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Why the Secular World Has No Answer For ISIS

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I recently watched a video on the Islamic State or better known as ISIS.  The video was not produced by Christians so the video simply wanted to tell the story of ISIS and why they do what they do and what is their goal.  The reality was that ISIS members were not murderers bent on simply killing infidels in the name of Islam but they are simple, normal Muslims who truly love Islam and are seeking to follow the ways of their Prophet.  These Muslims fill their day with learning from the Quran, with prayer, and with seeking to imitate the life of Mohammad in every way possible including jihad.  Their passion is simple: they want to do the will of their god as it gave it to their prophet.

The secular world simply cannot fathom this devotion.  They look at ISIS and see a people who must be mad at the West for something.  Perhaps its our morals (and that is part of it) or our freedom (they see it as bondage because the will of their god is not being followed).  The secular world thinks it’s about land or oil or money or even sex.  The reality is that the members of ISIS and especially the leadership are well-educated Muslims who are bent on being true to the Quran and to their prophet.  This is not about a fight for land.  This is not a fight over the US involvement with Iraq or Afghanistan per se (though ISIS hates the Americans for being in Muslim lands).  This is not about Jews or Christians (though they despise them both for their “false worship”).  This is about their god.  And the secular world has no answer.

The reason is simple why the secular worldview has no answer: they have no god.  The “god” of the secular is themselves (Romans 1:22-23).  The false god of Islam is not much different other than that the Muslim believes in a god outside of themselves.  Their god is still a false god.  Either way, the secularist has no answer for Islam.

The Christian reply is that the Muslims are worshiping a false god.  A comparison of the God of the Bible with the god of the Quran shows a god who is much different in Islam.  Even a comparison of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ with Mohammad shows worlds difference between the two.  The Lord Jesus was perfect, sinless and He never struck down those who attacked Him (1 Peter 2:21-24).  Jesus even prayed for those who were killing Him (Luke 23:34).  The Bible even says that we are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and Paul the Apostle advocated the same (Romans 12:12-21).  Jesus did teach His disciples to advance His kingdom (Acts 1:8) because of His authority (Matthew 28:18-20) but this advancement is not with weapons of warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) but with the gospel.  The gospel will conquer the nations (Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26) and the Lord will redeem sinners from every nation (Revelation 5:9-10).  Yet Jesus, unlike Mohammad, never called His followers to advance His kingdom by force or power.  The gospel alone can transform a person and this comes from above (John 3:3; cf. Luke 17:20-21).

ISIS is not following Jesus.  In fact, ISIS hates Jesus and the true and living God of the Bible as all sinners do (Romans 1:18-19).  ISIS, like other forms of Islam, cannot convert one person because they have no gospel, no power.  Islam offers no forgiveness of sins because they reject sin.  Islam offers no assurance of salvation but to martyrs.  Islam offers no hope that their god loves them but only that it is merciful.  Islam has no concept of individual salvation but with only submission to their god.  The very name “Muslim” means “one who submits.”  Yet ISIS views all forms of Islam false who also do not follow sharia law (or the laws put forth by various Muslim clerics about how to follow the Quran and the life of Mohammad).  If a nation or person does not follow sharia law as set forth by ISIS, they are deemed infidels and must repent and come back to the true religion.  This is not a religion of peace but one of submission.

ISIS’s goal is clear: to raise the black flag of ISIS over every nation.  In the video I watched, ISIS promised to raise the flag over Turkey (if they did not open a dam to allow water into Syria) and over all the Middle East (including Iran and Israel whom they both hate).  ISIS even promised to raise the flag of Islam over the White House in the United States.  This is not a religion of peace but as the name states – of submission.  Sharia law is to be the law of the land wherever ISIS comes.

