Theology Thursday

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

Romans 3:9-12

We are working through a Theology Thursday series on Reformed Theology or what is sometimes called “Calvinism.” In the early 1600’s some Christians came up with a simple acronym TULIP that captured five basic points of what the Bible said about humanity and the good news about Jesus.

T stands for Total Depravity.

First a little background. TULIP wasn’t developed in a vacuum. It was a response to two other theological systems: Roman Catholicism & Arminianism. In both of these theologies, God has given sufficient grace to humanity either through baptism or inherently for individuals to come to faith in Christ.

Here is another way to think about it. Do humans have the capacity to come to faith in Christ on their own? Or do we need God to do something first? Roman Catholics say if the person has been baptised or christened, then they can come to faith in Christ. The Arminian says anyone has the ability to come to faith in Christ.

The Calvinist (and I think the Bible) says something different. As we see above, Romans 3 and Psalm 53 tell us that no one seeks for God because we are all under the power of sin. Ephesians 2 describes all humans as “dead in their trespasses and sins.” Jeremiah 17:9, “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Jesus says whoever practises sin is a slave to sin. Jesus also says we must be born again into the Kingdom of God. Who chooses to be born?

The picture seems clear. Humans are broken, dead, slaves to sin. We have no ability to do something as good as turning to Christ in faith. This is why we need God to intervene. This is why God, in His mercy, must promise to turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

Total depravity doesn’t mean we are as evil as we could be (this would be utter depravity). It just means there isn’t anything within the human, no spark, no slither, no cell that has the capacity for faith in Jesus. However, God can and promises to change those He has called. His Spirit blows into the hearts of men, women and children, and from a new regenerated heart, they turn to Jesus in faith.

More on this next Thursday.

For Today:
  • What do you think about total depravity?
  • Where do your beliefs on human freedom come from?
  • If you do trust in Jesus, give thanks to God for overcoming your total depravity.

Pray: Praise the Father that He is almighty and merciful God who can make hearts alive to Him. Give thanks for Jesus Christ who was totally righteous and died for sinners. Give thanks for the Holy Spirit giving you and others a new heart that can turn to Jesus in faith.

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