Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Love

Why Do Arminians Exist?

I was listening to a podcast and the brother quoted a Calvinist as saying that the most difficult question he has about Calvinism is why do Arminians exist?  If Calvinism is true, if it is true that God must open our eyes to the truths of Calvinism and that the truths of Calvinism are something that comes by divine revelation and by the sovereign decree of God, why does God allow Arminians to exist?  Why are there any non-Calvinists?

The answer for Calvinists is that God, for His glory, allows Arminians to exist and to preach false doctrines.  This would also be true of cults, heretics, and all non-Calvinists.  The only way to understand this is to appeal to mystery or to Deuteronomy 29:29.

The answer for Arminians and non-Calvinists is to point to the fallen world that we live in and to free will.  God allows people to read the Bible and to use their minds to interpret His Word.  The gospel is clear.  Even Calvinists would acknowledge that many non-Calvinists are saved albeit by inconsistent theology.  I have heard Dr. James White refer to this view many times.  I believe that Calvinism exists because God has given the world a certain amount of freedom.

In the end, I would pray that non-Calvinists and Calvinists would love each other.  This is the command of Jesus (John 13:34-35).

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John Wesley on Speaking about Calvinist

The advice that John Wesley offers at the end of his tract, What Is An Arminian?, is worth reading and following.  Wesley wrote:

One word more: Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names? — a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity. Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly of it? And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach? Secondly. To do all that in him lies to prevent his hearers from doing it, by showing them the sin and folly thereof; and that the more earnestly and diligently, if they have been accustomed so to do? perhaps encouraged therein by his own example!

May we love our brothers and sisters who disagree with us (John 13:34-35).  Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  Loving God is the greatest commandment and loving our neighbor as ourselves is second (Matthew 22:36-39).

My prayer is that we Arminians would love our Calvinist brothers and sisters.  May they see our love for them and may it not be in word but in deed.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/04/2016 at 6:22 PM

Short Thoughts on “Berean” Ministries

I’m all for examining what people teach.  I’m also for calling people to account for things they say or do.  Recently I posted on why I believe Christians should have avoided “Together 2016” as it featured the Pope as one of the speakers.  My fear is the Protestantism doesn’t mean anything anymore if we link up with Roman Catholics.

That said, are people heretics who associate with people who spoke at the conference or who have associated with Catholics in the past?  I don’t think so.  I myself was invited once to preach to Catholic youth back when I was a teenager.  I was fully prepared to preach the gospel (as I knew it then which was the sinner’s prayer method) but I knew I wasn’t going to go to the Catholics and just beat them up and down with my Bible.  That just wouldn’t have worked and I was invited to preach there by a friend (who is now a Catholic priest).  The event was cancelled and I was never able to speak there again.  I wish I could today.

What bothers me about so called “Berean” ministries is the self-righteousness I see.  I have been guilty of this myself.   I use to say that I was just being a good old Berean like those in Acts 17:11 but I was actually just being critical and self-righteous toward others.  I’m all for taking a teaching or a teacher to task from the Bible.  We are commanded to do so (see 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21; 1 John 4:1).  However, what I find is that many Bereans are simply not charitable towards those whom they disagree.  I daily get blog posts from Berean ministries and I have yet to find one that says at the end, “Please pray for this person.”  They just rip a person up and down and then throw them out.  I believe 2 Timothy 2:24-26 must apply to our discernment passages.

Meanwhile some of the people they are writing about are doing more for the gospel then they are.  I’m not a huge fan of Josh McDowell but I don’t doubt that his ministry is being used by God.  I don’t follow Ravi Zacharias but I don’t doubt that he too is being used by God.  I’m not a big follower of Francis Chan but his ministry is amazing.  David Wood is an amazing evangelist to Muslims and bold in doing so.  Is David Wood perfect?  No.  One can listen to one of these men long enough and find something to blog about.

I’ve never debated an atheist publicly.   I have never debated a Muslim.  I have never even debated a Mormon publicly.  I have never open air preached before very hostile crowds.  It is quite safe here where I am writing at this moment.  I could sit here and attack this ministry or that and never leave my home but boy I feel better about myself.  Why?  Because I was a Berean!

Now let me again state that, at times, people need to be confronted.  I was disappointed a few years back when Ravi was invited to speak in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Mormon Tabernacle (a place I too have been).  I was hoping Ravi would preach the gospel and call Mormons to repent.  He didn’t.  Do I think he was wrong there?  Yes I do.  Is he a heretic?  No.

Dr. Michael Brown went on Benny Hinn’s program a few years back.  Would I?  Probably not unless I could clearly state the gospel and know that Hinn would both agree and denounce the false prosperity gospel.  Brown didn’t do any of that.  Dr. James White, his friend, called him to task publicly for this.  Brown later admitted he was wrong to go on Hinn’s program.

Now should we denounce Ravi Zacharias or Michael Brown?  Some say yes.  I say no.  I don’t agree with all they have done nor do I agree with all that you might do.  Our standing is before God and we must give an account to Him alone (Romans 14:10-12).

By the way, do you ever pray for Benny Hinn?  I don’t think most of us do.  We just count him as a heretic and move on.  Hinn needs our prayers.  I don’t know his heart and neither do you.  I know he has preached some wacky things but is he too far gone to repent?

And simply because one shows up doesn’t mean that one endorses the totality of that ministry.  John MacArthur appeared on TBN once.  Should we denounce MacArthur?  Of course not.  In fact, I was proud of MacArthur’s appearance on TBN as he preached the clear gospel before millions.

So meanwhile while some brothers are on the front lines of battle against the enemies of the cross, bloggers blog about them to the world.  They call this discernment ministries.  They say they are Bereans.  I think they just need to get offline and pray.  Discernment is needed.  Being mean is not.

To God be the glory.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/02/2016 at 1:45 AM

We Are All Fallible

The Bible is clear that there are none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10).  We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  Our minds and hearts are warped with sin when we come to Christ and the work of God in sanctifying us is to make us more like Christ (Romans 8:29-30).  Yet even after we come to Christ, we bring years of sin, years of filling our minds with wordiness and compromise.  We also bring to the Lord all our culture, our thoughts, our upbringing, our traditions.  All of this must be laid before the Lord and we take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35).

Of course, not all of that is sinful.  Our culture may or may not be sinful.  Our traditions may or may not be sinful.  We must take all of them and lay them before the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).  The Word of God is the only infallible and inerrant guide in our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We submit to the Word of God (John 8:31-32).

Yet this doesn’t mean we don’t bring our fallible presuppositions to the Bible.  We all do.  I appreciate those who come humbly to the Bible longing for the Holy Spirit to teach us as little children (Matthew 18:2-4).  I acknowledge that I don’t understand everything about the Bible and there are parts I have yet to grasp.  I suppose I never will.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t study the Bible or don’t read difficult passages but I don’t build doctrines on passages that are not clear.  Nor should you.

Furthermore, we can read a passage and bring different presuppositions to the text.  Take the controversy of Romans 9.  When Arminius begin to preach through the book of Romans, it was at Romans 7 that Arminius first differed with the Reformed pastors of his day.  Arminius argued that Romans 7 was not a Christian.  This was (and remains) not the view of the Calvinists.  Arminius, who at the time was himself likely a Calvinist or at least was trained by Calvinists, was willing to disagree with the theologians of his day over the sake of truth.  I happen to agree with much of what he wrote about Romans 7.  That said, I know that neither myself nor Arminius are infallible.  Arminius brought his presuppositions to the text and so did the Calvinists of his day.

Another text that is hotly debated is Romans 9.  We Arminians read Romans 9 and we see the concept of corporate election all though it.  We see God showing mercy to whom He desires to show mercy and hardening whom He wants to harden (Romans 9:18) but we don’t see this in the sense of individual unconditional election of people to salvation.  Calvinists do.  And why?  Can we both be right?  Could we both be wrong?  We both read Romans 9 and we both seek to be faithful to the text but we read Romans 9 totally different ways.

We read Romans 7 or Romans 9 or Ephesians 1 or John 6 in different ways because we are fallible.  Muslims point to the divisions in the Church as proof that Allah needed to send the final prophet to unite all people.  Of course, Islam is not united.  ISIS is proof of that.  Atheists point to John 17:20-23 as a text that shows God did not answer Jesus’ prayer since the Church is not one.  Other cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses harp on the same thing.  Where is the unity?  Where is the one true Church?  Who is correct in their doctrine?  Who is the one who is preaching the true gospel?