What can the secularist say to this?  They have no solution.  No answers.  The President of the United States will not even see that they are true Muslims but he views them as false Muslims.  Any simple reading of the Quran and the Hadith would show otherwise.  Some secular religious scholar is giving the President of the United States bad advice.  I agree that warfare is not the total answer.  ISIS wants war.  ISIS would love to face the United States to the battlefield (though they would probably lose in my estimation).  ISIS believes that their holy war is from their god.  The US military would just view it as another war with terrorists.  While the US could defeat ISIS in battles, the hearts for the people living in Muslim lands must be won with the gospel.  And the US (and other nations) would not get that part.  Until they do, they would have to continue to fight Islamic fighters for years to come.

The answer for combatting ISIS is this: send missionaries.  You could (and I think should) fight ISIS on the battlefield for they continue to kill people who are simply in their way.  ISIS must be stopped and stopped by a strong military force (just as the European nations sent the Crusaders in the middle ages not to take over the Middle East but to combat the spread of Islam into European nations).  After stopping ISIS on the battlefield, we must turn the work over to the gospel.  Muslims need to freely hear the gospel.  One ISIS soldier even said that he hated seeing the Americans in Iraq because they would build Christian churches.  This is what we must do.  We must send forth the gospel.

The gospel can transform the Middle East.  It did in the first 600 years after the resurrection of Christ until the false prophet Mohammad sought to build a cult off the teachings of Judaism and Christianity.  Since then, the gospel has struggled against the false teachings of Islam.  Islam is not merely another religion from Christianity but it is the antithesis of Christianity.  Islam doesn’t merely teach against Jesus but another Jesus altogether to pervert the true Jesus of the Bible.

Thank God for the reports of Muslims hearing the gospel through the Internet and through radio.  ISIS will kill whoever converts to Christianity and ISIS will kill whoever is found with a Bible or listening to Christian programs.  This is not about peace but submission.  Yahweh is sending forth His truth against the false teachings of Islam.  Yahweh will be glorified through His Son in all nations and the promise is that all nations will bow to His dominion (Psalm 72:8-9).

I pray that ISIS will repent.  God saved a Jew bent on killing disciples of Christ in Acts 9 and He can do the same with members of ISIS.  I pray that nations will see the threat of ISIS and see that the answer is not found in secularism.  It is not found in money or sex.  The answer for ISIS is the gospel of the Jesus Christ.  I pray that members of ISIS will turn from their sins and the Spirit of God would bring deep conviction upon them (John 16:8-11).  Jesus is able to save even the worse of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  May we intercede for this (1 Timothy 2:1-7).

Interesting Take on Ephesians 2:3

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The following is a different view of Ephesians 2:3 than the Calvinist and Arminian views.  For example, John MacArthur writes about Ephesians 2:1 that we are all born dead not because of our sinful acts that have been committed but because of our sinful natures that we are born with.  He cross references Matthew 12:35 and 15:18-19 (pointing to our hearts as sinful).

Yet the following writer wrote:

1.  The word “nature” (Ephesians 2:3) can at times describe a man’s God-given constitution (Romans 1:26, 31; 2:14, 27; 2 Timothy 3:3).  It must  be kept in mind that our constitution is just dirt and is created by God; and therefore, our constitution cannot be sinful in of itself.

2.  The phrase “by nature” (Ephesians 2:3) does not always mean “by birth” but can at times mean “by custom or habit.”  Otherwise, Paul would have taught that the Gentiles were born sinners but the Jews were not.  Paul said, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners” (Galatians 2:16; some translate birth as nature is his point).  The word nature can describe a man’s self chosen character, custom, habit, or manner of life (Jeremiah 13:23; Acts 26:4; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Galatians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Peter 1:4).  This is voluntary and has to do with the heart.  Therefore, moral character or sinfulness can belong to this type of voluntary and chosen nature.

3.  The context of this particular passage is talking about a former manner of life.  Paul is addressing a previous lifestyle.  He said “in which you once walked” (v.2) and “once lived” (v.3).  The natural man is the same as the carnally minded (Romans 8:6-7).  It is someone who lives for the gratification of their flesh.  To say that a person is by nature a child of wrath is the same as saying that they are under the wrath of God because they are living for the gratification of their flesh. Through free choice, men create a habit of self-indulgence.

