For many years, the newsletters for Open Air Outreach were only published through email. Those newsletters were not posted online. We are now in the process of archiving these old newsletters online so that they are available to the body of Christ at large to read and be encouraged and edified by them.
The contents from this post was an email newsletter sent out on 1/23/2009
Jan 23, 2009
This newsletter has no copy-right.
Feel free to share it by printing it off or by forwarding it on.
WE THANK GOD FOR ALL YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT
EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY, GREENSVILLE NC
The campus administration made a new policy as to where the free speech area is located. The area used to be next to the major traffic of the students but is now in the middle of a green away from the traffic of the students. I was worried that this new location might hinder us from drawing a crowd. We were, however, prepared for such an obstacle. We had a team with us with signs, banners, and sandwich boards.
A crowd of students did gather in the new free speech area when we were there. This campus has had many preachers visit and is therefore “tamed”. We went back and forth with the crowd in question answer format. One man however was extremely blasphemous, saying things that cannot be repeated. He actually proved our point about the wickedness of the campus and helped to draw the attention of the other depraved individuals on campus.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, CHAPEL HILL
The weather in North Carolina has been very cold, but with the fire of God, we are still getting the attention of sinners. John Wesley said, “Get on fire for God and people will come to watch you burn”. Lifting the Bible high, we urgently proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, calling sinners to turn from their sins in the fear of God.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, COLUMBIA
I had not been to this campus since my first year of full time campus preaching in 2005. The students were absolutely untamed and vicious. The Police arrived to monitor the situation but clearly sympathized with the students in their immoral behavior. For hours we stood in the gap, calling these sinners back to God.
This day has was also extremely cold but the students still gathered around. It is absolutely essential to secure their attention if we are going to reach them with the truth. I have heard some open air preachers say, “It doesn’t matter if we draw a crowd”. This is nonsense. If you don’t want to draw a crowd, you can preach in your backyard. The reason we go to public places is because we want to reach the public. Using biblical methods of evangelism, it is not hard to draw a crowd. If a man of God publicly calls out the sin of the community, he will cause no small stir.
UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK
I had not been to this campus also since 2005. When I first arrived on campus, I started preaching in the public square that I preached in years ago. After preaching for about an hour, an administrator told me that I needed to leave campus. I told him that I read on the University website that “outsiders” could use the free speech area so long as students did not have it reserved. Upon hearing this, he told me that I could get a permit for the free speech area in the student union. The campus had one area for literature distribution and another area for public speaking. Since most student groups use tables for literature, the public speaking theatre was wide open for us to use.
Every day that I preached on campus, the homosexual student group members came out. I was told that the homosexual student group was actually the largest student group on this campus. While other groups on campus, like the Muslims, tried to discredit the Bible, the homosexual group tried to reinterpret the Bible to fit their immoral behavior. Passages in the Bible which clearly condemn men with men or women with women, are interpreted by the homosexuals and lesbians to be talking about male prostitution or sexual relationships without “love”. This however, in the Greek and in the English, is simply not accurate or honest. The Bible clearly condemns the choice of homosexuality and therefore so should preachers!
A friend of mine Ken lives in the Maryland area near the campus. He came out to campus with us every day that we were there, to hold a banner and witness to students. He even had his first open air preaching experience that week. This is him above ministering the Word to the college students.
SIGNS OF SINNERS
University of Maryland continued
This sign shows the moral depravity of the students. The rainbow is a reminder of the mercy of God, that He will not flood the entire earth with water again. Yet the very symbol of God’s mercy has become the logo of the homosexual movement! This time of grace and mercy will not last forever. The day will come when all men will have to give an account of their lives and there will be hell to pay for many.
There were many “Christians” who were confronting me for my message and methods, but where are the Christians on campus who will confront the sinners using signs like this? Professing Christians on campus get up set when I offend sinners, but they do not get upset when sinners offend God. It shows where their sympathies are.
These signs are not worthy of any type of actual response.
I know Jesus is not your Savior, that is why I came to your campus to talk to you. You cannot have real peace or shalom until you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
God cares about you as you are, but God does not take any sort of emotional delight in you because your moral character is filthy. God has love for all in regards to the caring state of His will. God does not have love for all in regards to emotional delight or pleasure. God abhors the wicked. On Judgment Day, sinners cannot say “God, you accept me as I am”. They will be cast into hell as they are, unless they change their ways in this life.
There is a God and you need to worry. We naturally know that there is a God through intuition and conscience. God has also clearly manifested Himself through His works in nature. For those who want to live a selfish or wicked life, they try to ease the uneasiness their conscience gives them by telling themselves there is no God and consequently no eternal accountability or retribution. Atheism is a crutch for the morally depraved.
Who am I to judge? Jesse Morrell. Thanks for asking! The Bible says a spiritual man judges all things, that the Saints will judge the world, and that we are to judge righteously. If I had a log in my eye, I would not be qualified to judge until I got it out. That is, if I had sin in my life, I would not be qualified to judge until I got it out of my life. Since I have repented of all my sins, I am qualified to judge. The problem with our day and age is that the Church has not been proclaiming moral judgments to the morally depraved world. We must judge the world by telling them that they are wicked and in need of a Savior.
The only type of “hate” that I brought to this campus was hatred for sin. Hatred for sin ought to be a UMD moral value. It is immoral to love sin. It is morally right to hate sin. The problem I found on UMD was that it was filled with hatred for God but it did not have enough hatred for sin. That needs to change.
CHURCH SERVICE IN PITTSBURGH, PA
I preached a message called “True & False Repentance” to a group of Pastors in Pennsylvania. I explained how under God’s moral government, God refuses to forgive those that refuse to repent. God will only turn from His wrath and anger when sinners turn from their sins. The missing ingredient to the American Gospel is repentance. The reason we don’t see revivals today is because we don’t hear much repentance preaching today. Revival without repentance is no revival at all. Revival is a baptism of repentance.
Repentance is not an emotion, it is a choice. Repentance is the radical decision of the heart to forsake all known sin, to submit and surrender entirely and totally unto God. Repentance is not half-hearted or partial. Partial obedience is total disobedience. Repentance is entire and complete. Repentance is a total change of mind that results in a completely changed life. True repentance will bring forth the fruit of repentance. The fruit of repentance is a changed life. A change of mind, when a person changes their mind about sinning, will drastically change their life. If it does not, it is not true repentance.
God is not responsible for the impenitence of the world. God calls all men to repent. If sinners remain impenitent, is it their own fault because it is their own choice. God is calling all men everywhere to repent and God rightly blames them and punishes them if they do not choose to repent.
WHY PREACH THE WRATH OF GOD?
“Powerful, brother! Invigorating message!” YouTube Member
“This was AWESOME… Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to work in your life and your messages. Keep trusting the Savior even through oppression, judgement and doubters out there. Everything you spoke of in this message was ALL Biblical Truth. I also pray that our hometown preachers may open his life and heart more toward the complete Truth of the Bible, not just the “things” that people want to hear. I get it and love the Lord! You have conviction and some take the wrong way – be encouraged” YouTube Member
“Thank you so much for putting these up, Jesse! They really are inspiring. I’ve been getting more confident about confronting sin when I share the gospel since I started watching these videos the last month or so. I thank the Lord for the encouragement He has given me through the work that you and Kerrigan are doing! I pray for both of you (and your families)everyday. God bless you!” Michelle
TRUE & FALSE REPENTANCE
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“What happened to the days when you could burn these people?” A Calvinist speaking about Jesse
“My only hope is that you will mutilate yourself.” A Calvinist speaking to Jesse
“People like this should have their tongues ripped out.” A Calvinist speaking about Jesse
“Jesse, thank you for taking up your cross and following after Christ. I was not busy at work and stumbled upon you preaching open air.. awesome! I have preached open air a few times and its very encouraging to see my dear brothers sharing their faith the way we are called to in the great comission.. I have seen some people who hold Calvinist roots attack you while you are preaching.. what is wrong with them?? The truth is being preached.. if anything they need to be amening ya and encouraging those around them to repent! I am in the middle between Armenian and Calvinist but one thing I am about is souls so the Lord might receive all the Glory for His suffering and wicked men can be washed from their iniquities by His blood.. Keep proclaiming the glorious gospel!! I love you my brother.. Doulos”
“Jesse I just started watching your videos and I admire your fortitude and ability to memorize and retain the scriptures. May you continue to grow in wisdom and GODS blessings. Keep warning the people, it may be the only one they ever receive… I see the truth being shared in love penetrating their hearts.” Marc
“Thank you sir. I enjoy your videos very much. What you have said in the atonement series has been good. It makes sense. God does sit on a throne. God is a ruler…therefore he has all the members of his Kingdom watching what he does.” YouTube Member
“Your videos really show me the current state of the “academic” world.” YouTube Member
“I am so enthused by your preaching. I am on the edge of stepping out as you have.” Jason
“Jesse, I wanted to write to you man, to tell you that you are a mighty man of God. I have been watching your videos here on YouTube, and I have to say they are awesome witnessing tools for the sinful world out there. I have watched many of the videos, and have been adding them to my favorites. Your love of Jesus Christ is very evident, and there is a heavy anointing upon your life…” Shane
“You have blessed my life in a tremendous way.” Martin
“THANK YOU VERY MUCH, for your hard work to change a sinner like me. I wish I had your courage, knowledge, perseverance and intelligence to proclaim the Word of the Father. I am only concern about your safety as you often face very hostile people. Please be careful, and may God richly bless you and your family.” Les
“I saw a bunch of your campus videos and have been checking out the libraryoftheology. Those videos were a like breath of fresh air!” Ben
“The world needs preachers like Jesse. He is on the way. He tells people to repent and believe. Praise God !!! ” A brother from Germany on YouTube
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ORIGINAL SIN DEBATE
On Refining Fire Radio, Evanglist Kerrigan Skelly debated Pastor Pat Necerato on the topic of original sin.
– God does not want us to sin. God loves righteousness and hates sin.
– Babies are born innocent since they haven’t made choices yet.
– Free will is a part of human nature.
– All men are capable of obeying God.
– Sin is a free will choice.
– Men become sinners when they voluntarily choose to violate their conscience.
– Sin is the Sovereign and eternal plan of God.
– Babies are born under the wrath of God because of Adam.
– God removed free will from human nature when Adam sinned.
– Sinners sin by necessity, they cannot obey God.
– Sin is not only a choice but it also a nature.
– God personally imputes the sin and guilt of Adam to his innocent prosterity.
The way I see it, if men are born sinners then it is not their fault because it is not their choice. If it is not their fault, they do not deserve punishment. If they do not deserve punishment, they do not need Jesus Christ. Therefore if men are born sinners, they do not need Jesus Christ.
If, however, men are sinners by choice then it is their fault. If it is their fault, they do deserve punishment. If they deserve punishment, they need Jesus Christ. Therefore if men are sinners by choice, they need Jesus Christ.
The Bible very clearly says that sinners deserve punishment and need the atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore men must be sinners by choice.
THE BIBLE DOES NOT TEACH ORIGINAL SIN
* Children do not inherit the guilt or sin of their parents: Deut. 24:16,2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Jer. 31:29-30, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20.
* Sinners are separated from God for their own personal sin: Isa. 59:2; Lk. 15:24; Rom. 5:12; Rom. 7:9, Col. 2:13.
* Responsibility is limited to or exactly proportionate to ability: Deut. 6:5, Deut. 10:12, Deut. 30:6, Matt. 22:37, Mk. 12:30, Lk. 10:27, 1 Cor. 10:13.
* Accountability is limited to or exactly proportionate to knowledge: Matt. 11:21-22, Lk. 12:47-48, Lk. 23:34, Jn. 9:41, Jn. 15:22, Rom. 4:15, Rom. 5:13, Jas. 4:17, Jn. 19:11, Matt. 23:14, Mk.12:40, Lk. 20:47, Jas. 3:1, Matt. 10:15, Matt. 11:24, Mk. 6:11, Lk. 10:12, Lk. 10:14, Heb. 10:26, 2 Pet. 2:21.
* Each individual is personally accountable for their own personal sins only: Deut. 24:16, 2 Kng. 14:6, 2 Chron. 25:4, Eze. 18:2-4, Eze. 18:19-20, Matt. 16:27, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Cor. 11:15, 1 Pet. 1:17, Rev. 22:12.
* Men are not born dead in sins, they become morally depraved and relationally separated from God when they voluntarily choose to sin: Isa. 59:2, Lk. 15:24; Rom. 5:12, Rom. 5:14, Rom. 7:9, Rom. 7:11, Col. 2:13.
* All men have personally and voluntarily chosen to become sinners, that is, men are sinners by choice: 6:12, Ex. 32:7, Deut. 9:12, Deut. 32:5, Jdg. 2:19, Hos. 9:9, Ps. 14:2-3, Isa. 53:6, Ecc. 7:29, Rom. 3:23.
* Each individual originates their own sin out of their own heart or will: Matt. 12:35, Lk. 6:45.
* Infant children are morally innocent (2 Kng. 21:16; 24:4; Jer. 13:26-27; Ps. 106:37-38; Matt. 18:3) and have not yet “done anything” morally “good or evil” (Rom. 9:11) until the age of accountability, which is the age of reason, when they know right from wrong (Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15-16), and choose to do wrong (Jas. 4:17).
BIBLE PASSAGES COMMONLY MISUSED PROPERLY EXPLAINED
The following is an explanation of the passages commonly used in support of the “born a sinner” or “born sinful” misconception:
I. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Ps. 51:5:
A. This scripture is talking about David and his mother. It is not referencing all of humanity. It says nothing about Adam.
B. Taken literally, it is saying that David’s mother was in some sort of sin when she conceived him. She was in sin when she conceived David.
C. A strong case can be made that Ps. 51:5 is talking about the defilement of David’s mother, because of a previous marriage to another man – a heathen.
(1.) David had two half-sisters named Zeruiah and Abigail (1 Chron. 2:13-16).
(2.) The father of David’s half sisters was not Jesse but Nahash (2 Sam. 17:25).
(3.) Nahash was an Ammonite king (1 Sam. 11:1; 1 Sam. 12:12).
(4.) David’s father was Jesse, not Nahash. But the Father of David’s half sisters were daughts of Nahash. This could explain why Nahash showed kindness towards David (2 Sam. 10:2).
