrees’ or hardening.

Let’s see. Some men and women in the bible were murderers, some were torturers, some were adulterers, some were rapists, some were just deniers of God, etc. You may be right, maybe it isn’t that there are degrees of hardness. Maybe it’s that he hardens them for longer periods of time or maybe it is what was in their hearts that the hardening brought out in them. Good question, but it seems that even you feel there are degrees of hardening for you said to us:

Nathan: “I am even more convinced that some people are so hardened that they do not even read my words.

What do you mean by “so hardened”?

Nathan: “Why does John 6 say that only the one’s He draws will come, and that only the one’s who He draws will be raised in the end? Are you a universalist Dawn? Do you believe that every man without exception will end up in heaven?

Nope. That’s not what John 6 says. I think you need to read it again.

You know I am not a universalist and that I don’t believe that every man without exception will end up in heaven. I believe in a limited atonement, but I also believe that the bible teaches that God died for every man. The atonement is only effective for the man who believes and receives Jesus.

(Mark 16:15; Luke 2:10,30-32; John 3:16, 6:51; Romans 5:18, 11:32; 2 Cor 5:14-15; I Tim 2:1-6,4:10; Heb 2:9; Titus 2:11-12; II Peter 2:1)

Nathan: “It is the most important part of OUR lives, but if you would get your eyes of us and onto God you would see how He protects His glory and it not obligated to any man. Who gets the glory if the FINAL MOST IMPORTANT DECISTION EVER MADE is made by our will? If we make that crucial call, then that decision is to be gloried above and beyond anyone, anything, or any so called god.

Please show me a scripture where it states that man’s choosing to believe strips God of His glory.

 
At Thursday, February 16, 2006 7:57:00 PM, Anonymous Eye said...

Dawn said: Eye, I can agree with Piper's definition of total depravity; however, because of the grace of God He doesn't leave us in that depravity. We are totally depraved because of being born with a sin nature, but God has given us all enough grace to stave off the total part of our depravity. It is what we do with His grace that determines how God will deal with us individually, he either hardens us or sheds more light on us. Some he hardens more than others. I think that is because of what they have allowed to cultivate in their hearts, though He does continue to draw. (Please feel free to point out the error in my thinking as I believe discussion helps us to learn from each other.) I do seem to recall a scripture where he does cease to draw, but I can't remember what it is. And it may be something that I've misinterpreted. I find it very odd that the Calvinist agrees that God's grace is prevalent in every way...BUT NOT when it comes to salvation? The most IMPORTANT part of our lives?

Like you pointed out in the account of Cain and Abel, God's grace is extended to us ALL. He shows us that grace throughout the entire bible! He allows things to happen to us, as sinners (and even when we're His children), so that we will cry out to Him and lean on Him. It is absurd to think that because we're spiritually dead that that means we cannot understand that there is hell to pay if we don't choose the path to righteousness, or that we cannot choose to stay out of hell.

Dawn, again I thank you for the opportunity to dialogue on these issues. One of the truths I’ve discovered in studying the Bible is it defines its own terms and frankly it has its own built in commentary. Armed with that and God’s Holy Spirit leading us into The Truth, I do believe the “Berean – like” Christian can prosper in the faith and contend for the faith. This leads me to the following points.

There are several words in the Calvinistic theology that aren’t in the Bible. For example, the word ‘depravity’ and the words ‘total depravity’ are not there. However, the words that cover the concept are, and they include ‘lost, sinner, heathen, etc.’ Also, the word ’unregenerate and regenerate’ are not to be found in the Bible. The word ‘regeneration’ is found twice in the Bible (Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The other place is Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.) I don’t see the Calvinistic position of ‘regeneration’ in the sense they argue it in these two verses.

JI Packer says, “Reformed theology has defined regeneration more narrowly, as the implanting of the "seed" from which faith and repentance spring (I John 3:9) in the course of effectual calling.”

That’s what Packer says, but that’s not what 1 John 3:9 says -- Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

However, 1 Peter 1:23 says this -- Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

So, I believe the ‘seed’ of God is conveyed upon our being quickened or born again. I still can’t find one Scriptural proof that the seed is implanted first so that it can grow enabling us to then exercise faith and repentance. Notice in 1 Peter 1:23, individuals are born again by the Word of God, i.e. the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16), and that yields an incorruptible seed!

