Calvinism and Arminianism 8

One of the greatest differences between the evangelical Calvinists and those they deride as “Hyper-calvinists,” is the evangelical Calvinists believe Arminians and Pelagians are otherwise sound “Christians,” and refer to them as their brothers and sisters. The Hyper-calvinists believe that as long as one is unconverted from his natural freewill state by the operation of the Spirit of God, and converted to the free grace of God by the Gospel of the grace of God, there is insufficient evidence to consider such as a “Christian,” or a “brother or sister.” This is not to say that they consign them to hell–that is not their desire, for by their own experience they understand that before that gracious divine call out of darkness, they, too, were “vessels of wrath even as others.” Arminians and Pelagians are as much in need for the gospel as any “heathen” or pagan. Calvinists would do well to “evangelize” their Arminian or Pelagian “brothers and sisters.”

But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. Martin Luther

According to Luther, until a person realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own power and will, he is not ready to be saved. According to Luther, a person must realize that salvation is utterly beyond his own power and will in order that s/he may depend absolutely on the will and work of God. According to Luther, as long as a person is persuaded that s/he can make the smallest contribution to salvation that person is self-confident and is not humbled before God. According to Luther, as long as a person is not humbled and despairing of self before God that person will plan for himself something in order to bring himself salvation.

The point, then, in this context, is that in order for a person to be a true Arminian that person must believe in free-will. A person with free-will does not recognize that his salvation is utterly beyond his own power and will and is not able to depend absolutely on the will and work of God. The person who believes that s/he has a free-will must believe that s/he makes some contribution in salvation since salvation depends on the choice of that person. This is directly contrary to what Luther taught about the will and about the Gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

The position that we are driven to, I am arguing, is that we must consider the Gospel that burst forth during the Reformation time and consider whether it was biblical or not. If it was and is, then the modern evangelical Calvinist view that we can just easily accept Arminians and Pelagians as brothers and sisters must be examined. This is not to argue that no person who claims to be an Arminian is unconverted, but it is to argue that this wholesale acceptance is dangerous at best. In Galatians 1 Paul was quite clear of the danger of preaching a distorted Gospel which was different from the Gospel of grace alone in Christ. One can understand this as an attack on Arminians and Pelagians, or one can understand this as crying out that we must look to the Gospel again for what it is and be more careful.

The free-will state is not one that can look to the grace of God in Christ alone to save it, but instead the free-will state is what a person must be converted from. We cannot hold to a Gospel of free-grace while we hold a Gospel which allows for a free-will in it as well. The two cannot be joined as they are enemies and can never be reconciled. The Gospel of free-grace is all about the will and choice of God to do all as He pleases and when He pleases to the glory of His name. The gospel which includes free-will is all about the will and choice of man to do as he pleases and when he pleases. The Gospel of free-grace is all about the freedom and sovereignty of God, but the gospel which allows for free-will is all about the freedom and sovereignty of man. God is sovereign, but man has only thought he was sovereign in his depraved state as a result of the fall into sin. We must love the Gospel of free-grace alone enough that we will stand against any and all who oppose that, even in the name of religion.

One Response to “Calvinism and Arminianism 8”

  1. Jim Says:

    Click to access CHS_According%20to%20Promise.PDF

    Let us use the test at once by seeing whether we have been wrought upon by the power which fulfills the promise. Let me ask a few questions, —How were you converted? Was it by yourself, by the persuasion of men, by carnal excitement; or was it by the operation of the Spirit of God? You profess to have been born again. Whence came that new birth? Did it come from God in consequence of his eternal purpose and promise, or did it
    come out of yourself? Was it your old nature trying to do better, and
    working itself up to its best form? If so, you are Ishmael. Or was it that you, being spiritually dead, and having no strength whatever to rise out of your lost estate, were visited by the Spirit of God, who put forth his divine energy, and caused life from heaven to enter into you? Then you are Isaac. All will depend upon the commencement of your spiritual life, and the source from which that life at first proceeded. If you began in the flesh, you have gone on in the flesh, and in the flesh you will die.

    Have you never read, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh”? Before long the flesh will perish, and from it you will reap corruption. Only “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”; the joy is that the spirit will live, and of it you will reap life everlasting. Whether you are a professor of religion or not, I beseech you, ask yourself — Have I felt the power of the Spirit of God?

    Is the life that is within you the result of the fermentation of your own
    natural desires? Or is it a new element, infused, imparted, implanted from above? Is your spiritual life a heavenly creation? Have you been created anew in Christ Jesus? Have you been born again by divine power? Ordinary religion is nature gilded over with a thin layer of what is thought to be grace. Sinners have polished themselves up, and brushed off the worst of the rust and the filth, and they think their old nature is as good as new. This touching-up and repairing of the old man is all very well; but it falls short of what is needed. You may wash the face and hands of Ishmael as much as you please, but you cannot make him into Isaac. You may improve nature, and the more you do so the better for certain temporary purposes; but you cannot raise it into grace. There is a distinction at the very fountain-head between the stream which rises in the bog of fallen humanity, and the river which proceeds from the throne of God.