4.  To say that they are “sons of disobedience” (v. 2; 5:6) and to say they are “by nature children of wrath” is essentially the same thing.  Disobedience is a choice of the will.  Those who choose to disobey God are misusing and abusing their natures.  Those who choose to disobey God are rightfully under His wrath.

5.  That which brings the “wrath” (v. 3) of God is voluntary moral character, not involuntary constitutions.  God is not angry with men for possessing the nature which He Himself created with them.  God is angry with sinners because of how they have chosen to use their nature that He has given them by transgressing His just laws (1 John 3:4).  God is angry with the wicked (Psalm 7:11) because the wicked do wicked deeds (Psalm 7:14).  God is angry with sinners because of their sinful choices and sinful habits.

6.  A sinful nature is moral not physical.  Jesus had a nature like ours (Hebrews 2:14; 5:7-10) yet Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).  A sinful nature is a person’s self-chosen character and not his God-given constitution.  A man’s heart or will can be sinful, a man’s constitution or body can only be an occasion of temptation.  Through continual choices of self-gratification, man has developed a habit of sin.  Jesus was born with flesh just like we have and He was tempted in His flesh but He never sinned by giving in to temptation.  If we choose to sin, we are choosing to use our God-given nature to rebel against God.  This is what meant by sinful nature  and not that merely being a human means that we are guilty of sin just by our constitutional makeup.

Being Careful With Our Words

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People often use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said.”  Sometimes (and few times) people actually mean that they believe God did speak to them.  Yet most of the time people simply mean that they got an impression.  I heard one guy call it a “holy hunch.”  Yet this would not be the same as direct revelation from God.  Most people, I think, are well-meaning when they say that God spoke to them yet their use of God speaking to them makes it seem like they actually heard from God and not from themselves.

In reality, the Bible is where we hear from God.  Certainly God speaks to us through life, through pain, through joy, through circumstances, through creation, etc. but this flows from the biblical data and not outside of the Bible.  The Bible is where God speaks!  Scripture is clear that God speaks to us in His Word.  The Word claims to be speaking for God so that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.  Jesus Himself held that the Bible (the Old Testament at His time) was in fact the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  Jesus upheld the absolute authority of the Bible (Matthew 5:17-20).  Jesus even said that the Bible cannot be broken (John 10:35).  When Jesus was asked theological questions, He appealed to Scripture (see Matthew 19:1-9; 22:23-33).  Even as Jesus died on the cross, He was aware of the fulfillment of Scripture (see John 19:28-30).  After His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about Himself and His suffering and resurrection from the Scriptures (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47).

So if we claim to follow Christ, we should have the same view of the Bible as Jesus held.  Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible, the sufficiency of the Bible, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and He quoted the Bible when combating theological errors and even Satan himself.

Hebrews 1:1-3 is clear:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews points to Jesus as God’s final word.  The last days are not now.  They have been since Jesus began to reign from heaven until the end (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14, 18).  Jesus fully reveled God because He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20).  When Jesus spoke, He was God speaking to humans as a human.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.

Jesus promised His Apostles in John 16:12-15 that the Holy Spirit would help them to record all that He said.  Notice what Jesus says:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Some take verse 13 and try to apply this to modern disciples but the context is clear that Jesus was speaking to His Apostles.  It would be the Apostles (or their close associates) who would write the Scriptures under the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter would later write in 2 Peter 1:20-21 this:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter the Apostle placed the authority of the Scriptures over even his own experiences (2 Peter 1:16-19).

