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Total Depravity and Prevenient Grace

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Lesson

Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

Outline

I. TOTAL DEPRAVITY

A. Negative superlatives

B. Sermon, The Way to the Kingdom

C. Other Reformers

D. Contrast with Eastern Orthodox view

E. How God sovereignly acts in the order of salvation

II. PREVENIENT GRACE

A. Everyone has some measure of light

B. Prevenient grace is based on the work of Christ and applied to all people

C. Two distinct uses of prevenient grace

III. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS