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Babylon the Great and Our Souls’ Final Satisfaction

“And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. ‘The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!'” – Revelation 18:11-14

This is the culmination of judgment that will come upon the earth at the end of time. The Lord strikes the economic prosperity of the world, bringing it into utter devastation for its idolatry and extreme extravagance that is served as a god through exchanging the glory of God for junk. (Lest you think I will be correlating this to our modern day economic situation, think otherwise).

The Utter Depravity and Wickedness of Man – Part II – Grace Alone

Having described the condition of man apart from the intervening work of the Holy Spirit in my last entry on the depravity of man, it is important to understand that there is a great deal of error amongst those that call themselves evangelicals as it pertains to how we are saved. This error in the minds of these individuals has to do with the “slight” inclusion of human exertion and will in the work of grace, that man somehow cooperates with the work of grace. This is called synergism (or in it’s extreme form, human monergism) and comes in many different forms, from out-right heresy (human monergism), to slight contradictory inclusion of heresy (synergism).

The original debate concerning what role man plays in his salvation originally began between Augustine and Pelagius. The root of the Pelagian heretical error had to do with a dispute on the doctrine of original sin, or the imputed sin of Adam to the entire human race, that when Adam sinned, we all sinned. Pelagius denied this. Pelgius believed all men to be in the same place as Adam before the fall inherently. This heretical error was condemned first by Augustine but then officially condemned at the Council of Orange in 529 AD. This heresy is humanism at its base (or human monergism), that man controls his own destiny and is his own god, and indeed can attain perfection apart from God. And though it was officially condemned as heretical by the church, the Pelagian error began infiltrating the church in the form of synergism, that man cooperates with the work of grace. Throughout church history, this debate has reared its head one way or another, with Augustine and Pelagius, Luther and Erasmus, and Whitefield and Wesley. And the debate is alive and well these days. This “slight” humanistic thinking is prevalent within the church today and removes the only power by which people are saved: God alone. “So then it (meaning the granting of mercy) depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (And here’s the argument by Paul for the former statement) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.‘ So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” – Romans 9:16-18.

One of the results of the Reformation was the Five Solas (Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone as our sole infallible authority; Solus Christus – Christ alone accomplished our salvation; Sola Gratia – God saves by grace alone; Sola Fide – through faith alone apart from works; Soli Deo Gloria – everything is for the glory of God alone). Pertaining to the work of grace in the life of man, Sola Gratia in particular states that it is grace alone that regenerates a soul or causes the new birth which then gives rise to faith within the believer (a gift of God), not grace plus something else (i.e. human choice, exertion, running, will, etc). If our doctrine of the utter depravity of man is true, then no man honestly wants anything to do with God when left to himself. But God must first regenerate our souls and free our hearts from sin to believe in Christ. Because of the dead state of man in his sin, he will never choose Christ when presented with the Gospel, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit alone (i.e. Grace Alone) to regenerate the person who is to be saved. Man will always choose sin by necessity (John Hendryx, great quote!). Why? Because we’re dead in sin! That’s what that means. Our souls our incapable of any moral good, apart from a work of God within us first. Therefore, because of this, the work of grace in the life of the individual who is to be saved is the only thing that will bring to life the heart and soul of a sinfully dead individual, in order that he cannot help but believe in Christ because He is irresistable in His beauty and glory and lovliness.

In Ezekial 36:26, God states that He will come in power and remove His people’s hearts of stone, giving us instead hearts of flesh (removing our resistance to Him, and instead giving us a willing heart). Is this not monergism (the work of Grace Alone) in the life of dead sinners? There is no cooperation with grace, otherwise it is not grace. Grace is receiving something you do not deserve, and I would even add that it is something you don’t even want in your naturally sinful state. We must first be made genuinely willing (regeneration, second birth). “At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Did we ask for our hearts to be regenerated? No! We naturally kick and scream at such a prospect. We love sin, it’s the best thing humans do. And oh how much energy we use to that end! If we could only harness that energy for the cause of Christ! God freely gives of Himself on His own timing and to whom He pleases. When I came to know Christ truthfully, I was such a rebel against anything holy, and I can honestly say that the only reason I became willing is because God came and changed my heart. I did not cooperate with this grace, but was simply the unworthy recipient. God saved me by grace alone through faith alone, apart from works. This faith even was a gift of God. What do I now have to boast about before God or man? Nothing! If I cooperated with this grace in any manner, then when I walk into heaven, God has me to thank for making the right choice and I would have something to boast about. “Good job, David, you made the right choice man. Way to exert that ‘free will.’ You must have been smarter, more intelligent and more sensitive than the rest of those wicked sinners.” Wrong! Does this in any way sound like the God of the Bible? I think not. I was dead in trespasses and sins, corrupted by own perverse nature, in every facet of my existence, in my mind, will, thoughts, soul, heart, acts, motives, flesh, relationships, everything. He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh, a heart that was sensitive, willing and able to love Him. “We love because He first loved us,” (1 John 4:19) not the reverse. This is the work of grace alone (monergism).

