Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Evangelism and the Arminian/Calvinist Debate

Can Arminians and Calvinists unite to preach the gospel to the lost?  My answer: yes!  And why you ask?  Simple: we both believe that salvation is a divine work of God wherein the enslaved person must, by grace and by the work of the Spirit of God, repent of their sins and be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work upon the cross.  Once a person repents, we can disagree to whether they were chosen from eternity past or became the elect of God by grace through faith but either way, we should rejoice that the sinner repented and believed the gospel.

I have seen quotes from some Calvinists who seem to believe that we Arminians would argue for free will and that a person, any person, all persons, can just believe when they want to and be saved.  That is not true.  We Arminians agree with our Calvinist brothers and sisters that people are slaves to sin and by nature hate God.  We agree that apart from the grace of God and the convicting and drawing work of the Holy Spirit, none could be saved.  Arminius stated:

This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace.

If Arminius believed that a person can be saved by mere free will, he certainly did not express this in his sentiments.  Arminius further stated about divine grace:

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

Arminius said about the free will of mankind:

In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

Arminians then believe, with our Calvinist brethren, that apart from the aid of the Spirit of God through grace, none can be saved.  When we preach salvation to the lost, we preach the same as Calvinists do, that God calls people to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31) but we agree with our Calvinist friends that salvation is the work of God and not mankind (Romans 1:16-17).  The Lord alone saves sinners for His own glory and honor (Ephesians 1:4-13).  Salvation is not accomplished by the will of mankind (John 1:12-13) but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We deny that works either save us 0r keep us saved (Titus 3:5-7) though works flow from our state of salvation in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).

To further separate us from the Pelagians, let us read this from Arminius:

Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace. That I may not be said, like Pelagius, to practice delusion with regard to the word “grace,” I mean by it that which is the grace of Christ and which belongs to regeneration. I affirm, therefore, that this grace is simply and absolutely necessary for the illumination of the mind, the due ordering of the affections, and the inclination of the will to that which is good. It is this grace which operates on the mind, the affections, and the will; which infuses good thoughts into the mind, inspires good desires into the actions, and bends the will to carry into execution good thoughts and good desires. This grace goes before, accompanies, and follows; it excites, assists, operates that we will, and co-operates lest we will in vain. It averts temptations, assists and grants succour in the midst of temptations, sustains man against the flesh, the world and Satan, and in this great contest grants to man the enjoyment of the victory. It raises up again those who are conquered and have fallen, establishes and supplies them with new strength, and renders them more cautious. This grace commences salvation, promotes it, and perfects and consummates it.

So let us preach the gospel to all (Mark 16:15) knowing that God is the One who saves sinners by His enabling grace.

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