The Bible is clear that Jesus died for sinners. No one denies this. Both Arminians and Calvinists acknowledge that Jesus shed His blood for the souls of lost sinners. Matthew 1:21 is clear that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. The key question in this debate over the atonement is whether the atonement is for all sinners period. Many Calvinists insist that the atonement is indeed for all people on some level. For example, Dr. John MacArthur believes that the atonement provides benefits for all people while only having the power to save the elect. MacArthur goes on to state, “Jesus Christ made a sufficient sacrifice to cover every sin of every one who believes (John 3:16-18; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2.”
I do not disagree. MacArthur states the following on 1 John 2:2 and the “whole world”:
This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. Christ actually paid the penalty only for those who would repent and believe. A number of Scriptures indicate that Christ died for the world (John 1:29; 3:16; 6:51; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9). Most of the world will be eternally condemned to hell to pay for their own sins, so they could not have been paid for by Christ. The passages that speak of Christ’s dying for the whole world must be understood to refer to mankind in general (as in Titus 2:11). “World” indicates the sphere, the beings toward whom God seeks reconciliation and has provided propitiation. God has mitigated his wrath on sinners temporarily, by letting them live and enjoy earthly life (1 Timothy 4:10). In that sense, Christ has provided a brief, temporary propitiation for the whole world. But he actually satisfied fully the wrath of God eternally only for the elect who believe. Christ’s death in itself had unlimited and infinite value because he is Holy God. Thus his sacrifice was sufficient to pay the penalty for all the sins of all whom God brings to faith. But the actual satisfaction and atonement was made only for those who believe (John 10:11, 15; 17:9, 20; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:32, 37; Ephesians 5:25). The pardon for sin is offered to the whole world, but received only by those who believe (1 John 4:9, 14; John 5:24). There is no other way to be reconciled to God.
A few thoughts here about this. First, I appreciate Dr. MacArthur much. He preaches salvation to all. He never fails to call all to repent and believe the gospel. In this sense, he follows in the steps of men such as George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon in calling all sinners to repentance. He is no hyper-Calvinist in this regard. There has probably never been a man who has done more for expository preaching than John MacArthur. Having personally met him, I found him to be gracious and kind. So by no means do I present my case against him as an enemy. I come as a brother.
Now the Arminian can read the above words from MacArthur and agree with most of what he wrote. I agree that Christ died for the elect. I agree that Christ died for His sheep. I agree that Christ died for His Church. I agree that Christ died for Paul the Apostle (Galatians 2:20). I agree that Christ died for us (Galatians 1:4). But I also go one step further and believe that Christ died for all. I agree that no one is saved apart from being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). I agree that one has to believe to be saved (John 5:24; Acts 16:30-31). I agree that repentance is necessary for eternal life (Acts 2:38). But I also believe that all can be saved and there is no limit on this number.
I agree that the world is opposed to God (1 John 2:15-17). Ironically, MacArthur never limits “world” in 1 John but here in 1 John 2:2. The world is indeed sinful, God-hating, rejecting the truth of the gospel. I agree. But what we find in the gospel is God calling out to the whole world to repent and be saved. God, who is the one that the world hates, is calling to His enemies to come and be reconciled through faith (Isaiah 1:18). This is the message of the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:47).
You’ll notice in MacArthur’s statement above also that he wants to make sure that we understand that he believes the atonement is powerful enough to cover the sins of the world if God wanted it to. He doesn’t use those words but it seems implied by this reader. He wants us to see how powerful and vast the work of Christ is. I would agree. In the cross, we do find God the Son dying for the world and shedding His precious blood for the lost. If God wanted to, He could indeed reconciled the world through the powerful blood of Jesus. I have no doubt. Instead, God calls to lost sinners through His love that He demonstrated on the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9). This is not a forced love. This is not a forced relationship. This is a loving relationship where the repenting sinner comes to God through His Son to be saved (Romans 2:4). This is a genuine relationship that God initiated and not man (Ephesians 2:4-6; 1 John 4:10). But this message, this good news is for the whole world (Luke 2:10-11; 1 John 4:14).
It is true that the atonement is only effective for those who believe. Christ died for His enemies and He even prayed for His enemies at the cross (Luke 23:34). MacArthur even acknowledges that Christ is praying for His enemies at this passage and adds:
Some of the fruit of this prayer can be in the salvation of thousands of people in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:41).
Notice he adds in his note that “some of the fruit” and not all. If it is true that Christ is dying only for the elect, why pray for the world? Why pray for the sinners who are killing Him? Many Calvinists point to John 17:9 as proof that Jesus does not pray for the world but only for the elect. Yet MacArthur acknowledges that Luke 23:34 is for the lost. He also is clear that God heard His prayer and saved some of those who perhaps killed Jesus at Pentecost in Acts 2:41.
Let us be clear here though. None were saved by Jesus praying for them in Luke 23:34. They had to appropriate the work of Christ just as we all do through faith. That Jesus shed His blood saves no one. Even Calvinists agree with this while insisting that the sins of the elect were placed on the Son. All agree that we are saved by faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). And even if we allow for Calvinists to believe that faith is a gift given by God to His elect, we must still acknowledge that the wrath of God is against us till we believe.
This would mean two things. First, those who are in cast into hell are cast into hell because they rejected the sacrifice of the Son of God for their sins. Do we have passages of Scripture that speak of Christ dying for their sins while they rejected His sacrifice? Yes e do. Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Peter 2:1. In context all these Scriptures speak of those whom Christ died who may not share in eternal life. Even MacArthur does acknowledge that 2 Peter 2:1 is referring to false teachers who claimed Christ and so Peter mocks them by saying that they refuse to submit to the Lordship of Christ whom they claimed bought them.
What is clear is that people who go to hell go to hell because of their rejection of God and His truth. The person is to blame and not God who gave His Son for their reconciliation. Calvinism would place the blame on God. God chose to reject sinners even before time began and even if you allow for the sinner’s punishability for their sins, they are sinning because God has predetermined that they be sinners in the first place by His own sovereign will (Romans 9:22-23). If I were a Calvinist, at this point I would preach hard annihilation since the sinner is in hell tormented day and night forever because God willed that they never be saved in the first place. Annihilation is at least charitable toward sinners who are being tormented for God’s glory in the first place in the Calvinist view.
Secondly, the application of the atonement is through faith. Even MacArthur doesn’t preach the doctrine of eternal justification. Consistent Calvinists such as John Gill see the truth that the elect are born sinless. How else can it be? If God placed the sins of the elect on Christ and He ensures that the elect will believe by His own sovereign choice from eternity past, who can one argue that God ever sees the sins of the elect? If Christ died for my sins at the cross and God placed my sins on Him at the cross, when was the wrath of God against my sins appeased? Gill would answer the cross. MacArthur would answer the cross but add that I must receive it by faith. And I would answer: Yes and this is biblical Arminianism!
Romans 3:21-26 in the ESV is beautiful (with my emphasis):
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Faith is the design of God to come into a saving relationship with Himself. This is the sovereign will of God. This is the sovereign decree of God. All who repent and believe will be saved. There is no limit to the sacrifice of the Son of God. I have heard many Calvinists preaching like Arminians to the lost by preaching that Christ shed His blood so that they might be saved. They call out to lost sinners to repent and believe the gospel (as if sinners could actually do this by their command). They call to sinners to turn from their sins and be saved through faith in Christ. And I agree! In fact, I believe that every person whom the Calvinist evangelist is preaching to can be saved and there is no limit to the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). If God can have mercy on me, He can have mercy on my lost neighbors and co-workers who despise Him at this time (1 Timothy 1:15; 4:10).
As Paul the Apostle wrote above in Romans 3:24, this salvation is a gift to be received by faith. The sinner does not earn this salvation. There is nothing we could add to the work of Christ to be saved. In fact, what a wicked thing to do to add to the cross of Christ by saying that we must also do our part to be saved. We are justified though faith alone in Christ alone by His grace alone (Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:15-16; 3:13-14). This is true of us as children of God as well as the lost sinners we are preaching to. Salvation is the gracious work of God (John 1:12-13; Titus 2:11-14; 3:5-7). We are saved by the work of Christ alone.
