Eliyahu ~ Part 11

In my last post, Eliyahu encounters The Enemies Message of Danger in 1 Kings 19:1-4. In this post, Eliyahu hears The Angels Message of Grace in 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Don’t Worry Eliyahu; I Have Your Back

Recall that in our last passage Eliyahu ran from Izevel, sat under a broom tree, prayed and pouted and ask God to relieve his misery by taking him home. I can certainly relate to him given his immediate circumstances.

5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and went to sleep. Suddenly, an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on the hot stones and a jug of water. He ate and drank, then lay down again. 7 The angel came again, a second time, touched him and said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, ate and drank, and, on the strength of that meal, traveled forty days and nights until he reached Horev the mountain of God.” ~ 1 Kings 19:5-8 (CJB)

God’s miraculous provision was resumed, this time purely for the prophet. After Eliyahu ate and rested, he returned to the place where the covenant had been given to Moshe, Mount Horev. There, Eliyahu would have his faith renewed by God’s presence.

When the heart is heavy, and the mind and body are weary, sometimes the best remedy is sleeptake a nap! Nothing seems right when you’re exhausted. But while the prophet was asleep, the Lord sent an angel to care for his needs.

The angel had prepared a simple but adequate meal of fresh bread and refreshing water, and the prophet partook of both and lay down again to sleep. We aren’t told how long the Lord permitted Eliyahu to sleep before He awakened him the second time and told him to eat. The Lord knew that Eliyahu planned to visit Mount Horev [1], one of the most sacred places in all Jewish history, was located about 250 miles from Be’er- Sheva, and he needed strength for the journey. Eliyahu obeyed the messenger of God and was able to travel for forty days and nights on the nourishment from those two meals.

When we review God’s ministries to Eliyahu as recorded in 1 Kings 18 and 19, you see a parallel to the promise in Isaiah 40. “But those who hope in Adonai will renew their strength; they will soar aloft as with eagles’ wings; when they are running, they won’t grow weary, when they are walking they won’t get tired.”~ Isaiah 40:31 (CJB)

For three years, the prophet had been hidden by God, during which time he waited on the Lord. When the Lord sent him to Mount Karmel, He enabled Eliyahu to soar aloft as with eagle’s wings and triumph over the prophets of Ba’al. After Eliyahu prayed and it began to rain, the Lord strengthened him to run and not be weary (18:46), and now He sustained him for forty days, so he could walk and not get tired (19:8). Eliyahu wasn’t wholly living in the will of God, but he was smart enough to know that he had to wait on the Lord if he expected to have the strength for the ministry and for the journey that lay before him.

In my next post, we continue to explore the Biblical story of Eliyahu. In this passage, Eliyahu hears the Creator’s Message of Power in 1 Kings 19:9-14.

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[1]Horev is another name for Mount Sinai. If Sinai is to be found down in the southern region, he must travel another two hundred plus miles and could therefore easily take forty days. It is true that a caravan could often make seventeen to twenty miles a day, but Eliyahu is not accustomed to this type of travel and is traveling on his own. Five miles per day under such conditions in this climate would not be unusual. ~ The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

Lay Hold of Yeshua and His Redemption ~ Part 4

Messianic Jews 6:13-20
Letter to the Messianic Jews

 

In my last post in this series, we examined Messianic Jews 6:9-12 ~ Lay Hold of Yeshua and His Redemption ~ Part 2. In this post, we conclude this section by reviewing Messianic Jews 6:13-20 ~ Lay Hold of Yeshua and His Redemption ~ Part 4 to learn that God’s covenant promises are unchanging.

