September 8, 2011 § 6 Comments
A common argument made by Arminians against the Biblical Doctrine of irresistible grace is both fallacious and absurd, for it (i.)is an appeal to emotion and (ii.)it refutes the Arminian position itself. I’ll briefly demonstrate this logically.
The Arminian Argument
MP: It would be unfair for God to impose His will on free creatures.
Mp: God would never do anything unfair.
C: Therefore, God would never impose His will on free creatures.
The above argument is an appeal to emotion because it does not explain precisely how God’s imposition of His will on supposedly free creatures would be unfair. Instead, it uses the word unfair so as to stack the deck against the Christian who is arguing in favor of the doctrines of grace. On this basis alone, the argument is shown to be fallacious and, therefore, false. However, for the sake of fully demolishing the Arminian notion of Prevenient grace, I’ll take it a step further and show how such a view makes Arminianism itself impossible.
- Arminians believe, as Scripture teaches, that man is born dead in his sins.
- Moreover, they assert that man cannot of his own freedom come to Christ.
- They, however, state that God grants Prevenient grace to all men in order to enable them to come to faith in Christ.
- Thus every man, although born dead in his sins and obstinately opposed to the Gospel, is given the capacity to choose Christ.
- However, this means that all men, regardless of their natural opposition to God, are given something they never asked for, viz. Prevenient grace.
- Therefore, they have Prevenient grace given to them against their will, since they are born dead in their sins and opposed to God and His Gospel.
- Therefore, God’s giving of Prevenient grace, which supposedly enables them to choose to place their faith in Christ, is unfair.
- Therefore, Prevenient grace is an unfair doctrine, for it teaches that God gives enabling grace to those who do not want it.
- Therefore, God imposes His will on free creatures.
- Therefore, Prevenient grace is absurd.
Soli Deo Gloria.
December 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
- Joel 2:32
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.“
Who’s Calling Whom?
When Paul the Apostle quotes Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13, it is customary for Arminians to see in this verse implicit justification for their belief in conditional election, seeing as Paul states that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. And in at least one respect the Arminians are correct: Everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. It is those who call upon the name of the Lord who will be saved. Since there are many who will not call upon the name of the Lord, the Arminians must account for this phenomenon. The bigger problem for Armininianism, however, is that in its original context, which Paul could not have violated seeing as he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write about these matters, the human calling (quoted in Romans 10:11-13) has a divine correlate. Joel mentions two callings: (i.)whoever calls on the name of the LORD, and (ii.)the LORD who is calling His remnant to Himself. The whoever, therefore, does not lend itself to the Arminian doctrine of conditional election, as a Gospel proposition correlative to the one found in John 3:16. Rather, the whoever is the external call, which is effectual only for the remnant that the LORD is already calling.
The whoever is given some flesh in vv. 28-29:
“ And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days….”
Here the Lord tells us that He will pour His Spirit upon: (i.)sons, (ii.)daughters, (iii.)old men, (iv.)young men, (v.)menservants, and (vi.)maidservants. The broad range of individuals mentioned here is intended to signify all types of people – whoever, regardless of gender, age, or class differences. The Lord is not a respecter of persons, and He has chosen a remnant, found among all types of people, whom He is calling to Himself in Christ.
We see, then, that far from supporting the doctrine of conditional election, this verse supports God’s unconditional election of all types of sinners, from every nation, tribe, and tongue unto salvation in Christ. They will have the Holy Spirit of God poured out upon them, and be the recipients, by God’s electing grace alone, of the New Covenant blessings laid out in Ezekiel 36:24-27 and Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is true that God says to all men that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, but not all will. God has chosen a remnant, and it is they who will call upon the name of the LORD, for He is calling them.
May 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
All Men/One God and One Mediator Between God and Man: Did Christ Die for All Men?
1 Timothy 2:4 is one of the more famous prooftexts for Arminianism, but does it really support the idea that God desires “each and every” man to come to salvation? Although a very quick reading of the passage might lead one to think that Paul is informing Timothy that God desires “[each and every man] to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” upon closer inspection we see that the context in which verse 4 occurs militates against any such interpretation.
In chapter 1, Paul has already set forth the Law/Gospel distinction, Timothy’s call to preach the Gospel, and his own call to serve as an example of the Lord’s longsuffering toward His elect. He tells Timothy: “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (1 Tim. 1:15-16).
