Calvinism and Arminianism 27

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 false idea of ‘free-will’ is a real threat to salvation, and a delusion fraught with the most perilous consequences” (Luther).

“Till you feel yourself in this extremity of weakness, you are not in a condition (if I may say so) to receive the heavenly help. Your idea of remaining ability is the very thing that repels the help of the Spirit, just as any idea of remaining goodness thrusts away the propitiation of the Savior. It is your not seeing that you have no strength that is keeping you from believing” (Pink).

In the quotes above, Luther, Pink, and the top quote get at the real issue. If it is true that a person that believes in the free-will regarding salvation is in a “natural freewill state” and the opposite of that is a state of grace, then we must see that the doctrine of “free-will” is not just a slight error, but instead is at the heart of the Gospel. If Luther was correct about the false idea of “free-will” being a real threat to salvation, then we must not be so squeamish about standing for the Gospel being a change from free-will to free-grace. If it is true that our idea of remaining ability is the very think that repels the work of the Spirit, then we must wake up and realize that those who teach free-will and those who do not openly and strongly oppose it are not teaching the Gospel of grace alone in truth. One cannot teach the Gospel of grace alone in truth apart from teaching the inability of man in all things spiritual and the Spirit as regenerating dead sinners as He pleases apart from anything they can do to assist.

The doctrine of man’s inability is not just some creedal statement that can be safely ignored, but instead it is at the heart of the Gospel of grace alone. To the degree that man has ability in the spiritual realm is the degree that the Gospel is not of grace alone. Romans 11:6 speaks to this with great clarity. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” Grace must stand alone or it is no longer grace. Anything the will can do (apart from grace) as a response to an invitation or command is an act in obedience to the Law and as such is a work. But we are told that the souls are justified apart from works of the Law and by grace alone. The doctrine of justification by grace alone will not stand with the action of a free-will that operates in its own strength and is moved to act by a command or God to believe. That is, without a real question, a work of the flesh/Law.

The teaching of free-will is a real threat to the Gospel precisely because it keeps men from being humbled beyond all their own powers and looking to grace alone. Instead of that, it keeps men looking to themselves for an act that God will respond to in order to save the soul. This is very dangerous to the Gospel of grace alone. When men think that Arminian teaching on free-will does not at the least have a danger of perilous consequences, it may be the case that they don’t understand that the Gospel of grace alone does not allow for a person to exercise a free-will because that is a work of the flesh. The act or choice of the will that is free of grace, which the will must be in order to be free, is an act or choice of the flesh and as such it depends on an act of the flesh rather than grace. That is not a Gospel of grace alone.

The error of teaching that depends on free-will does indeed have perilous consequences. We must see these differences and instead of trying to be gracious and winsome to those who differ from us on things we don’t see as a necessity, we must try to show them that their depending on the free-will is a deviation from the Gospel of grace alone. Scripture sets out for us so clearly that sinners are saved by grace alone and yet the free-will position (either actual position or tolerance for it) will not allow for a Gospel of grace alone. The Scripture is so clear that God saves sinners to the glory of His grace and not the glory of His grace and man’s free-will. God will not share His glory with another and He will not share the glory of the Gospel of grace alone with the supposed free-will of men. Modern preachers (whether professing Reformed or Arminian) point men to make choices when they should point men to God and His grace alone. Men must receive all from God and not trust in themselves at all.

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