God’s Covenant Promises Are Unchanging

13 For when God made His promise to Avraham, He swore an oath to do what He had promised; and since there was no one greater than Himself for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself 14 and said, “I will certainly bless you, and I will certainly give you many descendants”;
15 and so, after waiting patiently, Avraham saw the promise fulfilled. 16 Now people swear oaths by someone greater than themselves, and confirmation by an oath puts an end to all dispute. 17 Therefore, when God wanted to demonstrate still more convincingly the unchangeable character of His intentions to those who were to receive what He had promised, He added an oath to the promise; 18 so that through two unchangeable things, in neither of which God could lie, we, who have fled to take a firm hold on the hope set before us, would be strongly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as a sure and safe anchor for ourselves, a hope that goes right on through to what is inside the parokhet, 20 where a forerunner has entered on our behalf, namely, Yeshua, who has become a cohen gadol forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.”
 ~ Hebrews 6:13-20 (CJB)

Avraham was a man of great trust. Afterall, he offered his son Yitz’chak as an offering to God trusting that God would supply a substitute. The double security of oath and promise which God offered him in B’resheet 22:17 should strongly encourage us, who also have been given a hope set before us of going right on through… the parokhet of the Most Holy Place in heaven to God Himself (see Messianic Jews 10:22).

We can enter into the Most Holy Place because we are united with Yeshua, and he has entered ahead of us as our forerunner. He has been able to enter because He has become a cohen gadol forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek. The author thus returns to the line of thought which he left at 5:10 to urge the readers to diligence. He also is preparing the groundwork for his argument in the next chapter (7:20-21).

In the ancient world, the anchor was the symbol of hope. Epictetus says: “A ship should never depend on one anchor or a life on one hope.” Pythagoras said: “Wealth is a weak anchor; fame is still weaker. What then are the anchors which are strong? Wisdom, great-heartedness, courage—these are the anchors which no storm can shake.”  [1] The writer of Messianic Jews insists that Believers posses the greatest hope in the world.

That hope is one which enters into the parokhet of the Most Holy Place. In the Temple, the most sacred of all places was the Most Holy Place. Within the Most Holy Place, there was held to abide the very presence of God. Into that place, only one person in all the world could go, and he was the Cohen HaGodol; and even he might enter that Most Holy Place on just one day of the year, the Day of Atonement.

The writer to the Hebrews uses a most illuminating word about Jesus. He says that he entered the presence of God as our forerunner. The Greek word is prodromos. It has three stages of meaning: (1) It means one who rushes on; (2) It means a pioneer; or, (3) It means a scout who goes ahead to see that it is safe for the body of the troops to follow. Yeshua went into the presence of God to make it safe for all humanity to follow.

Before Yeshua came, God was the distant stranger whom only a very few might approach and that at the peril of their lives. But because of what Yeshua was and did, God has become the friend of every person. Once humanity thought of Him as barring the door; now they think of the entrance to His presence as thrown wide open for all.

In my next post, we’ll begin a new mini-series on Yeshua’s Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood Surpasses the Levitical. We’ll explore Messianic Jews 7:1-10 on the priority of the Malki-Tzedek Cohenhood.

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[1] Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT) by William Barclay.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 19

Election

In my last post, we concluded our presentation of Arminian Theology.  In this post, I want to go back to Eternal Security ~ Part 2 to complete the definition of Election as it applies to the Calvinistic and Arminian Theology.

Recall that Unger defined the Biblical view of Election [1] as: “This word in the Scriptures has three distinct applications.

  1. To the divine choice of nations or communities for the possession of special privileges with reference to the performance of special services. Thus the Jews were “a chosen nation,” “the elect.” Thus also in the NT, bodies of Christian people, or churches, are called “the elect.”
  2. To the divine choice of individuals to a particular office or work. Thus Cyrus was elected of God to bring about the rebuilding of the Temple, and thus the twelve were chosen to be apostles and Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
  3. To the divine choice of individuals to be the children of God, and therefore heirs of heaven.”
The Calvinistic View of Election

The Westminster Confession, the standard of the Church of Scotland and of the various Presbyterian churches of Europe and America, contains the following statement:

“God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own free will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw its future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving Him thereto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Therefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