This is powerful for us in our day when people use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said…”  I don’t doubt that God speaks to us and I hear Him speak always and faithfully in His Word.  2 Timothy 3:17 even says:

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible makes us complete!  The Bible make us equipped for every good work!  This is why I stress that we should build into our lives and in the lives of our children the authority of the Bible (Matthew 7:24-27).  I want my boys to look at everything through the lenses of the Word of God.  When my boys are faced with naturalistic evolution (or other issues), I want them to look at it through the lenses of the Word of God.  When it comes to evangelism, I want to evangelize based on the authority of the Word of God.  When it comes to money or my marriage or my job, I want to honor God by studying and applying the Word of God.  The Word of God is my foundation so that when I am reading and studying my Bible, I am hearing from God!  I don’t need an impression to know that God is speaking to me.  I don’t need a vision.  I don’t need a dream.  I don’t need a prophet.  The Bible is sufficient, faithful, inerrant, infallible, and makes me complete, equipped for every good work.

So a better way would be not to say that God spoke to us but to quote the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  “The Bible says” is God speaking.  If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear God speak out loud, read the Bible out loud.  God’s Word is final. God’s Word is faithful because it comes from Him who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2).

In conclusion, I hold that our wording is the problem.  Most people I know who say, “God spoke to me and said” would say that it was an impression, a hunch.  They would not place their “hearing God” with the authority of the Bible nor on the same level as the Apostles hearing from the Spirit.  Yet this subtle “hearing from God” can undermine the authority of the Bible if we are not careful.  I recommend we modify our language.  I no longer say at all, “God spoke to me” apart from quoting the Bible.  When I want to express hearing from the Lord, I use the Bible.  The Bible is faithful to speak for God.  I hold firmly the principle of sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.”  Dr. Jack Cottrell writes about sola scriptura:

Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is an adequate source of truth and moral knowledge, but it means more.  It means that Scripture alone is the authoritative source of such truth and knowledge.  Because of its unique nature as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, Scripture is the sole norm, the ultimate and final authority for faith and life. (Solid: The Authority of God’s Word, pp. 82-83).

May we go now and read our Bible and hear from God simply as we read.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/20/2015 at 10:30 AM

Intercession for ISIS

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ISIS is a wicked group of men who are committed to the false teachings of Islam and the false prophet Mohammad.  ISIS are committed to following the example of their Prophet and they want to imitate him in every way.  These are not “sub-Muslims” but I would argue that they are true Muslims, truly committed to following Islam and living for the glory of their false Prophet.

That said, the disciple of Jesus has a powerful tool to use to combat the lies of ISIS and that is prayer.  The Muslim prays to the false god Allah but it does not hear for Allah is not a true god.  The members of ISIS pray to a false god and worship a false god.  This is not true for true disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have the one and only true and living God.  There are no other gods (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:8; 45:5; 46:9; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:6).  Jesus is the divine Son of God, the second person of the holy Trinity (John 1:18; 3:16) and He alone is our sole mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We must come to the Father in the name of Jesus for Him to hear our prayers (John 14:13-14).  Jesus warned about those who would try to come to God through other ways or means.  He called them “thief and a robber” (John 10:1).  Jesus alone is the true shepherd for us (John 10:11) and He said that He was the door for the sheep (John 10:7).  Jesus said further that He was the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).

Therefore, the disciple of Christ can come into the holy presence of God whereas the members of ISIS cannot.  The members of ISIS continue to sacrifice their lives and their time to false gods and even demons (1 Corinthians 10:20, 21).  ISIS members are slaves to their sin and to their father, Satan (John 8:44).  It is clear that they are far from God by their actions (1 John 3:15).

With the knowledge then that we can pray and God hears our cries (Psalm 65:2) because of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16), let us pray!  Let us pray for the members of ISIS to be saved.  Perhaps some of them fit Romans 10:1 but I suspect most are simply lustful men who desire to kill and to destroy like their father, Satan, and their Prophet.  Again, they pray and worship false gods but we worship the only true and living God and He hears the prayer of the saints (Revelation 5:8).  We should pray that God would open their blind eyes to know the truth of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).  We should pray for the Holy Spirit to bring deep conviction on the members of ISIS (John 16:8-11).  We should pray for the Lord to bring justice for their killings (Romans 2:8-9).  We should pray 2 Peter 3:9 toward ISIS and ask God to open their eyes to see their sins and to see their good works (and very evil works) do not save but only condemn them (Isaiah 64:6).  We should pray for disciples who are suffering under ISIS to demonstrate Christ (Luke 23:34) and for the Lord to be glorified even in their suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19).

