Calvinism and Arminianism 21

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.”
So it is not irreligious, idle, or superfluous, but in the highest degree wholesome and necessary, for a Christian to know whether of not his will has anything to do in matters pertaining to salvation. Indeed, let me tell you, this is the hinge on which our discussion turns, the crucial issue between us; our aim is, simply, to investigate what ability ‘free-will’ has, in what respect it is the subject of Divine action and how it stands related to the grace of God. If we know nothing of these things, we shall know nothing whatsoever of Christianity, and shall be in worse case than any people on earth…That God’s mercy works everything, and our will works nothing, but is rather the object of Divine working, else all will not be ascribed to God. (Luther’s Reply to Erasmus)

How important is it for souls to know about the bondage of the will and whether God works faith in the sinner or waits for the sinner to obtain faith by self? According to Luther, it is in the highest degree necessary. While it appears that the vast majority of “Reformed” people want this great doctrine hidden as if they are ashamed of it, Luther thought it was not only necessary, but necessary in the highest degree. While “Reformed” people just urge people to believe in our day, that is not what Luther would urge people to do. If we just urge people to believe, we are not telling them that if their belief of faith comes from themselves and is worked up by themselves, then that is not true faith. There is nothing that the flesh can do that is acceptable to God and a faith worked up by the flesh is certainly not acceptable to God. The Arminian needs to know that just because s/he believes from his or he supposed free-will is not just a sign that the person is wrong about theology, but is unconverted.
Well, some will say, that is mighty arrogant and judgmental. I would respond that the statement is either true or false regardless of my level of arrogance. As far as arrogance goes, however, when God says that He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy and He will be gracious to whom He will be gracious, it is arrogant to say in word or theology that God will be gracious to me because I have decided that I want grace. The Scriptures are very, very clear that man is born dead in sins and trespasses and by nature is a child of wrath. The Scriptures are also clear that God must draw a person to Himself to be converted rather than a person just deciding to be saved. The Scriptures are quite clear that salvation is only by Christ and as such it is not just a choice of a fleshly will. The Scriptures are clear that regeneration and the new birth are an act of the Holy Spirit which He does as He pleases and not just an act of a fleshly will.
It is to the highest degree necessary for men and women to know that they have no ability to save themselves and their wills have no ability just to make a choice or say a prayer which moves God to save them. But if Luther thought it was to the highest degree necessary for people to know about the nature of their bound will and that it was a necessary teaching to understand justification by faith alone, then why are so many “Reformed” people in our day virtually ashamed of it? Luther said that if a person did not know about these things the person would not know about Christianity. Luther was either right or wrong about this and he was either right or wrong about justification by faith alone as he set it out. His view on justification was that it required men to see their helplessness in sin and of the sovereignty of God in showing grace. It is not enough to know a few doctrinal facts about justification, one must actually repent of trusting in self and actually look to God and His grace alone for faith and all things regarding salvation. We cannot look to self for faith and then to God for other things and say with any degree of consistency that we are justified by grace alone. Perhaps Luther was right about this being necessary to the highest degree. But if so, we are in a day of great darkness.

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