Calvinism and Arminianism 12

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.”

It is of the utmost importance that people should clearly understand and be made thoroughly aware of their spiritual impotence, for thus alone is a foundation laid for bringing them to see and feel their imperative need of divine grace for salvation. So long as sinners think they have it in their own power to deliver themselves from their death in trespasses and sins, they will never come to Christ that they may have life, for “the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” So long as people imagine they labor under no insuperable inability to comply with the call of the gospel, they never will be conscious of their entire dependence on Him alone who is able to work in them “all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power” (II Thess 1:11). So long as the creature is puffed up with a sense of his own ability to respond to God’s requirements, he will never become a suppliant at the footstool of divine mercy.   Arthur Pink

One of the differences between Arminian teaching and the older calvinistic teaching is that the Arminian teaching wants to build up man so that he will make a choice, but the older Calvinists wanted to tear man from his pride that he would look to Christ alone and grace alone. The difference between these two positions is huge. The one (the Arminian one) focuses on man and his ability to choose and tries to build him up and get him to look to himself to make a choice. The other (older Calvinist) view wants man to see how he has no ability to choose and wants him to look away from self in all ways and look to Christ for all things regarding salvation and that includes faith.

It is in light of what Arminian theology does in evangelism that should awaken people to see how utterly false and dangerous it is. While Scripture teaches us that man is spiritually dead in sin, the Arminian teaching would still have man do something and look to self to do what needs to be done. Scripture teaches that man is by nature a child of wrath and as such must be born again and have a new nature, yet the Arminian teaching would have man look to himself and his old nature to make a choice for salvation. The evangelism of the Arminian is to get man to focus on himself in order for man to do something, which is as opposite to the old Calvinism as there can be. The evangelism of the older Calvinism told man that he needed to seek the Lord for a new heart.

The Arminian way, then, is in some way teaching men that their real hope is in self rather than Christ. True enough that is not the way it is phrased, but that is the essence of the teaching. Instead of looking to Christ alone for a new heart in order that the soul may truly believe, the Arminian has men looking to self for faith that God rewards. As Pink says in the quote above, until men clearly understand and are made thoroughly aware of the spiritual impotence, they will not see their absolute need of divine grace for salvation. When sinners are taught to look to themselves to deliver themselves from death and sin, they will not come to Christ for the whole work of salvation.

It cannot be overstated as to the importance of this. Men will either look to themselves or to the free and sovereign grace of God in terms of salvation. If men are to look to God alone for grace alone, they cannot be looking to themselves for help or have any hope in themselves. In another way of looking at it, God does not look to the sinner for anything to provide help, but instead He saves sinners for His own glory and does not need nor want any help in the matter for that would be sharing His glory with another. As long as men think they have some ability of some aspect of free-will, they will not look to free-grace alone and so will not be saved for the glory of God alone. We must always remember that God saves to the glory of His grace and whatever men hang on to regarding self and self-will is opposed to the glory of His grace.

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