(5.) David’s mother was most likely the second wife of Jesse. The first wife of Jesse would have been considered superior to his second wife which had been either the concubine or wife of a heathen king.
(6.) This would explain why David’s half brothers viewed themselves as superior to David, and why David was considered prideful for thinking he was as good as them (1 Sam. 17:28-30).
(7.) This may explain why David was not called before Samuel the prophet amongst the other sons (1 Sam. 16:11).
(8.) David’s mother apparently had a good relationship with the Lord (Ps. 86:16; 116:16). But she would have been, in the eyes of Jewish law, considered defiled by her previous relationship with an Ammonite (Num. 25:1,2; Deut. 7:3,4; 1 Kings 11:2-4, Ezra 9:2; Neh. 13:23,25; 2 Cor. 6:14-17).
D. The context of David’s prayer of repentance is not consistent with David making an excuse for his adultery, “I was born this way”. In true repentance, an individual takes full responsible for their sin, offering no excuses for justification. David was not blaming his sin on his birth. David was simply stating that even the circumstances of his birth were surrounded by sexual sin.
E. David said that he was “wonderfully” and “marvelously” made by God in the womb (Ps. 139:13-14). Therefore, he could not have been sinfully made by his mother in the womb. It is not wonderful to be born sinful or marvelous to be created evil.
II. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Ps. 58:3:
A. This is a poetic book which verses can be taken figuratively or literally.
B. The context of this passage requires a figurative interpretation.
(1.) The entire chapter is figurative; the surrounding verses are all poetic. It talks of men being like serpents and deaf adders (vs. 4), of God breaking the teeth of the young lions (vs. 6), men melting away like running water (vs.7), God bending his bow to shoot arrows (vs. 7), men passing away as a snail which melts (vs. 8), and God destroying like a whirlwind (vs. 9).
(2.) It says that children speak lies from the womb.
(3.) Infants do not know how to speak as soon as they are born.
(4.) Therefore, this passage is poetic not realistic; it is figurative not literal.
C. The obvious meaning of this passage is that individuals choose to sin at a very early age, from the dawn of their moral agency, and the first sin which children usually commit is lying.
III. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23
A. This passage is talking about Israel during a certain period of time in their history. This passage is not talking about all sinners of all time. To apply this passage to all sinners of all time is to ignore the proper rules of hermeneutic interpretation, particularly context.
B. This passage is not talking about the way Israel was born. This passage is talking about the way Israel had become through their self-chosen habitual manner of life. The unchanging state of these people was a moral condition by choice, not a constitutional condition by birth.
C. Israel had resisted God for a long time. These men disobeyed God continually, after God had been reaching out to them time and time again. But despite all of the efforts of God, they were still wicked and evil. In fact, they were worst than when they started, because they had to continually harden their hearts as God was reaching out to them. They were well accustomed in doing evil.
D. They were so accustomed to do evil that their reformation would be comparable to a leopard changing his spots or an Ethiopian changing his skin. Through their habitual choice of disobedience, they made themselves reprobates. They resisted the influence of God to the point of no return. It was as likely to see an Ethiopian changing his skin, or a leopard changing his spots, as it would be to see these hardened reprobates changing their moral ways.
E. This passage was given to show Israel that they were without excuse, not with excuse. If they were born evil, or had no choice, they would have an excuse for being evil. God was revealing to them the justice of their punishment (Jer. 13:21-22). They rightly deserved punishment because of their continual disobedience, because of their voluntary and well established custom in doing evil.
IIII. “For as by one mans disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19:
A. If we are going to apply the first section of the passage unconditionally and universally, we must also apply the second section of the passage unconditionally and universally, since the language for both is the same. If the first section means mankind is universally and unconditionally condemned in Adam, then the second section would mean that mankind is universally and unconditionally justified through Jesus.
B. By Adam’s disobedience of eating from the tree, Adam provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be sinners, since moral knowledge has been granted to all men. A sinner is an individual who voluntarily chooses contrary to their moral knowledge.
C. By Christ’s obedience of hanging on the tree, Christ has provided all mankind with the opportunity of choosing to be saved, since remission of sin has been offered to all men upon condition of their repentance and faith.
D. The word “made” used in these passages is not referring to a constitutional change, but referring to a conditional position which requires the consent of the will. Being a sinner is conditional upon choosing to sin. Likewise, being justified is conditional upon choosing to repent and believe.
V. “…by nature children of wrath” Ephesians 2:3:
The word nature can describe a man’s God given constitution: (Rom 1:26; 1:31; 2:14; 2:27; 2 Tim 3:3). But this is just dirt and it is created by God. Therefore it cannot be sinful in and of itself.
The word nature can describe a man’s self chosen character, custom, habit, or manner of life: (Jer. 13:23; Acts 26:4; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:2-3; Gal 2:14-15; 2 Tim 3:10; 2 Pet 1:4). This is voluntary and has to do with the heart. Therefore moral character, or sinfulness, can belong to this type of nature.
The context of this particular passage is talking about a former manner of life, addressing a previous lifestyle. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world… among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind…” Eph. 2:2-3
To say that they are “children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2, 5:6) and “by nature children of wrath” is to say the same thing.
That which brings the “wrath” of God is voluntary moral character, not involuntary constitutions.
A sinful nature is moral not physical, it is a person’s self chosen character and not his God given constitution. A man’s heart (will) can be sinful, but a man’s body can only be an occasion of temptation. Though continual choices of self-gratification, man has developed a habit of sin.
POWERFUL QUOTES AGAINST ORIGINAL SIN
“The Bible says that God forms us in the womb (Gen. 4:1; Ex. 4:11; Isa. 27:11; 43:7; 49:5; 64:8; Jer. 1:5; Ps. 95:6; 139:13-14, 16; Ecc. 7:29; Job 10:9-11; 31:15; 35:10; Jn. 1:3). This cannot be denied! If we are born sinners, it is because God has formed us in the womb as sinners! That would mean that it is not our fault that we are sinners (since it is not our choice), but it would be God’s fault that we are sinners (since He formed us in the womb). This takes the blame off man and unto God! If free will is true, sin is man’s fault. If original sin is true, sin is God’s fault!” Jesse Morrell
“To represent the constitution as sinful, is to present God, who is the author of the constitution, as the author of sin.” Charles Finney (Finney’s Systematic Theology, Bethany House, p. 261).
“… it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault.” Unknown Pelagian (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 168, published by The Boydell Press).
“To equate humanity with sinfulness is to make God the Author of His own worst enemy; to make God responsible for the thing that has brought Him unhappiness.” Winkie Pratney (Youth Aflame, Bethany House, pg. 78).
“The next dogma deserving attention is the position, that mankind derived from our first progenitor a corrupt nature, which renders obedience to the commands of God impossible, and disobedience necessary, and that for the mere existence of this nature, men ‘deserve God’s wrath and curse, ot only in this world, but in that which is to come.’ If the above dogma is true, it is demonstrably evident, that this corrupt nature comes into existence without knowledge, choice, or agency of the creature, who for its existence is pronounced deserving of, and ‘bound over to the wrath of God.’ Equally evident is it, that this corrupt nature exists as the result of the direct agency of God. He proclaims himself the maker of ‘every soul of man.’ As its Maker, He must have imparted to that soul the constitution or nature which it actually possesses. It does not help the matter at all, to say, that this nature is derived from our progenitor: for the laws of generation, by which this corrupt nature is derived from that progenitor, are sustained and continued by God himself… If, then, the above dogma is true, man in the first place, is held as deserving of eternal punishment for that which exists wholly independent of his knowledge, choice or agency, in any sense, direct or indirect, He is also held responsible for the result, not of his own agency, but for that which results from the agency of God.” Asa Mahan (Doctrine of the Will, published by Truth in Heart, p. 115).
