Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Five Points of Free Will
...does God help those who help themselves?

AND THE ANSWER IS? ... No. He helps those who can't help themselves - that's what grace is all about.

The previous post represented a condensed version of the five points of Arminianism that sparked the development of the five points of Calvinism at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619 as a theological and biblical corrective to the heretical views of Jacob Arminius.

The reason that all five points are false, is that they all depict fallen man as being "in cooperation" with God for salvation; and more importantly, make man the sovereign over his eternal destiny ultimately by the act of his own free will; while the Dread Sovereign of Heaven sits as a suitor in waiting to see what man may decide - "will he accept Me or reject Me?" This reasoning is not only aberrant, but absurd. It is, however, utterly consistent with the sinful nature of man who is always trying to diminish God and His glory while elevating himself as not being totally depraved. Scripture is so clear, beloved: "salvation is of the Lord."

As one author has said,

"Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ's death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation."
Therefore, the act of salvation stands unique in Christianity for it is solely a work of God to man; not a cooperative act between God and man. That is why biblical Christianity soundly represents that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. It is not faith + works; grace + merit; or Christ + man that equals salvation. This is a blow to our pride and sense of goodness, but that is the preeminent glory of the cross. God had to be satisfied (His holiness, justice, and wrath); and only Jesus could this. He alone lived the sinless life in conformity to the Law as Son of Man; He alone took fully the penalty of our sin on the cross as the spotless Lamb of God; He alone could satisfy the demands of God on the cross as our faithful, righteous High Priest. He bodily raise from the dead three days later as the one true victorious Lord and King over sin, death, the grave and Satan. Because He alone could bear the wrath of God against our sin as our propitiation on the cross, only faith in Jesus can bring lost people into right standing before a holy God.

And may we not forget, that even the faith to believe is His gift to us (Eph. 2:8-9). He saved us (Titus 3:4-5a)... and not we ourselves.

May the Lord cause us today to rejoice a fresh in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in our great salvation. And may we not try to rob Him of His glory but thinking that we have done something to warrant eternal life.

Alan has a great suggestion:
Here is the simple test: Click here to go to a comparison chart of the Five Points of Arminianism and Calvinism juxtaposed. Next, print it out. Then fold it over vertically (or cut it in half) so that you have the Five Points of Arminianism on one side, and Calvinism on the other. The next step is to whiteout or cover up the headings on the top of the page that say "Arminianism" and "Calvinism." Then finally, have them read the Five Points of the Arminian side first, and ask them to check off the points that they agree with.

Incidentally, you can clarify to them that many Arminians historically and today affirm eternal security (although inconsistently). Denying Eternal Security is not so much definitional of Arminianism; just as the Calvinist doctrine of the "Perseverance of the Saints" is not the essential truth, rather an
application of the essential issue. In other words, if someone affirms all the points of Arminianism except for the last point, yet he still thinks that he is not Arminian, that would be like saying that a man who has no clothes on is not naked because he is still wearing a watch.

I trust this little "Arminian Test" will help open up honest discussion and aid your friends in seeing where they fit into the theological spectrum.
As Jonathan Edwards once said, "The only thing that may brings to his salvation is the sin that makes it necessary."

Grace and peace to you,
2 Cor. 4:5-7


Only Look said...

Amen for if God would have left me to my freewill I would have gone to hell. Faith is a precious gift from God. Here is that Spurgeon quote by the way:

"How come we to be believers? Beloved friends, you know how faith arises in the heart from the human point of view. We hear the gospel, we accept it as the message of God, and we trust ourselves to it. So far it is our own work; and be it remembered that in every case faith is and must be the act of man. The Holy Spirit never believes for anybody. Each man must personally believe.

...But , having said that, let us remember that the Godward history of our believing is quite another thing, for true faith is always the gift of God and work of the Holy Spirit." CH Spurgeon in contending against Romanism with the message: {The Priest Dispensed With}

Rick said...

I really don't think that the Calvinism/Arminianism conflict is the main problem in the church today. I don't know any Arminians who would take any credit for their salvation, in spite of any claims that "their theology demands it." But that is like saying Calvinism demands that everyone is played like puppets. Both are caricatures and neither help get to the real problem.

The real problem is that Christians are not breaking with the world and following Christ as Lord. They see no conflict with having both. It is sin that must be confronted, separation that must be exhorted, and prayer that must be exercised.

The issue is the heart.

The call is to do something:
"Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues" Rev.18:4.

The Seeking Disciple said...

I believe you misunderstand reformation Arminianism (as do many Christians today including those who claim to be Arminian). We do not believe that man "wills" to be saved nor do we believe that man cooperates with God to be saved. We agree with the Reformers that salvation is all of grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).

I further agree with Rick that I do not know one Arminian (including myself) who believes that we save ourselves or even that our free will brings our salvation. Arminianism is not about free will nor about works salvation but Arminianism stresses the love of God for all of humanity.