Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

The Twin Towers of Sovereignty and Responsibility

I was listening to Dr. John MacArthur teaching through John 3:9-21 and he preached on the twin towers of divine sovereignty and personal responsibility.  It was a great sermon.  While I have a few issues with some of the wording, his sermon was one that an Arminian could agree with nearly the entire message.

One point he made was from Matthew 11:25-30 (NASB).  This passage reads:

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Notice how Jesus teaches the sovereignty of God in verses 25-27 and then He turns around and exhorts people to come to Him in verse 28.  Both pillars are true.  Both the sovereignty of God in revealing the Son (v.25) and the call to come to the Son in verse 28 for rest.  God calls and God draws but mankind is responsible for their actions.

The key difference I can discern as an Arminian would be the issue of unconditionality.  Calvinism holds to God’s unconditional election and irresistible grace in regard to His sovereign election.  Arminianism contends that God’s call to salvation is conditional and those who meet those conditions are the elect of God.  God’s grace assists us to be saved and His grace enables us to be saved apart from our works (Romans 4:5) but we are responsible to believe just as Dr. MacArthur taught above.  These twin towers are not to be isolated.  We should not lift up the tower of responsibility above the tower of God’s sovereignty.  However, we equally should not lift up divine sovereignty above human responsibility.  When we lift up one above the other, we  find errors occurring.  Hyper-Calvinists lift up sovereignty above responsibility while Pelagianism lifts up responsibility above sovereignty.  Both are equally wrong.

Our duty is to preach salvation to all and God will draw sinners to Himself.  The work of salvation is a work of God.  The work of belief is man’s.  This is the command of Scripture.  Mark 16:16 (NASB) says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  Notice that the condemnation comes from a lack of belief.  To come to God, we must come in true faith (Hebrews 11:6).  Yet when we come, we find that it was He who was drawing us to Himself (John 6:44-45; 1 Corinthians 1:21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/13/2013 at 12:21 PM

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