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2014 Conference Session 1 - Total Depravity

“Anyone who says Reformation Theology is easy, hasn’t read their Bible.” - Burk Parsons

While John Calvin may wish that foundational doctrines did not bear his name, it seems that TULIPs and Calvinism go hand in hand. Reverend Parsons preached the first of five messages to Christ Church members and guests to begin our annual Bible Conference this Friday evening.

In “Are We All God’s Children?” based on Romans 3:9-20, Parsons acknowledged that it’s common, and yes, normal to struggle with the basics of our faith, especially this idea of total depravity. According to popular opinion, if I’m created by God, and I’m made in the image of God, and I like me, then doesn’t God like me as well? Aren’t we all, after all, God’s children? But is this what Scripture actually teaches? To be a “child” of God is language that is salvific and inclusive. It’s special language.

The truth is we are not all children of God but enemies of God. As sinners we sin and are sinful. We are opposed to God. This is a universal truth whether you are a chosen ethnic people of God (the Jews), a proud people and nation (the Romans, Paul’s audience) or everyone else. None of us is righteous.

Is Paul making the case that we are as bad as we can possibly be? We all know people who do good things. We use the phrase “good hearted people” all the time! But let’s rethink this for a minute. Have you ever considered that the “problem of evil” isn’t “How can a good God let bad things happen?” but “As evil as we are, why isn’t the world worse than it is?” The answer is the beauty of God’s restraining mercy. If evil were to have its way, God’s people - His bride - wouldn’t be here either.

What happens when radical grace meets total depravity? We are dead to sin, no longer slaves to sin, at peace with God, no longer enemies with Christ. We do not merely profess him; we possess him. If we are to have the right perspective of total depravity, we need to have a right understanding of God’s love and mercy. We are no longer under sin; we are under grace. We were darkness, but we walk in the light. How can we sum up Paul’s message? “You have it. Now live it out.”

When we live lives focused on the light of Christ, people are able to see their own darkness. When we live like children of God, we expose the darkness of the world. When we understand total depravity we understand the gift we have been given and want to share it with the rest of the world.

Hear the audio HERE.

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