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Calvinism Vs Arminianism
by Joe Slowiaczek
Gal. 1:9 "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Jacobus Arminius was a Dutch professor and theologian that died in Holland in 1610. His teachings were formulated into five main points of doctrine by his followers. The Churches in Holland and other major Protestants had subscribed to the Belgic and Heidelberg Confessions and the Arminians wanted that to change. The five points were presented as a remonstrance or protest to the church beliefs in the confessions and were sent to the Dutch Parliament. A National Synod of the church was called to meet in Dort in 1618 to examine the five points and see if they were based on scripture. The Synod met for 154 sessions over a 7-month period. They determined that the five points of Arminianism were not based on scripture and so the Synod produced the Five Points of Calvinism as corrective action to the five points of Arminianism.
The Five Points of Arminianism
Man, although affected by the fall, was not totally incapable of choosing spiritual good. He was able to exercise faith in God in order to receive the gospel and bring himself into possession of salvation.
Free Will or Human Ability:
Conditional Election: God laid His hands upon those He knew or foresaw would respond to the gospel. God elected those He saw would be saved of their own free will.
Universal Redemption or General Atonement: Christ died to save all men, but only in a potential fashion. Christ’s death enabled God to pardon sinners, but only on condition that they believed.
The Work of the Holy Spirit in Regeneration Limited by the Human Will: The Holy Spirit as He began to work to bring a person to Christ, could be resisted and His purpose frustrated. He could not impart life unless the sinner was willing to have life.
Falling from Grace: A saved man could fall finally and completely from salvation. Obviously, if man can prevent salvation, he must retain final responsibility for its outcome.
The Five Points of Calvinism
Total Depravity: When Calvinists speak of total depravity, they do not mean that every man is as evil as he could possibly be. They do not mean that man is unable to recognize the will of God. They do not mean that man is unable to do any good toward his fellow man or even give outward worship to God. What is meant is that man fell in the Garden of Eden in his totality. The whole personality of man has been affected by the fall, and sin extends to the whole of the faculties of man, the will, the understanding, the emotions, everything, all of man.
Man is dead in his sins, Ro 5:12. Man is taken captive by the devil, 2Tim 2:25. Man hears but does not understand, Mark 4:11. Man can not learn or discern the spiritual, 1Cor 2:14. Man was born in a sinful condition, Ps 51:5. Man is sinful by practice, Gen 6:5.
Unconditional Election: This doctrine follows naturally from Total Depravity. If man is dead and held captive and blind, etc, then the remedy for all these conditions must lie outside of man himself, that is with God. Since salvation is of the Lord, Ps 8:3, then God elects without condition.
God chooses, Jn 15:6. He shows mercy on whom He will have mercy, Ro 9:15. The potter has power over the clay, Ro 9:21. Before the foundation of the world He predestinated the adoption of children, Eph 1:4-5.
We cannot look at Unconditional Election without addressing the Arminian position of foreknowledge. First, God’s foreknowledge is in connection with a people not in connection with action that people perform. Scripture states, “Whom he did foreknow”, God speaks in Amos, “You only have I known of all nations of the earth.” God knew them in the sense that He loved and chose them to be His own, irrespective of any action, good or bad, performed by them. It will not do to say that God elected us because He saw something that we would do, “accepting” His Son. We are not chosen because we perform such a holy work as “accepting” Christ, but we are chosen so that we might be able to “accept” Him, Eph 2:10. We are chosen and therefore He made us accepted in the beloved, Eph 1:6. We cannot say that God foresaw those who would believe, because the Scripture makes it clear that election is not on account of our believing, but rather believing is on account of our election, Acts 13:48 and Phil 1:29. We also cannot say that we exercised faith in accepting Christ and God foresaw that faith, for the Scripture makes it clear that faith is also a gift of God, Eph 2:8-9.
Limited Atonement – Particular Redemption: We have three choices here, Christ died to save all men without distinction; Christ died to save no one in particular; Christ died to save a certain number.
The Universalists hold the first view. Christ died to save all men therefore; all men will be saved. If Christ has paid the debt of sin, then He has saved and ransomed all men, He has given His life for all men, therefore, all men will be saved.
The second view is the Arminian view. Jesus Christ procured a potential salvation for all men. Christ died on the Cross, but, although He paid the debt of sin, his work on the Cross does not become effectual until man makes a decision for Christ. Sufficient for all but efficient for those that believe.
The third view is the Calvinistic view, that Christ died positively and effectually for a certain number of sinners on whom the Father had already set His free electing love. Jesus paid the debt for these elect, making satisfaction for them to the Father’s justice and imputing His own righteousness to them, so that they are complete in Him.
Christ came to die for His sheep, those given to Him by the Father, Jn 10:25-30. Those that are the flock, those He purchased with His own blood, Acts 20:28. Jesus was the propitiation of sin, 1Jn 2:2. That is satisfaction. It is finished, Jn 19:30. The atonement was definite. It was sure because He satisfied the penalty for a particular amount. That is why it is sure.
Irresistible Grace: We know that when the gospel call goes out that not everyone heeds that call. Not everyone becomes convicted of sin and realizes his need of Christ. This explains the fact that there are two calls. An outward call and an inward call. The outward call may work differently in different hearts producing a variety of different results. However, it will not work a work of salvation in the sinner. For a work of salvation the outward call needs accompaniment of an inward call of God’s Holy Spirit. For it is the Holy Spirit that calls a man by His grace, that call is irresistible: it cannot be frustrated.
Those that the Father has given, the elect, shall come to Him, Jn 6:37. No one can come to Christ unless the Father draws him, Jn 6:44. Those that have heard and learned of the Father do come to Christ, Jn 6:45. Those that are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, Ro 8:14. He called us by His grace, Gal 1:15. He called us out of the darkness, 1Pet 2:9. He called us into eternal glory, 1Pet 5:10.
Perseverance of the Saints: Finally we look at the fact that those that God has accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally or finally fall from that state of grace. They are and will be certainly persevered to the end, and are eternally saved.
Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, Ro 8:27. He that began a good work will complete it, Phil 1:6. Jesus has not lost one of those given to Him by the Father, Jn 6:39. We shall never perish and no one can snatch us from the hand of God, Jn 10:28. When we were enemies, we were reconciled, how much more being reconciled, will we be saved, Ro 5:10. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, Ro 8:1.
The men at the Synod of Dort were putting into clear terms a systematic form of the Gospel of free and sovereign grace. If man cannot save himself, then God must save him. If all are not saved, then God has not saved all. If Christ has made satisfaction for sins, then, it is for the sins of those who are saved. If God intends to reveal this salvation in Christ to the hearts of those whom He chooses to save, then God will provide the means of effectually doing so. If, therefore, having ordained to save, died to save, and called to save those who could never save themselves, He will also preserve those saved ones to eternal life to the glory of His name.
That is the truth of the Gospel as found in the Holy Scriptures and confirmed in Calvinism. We cannot, just as the men of Dort could not, find any scriptural basis for Arminianism.
May God open the hearts and ears of those He has elected to salvation!
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according toe the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:4-6) Amen and Amen.
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