“If a man were created evil, he would not deserve punishment, since he was not evil of himself, being unable to do anything else than what he was made for.” Justin Martyr (First Apology Chap. 43)
“If anyone is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice.” Ignatius (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume One, p. 61)
“The Scriptures…emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right… We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. For it is not the nature in us that is the cause of the evil; rather, it is the voluntary choice that works evil.” Origen (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not work good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way. Nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made. However, all men are of the same nature. They are all able to hold fast and to go what is good. On the other hand, they have the power to cast good from them and not to do it.” Irenaeus (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“If man is in fault for his [supposed] sinful nature, why not condemn man for having blue or black eyes? The fact is, sin never can consist in having a nature, nor in what nature is, but only and alone in the bad use which we make of our nature. This is all. Our Maker will never find fault with us for what He has Himself done or made; certainly not. He will not condemn us, if we will only make a right use of our powers – of our intellect, our sensibilities, and our will. He never holds us responsible for our original nature… since there is no law against nature, nature cannot be a transgression… man’s nature is not a proper subject for legislation, precept, and penalty, inasmuch as it lies entirely without the pale of voluntary action, or of any action of man at all.” Charles Finney (Sermons on Gospel Themes, p. 78-79, published by Truth in Heart)
“And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature’s fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature.” Pelagius (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 43, published by The Boydell Press)
“Those who do not do it [good] will receive the just judgment of God, because they had not work good when they had it in their power to do so. But if some had been made by nature bad, and others good, these latter would not be deserving of praise for being good, for they were created that way. Nor would the former be reprehensible, for that is how they were made.” Irenaeus (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“The Scriptures…emphasize the freedom of the will. They condemn those who sin, and approve those who do right… We are responsible for being bad and worthy of being cast outside. For it is not the nature in us that is the cause of the evil; rather, it is the voluntary choice that works evil.” Origen (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
For more on original sin:
CAN CHRISTIANS LOSE THEIR SALVATION?
Are believers saved no matter what they do? Do believers need to persevere in the faith to be saved? If a believer does not persevere, do they lose their salvation in the end? The Bible says salvation can be lost (Eze. 3:20-21; 18:18-31; 33:12-20; Matt. 6:14-15; 10:22; 24:13; 24:48-51; 25:1-13; Mk. 4:16-19; 13:13; Jn. 6:66; 8:31; 15:6; Acts 1:25; 11:23; 13:43; 14:22; Rom. 8:13; 11:20-23; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:9-10; 9:27; 10:5-13; 15:1-2; Gal. 5:4-9; 5:19-21; 6:7-9; Col. 1:21-23; 1 Thes. 3:5; 3:8; 2 Thes. 2:3; 1 Tim. 1:5-6; 1:18-20; 3:6; 4:1; 4:16; 5:15; 2 Tim. 2:12; 4:9-10; Heb. 2:1; 2:3; 3:6; 3:8-15; 3:18-19; 4:1; 4:11; 4:14; 6:1; 6:8; 6:11-12; 6:15; 10:23; 10:26-31; 10:35-39; 12:14-15; 12:25; Jas. 1:13-16; 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 1:9; 2:20-22; 3:17; Rev. 2:4-7; 2:10-11; 2:17; 2:25-26; 3:2-5; 3:10-12; 3:16; 3:19; 3:20; 21:8; 22:15).
For more on conditional security:
THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE OF
A FREE WILL OPEN SYSTEM
(Known today as Open Theism)
The doctrine of an open system teaches that because of free will in both God and man, the future has genuine contingencies. A contingency if an event that “may or may not” occur. The future is not a straight line of certainties; the future is a web of possibilities. God, being free by nature, naturally lives in a system of open possibilities. When God made man in His image, granting man the ability of choice so that man is free by nature, God brought man into the same open system that He Himself operates in.
* God speaks of the future in terms of what may or may not be: Ex. 3:18, 4:9, 13:17; Eze. 12:3
* God changes His plans in response to changing circumstances: Ex. 32:10-14, Jer. 18:1-10
* God’s willingness to change His plans is considered one of His glorious attributes: Jonah 4:2; Joel 2:12-13
* God tests people to see what types of decisions they will make: Gen. 22:12; Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 13:1-3; 2 Chron. 32:31
* God has had disappointments and has regretted how things turned out: Gen. 6:6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 15:35
* God has expected things to happen that didn’t come to pass: Isa. 5:1-5; Jer. 3:6-7, 3:19-20
* God gets frustrated and grieved when he attempts to bring individuals into alignment with his will and they resist: Eze. 22:29-31; Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30; cf. Heb. 3:8, 3:15, 4:7; Acts 7:51
* The prayers of men have changed the plans of God: Ex. 32:10-14; Num. 11:1-2, 14:12-20, 16:16:20-35; Deut. 9:13-14, 9:18-20, 9:25; 2 Sam. 24:17-25; 1 Kin. 21:27-29; 2 Chron. 12:5-8; Jer. 26:19
* God is said to have repented (changed His mind) multiple times in the Bible: Gen. 6:6-7; Ex. 32:12-14; Num. 23:19; Deut. 32:36; Judges 2:18; 1 Sam. 15:11, 15:29, 15:35; 2 Sam. 24:16; Ps. 90:13, 106:45, 110:4, 135:14; Jer. 4:28, 15:6, 18:8, 18:10, 20:16, 26:3, 26:13, 26:19, 42:10, Eze. 24:14, Hos. 11:8, 13:14; Joel 1:13-14; Amos 7:3, 7:6; Jonah 3:9-10, 4:2; Zach. 8:14
* Prophecies are often God foretelling what He Himself will later bring to pass. So they have to do more with God’s omnipotence then His omniscience: Gen. 3:15; 1 Kin. 8:15, 8:20, 8:24, 13:32 (with 2 Kin. 23:1-3, 15-18); 2 Kings 19:25; 2 Chron. 1:9 (1 Chron. 6:4; 10, 15); 2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Isa. 5:19, 25:1-2, 37:26, 42:9 (with vs. 16); Jer. 29:10, 32:24, 32:28, 33:14-15, Lam. 3:37; Eze. 12:25, 17:24, 33:29, 33:33; Dan. 4:33, 4:37; Acts 3:18, 27:32-35; Rev. 17:17
* Scriptures that say God’s eternity is endless time, that is, time without beginning or end: Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14;
* Scriptures that say man’s eternity is endless time: Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11;
* Scriptures that say eternity is endless time for Heavenly creatures: Rev. 4:8
* Eternity is time without end (endless time instead of timelessness): Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14; Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11
THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD IN OPEN THEISM
Eternal: Eternity is endless time, not timelessness. God has always dwelt in time. God has always existed (in time) and God will never stop existing (in time) and therefore God is eternal. He was, He is, and He is to come. God has a past, present, and a future. His past has no beginning and His future has no end. That means He is eternal.
