Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Grace

The Vain Pursuit of Sinless Perfection

Very early on in my Christian life I reasoned (along with other brothers) that since God has called us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) that this must mean that we are able to not sin (1 John 2:1).  I reasoned that if we sin, we are not truly following Christ as the Bible says that we are not to sin if we know Him (1 John 3:6-9).  I read where Paul the Apostle said to stop sinning (1 Corinthians 15:34) and where Paul said that we are to not be mastered by sin (Romans 6:11-23).

All of this lead me to conclude that we are to pursue sinless perfection.  While I had never met anyone who was sinless, I reasoned that it was possible.  I read John Wesley’s book, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and I reasoned that one could have an experience with God that would take you to a place of absolute holiness.  I pleaded with God to give me this experience of “entire sanctification” and I earnestly wanted to be holy.

All to no avail.  I have always struggled with sin.  Alwasys will.

I reasoned that there were categories of sin and that some sins were worst than others.  For example, Jesus said that Judas had committed the greater sin (John 19:11) since he had betrayed the Lord of glory.  I reasoned from the law of Moses that since God required different sacrifices for sins of omission and sins of commission then God must view our sins as different if we commit them willfully versus by mistakes or lack.  For instance, none of us pray enough since the Bible calls us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and thus while prayerlessness is a sin (1 Samuel 12:23), prayerlessness is not the same sin as sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) and while prayerlessness is horrible, prayerlessness is not listed among the sins that keep us from the kingdom in passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:19-21 and Revelation 21:8.

In this way, I was able to tell someone that I had not sinned that day.  I could say that while I didn’t love God perfectly or pray enough or share the gospel or give to the poor, nonetheless I hadn’t committed any willful sins.  In this way, I thought of myself as holy and pure.  I though very highly of myself.

I now see it all as nothing but vanity.  I now sit here a broken man.  I see that my pride was horrible.  I see that God opposes the proud.  Oh I would have gladly claimed the grace of God for my salvation and I would have boasted that it was the grace of God that enabled me to holiness (Titus 2:11-12) but the reality is that I was proud.  I was arrogant.  I was not holy.  I was full of flesh.

I have never ceased to need Jesus.  I never have and I never will.  My good days are still nothing before a holy God.  He is not pleased with my self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).  My works play no part in my salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is the gracious work of God by His grace and by His Spirit through His Word.  I lay aside all boasting right now and I confess that Jesus is my salvation and He alone is my hope before a holy God (Hebrews 7:25).  My salvation is complete in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I am saved not by what I do but through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:29).

While it is true that we are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) the reality is that we will always need Jesus and His grace.  Thankfully through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are holy in Him (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Jesus and His blood makes us holy (Ephesians 1:4-7).  We are called to forsake sin and turn from sin but the promise of God is that while we are not called to sin, we have One who prays for us before the holy Father (1 John 2:1-2).  Through the Lord Jesus I am able to approach the throne of a holy God (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The entire focus of the New Testament is upon the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).  He is my salvation and my hope.  Not my works (Titus 3:5-7).

I don’t want to wonder into sloppy grace (Romans 6:1-4).  Having been set free by the grace of God, why would I want to go back to a life of sin?  Yet I do struggle with sin.  I hate my sins.  I really do.  I want to be holy and pure and praise God, in Christ, I am holy.  The Spirit of God is working in me to help me to hate sin and to turn from sin.  I admit that I struggle with sin and I always will but the promise of God is to complete this work He has begun in me (Philippians 1:6).

If you struggle with sin, I assure you that you are loved by God.  I need to hear that too.  God gave His Son for our sins (John 3:16) and He demonstrates His love (Romans 5:8-9).  This love from God is not mere words but actions.  The Father has sent His holy Son to die for our wicked sins.  God has reconciled us through Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  My favorite verse in the Bible is 1 Timothy 1:15.  It reads beautifully in the KJV:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Christ Jesus came to save sinners.  Luke 19:10 says:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Jesus came to save us (Matthew 1:21).  He came as the suffering servant from Isaiah 53 who would die for our sins.  He came to bring us peace with God (Ephesians 2:14; Colossians 1:20).  Jesus shed His blood on the cross for our sins and it by His grace, through His blood that we are saved from the wrath of God against our sins.