ISIS can be destroyed but God is able to save these wicked sinners.  The Lord struck down Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-4).  Saul was a wicked man who was bent on destroying the church of Christ (Acts 8:1-3; Galatians 1:13).  Saul was doing all this in the name of Yahweh whom he thought he was serving (Galatians 1:14) yet he did not know God in truth (Galatians 1:15) but when the Lord saved him, Saul became a testimony of grace for all to see (Galatians 1:16, 24).  Who would think that God could take the murdering Saul and turn him into Paul the Apostle?  Yet God did (1 Corinthians 15:10)!

We should pray that the Father would do the same to members of ISIS.  God is more than able!  He has proved His power to save throughout time.  May the Lord be glorified in saving souls among ISIS.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/19/2015 at 12:46 PM

Book Review: ESV Readers Edition

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The ESV Reader’s Edition is a nice addition to the ESV line of Bibles.  I purchased mine from Lifeway Christian Bookstore.  Mine was about $26.

The layout of the ESV Readers Bible is that it comes with only the text of Scripture.  For example, I have the Bible before me and I have it opened to Psalm 41.  This edition has Psalm 41 over the words but no verses.  It is like reading a novel.

Now does this help?  I am use to reading the Bible with verses that I find myself trying to figure out what verse I am in.  Sometimes I have been reading from this ESV and have had to pick up my ESV pitt minion to see where I am reading.  I know that I am reading from Leviticus but what verse?  Yet on the other hand I enjoy reading a Bible that just flows.  I don’t get sidetracked by cross references or by even the verses themselves.  I just read.  The other advantage would be that you don’t find yourself counting verses.  I just read chapters and not verses.  This allows for longer Bible reading.  My plan is to read the Bible through in this edition.

Overall this is a unique Bible and one that I do recommend.  It has semi-large print (about 8.5) which makes it easy to read.  This, of course, would not be a preaching or even study Bible.  It is made simply to read from.  I do encourage all disciples to read this edition of the ESV and enjoy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/19/2015 at 10:52 AM

John 17 and Luke 23

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One point made often by Calvinists is that Jesus only prayed for the elect in John 17.  They point out that He only prayed for the elect in John 17 and this proves that He only intercedes for the elect.  Because Jesus did not pray for the lost in John 17, this shows that He came to die only for the elect.

However, two points are to be made.  First, a question.  I would ask Calvinists if they pray for their children?  They would hopefully answer yes.  My reply would be, “Does this mean then that you only love your children?”  Of course the answer would hopefully be no.  Simply because we find Jesus praying for His disciples in John 17 does not prove that He only died for the elect nor does it prove that Jesus only prayed for His disciples.

Secondly, I would point out in Luke 23:34 that Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He was clearly praying for the sinners who were killing Him.  Was He then not praying for the sinners?  If John 17 proves that Jesus only prays for the elect and not the world then what about Luke 23:34?  It seems clear that Jesus prayed for the sinners here who were killing Him on the cross.  That is love indeed!

I don’t doubt for one moment that true disciples have a mighty high priest who prays for us before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  Just tonight I was interceding and was so filled with joy over knowing that Jesus sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  At the Father’s side, Jesus is praying for His own.