Omniscience: God knows all that there is to know. God has all the knowledge that there is. And since the future consists of multiple possibilities, God knows all of the possibilities. God knows all of the past, all of the present, and all of the possibilities of the future. God knows reality as it is, and since the future is partly open, God knows that it is partly open. Since the future is partly open, if God did not know that it was partly open, God would not be omniscient.
Passibility: We are made in the image of God. The reason that we have emotions is because God has emotions. God is genuinely angry with the wicked. God is genuinely grieved over the lost. God genuinely rejoices when sinners repent. God has real emotions, as the Bible states. These are not just anthropomorphic descriptions, they are descriptions of reality giving us insight into the nature of God.
Immutability: While the Bible clearly says that God changes His mind, it also clearly states that God never changes His nature or His character. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God is immutable, His nature and His character is always the same. And because His nature and character are always the same, when circumstances change before God which require God to change His mind about His plans, He willingly does so.
Sovereignty: God is the supreme ruler, who legislates laws and holds men accountable to those laws. The sovereignty of God does not mean that everything that happens is God’s will. God is sovereign even though men disobey Him. The sovereignty of God does not mean that God is the ultimate cause of all things (including sin), but that God is the ultimate authority over everything.
PROPHECIES PROVE OPEN THEISM
All prophecies fit into one of these four categories.
1. ABSOLUTE PROPHECIES
These are prophecies of events that will inevitably come to pass. This relates to the omnipotence of God to bring about events predetermined by Himself. The matter is completely settled and certain.
Two example would be:
– God will crush the head of Satan:
“And I WILL put enmity between thee and the women, and between thy seed and her seed, and it shall bruise thy head.” Gen 3:15
– The end of of the world:
“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, the things that are not yet done, saying MY COUNSEL shall stand, and I WILL do all MY PLEASURE… I have spoken it, I WILL also bring it to pass, I have purposed it, I WILL also do it.” Isaiah 46:10-11
These type of prophecies are only possible if God lives in an open system with the ability to determine events that were previously undetermined. If God has eternal exhaustive for knowledge of all events, God cannot predetermine any events, since all events would already be eternally settled and certain. Only if open theism is true can absolute prophecies exist.
2. CONDITIONAL PROPHECIES
These are prophecies of contingent events. They relate to the freewill of men. The matter is completely open and contingent.
Two examples of this would be:
– The repentance of Judah:
“Perhaps they will hear and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent of the evil which I purposed to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.” Jer 26:3
– Blessings and wrath contingent upon obedience and disobedience:
“At what instance I shall speak concering a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instance I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Jer 18:7-10
Only if the future is changeable, not certain, can these types of prophecies exist. If the future is fixed, not flexible, these types of prophecies cannot exist. Only if open theism is true, only if the future is a web of possibilities, can conditional or contingent prophecies exist.
Examples of this type would be:
– The future disobedience of Israel:
“For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore unto their fathers, that flows with milk and honey; an they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouth, of their seed: I KNOW THEIR IMAGINATION which they go about, EVEN NOW, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.” Deut 31:20-21
– The future obedience of Abraham:
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him…” Gen. 18:19
Mark 8:31-34, Peters heart was revealed that he greatly feared the cross. He rebuked Jesus for talking about crucifixion and the Lord rebuked Peter for His cowardice.
Mat 26:34, Jesus knew Peter’s heart had not changed. And Jesus new all the circumstances Peter would face that night, since Jesus knew the devil was orchestrating Peter’s circumstances (Lk. 22:31), and predicted Peters denial based upon his past pattern, present character, and present/future circumstances.
If God simply knows, from all of eternity, every event that will ever occur, these types of prophecies cannot exist. God could not analyze a person’s character to determine what their future behavior will be, if He already knows before their character was formed what their character would be.
These are events found in the New Testament, which correlate with events found in the Old Testament. The scriptures used had an original meaning in the Old, yet are applicable to a situation in the New.
Examples would be:
– My Son called out of Egypt:
Hos 11:1 speaking of Israel in the Old Testament.
This is also applied to Jesus in the New Testament, Mat 2:15.
– The betrayal of a trusted friend:
Psa 41:9, David speaking of his trusted friend and counselor Ahithephel.
John 13:18, this is also applied to Jesus and his trusted friend and disciple Judas.
– The replacement of Judas, Acts 1:16:
Acts 1:20, Peter applies two Scriptures to the situation of Judas.
Ps. 69:25, talks about “their habituation” being desolate, but Peter modifies it so say “his habituation”, and “let none dwell in their tents”
Ps. 109:8, David curses his enemies, who treated him wickedly.
These types of scripture fulfillments do not require eternal foreknowledge or predestination since the nature of these scripture fulfillments are not prophetic in nature.
– That the future has already happened.
– That God already lives in the future.
– That God lives outside of time.
– That God has determined everything.
– That all events are foreknown as certain.
WHAT PROPHECIES DO REVEAL:
– That the future is partly settled by God (absolute prophecies).
– That the future is partly open and contingent (conditional prophecies).
– That the future is partly predictable to the Divine Mind (extrapolative prophecies).
– That the future is repetitive and similar to the past (parallel or analogous prophecies).
For more on open theism:
ARE GOD’S LAWS IMPOSSIBLE, UNJUST, OR UNFAIR?
The Westminster Catechism says, ” No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.”
Duffield and Van Cleave in their Foundations of Pentecostal Theology write, “When God gave man his Law, did he expect him to keep it? The answer can only be, No! Knowing all things, God was fully aware that man would not – indeed could not – keep His law when He gave it to him.”
– Why does He require obedience to His law? If God’s law is impossible, requiring men to obey His laws is futile and tyrannical.
– Why does He get frustrated, grieved, and angry when His law is disobeyed? If God’s law is impossible, God must know this. If God knows His laws are impossible for man to keep, God has no intelligent reason to be frustrated, grieved, or angry at disobedience.
– Why does He punish disobedience? If God’s law is impossible, punishing disobedience is unreasonable and unjust. God, in truth, is never unreasonable or unjust. God is the epitome of reason and justice.
– How are sinners going to be “without excuse” on Judgment Day? No greater excuse is conceivable for disobedience than inability. If man is incapable of obeying God, either because of his own nature or because of the nature of the law, then man has a very reasonable and legitimate excuse for disobedience to the law.
WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY TEACHES
The purpose of God’s Government, the design of His laws, is to promote the highest well-being of all (Deut 5:29; 6:3; 6:24; 10:13; Jer. 7:6, 23; 32:39; Lk. 6:9; Eph. 6:3), His own glory supremely (Matt. 22:37; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27) and the well-being of neighbors equally (Matt. 19:19; 22:39; Mk. 12:31-33; Lk. 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). When God’s laws are obeyed, blessedness is the natural result. When God’s laws are disobeyed, misery is the natural result. Obedience to God’s laws naturally result in the happiness of all, because the laws of God protect the rights and promotes the well-being of all.
