Where Does One Find Forgiveness of Sins?

By: Matt Owens

A person cannot be saved without having his or her sins forgiven by God. In order to find out who is saved and how, we must first learn 3 things:

1.  Whose sins are forgiven.

2.  What forgives their sins.

3.  When are sins forgiven.

In the religious world, we hear a variety of conflicting opinions on how one’s sins are forgiven. Some groups say if one does enough good works he will be saved.  Some say all people will be saved no matter what they have done because God is a God of love and he will not punish anyone.  Still others say God has arbitrarily chosen a few select people to be saved and the rest will be lost because, at their birth, they inherited Adam’s sin. According to them, there is nothing the ‘unchosen’ can do to be saved and there is nothing the chosen can do to not be saved.  However, the Bible teaches us that all of these views are wrong.

Whose Sins Are Forgiven?

Anyone who is ‘in Jesus” has their sins forgiven.  Luke 24:47 “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”  Colossians 1:14 “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

What Forgives Their Sins?

All people who are in Jesus do in fact have the forgiveness of sins.  It is only through Jesus that one can be saved.  Acts 13:38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”  If being saved is the same as having your sins forgiven, then you must be in Jesus to be saved.  Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  If salvation is found only in Jesus then one must be in Jesus to be saved or to have his or her sins forgiven.  Jesus is the source of eternal salvation for all people who by their own choice obey Him.

Mankind’s sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus which pays the penalty that we deserved for our own sins.  Hebrews 9:22 “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Jesus with his disciples made it very plain that His own blood was going to be shed so that many people would have the forgiveness of sins.  Matthew 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Ephesians 1:7 “we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”  This blood also cleanses our consciences.  Hebrews 9:14 “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”  Therefore, the method of how God forgives sins is through the blood of Jesus that was shed at the cross.  Hebrews 5:9, “and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

          

When Are Sins Forgiven?

The answer to this question can be easily understood if we just look at the verses in the Bible that mention “forgiveness of sins.”  Acts 10:43 “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”  One has to believe that Jesus, God in the flesh (John 1:1-14) came to earth, died on a cross, was then buried and three days later was resurrected (I Corinthians 15:1-5).  A person must repent of their sins in order to have sins forgiven.   Luke 24:47 “and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

It seems from the New Testament that the final step to having your sins forgiven is when you are baptized into Jesus via a body of water.  Mark 1:4 “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  Luke 3:3 “He went in to all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  Peter, guided by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, told all the Jews that day in Acts 2:38, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

  

Conclusion

If one is honest and unbiased, it seems fairly easy to see that a person’s sins are forgiven when they believe the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh.  Because of their belief in that, they will repent of their sins and are then baptized into Jesus via a body of water.  Many people will say that your sins are forgiven at the very moment you believe the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  But, can you leave out repenting of your sins?  If no, then can you leave out baptism?  Many say yes.  But it seems if all these verses are tied in together, then you cannot cut out baptism no more than you can cut out repentance or belief.  Therefore, let us do what the Bible teaches and instead cut out the opinions of men.