Apart from grace, there is no honest submission to the Gospel, we are unable to submit even. But this does not alleviate your responsibility. If you reject Christ, the Messiah, there will be no one to blame but yourself; you cannot bring a successful accusation against God almighty when standing before the Great White throne after you die. Man is so hopeless apart from the work of God, carried out by the Holy Spirit, provided through the cross of Christ. Throw yourself at His sovereign mercy and pray for Him to change you inwardly, to incline you to Himself. Ask Him to give you the eyes to see His glory through Christ on the cross and the ears to hear the call of God unto salvation in order that you will believe in Him and be saved. God’s sovereignty in salvation is our only hope for being saved at all. It’s God alone that saves, not man alone, or man cooperating with God. We’re dead. Dead means dead. We have nothing else we can trust in but God alone, through Christ alone, His death and resurrection.

The Utter Depravity and Wickedness of Man – Part I

Mankind is so utterly deceived and blinded to the sinfulness and depravity that lies within the human heart. How foolish it is for man, in his endeavor to attain perfection, to even think that he is less than at odds with the great God of the universe. It is humanism that says man can attain perfection and setup a utopia of sorts where man can enjoy the benefits of his long endeavor to overcome war, evil, death, and make a name for himself, exalting himself above the level of God. Little do they realize they are doing the exact opposite, because only God displayed through Christ, through belief in Him, brings true peace and true joy. Didn’t we see this endeavor in the past at the Tower of Babel? What was the end result? God scattered the people and confused their language. Why? Because He is God and we’re not, even though man deceives himself to believe whole-heartedly that he is his own god and controls his own destiny. God is jealous for His own glory. How could He not be? For God to value the most important thing in the universe, He must value Himself above all things, because He is the supreme value.

The Tower of Babel is a great example though of the human condition and the utter foolishness of his ways. Are we that foolish to think we could usurp the great God Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega? That the creation could overthrow the Creator? In Romans 3:10-18, Paul, quoting mostly from the Psalms, drives the nail in hard about our true condition, even if we do not see it that way. Let’s take a look at it:

As it is written:
‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’
‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’

Man. If this doesn’t sum up the human condition I don’t know what does. Someone may object that not everyone is as evil as they could be toward their fellow man. And that’s true. But we’re not comparing people to other people, but comparing people to God. Comparing finite against finite is useless. Comparing finite against infinite though brings about huge contrasts. Yes, at any given moment, we’re not as evil as we could be, thanks to the gracious restraint of the hand of God that we do not pursue what we desire most, sin. But in comparison to God, we are utterly wicked; we are foolish and deceive ourselves if we think differently. The human condition in comparison to the glory of God is so terrible, words cannot even describe it. This passage, amongst others within Scripture, is the closest to describing how desperate and helpless we are in our condition. Our sin has pulled a very opaque veil over our faces to the point where we think we are basically good people. This could not be further from the truth. John Calvin does an excellent job of describing this passage so as to unveil the truth of what lurks and lies within the heart of man:

“David says in Psalm 14:1, that there was such perverseness in men, that God, when looking on them all in their different conditions, could not find a righteous man, no, not one. It then follows, that this evil pervaded mankind universally; for nothing is hid from the sight of God.” “There is no doubt but that the character of men is described in those words, in order that we may see what man is when left to himself; for Scripture testifies that all men are in this state, who are not regenerated by the grace of God. The condition of the saints would be nothing better, were not this depravity corrected in them: and that they may still remember that they differ nothing from others by nature, they do find in the relics of their flesh (by which they are always encompassed) the seeds of those evils, which would constantly produce fruits, were they not prevented by being mortified; and for this mortification they are indebted to God’s mercy and not to their own nature. We may add, that though all the vices here enumerated are not found conspicuously in every individual, yet they may be justly and truly ascribed to human nature, as we have already observed on Romans 1:26.”

We are ruined in our natural state before this great God of the universe. The words of Isaiah ring true for all of us in Isaiah 6:4-5:

“And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'”

Or consider Ezekial in Ezekial 1:26-28:

“And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

Take your place with Isaiah and Ezekial and bow before this great and powerful, righteous, and holy God. You are a sinner to your core. You have nothing to offer God. Give up on trying to please Him with your good works, because they are tainted with sin, corrupted and defiled as a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6). Submit yourself to God in humble astonishment at His glory and how unworthy you are to have a Savior offered to you at all! Jesus Christ is God, the second person of the one God, He came to be one of us in great, infinite mercy because of the hopelessness of our condition, yet He was without sin, died upon a cross of His own will to pay the penalty for sin on our behalf, and rose from the grave by the power of God, in order that if we believe in Him, we will be saved from our plight toward hell, the just wrath of God against injustice done against Him. It is a command from the Lord Himself to believe in Jesus. If you ignore this command, you will receive the just penalty for this wickedness: eternal torment in the flames of God’s fury and wrath, forever. There will be no second chance after death (Hebrews 9:27-28). If you believe in Christ, He is faithful and just to forgive your sins (1 John 1:8-10). Consider these things …

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