In support of this doctrine several arguments are made by Calvinistic theologians: (1) According to the Scriptures election is not of works but of grace; and that it is not of works means that it is not what man does that determines whether he is to be one of the elect or not. For the descendants of Adam this life is not a probation. They stood their probation in Adam and do not stand each one for himself. (2) The sovereignty of God in electing men to salvation is shown by the fact that repentance and faith are gifts from God. These fruits of His Spirit are the consequences and signs of election and not its conditions. (3) The salvation that is of grace must be of grace throughout. The element of works or human merit must not be introduced at any point in the plan. And that would be the case if repentance and faith were the conditions of election. (4) The system of doctrine called Calvinistic, Augustinian, Pauline, should not be thus designated. That though taught clearly by Paul, particularly in Romans 8:9, it was taught also by others of the writers of sacred Scripture, and by Christ Himself. Reference is made to Matthew 11:25-26; Luke 4:25-27; Luke 8:10; John 6:37, 39. (5) That the sovereignty of God is evidenced in dispensing saving grace is illustrated also in His establishing the temporal conditions of mankind. Some are born and reared in the surroundings of civilization, others of barbarism. And precisely so some are blessed with the light of the gospel, while others, dwelling in pagan lands, are deprived of that light and consequently are not saved.

This system of strict Calvinism above outlined has received various modifications by theologians of the Calvinistic school. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, May 1903, adopted the following: “We believe that all who die in infancy, and all others given by the Father to the Son who are beyond the reach of the outward means of grace, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases.”

The Arminian View of Election

The Arminian view of election has been in recent years more generally accepted than formerly, even among denominations whose teaching has been Calvinistic or indefinite upon this point. This view grounds itself, in opposition to Calvinism, upon the universality of the atonement and the graciously restored freedom of the human will. Election, accordingly, is not absolute but conditional, contingent upon the proper acceptance of such gifts of grace as God by His Spirit and providence puts within the reach of men.

Inasmuch as this subject involves the character and method of the divine government and the destiny of the entire race, the following should be said:

  • According to the Arminian doctrine the purpose of God to redeem mankind was bound up with His purpose to create. The Lamb of God was “slaughtered before the world was founded” (Revelation 13:8). God would not have permitted a race of sinners to come into existence without provision to save them. Such provision must not be for only a part but for the whole of the fallen race. To suppose the contrary is opposed to the divine perfections. To doom to eternal death any number of mankind who were born in sin and without sufficient remedy would be injustice.
  • The benefits of the atonement are universal and in part unconditional. They are unconditional with respect to those who, through no fault of their own, are in such a mental or moral condition as to make it impossible for them either to accept or reject Christ. A leading denomination emphasizes the doctrine that “all children, by virtue of the unconditional benefits of the atonement, are members of the kingdom of God.” This principle extends to others besides children, both in heathen and Christian lands. God alone is competent to judge the extent to which, in varying degrees, human beings are responsible, and therefore the extent to which the unconditional benefits of the atonement may be applied.
  • The purpose or decree of God is to save all who do not, actually or implicitly, willfully reject the saving offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among those who have not heard the Gospel may exist “the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness.” Thus even those who have no knowledge of the historic Christ virtually determine whether or not they will be saved through Christ. They to whom the Gospel is preached have higher advantages and more definite responsibilities. To them, repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the conditions of salvation.
  • Upon all men, God bestows some measure of His grace, restoring to the depraved will sufficient freedom to enable them to accept Christ and be saved. Thus, in opposition to Calvinists, Arminians assert that not only Adam, but also his depraved descendants are in a stage of probation.

In behalf of this doctrine the following is argued:

  1. That the whole trend of the Scriptures is to declare the responsibility of men and their actual power to choose between life and death.
  1. That the Scriptures explicitly teach that it is the will of God that all men should be saved. Only those perish who wickedly resist His will (1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; John 5:40; Acts 7:51).
  1. That the Scriptures declare the universality of Christ’s atonement, and in some degree the universality of its benefits (Hebrews 2:9; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18-19; and many other passages).
  1. That the doctrine of unconditional election necessarily implies that of unconditional reprobation; and that is to charge God with cruelty.
  1. That unconditional election also necessarily implies the determinate number of the elect, a point that Calvinists hold, though they admit that they have for it no explicit teaching of Scripture. To the contrary, the Scriptures not only generally but particularly teach that the number of the elect can be increased or diminished. This is the purport of all those passages in which sinners are exhorted to repent, or Believers warned against becoming apostate, or to “make certain about His calling and choosing you” (Matthew 24:4, 13; 2 Peter 1:10).
  1. That the Scriptures never speak of impenitent and unbelieving men as elect, as in some cases it would be proper to do if election were antecedent to repentance and faith and not conditioned thereby.
  1. That the whole theory of unconditional election is of the same tendency with fatalism.
  1. That the logic of unconditional election is opposed to true evangelism.
  1. That the essential features of the Arminian doctrine of election belong to the primitive and truly historic doctrine of the church. Augustine was the first prominent teacher of unconditional election, and he, regardless of the logical inconsistency, granted that reprobation is not unconditional. This doctrine of Augustine was first formally accepted by the church in a.d. 529, in the Canons of the Council of Orange, approved by Pope Boniface II. The prominence of unconditional election in the theory of Protestantism is due largely to the influence and work of John Calvin, who not only set forth the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, but also taught unconditional reprobation. John Wesley and his followers were responsible in a large degree for reviving and developing the doctrine of Arminius.

The limits of this post do not permit an examination of the contested passages of Scripture. But as we used to say in our retreats: “The best is yet to come.”  In my next post, I want to tackle the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.  Once those issues are fully addressed, I will move on to the contested passages before wrapping-up this series with my own personal position.

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[1] New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger provide all three views of Election.

Eternal Security ~ Part 18

Arminian Theology ~ Part 4

In my last post, we continued to drill down into Arminian Theology.  In this post, we will conclude our presentation of Arminian Theology.  As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Terms of Salvation

Human responsibility in salvation involves knowledge of sin, turning from sin, turning toward God, and faith in Christ. Repentance has the idea of change. To repent means that sin must be forsaken; change has taken place. Repentance, therefore, involves action; moreover, repentance, comes before faith.

John Wesley (an Arminian) defined saving faith in three terms: (1) to put one’s trust in the mercy and forgiveness of God; (2) to receive assurance in the Believer’s life for instance, that Jesus is the Son of God; (3) to express reliance upon Christ, turning one’s life over to Christ as Lord. For Wesley, belief is ultimately expressed in obedience. This is in agreement with Arminians today who also emphasize the importance of works as a condition or result of salvation.

Meaning of the Atonement

Arminians generally hold to the governmental view of the death of Christ, which, as taught by Grotius, teaches that Christ did not die a substitutionary death for sinners. Christ suffered to satisfy the justice or government of God. Instead of dying for mankind, Christ made a “token payment” that satisfied the government of God. God therefore sets aside the requirement of the law and forgives sinners on the basis that His government has been upheld and honored.

Extent of the Atonement

Arminians teach that the atonement of Christ was universal. “This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrificial offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all.” The provision of Christ in His atonement is for everyone; it is sufficient for everyone to be saved (although not all are). The Scriptures emphasize universal provision (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8, 18; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). Since Christ made provision for all, the proclamation of the Gospel is to all (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47).

Arminians also teach that the benefit of the atonement includes the following:

(1) The continued existence of the race. It is hardly conceivable that the race would have been allowed to multiply in its sin and depravity, had no provision been made for its salvation.

(2) The restoration of all men to a state of solvability. The atonement provided for all men unconditionally, the free gift of grace. This included the restoration of the Holy Spirit to the race as the Spirit of enlightenment, striving and conviction. Thus man is not only given the capacity for a proper probation, but is granted the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit.

(3) The salvation of those who die in infancy. We must regard the atonement as accomplishing the actual salvation of those who die in infancy.

Salvation May Be Lost

Arminians have adhered to the doctrine that believers can lose their salvation. Although Arminius himself did not clearly state that Believers could be lost, his conclusions pointed in that direction. Arminius taught that man is saved by grace but not apart from his free will. The will remains free. Arminius emphasized that the free will had to concur in perseverance, otherwise the Believer could be lost.

John Wesley also taught that the believer may “make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, that he may fall, not only foully, but finally, so as to perish forever.” The basis for losing one’s salvation is found in passages like Luke 13:14; Colossians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 6:4-6; and 1 Peter 1:10.