Thankfully both Calvinists and Arminians preach that truth. Some Calvinists try to assert that we Arminians preach that we can save ourselves or we preach a works-righteousness system but this is not the truth. Arminius wrote:
“I believe that sinners are accounted righteous solely by the obedience of Christ; and that the righteousness of Christ is the only meritorious cause on account of which God pardons the sins of believers and reckons them as righteous as if they had perfectly fulfilled the law. But since God imputes the righteousness of Christ to none except believers, I conclude that, in this sense, it may be well and properly said, to a man who believes, faith is imputed for righteousness through grace, because God hath set forth his Son, Jesus Christ, to be a propitiation, a throne of grace, [or mercy seat] through faith in his blood.”
Adam Clarke wrote:
The doctrine of justification by faith is one of the grandest displays of the mercy of God to mankind. It is so very plain that all may comprehend it; and so free that all may attain it. What more simple than this-Thou art a sinner, in consequence condemned to perdition, and utterly unable to save thy own soul. All are in the same state with thyself, and no man can give a ransom for the soul of his neighbor. God, in his mercy, has provided a Saviour for thee. As thy life was forfeited to death because of thy transgressions, Jesus Christ has redeemed thy life by giving up his own; he died in thy stead, and has made atonement to God for thy transgression; and offers thee the pardon he has thus purchased, on the simple condition that thou believe that his death is a sufficient sacrifice, ransom, and oblation for thy sin; and that thou bring it, as such, by confident faith to the throne of God, and plead it in thy own behalf there. When thou dost so, thy faith in that sacrifice shall be imputed to thee for righteousness; that is, it shall be the means of receiving that salvation which Christ has bought by his blood.
And I end with John Wesley:
But there is an undeniable difference between the Calvinists and Arminians, with regard to the three other questions. Here they divide; the former believe absolute, the latter only conditional, predestination. The Calvinists hold, (1.) God has absolutely decreed, from all eternity, to save such and such persons, and no others; and that Christ died for these, and none else. The Arminians hold, God has decreed, from all eternity, touching all that have the written word, “He that believeth shall be saved: He that believeth not, shall be condemned:” And in order to this, “Christ died for all, all that were dead in trespasses and sins;” that is, for every child of Adam, since “in Adam all died.”
I tend to jump around in my podcast listening so the following are the top five podcasts I would include for now. A few, like Dr. John MacArthur and Grace To You, are always on my iPod. These are listed in a random order. I’m not saying I agree with all they teach by placing them here. Be biblical in your thinking (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21).
- Soteriology 101 with Professor Leighton Flowers
- The Dividing Line with Dr. James White
- Fighting For the Faith with Chris Rosenbrough
- Five Minutes in Church History with Dr. Stephen Nichols
- Pardon the Interruption (PTI)
Glory to the King!
Imagine a world where few are Christians. Most of the culture is full of idolatry. The love of money. The love of sports. The love of sex. The political leaders are corrupt. Politicians in general are corrupt and not trustworthy. The leaders of the nation are pagans and they despise the gospel. At every turn the nation is against the gospel it seems. They despise biblical authority, despise its truth, attack the truth of the gospel, attack those who follow Christ. They seek to cast Christians off as strange, aliens, and out of touch with reality. In fact, they believe Christians just want to destroy their fun!
Sounds just like the wicked nation I live in. But this nation is the Roman Empire at the time of the book of Acts. A wicked depraved time. One biblical commentary stated that the Roman empire was much worse in terms of Christian persecution, rejection of biblical authority, etc. than any time in history. We might could point to the communists nations that openly hated God but few compare to the Roman Empire. It heavily persecuted Christians and killed many of them including most of the Apostles for their faith in the Lord Jesus. While the Romans were busy worshiping idols and the emperor, the Christians were calling for them to repent and turn to Christ (Acts 17:30-31).
What gives me hope is that the gospel transformed the empire. From its humble beginnings in Acts 2, by the time we finish with the book of Acts we find Paul the Apostle in Rome preaching the kingdom of God (Acts 28:30-31). The very next book in our Bibles is the book of Romans with a church alive and well in Rome (Romans 1:7). The book of Revelation (which I know some will take exception with me here because of my preterism) was written to encourage persecuted saints of God (Revelation 1:9) in the Roman Empire. The book of Revelation promised them victory (Revelation 2:1-7 for example). They are told that Jesus is “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). Our victory is sure for Jesus is our King! This was the hope for the saints of God! It is our hope as well!
We look around at our wicked world. Here in the United States we see violence, hatred, lack of respect for authority, pride, all types of wicked sins including idolatry and sexual immorality. We see the wicked sin of abortion where millions of people are being slaughtered all in the name of conveyance and sexual sins. We see lying politicians and corrupt leaders now openly attacking the gospel and questioning God’s absolute authority in all things. We see Christians bowing their knees to the false gods of money, power, sex, sports, and all types of wickedness. We no doubt live in an evil age.
Yet I have hope in the gospel. The gospel promises the sure victory of Jesus (Psalm 110:1). Jesus will win (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). The gospel will go forth and we have victory through Christ alone (Matthew 28:18-20). The nations belong to our King (Psalm 2:8). While the United States and other nations may be wicked, they will not last forever. Only the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ will reign forever (Daniel 7:13-14). I have hope that the gospel will win. The nations will bow to the Lordship of the King. Every knee in fact will bow to the glory of the Lord Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11).
I write this because it is easy to be discouraged. Islam is growing. The cults are thriving. The false gospels are being preached. Jesus is being attacked at every turn. The national media hates the gospel. The President of the United States is a pagan. The nations reject the Word of God.
Yet Jesus is still Lord and He will reign forever! I pray that the nations repent. I pray that our nations turn to faith in Christ. I pray for the gospel to go forth and sinners turn from their sins and turn in saving faith to the Lord Jesus. I pray that God Almighty would have mercy and send a revival to the nations. He can turn the tide. The Lord turned the tide in ancient Rome and He can turn the tide in our wicked nations. I pray He does for His glory and for His name.
I enjoy Chris Rosebrough and his podcast “Fighting for the Faith.” Chris often uses satire and comedy to point out false teachers and teachings. His podcast often has sermon reviews of both good and bad sermons and Chris will point out why they are that. I am often amazed at what passes for sermons these days. Much of what seems to be coming out of the seeker church is not even close to true biblical teaching. It is more or less about “us.” It is man-centered to its core.
I have written often on the need for expository teaching and more sound doctrine being preached. Just this week while working I was pondering why people enjoy attending seeker churches where doctrine is minimized and those who desire to go “deeper” with their faith are criticized. I want to ask them, “How can you sit under this guy and learn anything? What has he taught you that brought you closer to Christ, deeper in your theological understanding of the gospel?” Heck, most of the teachers Chris plays on his podcast have no gospel understanding. The seeker churches are just “say this prayer and become a Christian” as their gospel.
I subscribe to a local church here in my city that has been sucking people from the more traditional churches (mainly Baptist churches) for some time. They started at about 50 people or so and today have over 1000. Because of their growth, church leaders often avoid criticizing them because of their growth. They are instead esteemed. I point out that growth is no indicator of truth. Look at the cults. Look at Islam. Truth is not pragmatic. Truth is truth and God’s Word declares the truth of God (John 17:17). Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14:6). God has given us His truth through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We need no other “truth.” Yet many are unwilling to take the truth of the Bible and examine the teachings of large seeker churches because of their numbers.
Each week I get their Sunday services on my podcasts. I listen to their sermons. Why? Because I want to know if they are preaching truth. Often they are not. In fact, they often are preaching nothing at all. They are currently preaching through John but they are not expository nor are they dealing with their text. They often just read the text and fill in stories about themselves or others to pass the time. They are not false teachers. They are “un-teachers.” They are teaching neither bad doctrine nor good. They are teaching nothing. They just focus on “us.”
This is true nearly of all seeker churches that I know. The focus is on “us” and not Jesus. The gospel is not about the glory of God, the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for our sins, along with His death, burial, and bodily resurrection from the dead where He now sits at the right hand of God to pray for us. No! The “gospel” of seeker churches is on “us.” It is about “us” and our glory. The gospel of seeker churches is about Jesus coming to give us an “abundant life” or to give us a “hope and a future” (both John 10:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 are seriously abused and destroyed there).
Just this past week I listened to two seeker churches Resurrection Day services. Both were focused on “us.” The gospel was not taught. The focus was not on the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The focus was on God resurrecting your dreams. Neither church preached repentance for the forgiveness of our sins (Luke 24:47). Neither church even mentioned repentance at all. Both did mention sin but only in passing. Sin is what keeps us down, what keeps us from reading our potential. Gone is the truth of the gospel of repentance.
