Lord’s Day #4 is the final Lord’s Day in the first section of Man’s Sin & Misery and it begins by explicitly bringing forward what was implicit in Lord’s Day #3 and that is the issue of “fairness.” Lord’s Day #3 began with, “Did God create man so wicked and perverse,” so as to clear God’s name for man’s depravity. Lord’s Day 4 begins with
4. Lord’s Day
Question 9. Does not God then do injustice to man, by requiring from him in his law, that which he cannot perform?
Just as in question #6 of the previous Lord’s Day the reason that question #9 is framed the way it is, is in order to clear God’s name of doing man injustice. So, God did not create man so wicked and perverse and so is not responsible for man’s wickedness and perversion and God does not do fallen man a disservice by requiring of fallen man what he cannot preform.
This simple idea that fallen man is responsible to obey God though not able to obey God is foundational to understanding Biblical Christianity Caleb. The Christian Church that is orthodox everywhere teaches that responsibility does not imply ability. Fallen man is responsible to have faith, repent, and obey God but fallen man is not able to do that because of the depravity coming from the fall. Simply phrased, man’s responsibility to keep God’s law does not imply the ability to keep God’s law.
Most Churches deny the truth established here that man is responsible though unable. Most Churches, whether they are epistemologically self conscious regarding this issue or not presume that because God holds fallen man responsible to his law therefore fallen man is able to obey God’s law. As a result of believing this most Churches, somewhere in their evangelism, tuck the idea in their message that fallen man can do something in and of themselves that God requires in order to get right with God. Yet, Heidelberg Catechism (HC) question 9 forbids that kind of Humanist / Arminian thinking. If fallen man is able to get right with God by his ability to do something in and of himself (even if God is giving him co-operating grace) to meet what God requires in His law (faith, repentance, obedience) then fallen man saves himself. And yet, we learned from the last Lord’s Day #3 that man is totally depraved and so can contribute nothing to his salvation. Indeed, man is so dead in his trespasses and sins that apart from God’s grace alone he can not even become aware of his sin apart from God opening his eyes to see his sin.
So, when churches deny that responsibility does not imply ability they are denying a fundamental truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do overturn the graciousness of grace in our salvation. If Churches hold in their evangelism that someone’s decision to choose Christ is the pre-eminent fact that differentiates Christians from non-Christians then that Church believes mans responsibility to choose God implies his ability to choose God and so has given up the graciousness of grace. The pre-eminent fact that differentiates Christians from non-Christians is that the Spirit of God, because of the death of Christ for His elect, regenerated a man so that for the first time he has the ability to recognize his inability and cry out to God for mercy in the face of his responsibility to God.
While we are here we might as well give the flip side of this that some also hold in error. There are those who avoid the mistake of thinking that as God holds us responsible therefore we are able,” but fall into the error of thinking that “since fallen men are not able to obey God, therefore fallen men are not responsible to God.” God holds all mankind responsible to Himself and the lack of fallen man’s ability to obey God does not mean that we do not tell men that they are responsible to render up faith, repentance, and obedience.
2 thoughts on “Caleb’s Baptism — Lord’s Day IV (a)”
I think the thought process that we are able is because most churches today believe that THEY chose God and not the other way around, which is silly.
I agree. Important insight on your part.