Psalm 16:5

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

God's Warth is Coming... Are You Ready?

You had better listen to the words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter, but he that does the will of my father in heaven.” If ye by the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live. If you live after the flesh, you’ll die! The cross does not give us a minor shift or two with regard to a few of our ethical and religious values. The cross radically disrupts the very center and citadel of your life from self to Christ. And if the cross has not done that, YOU’RE NOT A CHRISTIAN! My Friend face it, young rogue, you’re not a Christian until the cross has radically disrupted the very center and citadel of your life! And brought you from a life of commitment to serve self…What are the focal points of the reign of your self? If you’ve gone to the cross in union with Christ, it’s been shattered!"
- Al Martin

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Fruit of Arminianism

Recently, we went through a book in our elder discipleship class which presented the Arminian view of the work of Christ with the disciples. I think there were some good observations in the book which we could learn from, but there was a lot of Christ demeaning error as well, though most certainly unintentional. The book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, was written by Robert Coleman and claims to have sold in excess of 2 million copies and is endorsed by men like Billy Graham, Bill Bright, and Chuck Swindoll. Yet the statements made in this work reveal a not commonly seen side of Arminian thought. (Sorry about not having the page numbers below. I got the quotes from two different layouts of the book and I didn't have time to get the page numbers from just one.)

If coming to saving faith depends entirely on the free will of man and not on the sovereign grace of God working through the gospel, we should not pray for the salvation of sinners because God has already done everything He is going to do and now salvation is in the hands of man. Unless we can convince people of their need of a savior, they won't get saved. In the Arminian view, the focus of salvation is not the working of the grace of God producing life giving repentance and faith (Acts 11:18 and Rom. 12:3) but rather on man winning other men since that is where salvation is now left - in the hand of man. Coleman states it this way:
"There is no use to pray for the world. What good would it do? God already loves them and has given his Son to save them. No, there is no use to pray vaguely for the world. The world is lost and blind in sin. The only hope for the world is for laborers to go to them with the gospel of salvation, and having won them to the Savior, not to leave them, but to work with them faithfully, patiently, painstakingly, until they become fruitful Christians savoring the world about them with the Redeemer’s love." 
The great sadness in this is that there is now a world for which prayers are not being offered and this is in direct contradiction to the will of God who will have prayers be made for the salvation of all men: 1 Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." And not only that, but Paul prays for the lost: Rom. 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." We can pray for the salvation of lost men because God is directly involved in men coming to faith in Christ. This is not a denial of the use of man as the instrument of God. God has decreed to save men by the foolishness of preaching. Paul said that he became all things to all men that he might win some. But Paul's trust was in God who gave the increase and his efforts were not dependent upon the wisdom of words (1 Cor. 1:17, 2:4) but upon the sovereign work of God - for to those who are the called, the Gospel is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18, 24). 1 Cor. 2:4-5, "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."

If all things are not accomplished through the outworking of God's will, then all things must depend upon man in the end. The very accomplishment of God's plan of salvation becomes dependent on men's free choice rather than God's decree. Coleman explains:
 "His [Jesus'] whole evangelistic strategy - indeed, the fulfillment of his very purpose in coming into the world, dying on the cross, and rising from the grave - depended on the faithfulness of his chosen disciples to this task."
Rather than the plan of salvation being the outworking of God's sovereign grace, the plan of salvation becomes a response to human experience, Christ's confidence in the future not a confidence in God but a confidence in man centered strategy, the success of the plan based not in the sovereignty of God but the free will of men:
"The Master...had confidence in the future precisely because he lived according to that plan in the present...He could not afford to take a chance. Weighing every alternative and variable factor in human experience, he conceived a plan that would not fail." "Everything depended on their faithfulness if the world would believe in him 'through their word' (John 17:20)." 
But God says that all men were gathered together against Christ to do what God had determined before to be done and all men who the Father gives the Son will come to Him. Men are God’s instruments, but the carrying out of the plan of God is not dependent on man's free will. God will accomplish all things he has determined and man will freely go along with it. 

What happens in this man centered view? The work of Christ in salvation is made equal with the work of men. Coleman writes:
"Jesus went on to show his disciples 'that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in his name unto all nations, beginning from Jerusalem' (Luke 24:47). And for the fulfillment of this divine purpose, the disciples were no less a part than their Master."
Yet God says that man plants and man waters, but it is God himself who gives the increase. Also, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. Thus while God uses men to preach the gospel and they are the instruments of the communication of the good news to the lost, Christ is the Savior, and it is Christ who preaches through men (Christ came and preached peace to you who were afar off), and it is the grace of Christ that works in us (yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me). Our part is not equal with the part of Christ. An integral part in the preaching yes, but the servant is not above or equal with his Lord. Apart from Christ, our preaching is vain. Christ is everything in the preaching of the gospel. He get's all the glory in the the work of the ministry. Salvation is of the Lord: 1 Cor 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

Again declaring that the plan of evangelism was determined not by God's sovereign choice but rather by a response to the natures of men, Coleman says:
"Jesus was a realist.  He fully realized the fickleness of depraved human nature as well as the satanic forces of this world amassed against humanity, and in this knowledge he based his evangelism on a plan that would meet the need.  The multitudes of discordant and bewildered souls were potentially ready to follow him, but Jesus individually could not possibly give them the personal care they needed.  His only hope was to get leaders inspired by his life who would do it for him." 
Here we are presented with an incapable Christ who is not sure of the sovereign work of His Father but who is hoping that He can get some guys out there to do what He cannot. God uses men because He chose to, not because He needed help. Our hope is in God and so was Christ's - not some fallen humans. The great error here is that Christ is again degraded and glory is not being given to Him. The success of Christ is not by the power of the Father, but by man. Thus man can receives the glory for its success. Instead of Christ increasing and man decreasing, Christ is decreasing and man is increasing. In this view, Christ is sinning against His own Word: "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man," Psalm 118:8. "He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man," Psalm 147:10. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!" Isaiah 31:1.

The denial of election even taints the way we see Christ's earthly ministry and the ministry of the disciples:
"But Jesus did not leave it at this.  He went on to tell them who to see first.  'Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' (Matt. 10:5,6).  It was as though Jesus was telling his disciples to go where they would find the most susceptible audience to hear their message." 
Yet Jesus said that they were to go to the Lost sheep of the house of Israel because he was sent to them and not the Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-7 w/15:24). They were beloved for their father’s sakes.

Anyway, that is just a sampling of quotes that shows some of the ramifications of Arminian thought carried out. Whenever we fall off the Bible on one side or the other, there are ramifications. If we deny the sovereignty of God's grace working salvation in men, we will not pray for the salvation of the lost and we will not give God the glory due His name. If we deny the responsibility of men to believe (through preaching) and say God simply saves whom He wills without men, then we will not preach the gospel. Both are contrary to the revealed will of God. Both are outworkings of the thinking of men and not the love of Christ.

So brothers, love Christ and love His Word, trust in the work of God not the legs of a man, preach the word, being instant in season and out of season, and be ready always to give an answer of the hope that lies within you in meekness and love.

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