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5 Comments

  1. A great theologian and reformer once said, “a dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent” (John Calvin). I would like to address a few things in your post Matty O (and I do love you).
    In your introduction you stated that “others say God has arbitrarily chosen a few select people to be saved and the rest will be lost because, at their birth, they inherited Adam’s sin. According to them, there is nothing the ‘unchosen’ can do to be saved and there is nothing the chosen can do to be saved”. Some people might read over this sentence too fast and miss the “bias”. I will not chase the rabbit and try to draw in the fringe beliefs of some but I will address the point I believe you are trying to make.
    First, “God has arbitrarily chosen a few select people to be saved”? According to Scripture God in fact HAS chosen some to be saved. But NOWHERE does it say that He did this arbitrarily. In fact it says He did this “according to His purpose” (Eph. 1:9). I use Ephesians 1:9 since you quoted Ephesians 1:7 to try to make your point. But lets look at the passage in context and not just look at vs. 7 as you quoted. Lets start with verse 1. Here we see that Paul is “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (Eph 1:1). Paul is not an apostle of Christ Jesus by his own will but according to this he is an apostle “by the will of God” (Paul tells us a lot about this in Galatians 1. Not to take too much time away from your Ephesians reference please read Galatians 1:11-17. Here we find that God had set Paul apart before he was born to preach to the Gentiles). Back to Ephesians 1: Who is this letter written to? Verse 1 tells us it is written “to the saints who are in Ephesus”. So this is written to believers in Christ Jesus and this is how we should understand what is about to be said.
    Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Verse 4 tells us that He chose us in him. It doesn’t say that we chose him. And remember that this is written to Christians in Ephesus therefore “we” is talking about believers. Not only does it say that He chose us but it tells us WHEN he chose us. He chose us BEFORE the foundation of the world.
    You mentioned that some believe God choses people arbitrarily. He DOES choose us but not arbitrarily…lets go to verse 5. “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”. See He didn’t choose us arbitrarily but he chose us in LOVE. We might not think this is “loving” according to our carnal reasoning but we are distorted by sin. A good book to read about this is D.A. Carson’s book on The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. Back to verse 5 of Ephesians 1: So according to this He actually DID choose us not arbitrarily but IN LOVE it says. It also says that he adopted us to himself. Now how does adoption work? My sister has adopted three children and she is about to adopt another. Her oldest son she got from Russia. When she spent a lot of money and went to Russia for a month to adopt a boy she walked into this orphanage and there was a huge crib with a number of little babies in it. I can tell you what DID NOT happen. She didn’t walk in there with her husband and then some child pointed at them and said, “Im going home with you today. Im adopting you as my parents”. We all know that is not how adoption works. No! They walked in and THEY pointed to a kid and said, “that one, we want that one!” That is how adoption works. The parent “chooses” the child. You get the point. “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Christ Jesus” (vs 5).
    Ephesians 1:6 says, “to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved”. You bet we should praise his glorious grace! Why? Because we did nothing to deserve this adoption! Remember, “He chose us”! Now to the verse you quoted, verse 7: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”. So why do we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses? Because he paid a price for his sheep (John chapter 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…I lay down my life for the sheep”).
    He addresses it further into chapter 2 which I have to look at here.
    You mentioned that “the rest will be lost because, at their birth, they inherited Adam’s sin”. It seems as if you say this is a bad teaching or bad doctrine. For whoever else is reading this this is actually sound doctrine. One of the earliest heresies of the church was a teaching that men are not born in sin. Its called Pelagianism. Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid (Wikipedia). Just to stay in the book of Ephesians lets look at chapter 2. Verse 3 says, “we (referring to Christians, Christians in Ephesus to be exact) 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”. Who are those under the wrath of God? Sinners. It says here that we all were by nature children of wrath…not just Christians but all of mankind. Whoever may be reading this just take the time to study the St. Augustine – Pelagius debate. I have to move on.
    Now I would bet that if I asked you or any professing believer if we are saved by faith they answer would be “yes”. I might press the issue and ask, “do you believe we are saved by faith alone” and you would probably say “yes”. This is orthodoxy (right or in agreement with the teaching of the Christian faith). But do we really believe that? Do we really believe we are saved by faith ALONE or by faith PLUS something (you fill in the blank). According to Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. It says we are “justified”. The Greek meaning of this word is to be put right with; shown to be right; acquit; set free; to pronounce and treat as righteous, to vindicate, etc. Why does it say we are justified? Because of faith!
    Romans 3:28 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”. He is referring to the OT Law of Moses but specifically the law is anything God commands us to do. If God tells us to do something we better do it. But by doing it are we justified because we DID it? No. We are justified by faith not by works of the law. This is why he pens Galatians 3. These guys come rolling up into Galatia telling these new converts that Paul didn’t really know what he was talking about by being justified simply by putting your faith in Jesus. They agreed that you needed to put your faith in him but then they would show these new converts Scriptures in Deuteronomy and Leviticus where God said you must do “this” and “that”. These new converts not having a good understanding were thrown into confusion because after all it was Scripture, right? Galatians 3:1-3 says, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before you eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” So now I ask you…did YOU receive the Spirit by works of the law or by HEARING with FAITH? Verse 3 goes on to say, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Titus 3:5 is a good reference here. “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. It says he saved us NOT because of works done by US in righteousness. I would say that baptism is a righteous work done by us. It is something all Christians should do but that is not when we are saved. Baptism is an act of faith…an ACT of FAITH. Because we have FAITH in Christ we obey him in baptism. Christians get baptized…its not that non-Christians get dunked in water and when they come out they are Christians. We are not saved by righteous acts done by us but by faith. Yes Titus 3:5 mentions the word “washing” but this washing is a washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. How is that? Because we received the Spirit by hearing with Faith! I’ll stop there but we can discuss this further at a later date but hopefully this answered the question you posted above of “When are your sins forgiven”.
    But what is faith? Where does faith come from?
    Back to Ephesians.
    Ephesians 2:1-3 tells us just how bad of shape we were in. We didn’t need a doctor or a motivational speaker…we needed a miracle! Verse 4 then starts by saying, “But God”! But God what? But God “made us alive together with Christ”. Some might think, “I thought I did that” but we see here God did it. Lets look at verses 8-10.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”. Lets take this one slow. How are we saved? By grace through faith! And where did this faith come from? Well we know it did not come from ourselves. It came from God. What is faith? It is a gift!
    Look at it like this…say there is a guy out in the world that doesn’t believe in Christ. Lets pretend that you or someone you know goes out and shares the gospel with him but he doesn’t respond to it. You come back to your friends house and you say, “I saw John the other day and I shared the gospel with him but he didn’t respond. He just doesn’t want to give up his lifestyle. He just refuses to submit to God”. It may be true that John doesn’t want to give up his lifestyle and it may be true that he refuses to submit to God. But what is the real reason? Because God has not granted him faith yet. For whatever reason, according to His purpose He hasn’t granted him repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-25 God grants repentance). See, when we look at John this way and we talk like this what we are really doing is boasting in ourselves. What we are saying at a deeper level (and I believe it is not in a conscious level but regardless) is “but look at us, we submitted ourselves…we humbled ourselves, etc. But the Scriptures tells us we have nothing to boast about because we did nothing for this grace or this faith that we have…”this is not your own doing, it is a gift from God”.
    Now verse 10: “For we (Christians, Christians in Ephesus to be exact) are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…” Lets break this down. I know a guy that is a craftsman. He takes cypress wood and carves things in them. What he carves in them is called his craftsmanship or workmanship. Now say he carved a duck call into this wood. Did the duck call carve itself in the wood or did he carve it. This is what this verse is telling us also. We are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (just as a duck call was created in cypress wood). Back to verse 10, “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”. When did he do this? Beforehand, way before…before creation.
    I have to stop here and get some sleep…long day tomorrow. Look forward to talking with you further.

