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|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| Last First, First Last.
1"For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' 5So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' 7They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' 8And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' 9And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' 13But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' 16So the last will be first, and the first last." - Matthew 20:1-16 [ESV]
Okay, if you just skipped over the bible verses, first of all shame on you, second of all, go back and read them all - and even pray before you do - that is God's word friend, and you do well to read it with some reverence and discernment.
Okay, now we are ready, unless of course, you skimmed over God's word, or forgot to pray as you were reading it - then this is just entertainment, so don't blame me if you don't get anything out of it.
Okay... now we are ready for sure.
I am going to explain what this parable means, and I am only going to do it once, so pay attention. The parable is talking about the various dispensations, and how it doesn't matter which dispensation you are in - the oldest whereby you had the least light, toiled the most in your own strength to serve the Lord, and have the longest history - all the way to the era of the Messiah, the eleventh hour - where you have the coming era of the Christian who will, from the Jewish perspective be the Johnny-come-lately-to-the-party people. The Jew who had only the Mosaic covenant will not fare better than the Gentile who has come in the eleventh hour, hasn't had to bear the heat of the day (as it were), but has come last to the work - he shall receive the same reward as the Jew - in fact the reward is the same in each dispensation no matter where a believer falls - the first, the middle, the last - all receive the same reward.
And God is not evil for giving the OT Jew the same reward as he gives the NT saint, the OT Jew who had to toil in his own strength to keep the law, is not going to finish with more than the NT saint who has a new heart and is empowered by God unto obedience through the indwelling Holy Spirit is not going to fare worse simply because he didn't have to toil as hard as the OT Jew. God is right and just to give the same reward because that was the agreement.
Yes, the parable teaches many other things - but I think this is the primary teaching.
Labels: Instruction, Interpretation, Theology
posted by Daniel @
Daniel, interesting thoughts. I think we can be fairly certain that God has the right to give to individuals as He sees fit.
However, I am a bit puzzled as to why you would call this a reward? The verses state that they received their wages for an agreed job. Is not a reward different than wages?
Also, was the OT Jew's responsibility simply to keep the law? Were they not also required to walk by faith and thereby receive the imparting of righteousness? Did not the law basically declare them all guilty and Isaiah say that their righteousness was like filthy rags?
Jim - Thanks for the feedback.
I agree, God has the right to give to individuals as he sees fit - no one "deserves" grace, or it isn't grace anymore - and all are saved by grace through faith without exception - irrespective of which covenant they were saved under.
Dan said: in fact the reward is the same in each dispensation no matter where a believer falls
Would it be less puzzling if I said it this way?
in fact the outcome is the same no matter where in history the believer finds himself...
On the second point, You mention imparted righteousness - and I presume you meant imputed? Righteousness was not channelled into Abraham - it was accounted to him because of his faith - he didn't possess the righteousness that saved him, it was credited to his account.
The OT Jew, and the NT Christian have this in common - we are both responsible to worship God according to the light he has given us. The Jew had less light and lived with fewer promises, and without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. But he was responsible to live up to the light he was given.
The Lord sends workers into the harvest, and they receive not wages, but crowns. The point of the parable was that God was about to send more workers into his harvest even though it was the eleventh hour. Those workers were the Gentiles who would come into the church after Pentecost - and they would have the same claim to sonship as the Israelite.
Yes Daniel, I was trying to say that Abraham had righteousness credited to his account.
You raise an interesting point here...if they were responsible to live according to the light they were given, what about all the people in other times and nations who did not have the revelation of God; how will they be judged?
Jim, you ask a pretty old and fairly standard question. One that scripture answers plainly enough I think:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. - Romans 1:18-23 [ESV]
Unless scripture is telling us a lie - all the people in other times and nations -did- have sufficient revelation of God to be judged, and I conclude therefore that those who did not turn to God are going to be judged guilty as sinners, and appropriately condemned to hell. I don't think God is going to take any pleasure in it - but I do think He will receive glory from it.
If a person acts on the light they are given, I suspect they are given more light and if they continue to seek the true God eventually they have enough light to repent and turn to God in real faith.
But, just so we are clear on something - people who do wind up in hell aren't going there because their earthly brothers didn't preach the gospel to them, nor are the going to hell because somehow they didn't have enough information - they are going to go to hell because they are damnable sinners who deserve to go to hell - having fatally embraced that same rebellion that damns them.
Maybe I am misreading you but I have a couple of questions.
you said.....The Jew had less light and lived with fewer promises, and without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you suggest that people could come to faith in O.T. apart from regeneration?
you said.....If a person acts on the light they are given,
Once again how can spiritually dead people act apart from Holy Spirit?
Do you suggest that people could come to faith in O.T. apart from regeneration?
That depends on what one means by regeneration.
If by regeneration you mean "born from above" - i.e. annointed by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ, and thereafter indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God - then I think that OT saints were indeed saved apart from "regeneration" - as they could not inherit promises that were not fulfilled until Christ came.
If by regeneration you means they were dead in their sins and quickened by God unto repentance - then I believe that no old testament saint was ever saved apart from regeneration.
Once again how can spiritually dead people act apart from Holy Spirit?
I didn't mean to imply that they could. The Holy Spirit can act upon a person without indwelling that person - how indeed could God harden Pharoah's apart from actually hardening it? I mean, God didn't have to indwell Pharoah to do that, but He certainly acted upon Pharoah - likewise for those whom He saved - He quickens His own.
Let me know if that clears that up.
Daniel, I think Romans 1 refers to those people who have specifically rejected the revelation of God's truth as He revealed it to them, whether that be through the spoken or written word, or through creation itself.
However, is not the description of Rom. 1 a process of what happens to people and societies who harden themselves and reject the truth of God. Furthermore God's wrath is ultimately revealed upon them for these acts.
The issue for me though is that while all men are guilty of sin and God is just in passing judgement upon them, we have been commanded to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Therefore God is obviously not content to leave people with only the revelation of His creation.
Daniel, this may not be on topic but I have a question for you.
Matt. 11:11 states:
"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
Do you have some light to shed on this verse? Was John the Baptist not saved? Was he not in the kingdom?
Jim - you said, "Therefore God is obviously not content to leave people with only the revelation of His creation."
Prior to the Christian era, the Jews were not intstructed to proselyte. They -were- instructed to accept anyone who wanted to join themselves to Israel through circumcision and whatnot, but they were -not- instructed to go out into all the world and make disciples.
The risen Lord instructed the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Lord (c.f. Luke 24:49, , Acts 1:4, & even John 14:26) i.e. the Holy Spirit whom Christ had promised to send to them in order that they might be Christ's witness both in Jerusalem, and everywhere else (c.f. Acts 1:8).
These men were trained day and night by Christ for years - and now the risen Lord in unveiled glory had spent upwards of forty days instructing them further - yet for all that they were told to remain in Jerusalem because they weren't ready to go out and be witnesses until they were empowered for that ministry by the Holy Spirit indwelling them - that is, until they were "born from above" - or, if you prefer, until they were baptized by Christ into the Holy Spirit - or if you want to say it another way, until they entered the kingdom of God.
Were the (11) apostles saved before Pentecost? Of course they were. Put another way, were they saved before they were born from above by being baptized with the Holy Spirit into Christ? Absolutely. But they weren't "born again" until they became a new creation.
Were the Old Testament saints saved by grace through faith? Yes, of course they were. But they were not "born from above" - that is, they did not receive (in their lifetime) undergo that baptism into Christ that was associated with the new covenant promise (and was not realized until Pentecost.)
The commandment to go into all the world and make disciples came after Pentecost - and is unique to the Christian era.
We must conclude therefore that if the unchanging God was "contented" prior to Pentecost, he remained contented after. That is, the very fact that Israel was not commanded to proselyte tells us that God was perfectly content in giving only the "witness of creation" for millenia until Abraham, and for hundreds of years between Abraham and Moses, and again for the millenia following Moses right up until (recently) Christ appeared. That makes Perhaps four or five thousand years of no proselyting, versus the last 2000 years of proselyting. Did God just suddenly become interested or was this part of the plan?
Rest assured, it was part of the plan.
That gives us room to suggest that that "contentment" or lack thereof is not a significant factor in the command to proselyte. Had God been discontent with the witness of creation, he would have given the fullest gospel to Adam and Eve and been done with it.
