ARMINIANISM is the doctrine of Jacobus Arminius and his followers, opposing the Calvinist, doctrine of absolute predestination. Salvation can be lost, as it is conditional upon continued faith.
CALVINISM, the religious doctrine of John Calvin, emphasized the supremacy of the Scriptures in the revelation of truth, the omnipotence of God, the sinfulness of man, and the salvation of the elect by God’s grace alone, Salvation cannot be lost. Once saved, always saved.
ARMINIANISM holds to the following tenets:
- Human are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation.
- Salvation is possible by grace alone.
- Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation.
- God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus.
- Jesus atonement was for all people.
- God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe.
- Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is believed to be conditional upon continued faith.
Arminianism is closely related to Calvanism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common. Nonetheless, they are often viewed as archrivals within Evangelicalism because of their disagreement over the doctrine of predestination and salvation.
Because both groups have some verses to back up their claims, let us examine the Bible and through my own experiences as a born again Christian I would like to explain the truth, which I have found in the Scripture.
Some time ago I was invited to attend a bible study with a group of Christians and it happened that a pastor and his two associates were in attended. I was asked to share the Word; there was a question and answer. And, an interaction occurred among the group. One of the topics brought out was predestination. The pastor recounted a story of a born again Christian who ministered the Word faithfully for five years, for another five years he lived a life of unbelief in which he became an agnostic. And finally he died in that condition. The pastor asked his members if that man was saved or did he lost his salvation? No one answered including me. I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his congregation, because I was only a visitor, I did not say anything. He suggested that in his own opinion, the man who died an agnostic was still saved. His theory is Calvinism.
An agnostic is an unbeliever, a skeptic, and an atheist. For me that man who died with unbelief in his heart was not a born again Christian. Even though he did the ministry for the Lord for five years at death he still was an unbeliever who denied Christ. Jesus said that His sheep hears His voice and will follow Him because they know His voice. To a stranger (meaning a false teacher with his doctrines) they simply do not follow but will flee from him because they do not know the voice of strangers. (John 10:4–5) “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
There was a minister in Cebu City, Philippines who was well known for his brilliancy in Scripture and who used to be the interpreter of a well-known American evangelist. He was a bible schoolteacher and a pastor. When his wife died, because women are his weakness, he allowed himself to be converted to the Islamic religion. Muslims can have many wives and eventually he died a Muslim. To the Calvinist, the man was still saved.
A Born Again Christian, a Child of God, and a Saved person, these terms are all the same in which the Lord Jesus called His own sheep. His own sheep cannot be an agnostic. His own sheep cannot become a Muslim or follow another religion.
Because a man is a minister and has been a bible teacher this does not determines that he is born again. In this generation a lot of people join the church for various reasons and a lot of them become pastors for the wrong motives. Because you uttered the sinner’s prayer and accepted the Lord by confessing Him in your mouth; this does not automatically make you a born again Christian. If you have not genuinely repented of your sins and your acceptance of the Lord was not from your heart, that confession is nothing. A lot of people in churches today have been self-deceived believing that they are born again Christians.
Well known preachers who hold large congregations these days preach the Word to entertain people. I think there is nothing wrong if a preacher preaches the Word and unintentionally utters something that makes people laugh. But if the preacher carefully crafted his sermon just to entertain people so to make converts then it is wrong. No one will repent if preachers will amuse people. Genuine repentance of sins and heartily accepting Christ as Savior and Lord is inseparable. It is always two sides of a coin.
As I have emphasized in my sermon, “WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY AND WHAT IS RELIGION?” seen in my website, man by nature is a religious being that is why even bizarre cultic religions can make converts by the thousands. They don’t have beautiful music, they don’t have the Bible to quote to, and still they can convert people by the thousands even by the millions. I would like to challenge every Christian to show me in the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament where it reads that while the prophets preached the Word of God the people were laughing and were amused. Just the contrary God’s preachers were beheaded, stoned to death, murdered, persecuted, while the people praised false prophets because they preach to amuse their listeners.
Not all who preach the Word are born again or children of God even those who performed miracles using the Name of Jesus because the Lord himself denied them emphatically. (Matthew 7:21-23) , “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord; will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” These are not ordinary church members. These are ministers who were supposedly gifted.
How many times were you born from your mother’s womb? Just once so too, being born again in the Spirit is only once. You cannot be born again and again and again. Being born again in the Spirit is only once. No one can be born again without God’s Word that is why it is important to plainly explain biblical salvation. (1st Peter 1:23) “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living enduring Word of God.”
When a child is born from his mother’s womb, the infant automatically will long for milk. The baby will cry and will not stop crying until the child is fed. There is no difference for a man or a woman, who is born in the Spirit, he or she will long for God’s Word. The desire to read and hear God’s Word will automatically be felt in his/her innermost being. That is the sure sign of being born again. If that desire is lacking or absent in your heart then for sure you’ve deceived yourself by thinking that you are born again.
Reading the Bible for the sake of reading just for religiosity is different from reading the Bible because you thirst for God’s Word. Reading the Bible because you are preparing a sermon is different from reading it thoroughly with passion because you love the Word. You are excited. It’s a delight in your heart. You eat with gusto, craving for the delicious food. This is the feeling of a true born again Christian. That is how to tell if you are truly born again. If the desire to read the Bible is absent in your heart then you are still spiritually dead, even if you don’t miss a day in the church. Remember that Hindus, Muslim, Buddhist, Satanist, all cultic religion go to church too. The important question is do we desire to read and hear God’s Word? If that desire is not in our hearts we should evaluate our Christian lives. Maybe genuine repentance was lacking and our acceptance of Christ, as Lord in our lives was not done heartily.