Because God’s law of love promotes the highest well-being of all, God doesn’t want us to disobey His law. Because God doesn’t want us to disobey His law, God has given all men the ability to obey His law. We are naturally able to obey God (Gen. 4:6-7; Deut. 30:11,19; Josh. 24:15; Isa. 1:16-20; Isa. 55:6-7; Hos. 10:12; Jer. 21:8; Eze. 18:30-32; Jer. 18:11; 26:13; Acts 2:40; Acts 17:30; Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 7:1; 2 Tim. 2:21; Jas. 4:7-10; 1 Pet. 1:22; Rev. 22:17.) The freedom of our will, or our ability of choice, comes naturally from being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jas 3:9).
Mankind, being endowed with free will, has the contingent choice between obedience or disobedience to God’s moral law. Disobedience to God’s moral law is always optional and avoidable (Gen. 4:6-7; 1 Cor. 10:13). Holiness or obedience is possible for all (Gen. 4:6-7; Deut. 8:2, Jdg. 2:20-22; Ex. 33:2; 34:24; Eze. 3:19; 12:13; 33:19; Jer. 18:8-10; Ps. 81:13; 1 Cor. 10:13).
If God gave us an impossible law, and punishes all disobedience, then He would be seeking our destruction rather than our well-being! But God is seeking our well-being and not our destruction, so His law is that we love to the best of our ability (Deut. 6:5; 10:12; 30:6; Matt. 22:37; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 10:27). Therefore His moral law is not impossible at all (Deut. 30:11; Job 34:23; Isa. 5:4; Matt. 11:30; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Jn. 5:3).
WHAT THE CHURCH HAS TAUGHT
“Many sincere men are saying, ‘God gave us good laws to keep,’ and in the next breath saying, ‘we are actually unable to keep them!’ If this is true, then God’s laws are not good! No law is good that asks the impossible of its subjects. If God demands obedience to impossible laws then God is not just . . . If God demands such obedience under penalty of death, then God is not only unfair, but monstrous. What kind of being would pass laws upon his subjects they are unable to keep, and then condemn them to death for their failure to obey? This is a blasphemy on God’s character.” Winkie Pratney (The Nature of Sin, pg. 5)
“It is offering an insult to the only wise God to suppose . . . that he gave them the Gospel, without giving them power to believe it . . . With regards to repentance, ‘Then he began,’ says St. Matthew, ‘to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.’ Merciful Savior, forgive us! We have insulted thy meek wisdom, by representing thee as cruelly upbraiding the lame for not running, the blind for not seeing, and the dumb for not speaking! . . . Suppose a schoolmaster said to his English scholars ‘Except you instantly speak Greek you shall all be severely whipped.’ You would wonder at the injustice of the school tyrant. But would not the wretch be merciful in comparison of a Savior, (so called) who is supposed to say to myriads of men, that can no more repent than ice can burn, ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all perish?'” John Fletcher (Checks to Antinomianism by John Fletcher, Volume One, pg 142, 145, 146, published by Carlton & Porter)
“Unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions.” Justin Martyr (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 285, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“The Savior…declares that it lies with us to keep what is commanded and that we will reasonably be liable to condemnation if we transgress.” Origen (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 289, published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“And he [God] can give a punishment for those who do not obey – for it was in their power to obey if they so wished.” Lactantius (A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 293,published by Hendrickson Publishers)
“When will a man guilty of any crime or sin accept with a tranquil mind that his wickedness is a product of his own will, not of necessity, and allow what he now strives to attribute to nature to be ascribed to his own free choice? It affords endless comfort to transgressors of the divine law if they are able to believe that their failure to do something is due to inability rather then disinclination, since they understand from their natural wisdom that no one can be judged for failing to do the impossible and that what is justifiable on grounds of impossibility is either a small sin or none at all” Unknown (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167-168, published by The Boydell Press)
“All the creatures that God made, He made very good. And He gave to every individual the sense of free will, by which standard He also instituted the law of judgment . . . And certainly whoever will, may keep the commandments. Whoever despises them and turns aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment . . . There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases.” Archelaus (Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, by David Bercot, p. 71, printed by Scroll Publishing)
“Does God give commandments which men cannot obey? Is He so arbitrary, so severe, so unloving, as to issue commandments which cannot be obeyed? The answer is that in all of annals of Holy Scripture, not a single instance is recorded of God having commanded any man to do a thing, which was beyond his power. Is God so unjust and so inconsiderate as to require of man that which he is unable to render? To infer is to slander the character of God.” E. M. Bounds (The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, p. 53; published by Baker Books)
“It is self-evident, that entire obedience to God’s law is possible on the ground of natural ability. To deny this is to deny that man is able to do as well as he can. The very language of the law is such as to level its claims to the capacity of the subject, however great or small that capacity may be. “Thou shalt love he Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Deut 6:5). Here then it is plain, that all the law demands, is the exercise of whatever strength we have, in the service of God. Now, as entire sanctification is nothing more than the right use of whatever strength we have, it is, of course, forever settled, that a state of entire sanctification is attainable in this life, on the ground of natural ability.” Charles G. Finney (Finney’s Systematic Theology, p. 382; published by Bethany House Publishers)
“In the manner of good-for-nothing and haughty servants, we cry out against the face of God and say, It is hard, it is difficult, we cannot do it, we are but men, we are encompassed by frail flesh! [The argument of the Gnostics] What blind madness! What unholy foolhardiness! We accuse God of a twofold lack of knowledge, so that he appears not to know what he has done, and not to know what he has commanded; as if, forgetful of the human frailty of which he is himself the author, he has imposed on man commands which he cannot bear. And, at the same time, oh horror!, we ascribe iniquity to the righteous and cruelty to the holy, while complaining, first, that he has commanded something impossible, secondly, that man is to be damned by him for doing things which he was unable to avoid, so that God and this is something which even to suspect is sacrilege seems to have sought not so much our salvation as our punishment!” Pelagius (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 53, published by The Boydell Press)
“Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty . . . Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing.” Pelagius (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, p. 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)
“God does not demand impossibilities.” Augustine (Joy and Strength, 1929 Edition, p. 192, published by Grosset & Dunlap).
For more on free will:
For more on moral law:
ARE FREE WILL & GRACE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE?
MISTAKEN ANTITHESIS OR FALSE DICHOTOMY
“I have tried hard to maintain the free choice of the human will, but the grace of God prevailed.” Augustine (Retractations (Retractiones) 2.1 in Augustine: Earlier Writings, ed. J. H. S. Burleigh (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1953), (CCL 57, pp. 89-90).)
Are free will and grace really at an antithesis or is this a false dichotomy? Can man’s free will and God’s grace be reconciled? When free will and grace are properly defined and understood, they will be seen as reconciled friends, not as irreconcilable enemies.
It is a misunderstanding to say that grace makes the incapable capable. Augustinian-Calvinism teaches that the grace of God takes man, who is naturally incapable of obeying God, and transforms His nature making Him capable of obeying God. This is a mistaken view of man’s nature. Man already has a free will given at creation. Nobody but God can remove man’s free will, and God does not want to take back what He decided to give in the first place! The grace of God is not therefore necessary to make the incapable capable. Grace makes the unwilling willing. The sinner’s problem is not that he cannot obey God, but that he is unwilling to obey God. Therefore a sinner needs moral influence (grace) to make him use his free will rightly.
