The necessary requirement to get ‘unsaved’ before getting ‘saved.’
by Geoffrey R. Kirkland
The prevailing notion today that “man is basically ‘good’” has infected all of us—none excluded. This thought is, at its core, nothing new. Pelagius, the British monk who lived in 350 AD, believed this same reasoning. He thought that humans were born ‘good’—that is, with the same human nature and human perfection that Adam had when he was born (pre-fall, of course). Then, it isn’t until that person chooses to sin that he/she becomes a sinner. But this demands that we ask: “Is there anyone who is fundamentally good?” If so, then a person can initiate relationship with God and can have a part to play in his/her salvation. If not, however, then God is the one who must save us and come to us and initiate all reconciliation with us because we are ‘dead in sin’ (Rom 5:12).
Last night, I preached at our Mid-Week service on Psalm 14. If there is one Scripture in the Bible that absolutely, undeniably, and clearly proves the total (or radical) depravity of all mankind, this is it. When God says something once, we listen up! When God says something twice, it demands out utmost and keenest attention. But when God says something three times, “Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest it” (Book of Common Prayer). And this is the case with Psalm1 4. Not only is it repeated almost verbatim in Psalm 53, but Paul quotes the text in his argumentation in Romans 3:10-20. God makes overwhelmingly clear that He wants us to know that we are sinners—period.
I found as I studied the psalm 2 main points: first, the depravity of mankind (vv.1-6) and second, the deliverance from Yahweh (v.7). The psalm takes everyone down to rock bottom in humiliation, sin, dead‘ness’, wickedness, depravity, and helplessness before he gives gospel light at the end of the psalm. And this is the way it ought to be with our preaching. As a footnote here, we as preachers ought not to tear people down with the guilt of sin without offering them the matchless and overabundant grace and forgiveness offered in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ! And this is precisely what David does—he offers salvation and deliverance and prays for it to come after blasting all humanity with depravity.
My subpoints last night under the depravity of mankind (vv.1-6) were as follows:
--The inability of doing anything good (1)
--The inability of seeking after God (2)
--The inability of pleasing God (3)
Then in verses 4-6, David elucidates the futility of depravity in saying that they (the wicked) never learn (v.4), they never rest (v.5), and they never win (v.6). Verse 7 concludes with a prayerful plea that God would bring the salvation and deliverance of
Consider this quote from a commentator who helps summarize, I believe, the truths contained in this psalm:
We deceive ourselves into thinking that man, on his own, really does seek God. Don’t all the religion and rituals and practices from the beginning of time demonstrate that man does indeed seek God? Not at all. If man initiates the search then he doesn’t seek the true God, the God of the Bible. Instead he seeks an idol that he makes himself” (David Guzik).
In conclusion, re-read and consider how Paul wrote it in the NT:
Ephesians 2:1-9 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.