Summary Evaluation of Arminian Theology

Arminianism stresses a number of important features. The emphasis on man’s responsibility is surely a Biblical factor: man must believe to be saved (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). If man refuses to believe, he is lost (John 5:40; 7:17). Arminianism’s emphasis on the universality of the atonement is also biblical (1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2).

Several features within Arminianism should be evaluated:

(1) Arminianism denies the imputation of sin; no one is condemned eternally because of original sin. Man is condemned because of his own sins. This appears at variance with Romans 5:12-21.

(2) Though variously interpreted, Arminians generally teach that the effects of the Fall were erased through prevenient grace bestowed on all men, enabling individuals to cooperate with God in salvation. There is, however, no clear indication of this kind of prevenient grace in Scripture.

(3) Arminians teach that the Fall did not destroy man’s free will; furthermore, they teach that prevenient grace moves upon the heart of the unbeliever, enabling him to cooperate with God in salvation by an act of the will. While it is true that man must bear responsibility in responding to the gospel (John 5:40), man’s will has been affected because of the Fall (Romans 3:11-12; Ephesians 2:1); man needs God’s grace in order to be saved (Ephesians 2:8; Acts 13:48; 16:14).

(4) Arminians relate predestination to God’s foreknowledge of man’s actions. They stress that God knew beforehand who would believe, and He elected those. In Arminianism, election and predestination are conditioned by faith. The word foreknowledge (Gk. prognosis), however, is basically equivalent to election (cf. Romans 11:2; 1 Peter 1:20). The data of God’s foreknowledge originates in advanced planning, not in advanced information.

(5) Arminianism stresses human participation and responsibility in salvation: recognition of sin, turning from sin, repentance, confession, and faith. For Arminianism, repentance involves change of actions, forsaking sins, whereas the biblical word repentance (Gk. metanoia) means “change of mind.” Although the stress on human responsibilities is significant, if it involves multiple conditions for salvation, this stress becomes a serious matter because the purity of salvation-by-grace-alone is then at stake. The sole condition of salvation stressed in scores of Scriptures is faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9).

(6) Arminianism teaches that Believers may lose their salvation because the human will remains free and so may rescind its earlier faith in Christ by choosing sin. Frequently this view is based on controversial passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22. The clear emphasis of Scripture, however, is that the Believer has eternal life as a present possession (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13) and is kept secure by Christ (John 10:28) because of what He has done (Romans 5:1; 8:1).

In my next post, I want to go back to the topic of Election which we briefly defined in Eternal Security ~ Part 2 as it applies to the Calvinistic and Arminian Theology.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 17

Arminian Theology ~ Part 3

In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology.  In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Original Sin

Arminians teach the doctrine of original sin; it affects the entire being of man; man is destitute of all positive good, and apart from God’s grace, man commits evil continually. Through Adam’s sin, sin and death entered the world. The penalty of death came upon all mankind because of a state of the human heart (not imputation). In addition, all people inherited a corrupted human nature as offsprings of Adam. This is not to suggest a legal imputation of sin, however. The Apology of the Remonstrants declares, “There is no ground for the assertion that the sin of Adam was imputed to his posterity in the sense that God actually judged the posterity of Adam to be guilty of and chargeable with the same sin and crime that Adam had committed.”

 

ARMINIAN DOCTRINE (THE REMONSTRANCE)

Doctrine

Explanation

Election Based on Knowledge God elected those whom He knew would of their own free will believe in Christ and persevere in the faith.
Unlimited Atonement In His atonement, Christ provided redemption for all mankind, making all mankind saveable. Christ’s atonement becomes effective only in those who believe.
Natural Inability Man cannot save himself; the Holy Spirit must affect the new birth.
Prevenient Grace Preparatory work of the Holy Spirit enables the Believer to respond to the Gospel and cooperate with God in salvation.
Conditional Perseverance Believers have been empowered to live a victorious life, but they are capable of turning from grace and losing their salvation.

While Arminianism recognizes original sin and depravity, it also teaches that the effects of original sin are erased and reversed in everyone through the grace of God, enabling the sinner to respond actively to God, or cooperate with God in salvation. No one is condemned because of imputed sin from Adam or because of a depraved nature, but only because of individual sins.

Election and Predestination

Arminius related the doctrine of predestination (God appointing certain people to salvation) to the foreknowledge of God (emphasis added). God knew who would choose Him and those are the ones God predestined. He also related his doctrine of predestination to those whom God knew would not only believe but also persevere. Concerning the election of individuals Arminius states “(the) decree rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which He has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through His preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere.”

Arminianism includes all mankind in its definition of predestination, which may be defined as “the gracious purpose of God to save mankind from utter ruin. It is not an arbitrary, indiscriminate act of God intended to secure the salvation of so many and no more. It includes provisionally, all men in its scope, and is conditioned solely on faith in Jesus Christ.”

Arminians have always regarded election to eternal life as conditional upon faith in Christ. It is not an arbitrary choice of God; instead it is based on man’s faith response to the gospel.

Prevenient Grace

Prevenient grace is the “preparing” grace of God that is dispensed to all, enabling a person to respond to the invitation of the Gospel. Prevenient grace may be defined as “that grace which ‘goes before’ or prepares the soul for entrance into the initial state of salvation. It is the preparatory grace of the Holy Spirit exercised toward man helpless in sin. As it respects the guilty, it may be considered mercy; as it respects the impotent, it is enabling power. It may be defined, therefore, as that manifestation of the divine influence which precedes the full regenerate life.”

This leads to a belief in synergism, “working together” or a “cooperative action” between man and God with regard to salvation. Because God dispenses prevenient grace, the effects of Adam’s sin are reversed, enabling the person to respond in faith to the Gospel. Man may accept or reject the Gospel and the grace of God of his own free will. “Through this awakening from original sin, one becomes open to the grace freely offered in Jesus Christ. Restoration to close and uncorrupted relationship with God is there by made possible.”

The Arminian system of grace may be summarized as follows; “(1) the inability of man as totally depraved; (2) the state of nature as in some sense state of grace through the unconditional benefit of the atonement; (3) the continuity of grace as excluding the Calvinistic distinction between common and efficacious grace; (4) synergism, or the co-operation of grace and free will; and (5) the power of man to finally resist the grace of God freely bestowed upon him.”

Freewill

It becomes apparent that there is a relationship between prevenient grace and free will. Wiley cites four propositions in relating prevenient grace to freedom of the will.

(1) Prevenient grace is exercised upon the natural man, or man in his condition subsequent to the fall. This grace is exercised upon his entire being, and not upon any particular element or power of his being.
(2) Prevenient grace has to do with man as a free and responsible agent. The fall did not efface the natural image of God in man, nor destroy any of the powers of his being. It did not destroy the power of thought which belongs to the intellect, nor the power of affection which pertains to the feelings. So, also, it did not destroy the power of volition which belongs to the will.
(3) Prevenient grace has to do further, with the person as enslaved by sin…This slavery is not absolute, for the soul is conscious of its bondage and rebels against it…Thus grace is needed…to awaken the soul to the truth…and to move upon the affections by enlisting the heart upon the side of truth.
(4) The continuous co-operation of the human will with the originating grace of the Spirit, merges prevenient grace directly into saving grace…Arminianism maintains that through the prevenient grace of the Spirit, unconditionally bestowed upon all men, the power and responsibility of free agency exist from the first dawn of the moral life.

In summation, Arminianism teaches that the fall of man did not destroy the power of the choice. Prevenient grace thus moves the person to see his spiritual need, enabling him to choose salvation. But grace, Wiley emphasizes, is prominent in the transaction.

In my next post, we will continue to drill down into Arminian Theology.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 16

Arminian Theology ~ Part 2

In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology.  In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology

Arminian doctrine is found in widely diversified groups today: Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Free Will Baptists, and most Charismatic and Holiness Believers. The doctrinal views that will be presented here are generally representative of Arminianism (especially as held by Wesleyans), but because of the diversity of the denominations and groups holding to the general tenets of Arminianism, what is true in particular of one will not necessarily be true of all.

Not all the doctrines that are fundamental to the Christian faith will be discussed, but only those which particularly set Arminianism apart as distinctive. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 16”

Eternal Security ~ Part 15

Arminian Theology ~ Part 1

In my last post, we took a brief look at Jacobus Arminius.  In this post, we now turn to explore Arminius’ views of Scripture which have been distilled into what has been called Arminian Theology.  As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Introduction

Arminianism is a term used to describe the theological views of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) and the movement that followed his teachings. The Arminian position was expressed in detail by followers of Arminius in the Remonstrance, a document produced in 1610, formally protesting the strict Calvinism in the Netherlands.  Recall that Arminius died in 1609.

Major theological emphases of Arminianism are:

  • Conditional election based on the foreknowledge of God;
  • God’s grace can be resisted;
  • Christ’s atonement was universal;
  • Man has a free will and through prevenient [anticipatory] grace can cooperate with God in salvation;
  • And, the believer may lose his salvation.

Although Arminianism is a product of a theological difference within the Reformed church, its theological views are held by diverse groups today. Methodist and Wesleyans adhere to Arminian doctrine, as also do the Holiness movement, many charismatics, and others such as the Free Will Baptists. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 15”

Eternal Security ~ Part 14

Brief Bio-Sketch of Jacobus Arminius [1]
(1559 ~ 1609)

In my last post, we concluded our initial exploration of Calvinistic Theology.  In this post, we now turn to explore Arminius’ influence on the Reformation and society in the sixteenth century and beyond.

As was true with Calvin, Arminius was a product of the Protestant Reformation albeit born fifty years after Calvin.  He was a Dutch theologian and founder of an anti-Calvinist Reformed theology.

Arminius was born in 1559 in the Netherlands during the Spanish occupation. His father, an armorer or smith, died around the time of the boy’s birth, so Arminius was educated under the direction and at the expense of family friends who recognized his abilities as a student. He had just entered Marburg University (Germany) when news came of the infamous Oudewater massacre by the Spanish. Arminius returned home to learn that his mother and several of his brothers and sisters had been among the victims. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 14”

Eternal Security ~ Part 7

God’s Sovereignty and Free Will

In my last post, we dug deeper into Hebrews 6:4-6 with some experts that have a different take on what the author of Hebrews may have meant when he wrote this passage.  In this post, we will explore a different, but I think related issue ~ God’s Sovereignty and Free Will.

In our American culture, we are raised to value our individual freedoms.  The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights,” literally scream freedom and free will.  As a matter of fact, the Tenth Amendment specifically states that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people (emphasis added).  In short, we are free to do whatever we want to do as long as we accept those consequences for doing something we are legally not entitled to do.  Clearly, I have the absolute right and free will to arm myself under the Second Amendment and the freedom to not exercise that right.

The concept of free will appears extensively in the writings of the Tanakh, but generally in relation to the “free will offerings” outlined in Leviticus 7:16;22:18, 21, 23; 23:38.  The concept is not as prevalent in the Brit Hadashah.  Yeshua stated, “No one takes it [His life] away from me; on the contrary, I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” ~ John 10:18. Again, in relation to an offering, Sha’ul writes, I tell you they have not merely given according to their means, but of their own free will they have given beyond their means.” ~ 2 Corinthians 8:3. And in his letter to Philemon, Sha’ul writes,“but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” ~ Philemon 1:14 (NASB)

In “Rightly Dividing the Word,” Rev. Clarence Larkin [1] wrote:

“There is no question but that the “Doctrine of Election” is taught in the Scriptures, and that it applies not only to “service,” but to “salvation.” It is equally true that the “Doctrine of the Freedom of the Will” under certain conditions is also taught. We may not be able to reconcile the “Sovereign Will of God,” with the “Free-will of Man,” but that is no proof that they are not reconcilable. They are the corresponding halves of the Doctrine of Salvation, “Election” is the Godward side, and “Free-will” the manward side.”

