Dr. Henry Waiters: Unasked, unappreciated questions
Wisdom dictates agreement with Arthur W. Pink that some of the vital questions that should be raised today are:
Is man a totally and thoroughly depraved creature by nature?
Does he enter the world completely ruined and helpless, spiritually blind, dead in trespasses and sins?
Our answers to these questions will also be our views on many others. The whole Bible proceeds on the basis of this dark background. Any attempt to modify, repudiate or tone down the teaching of Scripture on the matter is fatal.
A summary question: Is man now in such a condition that he cannot be saved without the special and direct intervention of the triune God on his behalf? Is there any hope for him apart from his personal election by the Father, his particular redemption by the Son, and the supernatural operations of the Spirit within him?
Another question. If man is a totally depraved being, can he possibly take the first step in the matter of his return to God? (John 6:37, 44)
The scriptural answer to that question makes evident the utter futility of the schemes of social reformers for “the moral elevation of the masses,” the plans of politicians for the peace and progress of the nations, and the ideologies of dreamers to usher in a golden age for this world.
It is both pathetic and tragic to see so many of our great men putting their faith in such notions of the imagination. Divisions and discords, hatred and bloodshed, cannot be banished while human nature is what it is.
During the past century the steady trend of a deteriorating Christendom has been to underrate the evil of sin and overrate the moral capabilities of men.
Instead of proclaiming the heinousness of sin, there has been a dwelling more upon its inconveniences, and the abasing portrayal of the lost condition of man as set forth in the Bible has been obscured, if not obliterated, by flattering, elaborate explanatory essays on human advancement.
If the popular religion of “the churches,” including most of what is termed Evangelical Christianity, be tested at this point, it will be found that it clashes directly with man’s fallen, ruined, and spiritually dead condition.
There is therefore a crying need today for sin to be viewed in the light of God’s Law and Gospel, so that its exceeding sinfulness may be demonstrated and the dark depths of human depravity exposed by the teaching of God’s Word, that we may learn what is meant by those fearful words “dead in trespasses and sins.”
The primary object of the Bible is to make God known to us, to portray man as he appears in the eyes of his Maker, and to show the relation of one to the other. It is therefore up to His servants not only to declare the divine character and perfections, but also to delineate the original condition and apostasy of man, as well as the divine remedy for his ruin.
Until we understand the horror of the pit in which by nature we lie, we can never properly appreciate Christ’s salvation. Man’s fallen condition is the disease for which divine redemption and our estimation and valuation of the provisons of divine grace will necessarily be modified in proportion as we modify the need it was meant to meet.
J.C. Philpot, once said, “No heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue can adequately express, the state of wretchedness and ruin into which sin has cast guilty, miserable man.
“In separating him from God, it has severed him from the only source and fountain of all happiness and all holiness. It has ruined him, body and soul. The one it has filled with sickness and disease; in the other, it has defaced and destroyed the image of God in which it was created. It has shattered all his mental faculties; it has broken his judgment, polluted his imagination, and alienated his affections. It has made him love sin and hate God.”
The very thought of total depravity is a humbling thought. It is not man leaning to one side and needing propping up, nor is he just ignorant and needs instructions, nor is he just run down and needs a tonic. Man is undone, lost, spiritually dead, “without strength thoroughly incapable of bettering himself.” He is exposed to the wrath of God and unable to perform a single work that can find acceptance with Him.
The impossibility of any man’s gaining the approval of God by works of his own appears plainly in the case of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus. Judged by human standards, he was a model of virtue and religious attainments. Yet, like all others who trust in self-efforts, he was ignorant of the spirituality and strictness of God’s Law; when Jesus put him to the test, his fair expectations were blown to the winds and “he went away sorrowful.” (Matt.l9:22)
It is therefore a distasteful doctrine. It cannot be otherwise, for the unregenerate person loves to hear of the greatness, the dignity, the nobility of man. The natural man thinks highly of himself and appreciates only that which is flattering. Nothing pleases him more than to listen to that which extols human nature and lauds the state of mankind, even though it be in terms that not only repudiate the teaching of God’s Word, but flatly contradict by observation and experience.
The duty of God’s servants is to stain the pride of all that man glories in, and to lay him low in the dust before God. However repugnant such teaching is, God’s man must faith fully discharge his duty “whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.” (Ezk.3:ll)
What God said to Isaiah in BC 698 is as relevant today as it was then: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.”(Isa. 58:l)
Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.