1. “of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues” Thayer
2. “the divine influence upon the heart” Strongs
The definition of grace is very clear. Grace is not causation upon our constitution. Grace is an influence upon our will (heart). The grace of God influences us to rightly use our free will. What creation made us capable of doing, grace makes us willing to do. The grace of God is not a change of our constitution (liberating a will from inability), but the grace of God is a moral influence upon our free will, so that we make proper and right use of our will.
God graciously influences our will by presenting the truth to our minds by the Holy Spirit. The truth about sin, judgment, hell, atonement, and the heart of God has deeply effectual and moving influences upon the will of man. Through the presentation of truth to our minds, God strengthens, comforts, convicts, teaches, and changes us.
Neither Strongs nor Thayers ever defines grace as a force which changes our constitution. Such a concept of grace, in the process of regeneration, is entirely erroneous. Grace changes our character, not our constitution! Man’s moral character is the state of His will. Morality, or moral law, deals strictly with the choices and states of the will. Grace, in regeneration, changes man’s moral character. In order for man’s moral character to be changed, the state of man’s will needs to be changed, since His moral character is the state of his will.
Moral character, without moral law, cannot exist. Moral character is determined by submission or rebellion to moral obligation as presented to the mind in moral law. Man’s nature, or constitution, has no moral character in and of itself, since the moral law says nothing about what type of constitution or nature man is supposed to have. The moral law tells us what types of choices we are supposed to make and what type of choices we are not supposed to make. Therefore grace, as that which changes our moral character, must deal with our will and not with our constitution.
The Early Church taught that all men, including all unregenerate sinners, had a free will, nevertheless the grace of God was necessary to bring sinners to repentance and obedience. That is because the Early Church understood the word “grace” in its original language, in its actual meaning. They understood grace to be the divine influence of God upon the will of an individual. You do not have to take away man’s free will in order to make God’s grace necessary for man. Free will needs moral influence. Therefore free will and grace can co-exist. God does more than just make us constitutionally capable (free will), but God also makes us morally willing through moral suasion or moral persuasion (grace).
The grace of God brings a change of choice and character, not a change of constitution. Constitutionally, all men can obey God. But morally, sinners are unwilling to obey God. They need a moral influence (grace) to make them willing to do what they are already constitutionally capable of doing.
At creation, God has given man moral ability (free will).
At conversion, God gives man moral influence (grace).
Again, grace does not make the incapable capable. Man already has a free will. Grace makes the unwilling willing. The sinner’s problem is not that he cannot obey God, but that he is unwilling to obey God. It is specifically that problem that grace solves.
THE TRUTH OF FREE WILL & GRACE IN RELATION TO REGENERATION
When I say that man is constitutionally capable or naturally able of obeying God, I mean that God has already given man the moral ability (free will) which makes obedience possible. I mean that man’s nature/constitution already has the necessary faculty which is required for the possibility of obedience – free will.
A sinner is a sinner because, while they have the ability to obey God, they simply refuse to do so. Their voluntary disobedience to the moral law of God makes them criminals under the moral government of God. The sinners moral ability, moral knowledge, and moral unwillingness is precisely what makes them guilty without excuse. That is why they deserve punishment. If they were incapable of obeying God, they would be cripples. Cripples do not deserve to be punished! If men do not have free will, sin is not their fault and they have an excuse. Ff they are capable of obeying God, but do not do so, they are criminals under His moral government. Criminals do deserve punishment! Only those who deserve punishment are in need of pardon. Therefore only if men have a free will are they in need of pardon through Jesus Christ.
A sinner (someone who can obey God but refuses to do so) needs to be regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They are unwilling to obey God and therefore need the grace of God to regenerate them. Regeneration is a moral change. Since regeneration is a moral change it relates to man’s moral character. Since regeneration relates to man’s moral character it relates to man’s choices. Regeneration is not a change of constitution (making the incapable capable), regeneration is a change of character (making the unwilling willing).
Grace is what brings about regeneration. Grace is a moral influence, not a force that creates a new constitutional faculty. If grace is a moral influence, and grace brings about regeneration, then regeneration must be a moral change, instead of a constitutional change. If grace brings about a moral change (change of choice, since morality relates to choices), then grace must be a moral influence. It must consist in the divine activity of God in persuading man, reasoning with man, presenting motives to man’s heart and mind which influences man’s will to submit and surrender unto Him.
Man is made in the image of God in the sense that man has an intelligence, emotions, and a free will like God does. This is a constitutional image. In this way, even sinners are in the image of God (constitutionally), even though they misusing their intelligence, emotions, and free will. When it comes to being in God’s image in regards to character, men do not imitate God’s character until conversion. In this way, only Saints are in the image of God (morally). Saints are rightly using their intelligence, emotions, and free will like God does. Even after the fall of Adam, mankind is still said to be in the image of God. “Whosoever shedding man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Gen. 9:6). “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God” (1 Cor. 11:7). “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith, curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (Jas 3:9).
Since it says man is in God’s image even while being morally depraved, it must be talking about constitutional image instead of character image. Man still has the constitutional faculties God has given him, even though he is abusing and misusing those constitutional faculties (moral depravity). Moral depravity itself consists in the misuse of the will. Therefore regeneration must be a changing of man’s will.
1. Man’s will is not free but is unavoidably and involuntarily a slave of sin.
2. God’s grace is a force which liberates man’s will from bondage.
3. Regeneration is when the grace of God liberates man’s will, making it free (constitutional change).
4. Now that man is regenerated (given a freed will) he can be converted (choose to repent and believe). There is a definite distinction between regeneration and conversion. The moral change can occur only after the constitutional change has occurred.
1. Man’s will is free but is avoidably and voluntarily serving sin.
2. God’s grace is an influence upon man’s will.
3. Regeneration is when the grace of God influences man’s will into submission (moral change).
4. Regeneration and conversion are the same event, when the Holy Spirit influences a man to repent and believe the Gospel out of his own free will.
We have two options to choose from:
1. Regeneration is the constitutional change of a helpless cripple.
2. Regeneration is the moral change of a deliberate criminal.
Our view of the constitutional nature of man (free will or a will in bondage) greatly affects our view of grace, regeneration, and conversion. The doctrine of total inability leads to the view that regeneration is a change of constitution. The doctrine of free will leads to the view that regeneration is a change of character. Your premise determines your conclusion in this regard. If your premise is inability, you must conclude a constitutional regeneration. If your premise is free will, you must conclude a moral regeneration.
The Bible teaches that regeneration is a moral change. Morality has to do with the will. Therefore regeneration is a change of the will. This change is brought about by the divine influence of God, specifically by the illumination of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of man.
That is why preaching the Gospel is a means of saving sinners. The preaching of the Gospel is actually how God brings about a change within sinners. They must know the truth to be set free from their sin. There is a direct connection between the preaching of the Gospel and the regeneration of sinners. The end (conversion of sinners) has a definite connection to the means (preaching the Gospel). This connection is only possible if man has a free will, and if God changes the will of man through influence by presenting truth to His mind.
