Our understanding of how we come to faith straddles our whole understanding of the sovereignty, holiness and love of God, and consequently impacts greatly on our Christian life; understanding of doctrines such as God’s will and purposes, prayer, witnessing, and assurance. (See https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/the-arminian-and-calvinist-understanding-of-salvation-is-totally-of-the-lord/).
If the reader has read any of my posts on Arminianism (God pleads with people to allow Him to save them), they will know that Arminianism’s emphasis on human free will (in contrast to God’s free will) is my greatest bugbear. It is, of course, not enough to express disgust; one needs to give reasons for that nasty taste in the mouth. Here are a few excerpts from a typical Arminian sermon, given on Christmas day 2015 by a dear friend, followed by (Calvinistic) responses.
1. “Christ did not come to spread wrath but love.”
Here is the favourite verse of Arminians (and New Agers), which I love too:
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to judge (condemn) the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
“Whoever” in verse 16 evokes in the English-speaking noggin “all those who decide to believe.” The Greek says “the believing ones” and nothing about human decision. But to the more pertinent next verse: God did not send his son to condemn the world but that the world “might be saved.” The Arminian understands “not judge” to mean “Jesus came to love not to express his wrath on sinners”; and “might” as “God comes as a possible saviour. If you decided to give Him your heart, He will save you.” “Might” grammatically is a subjunctive and so hasn’t a mite to do with “maybe, maybe not, depending on moi.” Arminians never continue on to the next “wrathful” verse: 18 “Whoever believes in him is not judged (condemned), but whoever does not believe is judged (condemned) already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Arminian preachers, after focusing on God’s love (verse 16), never, in my experience continue on to verse 18.
How would the Arminian reconcile verse 17 where the Son “did not come to judge the world” with verse 18 “whoever does not believe is judged already?” One answer: it is not the Son but the Father who judges those who do not believe. This is incorrect: it is the Son who is THE judge, not the Father. Indeed the distinctive feature of the Son is that he, not the Father is judge.
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
Furthermore, at judgment day it is the Son who separates the goats and the sheep, the one for condemnation, the other for salvation.
In a nutshell: Jesus came into the world as saviour, not as judge. When he returns at the end of this world (as we know it), he will come as judge.
- “Jesus is king whether we know or believe it. Omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.”
- Prayer at end of sermon: “I want you to be lord of my heart”
Response to 2 and 3:
Jesus is also LORD whether we know it or not. Then please stop praying on behalf of the congregation: “I want you to be Lord of my life.” Are you talking to believers? Must they, after being brought from death to life (born again, trusting in Jesus as saviour) now take the next (humongous) step and grant the saviour to be Lord of their lives! Christ is already Lord of all – unbelievers and believers.
- “It’s about giving yourself to Jesus.”
- “Jesus stretches his arms out on the cross giving us all a hug. Jesus is loving you today. Why don’t you hug Jesus (back).”
Response to 4 and 5:
With regard to 5 Although it is true that outstretched arms can indicate “give me a hug,” to apply such an idea to Christ in his death agony on the cross is too gooey for words. With regard to 4, nobody gives themselves to Jesus in their natural state (“the flesh”), because in your natural, that is, radically corrupt, state you cannot and will not want to please God:
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
At the end of the sermon, my friend gives a rundown of the political and financial woes of our country (South Africa) and tells the congregation not to anxious; trust Jesus. A good thing, not so?
My friend, of course, still remains very dear to me. And why not!