One can read the Bible from cover to cover yet without the desire in his heart you can’t assume to be Born Again. One can study the Scripture to make a sermon or make a research to gain knowledge yet if there is no thirst in his heart he can’t be Born Again. The craving for God’s Word, the feeling of thirst, the desire and the feeling of delight to read the Bible are very, very, very important. If these are lacking in your heart then all you may have done, in reading or researching, is in vain. Frankly speaking, you have not been born again. There is danger in assuming to be born again when in reality you are not. That is why it is imperative to examine ourselves to see if we really have a personal relationship with God through Christ or are we just religious fanatics.
The grace of God cannot be abused. There was a Christian who committed a grievous sin; he had sexual relationship with his father’s wife. Paul wrote them a letter and said, “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1st Corinthians 5:5) If someone will quote this verse and link this to predestination teaching, the danger is to abuse God’s grace. But no! This man was punished severely; aside from the imposed order by Paul that the church should remove the wicked man from among them, I personally believe that God punished him physically. (Hebrews 12:7-8) “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Eventually this man genuinely repented that was why in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he wrote: “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2nd Corinthians 2:6-8)
Christians are not perfect. It is not God’s will for a Christian to back slide, but there are times that we sometime stumble along the way in our Christian life and God will allow it, so we may not become self righteous and arrogant. We will learn painful lessons out from our own mistakes.
I personally believe in predestination because the Bible in Ephesians 1:5 says “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” God is God He can do whatever He wants in choosing. Who can dictate God? God does the choosing. (John 15:16) Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 6:44) Again He said, “No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him…” Yes it is God who chooses. He has all the power to choose, who can complain? No one. There are those whom God did not choose but if anyone will come to Jesus, the Lord will not cast him out. (John 6:37) “All that the Father gives me shall come to me and that anyone who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.”
Calvinism can be abused. Does anyone know that the Ku Klux Klan where Church members? They go to church on Sunday morning; at night they go out and murder black people. They will also murder white people who sympathizes the blacks. They killed human beings while sincerely believing that they were still saved.
God chooses but Jesus has the power to erase your name in the Book of Life if you will abuse God’s grace. Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
THERE ARE TWO GROUPS OF CONVERTS:
- Names written in heaven are the chosen ones. Luke 10:17-20, The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your Name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
- Names written in the book of life are the called ones. Philippians 4:2-3 “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Yes it is God who chooses and predestined only a few of us to adoption, as His sons through Jesus Christ. If you abuse His grace by continually living in sin, Jesus has the power to erase your name from the book of life. When He said in Revelation 3:5 “I will not erase his name from the book of life”, that means He can erase your name too if you are a disobedient hard headed Christian even if you have been born again so we should not be foolish and unwise. (Ephesians 5:15-16) “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
TWO POPULAR VIEWS OF HOW GOD SAVES SINNERS:
- Some believe all sinners are born with the desire and ability to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and exercise their own “free will” to choose Christ. (Arminianism)
- Some believe that in the fall, all sinners lost the desire and ability to come to Christ. So, God graciously gives to some both the desire and ability to freely will to choose Christ. (Calvinism)
The problem with Arminianism is that it contradicts God’s Word when the Bible says in Romans 3:11, “THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD.” The tendency of this theory is we will rely on our own abilities and thus depend on the flesh that will lead to self-righteousness we won’t even realize that this attitude will creep in our hearts little by little.
There are flaws in Calvinism that will lead Christians to live carelessly. They believe that they are still saved even if they intentionally and continually commit sin, believing that once you are saved, you are always saved.
God’s Word will never contradict itself. When God said in the Bible, (Romans 3:11), “…there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” Then there is no one! Religiosity is innate in man because man is by nature a religious being but they are not seeking the true God of the Bible.
Arminians and Calvinists have their misinterpretations when Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” They believe that there is only one group of people. Those whom the Father will draw to Jesus, the Lord will not drive them away. They erred in believing that these are the same group. But there are two groups, those whom God chooses and those who are not in God’s list. Even if you are not one of the chosen and that you are not seeking God, a Born Again believer has the privilege of asking the Father for salvation. God granted the request for someone to preach the pure gospel to you. You decide to truly repent and accept Christ. Even if you are not among the chosen, if you come to Jesus, the Lord will not drive you away. So there are two groups of people. Arminians and the Calvinists erred in believing that these are the same group.
There are those whom God has especially chosen, just as He chose Abraham, Israel and His apostles. Who can question God? Some will say, if that is the case, why bother preaching the gospel when God will choose the ones He intended to save anyway? Again you are wrong my friend. A Born Again believer, who becomes a child of God, now has the privilege to ask the Father for others to be saved. I do believe that I was saved because somebody was praying for me and that someone was sent by God to preach the gospel to me. We preach the good news because the Lord commanded us to spread the gospel. If no one will preach to people how can they believe? I found out that the word faith in the Bible is an exclusive Word. (Read my sermon “WHAT IS FAITH?” in the website) If someone will preach about the Lord Jesus Christ that He is the Only Savior, the recipient will have the tendency to have faith and if he or she will come to Jesus even if that person is not in God’s list the Lord will not drive him away. (John 6:37) “All that the Father gives me will come to me, (the chosen ones) and whoever comes to me (those who are not in God’s list) I will never drive away.” I don’t know about you my friend but this one verse makes me excited and my heart is so glad that I thank God for His kindness and mercy. Even I was not on His list, yet He did not turn His back on me when I decided to come to Jesus. Hallelujah!