[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Arminianism teaches a False Gospel that cannot Save

by Matthew

I remember some time ago, somebody complained on Antonio's blog that Free Grace people are always attacking Calvinism and never Arminianism.

I cannot answer for Antonio, but I would ask two questions in response:

Q. Who did our Lord have more in common with, the Pharisees or the Saducees?

A. The Pharisees.

Q. Who did Jesus criticise more, the Pharisees or the Saducees?

A. The Pharisees.

Perhaps Jesus had more cricisms to make of the Pharisees becuause they were closer to the truth than the Saducees.

We have a lot of disagreements with Calvinism. We might even contend that at times some Calvinists may present a false gospel. However, we commend Calvinists for their belief and commitment to the Eternal Security of the believer. They may practically deny this doctrine and obscure it by demanding the Perserverance of all true believers, but at least in principle they accept the truth of it.

What is also of great merit in Calvinism is its commitment to the great truth of Justification. Calvinists may compromise this doctrine practically, nevertheless they believe that Justification is a once and for all operation of eternal consequence. We agree with the Calvinist that the justification of the sinner on the merits of Christ's death and resurrection can never be disqualified.

It is very difficult to see how the Arminian, in her denial of Once, Saved, Always Saved can have any meaningful doctrine of justification. On the Arminian system, justification becomes a sort of contract between God and the sinner that can be revoked at any time. This is a rather miserable kind of salvation that is utterly unworthy of the great presentation of justification in the epistles of Paul.

The Arminian essentially denies the salvation that Christ offers. She does not believe in the gift of eternal life.

John 3
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.


John 20
30 ¶ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31 but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


Eternal life is a present posession that is received by faith. If I posess eternal life, then I will live forever. If there is a possibility that I will cease to live, then I do not have eternal life.

John 11
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?


Arminians teach that they must continue to believe and perservere in the faith to receive eternal life. However, this is simply contradicted by Jesus:

John 6
35 ¶ And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.


If a person has once received this salvation, she shall never hunger or thirst. If there is the possibility of losing one's salvation, there is the possibility of being hungry or thirsty again.

Likewise our Lord said to the Samaritan woman:

John 4
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14 but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.


Whosoever receives this water never thirsts again. One taste is enougth to give a person eternal life.

The Arminian does not believe this. She believes that she may receive eternal life in the future. She does not have eternal life, but if she continues in faith she will be saved. But this is not the salvation that Christ offers. Christ offers actual posession of eternal life. If you believe in Him for a potential salvation, you will not get a potential salvation because He never offered such a thing.

The Arminian is among the fearful and the unbelieving (Rev 21:8). The Arminian does not believe that Christ's work is sufficent to save her. She believes that she must add her own works and her own efforts to what Christ has done.

The Arminian may protest that she believes that she is saved by grace through faith and not by works. She may argue that faith simply needs to continue. However, you ask her if she will still be saved if she commits an immoral act like adultery. The answer will be no. Ask her how she interprets James 2:17-26. She will tell you that faith must be accompanied by works.

It is instructive to understand the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrine of salvation. Many Christians do not realise that the J.W.s teach that salvation is a gift received by faith (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.132). They qualify this, however, by arguing from James chapter 2:17-26 that if faith is genuine, it must produce works. This is exactly what the Calvinists teach. However, at least the Calvinists differ from the J.W.s in upholding Once Saved, Always Saved. The Arminian doctrine of salvation differs from that of the Jehovah's Witnesses very little.

It makes no difference that the Arminians believe in the Trinity. Believing in the Trinity cannot save anyone. One must receive the gift of eternal life by faith (John 11:25-26). One must trust in Christ for eternal life and look to no other, including one's own perserverance.

This is not to say that all Arminians are unbelievers. There may be many Arminians who believed at their conversion that they were secure in Christ. Many people when they first come to believe in Christ are certain that they are going to heaven. Then the Arminian comes with her proof texts and casts a shadow of gloom on the new believer.

Let us be clear that Arminianism is a false gospel that has no more power to save than the sacramentalism of Popery or the legalism of the cults.

23 Comments:

  • Matthew,
    It is good to see you post this. Maybe we should add "non-Arminian" to the list of things discussed here? :~)
    I could never be an Arminian because of the lack of trust in Christ's finished work.
    "It is finished." He said.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, September 02, 2006 5:40:00 AM  

  • Amen, Rose~. Thanks.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, September 02, 2006 5:41:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Very clear.

    I can't say that I meet too many Arminians in the blogosphere.

    I find alot of them on the chat boards.

    This is a very good article.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, September 02, 2006 4:23:00 PM  

  • Thanks a lot, Antonio.

    I think the absence of Arminians from the blogsphere is probably due to the fact that most Arminians are Pentecostal these days, and therefore less intellectual in their faith than Calvinists or Dispensationalists.

    God Bless

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, September 03, 2006 12:45:00 AM  

  • Good article.

    You make an excellent point about Calvinists being Pharisees. I find myself falling into the mindset frequently of being in the group that really knows the mind of God and I need to take the speck of dirt out of everyone else's eye. I'll try to disguise my Pharisaical attitude with my patented faux humility, but it's there. I find you all helpful in reminding me of this. I don't always like to have the finger pointed at my sin. Sometimes God will crack open my eyes enough to see this rotten stench in my life, that I'll dispare. Am I persevering enough? My Lutheran friends taught me that at those moments, look to Christ. In that, I see that Christ took that sin of Pharisaical judgementalism that is so prevelent in me, and paid for that sin. As I cry, God, have mercy upon me a sinner, that is when I discover I am persevering in the faith.

    Matthew, thank you for the excellent article.

    By Blogger Earl, at Sunday, September 03, 2006 3:05:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    Awesome work. Thank you for this! People often reel when I tell them that I'm a "zero point Calvinist who absolutely rejects Arminianism as doctrinal heresy."

    You've helped epitomize that.

    By Anonymous Bud, at Sunday, September 03, 2006 5:05:00 PM  

  • Earl, thanks.

    I am really sorry if I gave the impression that I was comparing Calvinists to the Pharisees. My point was simply that just as Jesus criticised the Pharisees, who were closer to His own position than the Saducees, we criticise Calvinists more than Arminians.

    Bud, thanks a lot.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, September 03, 2006 11:59:00 PM  

  • Matthew, I know you didn't mean a direct comparison between Calvinists and Pharisees. This is an observation I have seen in my own life, and in some of my private conversations with some other Calvinists. It's a pattern of sin that I'm praying that Christ will move me away from. Because I see it, whenever there is the slightest association made, I am eminded of it in my own life. And when I am reminded of it, it's another opportunity to apply the gospel to me.

    By Blogger Earl, at Monday, September 04, 2006 7:01:00 AM  

  • Earl, you are no Pharisee, but I agree with you that those Pharisee type attitudes can be in my flesh as well. I do appreciate you so much brother and identify with what you are saying and have long been concerned about this among my Calvinist brethren as well as in my own heart even though I share their biblical perspective on things.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Monday, September 04, 2006 8:29:00 AM  

  • Earl, I think all Christians can at times resemble the Pharisees in different ways.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, September 04, 2006 8:34:00 AM  

  • Matthew, I agree. But I think those of with big systems of theology (such as many of us Reformed) are more vulnerable to it. Not that systematic theology is bad -- because there is another sin of neglecting understanding God. There is a fine balance. Us Reformed folk tend to fall on the Pharisee side of the fine balance.

    By Blogger Earl, at Monday, September 04, 2006 4:59:00 PM  

  • Good rhetorical ;~) post, Matthew!

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at Tuesday, September 05, 2006 12:36:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Bobby.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, September 05, 2006 1:34:00 PM  

  • Thank you for laying that out, Matthew. I think you have an excellent point.

    The part that grates on me is your use of "she" to refer to an abstract person. I love the English language, and I hate to see it thus abused. If writers continue to use "she" in place of the available gender-neutral pronouns, then English will lose its gender-neutrality altogether, and old works will be misunderstood by succeeding generations of readers.

    A good book about words with evolving meanings (both naturally, and by revisionist redefinition) and their effect on ideas and interpretation in literature (including scripture) is C.S. Lewis' Studies in Words.

    That our language is extensible is one of its best qualities, but like all good and useful things, it can be abused.

    The obligatory rant aside, I agree with your analysis, though personally I would tread more carefully when classing all Arminians with JWs. JWs are an extreme case, in that they have a specific regiment of "works" that "faith" is supposed to produce, as well as Nicolaitan hierarchy and a screwed-up eschatology. The distinction I would draw is that there is very little liklihood due to what is practically expressed in the JW environment that your average lay JW has actually put his faith in the finished work of Christ. In the end, it's a matter of degree, nonetheless, it's best to keep Godwin's Law and its analogues at bay.

    By Blogger Tim, at Wednesday, September 06, 2006 1:29:00 AM  

  • Using she is a liberal academic tendency that I find really good fun.

    I think there is little to choose from between J.W.s on salvation.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, September 06, 2006 8:45:00 AM  

  • Really excellent post, Matthew. I feel sorry for true Arminians. The're sort of the evangelicals who are worse off than catholics in my book.

    God bless.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, September 07, 2006 6:50:00 AM  

  • Quite so. Thanks for the encouragement, Jodie.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, September 07, 2006 6:59:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Ouch! Arminians and J.W.'s? Is that really a fair comparison?

    Are you saying that you have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven or do you have to believe Jesus and eternal security in order to be saved?

    I sincerely hope that someone doesn't have to have everything all figured out theologically in order to be saved.

    I would insist that salvation is more about simply trusting and following Jesus than being able to perfectly understand the Bible.

    By Blogger Daniel, at Wednesday, September 13, 2006 3:29:00 PM  

  • Daniel, it is nice to see you again.


    When you say 'trusting Jesus' what should the person trust Jesus for?

    I might trust Jesus for a luxury apartment, but that will not get me a luxury apartment, because Jesus never offered such a thing.

    Likewise, if a person trusts Jesus for a conditional offer of eternal life, she will not get a conditional promise of eternal life. Jesus never offered such a thing.

    Jesus offers the present posession of eternal life. If one has never believed that one has received this gift, then one has never trusted Jesus for the results of His saving work.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:38:00 AM  

  • Salvation is a means to an end--worship. Salvation is not an end in itself. The goal of salvation is not simply just to get to heaven when you die. The goal of salvation is to bring us to where we can know and fully experience God.

    If people don't enjoy being around God, then they won't enjoy heaven that much.

    By Blogger Daniel, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:58:00 AM  

  • "Salvation is a means to an end--worship. Salvation is not an end in itself. The goal of salvation is not simply just to get to heaven when you die. The goal of salvation is to bring us to where we can know and fully experience God."

    There are other aspects of salvation too, but I would not diagree with this.

    "If people don't enjoy being around God, then they won't enjoy heaven that much."

    Do you mean to say that persons enter heaven with a sinful nature?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:15:00 AM  

  • I'm just say that heaven will not be filled with folks who don't know Christ personally. If someone doesn't care about knowing Christ, not only would they not enjoy a place like heaven, they won't be there.

    By Blogger Daniel, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:05:00 PM  

  • So then do you believe Arminians are not saved; or do you believe a person can believe a false gospel and yet be saved?

    James

    By Anonymous James, at Monday, October 09, 2006 8:53:00 PM  

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