Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Loving Others

We Must See People First

This will be another short post on race before I move on.  Many others are weighing in on race here in the United States and my voice is just one among many.

I want to add that if we see race first in a person before we see them as made in the image of God as a human being, we must repent.  Certainly I agree that God made us with color.  All of us.  But that does not define us as people.  If you strip away my color, I am no different from my Japanese neighbors or my black neighbors or any other color.  We are all human beings.  We are all made in the image of God.  This is the Christian truth.  Secular humanists tell us that we are nothing more than pond scum but we are not.  We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and we know it.  We must see each other as people before we see race or culture.  God does not favor the Jew above the Gentile.  He loves both and sent His Son to redeem us all who are children of Adam (Romans 5:12-21; Galatians 4:1-6).

I love how Paul the Apostle was willing to lay down his race for Christ.  In Philippians 3:2-11 we read:

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Notice that this Jewish man laid down his Jewish identity for the sake of Christ.  He was willing to trade in his culture, his religion, his everything for Christ Jesus.  That should be our call as well.

You see I am not first a white man.  I am not first an American.  I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I am a Christian.  I happen to be white.  I happen to live in the United States.  I speak English.  That is not what defines me.  What defines me is the gospel.  I am a sinner redeemed by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I was dead in my sins and my color would not change that.  I was dead in my sins and my nationality would not change that.  I was dead in my sins and my parents could not change that.  What changed me was the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

If we see that people are in need of Jesus because they are human beings, that is the heart of God (Matthew 28:19-20).  People need Jesus.  All people.  All colors.  All creeds.  All religions.  There is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:3-6).  Jesus alone shed His blood for our salvation (Matthew 26:28; Galatians 2:15-16).

Let me close this by pointing out that Paul loved his race.  Paul prayed for his race to be saved (Romans 10:1).  There is nothing wrong with loving your people.  But don’t let that define you.  Don’t allow your race to define who you are.  Let the gospel inform you.  Notice that while Paul loved his race, he prayed for their salvation earnestly and he also preached to those outside of his race (Acts 13:44-48).  Paul even rebuked Peter for being a hypocrite with the Jews from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-14) because it hindered the gospel to the Gentiles.

My prayer is that the Church would rise up and lead the way of preaching the gospel of peace to a sinful, hateful world.  Jesus came to die for all sinners (John 1:29) and He alone can bring peace to this storm.  The hope for the races is not found in government or wars.  It is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel will bring true peace.  The gospel can unite sinners like nothing else.  May the Lord have mercy on the United States and send us a revival of truth.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/11/2016 at 1:56 AM

Do I Pursue Peace?

Hebrews 12:14 jumped off the page the other day at me.  I have read this verse many times before and I have often quoted this verse about holiness but the first part was what hooked me.  The verse reads in the NASB:

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

I will admit that I do not like arguments.  My wife and I struggle with this because she wants to argue and I don’t.  I don’t enjoy getting upset at someone or yelling at someone.  She was reading a book the other day on marriage and it said that a married couple should argue now and then to clear the air of ill feelings and thoughts.  The lack of arguing can lead to bitterness and not to peace.

When it comes to theological debates,  I have never been much one to want to debate.  I can relax with a Calvinist brother who loves the Lord and is seeking His face as I can around an Arminian.  I don’t stay on edge waiting to debate another true brother.  It’s just not my personality.  I may disagree with a brother over an issue around Arminianism and Calvinism but I am the type of guy to let it go.  After all, Proverbs 17:28 (NASB) says,

Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;
When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.

But is silence pursuing peace?  At times, I can still walk away angry at a person for their views that differ with mine.  I am not pursuing peace with that person.  I am allowing bitterness to begin to creep in (Hebrews 12:15).

How do we pursue peace with others?

1.  Talk out our differences but do so in love.  My wife and I don’t argue but a good talk now and then about our differences is good.  I am by no means a perfect husband nor is she a perfect wife but we must extend grace toward each other and our sins.  I want to be at peace with my wife so that my prayers are not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).  Bitterness hinders our prayer lives!  When people discuss their differences in a spirit of love and friendship and not a divisive spirit, much can be learned and accomplished.  I pray that this type of debate would happen more in the Church over non-salvation issues such as Arminianism and Calvinism or spiritual gifts.  Let us talk (and even passionately hold to our views) but love the other person in the process.

2.  Look for avenues of peace with others.  There is much that I agree with with my Calvinist brothers and sisters.  While I disagree with them over various issues, I believe that they are truly saved and love Jesus just as I do.  Heaven will be filled with people from both camps.  Perhaps we were both wrong.  Either way, I want to avoid making the things I disagree with a person over the main issue.  There is much I love about my Calvinist brethren and I pray that they would love things about me.  I want to pursue peace and not war with those whom I disagree.

3.  Pray for the other person.  I have e-mailed people who write hateful things to me before over Arminianism as to whether they actually pray for me.  I have never received a reply.  I suppose they don’t.  But if my theology is so bad that I am not a Christian, should they not just send me a hateful e-mail but also pray for me?  Do you pray for your enemies as Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:43-44)?  We must leave judgment to God alone regarding our enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:6).  Do you pray for those whom you disagree even theologically?  For example, do you pray for Joel Osteen?

