Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Godliness

How Should Arminians Respond to Attacks?

It is not uncommon for me to be attacked for my Arminianism.  I have been called a liberal, to holding man-centered theology, to not loving God, to not loving God’s grace, to denying God’s sovereignty, to believing that I earn my salvation, to hating God, to denying the gospel.  Often these attacks come from Calvinists and many of them are perhaps in their “cage stage” but they honestly believe that Calvinism is the pure gospel, that Calvinism is just what Jesus and His Apostles preached (I am not kidding there).  They love all things Calvinistic and any attacks on Calvinism are viewed as attacks on God Himself.

Now to be fair, this is not the case with all Calvinists.  I know many godly Calvinists who love the Lord and know that Calvinism is not the gospel nor the major issue.  I have sat with many Calvinist brethren in great fellowship.  One only needs to think of the great friendship of John Wesley and George Whitefield to know that people can be Arminians and Calvinists while being brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Nothing in the New Testament suggests that we have to be nothing more than disciples of Jesus (John 13:34-35) to love one another.  Love is one of the greatest evidences of our salvation (1 John 4:19-20).

So how do we respond to those who attack us?  Here is my response in brief.

1.  Answer With Love and Grace.

While I have had some say that I am lost because of my Arminianism, we should answer all people with love.  While they may despise me, I don’t despise them.  Love should flow from the disciple who has been forgiven (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).  Proverbs 15:1 reads, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  We should heed these wise words and answer with love and grace.  None of us are perfect in our knowledge and we all are seeking to know God through this glass (1 Corinthians 13:12).

2.  Answer Biblically.  

I have read many debates and they often turn to philosophy instead of Scripture.  Scripture is the final authority (and I pray that all agree on that fact).  Scripture alone speaks the truth for God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  Scripture is what sanctifies us (John 17:17).  Scripture is our sword (Ephesians 6:17) but let us use our swords not out of hatred but love and grace.  Again, we are not perfect in our knowledge and all can learn from one another.  I would be the first to admit to a Calvinist that I don’t know all things perfectly but I love Jesus Christ and long to know Him truthfully (Philippians 3:8-11).  I pray that all of us would love the Word of God and long to know the truth of God from His holy Word.

3.  Be Godly.

It’s better to be godly than to be right (Hebrews 12:14-15).

4.  Never View Your Attacker As A Vile Enemy.

See the person as a person.  They may despise you, they may hate you, they may desire to kill you but see them as people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  Recently I heard the story of a family being attacked by Muslims for their faith.  The mother told the children that if men ever came to their home to always answer them with, “God loves you and we forgive you.”  This family did face their Muslim attackers and had to endure their own beheadings but they did so with those words, “God loves you and we forgive you.”

While Calvinists are not our vile enemies, all people need to see that we are full of love. We love because of the love of God (John 3:16).  Our theology flows from the love of God (Romans 5:8-9).  We read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and we see the heart of God all in the text.  This same love should flow from us toward others.  We love people because they are people.  We long to see them saved because they are made in the image of God.

5.  Be Christ-centered In Your Talking.

Christ is the center of all things.  Christ is the center of the Bible.  Christ is the center of all creation (Colossians 1:15-20).  Christ should be the center of our biblical interpretation.  In other words, election doesn’t begin with man but with Christ.  Salvation doesn’t begin with man but with Christ.  Christ is the focus and He is the One that we should worship and adore (Revelation 5:9-10, 12).

The focus should not then be on our favorite preachers or Bible teachers.  The focus is not on Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Spurgeon.  The focus should be on Christ and remain on Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that we preach Christ and Him crucified.  I pray I would do that.  I don’t want anyone (including me) to receive the glory that is due to Christ alone.

Conclusion

I pray that God would grant us peace among brethren.  We are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:26-27) and not into men.  Arminius nor Calvin will ever save a sinner.  Only Christ saves (Acts 4:12).  The focus of our theology must not be on Arminius or Calvin but Christ.  Christ is the only one who is worthy to be praised and adored and imitated.

May the Lord help both Arminians and Calvinists be godly in our talking.  May the Lord be the One that we worship and serve.