Romans 3:23-25 (KJV) reads wonderfully:

23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

This salvation is freely given in Christ (Acts 16:30-31) and He is our propitiation through faith in His blood.  This is the goodness of our God.  Our God reaches down to us and save us by His grace.

Now in conclusion I don’t want to sound like an antinomian.  I am not advocating sinning. I hate my sins.  I want to be holy.  Yet I believe there is balance.  The balance is not to see Jesus as our means unto holiness but He is our holiness.  The focus of salvation from beginning to end is Jesus Christ.  It is not Jesus plus our works that saves us.  It is not Jesus plus our works that makes us holy.  It is Jesus and His work alone that saves us.  Our eyes must be on Jesus.  Hebrews 12:1-2 is powerful in that regard:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Looking unto Jesus is the key.  Jesus has sat down at the Father’s side.  Sitting represents completion.  Jesus has sat down because He has completed  the work of atonement.  Jesus is now our faithful high priest before the Father (Hebrews 2:17-18).

No doubt I will sin.  I hate my sins even now.  Yet I know that before the Father is One who prays for me.  He is my defense.  I use to believe that when I sinned, I need to compensate God and His wrath somehow.  I would pray more.  I would read my Bible a little more.  I would go out and witness to someone.  I wanted to make up for my sins.  The reality is that God sees my wicked heart at all times.  He knows me perfectly.  The beauty of the cross is that it demonstrates God’s love toward sinners still in their sins (Romans 5:8).  God loved me while I was a sinner even under His wrath but now He loves me as His child through faith in His Son (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).  If God loved me while a wicked sinner who sinned without thinking of God, how much does He still love this sinner now?

I am tired of sinless perfection seeking.  I only want to know that I have peace with God through faith in Christ (Romans 5:1).  Jesus is my salvation both now and forevermore.

“Lord help me to not sin this day but forgive me of my sins as I forgive those who trespass against me.”

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Justification by Faith in Galatians

The epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians is a precious book to turn to when you are struggling with your faith.  The book provides clear answers to our justification before God which is not based on our works or our moral goodness or our works of righteousness but is based on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our assurance is based on Jesus and not us.  This precious truth is a bulwark in times of trouble either from the flesh, the devil, or the world.  As you read the book of Galatians you feel the passion of Paul the Apostle to protect the gospel from error (Galatians 1:6-9) which clearly is pointing back to the first heresy to come into the Church in the Judaizers (Acts 15:1-5).

What is amazing about Galatians 2 is that Paul says that even Barnabas (the son of encouragement) was led astray by this heresy.  The great apostle, Peter, was led astray.  In Galatians 2:14 we read (NASB):

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

Live like Jews.  That was their error.  In Galatians 2:15-16 Paul makes it clear that these Jews understood that they were sinners (Romans 7:7) and through the law they knew they could not save themselves because of their sins.  Instead, these Jews knew that we are justified before God through faith in Christ and not by being Jewish.  His point is clear, our salvation is based not on keeping the law or what we do but is through faith in the Lord Jesus.

This is the key for our struggles.  We are not perfected by the works of the law (or law).  In Galatians 3 Paul begins by telling his readers that we are not made perfect by our efforts even after our salvation.  Our trust from beginning to end must be in the Lord God.  We don’t begin in the Spirit and finish in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).  Paul then points to our father, Abraham, as our example in the faith in that he trusted God and God reckoned it as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  From the seed of Abraham comes our Savior, the Lord Jesus, who is the blessing of Abraham that God promised beforehand in Genesis 12:1-3.  This promise was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14).