Thus when you hold up the commission to go into all the world and make disciples as proof that God is sending out the gospel in "the hope" that it will be "more effective" than the witness that creation bears - I must beg to differ.
The "best" witness would be for God to take each one of us personally - show us his unveiled majesty in a way that didn't destroy us instantly - and burn into our minds the gospel so that we could never, ever forget it. God could do that as easily as anything - and I bet that would be more effective pragmatically than sending out sinners saved by grace as His messengers - but clearly, since God's ways are perfect, and since even I can think up more "effective" ways for God to make the gospel known - then we must conclude that God hasn't chosen the means of spreading the gospel according to what he thinks is most efficient - that is, we must reason that God's goal is not to "get as many saved as possible" - if that were His goal His will would be done! So that must not be his goal - the only reason people imagine that is God's goal is because they reason that God is "trying" to save people instead of understanding that the whole purpose of creation is to reveal God's glory.
I want to get onto your other comment, let me know if that makes sense or not.
Jim asked, "Do you have some light to shed on [Matthew 11:11]? Was John the Baptist not saved? Was he not in the kingdom?"
John the baptist was certainly saved, but he did not "enter the kingdom of God" because entering the kingdom was not possible until Pentecost. One enters the Kingdom of God the moment one is born of the Spirit - and until the Holy Spirit came to fulfill that ministry at Pentecost no one was in the Kingdom except the Godhead. When Christ baptizes a believer into Himself, He is baptising them by the Holy Spirit into the kingdom of God. That couldn't happen until Pentecost, and by that time John was dead already.
Let me know if you need more light, or if that was enough.
Thanks for your lengthy answer Daniel, I am somewhat reticent to ask knowing what energy you put into your replies.
Are you saying that tribes who acknowledge God, based on creation and somehow attempt to communicate or please Him, will actually be saved without the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His atonement?
That was a great explanation of God’s goals etc. in your 1:34 PM comment. I think there is a problem in your belief that O.T. saints were not regenerated (Born again) even though you acknowledge a quickening. The problem is what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3. These words by Jesus were well before Pentecost and I believe his statement about being born again implies that it was true past, present, and future. However, Ezekiel 36:26 seems to be talking about a future occurrence of regeneration which would support what you said. How do you reconcile John 3 with Ezekiel? What is the relationship between regeneration, quickening, and the effectual call?
I think it is clear the Holy Spirit can act in many different ways even in unsaved people. However, it seems John 3:3 is talking about a regeneration that applies to all of redemption history. I would sure be interested in your thoughts.
Wayne - I will get to your post in a bit..
Faith, I apologize up front for the length of this post. I didn't have time to trim it, nor did I proofread it for typos and whatnot, so please forgive any spelling errors, or sentences that don't seem to make sense.
I always am put off when a person is asked a straight forward question whose answer will very plainly give indication about how exclusive that person things the gospel is - but then they answer it all wishy-washy, going on about how inclusive God is, as though they didn't want to offend anyone with some truth that they felt was "negative."
So I want to be careful here that I don't try and sit on a fence just to be as inclusive as possible - though your question tempts me sorely ;-)
I think we can -safely- say that anyone who denies Christ will not see heaven.
But before I go on, I have to give some context to what I am about to say, so bear with me my verbosity.
In Deuteronomy 24:16 we read that the Fathers shall not be put to death for the sins of their sons, nor sons for the sins of their fathers. This thought is echoed again in Ezekiel 18:4, 20; and again in passing in 2 Kings 14:6.
But some confuse this with the warning we find first in Deuteronomy 5:9 - that God visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Him. That thought is also echoed elsewhere (c.f. Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18).
To unscramble this confusion we remind our selves that God has only one "punishment" for sin - death. The first verses speak about condemnation - God only punishes the condemned, he doesn't punish the innocent. We know that instinctively, but scripture makes it plain also.
The sinner and only the sinner is judged for his sin - but the consequences of sin can be passed on for generations. We see as much in child abuse, spousal abuse, alcoholism, gluttony etc. We tend to repeat the sin of our parents.