The gospel is not lost. It is easily found in the Bible. One can skip it. One can downplay it. But one cannot ignore it altogether. Just reading the New Testament brings us face to face with our sins, with our inability to save ourselves by our good works, with the fact that we are enemies of God because of our rebellion against His law (Romans 3:19-20). We find that our world is not getting better by works of the flesh but we realize that we must repent of our sins if we are to have peace with God (Acts 2:37-39; 3:19-20). We find that repentance brings salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). We find that Christ alone saves us from the wrath of God by His grace and mercy (Romans 5:1). The gospel is focused on the person and work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14 and notice how many times “He” is mentioned and we are not). Salvation is not accomplished by making amends or trying harder or your good deeds (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). Salvation is the gracious work of God wrought in us by His Spirit through the saving work of the Lord Jesus.
Until next time, keep loving and living in the gospel.
I know that was a long title. I tried to think of ways to make it shorter. I could not.
I rarely dive into eschatological views. I try to limit my blog to mainly defining and defending Arminianism as well as just writing about general Christian subjects. The purpose of this post is not to give a scholarly understanding of the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans. I will leave that to others and frankly I am not that good of a writer to jump into such an issue.
Let me begin by stating that it may come as a shock to some that John Wesley was a postmillennialist. When I was first saved, I instantly was taught a premillennial view of eschatology. I was taught the rapture of the Church before the seven year tribulation followed by the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. I remember I use to pray (as my father had prayed) that I would be worthy to be raptured by the Lord Jesus. I would have dreams of Jesus coming back to rapture His Church and I would start to rise only to be dropped back on earth after flying a few feet off the ground (probably because of some sin I had committed).
My eschatology views have changed since those days. I bounced from a pre tribulation view of the rapture to a mid tribulation view before I ended up embracing the postmillennial views of John Wesley. I was shocked when I first learned that John Wesley was a postmillennialist. I honestly thought only liberals were postmillennial (a view still held by some in the premillennial camp I might add). I was unaware that most of the Reformers were either amillennial or postmillennial (Arminius was likely amillennial though not proven). As I studied Church History, I begin to see that eschatology has long been a hotly debated subject. Thus, I have often avoided the issue. It seems to me that Jesus will come back and this should be our starting point. From there we can debate the future but so long as we stay faithful to the fact that Jesus will come again (though I was told once by a lady that I would surely miss the rapture since I didn’t believe in it anymore).
The key difference between the postmillennial views of John Wesley versus the Puritans lies in their salvation doctrines. Wesley, being a faithful Arminian, believed that Jesus died for all men and thus he believe that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was the passion for world evangelism. Further, he believed that the kingdom of God would spread all over the world because of the doctrine of unlimited atonement. The victory of Jesus would go forth in the power the gospel until the end would come and the Lord’s enemies would be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
The Puritans passion for postmillennialism was based their view of God’s sovereignty from their Calvinist perspective. Further, the Puritans were divided over how the world would be won to Christ with some saying that it would begin with the top (leaders, authorities and nations coming to faith in Christ) while others held from the bottom (churches preaching in small towns that would spread to the nations with the gospel bringing a mighty revival). Both the Puritans and Mr. Wesley held that God would ultimately be glorified through the preaching of the gospel to all people though the disagreed over the doctrine of unconditional election.
A great book to read on this issue is Dr. Vic Reasoner’s book The Hope of the Gospel. In the book, Dr. Reasoner lays out a biblical and faithful Arminian eschatology based on the doctrines of biblical Arminianism. He shows how the early Methodists were driven by a passion for the gospel for world missions based on their view of the atonement and their view of eschatology. Our eschatological views do matter and they do effect how we live our lives.
A final note on this. It is easy to look around at our sin-filled world and become discouraged. Some premillennialists (and myself at one time would be included here) often do their eschatology based on what they see in the news and not in the Bible. We can look around and see our sinful world and start to believe that surely it will get worst before it gets better. I am the opposite. In fact postmillennialism is the only truly optimistic view of end times. I hold that Jesus will win (as do the others to be fair) and in the end, the gospel will transform our world (Mark 4:30-32). It might not happen in my lifetime but the Lord is faithful to His promises and I believe a great harvest is coming. I long to see sinners saved by the grace of God just as He saved me by His grace.