But this doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that Jesus shed His blood for all men (John 3:16; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 2:2).  In fact, this truth reinforces why we must preach the gospel to the lost.  The lost can be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:37).  The lost can be found in the One who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Our job is to preach; His job is to save (1 Corinthians 3:9; cf. Acts 2:47).  The Lord is faithful to save those who call upon His name in truth (Romans 10:13).  Those who repent are His own (Acts 2:38-39).  None will be condemned other than for rejection of the one true and living God (Romans 1:18-32).  Yet God is merciful and He has sent His Spirit to convict the world of sin (John 16:8).  His Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  God calls sinners to Himself through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

With 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2 I stand:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1  Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Arminianism and Free Will

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Arminius is often said to be the theologian of freedom.  One Calvinist theologian said that Arminius was “anthropocentric” in that he placed humanity at the center of his theology and not God.  To this day, Calvinist theologians continue to assert that Arminius and Arminianism is all about human freedom.  Libertarian free will is said a chief focus of Arminian theology.

And yet is this fair?  Is Arminianism focused on free will and humans as its center?

The fact is that those who say that Arminius was first and foremost about human freedom must prove this from his writings.  This cannot be done.  Arminius does not elevate human freedom above God’s sovereignty nor does he ascribe to salvation the basis being free will.  Arminius is clear in his writings that the will of man is free indeed but bound by sin (Romans 8:6-7).  The will of mankind is darkened by our sinfulness.  The will of man, like Jonathan Edwards later, was free but free to sin.  Man could do nothing with their free will to earn salvation.

Arminius was clear that we should uphold free will for three main reasons.  First, sin must be ascribed to free will.  While God can certainly use man’s free will sinful acts for His glory (Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23-24), the act of sin must be free and not from God lest God be made the author of sin itself which Scripture deplores (James 1:13-15). God is simply too holy to sin (Exodus 15:11; Habakkuk 1:13).  If mankind does not have free will, sin must come from outside of them and that would be from the Creator Himself and Arminius simply would not affirm this.

Secondly, Arminius defended free will in regard to grace.  It was here that Calvinists often attacked Arminius as being Pelagian.  For salvation to be truly gracious and a gift from God (Romans 6:23) then it must be maintained that mankind receives this grace by their own free will albeit by the ministry of the Spirit.  To deny freedom in the work of grace is to make grace not truly grace.  How can one ascribe salvation as a work of grace if in fact man has no choice but to succumb to the irresistible drawing power of God?  Calvinists will insist that this is truly grace when dead sinners are regenerated to believe the gospel but salvation as a gift from God (John 3:16) is not a gift if the person offered the gift has nothing to say about receiving the gift.  Salvation as gracious is gracious in Arminianism since the will of man is freed by the Spirit to believe and receive the gift (John 1:12-13; Romans 11:5-6).

Finally, Arminius affirmed human freedom because it upholds the relationship between God and man as a true relationship.  God is not forcing His will upon people as a Master and they as robotic slaves.  Instead, God is loving, gracious, and reaching out to lost humanity through His Son and through His Word to bring them into a free and loving relationship with Himself.  The consistent theme of the Old Testament is God having relationships with people (and later the nation of Israel) through human freedom.  God allows the free will decisions of Abraham, David, and others to build His relationship with them.  No doubt God is sovereign in His choosing but He continues to allow a man like Abraham or Moses to even sin against Him in the process but nonetheless uses the men and their free will for His glory.  This does not end in the New Testament.  The coming of the Messiah is God still reaching out to humanity.  Yes our will is bent and wicked.  Yes we are sinners but God is consistently holy and pure yet He reaches out to the lost though His Son (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).  God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

The facts are that Arminius is not putting man at the center of his theology nor even free will.  Instead, Arminius affirmed the grace of God as central to his theology.  We are saved by grace and kept by grace.  Pelagianism places the beginning of faith in man but Arminius places salvation as an act of God’s first grace.  It is God who initiates salvation first in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately in His Son (John 1:17-18).  The beginning of salvation is not in man.  The beginning of salvation, according to Arminius, is God and His grace.

For more on this I highly recommend the book, Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace by Keith Stanglin and Thomas McCall.

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