Matthew Henry on Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17 reads:

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.

Great Puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote about this verse these powerful words:

This intimates both the pleasure and the advantage of conversation. One man is nobody; nor will poring upon a book in a corner accomplish a man as the reading and studying of men will. Wise and profitable discourse sharpens men’s wits; and those that have ever so much knowledge may by conference have something added to them. It sharpens men’s looks, and, by cheering the spirits, puts a briskness and liveliness into the countenance, and gives a man such an air as shows he is pleased himself and makes him pleasing to those about him. Good men’s graces are sharpened by converse with those that are good, and bad men’s lusts and passions are sharpened by converse with those that are bad, as iron is sharpened by its like, especially by the file. Men are filed, made smooth, and bright, and fit for business (who were rough, and dull, and inactive), by conversation. This is designed, 1. To recommend to us this expedient for sharpening ourselves, but with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great either for the better or for the worse. 2. To direct us what we must have in our eye in conversation, namely to improve both others and ourselves, not to pass away time or banter one another, but to provoke one another to love and to good works and so to make one another wiser and better.

I pray that I am that way with other men of God.  I pray that my speech helps my brothers and my sisters to be more like Christ (Ephesians 4:29).  I want to help my brothers and sisters and not tear them down (Hebrews 3:13).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/14/2013 at 5:09 PM

Keeping Yourself Pure

Keep yourself pure. 
– 1 Timothy 5:22b

There are many promises given to us in the Bible for purity.  My favorite is Matthew 5:8 where Jesus tells us that the pure in heart will see God.  I want to see God.  I know that I am pure because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness but I also seek to be pure in a world of sin.  I am not perfect by any means (Proverbs 20:9) but I do long for holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and I long to allow the Holy Spirit to convict me and sanctify me as He wills (John 16:8-11).

That said, I know that many men (and some women) struggle with purity.  The Internet, despite all the good that has come from it, is full of sin.  Each day it seems I have to go into my Twitter account and block pornographic ads that claim to be people who follow me on Twitter.  It is disgusting to me.  It troubles my soul.  Pornography is one of the main tools that Satan uses to trap men.  God created us men with the desire for women sexually just by visual.  I can look at my wife and I can long for her sexually just by being in the same room with her.  My wife is opposite of me.  They say that sex begins in the kitchen and I guess for most married men that is true.  We must serve, love, cherish, and adore our wives even at times when they are not being as sexual as we would like.  We do this, serving her, not to get sex from her or favors from her but because God commands us to love her that way in Ephesians 5:25-33.  No doubt sexual intimacy is necessary for a good, strong, godly marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-6).

Yet so many men struggle with pornography.  Most men hide this sin from others.  They even can act very godly and yet inside they are struggling with sexual perversion.  They need help.  Many, because of pride, never reach out to other brothers around them to confess their sins for healing (James 5:16).  Let me take a swipe at the traditional church here and say that the modern church largely does not allow men (or women for that matter) to confess their sins since they offer no real intimacy.  Small groups are not always the place for these confessions but intimacy is largely missing in the entrainment driven church.  The biblical church, however, should offer places for confession whether it be discipleship groups or men’s Bible studies.  Both men and women need to confess their sins.  It brings healing to let others know your sins.  This is one thing that the Catholic Church has right with their confession booth.  I completely disagree that a clergymen can dissolve sins but I do believe that confession is good for the soul.

Let me then point you to a couple of good sites for help if you struggle with pornography or sexual sins in general.  99% of men struggle with lust including this brother writing this post.  It is a struggle for all men that I know.  We must fight our flesh.  This fight will not end until Jesus comes or we die.  I remember years ago praying with an older brother and I asked him, “Brother, will I ever come to a place where I don’t struggle with lust?”  He said, to my dismay, “I am nearly 80 years old now and I still struggle.”  Only the Holy Spirit can help us obtain victory in our souls.  He promises in His Word to deliver us (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Pure Life Ministries is a solid place for those struggling with sexual sins.  Steve Gallagher’s books, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry is the best book I have ever read on sexual sins and overcoming them through God’s grace (Titus 2:11-12).  He has written other good books as well but At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry holds nothing back in examining sin.  The book will destroy your pride.  Their website as well as their podcast are all excellent.  I believe that Gallagher is an Arminian in his theology as well though he has never said either way.  His passion is to minister to all disciples of Jesus.

