Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Grace of God

Our Doctrine Must Destroy Sin

Our doctrine must not be a doctrine that allows for people to continue without repentance in a life of sin.  This is why Jesus came, to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).  When we live in sin, we are showing that we are slaves to sin (John 8:34).  By being slaves of sin, we show that we are in turn children of the devil (John 8:44; Ephesians 2:3).  We are then to avoid sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  We are to not walk as the Gentiles (unbelievers) do (Ephesians 4:17-20).  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:34 that the Corinthians were not to go on sinning.  When we do sin, we have the assurance of 1 John 1:9, that if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who died for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

Any doctrine then that takes the sacrifice of Christ who came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and teaches that we can continue in sin is not biblical (Hebrews 10:19-39).  Jude 4 reminds that we are not to teach God’s grace for continued sinning:

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yet God’s true grace enables us to overcome sin as we read in Titus 2:11-12:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

Notice what the grace of God does for the disciple: trains.  God’s grace trains us to renounce ungodliness and not indulge in it further the grace of God helps us live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.  The grace of God does not allow for continued sinning (Romans 6:1-4).

2 Corinthians 7:1 is a wonderful promise given to disciples:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The grace of God enables the disciple to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and to avoid sin.  The grace of God trains us and it doesn’t give us a free license to live in sin.  We are now slaves of Christ and not slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-23).  We have been bought with a price and are to glorify God with our bodies which is His (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There is a subtle way in which the enemy takes the truth of God’s grace given in Christ for sinners and he turns it so that people start to believe that since Jesus died for our sins, we can indulge in sin.  A person is taught that they can live in sin because they are “once saved, always saved” despite no repentance over sins.  Another person is taught that since they died with Christ and are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), God does not see their sins anymore so even when they sin, God only sees the righteousness of Christ imputed to them by a one time act of faith.  They ignore 1 John 3:7:

Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

According to 1 John 3:7, a person who is practicing righteousness is righteous.  There is nothing mentioned here about imputation but about practical living.  A person can claim all day that they are imputed with Christ’s righteousness but 1 John 3:7 tells us that if we are truly righteous through Christ, we will live righteously.  Those who do not live a righteous life by the grace of God will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:7-8).  We are to repent of our sins and turn to Christ alone to help us overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Christ shed His blood for our sins and He delivers us from the power, penalty, and pleasure of sin.

Do you hate sin?  I do.  I despise sin.  I am not perfect but I long to be like Jesus in every way (Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 John 2:6).  I praise God for the sacrifice of Christ for my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7).  I praise God that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sins (Hebrews 10:14).  1 John 1:7 is a wonderful passage of Scripture that speaks of the cure for dirty feet:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This passage is all in the continued present tense of the Greek.  In other words, as we walk in the light (present tense), the blood of Jesus cleanses (present active tense) us from all sin.  The cure for our sins is not found in the laws of men.  It is not found in morality.  The cure for overcoming sin and its power is the precious blood of Jesus as we walk in the light (Galatians 5:16-17).  We have a faithful high priest who was tempted as we are but without sin (Hebrews 4:15).  Thus through Christ we are able to approach the throne of God and receive help in our time of trouble (Hebrews 4:16).

Praise God for our merciful and faithful high priest who lives to pray for us (Hebrews 7:25)!  He is able to deliver us and help us to be holy by His gospel that sets us free and empowers us to be holy as He is holy.

Arminius on the Grace of God

IV. THE GRACE OF GOD

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.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free-will. For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?” That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/08/2013 at 7:16 PM

The Work of God

There is a tendency among us human beings to think that we can help God in the process of salvation.  We like to think in terms of God doing His part and we doing our part.  It’s like the old altar calls where the evangelist would say, “If you’ll take one step toward God, He’ll take two steps toward you.”  Salvation then becomes mostly God but some of us as well.

Yet Scripture affirms that salvation is not the work of humans.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) is clear when it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

That bothers people.  To think that salvation is by the grace of God and not by works bothers us.  To some of us, that sounds too much like “easy believe-ism.”  Salvation surely has to be the work of God mostly but some of our works as well such as our faith, our repentance, our baptism, our keeping ourselves saved, etc.

In John 6:29 Jesus answers the Jews question from verse 28 where they asked Him what they must do to we may work the works of God.  John 6:29 (NKJV) says,

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John Wesley said that this is “the work most pleasing to God, and the foundation of all others.”  All our good works flow naturally from our faith in Jesus.  No doubt we are to do good works as Ephesians 2:10 or Titus 2:14 or James 2:14-26 teaches.  Good works flow from our salvation which is finished in Jesus Christ (John 19:30).  Our sins are forgiven in Jesus and His blood (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and we are saved apart from works (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 4:5).

The work of God is thus to believe in His Son.  This is eternal life (John 6:40).

So the question before us is this: How are you saved?  Are you saved by grace through faith plus good works?  Is it grace through faith plus Arminianism or Calvinism or any other ism?  Are you saved by grace through faith plus you being holy or you doing this or that?  I believe we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone.  My salvation is dependent totally and completely upon Jesus alone.  My works, my goodness, my prayer life, my Bible study, etc. are not the grounds for my salvation but they flow from my salvation just as Wesley stated above.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/01/2012 at 10:00 AM

Saved by Grace, Kept by Grace

Why am I still following Jesus all these years after He saved me?  Why am I still following the Lord despite many times I have allowed my heart to turn cold to the things of God?  Why me?  Why not others?

I have no answers for why I am still saved other than the grace of God.  I have seen so many of my friends through the years turn away from Jesus and His kingdom.  Some of them came back to faith but were never the same again.  Their zeal, their passion, their hunger and thirst for the Lord, their prayer lives, etc. where all gone.  Some of my friends through the years have settled for lukewarm living.  Their pursuit these days is for money or the world and while they do attend a church, they have no passion for Jesus like they did years ago.

For me, I am thankful that I am still saved.  I take no credit for my salvation.  I have no doubt in my mind that the reason I am still saved today is simply the grace of God and that is it.  Why does God still love me?  I have no answer.  I know that He is good and loving (1 John 4:8-10).  I know that God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).  But I have no reason to be His child other than His grace (Romans 4:5).

Salvation is all of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I love the answer Peter gave in Acts 15:11 about the relationship between the Jews salvation and that of the Gentiles.  Peter says that we are all saved by grace!  None of us can boast before the Lord of our salvation except to point to the grace of God given to us in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 8:9; 9:15).  The love of God was perfectly manifested in the giving of His only Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).  Jesus bore my sins on the cross and He satisfied my standing before God because of His sacrifice (Isaiah 53:10-12; Romans 3:22-27).  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).  Yet all of this is by the grace of God.  Our salvation.  The giving of Jesus.  The cross.  All of this is from the grace of God.

And furthermore, I am kept by grace.  Grace doesn’t just begin my salvation but grace ends my salvation.  My entire life as a disciple of Jesus is grace.  I am not a disciple today because of my Bible reading or my evangelism or my worship or my zeal.  I am saved because of grace and grace alone.  I am kept in Christ through grace and grace alone.  I am amazed at the conviction of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5-12).  The Holy Spirit is such a loving and gentle friend who convicts me and leads me toward Christ and His kingdom (John 16:8-11).  All of this too is grace!

So from the start of my discipleship until the end, it is all of grace.  I want to fall upon the grace that first brought me to Jesus.  I want His grace to fill my heart and soul.  I want to be a friend of grace and full of God’s grace.  No wonder nearly all of the letters of Paul begin and end with the grace of God (Romans 1:7; 16:20; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 16:23).  We are saved by grace and kept by His grace.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/13/2012 at 10:44 AM

Arminius on the Grace of God

I have been saved for over 20 years.  The longer I walk with Jesus Christ the more I realize how desperate I need His grace.  His grace is what enables me to pray, to worship, to serve God, to love Him and adore Him, to behold the glory of the cross, to see the mercy of God.  All of this comes from His grace.  I love being saved by His grace.  I love reading Ephesians 2:8-9 and realizing yet again that nothing can save me but the grace of God.  I am not saved by being a good person or by reading my Bible everyday or prayer.  I am saved by the grace of God given to me freely in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).

Arminius was a theologian of grace.  Calvinism often portrays itself as the leader of grace-centered theology with its “doctrines of grace.”  Yet Arminius’ writings are filled with grace.  He upholds the grace of God as the way of salvation in Christ.  The grace of God is not merely abstract to Arminius nor does he just give lip service to God’s grace but he really believes that it is the grace of God that saves us.

Read what Arminius had to say about the grace of God.

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, etc.; 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.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free-will. For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?” That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.

To me, it is clear that Arminius believed in and preached the grace of God.  I praise God for that because it is only by His grace that we are saved.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/11/2012 at 9:25 PM

What You Can Learn from Leviticus

Leviticus is not easy reading.  It’s one of those books that make you want to turn to the “easy” reading of the New Testament.  I can identify with the epistles of Paul.  I can identify with many of the characters both in the Old and New Testament.  I can identify with the Psalms.  But I have trouble with Leviticus.  I have heard many times that the key to understanding Leviticus is the book of Hebrews.  I have read Hebrews many times and yet I still struggle with Leviticus.  I have purchased commentaries on Leviticus and yet I still struggle to grasp this book.  I know that it’s the Law and mainly focused on the ceremonial aspects of the Law but it is not easy reading.

Yet we can learn from Leviticus.  I was reading in Leviticus 10 today and the one truth that I always get from reading Leviticus is that God is holy and that He wants to be worshiped as He prescribes and not by the flesh of people.  Because He is holy, He expects to be worshiped in the spirit of holiness.  He calls His people, especially His priests to be holy.  Of course, the priesthood is no longer confined to a group of people.  The entire Church is now holy unto the Lord and all of the people of God are priests unto God (1 Peter 2:9-10).  There is no longer any special priesthood or clergy who do the work of the ministry.  God calls all His people to holiness and to service unto Him.  As Charles Spurgeon put it, “You are either a missionary or a mission field.”  We are all God’s slaves if we belong to Him (Romans 6:17-19).  We are all called to serve Him and to honor Him as holy (Luke 17:10).

