Calvinism and Arminianism 35

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

There is an infinite difference between the corrupt intellect of man—that is, the Arminians and other proponents of free will—and the Holy Scriptures. The question is: Does the obtaining salvation proceed from man? Is he the only and essential cause of his salvation, or is God the only essential cause and can man, being absolutely incapable, do nothing to obtain salvation? The Arminians will readily admit that God has prepared and accomplished salvation and that God has given and revealed Christ the Mediator. However, they attribute this acceptance and entering in upon that way to the good will and power of man. This could be likened to what transpires on a race track. The government has put the prize on display and has prepared the track. The acquisition of the prize, however, is contingent upon the runners themselves. Willhelmus a ‘Brakel

Willhelmus a ‘Brakel , a Dutchman from centuries past, hits at the issue in his own way. It appears that he viewed the teaching of Arminians and other proponents of free will as coming from the corrupt intellect of man and opposing the Holy Scriptures. He viewed the difference between free will and the teaching of Holy Scripture as infinite. This is important to note. This position is quite consistent with Luther and the older teaching of the Reformed. The teaching of free-will was not thought of as relatively unimportant in the big scheme of things, but instead it was thought of as coming from the corrupt intellect of man and contrary to the Scriptures.
In the modern day, however, the teaching on how dangerous the idea of free-will was and is to the souls of men has been obscured and ignored and in order to be gracious and winsome it is thought of as wrong but as not all that serious. It is thought and said that as long as men preach Christ they are not far from wrong. The question, however, according to a ‘Brakel, is whether the obtaining of salvation proceeds from man as the essential cause of his own salvation or whether God is the only essential cause seeing that man is absolutely incapable of having anything to do with His salvation? This is a slightly different way of approaching the question, but surely it is a vital question that is raised.

A preacher can preach truths about Christ, but can one preach the whole truth of Christ and the Gospel of Christ unless one shows how utterly unable man is to have Christ apart from God alone obtaining salvation for man by grace alone? Can a preacher truly preach the truth of Christ if one is not preaching that man cannot obtain salvation apart from the sheer and utter grace of God alone? This is simply to say that it certainly appears that men cannot preach the Gospel of Christ alone and grace alone apart from denying the free-will of man and preaching the free-grace of God who alone can obtain salvation.A ‘Brakel says that Arminians admit that God alone has prepared and accomplished salvation. They also admit that God alone can give and reveal Christ. These are ways that men can preach Christ but fall short in preaching the Gospel of grace alone because they attribute to men that the “acceptance and entering in upon that way to the good will and power of man.” This is to say that they preach Christ in such a way that they say He has done it all but He has left it to men to accept and enter into the way of life and that they can do that by their own will and power. This indeed is why Luther said that the false idea of free-will was a threat to salvation and a delusion. The Reformers thought it was vital to set out the Gospel of grace alone as being dependent upon God alone, which is to say that the acceptance and entering in or life or salvation is in the will and power of God.
The issue, as it continues to be set forth in different ways, is whether man can apply the Gospel to himself by an act of his own will or whether God alone can apply the Gospel to man by His own will. Another way to put it is to point out that the Arminian position leaves us with men can applying the grace of God to themselves whereas the other position is God alone being able to apply grace to men. The positions are always that clear thought they are almost always muddied by someone who wants unity at the price of the Gospel. This is not an issue that is clear to most, but it is one that is vital to the Gospel of grace alone. It is not just that Christ has purchased salvation as being the Gospel, but who has the final choice and who applies it? Apart from clear thinking and making distinctions this issue will not be set out and men will be left to apply grace to themselves. But where do they obtain that grace to apply to themselves? Can grace be grace and the grace of God if men have it in their power and ability to apply it to themselves?

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