The law was given for a purpose writes Paul the Apostle in Galatians 3:15-29.  The law shows us our need for salvation.  The law doesn’t produce righteousness (Galatians 3:21).  The law only shows me that I am a sinner (Galatians 3:24).  Paul’s defense here of the gospel is clear: we are not saved by the grace of God plus keeping the law.  The law shows us the need for grace!  The law is not bad at all.  It does it’s job which is to show me that I am a sinner in need of salvation.  The law condemns but it doesn’t offer any hope.  It only shows me that I have broken the law of God and deserve His wrath.

The solution to our sinfulness is not to try harder or to resolve to not to sin.  This will never work.  We are simply too weak.  Too human.  We need the grace of God that He has given to us in His Son whom He sent to redeem from under the law (Galatians 4:4-6).  We are not slaves of sin or slaves to the law but through Christ we have been set free to be sons of God (Galatians 4:7).  Paul turns again to the Old Testament to show that we are children of the promise, of Abraham and not of the slave woman (Galatians 4:12-31).  Our mother is not the law but is the promise of God that He has fulfilled in His Son.

Our hope now is the Lord Jesus.  God has set us free to look to Jesus and not to our flesh or to the law.  In Galatians 5:1-12 Paul turns to the Judaizers who were demanding circumcision as proof of keeping the law.  Paul says that what matters is not circumcision or what we do in the flesh.  Paul uses strong words in Galatians 5:12 by saying that those who want to circumcise should go and circumcise themselves and mutilate themselves.  They want to cut the flesh so bad, go all the way and mutilate yourselves then!  Paul is attacking this idea of circumcision hard because it robs Christ of His glory and robs the believer of the truth of justification by faith and not by what we do.  Paul adds that our call is to freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1, 13) and not to our flesh.  No doubt we are at war with our flesh (Galatians 5:16) but the answer is the Spirit and not the flesh (Galatians 5:17-18). Those of us who belong to Christ are circumcised in Jesus and His cross (Galatians 5:24; 6:14).  Circumcision is not what counts but being a new creation in Christ (Galatians 6:15).  This is the true Israel of God and not merely the Jews who keep the law (for they are not the true Israel; see Romans 9:30-33; 10:1-5; 11:1-10).

Paul ends Galatians with powerful words that would have cut the Judaizers.  He ends with this:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren.  Amen.

Grace.  Such a marvelous word!  Paul ends by pointing to what saves us: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This was what he preached in Acts 15:11.  It is grace that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9).  We are not saved by the keeping of the law.  We are not saved by our works of righteousness (Titus 3:5).  We are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus.  Jesus came and bore our sins on the cross for our eternal salvation (Galatians 1:4).  This is our hope.  This is our assurance.  This is our salvation.

I don’t know about you but that is good news to this sinner.  I am far from being what I know I need to be.  I don’t pray enough.  I don’t share my faith enough.  I don’t give enough of my money to the poor or to missions.  I can see my sins.  I am not a perfect husband.  I am not a perfect dad.  I fall so far from Christ and His perfection (Romans 6:23).

But I find peace in knowing that I am saved by grace and not by works.  I love 1 Timothy 1:15 because Jesus didn’t come to save the righteous.   Jesus didn’t come to save perfect husbands or perfect dads.  He came to save sinners like me.  Jesus died because I am sinful and have violated His laws.  I know this.  The law condemns me each and every time.  But thanks be to God who gave me His Son.  This is my assurance.  This is my hope.  This is the reason why I keep going.  It’s not because I am just strong willed.  It’s not because I am disciplined.  I am not of those things.  I am a sinful man.  I fall short in many, many ways (Romans 3:23).

Galatians is for sinners.  Galatians is for people who struggle.  Galatians is for those who need grace.  Galatians is for those who are tired and weary of trying to live the “Christian life” only to fall short all the time.  Galatians is a book of hope for those who do long to love Jesus and be more like Him.

