Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Christ as Lord

Mere Christianity?

Dr. James White often refers to what he calls the “mere Christianity” movement where people try to make Christianity as small as you can make it.  In the 2000 years of the Church, orthodoxy has been the standard for what is deemed as Christian.  I grant you that at times this has not always been clear and sometimes people made non-essentials as essentials of the gospel.  In our day, mere Christianity has come to simply believe that if you affirm Jesus, you are a Christian.

I have been following a blogger for some time who I have seen him drifting this way.  His view is that Jesus is what matters yet it seems to me that he does not care what people believe about Jesus so long as they say they love Jesus and desire to follow Him.  While this blogger seems to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God (though I’m not sure if he holds to inerrancy or infallibility), he often muddles the water by using the liberal “red letter Christian” mantras.  It is as if this blogger makes Jesus someone that we should merely copy (and by that I mean be a hippie and be focused on “peace and love man”).  This blogger even has been writing about how he has seen Jesus in a Muslim friend of his and how this Muslim has taught him more about Jesus than many Christians.

This is the mere Christianity movement.  There is no focus on the doctrine of Christ nor about His atonement.  There is little emphasis placed on His perfection for our salvation.  There is nothing said about His death, His resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He lives to make intercession for the saints.  There is nothing said about His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.  In fact, mere Christianity makes Jesus just someone that we should copy and imitate to have a better life.  Jesus becomes nothing more than a “great teacher” along with other “great teachers.”  Jesus’ own declarations are ignored.

I don’t assume that someone is a Christian simply because they name the name of Jesus.  Jesus Himself said that many would come in His name (Matthew 24:4-5).  John the Beloved wrote that many antichrists had come (1 John 2:18).  Antichrists are false christs.  Paul the Apostle issued curses on those who preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  Thus we can see that there are false christs and false gospels.

Not everyone who says Jesus is truly His (Matthew 7:21-23).  Jesus said that those who are His are those who hear His words and put them into practice, who build their lives on His teachings (Matthew 7:24-27).  A disciple of Jesus is one who abides in His teachings (John 8:31-32).  This means that the disciple not only reads the Word of God (and not merely the “red letters”) but they study it as well.  I study God’s Word to know God, to love Him more and to obey Him better all by His Spirit and His grace.

So many claim Christ but they don’t even know the first thing about Him.  They don’t know His Word.  They don’t read His Word.  They don’t study His Word.  They don’t care to study His Word nor do they truly care to know Him because Jesus doesn’t fit our views when we read and study Him.  The perfect Son of God is not like us in that He is absolutely perfect, holy, blameless, and His ways are beyond our ways.  We seek to imitate Him (1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 John 2:6) but we recognize that He alone is perfect.  He is perfect for our salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Because He remains forever perfect, He now stands before the Father in our defense (Hebrews 7:22-25).  As we abide in Jesus through faith (Romans 5:1; 1 John 2:24-25), we find that He is faithful to wash our sins away (1 John 1:7, 9).

The mere Christianity movement wants to place Jesus among others.  Jesus is far above all others (Colossians 1:15-20).  Every knee will bow to His glory alone (Philippians 2:5-11).  This includes all false teachers, all false prophets, all false religions.  Jesus is not equal among others.  Jesus is God (John 1:1, 18; Romans 9:5) and He is to be worshiped as God.

The mere Christianity movement has to dethrone Jesus to make Him equal among others.  For example, the Muslim view of Jesus is not at all equal with the biblical view.  The Quran teaches that Jesus is not God, that He is not even the Son of God.  Yes Islam says that Jesus is the Messiah but they deny His divinity and the Quran condemns to hell those who would say that God is a man or has a son.  The Quran falsely believes that the doctrine of the Trinity includes Mary.  The Quran denies that Jesus died for our sins.  Most Muslims believe that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross but rather Allah made someone else to appear as Jesus on the cross such as Judas.  While Islam teaches that Jesus will return, they believe that He will return and set up an Islamic kingdom on the earth.  The Islamic confession of faith is focused on Mohammad and not on Jesus.

And yet mere Christianity says that since a Muslim claims to love Jesus (the Jesus of the Quran and not the Jesus of the Bible), then they are “saved.”  If a Muslim denies the Quran’s teaching on Jesus and embraces the biblical view of Jesus then I would submit that they are not a Muslim but a Christian.  Of course, true salvation requires faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19-20; 17:30-31).

One final point.  The mere Christianity movement especially detests evangelism.  After all, the evangelist is preaching that Jesus alone saves (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  The evangelist preaches that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal life (Luke 13:5; John 5:24-25; 6:29; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 5:13).  This goes against the mere Christian view that all religions are essentially good so long as they love Jesus.  It also goes against the postmodern mindset that there is no absolute truth since Jesus Himself claims to be the truth of God (John 14:6).  When religious people are confronted with their sins and with the truth of Jesus, they always strike back with a vengeance.  I have witnessed this myself. People don’t mind if you preach a peace and love Jesus but the moment you preach that a person must repent, they quickly turn on you.  People love Jesus but the Jesus they create in their own images but not the biblical Jesus.

I am often confronted by the biblical Jesus as I read.  I am confronted with my sins.  I am confronted with my lack of being like Jesus in all I do.  I am confronted with how wonderful Jesus truly is and the more that I study Him and the more that I seek Him, the more I find that I am not like Him, that He is God and worthy to be praised, and I will never truly grasp Him in this life.  Jesus is simply too wonderful, too mighty, too holy for me to perfectly understand but what I do know is this: He died for my sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18) and He is coming again in glory (2 Timothy 4:1).  I long to see Him and worship Him forever.  I will continue to preach the biblical Jesus and preach against the false christs of this world.

Finding Commonality in Christ

The Church should love Christ.  That seems like a statement that goes without saying.  The Church was purchased by Jesus’ own blood (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7).  The Church is called His bride in Ephesians 5:23-32.  Paul speaks of betrothing the Corinthians to one husband, to Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:2.  Revelation 5:9-10 speaks of people whom Jesus has ransomed with His blood for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  No doubt then, the Church should love and adore Jesus.

That said, the focus of the Church should be upon Jesus.  The focus should not be upon any one person or persons.  Our faith is not in the works of Luther, Wesley, Campbell, Edwards, Calvin or Arminius.  Our faith should rest completely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Through His own power He has saved us (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  To Him and Him alone should all our praise be focused upon (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-2).  The fact is that God loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins (Romans 5:8-9; 1 John 4:7-10).  That truly is love (John 3:16)!

When it comes to the Arminian versus Calvinist debate, we should find commonality in Christ.  Certainly I don’t agree with Calvinism and I know that Calvinists don’t agree with me but we do agree on the most important issue and that is Christ.  We Arminians believe just like our Calvinist brothers and sisters over the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We agree on His deity, the Trinity, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His teachings, His vicarious suffering and atonement.  We agree on His bodily resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of God the Father.  We agree on His second coming.  We agree that none can be saved apart from personal, saving faith in His cross and His resurrection (Romans 10:9-10).  We agree on the necessity of faith to honor and please God (Hebrews 11:6).  We agree on the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration for the new birth (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5-7).  We agree that salvation is all of God and not of men (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So why can’t we get alone?  Well we do when the focus is on Christ.  We often allow the other things to get in the way of Christ.  For instance, we agree that people must be saved through faith in Jesus (John 6:29).  Yet we disagree over whether that faith is a gift given only to the elect or through prevenient grace.  This division, at times, is enough to keep us from seeing the glory of Christ.  That is sad to me.  Christ should be the passion for the child of God and not Arminianism or Calvinism.

Recently I met a brother who says that he was an Arminian.  He spoke down to me over my Arminianism and he talked in terms of finding salvation in Calvinism.  I reminded him that Christ is our Savior and not a system.  He responded that Calvinism is the pure gospel.  That kind of talk has no place in my mind.  I reject any Calvinist or Arminian who asserts that our systems of doctrine is the way of salvation and not the Lord Jesus.  Salvation comes in Jesus and not in Arminius or Calvin (1 Corinthians 1:13).  Do I thank God for men of God such as Arminius or Calvin?  Yes but they are not our redeemers.  They are fallen men that God used despite their sins to glorify His name.

Christ must be our focus.  When we lose sight of Christ, we lose sight of the gospel.  Other petty things that have nothing to do with our eternal salvation become the focus when Christ is lost.  I appreciate the many godly leaders from both sides of the Arminian/Calvinist debate but I have no dreams that our debate will end until we reach glory and see that someone was wrong and perhaps it was both of us.  Perhaps we should have all been Lutherans the whole time.  🙂

My prayer is that Christ would be exalted in His Church and that we Arminians and Calvinists would see that Christ is worth more than any system of theology.  Christ is not a person to be studied in a book on page 36.  He is our God and He is worthy to be praised (Romans 11:33-36)!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/25/2012 at 5:44 PM

Posted in church, Glory to God

Tagged with ,

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