Dr. Dale Wayman, an Arminian brother, has an excellent site, Ironstrikes.  Dr. Wayman has designed the site to help men be godly men.  You’ll find practical advice from his blog about how to be pure in an impure world.  His site, like Pure Life above, is focused primarily on men but women will find things there to help them as well.  I believe that women need to know the struggle that we men face daily with lust.  The world around us, through the Internet and television and movies and no to mention how some women dress today, attacks men daily.  Most men give in to their lusts.  Some men, like myself, want to hate our sin and fight it.  The sexual desires that God has given us is not sinful.  Lusting is.  There is a big difference.

I recommend both of these sites for sexual purity.  Don’t give up fighting your flesh.  Fight for your salvation.  Fight for your marriage.  Fight for your children.  Pray and seek God for His Spirit to empower you toward holiness.  Jesus came not just to die for our sins but to deliver us from the power of sin (Matthew 1:21; Romans 8:1-4).  Through the help of the Lord and many godly brothers such as those above, we can be pure and holy before the Lord (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/10/2012 at 9:13 AM

Feeling Holy?

Whenever I am feeling a bit holy or like I have complete victory over my flesh, I often turn to Galatians 5:22-23 and re-read the fruit of the Spirit and then I ask myself the tough question, “Are all these listed a part of my life?”  I mean read Galatians 5:22-23 below and ask yourself the same question:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Now are all these nine “fruits” listed above fully active in your life on a regular basis?

I think we need to be careful to make sure that our goal for perfection is Jesus Christ.  When we make the focus a person other than the Lord Jesus, we are falling way short.  Jesus was absolutely perfect in every single way (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22) and He should be our focus.  When I compare myself to others, I might look better than others or perhaps worst but when I compare myself to Jesus then I find that I have a long way to go.

I am not saying this to excuse our sins.  Romans 6:1-4 makes it clear that since we have died with Christ and we have been raised with Christ then we are to walk in the newness of life through Him.  Romans 8:12-13 also promise that if we live according to the flesh, we will die.  Galatians 6:7-9 also establishes the same principle.  To live in sin means only death (James 5:20).  There are no excuses for living in sin.  Jude 4 warns against turning the grace of God into a license for sin.  While I think many who hold to eternal security have done this, there are still no biblical excuses for living in sin.  Holiness defines the saint and not sinning (Titus 2:12-13; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

Yet the struggle to be holy is a lifelong struggle.  We have things working against us.  We have our own flesh working against us (Galatians 5:16-17; James 1:12-15) and we have a real enemy in Satan working against us to tempt us (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).  We also have the world against us (1 John 2:15-17).  Three main enemies who have one goal: our spiritual destruction.  Yet God works in us (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:12-13).  The Holy Spirit empowers us toward godliness.  In fact, the fruit of Galatians 5:22-23 comes now from the flesh but from the Spirit of God who abides in the disciple of Jesus (Galatians 4:6).  When we depend on the Holy Spirit, He helps us to be holy.  The Holy Spirit helps us bear the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 that can only come from God and not from our rotten flesh.

So the next time that you feel holy, try reading Galatians 5:22-23 and compare the fruit listed there with your own life.  It’s not to condemn you and make you feel as if you should give up the fight of faith but it’s to encourage you to keep your focus not on your own flesh or good works but upon Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Our goal as disciples of Jesus is to be like Him and to love Him completely and not merely to avoid sinning.  My passion for holiness comes from my passionate love for Jesus (John 14:15; 1 John 5:1-4).  He gave His life for my sins so I should give up my sins for His life.  It’s that simple and yet Galatians 5:22-23 is really hard apart from depending upon the Holy Spirit completely.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/24/2011 at 10:53 PM

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