4.  Focus on peace and not war.  Our battle, for the child of God, is a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12).  Our enemies are demonic and not disciples of Jesus whom we disagree with over the rapture of the Church.  Too often we make war against our fellows soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).  We don’t pursue peace with our brethren but instead we look for ways to make war.  We sit and watch them and listen to their sermons and once they say something we disagree with, we spring our traps and jump on them.  But this should not be the case.  We should be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19 NASB).  We should be careful to not bless God and curse others (James 3:9-10).

5.  Allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.  If the person you struggle with regarding peace is a disciple of Jesus, leave room for the Holy Spirit to do His work in their lives.  We are not the Holy Spirit.  We are not called to be the Holy Spirit.  His work is to make us more like Jesus in all we say or do.  This is a progressive work.  None of us are perfect (James 3:2).  We all need God’s grace to be saved and to stay saved.  The Holy Spirit helps us by convicting us of sin but thankfully He does this one sin at a time.  If He revealed all our sins at the moment of salvation, we would crumple in defeat and would be so downcast that we would likely give up.  The Spirit comes and He gently deals with our sins and He is able to help us to defeat sin in our lives.  His work is conviction (John 16:8-11) and He does an excellent job at doing this in the life of the true disciple of Jesus.  But we must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work not just in us but other disciples as well.  Leave room for the Spirit to act and don’t assume you are His agent for sanctification.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/20/2013 at 10:00 AM

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

Do I Wish To Convert Calvinists to Arminianism?

Some suppose that the purpose of my blog is to attack Calvinism or to try to warn people about Calvinism or to even try to convert Calvinists away from Calvinism and toward Arminianism.  Is this the case?  Do I wish to convert Calvinists to Arminianism?  I know that many Calvinists do desire to convert Arminians to Calvinism and I have had a few dialogues with Calvinists who honestly believe that Calvinism is the gospel so to not be a Calvinist means that you are lost.

Many Calvinists today claim to once have been Arminians or as Charles Spurgeon, in attacking Arminians put it, “I was born an Arminian and then I was saved as a Calvinist.”  John Piper claims that he once was an Arminian but today Piper believes that Arminianism is “on the precipice of heresy.”  Many Calvinists cheer Piper on for making this statement.  I have a friend who was saved through a Calvinist ministry and today he is a full-fledged “young, restless and reformed” guy who honestly believes that Calvinism is the gospel.  This friend of mine saturates himself with Calvinist sermons from Piper, books from Calvinist authors, and he studies from a Calvinist study Bible.

So how do I feel about all this?  Do I wish Calvinists to “see the light” of Arminianism and become one like me?

First, I know some will say that I am just being spiritual here but I really do want people to be a committed disciple of Jesus.  I don’t care if you are Reformed or an Arminian but are you a disciple of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:11).  The fact is that only Jesus saves.  Not Calvinism (sorry to my Calvinist brethren here) and not Arminianism or any other ism.  Only Jesus saves (Acts 4:12).  Jesus is our only mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from all sin (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22).  Not the blood of Finney or the blood of Wesley or the blood of Luther but only the precious blood of Jesus can save sinners such as us.

Secondly, salvation is a work of grace and not entirely doctrinal systems.  God saves imperfect people by His grace (1 Timothy 1:15).  None of us, whether Arminians or Calvinists, deserve His salvation.  We deserve His just wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).  But God is rich in mercy toward us (Ephesians 2:4) and He saves us by His grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is not whether we are an Arminian or a Calvinist but are we washed in the blood of Jesus and is He Lord of our lives (Romans 10:9-10).  One can be a good Arminian or a good Calvinist and still be lost (Matthew 7:21-23).

Thirdly, do I ever pray for Calvinists to become Arminians?  I have.  I admit this.  But my reason is pure.  I have met some Calvinists and even some Arminians that were so bent on their theology being the only correct theology that they had no love, no passion for Jesus, no love for sinners.  They loved only their doctrines.  I have prayed for these type of people to have their eyes opened to the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:6).  How can any of us claim to love Jesus and hate others no matter what (1 John 4:20).

Lastly, I praise God for the faithful Calvinists who have labored for the Lord and I only ask they would do the same.  I rejoice in the great testimonies of history from men such as Jonathan Edwards or Charles Spurgeon or George Whitefield.  What great men of God they were!  I only ask that my Calvinist brethren would do the same toward the great Arminians who have lived through time such as Arminius, John Wesley, Leonard Ravenhill, E.M. Bounds, Adam Clarke, Richard Allen, and so many more.  Do we all agree?  No but God is able to still use us both despite our flaws.

None of us have a perfect understanding of God.  I don’t confess to know all about Him or His ways.  I have never had trouble telling a person I was witnessing to who asked a hard question that I don’t know.  God and His Word and His ways are beyond me. “To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare with Him?”  (Isaiah 40:18 NASV).  I don’t claim to be perfect in my theological understanding and I pray that I will always be seeking after the revelation of God in His Word until I draw my last breath.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/02/2012 at 9:28 PM

Posted in Daily Christian Living

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