The Simplicity of Soteriology

I am working on a book where I will propose an alternative to the almost universally accepted concept of total depravity and its relationship to original sin; I do not believe that to be the case at all. I believe when God put Adam out of the garden, Adam lost his right standing with God and every person born shares this plight and so every decision we make falls short of the glory of God and that is the basis of our sin nature. So in this manner it is absolutely true that in Adam all sin because we are all born outside of God’s perpetual presence, which is the essence of His glory and until that right relationship is restored we are enslaved to a sin nature no matter how ethically, morally good our decisions may or may not be.

This is why I believe the incarnation and the indwelling are so vitally important… for oftentimes the remedy says more about the malady than we give it credit. The indwelling restores right standing before God and that is what Jesus went to the cross to accomplish for those who will “look up and live.” (Numbers 21:8-9)

This is the simplicity of soteriology as I see it.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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22 Responses to The Simplicity of Soteriology

  1. Les Prouty says:

    Well brother,

    “I believe when God put Adam out of the garden, Adam lost his right standing with God and every person born shares this plight and so every decision we make falls short of the glory of God and that is the basis of our sin nature.”

    I agree with some and disagree with other parts of this sentence. I also believe that “when God put Adam out of the garden, Adam lost his right standing with God and every person born shares this plight and so every decision we make falls short of the glory of God.”

    I disagree with the last part (that is the basis of our sin nature), at least I don’t think it says all there is to say.

    Maybe I beed you to clarify what you mean by “that is the basis of our sin nature.” What are you saying is the basis of our sin nature?

  2. lydiasellerofpurple says:

    “This is why I believe the incarnation and the indwelling are so vitally important… for oftentimes the remedy says more about the malady than we give it credit”

    Absolutely true! Thanks for articulating that.

  3. Bob Wheeler says:

    I hate to say it, but someone else already came up with this idea — Thomas Aquinas. It is the Roman Catholic view of original sin and human depravity, and was soundly rejected by the Reformers, who noted that in Romans 7 that sin (i.e., the sin nature) is more than just the loss of original righteousness. — It is an active principle that keeps us in bondage and blinds our understanding. This is why the Holy Spirit has to renew our hearts and enlighten our minds in order for us to believe.

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob,

      Here is a question no one has been able to answer satisfactorily… in the renewing work of the Holy Spirit you reference so that we are ABLE TO BELIEVE, is that the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? John 6:63 clearly says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” The Spirit takes up resident in the dead lifeless heart and new life is birthed.

      Correct?

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        To be technical, we probably have to make a distinction between the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11) and the indwelling of the Spirit, which comes as a result of faith (Gal. 3:2-5). Which is the “new birth”? I’m not sure I could answer. But what I do know is this: repentance and faith are gifts from God. and, from the preacher’s standpoint, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential for success in the ministry. One man sows, another waters; but it is God Who gives the increase (I Cor. 3:5-8). What we need is old-time Holy Ghost power — call it what you will: “Calvinism” or “Pentacostalism,” or whatever! “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (I Cor. 2:4).

      • sbcissues says:

        Bob,

        For the record I agree with your statement, we probably have to make a distinction between the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11) and the indwelling of the Spirit, which comes as a result of faith (Gal. 3:2-5).

        You asked, Which is the new birth? I am not sure I can answer that.

        That is the basis of my argument. I believe calvinism tries to have it both ways, which of course is impossible. Calvinism contends man is dead and lifeless and is therefore incapable of responding positively to God. It is interesting that man CAN respond which sort of smacks at his being “dead” but lets go ahead and allow the analogy for the sake of conversation. Its position is going to get even more difficult.

        The lost man is dead and apart from regeneration and effectual calling he cannot or most certainly will not respond to God in repentance and saving faith and so he cannot be saved. Regeneration is NEW LIFE. It is commonly compared to Jesus’ calling Lazarus out of the tomb; Jesus spoke and Lazarus was IMMEDIATELY alive. God calls and the dead hearted and deaf eared unregenerate COMES TO NEW LIFE just as Lazarus did and he begins the process of sanctification. That is what calvinism teaches.

        Now calvinists understand it that way in one sense and then is another. The point is this; if God has to give new life to the dead unregenerate then it is not the convicting work of the Holy Spirit at work here and so there cannot be a difference in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling; for it is the Spirit that gives what? NEW LIFE and the only way that can take place is with the indwelling.

        So to answer your question.. Which is the “new birth”? One must choose which system he is going to accept as authority… the Bible which clearly teaches that new birth is the result of the indwelling or the calvinist position which says new birth is the result of effectual calling and has the Holy Spirit taking up residence in the heart of the unrepentant person.

        A second serious problem to the indwelling and its relationship to regeneration is the fact that the indwelling does not take place until AFTER Pentecost. So that would almost eliminate the possibility of regeneration even being possible prior to Pentecost… and even calvinism maintains that the OT saints were saved looking forward to the cross… but that would seem to be impossible if they were not first regenerated and since the indwelling was not a possibility to accomplish regeneration, I would find that seriously problematic.

  4. Eric Lockhart says:

    Bob’s right, very Catholic of you, but can you explain what you mean by “outside his perpetual presence?”

    • sbcissues says:

      Yea. OK. Nice little association there. In the garden Adam experienced unfettered access to God’s presence. I call this God’s perpetual presence… keeping it all in the “p’s”

      However the real point is that when God put Adam out of the garden, what He did was remove Adam’s right standing., or a separation from God’s perpetual presence. As long as man is separated from God’s perpetual presence or lacks right standing nothing he does will please God because every decision he makes on his own falls short of God’s glory.

      So in the indwelling, mans right standing is restored and he now belongs to God both now and forever.

      • Eric Lockhart says:

        Not trying to be a jerk or trick you, really did not understand the extent to which you were talking. Adam was never outside God’s presence. He shows up again in chapter 4. So, I was confused by the statement, it seems you are talking more about communion than presence. Is that accurate?

      • sbcissues says:

        No one is EVER outside God’s presence… not even the unregenerate today who has no chance whatsoever to escape an eternity in hell.

        What I am referring to in His perpetual presence is Adam’s being able to experience unfettered access to that presence which is what right standing provides.

  5. Jof says:

    Adam did not lose his “standing” when he was ejected from the garden, his nature and therefore his relationship with God was changed when he sinned. To assert that the indwelling of the spirit determines a believers justification is to radically oversimplify everything that is going on, if you want to discuss “right standing” (as you call it) then perhaps we should limit our theological terminology to that which the scriptures provides regarding our “standing” before God i.e Justification, atonement, propitiation, imputation etc.

    • sbcissues says:

      Jof

      Adam did not lose his “standing” when he was ejected from the garden… I respectfully disagree; he was certainly not able to return. Now the effects of standing that I suggest may be inaccurate but he DID lose his right standing when he was banned from the garden, a state God created him in by the way.

      his nature and therefore his relationship with God was changed when he sinned. That is certainly an interpretation; but unless you are prepared to suggest God regenerated Adam before he could respond, I do believe you are standing on terribly brittle ground. I do not believe the issue of regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith can be even remotely justified in the OT. Of course, I do not believe it can be justified in the NT either but most assuredly the OT.

      To assert that the indwelling of the spirit determines a believers justification is to radically oversimplify everything that is going on, well once again I disagree. I am of the opinion that theology has become so complex and complicated most are like a dog chasing its tail; they do not know if they are coming or going. God’s plan and provisions concerning conversion and sanctification are really very simple; look up and believe. Since God is the One who saves, He is the One who is uniquely qualified to make the determination who does and does not believe. I do not see any problem with Him being able to do what He says He will do.

      Thanks for your contribution to the conversation.

  6. Jof says:

    I was simply distinguishing between two different categories, one is cause and the other is consequence, Adam’s sin (cause) resulted in him to losing his relationship with God (consequence). As far as regeneration we don’t have enough information about Adam to determine from the text exactly how regeneration played out for Adam or even if Adam was indeed regenerated after the fall, to suggest otherwise if mere speculation. The OT provides little discussion on regeneration, though it is there Ezekiel 11:19-20 for example. It isn’t until the NT that we get more detailed information regarding the new birth and the natural abilities or inabilities of men. Given your particular theological tradition and obvious loathing of reformed theology I found your statement that God determines who will believe to be quite confusing, if God is only responding to the natural man’s faith and repentance how exactly does God determine who believes?

