One of the biggest causes of argument in churches is that of election. Some say election is conditional, and others say it is unconditional. The definition we give is very important. However, no matter what definition we give, God will choose whomever He will anyway!
This is the stance of Arminians and universalists. They agree that God chooses who will be saved, but that He does so because He knows in advance who will have faith in Christ. The vital ingredient in this belief is man’s ‘free will’.
The problem with this is stark, for not only does it portray humans as having ‘free will’, but it also removes salvation from the choice of God, and says that a man can have ‘faith’ even before he is regenerated (born again).
No man has free will. Not even Adam had it. Free will means to have knowledge of all possible queries and outcomes. I know of no man on earth who has, or has had, this kind of phenomenal knowledge. Rather, we are told in scripture that no man seeks after God because all men are conceived in sin! Thus, we are told, they are slaves to their father, the devil. They are, then, incapable of free will. And, if they did have free will they would be equal to God Himself, Who alone knows everything.
To believe in conditional election is to put God in the position of a servant, Who sees who, by having faith, can demand salvation as a reward. Thus, God does not make any choice at all in reality – He only gives salvation because the man deserves it through having faith. This completely contradicts the biblical definition of salvation.
And Faith itself is a gift of God. We cannot have faith until God gives it. So, how can an unsaved man possibly get faith, when he is separated from God totally to begin with? Until he is regenerated, a man is dead in his sins, and God says he is doomed to hell, with no contact at all with the Creator. Only when the man is regenerated and made spiritually alive, can he receive and show faith.
Arminianism is part of the Counter-Reformation and is closely connected with Roman Catholic beliefs and teachings. Therefore it is suspect, and we must scrutinize the tenets of Arminianism closely lest they seduce genuine men to believe against scripture and God. The major task of Arminianism it seems is just to fight and oppose the word of God, even more than it proposes man’s part in salvation.
Yet, the idea that free will is at the root of salvation or removes the sovereignty of God is NOT found in the original ideas of Arminius… they are added by those with errant hearts and minds. Rather, Arminius taught that Jesus died for “all” and not just for the elect. This, however, presents us with yet another problem, for if Jesus died literally for ‘all’ men, then He died in vain for the most part. It makes no sense to say that God did something for 100% when only 5% would benefit! It is also a scatter-gun approach to salvation… Jesus had better die for ‘all’ so that at least some may (or may not) come to Him of their own free will. It simply does not add up.
The Arminian idea that God gave the Gospel to ‘all’ – and if He did not, then what was the point of the Gospel? The point is very simple: God gave us the Gospel AND He chose who would be saved. It is our task to preach, not to ask God why He acts as He does. Indeed, scripture warns that we have no right to question why God does anything. The elect are not those who choose God, but those whom God chose.
Much of this confusion arises from an inability to understand the meaning of words like “all” and “world”, even though the meanings are already available in scripture. It is an odd linguistic notion that claims all literally means all, or that world literally means everyone in the world, when scripture does not use it that way.
It is true that contact with most Arminians is usually fraught with anger on their part. This is not an appropriate response to one who does not accept their position, but is a psychological proof they are wrong and know it. It is my belief that Arminians are so, and are angry, because they prefer to think they can choose what God ‘offers’, even though God does NOT ‘offer’ salvation. Rather, He tells us what he is giving, or not giving, and it is up to us to obey.
So, the root of Arminianism is not a belief in salvation, but a belief in self and the ability of man to choose God, when this is clearly not the case in scripture. For more details see the article I devote to the key texts used by Arminians to ‘prove’ they are right. Though they say their beliefs do not remove God’s sovereignty, it is what they actually do.
Note: Also see Outline O-228, ‘Unconditional Election’.
For greater detail of the scriptural argument, see relevant publications on our list.
© May 2011
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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