I close by pointing back to the truth that all true Christians share and that is that Jesus is coming again. Many are passionate for their end times views but I believe that we should have grace toward one another over these issues. I would gladly fellowship with those who do not agree with my eschatological views. One truth that unites us is that Jesus died for us on the cross. This we know (1 John 5:13). We know He will come again (Acts 1:11) though we not know the day nor the hour (Mark 13:32). The hope for the disciple of Jesus is the resurrection from the dead that He secured for us by dying for our sins and through Him we will live (John 5:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). My hope is in the gospel (Hebrews 9:27-28) and not my end times views. I pray that for you as well.
I do say with John, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
I recently did my own little project. I spoke to two very different pastors of traditional churches (traditional in the sense that they are not house churches). I asked them the same basic questions. I wanted to highlight their answers (which I have summarized here) and show the contrasts in their thinking. The first pastor I will call John and the second I will call Rob. John pastors a traditional Reformed church. Rob pastors a seeker sensitive church.
John, age is late 50’s, Reformed in his theology.
What books are you reading?
I’m reading several books by a few Puritans. Right now, I am reading Thomas Watson. I just finished a book on the humor of Charles Spurgeon which I found delightful.
What style is your preaching?
What are you preaching right now?
Through the Gospel of Mark.
How often do you preach on doctrine?
I try to deal with my text and include sound exegesis and doctrine in every sermon. Sometimes, depending on the text, doctrine comes up more. Sometimes not. I want the text to lead me.
Lastly, how much time you spend in prayer and study in a given week on average?
I would say 10 to 15 hours.
Rob, age is early 40’s, Baptist in his theology. Non-Calvinist.
What books are you reading?
Right now I am reading Mark Batterson. My favorite author is John Ortberg.
What style is your preaching?
Topical and series.
What are you preaching right now?
Actually we are working through the Gospel of John. (Side question I asked: Is this expository preaching through John? He said not in the technical sense but more focused on long sections).
How often do you preach on doctrine?
Um….I know doctrine is vital. Not downplaying it at all. We have a lot of seekers coming to church so I try to avoid anything that would lose them. We talk about doctrine a lot in our home groups.
Lastly, how much time to you spend in prayer and study in a given week on average?
I would say about 5 hours. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Just depends on how busy I am.
First, let me state that I am not trying to attack Rob though it will appear that way. I disagree with him and his church. I am not a Calvinist so I didn’t agree with John either but it shows me why Calvinists are seeing a resurgence and we Arminians are not at this point. I know of few Arminians preachers who actually preach Arminianism from the pulpit.
In this case, Rob is not an Arminian. He is a seeker sensitive church plant from the SBC. He would say that he is a non-Calvinist though he stated that he enjoys John Piper and David Platt. Rob, however, often reflects non-Calvinist churches. That are often shallow, lacking theological depth, and focused on getting results (in this case pragmatically) for the purpose of numbers.
John was very gracious. He is a scholar. He deeply loves the Lord (though I think Rob does too). Both men want to see Jesus glorified though I believe John is more God-centered in his approach. John, unlike Rob, seems to not care what the numbers say. John’s church is only about 35. Rob is running near 500. That said, the theological depth of the average person in John’s church is deep while Rob’s is seriously lacking. Even the music was noticeably different. John’s church sang deep theological hymns while Rob’s sang the latest praise songs from the popular praise singers.
One final point. What I found interesting in this short study was even the Bibles these men used. John preaches from the King James Version. Rob preaches from the New Living Translation. Yet John dealt with his text. Rob only skims it. John developed his points from the text and allowed the text to dictate him. Rob read the text and then only touched on points here and there from it. John preached with Christ and His gospel as the focus. Rob preached, it seemed to me, with the hearers as this focus.
My call to my fellow Arminians is learn from this. Preach doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2). Let us not shy away from the Word of God. Furthermore, I pray for a revival of expository preaching among my fellow Arminians. This goes for house churches as well. God’s Word is the final authority and we must preach the Word with unction and to the glory of God. Care not for the attention of men but rather long for the glory of God to be exalted.