All this does is prove that men are sinful.  That is all.  We are fallible.  We are fallen creatures made in the image of God but sinful nonetheless.  Our thoughts are not infallible.  Only the Bible is infallible.

The answer I believe is humility.  I confess that I don’t know all things.  I confess I could be wrong about Romans 9.  That said, there are clear things taught in Scripture that I believe are essential and are vital to our salvation.  Seeing election unto salvation in Romans 9 is not one of them.  Seeing all the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 as operative today or not is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the “rapture” in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is not essential to salvation.  Seeing the book of Revelation as futurist is not essential to salvation.  The deity of Christ, His miracles, His teachings, His saving work on the cross, etc. are essential.  Faith is essential (Hebrews 11:6).  Repentance is essential (Acts 2:38).

My point here is not to be some postmodern in regards to Scripture.  I believe the Bible is the inerrant and infallible truth of God given to us to reveal His salvation (John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).  I am not claiming that humility is greatest virtue and we should not be dogmatic over theology.  I believe theology is vital to our salvation (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).  I believe that without sound exegesis, you could be preaching or hearing about the wrong Jesus (Matthew 24:23-25).

But I am arguing to humility toward our brothers and sisters in the faith who disagree with us over non-essentials.  I am calling for love (John 13:34-35) and charity.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 is clear (NIV):

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

The Lord’s slave should reflect their Lord who is humble (Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:5).  Our Lord Jesus gave us the perfect example for us to follow in His steps (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21).  Jesus Himself was not quarrelsome even with the Pharisees.  Yes He rebuked them in Matthew 23 but He also warned them, loved them, and ultimately (here is my Arminianism coming out) died for them (Luke 23:34; John 11:49-52).  Jesus was kind to all and He taught all who would hear Him.  He handled His opponents with much grace (Matthew 22:23-46).  Jesus always answered His opponents with Scripture.  He didn’t make it a personal issue.  Jesus wanted them to repent and come to the truth.  Many of them did repent after His death and resurrection including a Jew named Saul of Tarsus.

While we are often willing to grant grace toward sinners, we are not willing to grant it toward our fellow disciples.  This should not be.  We should be humble and willing to love even that brother who disagrees with our end times view or our mode of baptism.  We should be willing to preach the gospel with our Calvinists friends who disagree with us over many issues but who preach the same saving Jesus as we preach in Arminianism.  Let us unite over the essentials, defend the gospel at all costs (1 Peter 3:15-16) but love each other over non-essentials and personal preferences (Romans 14:1-4).

And those are the thoughts of a slave of Christ.  May Jesus be glorified (John 3:30).

Loving Others

One key point I want to make about evangelism is the need to love others.  I fear that, at times, some disciples can merely view evangelism as “pleasing God” without any thought to actually loving the people we engage with the gospel.  People need to be loved.  Whether they are the God-haters we encounter to those who merely are religious but lost, people need to be loved. As an Arminian, I believe that God has demonstrated His love toward humans by sending His Son to die for them (John 3:16).  I believe that it was the love of God that caused Him to not destroy Adam and Eve when they sinned but instead He provided a covering for them in Genesis 3:21.  It was God’s love as well that cursed the enemy in Genesis 3:15 and promised a Redeemer in Christ our Lord.

It was love that was manifested in Luke 2 with the birth of Jesus.  Jesus was the embodiment of love.  Acts 10:38 says this about Jesus:

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Notice that Jesus went about doing good.  Jesus loved people.  I have no doubt about that.

Sadly, we often show that we don’t love people when we just want to earn God’s favor merely by speaking to them about the gospel.  I agree that people need to hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).  I agree that we are to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  But let us go forth with our hearts burning with a zeal for Jesus and a love for others.  Love is what should motivate us to share the good news of Christ.  Love is why we don’t want people to die in their sins.  We love people enough that we want to get into their lives and share the gospel with them.

I am all for confrontational evangelism but I pray that we don’t come across as merely angry at sinners and not loving them.  Let them hear the love of God in our voices and see it in our actions.  May we not scream at people, wish them to hell, or attack others.  May we preach the Lord Jesus Christ and warn people of the wrath to come through tears.  