I pray this has encouraged someone.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/03/2016 at 12:00 PM

God’s Sovereign Choice

“You Arminians deny the sovereignty of God and you want all the credit for your salvation.  You want man to play his part so that God doesn’t get all the glory.”

These are common arguments that some Calvinists use when arguing for unconditional election.  Calvinists argue that only in Calvinism is God truly glorified in the saving of sinners.  How is this so?  The Calvinist argues that God saves sinners based on His own divine choice.  God is purely arbitrary in His choosing.  He doesn’t acknowledge anything in man nor is His choice based on their faith.  The choosing of God is based only on His own choice.  If asked why God chooses to save so few or why He chooses to save even the Calvinist themselves, the Calvinist will likely answer, “Deuteronomy 29:29.”

But what if God placed His election upon a condition?  What if God said that He would save those who believe?  Does not God have the sovereign right to say how He would save?  And furthermore, how does this rob God of His glory if in fact it is God Himself who has said in His Word that He would save people who meet His conditions?  Is God still not gracious in His giving of salvation that is so rich and free?

The Bible is clear that God saves those who believe.  See John 3:15, 16, 36; 4:14; 5:24, 40; 6:47; 6:50-58; 20:31; Romans 3:21-30; 4:3-5; 4:9, 11, 13, 16; 4:20-24; 5:1, 2; 9:30-33; 10:4; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 15:1-2; Galatians 2:15-16; 3:2-9; 3:11; 3:14, 22, 24; 3:26-28; Ephesians 1:13; 2:8; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 3:18-19; 4:2-3; 6:12; 1 John 2:23-25; 5:10-13, 20.  Hebrews 11:6 is clear that without faith is impossible to please God and the one who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  Faith is the condition that God places upon salvation.  Faith opens the door for our eternal salvation.  The work of salvation is gracious and without the aid of the Holy Spirit none could be saved (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:14).  The Spirit is the one who regenerates the sinner who believes (Titus 3:5-7).  The work of salvation is the grace of God (Romans 11:6).

Romans 5:1 tells us that we are justified through faith.  Notice we are not justified unto faith.  We are justified by faith.  Romans 4 is clear that faith is not a work that obtains salvation for in Romans 4 Paul the Apostle contrasts faith with works.  James 2:14-26 shows us that saving faith works.

God’s sovereign choice is that He will save those who believe.  This is for all people.  Jesus came to shed His blood for all (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2) but only those who appropriate His saving work by faith are redeemed (1 Timothy 4:10).  Those who reject the Son will not see life (John 3:18).  Jesus alone is the one mediator for all men before God (1 Timothy 2:5-6) because the will of God is for none to perish but for all to reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  God is clear in Ezekiel 18:32 that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but how can this be if in fact God has already chosen even before a person sins?

The wonderful truth of the gospel is that God will save sinners who come to Him through faith in His Son (John 6:47).  Peter preached in Acts 2:21 that everyone (all) who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  This promise is for all (Acts 2:38-39).  Romans 10:13 reminds us the same: that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  God is the gracious one that saves sinners.  God is the one that we point to, that we preach, that we exalt for sinners to come to faith and be saved.

Looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Today was just a bad day.  If it could go wrong, it did.  I drive a truck for a living and was broke down for over 9 hours.  Then I drove a man’s care back to my work after he came to take over the route for me only to break down in his car with a dead battery.  What should have been a relative easy day turned into one of those bad days.

In comparison, I know there are many more worst things that could have happen.  One man (not a believer by the way) replied to me, “Hey, it could have been worst.  You could have been killed in the truck.”  That put my day into perspective.

Forgive me for my complaining (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Today was one of those days where I just didn’t “feel” saved.  It wasn’t that I was seeking to grieve the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30) but I just wasn’t feeling too sanctified today.  I wanted to just go home and do nothing.  I didn’t want to read my Bible.  I didn’t want to pray.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I just wanted to sit.