REGENERATION DEFINED & EXPLAINED
“Regeneration is a moral change wrought in the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit. This change is neither physical nor intellectual, although both the body and the mind my be affected by it. It is not a change in the substance of the soul, nor is it the addition of any new powers. Regeneration is not a metamorphosis of human nature. Man does not receive a new ego. His personal identity is the same in essence after regeneration as before. He has the same power of intellect, feeling and will, but these are given a new direction. God does not undue in the new creation what He did in the first creation. The change is, therefore, not in the natural constitution of man, but in his moral and spiritual nature. Furthermore, it is important to believe that the whole man, and not merely certain powers of his being, is the subject of this spiritual renewel.” H. O. Wiley (Christian Theology, V.2, p. 419)
“The work accomplished is a change of choice, in respect to an end or end of life. The sinner whose choice is changed, must of course act. The end to be chosen must be clearly and forcibly presented; this is the work of the third person, and of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes the things of Christ and shows them to the soul. The truth is employed, or it is truth which must necessarily be employed, as an instrument to induce a change of choice.” Charles Finney (Systematic Theology, pg 275)
“Truth; this must, from the nature of regeneration, be employed in effecting it, for regeneration is nothing else than the will being duly influenced by truth.” Charles Finney (Systematic Theology, pg 275)
“Regeneration is nothing else than his embracing the gospel.” Charles Finney (Systematic Theology, pg 276)
SCRIPTURAL TEACHING OF REGENERATION THROUGH REVELATION
REGENERATION IS THE OBEDIENE OF THE WILL TO GOD’S REVELATION
Regeneration is the Spirit changing a man’s moral character by influence, and not the Spirit changing a man’s natural constitution by force. Therefore the instrument which the Spirit uses is truth to influence the will to change, instead of omnipotence to force a constitutional change. Regeneration is the changing of a man’s heart, that is, his motive and intention, his ultimate reason and aim for living.
Through the truth, the Spirit regenerates the hearts of men:
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Pet. 2:20
“Seeing ye have PURIFIED your souls in OBEYING the TRUTH through the Spirit” 1 Pet. 1:22
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE of God and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” 2 Pet. 1:2-3
“And ye shall KNOW the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall make you FREE.” John 8:34
“It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all TAUGHT of God. Everyman therefore that hath HEARD, and hath LEARNED of the Father, cometh unto me.” John 6:45
“It is the SPIRIT THAT QUICKENETH; the flesh profiteth nothing: THE WORDS that I SPEAK unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE.” John 6:63
“For the grace of God that BRINGETH SALVATION has APPEARED unto all men, TEACHING US that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” Titus 2:11-12
“Who will have all men to be SAVED, and to come unto the KNOWLEDGE of the TRUTH.” 1 Tim. 2:4
“For though ye have ten thousand INSTRUCTORS in Christ, yet have yet not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have BEGOTTEN you through the GOSPEL.” 1 Cor. 4:15
“Of his own will BEGAT he us WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH, that we should be a king of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:18
“BEING BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of the incorruptible, BY THE WORD OF GOD, which liveth and abideth forever.” 1 Pet. 1:23
“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted WORD, WHICH IS ABLE TO SAVE YOUR SOULS. But be ye DOERS OF THE WORD, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:21-22
“But unto them that are contentious, and do not OBEY THE TRUTH, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath.” Rom. 2:8
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that KNOW not God, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thes. 1:8
“Now ye are CLEAN THROUGH THE WORD which I have SPOKEN unto you.” John 15:3
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of God?” 1 Pet. 4:17
“SANCTIFY them THROUGH THY TRUTH: thy WORD is TRUTH.” John 17:17
“But God be thanked, that ye were servants of sin, but ye have OBEYED from the heart that form of DOCTRINE which was DELIVERED unto you.” Rom. 6:17
For more on regeneration:
SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT CONTROL THE BANKING SYSTEM?
The media (Rush Limbough, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly) has been talking about the nationalizing of banking. That means that the government, not the people, will control the banks. The banks, in principle, will not be private organizations but national organizations. The Politicians, not the bankers, will be calling the shots as to what the banks are to do.
The existence of Government should be proportionate to the necessity of Government. The justifiable existence of Government is conditional upon the necessity of governing. Government, without a necessity of government, is tyranny.
Government should not get involved in that which is outside the reason for its existence. That which the people can do on their own is not necessary for the government to control. It is not necessary for the government to get involved in education, health, economy, or banking. The people are capable of their own education, health, economy, and banking. These aspects of society should be free from government control! Personal responsibility, not government control, is the answer.
Regarding the nationalization of banking, this is absurd. Ronald Reagan said in his inauguration speech, “Government is not the answer. Government is the problem.” This is true today as ever. The government caused the economic problem, not the people. The government under Bill Clinton, through “equality” legislation, forced the banks to give home loans to those who could not afford them. This, naturally, resulted in individuals having to foreclose on their homes. The large scale practice resulted in the banks themselves going bankrupt. It was just a matter of time until this type of legislation caused such an event.
Now the government, who caused the banking problem, wants to fix the banking problem through more control! It was government legislation that caused the problem, now they are trying to fix the problem through government legislation! But it was government control over banking which was the problem in the first place! The bankers, not the Politicians, are best fit to make the banking decisions.
Since the Sixties, many of these radical left wing individuals, who have gone from being hippie protesters to socialist politicians, have wanted to socialize America. Socialism could never replace capitalism as long as capitalism prospered. Government control would never be wanted as long as people control was working. Therefore in order to advance the socialist agenda for America, the capitalistic economy had to be made to fail. It was not, however, the people control that caused this failure, it was the government control that did. The solution is not more government control, the solution is more freedom in the area of economics and banking. The solution to our economic problems is more private freedom, more personal responsibility, and less government control. The more free the people are, and the more limited the government is, the better America will be. Government control over the private sector caused this problem. Limited Government is part of the solution to this problem.
Let the people, not the government, decide which businesses fail and which businesses survive. No more bailouts which do not stimulate the economy. Economic stimulus has now become a guise for democrat big spending and the fulfillment of campaign promises. Let the bankers, not the government, control the banks. That is what is right. That is what works. That is the American way.
WHERE IS THE FRUIT?
Very often, those critics who do not like my bold and confrontational message and methods will say “where is the fruit? Are people getting saved?”
HOMOSEXUAL GETS SAVED!
“It is great preachers like you that are making me realize I am sinning. I already love Yeshua jesus, but I am dealing with homosexuality. I have a boyfriend that is moving in with me, and deep down I wish it was not happening. you have the courage of the Apostle Paul, remember, people mocked him too. If I was at one of your appearences I would respectively sit and listen. It is people like you that will help me turn from my sinful lifestyle. Please write back.” A Homosexual
“I just recieved Christ last Saturday and forsaked all my sin. The lord has been awesome on taking away the bondage that once gripped me. We need more preachers like you, the reason I quit college was the godlessness on campus. At that time I was not a christain yet, but had morals. Now I teach myself directly from the word of God.” A Former Homosexual
INTERESTED IN CHRISTIANITY GROWS RAPIDLY ON CAMPUS
“I have now taken over 57 students from that little rally [Jesse’s preaching] to my church in Decatur and to a church right there near by…. One of the homosexuals in the audience became a good friend of mine shortly after and began attending church with me and has turned away from that lifestyle and is growing in Christ now on his own. I mostly attribute that to your speaking though because although he hated the method you chose, it opened the opportunity up for me to plug him in, and I guess God took over from there.” Alex (University of North Alabama student)
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Jesse & Krista Morrell
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