This subject is somewhat controversial as many of you well know. I have spent manyyears searching the Scriptures and reading different viewpoints on the issue; Arminianism vs. Calvinism. Both have legitimate arguments. Both have born again, God fearing brothers and sisters in their camp. I side with neither and accept some of both, because they both have good points and not so good points. Let me be clear. I am not a Calvinist. I am not an Arminian. I am a born again Bible believing Christian.
Allow me to provide, in brief, each view.
ARMINIANISM - Jacobus Arminius 1560- 1609
- Human Free Will – Man can choose, on his own, to accept or deny the Gospel.
- Conditional Election – By God’s foreknowledge, He looked into the future and elected those who He knew would respond to the Gospel.
- Universal Atonement – Jesus paid the sin of everyone, not just the elect.
- Resistible Grace – Salvation can be rejected by resisting God’s grace.
- Fall From Grace – A true believer can fall from grace and lose his/her salvation.
CALVINISM – John Calvin 1509 - 1564
- Total Depravity – Man is totally depraved, and therefore lacks the capacity to respond to the Gospel message apart from God’s intervention.
- Unconditional Election – God elects, not by any merit of the individual, but by His own will. God does not look into the future to make this decision, and He elects some and not others.
- Limited Atonement – Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, but He only bore the sins of the elect.
- Irresistible Grace – The individual cannot resist the call of God if he/she has been elected. All are called, but only the elect are drawn to God internally.
- Perseverance of the saints – A true believer cannot lose his/her salvation. This is known as Once Saved Always Saved or OSAS.
Repeating myself, this is not a complete commentary on each view, only a brief look. Also, with each view, I find I agree completely on some points, partially on some points, and not at all on some points. I have found in my study of these two views, that a sound argument can be made, for and against, on several of these points, but not all of them.
I do believe that God is God, and as God He has the right to advance His will and glorify Himself in any way He pleases. Read carefully Romans chapter nine. I also believe He wants all to be saved because He said as much.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV)
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
I personally do not believe we will know the whole story on this debatable issue until we are in Heaven with the only One who is actually qualified to provide the answers.
The reason people leave this world without Christ and are doomed to an eternity in hell is actually due to their hard hearts, and those hearts are made hard by sin.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2 NIV)
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8 NIV)
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5 NIV)
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)
Let me give you the worse scenario. Let’s assume that God does pick and choose who is to be saved (for example). At this point you will either be in a state of panic, thinking you have not been chosen, or perhaps you won’t give a hoot because you think it’s all nonsense anyway. The point is if you want to be saved, God will make sure you get the message about His Son, so you can believe in Him and be saved.
Satan is our enemy, and his weapon is ‘sin.’ If we allow sin to get a stronger and stronger hold of our lives (as unbelievers) our hearts will grow harder and harder about the message of Jesus as Savior. In this condition, we will reject Christ, not because He doesn’t want us to be saved, but because we have allowed ourselves to grow cold to the Truth. Those who reject Christ only have themselves to blame, and God will point that out at the White Throne judgment.
Think about the backgrounds of those who have come to Christ and been saved. People have come from all walks of life and all kinds of sinful situations. Good people have been saved along with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you (emphasis mine): but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
It doesn’t matter what you have allowed yourself to become because of sin. Jesus will save you if you truly believe in Him. He will clean you up. What matters is have you allowed your heart to get so hard you have no interest in knowing Jesus? That is the bottom line.
That brings us back to “good people” as noted above. Are any of us really “good?” Read Psalm 14:1, 3; 53:1, 3; Jeremiah 4:22 and Romans 3:12. God doesn’t think so. Then we’re right back to allowing sin to harden any heart against God, thereby causing us to refuse God’s gift of salvation He so freely offers by His grace. Those who die “lost” do so because they choose to.
Maybe the best thing we Christians could do in this circumstance is just spread the word about Jesus, as He has told us to (Matthew 28:19-20), and let Him worry about the rest. Is it possible some of us spend too much time debating things that belong to God, and not enough time in just doing what He told us to do?
Now I know just as sure as I’m sitting here typing this article that some dear soul is going to email me after reading this and attempt to help me see the light (their view). Please don’t bother. Just read the previous paragraph again. I’ve spent too many years praying and studying about this and I’ve read from the best. As far as I’m concerned, this is a “God” issue.
There is much we’ll never understand completely until we are with our Lord in Heaven. Let’s just leave it at that.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html