In the above quote you say all "believers are sinful...", I assume a typo in this since my question was about unbelievers?
Where I am at an impass in understanding your argument is where I see explicit language in Scripture describing the total unwillingness of man to seek God coupled with the total darkening of the understanding and futility of the mind. How do individuals overcome this on their own? Please re
Then if it is the Holy Spirit helps some to overcome this condition by working on people's hearts are you stating God is unable or ineffective in the cases of those who remain in unbelief? Truly we know not all hear the message, is God desiring yet unable in these also? I wonder if you comprehend the god of free-will you are arguing for that is sovereign over and more powerful than the biblical God in your theology.
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:4
Your argument is God works on the heart of every unbeliever that hears the gospel so they accept it as truth and place God at the heart of their desires, and enlightens the mind so they are not blinded and so they fully understand the gospel with their future demise without Him and the greater reality of God's eternal love through faith. But some reject this quickening and awakening thus overcoming God's work in their hearts and minds. Here God wants all to come to Him but in the case of most He is doing everything He can but He is unable to overcome the sinful desire of man's heart. This is irrational and unbelievable and describes a weak god.
Here we must concede man views the treasure of God he receives through faith and understands the foulness of sin and then chooses dung over treasure. Man understands the eternal torment awaiting him and weighs that more valuable than the eternal love God has in store. What enlightened man would choose such an outcome? What man that has his heart set on God would seek to desire something else? No it must be conceded that God was unsuccessful in bringing this type of man to rationality because no rational man would decide in such a way. This type of man is still irrational and futile in their thinking. God must have been unsuccessful in clearing this man's heart of sin and instilling the fear of Him in it not able to fulfill the promise given through His prophet Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 32:40) This type of man never was fully clear from the veil Satan has over their eyes and God is unable to bring true clarity. Here God has failed in fulfilling His desire and purpose, His word has gone out in vain, and Satan is the victor.
Then I do not see how Jesus' forgiveness of others applies to total depravity. By forgiving others we release ourselves from the spiritual bondage of unforgiveness and pride. Certainly this is true in the case of Jesus also.
Thanks for responding. I appreciate the discussion and the effort on your part to understand better my position prior to sharing the ways in which you disagree. I think sometimes people disagree without really taking the time to really understand the other person's views. So, I know my comments may not change your mind, but I thank you for trying to understand my position a little better.
1. Yes, I apologize. That was a typo.
2. Yes, man is totally unwilling to seek God on their own. I agree with you here. I think Paul makes this point very clear as well in the book of Romans. The difference is, I believe, that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God is seeking man. Jesus came to "seek and save." The "Good News" of the Gospel is that God came for us and that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So, I dont think responding to the Gospel can be compared to man's pursuit of God. I believe the preaching of the Gospel is God's pursuit of man and our response to the Gospel is simply that....a response. When we believe the Gospel, we are simply reacting to the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. The initiative is all God's in the incarnation, revelation, death & resurrection, and the Spirit-inspired message that brings conviction and a knowledge of the truth.
Just to clarify the point even more (because I believe it is a significant one), allow me to use an illustration. A boy gets lost in a shopping mall. The parents are frantic and are crying out in the mall, searching store to store, but cannot find the boy. The boy, on the other hand, is happily sitting in a toy store, playing with toys for hours. He is completely oblivious to his parents search and he is in no way seeking his parents. The parents, in their search, call security and give out pictures of the boy. The mall security officers split up with pictures and call on the intercoms for the boy. Finally, one of the officers walks into the toy store and finds the boy happily playing with a toy in the back of the store. He calls to the boy an tells the boy to follow him because his parents are worried to death and have been looking for him for hours. The boy believes the officer and follows him to be reunited with the parents.
Now, dont take this illustration to say anything about Total Depravity...it is just to make a point about how I understand the concept of initiative in God's search for man. No one would say the boy initiated the search. The boy, in no way, was looking for the parents or even aware that he was lost. However, when he was confronted with the news about his parents and their concern, the boy was made aware of the situation and was able to respond. I hope that helps.
3. I dont want to make this too long. I will comment on 2 Cor. 4:4 a little later in a different post.
4. I also want to spend a little time on the idea of thwarting God's desires by rejecting a message that God wants them to accept. Does such an idea suggest that man is sovereign over God? Absolutely not. You see, I agree that God is completely sovereign. However, God, in his sovereignty, has chosen to make free will creatures. God desires and has determined to make creatures with the capacity to choose. Thus, while God may desire people to accept the Gospel, he also desires people to make their own choices by virtue of his sovereign choice to make free-will beings. So, if God supersedes our free will to cause us to accept the Gospel (which he desires) he is also negating his sovereign decision (and desire) to make human beings free-will creatures who can choose love him and live by faith.
Perhaps another crude example would be training a dog to sit. Now, you are the dog's master. You want the dog to sit, so you give the dog treats and try to train the dog to sit when you ask. You could, if you wanted, jam the dog's hind-end to the ground with your hand and make the dog sit. This would fulfill your will to make the dog sit in that moment, but would not accomplish your overarching desire for the dog to trust you and happily obey you. The joy of having a good dog is that they happily respond to your commands without having to force them to do what you want...even though you could. In the same way, God desires his people to accept the Gospel, but he also desires for them to make their own choices. Thus, our freedom is a sovereign act of God and does not undermine his sovereignty...but fulfills it. Consider the following verses from Isaiah 5:
“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” (Isaiah 5:4–7, NIV)
To me, these verses (and read all of chap 5 if you like for the fuller context) clearly show that God truly desired Israel to do what was right. He wanted them to live righteously. He wanted them to be just in their dealings with one another. In fact, the passage suggests that God had done everything to set the stage for them to do the right thing and produce good fruit. However, in spite of all God's desires and efforts, the people were stubborn and wicked and filled the land with blood and distress. God permitted his people to express their free will even though he desired, and set the stage for them to behave differently than they did. In the same way, we see a number of texts in the NT where people resist the Holy Spirit and spurn the Spirit of grace (cf. Acts 5:3; 7:51; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 10:29)
In sum, I dont think it suggests that God is weak. I think it shows that God is sovereign and he has made a sovereign choice to make human beings free-will creatures and honors that choice he made, even when human beings do the things which grieve him and are opposed to his desires and nature. Of course, mankind's rebellion is only temporary and God will extinguish all wickedness and endures it for our sake so that we have time to repent and escape the judgment to come.
5. "Then I do not see how Jesus' forgiveness of others applies to total depravity. By forgiving others we release ourselves from the spiritual bondage of unforgiveness and pride. Certainly this is true in the case of Jesus also."
I am not sure what you are trying to say here. Can you clarify this comment for me?
Have a blessed evening, brother.