So I understand therefore that I am not condemned by Adam's sin - that is I inherit no "taint" from Adam's sin, but I do inherit the consequences of that sin - separation from God, or if we wanted to put it another way, I inherit an utter and absolute depravity.
If we want to understand something of that depravity we must consider that Adam and Eve were aware of God's presence before their sin, but when they were driven from the Garden, they =lost= that awareness, and all of their progeny inherit a reality wherein God's is not known first hand, but rather we know He is there only by the witness He gives of Himself.
Nevertheless, even though all inherit this spiritual death - I believe that -all- people are born uncondemned and without sin. We are born spiritually dead yes - and yes, that "spiritual death" produces sin in us the very moment we become aware of right and wrong, but we inherit no "taint" directly, rather it is indirect. We are born without that uniquely divine capacity to choose to do right.
James 4:17 gives us the best definition of sin in the bible - to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. I think until a person knows to do good and rejects it, it isn't sin.
That is why I think that many special needs people, babes/infants, and even young children who die before they can comprehend the gospel will still be found in heaven. Frankly, I don't think they qualify as "sinners" - they die the death of the righteous, and Christ didn't come for the righteous, he came for sinners.
There are some who imagine that We inherit Adam's condemnation (even though I have shown that scripture teaches that we do not). They need that teaching however because they define depravity as something more or less genetic - in fact, the Catholics were so sold on the idea that we inherit a sinful taint that they invented the doctrine of the immaculate conception to avoid the idea that Jesus inherited it (they teach that God allowed Mary to be born "without the taint of original sin" - and that God kept Mary sinless at least until she gave birth to Christ in another miracle - and in this way Christ avoided the taint. Hogwash.) I say Mary was a virgin, but she wasn't sinless - she was righteous which means she was a repenter - but she wasn't sinless - she didn't need to be, sin isn't passed on that way.
Anyway, some will argue that you have to inherit condemnation otherwise not everyone needs Jesus - and they quote in underlines that none can come to the father except through Christ.
Which is a convincing argument if you forget that Christ came not for the righteous, but for sinners. the fact that there is no one righteous, not even one would come up next to dismiss that, but while the language sounds inclusive, the context gives room for leeway - there is no one righteous - at least there is no one righteous who is able to comprehend the difference between right and wrong, but I digress.
I think therefore that there is room to suggest that if a person isn't condemned, he doesn't require a Savior. I do not hold my theology so tightly that I demand that God condemn stillborn babes to satisfy my opinion that condemnation must be passed on from Adam to me in order for me to be totally depraved. I am depraved because I inherited Adam's sentence and was born spiritually dead, but that is not the same as being born condemned for someone else's sin.
Thus when someone asks me if God hated all the aboriginals in North America because he let them die without Christ, I remind them that all those babes who were born to heathens and died in their infancy - all these in all nations at all times - according to my understanding - go to heaven, having died without sin.
If someone says there is no one who does not sin, I agree - there is no one who does not sin, given the chance. But there are many who never get the chance, and God doesn't punish a person for something he would have done had he the capacity to do so.
So the first answer about tribes and whatnot is this: I think that some of them go to heaven before they get the opportunity to sin.
Now, what about those in tribes who have sinned, and, as you said, are turning to God in earnest.
I think that if they are sincere, God will bring a missionary to them.
I know that is sort of an anti-climax - but that would have been my conclusion, and I have already bored most people with the length of this reply, so I dare not persist much longer.
I have heard many testimonies to this effect - villagers in some remote place, worshipping tree spirits and whatnot - and realizing that there must be only one God, and that they are sinners and condemned, and seeking to know this God they pray and call out to him, only to have a missionary walk into the middle of their prayer time and ask if he can talk to them about the one and only true God.
So my answer would have been along that line - but I wanted to qualify it somewhat up front because some people think that if Christianity is true, then why did God let all everyone in the new world go to hell for all those years?
Wow Daniel, that is quite the answer. I think there is a real can of worms in there, at least for some people.
You definitely don't align with other Calvinist's on all your view points.
While I have some minor questions here, I am impressed with your answer and the angle at which you tackle it.
p.s. for some reason blogger named me 'faith' in the last comment.