    Do not forget that our Lord himself said, “Ye must be born again.” If you have not been born again from above, all your church-going, or your chapel-going, stands for nothing. Your prayers and your tears, your Biblereadings and all that have come from yourself only, can only lead to yourself. Water will naturally rise as high as its source, but no higher: that which begins with human nature will rise to human nature; but to the divine nature it cannot reach. Was your new birth natural or supernatural? Was it of the will of man or of God? Much will depend upon your answer to that question.

    Between the child of God and the mere professor there is a distinction as to origin of the most serious sort. Isaac was born according to promise. Ishmael was not of promise, but of the course of nature. Where nature’s strength suffices there is no promise; but when human energy fails, the word of the Lord comes in. God had said that Abraham should have a son of Sarah; Abraham believed it, and rejoiced therein, and Isaac was born as the result of the divine promise, by the power of God. There could have been no Isaac if there had been no promise, and there can be no true believer apart from the promise of grace, and the grace of the promise.

    Gentle reader, here let me inquire as to your salvation. Are you saved by what you have done? Is your religion the product of your own natural strength? Do you feel equal to all that salvation may require? Do you conclude yourself to be in a safe and happy condition because of your natural excellence and moral ability? Then you are after the manner of Ishmael, and to you the inheritance will not come; for it is not an inheritance according to the flesh, but according to promise. If, on the other hand, you say, —
    “My hope lies only in the promise of God. He has set forth that
    promise in the person of his Son Jesus to every sinner that
    believeth in him; and I do believe in him, therefore 1 trust and
    believe that the Lord will fulfill his promise and bless me. I look for
    heavenly blessedness, not as the result of my own efforts, but as
    the gift of God’s free favor. My hope is fixed alone upon the free
    and gratuitous love of God to guilty men, by the which he has
    given his Son Jesus Christ to put away sin, and to bring in
    everlasting righteousness for those who deserve it not,”

    — then this is another sort of language from that of the Ishmaelites, who say “We have Abraham to our father.” You have now learned to speak as Isaac speaks. The difference may seem small to the careless, but it is great indeed. Hagar, the slave-mother, is a very different person from Sarah, the princes. To the one there is no covenant promise, to the other the blessing belongs for evermore. Salvation by works is one thing; salvation by grace is another. Salvation by human strength is far removed from salvation by
    divine power: and salvation by our own resolve is the opposite of
    salvation by the promise of God.

    Put yourself under this inquiry, and see to which family you belong. Are you of Ishmael or of Isaac? If you find that you are like Isaac, born according to the promise, remember that your name is “Laughter”; for that is the interpretation of the Hebrews name Isaac. Take care that you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Your new birth is a wonderful thing. If both Abraham and
    Sara laughed at the thought of Isaac, you may certainly do so concerning yourself.

    There are times when, if I sit alone and think of the grace of God
    to me, the most undeserving of all his creatures, I am ready to laugh and cry at the same time for joy that ever the Lord should have looked in love and favor upon me. Yes, and every child of God must have felt the working of that Isaac nature within his soul, filling his mouth with laughter, because the Lord hath done great things for him.

    Mark well the difference between the two seeds, from their very beginning. Ishmael comes of man, and by man. Isaac comes by God’s promise. Ishmael is the child of Abraham’s flesh. Isaac is Abraham’s child, too; out then the power of God comes in, and from the weakness of his parents it is made clear that he is of the Lord, — a gift according to promise. True faith is assuredly the act of the man who believes; true repentance is the act of the man who repents; yet both faith and repentance may with unquestionable correctness be described as the work of God, even as Isaac
    is the son of Abraham and Sarah, and yet he is still more the gift of God.

    The Lord our God, who bids us believe, also enables us to believe. All that we do acceptably the Lord worketh in us; yea, the very will to do it is of his working. No religion is worth a farthing which is not essentially the outflow of the man’s own heart; and yet it must beyond question be the work of the Holy Ghost who dwells within him. O friend, if what you have within you is natural, and only natural, it will not save you! The inward work must be supernatural; it must come of God, or it will miss the covenant blessing. A gracious life will be your own, even as Isaac was truly the child of Abraham; but still more it will be of God; for “Salvation is of the Lord.” We must be born from above. Concerning all our religious feelings and actions, we must be able to say, “Lord, thou hast wrought all our works in us.”

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