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 1:3–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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    1. Trey is a good friend of mine. A brother who used to believe and teach similarly to what I do. He has given a long response to my simple article about where does one find forgiveness of sins? I of course say in Jesus and only in Jesus. Trey will say something similar but he deep down doesn’t believe it. I asked him this week since he believes in total depravity and unconditional election, then do all babies who die go to hell? He said no, that he believes all babies go to heaven. I asked Trey then, so God “regenerates”/saves every baby before they die? He said yes. I then asked how are babies saved/regenerated when they are not old enough to even believe? He said the exact same way we are. I said that is exactly what I thought you would say. He now has admitted that all people who God chooses the ones who are saved and saves them prior even to believing in God. Faith is a result of salvation according to his position. So what does that position do in terms of relegating the gospel? Yes Trey and those who hold to this doctrine of total depravity must believe that God saves whomever He wants without human beings even having to have faith. Now that flys in the face of everything the Bible teaches. So let’s examine this fallacious position of Trey’s. Every teaching that has implications that are false, the teaching/doctrine itself must be therefore false. Two positions Trey can take on the babies going to heaven or hell. A) all babies who die must go to hell because they are born lost. Or B) all or some babies go to heaven because God saves/ converts/justifies/ regenerates them before they die even though they cannot believe in Jesus. So Trey, is it position A or position B? I doubt we will get an answer of A Or B from Trey but we will see. If he chooses position A, then he must believe God sends babies to hell just because they were born with Adam’s imputed sin according to their doctrine? If he chooses position B, then he believes God just chooses whomever He wanted to be saved without and before even believing in Jesus and the rest will go to hell. Wow, it looks to me Trey could just believe like I do that babies are innocent until they get old enough to choose to sin and at that point they have an option or choice to put their faith in Jesus or reject Him, which I don’t recommend rejecting the Creator of the cosmos (Colossians 1:16). When you go down the road of believing in total depravity and unconditional election, you have put yourself in a horrible position. I could go on and on but I think the honest person will see the dilemma Trey has gotten himself into. I love him and pray that he will see clearly this error that he has made.