Wayne - I think John 14:17 Christ, speaking to His (still) Jewish disciples, gives probably the clearest distinction between the ministry of the Holy Spirit under the old (and at the time Christ was speaking it would have been under the "present") economy, and the coming (Kingdom) economy, "...He [the Holy Spirit] abides with you and will be in you."
Christ wasn't saying that the Holy Spirit was presently indwelling those believers - but He did acknowledge that the Holy Spirit was "with" them. Something was going to change, and we know that this something happened at Pentecost.
Eleven chapters after Jesus has this discourse with Nicodemus Jesus is telling his disciples that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is about to change - I think that is an important point to keep in mind - Christ was preaching a Kingdom that hadn't come yet, at least not in fullness (until Pentecost, Christ and Christ alone was the only human indwelt by the Holy Spirit). That was why He was called the Christ (annointed) - He was annointed by the Holy Spirit. No one else was, not even John the Baptist - who was certainly "with" the Holy Spirit.
Was King Saul saved? If we hang our hat on the idea that the Holy Spirit indwelt people in the OT we must scratch our head at this point - didn't God take His Spirit away from Saul? Doesn't that picture Saul losing his salvation? Well, only if we try and push the indwelling of the Holy Spirit backwards into the Old Testament. David wasn't doctrinally messed when He begged God not to take His Spirit away from him (David) - The Holy Spirit was with David, not in Him, the Holy Spirit could leave David, just as He left Saul - and David knew that.
Jesus taught Nicodemus' contemporaries to pray, "Your Kingdom come" - that should put at least one nail in the coffin, but there are more. But just one verse before John 3:3 Nicodemus says that he knows Jesus is from God because no one can do what Christ was doing unless God was with him. Nicodemus understood, as all the Jews understood I suppose, that walking "with" the Holy Spirit was the best you could hope for under the old economy. He is coming to Jesus to learn about the coming Kingdom - He has reasoned that there is a kingdom coming, and either knows that Christ is the coming King, or at the very least suspects it - and so Christ immediately answers the question he came there for: How do I get into the coming kingdom...?
James and John - (and I suppose their mother as well), understood that the Kingdom wasn't there yet, how else would or could they ask for these sons of Zebedee to sit one on the right and one on the left hand of Christ when he came into His kingdom - I mean, they weren't confused - they understood that the Kingdom was not yet - just as Nicodemus understood this.
When Christ tells Nicodemus how to get into the Kingdom, he isn't saying, this is how you get into the kingdom, and you can do it right now - he says, if you want to get into the kingdom you will have to be born from above.
Nicodemus: How do I get born from above?
Jesus: It isn't something you make happen it is something God makes happen - just like the wind, you hear it and see what it does, but you have no control over it
Jesus: No one can go to heaven except the one who comes down from heaven.
Jesus: The son of man must be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the broze serpent in the wilderness
Nicodemus didn't understand that Jesus was saying that you cannot enter into the kingdom except by being grafted into the one who came down from heaven. He did not understand that our union with Christ had to be -irreversible- so that when we were united with Christ, God could slay us in Christ, and satisfy his justice, yet because Christ was innocent, God could not let his holy one see corruption - He *had* to raise up the innocent Christ, and since we were united with Christ, we were raised with Christ.
How do you explain such a deep spiritual truth to a person before that truth had been affected - Nicodemus couln't "enter the kingdom" except by being united spiritually with Christ in His death - the concept was beyond Him at the time - and even now with the benefit of scripture, and having the truth all laid out before us, there are still many believers who haven't figured it out yet.
So I don't think John 3:3 is teaching that the OT saints had the indwelling spirit of Christ, and I would go further and say that if that were the case, then I have utterly misunderstood what happened on the cross.
Let me know if that helps. I am open to correction.
First let me say that I agree with your view on the destiny of humans that die in infancy. However, I base my thinking on God’s mercy on whom he will have mercy, not on a view that they were not yet sinners. We apparently have a different view of original sin in that I believe Scripture teaches that we are born sinners (Rom. 5). Also, David said he was sinful at birth (Psa. 51:5). I would say we sin because we are sinners and I believe you are saying we are sinners because we sin but that it is inevitable.
