Bible Basics: Inherited Sin

By Earl E. Robertson

Salvation has to do with saving one from his own sins, not the sins of others (Ezek. 18:4, 20). Contrary to the old creeds which teach that all are born into this world with sin (inherited depravity), the Bible teaches babies are safe. Usually the Calvinistic theologian will offer Psalms 51:5 as proof that babies are born sinners. The passage reads, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” So, this passage is supposed to affirm that since parents are sinners their children are also sinners through inheritance! They tell us this means the children are born totally depraved in sin which they got from their parents! The Philadelphia Confession Of Faith says in “Article 10” of babies thus born unelected: “Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet, not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved.” This is then the alleged nature of newborn babies. David is not describing either his mother’s or his own moral condition; he is speaking of the condition of the world into which he was born. Acts 2:8 has identical language. Luke records the expressed feelings of the Jews at their hearing the apostles speak various languages, saying, “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” They were not “born in a tongue”; they were born in a world wherein a certain tongue (language) was spoken. David was born in a world where sin reigned.

By taking the position of inherited depravity, the logical step to follow is the unconditional election. The creeds further say, “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature co-working with his special grace; the creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call . . . . ” No one denies the sinner is dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), but we do deny the sin is from anyone but the sinner himself. The creed says “grace alone” but the Bible says “grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8). The creed says the sinner is “wholly passive” in being saved, but Jesus says the one who enters the kingdom of heaven is “he that doeth the will of my Father” (Matt. 7:21). “Doeth” requires action; action is the opposite of passive! Salvation is actively received!

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 20, p. 623
October 20, 1983