  7. sbcissues says:

    Jof,

    Thanks again for the dialogue. For the record, I agree with your statement, I was simply distinguishing between two different categories, one is cause and the other is consequence, Adam’s sin (cause) resulted in him to losing his relationship with God (consequence). You and I differ in the ultimate extent of the consequence. I maintain the consequence of being out out of the garden IS the cause of man’s sinful nature. Adam’s sin was the cause of the consequences he experienced and that consequence is now the cause of our own sinful natures. Any thing we do outside right standing has to fall short of God’s glory and that according to Romans 3:23 is the definition of sin.

    Ezekiel 11:19-20 is a prophetic statement of what God says HE WILL DO… which actually could be a proof text against regeneration in the OT… if it is something that HE WILL DO then it is not something He is doing at that time… and if regeneration is not an OT concept I do not see how it can be a NT concept… if men are totally depraved today they HAD to be then and if men are regenerated today then they HAD to be regenerated then.

    I do not believe either to be the case and that is why there is no concept of such in the OT.

    To your last question… “if God is only responding to the natural man’s faith and repentance how exactly does God determine who believes?”

    I am confident of this: God is NOT the One who decides who does and does not believe. In your question… how does God determine who believes… I believe He has the ability to do just that, since He tells us that those who do believe are those who are born again and become part of His forever family.

  8. james jordan says:

    “Adam lost his right standing with God and every person born shares this plight and so every decision we make falls short of the glory of God and that is the basis of our sin nature.”

    The only way our every decision could be equal to the glory of God is if we were equal to God. Even without “the fall” our “every decision” would not meet up to the glory of God because we were made “a little lower than the angels.”

    • james jordan says:

      Forgot to make my actual point; who would think that God would require creatures that he knows aren’t equal to himself to meet up to his glory? The whole notion is absurd. God’s standard cannot be that we equal his glory, but he must have a lower standard for us. That is just obvious.

    • sbcissues says:

      James…

      When I said “falls short of the glory of God” what I am referring to is actually our in ability to allow God to do for us what He has planned to do. The point of our right standing is that this best represents the potential for us to be where God wants us to be at any given time so that in Hiss presence His power, His provisions and His protection are available to us. For me giving God glory really means giving Him the opportunity to be God in our lives… because think about it… the only thing He does not have is our devotion and our obedience and when we do respond to Him in those ways He is able to do for us things He might not do in a lesser state of right standing.

      That is really the thought behind the statement I made. No one would argue that we have the ability to give God really anything except for our hearts and our devotion and obedience. I would take minor exception to your statement concerning the decisions we make not meeting up to His glory… If our decision perfectly reflects His will for us at that moment in our lives, my contention is that those decisions do meet up to His glory… because we are doing what we were created to do. Anything short of that is sin.

      • james jordan says:

        What I am trying to say is you are defining sin simply as imperfection rather than commission of specific forbidden acts. I have a problem with that because we were created imperfect and God knows that being the creator and all. He created us lower than the angels not as perfect beings, and he defines sin not as imperfection (something we’re stuck with) but as violation of actual commandments.

      • sbcissues says:

        Sin begins between the ears and being out of step with God’s perfect plan leads us to imperfect thoughts that lead to all sorts of sin.

      • james jordan says:

        But thus we come to the distinction between sin and temptation.

        1 Corinthians 10:13 “…God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

        If it were otherwise — if the temptation = sin — if the thought = the action — then Jesus would be a sinner, because it is written:

        Hebrews 4:5 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

        So then, the temptation does not equal sin; only the possibility that we might yield to sin.

      • sbcissues says:

        Sin begins in the choices we make. There is a difference between temptation and our choices. I honestly have no idea how you can draw the conclusions you have given the statement I made.

      • james jordan says:

        Heb 4:15 actually.

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