Your view of John 3 was interesting. I think the ministry of the Holy Spirit can get complicated in a hurry. We do agree that apart from God’s intervention (quickening, effectual call) in the O.T. as well as the new, man is unable to come to a saving faith. I will re-read your comments and if I have any questions or opinions, I will post them in a few hours. Jazzy is demanding a lot of attention. What is a human servant to do?
I think David was waxing eloquent, as they say. This is a song, first and foremost, written in a humble spirit of contrition, and inspired scripture - but let us not forget, that it is also intended to be poetry, and is written to -be- poetry.
We assume therefore that when David asks for a hyssop spanking, he doesn't actually want to be whipped with a bush, but is using poetic imagery because he is writing a poem.
By the time we get to the fifth verse, David was already beginning to employ figures of speech and hyperbole. David sinned against Uriah and against Bathsheba, and against the entire nation of Israel whom he delivered to open mockery by his sin. Yet he says that he only sinned against God - David wasn't confused, nor was he a liar, he was a poet. He was saying that the sin that he sinned against God - THAT - was the reason for his contrition - he could live with what he did to Uriah, to Bathsheba, and even to the whole nation - but he couldn't live with what he had done to God. It is in reference to the expressed thought that God is justified and blameless in condemning David that David paints himself a worm, a sinner who has been wicked always. It is called hyperbole, and when I see it I am cautious about taking what is clearly an emotionally charged self deprecating exaggeration, and saying this proves that people are born sinners. Was Paul really the chief of sinners or was he sorely aware of his sin and said so in a way that most of us would say it - by exaggeration.
I do not imagine therefore that this is a "solid" verse makes a good anchor to your point. Maybe I am willfully obtuse, but I honestly think David is writing a poem, and that as the remark made in verse five is couched alongside other figures of speech and hyperboles - and as the point he is making right at that point has a lot to do with how right God is to condemn him - and therefore requires a picture of his own "worthiness" of judgment - that there is more than convincing room for us to say that Psalm 51:5 (just maybe) not a good verse to to hang that particular hat on.
I have tried to look at it with an open mind, but that only convinces me more that the verse is not making doctrinal assertions about whether babies are born with sin. All I see is the depth of David's contrition written in the same poetry that the rest of the psalm is written in.
Now in Romans five, I see clearly that sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and that death spread to all men because all men sin. But what I -don't- see is that death spread to all men because all men are born with residual sin.
I mean, it is almost like playing a song backwards and listening for the hidden message to me. If someone I trust says - Hey, when you play this backwards you hear such and such - and sure enough, because I expect to find it there, I hear it at the right place. But it isn't really there.
I think if we are expecting to find in Romans 5 that Sin spread to all men we will find it - but the text is simple and plain - death spread not sin, sin was the result - death the cause. Not birth, death.
I should state up from my presumptions with regards to Adam before I hit Romans five. First, I agree with John Calvin that the Adam and Eve were likely eating from the tree of life right up until they were banished from the garden. They were allowed to eat from it, and it was centrally located - I mean, right beside the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and all - the very centerpiece of the garden of Eden, I think it is nigh impossible to imagine that they wouldn't have eaten of it. No, they probably ate from that one the most and I think it was the same Tree of Life we find in Revelation 22 - and that this was another picture of the pre-incarnate Christ. They were partaking of the tree right up until they were banished from the garden.
I think that the tree of life sustained their physical bodies indefinitely as long as they ate from it.
So when I read Romans five, and I read that "the death" came into the world, and "the sin" by "the death" I imagine I see what happened - the death is not merely physical death, but rather the result of being separated from the tree of life, and fellowship with God in the Spirit. This is what spread to all men - and because it spread to all men, sin followed. That -is- what Romans five says right? sin came from the death that spread, and the death came into the world (as opposed to into us) by Adam. If death is separation from God and the tree of life then that all makes sense to me.
See the text gives the fact that death spread to all men as the reason that men sin - not because they are born sinners, but because they are born "dead."
Surely the textbook reasoning on this says we are born sinners, just look at Psalms 51, and 58, look at Job 15. They all mention men as being sinning from the cradle etc. But these are the only examples we can find and all are poetry or hyperbole. Were David's bones really broken, were they really able to rejoice by themselves?
But even if we didn't know a thing about poetry or hyperbole - we have already mentioned in a previous comment that God, speaking doctrinally now - not poetry or fluff - but speaking with that straight-shooting "this is the way I want it done forever" kind of clarity - says in three places, with equal clarity - I mean, there is absolutely no room for ambiguity here - says that no man can be condemned for the sins of his father.
If God did condmen Adam's progeny (contrary to His own thrice fold declaration that He would do no such thing!) - then I would agree that we are born "tainted" by sin, or at the very least, I would define original sin as something we inherit from Adam physically, and that we are born condemned etc. But what we inherit from Adam is not genetic, it is more like an unpaid debt - His sin robbed all men of an awareness of God - and that spiritual vacuum is called "death" - we are all born dead - because death (as opposed to sin) is what spread to all men. Men sin on account of that death, and they do so the very first moment they are able to do so.
I see that in Romans five, but I don't see (perhaps I have a spirit of delusion?) babes born sinners.
Let me know what I am missing, or alternately, if what I am saying resonates as true.
You give a very good argument for your view on sin. It is a very interesting and has definitely given me something to study and meditate on.
You have successfully defended the things that I have questioned in this thread by showing that my perceptions of your views were not valid. I am not prepared to say that I agree with you on the subjects of original sin, and regeneration; but I am not knowledgeable or convinced enough on either doctrine to challenge your view.
Thanks for responding in such detail. It was edifying for me.
Wayne - I am simply thankful for your patience with me. I find that, for myself at least, that having my convictions challenged - whether that challenge eventually draws me closer to the truth or not - always sharpens me, and I am thankful whenever that happens.
Here I am, almost ten years later, having revisited this post randomly (or rather providentially).
Darkness is the word we use to describe the absence of light. Light can be measured, because it actually "is" something, but darkness has no substance of its own - it is merely the word we use to describe light's absence.
Death is the same. Death is the word we use to describe the absence of life.
When Adam sinned, he did not drop dead - physically, but the wage of his disobedience was immediately put into effect: He was cut off from the source of life - Christ (as represented symbolically in the Tree of Life).
In John 15:5 our Lord said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." We understand by this that we cannot produce spiritual fruit in our own lives - that such fruit comes from Christ through the Holy Spirit. We can do nothing with regards to bearing fruit - including bearing the fruit of righteousness.
In other words, no one can do anything righteous apart from Christ.
There is no middle ground between righteousness and unrighteousness - whatever is not righteous, is (by definition) unrighteous. Said another way, what ever is not perfectly in line with God's will, is outside of it, and stands opposed to it - what ever is not righteous, is sin.
As mentioned above, it isn't sin that spreads to all, and death through sin - but death that spreads to all and through that death sin comes.
This makes perfect sense, since death is not a thing, but the absence of a thing - the absence of the life of Christ - without which one is not capable of bearing the fruit of righteousness - thus everyone who is separated from Christ sins, not because they were born "sinful" - but because they were born "dead" - and as such, are incapable of bearing the fruit of Christ's righteousness - with the result that the fruit they bear is sin.
We aren't born guilty of sin, but we are certainly born without the life of Christ in us - and because we are born thus, we are only able to bear sinful fruit. We become sinners because we are born into this world in that state of separation from Christ that we have inherited from Adam. We become sinners as soon as our separation from Christ (i.e. our death, and inability to do anything righteous) causes us to act autonomously.
Infants are born as spiritually dead as everyone else, and this death will eventually lead them to sin. But if an infant dies before death has produced sin in him , he has not sinned, and bears no guilt - either for his own sin, or for Adam's sin - since the son cannot be condemned for the sins of his father (Adam).
That doesn't (necessarily) mean that a babe who dies has some merit before God. While such a child lacks the necessary sin to condemn himself, he likewise lacks any merit to commend himself to God.
When our Lord said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:16), I think our Lord means what he says - that children in whom death has yet to produce the fruit of damnable sin, have a kind of open access to Christ's grace that ends the moment they become accountable for their own sin. Should a child die prior to this moment, Christ's merit is graciously and mercifully applied to them.