Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
Rom 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Rom 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
Rom 3:14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
Rom 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Rom 3:16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
Rom 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.”,
Rom 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (ESV)
What has lead the some churches (seems like the majority) to ignore the above passage in Scripture for what it clearly says? Why has the fear of God been replaced by God as therapist? Why has the redeeming love of God been replaced by Him as our bottomless ATM? Why has God been reduced to a beggar, His plans dependent on human whims?
Once one ignores, or changes the meaning of the passage above, then the whole reformed doctrine collapses. And when reformed doctrine collapses, one is back at Pelagianism at worst, or as is prevalent today, semi-Pelagianism. Pelagius denied the clear reading of the passage above. And he did not shirk from the logical conclusions either. He denied that man is as described above. Man is born good, he said, and therefore, it is possible that man has no need for grace. He can live the perfect sinless life, and in fact claimed that there were people who did so.
The watered down version of that is what permeates our churches today. Yes, we need grace, yes we need Jesus, yes man is sinful, BUT, man has to choose to accept grace, man has to change his heart, man has to co-operate with God. The denial that man is stone-cold dead in his sins leads one right back to Pelagius. And semi-Pelagianism is a compromise that has the same logical conclusions as Pelagianism. The need for grace is necessary after the heavy lifting has been done. Grace comes by invitiation only, after the heart of man has made a decision, not before.
And once grace alone collapses into grace plus the decison by man, faith alone becomes a misnomer. Faith is apparently in God, but in such a worldview it necessarily has to include faith in the self. How else can one trust oneself to stay true to ones own decision? And once faith alone becomes faith in God plus self, then it is a short step away from denying Christ alone. Glory is due to everyone here, right? No glory to God alone, but to the self as well, and to everyone that made this possible. And finally, further explicit denial of the Word of God.
It goes full circle. Starting with a denial of what Scripture says leads right back to more of it.
Dr. R.C. Sproul has written a most excellent article on the captivity of the church:
The Pelagian Captivity of the Church
Modern humanism, Finneyism, and the invasion of corporate motives have lead us to where we stand today. Where “converts” do not persevere, but simply carry on as if nothing has happened. If they can make a decison for God once, they can always do it again, right?
God is love. He is perfect love. He is longsuffering and slow to anger.
Psa 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
But common grace should not be mistaken for the Gospel. God’s love for His creation does not change the fact that we have hearts of stone, it reinforces the fact that He is the only one that can sovereignly change it to a heart that knows His redeeming love. His common grace is as undeserved as His saving grace, but they are not the same thing, as Pelagius seems to have mistakenly and arrogantly understood. Man lives because of God’s common grace before conversion, but he gets eternal life because of God’s saving grace, not his own decision.
Be the least before God. We have nothing but His grace, the expression of His love.