An encore presentation.
I am traveling back in town today after a tremendous weekend of ministry at the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference and a wonderful church in MIchigan. Thus, because of time restraints, I am reposting this article and trust it will be challenging to your thinking as well as an encouragement as to what genuine saving faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ truly is (and in some cases, isn't).
I wrote a song years ago called, "Shake Me to Wake Me" - it was my autobiographical journey out of the sand of Arminianism to the solid rock of biblical Christianity. Maybe you can relate to the following as well.
Grace and peace to you,
Here is the essence of an easy believism gospel. This is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of Arminianism, but a thumb nail approach. For a more thorough study visit A1M.org and go to the 107 THESES or click on the "End of the Spear" banner to be connected to the doctrines of grace. You can also click on the "End of the Spin" banner here at COT to be taken to an in depth "what we believe" statement of faith which includes the doctrines of grace. Or better yet, go to monergism.com for hundreds of excellent historical, theological, biblical articles on Arminianism and Calvinism.
Initiated by man
Salvation by Arminianism is dependent on man accepting Christ; being a seeker; and responding to the gospel because he chose to do so out of his own free volition. IOW, the A.I. rendering of 1 John 4:19 reads, "He loves us, because we first loved Him." We were not chosen before the world began (elected); Jesus did not actually redeem us on the cross (particular redemption); and the Holy Spirit didn't actually regenerate us prior to faith being exercised (1 Cor. 12:3; Titus 3:6-7); or that it was God alone Who must grant to us saving faith to receive Christ as Lord of our lives (Eph. 2:8-9); but Jesus only provided a way of salvation for us at the cross and now sits in the heavenlies waiting for lost people to seek Him, choose Him, find Him, accept Him and "select Him". This is a picture, beloved, of an impotent Lord--not the great omnipotent Sovereign of the universe. Compare that with Ephesians 1:4-14.
Dependent on free will
Man is not so depraved and lost that he cannot, once presented with the right truth by compelling methods, accept Christ by his own merit and choosing. Man is not solely drawn to Christ by the Father (John 6:44), but decides of his own free volition to follow Jesus. We've all sung it a myriad of times haven't we? "I have decided to follow Jesus..." In the Arminian school, man's will is not so bound and corrupted by original sin or by the penalty and guilt of Adam's disobedience and sin (Rom. 3:10-18; 5:12-17); nor is he so completely dead in trespass in sin, or by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3) as to be restricted from "choosing Christ" as his Savior. Compare that with John 6:37-44.
Lip service enough
Repentance is a verbal assent to the truth--not a change of mind and life. It is, for example, a common sinner's prayer that I was taught in my church as a child was, "Jesus I believe in You, Jesus I receive You..." and if you really meant it, you're born again - that's all it took. (But is that really how someone becomes a follower of Jesus Christ?) You are now free to baptize them, put them on the roll, have them serve in missions; even teach a Sunday School class or go to seminary. No repentance required (the non-Lordship position), just come as you are in the rags of your own righteousness. If you're really sincere when you said that prayer, you are now a Christian--welcome to the family of God. Compare that with Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 14:25-30.
Evidence not necessary
Once you have made a verbal profession of faith you are saved for eternity. If you bear fruit or no fruit to that end in your life (John 15:1-5) it is deemed as non-essential. If you were sincere in saying your sinners prayer, then you are saved forever - regardless of how you live. Sanctification is divorced from justification and an elective in the school of Arminian theology and gospel preaching--not a necessary by-product of salvation. IOW, a verbal profession of faith secures your "fire insurance." Carnal Christianity is an acceptable state for some and ultimately leads to an antinomian view of grace. But I like what Dr. Tozer used to say, "to speak of a carnal Christian is to talk of a heavenly devil." In Arminianism, here is how 2 Cor. 5:17 reads, "if any man is in Christ Jesus he can remain the same; old things don't necessarily pass away, behold, nothing needs to become new." Remember the true words of John Jasper: "If you is, what you was, you ain't." Compare that with Titus 2:12; Matt. 7:21-23; Col. 3:1-14. (Or if you prefer keeping the acronym the "traditional IDOL", substitute 'obedience optional' for 'evidence not necessary.')
No wonder some denominations have so many names on their membership rolls, but dramatically less in their pews each Sunday. Many have been baptized according to their profession, but how many are truly born again? That is the bane of the "George Barna stats" when calculating the millions upon millions of born again evangelicals in America today claiming to be followers of Christ... Millions asserting they are saved by grace, but not living a grace-changed life. That really doesn't add up, does it?
The doctrines of grace do not accommodate man's sin and sinfulness like "The Arminian Idle" does (Rom. 6:1; Titus 2:12). For further reading on this, may I suggest to you three excellent tomes among several: "The Gospel According to Jesus" by my friend and mentor, Dr. John MacArthur; "The Almost Christian Discovered" by Matthew Mead; and "By His Grace and for His Glory" by Dr. Tom Nettles. All of these books are not easy, fluffy reading--there is no 'Paula Abdul' in them. It is pure 'Simon Cowel.' (And you may want to order some copies for Dr. Caner as well--it just might be enlightening for him.)
We preach not ourselves (Arminianism) but Christ Jesus as Lord (Calvinism).
I close with a quote from brother Spurgeon the Calvinist:
"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel , insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness."