Calvinism and Arminianism 20

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 he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. So these truths are published for the sake of the elect, that they may be humbled and brought down to nothing, and so saved. The rest of men resist this humiliation; indeed, they condemn the teaching of self-despair; they want a little something left that they can do for themselves. Secretly they continue proud, and enemies of the grace of God. This, I repeat, is one reason—that those who fear God might in humility comprehend, claim and receive His gracious promise. Luther

It is utterly vital for a soul to realize and come to the conviction that his or her eternal destiny depends entirely on the will of God. This is vital to resting in grace alone since all grace to be grace is sovereign grace. It is not until a soul despairs of all help from self and gives up all contingency plans regarding the works and acts of self that it will look to God entirely and alone. It is in coming to this deep conviction of man’s inability and the need to be utterly reliant upon God that a soul is close to grace for salvation. Why does Luther say that a person is close to the grace of salvation rather than will be saved? It is because God is the One who works in souls to humble them and to teach them that they are utterly helpless to work and earn any part of salvation and that they must look to Him alone. However, even when He brings a soul to that point the soul must not think that God is obligated to save it. True enough that God does not work and bring a lot of souls to this point, but even when He does there is no obligation on His part to save the soul.

The truths of the bondage of the will and sovereign grace are published for the sake of the elect, not for the sake of mega-churches so that they will grow greatly in numbers and offerings. The great doctrines of grace (real and true grace) humble men and bring them down to nothing. But it is in that deep impoverishment of spirit and the realization of their nothingness that God saves sinners. These are the sinners who need a Great Physician and they need for someone to give them faith and to save them for reasons other than the sinners themselves. The teaching of depravity helps men to see that they are sinners in need of a Savior, but it is the teaching of the inability of man and his utter helplessness in bondage to his own sinful nature that drives men to helplessness. Even more, when men see the self-sufficiency and sovereignty of God in giving grace that humbles them even more. When people fight and resist these truths rather than to be humbled by them, they show themselves to be at enmity with God.

Only those that God works this into will bow in humble submission to it. Men prefer to hear the teaching of self-esteem rather than the biblical teaching of self-despair. Oh how men resist this deep humiliation in order to leave themselves a little something to do which is to leave themselves apart from the grace of God. They may think that they are religious and that they are seekers of God, but instead they are full of pride and as such they are real enemies of the true grace of God. This is a crucial issue according to Luther and it is a crucial issue according to Scripture. The Old Testament tells us that God only dwells with the humble and the New Testament tells us that Jesus only calls those who are weary and heavy-laden. We are told in both Testaments that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. It is a very easy conclusion, then, to see that souls must be thoroughly humbled in order to be converted by sovereign grace. This is to say that a person must be converted from the natural free-will state to the supernatural state of grace. The natural state of free-will is a sign of a person being unbroken and having not had the humiliation of the soul that is needed to be converted by grace. We need to consider the teaching of Arminianism and just how dangerous it is once again.

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