Thankfully I have a faithful high priest who understands my struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The more I walk with Jesus the more I realize that I need His grace each and every day.  I need Him to help me live a holy life (Hebrews 12:14).  I need His grace to help me to be a faithful witness for His glory and honor (Titus 2:11-14).  I need His grace to help me when I fall short of the glory of God (Hebrews 7:25; 9:14).  My salvation is based on the work of Jesus and by grace through faith I am saved (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8-9).  This grace is at work in my life to stand firm for the gospel in spite of my flesh, the world, or the devil.  God’s grace is there to help me be more like Christ (Romans 6:1-23).  That is my heart’s cry.  I hate my sins.  I despise my flesh and my laziness.  I long to honor the  Lord Jesus in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17) but I do fall short of His perfection (Mark 12:29-31).

The cure for all this is to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  1 John 1:7 speaks of this daily cleansing like this:

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.

The Greek tense of 1 John 1:7 is such that this cleansing is not just a one time cleansing but an ongoing cleansing.  The blood of Jesus cleanses me and continues to cleanse me.  He is making me holy by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  I hear His call to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I long to be pure and holy.  While I do fall short (James 3:2), His grace is there to help me get up and continue to strive for holiness.

Praise God for His enabling and powerful grace!

For more on this I recommend the book by Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace.  

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

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.

Blatant Lies or Distorsion of Arminianism?

The Internet can be a blessing and yet a curse at the same time.  While much of what I read on the Internet is good.  There is also much bad.  A Calvinist on Twitter (if you put in the hash mark #Arminian he often will come up) goes around putting out pictures such as this one in this post.  He either is lying about Arminianism or he simply misunderstands Arminianism because I have yet to figure out how he could teach this.  This is not Arminianism.  This is Pelagianism.  Any first year seminary student would grasp this unless they are tainted by reading only Reformed theologians.  Yet even most Reformed theologians including Dr. Michael Horton or Dr. John MacArthur acknowledge that Arminians do not believe we save ourselves or that we help God with our faith.  Jesus alone is our Savior and our faith is in Him alone (John 6:29; Romans 5:1).  Our salvation is based entirely upon the Lord Jesus and not upon faith in our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

Yet honestly even Calvinists acknowledge that God doesn’t make us believe unless they are hyper-Calvinists.  They too agree that a person who has faith in Jesus is believing by their own free will and not because God makes them believe.  They believe God draws them and that He places it within them to want to believe but He does not make them believe.  The obvious error would be to say that God makes us believe is that this would make the free offer of the gospel pointless since God will save whom He will save and He will damn whom He will damn.  It is all His sovereign choice.  Some Calvinists believe this while many would not.  John Calvin, at least in my reading of him, did hold to double predestination or at least a form of it.  Some Calvinists such as R.C. Sproul Sr. hold that God must first regenerate a person in order for them to believe so that they are born again to believe.

As an Arminian, I hold that salvation is all of God.  Because of the nature of our depravity, none of us can be saved apart from the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us and draw us to the Son (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  I believe the will of God is for all to be saved but only those who believe the gospel by His grace are the saved of God (1 Timothy 4:10).

BBKyDxCCcAAO_zWIn no way do I believe that works save a person (Romans 4:4-5).  I believe good works reflect our salvation but do not secure our salvation (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).  Our salvation and security are based on the Lord Jesus and His promises and His work (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  In no way do I obtain salvation or help God to save me by me doing something.  Salvation is all of grace (Acts 15:11).  My efforts cannot save (Isaiah 64:6).

So what part of my Arminianism is works based?  What part of my salvation is based upon me doing something to earn God’s favor or the gift of His Son?  I see none.

I urge both Arminians and Calvinists to seek to understand each other.  Do we disagree?  Yes.  Do we have differences?  Yes.  Can we disagree and still be brothers and sisters in Christ?  Yes!  Let us seek not to spread lies about each other nor build false straw men such as this one to attack others.

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/22/2013 at 11:30 AM

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