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  2. Matt,
    Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”. Did you see that? God has assigned.
    Implications of a belief is very important. Lets look at yours. You said we are to train children to surrender to God. Why? They are perfect according to your belief. Who are we, grown sinners, to teach perfect innocent sinless children? I could go down that road forever showing the horrible implications of this belief. You would think that the simple FACT that your stance was considered heresy at the Council of Carthage and the Council of Ephesus in 418 AD and 431AD that would be enough. This position is not held by evangelicals but it is held by Jehovah Witness, Mormons, Islam and eastern religions. If you think you are up against me on this you need to refocus.
    Your teaching is very nice to the itching ear and the “compassion” of our culture today but “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
    Now, below is a list for the readers who come to this site. I have given you this list and you have refused to look at it.
    There are ONLY about 120 verse that deal with this topic.
    Ill start off with one that seems to be pretty clear and then give you the list:
    Psalm 58:3 says “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.”

    Is man basically good or basically evil?

    Ecclesiastes 7:29 – “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”
    Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    Romans 5:12,19 – sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners
    c.f. Job 15:14-16, 25:4-6; Ecclesiastes 9:3

    All men? Are there any exceptions?

    Psalm 143:2 – Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
    Romans 11:32 – For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (c.f. Galatians 3:22)
    Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
    2 Chronicles 6:36 – “there is no one who does not sin”
    Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way
    Micah 7:2-4 – The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
    Romans 3:9-12 – What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 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.” (c.f. Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3)
    1 John 1:8,10 – If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.
    Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19 – And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
    c.f. 1 Kings 8:46; 116:11, 130:3, 143:2; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Jeremiah 2:29; Micah 7:2-4, Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19; Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 5:9-10; James 3:2; etc., etc.

    Are people good deep down?

    Mark 7:21-23 – “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (c.f. Matthew 15:19)
    Psalm 5:9 – For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
    Are men totally depraved? Is every faculty of the person corrupted?
    Heart/Mind (Deceitful)

    Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
    Titus 1:15-16 – to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
    Ecclesiastes 9:3 – Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
    Romans 1:28-31 – And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were… foolish
    Ephesians 4:17-18 – you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
    Jeremiah 10:7-8,14 – among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish… Every man is stupid and without knowledge
    Matthew 15:19 – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (c.f. Mark 7:21-23)
    Genesis 6:5 & 8:21 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… from his youth.
    Proverbs 10:20 – the heart of the wicked is of little worth.
    Proverbs 28:26 – Whoever trusts in his own [heart] is a fool
    c.f. Deuteronomy 29:2-4; Psalm 10:4, 36:1-2, 58:4-5, 94:11; Proverbs 10:20; Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26; Matthew 13:14; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:17-18, 23

    Will/Choosing (Enslaved)

    John 8:34 – Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.”
    2 Peter 2:19 – They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
    Titus 3:3 – For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
    Galatians 4:8-9 – Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
    Romans 6:6,16,17,19,20 – We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed… For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
    Romans 7:14 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
    2 Timothy 2:25-26 – God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
    c.f. Isaiah 42:6-7; Psalm 51:12; John 8:31-32,36; 2 Corinthians 3:17

    Affections/Desires (Perverted)

    Romans 1:24-27 – Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    Ephesians 2:3 – 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.
    Proverbs 21:10 – The soul of the wicked desires evil
    John 3:19 – And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
    John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”
    c.f. Genesis 3:16; Psalm 4:2, 52:3-4 140:8; Proverbs 10:23; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; 2 Peter 2:13

    et al (Utter Ruin)

    Titus 1:15-16 – to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.
    Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
    Isaiah 1:5-6 – The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.
    Can men change themselves or still do good when they want to?
    Jeremiah 13:23 – Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.
    1 Samuel 24:13 – “As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’”
    Matthew 7:18 – “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” (c.f. Luke 6:43)
    Matthew 12:34-35 – “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
    Romans 8:7 – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
    Genesis 6:5 & 8:21 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… from youth.
    Titus 1:15-16 – to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
    c.f. Job 14:4; Matthew 12:34; John 15:5; Romans 14:23; Philippians 1:11; 1 John 5:18-19

    Are men at least born pure? What about the “tabula rasa”?

    Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
    Genesis 8:21 – the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
    Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.
    John 3:6 – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”
    c.f. Proverbs 22:15

    What is the natural disposition of man toward God?

    John 3:20 – “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
    Romans 8:7-8 – For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God
    Colossians 1:21 – And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds
    c.f. Romans 1:28-30; James 4:4

    What is man’s relationship to God?