Jesus said in Mark 12:31 that we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Do we obey this?  Do we love others?  Do we do good to others to show them that we love them with Christ’s love (Galatians 6:10)?  I worry that I don’t.  I don’t want to just pass out gospel tracts and preach the gospel in the streets with anger or with some focus on just “pleasing God” without also loving others.  1 Corinthians 13 is clear that we can do religious deeds without love but what is the point.  Love is the greatest gift (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Do sinners know that I love them?  

May God help us to preach the gospel but also to love people and not just with our words but with our actions.  1 John 3:16-18 are powerful verses about this truth:

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

May God forgive me for not loving others.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/10/2013 at 2:11 PM

We Cannot Reason Together If…

We cannot reason together if we both begin our discussions with our views being the gospel.  Yet if we can begin our discussions with the Bible being our point of agreement and that we would agree to look at the Scriptures with exegesis and time and grace, we might could agree or at least see the other’s point of view.  I am convinced that this is why debates on Twitter or Facebook or other online sources are not the best places to debate.  Even on blogs, we don’t know each other, we don’t see each other, we don’t know if we are being understood or whether the other person is debating with a kindred spirit.  I am not saying that we there should be no debates but merely that it is likely that nothing will be accomplished unless we can sit and discuss these things face to face.

Is this why the early Church Fathers had councils?  I know that Arminius debated several through letters but even there we find a much calmer spirit than what I see in many Arminian-Calvinists debate online today.  What I find is much rhetoric, much personal attacks, many questions but few answers.

The best debate, in my opinion, is with a brother (or sister if you are a sister) who loves you and loves Jesus.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/25/2013 at 5:11 PM

Anti-Calvinism or Anti-Arminianism But Not…

We must guard against being anti-Calvinist or anti-Arminian when dealing with our theological systems.  We can be against a system while loving the people in the system.  This is true of all things humans are involved in.  I can detest the abortion clinic and abortion itself while pleading with tears and prayers for the abortion workers to be saved and the women who commit abortions to be saved and healed.  I can hate drugs but love the drug dealer or user.  I can hate the sin of homosexuality while loving the homosexual.  I can hate the sin of witchcraft while loving the witch.  I can hate cults while loving people in cults.

People are made in the image of God.  Whether they are Hindus or atheists or Moonies.  People are people.  They deserve to hear the gospel.  They deserve to be loved and cared for.  They desire the right to practice their religions or beliefs in freedom.  They deserve the right to be helped when in trouble.  I believe this demonstrates the goodness of God toward them (Romans 2:4).

When it comes to our Calvinist brethren, may we love them.  Calvinists are not our enemies.  They are our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.  I know that some of them (and perhaps some Arminians as well) view myself as lost but I have no ill will toward my Calvinist brethren who love Christ and desire to see Him glorified.  I keep repeating this but it is true: Jesus saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  He said He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He didn’t come to call the righteous to repentance.  He didn’t come to save only the Arminians or the Wesleyans or the Baptists.  He came to save sinners.  I am part of that lot (Romans 3:23).

I have read testimonies of Calvinists who were saved in Arminian churches and later became Calvinists.  I have read Arminian testimonies as well of people who were saved in Calvinist churches and later became Arminians.  A dear friend of mine was a liberal Methodist pastor and he was radically saved back in 1982.  He was asked to resign from his Methodist Church after preaching for a year almost every week on John 3:3.  He left and began to attend a Presbyterian Church (ARP).  He even began to pursue getting ordained by them.  Yet he began to struggle with his ARP faith when he began to study the Confession and especially predestination.  He began to re-read his old Wesley books and found that he agreed with Wesley and so he left the ARP church and today is an Arminian pastor in a church in Mississippi.  My point: he does not speak ill toward his ARP days and in fact praises God for what he learned there.  He told me, “I would not studied depravity where it not for my ARP days.  I would not have appreciated the sovereignty of God had I not been an ARP.  God used the ARP’s to teach me His Word and I praise God for that.”

I agree.  You Calvinist who were saved in an Arminian church, did you grow there?  Did you learn about God there?  I am sure you did just as my friend learned about God from the ARP church.  God uses us in spite of us and sometimes despite us.  He teaches us His ways despite our flaws.   I am thankful for that.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/22/2013 at 11:33 AM

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