The Bible often calls on man to choose –
to make a decision to go one way or another.
Through Moses – “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Through Joshua – “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
Through Elijah – “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.’” (1 Kings 18:21)
Free Will and the Sovereignty of God
As Arminians we believe in man having free will to choose. While God is sovereign, He has chosen to allow man to accept or reject His grace, and in so doing He still accomplishes His perfect sovereign plan.
Salvation – Arminian or Calvinist (explain the following):
- The difference in salvation between the Arminain and the Calvinist:
Total Depravity as defined by both
Unconditional or conditional election
Limited or unlimited atonement
Irresistible or resistible grace
Perseverance guaranteed or required
- Why Jesus had to become flesh.
To become our Kinsman Redeemer – had to be God to have the ability to save and had to be man to have the right to save.
- Why Jesus had to die.
God’s decree for the penalty of sin is death, physical and spiritual. Jesus took the penalty upon himself, becoming our substitute; He had to die to pay the sin debt.
- How Jesus’ death is applied to our account.
Our union with Jesus – Our sin becomes His; His righteousness becomes ours.
Salvation – Believing or Repenting
A person can believe and never repent. But one will not truly repent until he/she believes. Repentance is key to salvation.
Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
In an article titled, The New Holiness, by Robert L. Brush (The Arminian Magazine, Issue 1, Spring 2010, Volume 28), Mr. Brush makes the following observation:
Many names are used in the scriptures to identify Christians, such as “believers,” “saints,” “disciples,” and “brethren.” However, the New Testament never identifies a Christian as a sinner. The only exception which might be cited is found in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 where Paul described himself twice as a sinner. But the question is whether that was his present state or his previous identity. Verse 13 seems to settle that question. “Chief of sinners” is his “before” and not his “after” picture. In the thirty-eight other New Testament passages where Christians are described, they are never referred to as sinners.
Yet it is popular today for Christians to refer to themselves as sinners. It even sounds humble, but I am concerned that this promotes the false concept that even the best of us sin every day. Thus, sin is no “big deal” since we all sin continuously.
Perhaps this light view of sin has caused preachers to replace “repent ye” with “believe ye.” If sin is not significant, then perhaps repentance is not important. Repentance is almost a forgotten doctrine. Yet without it our “gospel” is like seed falling on stony ground. The lack of repentance is shown in the parable of the sower. The seed which sprang up quickly describes the easy believism of our day. Because our converts have never turned from their sin, under the hot sun of temptation they quickly wither and disappear.
John Wesley noted the difference between what he called “mental assent” and faith. Too often today we accept a statement of belief when there has been no true repentance. A person can believe (even the devil believes) without ever turning around. This is what Paul called being “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20).
Salvation – Assurance or Assumption
It is essential that on the matter of salvation we have assurance and not assumption. Listen to these words of Jesus.
Matthew 7:13-23 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
The Bible says we have assurance of our salvation by two means:
The Word of God – Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The Witness of the Spirit – Romans 8:15-17 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
The Apostle John wrote (1 John 5:13), “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Yes, we can have salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And we can have assurance of that salvation. Do you have assurance, or are you just assuming?
Salvation – Works or Grace
Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Ephesian Church (Ephesians 2:8-9), “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
So what part do works play in our salvation? Again Paul gives us the answer in the very next verse (vs 10), “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
James said, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:19-20)
We must never think that we could do anything to merit or deserve God’s gift of grace. Our salvation could only be purchased by Jesus Christ. But we neither should think that salvation is cheap and easy. The purpose for our salvation is not simply that we can go to heaven when we die. The purpose of our salvation is to have the image of God restored in each of us – the image lost by Adam in the Garden. God has ordained that all of His children will be conformed to the image of Christ. This is the guarantee of salvation.
There is nothing we will ever do in life that is more important than making sure of our relationship with Jesus Christ. It will be through this relationship that we will either enter into our eternal reward or be cast into the eternal lake of fire. This decision, this choice, is much too vital for simple assumption.
My question to you is this, “Upon what do you base your assurance?” And are you ready to surrender all in order to have that assurance?
Surrender – Our Challenge