    Psalm 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb;
    Ephesians 2:12-13 – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
    Ephesians 2:3 – 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.
    c.f. Isaiah 59:2

    Can man then do anything to please God?

    Proverbs 15:9 – The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord
    Proverbs 15:8 – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (c.f. Proverbs 21:27)
    Proverbs 28:9 – If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
    Isaiah 64:6 – We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
    Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please [God]
    Romans 8:7-8 – Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    c.f. Psalm 50:16; Proverbs 21:4; Isaiah 1:10-15; Amos 5:21-24

    Are men at least seeking God?

    Psalm 10:4 – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
    John 3:20 – “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
    Isaiah 65:1 – “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
    Isaiah 64:7 – There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
    Romans 3:10-12 – “no one seeks for God.”
    c.f. Romans 10:20

    Can the natural man comprehend the gospel or come to saving knowledge of God on his own?

    1 Corinthians 2:14 – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
    2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – our gospel is veiled… to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
    1 Corinthians 1:18,21-24 – For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles
    Deuteronomy 29:2-4 – And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”
    Matthew 11:27 – “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
    c.f. Psalm 119:18; Proverbs 4:19; Isaiah 42:6-7; Hosea 14:9; Matthew 16:17; John 8:43; Acts 22:14, 26:18; Ephesians 4:17-19; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 John 5:20

    Can men of themselves accept God’s gift of salvation? Do men choose God or come to Him on their own?

    John 3:27 – John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.”
    John 14:16-17 – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.”
    John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
    John 6:44,65 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
    Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    Romans 11:35-36 – “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things.
    1 Corinthians 1:30 – And because of him you are in Christ Jesus
    Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
    c.f. Jonah 2:9; Zephaniah 3:9; John 15:16; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 1:6; James 1:18

    Who supplies faith/belief/repentance?

    Acts 16:14 – One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.
    1 Corinthians 3:6 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
    Acts 5:31 – “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
    Acts 11:18 – When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
    Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should… believe in him
    Acts 18:27 – When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed
    Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
    Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
    2 Timothy 2:24-25 – And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, [etc.]… God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth
    1 Corinthians 12:3 – no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
    2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
    Romans 11:36 – For from him and through him and to him are all things.
    1 Corinthians 4:7 – For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
    John 3:6, 6:63 – “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”
    c.f. 1 Chronicles 29:14; John 5:44; Acts 3:16; Romans 1:8, 12:3; Ephesians 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:2

    Can men do anything to help themselves?

    Colossians 2:13 – And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses
    Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved
    c.f. Psalm 49:7-9; Jeremiah 2:22; Ezekiel 16:6, 37:1-3; Romans 5:6

    Then what becomes of our boasting?

    Romans 3:27 – It is excluded.
    c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:28-29, 4:7; Ephesians 2:9-9

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  3. Hi, Trey:

    I would like to ask that you review the following verses regarding your position on total depravity, which is the first of the five points of Calvanism. I believe they completely refute your position, as your view holds God as an unjust God as babies are not able to ‘knoweth’ good from evil. (See James 4:17, referenced below.)

    Deuteronomy 1:39 – Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

    James 4:17 – Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.

    Matthew 19:14 – But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

    Isaiah 7:16 – For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

    Matthew 18:3 – And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    The one passage that seems to identify with this topic more than any other is:

    2 Samuel 12:21–23

    21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
    22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
    23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

    The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that, because of his sin, the Lord would take the child in death. David responded to this by grieving and praying for the child. But once the child was taken, David’s mourning ended. David’s servants were surprised to hear this. They said to King David, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” David’s response was, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David’s response indicates that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child but could not bring the child back to him. Also, and just as important, David seemed to be comforted by this knowledge. In other words, David seemed to be saying that he would see his baby son (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.

    As I believe the verses mentioned above confirm, it is the position at TruthInFocus.net that God applies Christ’s payment for sin to babies and those who are mentally handicapped, since they are not mentally capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior. God’s applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe also seems consistent with His love and mercy. Of this we are certain: God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever God does is always right and good, and He loves children even more than we do.

    We will now consider this correspondence closed since it is apparent that your position is clearly different from that of ours and therefore we will agree to disagree. It is not fruitful to continue to debate regarding issues upon which we have clearly taken opposite stances.

    Thank you for your comments and may God bless you as you continue to seek the truth.

    *Portions taken in part from gotquestions.org

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