In Leviticus 10 we see a picture of what happens when people disregard His holiness.  In this story, we find Nadab and Abihu serving before Yahweh.  They are the two eldest sons of Aaron.  We don’t know what exactly happens here other than perhaps they were drunk in God’s presence while offering incense (vv. 8-9).  We do know that they offer what the Bible calls “unauthorized fire” (ESV) or “profane fire” (NKJV) before the LORD.  The MacArthur Study Bible notes, “by doing so they showed their carelessness, irreverence, and lack of consideration for God.  Such a tendency had to be punished for all priests to see as a warning.”  The same fire that had consumed the priest’s proper sacrifice in Leviticus 9:24 now goes out to consume these two men.  God was using them to show His people that He was to be regarded as holy.  We know this because of what Yahweh says through Moses to Aaron in Leviticus 10:3 (NKJV):

By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.

The Bible simply adds that Aaron held his peace.  What could he say?  He had just lost his two sons in death because of their disregard for the holiness of God.  Aaron knew this.  He knew that God was holy and that He must be worshiped as holy.  God, because He is holy, had every right to not just consume Nadab and Abihu but all flesh.  It was because of the mercy of God that any flesh were allowed to live.  In Genesis 2:16-17 God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree they would surely die.  I have heard many try to say that this was spiritual death because Adam and Eve didn’t die when they ate in Genesis 3:6 but they did die spiritually and only later did they die physically.  I believe that the truth is that God was merciful to His fallen creatures.  He had every right to strike them down but in His great love and mercy, He instead provided an atonement for their sins (Genesis 3:21).  He also promised redemption in Genesis 3:15.  He could have killed them and He would have been right to do so since they violated His law but instead He showed them great mercy.  Aaron knew this about God and He knew that if God wanted to, He could not only strike down his sons but himself as well.  It was only by God’s grace and mercy that He didn’t.

God is holy.  He is to be respected as holy.  He is not your buddy.  He is not “the Man upstairs.”  He is not your “homeboy” as one emergent told me.  God is absolutely and completely holy.  When we lose sight of His holiness in the light of our sinfulness, we soon try to make ourselves better than we really are.  When we reduce God from being holy and we have no regard for how perfect He is, we will soon elevate ourselves.  We will treat as mundane the things of God.  We come carelessly into His presence.  We fail to see that He has every right to strike us down and we deserve to be cast into hell.  We don’t deserve Him.  We don’t deserve His heaven.  We don’t deserve His Son.  We don’t deserve His Word nor His presence in our lives.  We receive all this because of His grace and mercy.  The cross of Jesus Christ demonstrates both His holiness and His mercy.  In Christ God was reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18) but we forget sometimes that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  2 Corinthians 5:21 makes no sense to the person who doesn’t grasp Leviticus 10:3.  Until we see how holy God is, we don’t see how utterly sinful we are.  Until we see how great His love was manifested in pouring out His just wrath against our sins upon the cross, we fail to see just how great His love was manifested on the cross (Romans 5:8-9).  Jesus saves us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  This wrath is coming because of sin (Matthew 3:7).  This wrath is coming because God’s holy Law is ignored and disobeyed (1 John 3:4).  Without Christ, mankind must face God’s wrath alone.

And if we can learn anything from Leviticus is this: God is holy and He will judge sin.  We must hide ourselves in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3).  Those who are hidden in Christ need not fear the wrath of God against our sins because we are forgiven in Christ (1 John 1:9-10).  Jesus has bore our sins.  Jesus had set us free from the wrath of God against our sins.  This doesn’t mean that we can transgress His law and have disregard for His holiness but rather this means that we can now worship Christ in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).  We must regard God as holy and continue to fear Him.  We must continue to stand in awe of His grace and mercy and respect Him as Lord of all.  Yes we are forgiven.  Yes we are saved from Him through His Son.  But, we fear Him.  We tremble at His presence.  We still are amazed at His grace.  And why?  Because we know Him as holy.  We regard Him as holy.  We know who we are without His grace.  We know that left to ourselves, we deserve hell.  We know that without Jesus, we would not be saved.  Without His Spirit, we would not have come to Him for redemption (Romans 1:18-25; 3:10-11).  We do not seek God.  We do not love God.  Apart from His grace, we could not be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).  It is only by His doing that we are in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB).

Let us then regard God as holy.  Let us fear Him.  Let us rejoice in His Son for our salvation.  Let us proclaim to the nations that they must repent (Acts 17:30-31).  Let us praise God for all that He has done in saving us from His just wrath.  Let us love Him for His holiness and also for His mercy.  Let us come into His presence with trembling and respect (Hebrews 12:25-29).

So what do we learn from Leviticus.  It is this: Yahweh is Holy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/07/2012 at 10:00 AM

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