Similarly, Paul’s main concern here, as it is in chapter 1, is the propagation of the Gospel message for those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Who are these who are going to believe? They, like Timothy, are children of God by faith (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2), not by adherence to traditional interpretations of the Law or by genealogical affiliation (see my previous post for more info). They are the elect; and they are from every imaginable classification of peoples. That is why Paul uses the term “all” in 1 Tim. 2:1-7. [And that is all that all means: "all types."]
To interpret v. 4, therefore, to mean that God desires each and every man to be saved misses the point of Paul’s writing to Timothy to defend and preach the Gospel against what seems to be nationalistic and legalistic (i.e. Judaistic) opposition. Paul’s contrast between all men and One God and One Mediator between God and men, and Paul’s own ministry to the Gentiles only gives this further emphasis. Christ “gave Himself a ransom,” therefore, “for all [types of men], to be testified in due time, for which [Paul] was appointed a preacher and apostle…a teacher of the Gentiles…” (2:6-7).
Our Lord’s commission to preach the Gospel to all the ends of the earth was taken very seriously by Paul, who, unlike us much of the time, was fully aware of the ramifications of such a calling. He knew that “in due time” the fact that Christ “gave Himself for all” would be made evident. The apostle John gives us a glimpse of this in Revelation 7:9-10, where he writes:
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Did Christ, then, die for all? Yes, but this “all” refers to: (i.) all who would believe on Him, and (ii.) all nations, tribes, people and tongues – that is to say, all types of men. For men everywhere on earth, from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, there is only one God and one Mediator between God and men. Therefore, it is Timothy’s job, as it is ours, to preserve the Gospel’s truth, and to proclaim the Gospel to all men, for there is no other name under heaven whereby men can be saved. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do we see that our call to proclaim the Gospel is much bigger than ourselves? Do we, like Paul, recognize the magnitude of our calling to be salt and light, and to tell the world about the hope we have in Christ?
Just something to consider…
April 12, 2010 § Leave a Comment
This weekend, I was given a little, but powerful book by Walter J. Chantry on the modern American “gospel” which, as Mike Horton points out in his book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, is little more than “therapeutic, moralistic deism.” Chantry’s book, Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?, is short and to the point. Here’s a powerful excerpt:
Much of modern preaching anemic, with the life-blood of God’s nature absent from the message. Evangelists centre their message upon man. Man has sinned and missed a great blessing. If man wants to retrieve his immense loss he must act thus and so. But the gospel of Christ is very different. It begins with God and his glory. It tells men that they have offended a holy God, who will by no means pass by sin. It reminds sinners that the only hope of salvation is to be found in the grace and power of this same God. Christ’s gospel sends men to beg pardon of the Holy One.
There is a wide difference between these two messages. The one seeks to blaze a trail to heaven for man while ignoring the Lord of Glory. The other seeks to magnify the God of all grace in the salvation of men. The first would give a technical answer to, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’, ‘without an adequate foundation.
The last says,
“Wait a moment. The God with whom we have to do is thrice holy, alone good, unapproachable in brilliant holiness! We will return to your question in its subordinate place. But now take your eye from yourself and behold the God of the Scriptures. Then you will see yourself as you truly are – a creature in rebellion against an infinitely pure God. You are not yet prepared to discuss yourself and eternity.” [quotation marks added by me]
…Preaching on the attributes [of God] is essential to the conversion of a man. Without a knowledge of God, a sinner does not know whom he has offended, who threatens him with destruction, or who is able to save him. Apart from some clear apprehensions of God, there can be no approach to God, and ‘personal Saviou’ becomes a hollow phrase.
Jesus lifted the egocentric eyes of the wealthy ruler to One whose holiness caused Isaiah to cry, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone’ [Isa. 6:5]. Is that a secondary part of the gospel? If you think so, you don’t understand the first things of the faith. The rich youth had come running because he understood that he might not inherit eternal life. But he didn’t understand why. Whom had he offended? There was no remorse for having offended a holy God. He was prepared to talk of religion; but he was ignorant of God. He was anxious to ask for the joys of salvation; but he could not confess as David, ‘Against thee, thee only, have I sinned; and done this evil in thy sight’ [Psa. 51:4]. He was not acquainted with the Lord.