Depravity Grace Theology Worship

Why Do We Need Grace?

The Bible doesn’t say that God is “love, love, love” or “grace, grace, grace”, the Bible says He is “holy, holy, holy”.-RC Sproul

I would like to look at the question, “why do we need grace”. Unfortunately, the answer to this should be Christianity 101, but in a great deal of Evangelical circles, it is not. Depravity paints a pretty dark picture of us. That doesn’t sell tickets to CCM concerts, pack mega-churches, or supply the building fund. We are not people of progress though. We are people of truth. (At least we’re supposed to be.)

It’s interesting that in modern evangelicalism so much of the focus of our worship services and our sermons are on the love of God. How many times have you heard stuff like, “God loves everyone” or “come as you are, God will forgive you”. This idea that God is an all-benevolent being, bent on saving as many people as he is able, comes from such a twisted view of God. Aren’t such statements true though? Although there is some truth to those statements, they are misleading when we try to understand just who God is, and a right understanding of God begets a right understanding of us. In other words, if we only see God as a loving, benevolent, forgiving, merciful God, then we will see ourselves as just about okay. We see our condition as almost or not quite or potentially alright, when it comes to our relationship to God.

There is nothing more foreign, more alien to our nature, than holiness-RC Sproul

The problem with this is of course, the Bible. The book that should give us our view of ourselves, is the one we seem to ignore. In fact, this book gives us both the proper view of God and the proper view of man. To see God Biblically is to see man Biblically. It is hard, admittedly, to do one without the other, but if we are in fact Biblicists, then that should be our effort. We should strive to see God for who he really is so that we can understand who we really are. To do that, necessarily leads us to a proper understanding of our need of grace.

Let me start off by giving some of the evidence for who we are, and I do mean some. These passages are merely a drop in the bucket.

JOB 15:14-16; PS 53:3; PROV 20:6; ECC 9:3; IS 53:6; JER 17:9; HOS 6:7; MAT 15:19; JOHN 3:19; ROM 3:9-19; ROM 5:12-14; ROM 11:32; 1 COR 2:14; GAL 3:22; TIT 3:3; 1 PET 1:18; 1 JOHN 1:8, 10

I’ll let you look those up. I would like to concentrate these passages:

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[1] Ephesians 2

 

If reason #1 for our need of grace is that God is holy and we are not, reason # 2 is that we are spiritually dead. If we are dead then we can do nothing to revive ourselves. We are dead.

 

The unbeliever is not sick; he is dead! He does not need resuscitation; he needs resurrection. All lost sinners are dead, and the only difference between one sinner and another is the state of decay. The lost derelict on skid row may be more decayed outwardly than the unsaved society leader, but both are dead in sin—and one corpse cannot be more dead than another! This means that our world is one vast graveyard, filled with people who are dead while they live (1 Tim. 5:6).[2]– -Warren Weirsbe

 

That is to say that we can do nothing about our spiritual relationship to a holy God on our own. Remember, we are dead. Our minds and our wills are bent away from God in such a way that we do not want to nor are we able to act upon our condition, apart from an outside agent intervening on our behalf. We are dead!

 

In opposition to the plenary ability taught by the Pelagians, the gracious ability of the Arminians, and the natural ability of the New School theologians, the Scriptures declare the total inability of the sinner to turn himself to God or to do that which is truly good in God’s sight (see Scripture proof below). A proper conception also of the law, as reflecting the holiness of God and as expressing the ideal of human nature, leads us to the conclusion that no man whose powers are weakened by either original or actual sin can of himself come up to that perfect standard. Yet there is a certain remnant of freedom left to man. The sinner can (a) avoid the sin against the Holy Ghost; (b) choose the less sin rather than the greater; (c) refuse altogether to yield to certain temptations; (d) do outwardly good acts, though with imperfect motives; (e) seek God from motives of self-interest. But on the other hand the sinner cannot (a) by a single volition bring his character and life into complete conformity to God’s law; (b) change his fundamental preference for self and sin to supreme love for God; nor (c) do any act, however insignificant, which shall meet with God’s approval or answer fully to the demands of law

“By nature” we are children of wrath, declared the apostle (Eph 2:3). This sin nature, which all people have by birth, is that capacity to do those things (good, neutral, or bad) which do not commend us to God. The Scriptures are filled with statements of the corruption of many aspects of man’s nature. His intellect (2 Co 4:4; Ro 1:28), his conscience (1 Ti 4:2), his will (Ro 1:28), his heart (Eph 4:18), and his total being (Ro 1:18–3:20) have been corrupted. This is the doctrine of total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that everyone is as thoroughly depraved in his actions as he could possibly be, nor that everyone will indulge in every form of sin, nor that a person cannot appreciate and even do acts of goodness; but it does mean that the corruption of sin extends to all men and to all parts of all men so that there is nothing within the natural man that can give him merit in God’s sight.–        Ryrie, C. C. (1972). A survey of Bible doctrine. Chicago: Moody Press

That’s for you four pointers who cling to a false view of human freedom.

and it takes us to the other passage:

10 as it is written:

       “None is righteous, no, not one;

11        no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

13    “Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

       “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14        “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16        in their paths are ruin and misery,

17    and the way of peace they have not known.”

18        “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [3] -Romans 3

 

Original sin may be defined as the hereditary corruption and depravity of our nature. This reaches every part of the soul, makes us abhorrent to God’s wrath and produces in us what Scripture calls works of the flesh.

   Author: John Calvin

 

What is meant by the concept of total depravity is not that man is wicked as he could possibly be. Bad as we are, we can still conceive of ourselves doing worse things than we do. Rather, it means that sin has such a hold upon us in our natural state, that we never have a positive desire for Christ.

   Author: R.C. Sproul

 

No one is immune to this. No one understands the Gospel. No one seeks for God. In fact we are enemies of God by our own choice.

Now, simply put, if you believe the Bible, and you agree that it says what it seems to say, you will agree that this intervention must occur. That intervention by that outside agent is called grace.

So, God is holy. We are not. We are at enmity with him. We can do nothing about it, none of us. We all need grace. That’s the answer.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 2:1–3). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 18). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ro 3:10–18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

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