I do agree with Piper when he says we are deserving of eternal punishment by virtue of sin in us. However, when he states that “our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total” goes back to his/Calvinist’s definition of total depravity – a man-made term, not a Biblical term. Here’s what I see when I nit-pick his quote. I believe we would all agree that we are all born into this world as ‘sinners’, and yes we are ‘dead’ in our sins and trespasses. I like the word sinners because it is a Bible word. Therefore, if we are all dead in our sins, we have no hope unless someone can do something about the sin that resides in us. The good news of the gospel is Jesus did do something about sin -- I know I’m preaching to the choir ;-) and we see that all throughout Scripture. Romans 5 does an excellent job of clearly showing this, especially verses 14 – 19:

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also [is] the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, [which is] by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as [it was] by one that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgment [was] by one to condemnation, but the free gift [is] of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Notice the Bible says in verse 19 that ‘many’ {POLUS in Greek – many, much, large – wastebasket term if you will for ‘all’} were made sinners, and obviously we understand that to mean every single person that exists. However, the second part of this verse says ‘so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous’. Now we would all quickly agree that the many in the second part does not mean every single person that has or will exist – we remember Cain. So I’m real glad God put verse 18 in there to amplify this concept before we get to verse 19. Verse 18: Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.

I believe this verse clearly contrasts the ‘offence of one’ with the ‘righteousness of one’ and in both cases the word all means everyone. So here we have everyone condemned under the first Adam, but as a result of the second Adam’s (JESUS) obedience, His free gift of salvation also is available to all men. I believe the ‘all’ in both parts of this verse cover everyone – the verse is contrasting the ramifications of both men’s actions as they relate to humanity. Now if that’s so, and I believe it is, then there must be something each person must do to possess this free gift since we know not everyone ‘accepts’ it. To me it is very simple – an individual simply receives and believes which is equivalent to the individual placing their faith in Jesus!

Dawn said: It is absurd to think that because we're spiritually dead that that means we cannot understand that there is hell to pay if we don't choose the path to righteousness, or that we cannot choose to stay out of hell.

I couldn’t agree with you more. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 9:13 I’m not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Going back to Cain – God called him to ‘doest well’ and I cling to the revelation of God’s holy nature that He truly does CALL each of us in that He made us and He gave us a free will, and I hasten to add the ability to heed the call. Cain didn’t ‘doest well’ but he could have. Therefore, Jesus wouldn’t be calling sinners (and everyone is one) to repentance if we didn’t have the ability to repent!

The Parable of the Great Supper – Luke 14:16-24

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

I can’t help myself. This parable does not teach the concept of Irresistible Grace, Effectual Calling nor does it allude to the exclusivity of the Elect only! Actually, it says that many were called but few accepted! Preparation was made for the many, but in the end only a small number accept the invitation.

This is why I put the spotlight back on the concept and definition as given by the Calvinists regarding the sinner. I believe they attribute something to sin that’s not clearly shown in Scripture (namely our inability to repent and place saving faith in Jesus). Again, why would Jesus come to seek those that are ‘lost’ (everyone) and call them to ‘repent and believe/faith’ if that were not possible of mankind?

Dawn, continue to fight the good fight contending for God’s Word!

In Him,

Eye

 
At Friday, February 17, 2006 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Dawn said...

Leo, thanks for the link. Hopefully, I can get to it soon.

 
At Friday, February 17, 2006 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Great points Eye!

You've touched on one of the points I was going to make in my next post. These terms that Calvinists use to try to prove their point. Terms which have dual meaning wherein determining the actual meaning depends upon the context (e.g., many, chosen, whosoever, etc. I can't remember the rest. I'll have to go back over my notes.)

Eye: "I believe they attribute something to sin that’s not clearly shown in Scripture (namely our inability to repent and place saving faith in Jesus). Again, why would Jesus come to seek those that are ‘lost’ (everyone) and call them to ‘repent and believe/faith’ if that were not possible of mankind?"

I agree that the Calvinist is wrong about the inability to repent and place saving faith in Jesus. Their answer to why Jesus would call sinners to 'repent and believe/faith’ if it were impossible is that there are many times that God commands us to do things He knows we cannot do (e.g., obey the Ten Commandments). I don't know if it is good enough or not, but my answer is that God is holy and that He MUST set the highest standard. If not, then He would be condoning behavior contrary to His nature. Even if we are able to keep all but the 10th commandment, then I'm sure we have the ability to receive and believe. Maybe you (or someone else) have a better response.

 

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