I take from this statement that we have the free will to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through faith in Yeshua and the free will to reject that offer.

A.W. Tozer [2] has this to say on the topic of free will in “The Attributes of God – Volume 1: A Journey into the Father’s Heart:”

“God is good toward all who accept His goodness. And for those who reject His goodness, there’s nothing that even the Almighty God can do if He’s going to allow man his free will—and I believe in free will. Free will was given as a gift of God—He’s given us a little provisional sovereignty out of His absolute sovereignty. He has said, “I’ll allow you, within a little framework, to be your own boss and to choose to go to heaven or to hell.” If a man will not take God’s goodness, then he must have God’s severity toward all who continue in moral revolt against the throne of God and in rebellion against the virtuous laws of God.”

In “The Attributes of God – Volume 2: Deeper into the Father’s Heart,” Tozer expands on his doctrine of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will which in the interest of space, I only quote in part.

“The matter of man’s free will versus God’s sovereignty can be explained in this way: God’s sovereignty means that He is in control of everything, that He planned everything from the beginning.  Man’s free will means that he can, anytime he wants, make most any choice he pleases (within his human limitations, of course).  Man’s free will can apparently defy the purposes of God and will against the will of God.  Now how do we resolve this seeming contradiction?

Down through the years, two divisions of the church have attempted to resolve this dilemma in different ways. One division emphasizes the sovereignty of God, believing that God planned everything from the beginning, that God ordered that some would be saved and some lost, that Christ died for those who would be saved, but He didn’t die for the others who would not be saved. That is actually what followers of John Calvin believe.

On the other side, there are those who say that Christ died for all and that man is free to make his choice. But those who teach the sovereignty of God in this exclusive way say that if man is free to make a choice, then God isn’t sovereign.  Because if a man can make a choice that God doesn’t like, then God does not have His way.

God’s sovereignty means absolute freedom, doesn’t it?  God is absolutely free to do anything He wants or wills to do—anywhere, anytime, forever.  And man’s free will means that man can make any choice he wants to make, even if he makes a choice against the will of God.  There is where the theologians lock horns like two deer out in the woods and wallow around until they die. I refuse to get caught on either horn of that dilemma!  Here is what I see: God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please.  And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice.

And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice. If I choose to go to hell, it’s not what His love would have chosen, but it does not controvert nor cancel out His sovereignty. Therefore, I can take John Calvin in one hand and Jacob Arminius in the other and walk down the street. (Neither of them would walk with me, I’m sure, because Calvin would say I was too Arminian and Arminius would say I was too Calvinistic!)

But I’m happy in the middle. I believe in the sovereignty of God and in the freedom of man. I believe that God is free to do as He pleases and I believe that, in a limited sense, He has made man free to do as he pleases—within a certain framework, but not a very big one. After all, you’re not free to do very many things. You’re free to make moral choices. You’re free to do a few things, but not that many. But the things you are free to do are gifts from the God who is utterly free. Therefore, anytime I make a choice, I’m fulfilling the freedom God gave me and therefore I’m fulfilling God’s sovereignty and carrying it out.

God has said that those who follow Jesus Christ and believe in Him shall be saved, and those who refuse shall be damned. That’s settled—eternally, sovereignly settled. But you and I have freedom in the meantime, to do anything we want to do. And though most people think very little about it, we’re going to answer for that someday, according to the sovereign will of God.

God has certain plans that He is going to carry out. “The LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3KJV). When God is carrying on His plans, He is moving in a certain direction. When the enemy comes along (exercising the little freedom God has given him to be an enemy of God) and intersects the will and purpose of God, then there’s trouble. As long as we move in the will of God, everything goes smoothly. But when we get out of the will of God, then we have trouble on our hands.”

It’ hard for me to argue with Tozer.  I’m beginning to think I might be a Calvi-minian.  In my next post or two or three, I will explore Calvinism followed by Arminianism.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  Rev. Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was an American Baptist pastor, Bible teacher and author whose writings on Dispensationalism had a great impact on conservative Protestant visual culture in the 20th century. His intricate and influential charts provided readers with a visual strategy for mapping God’s action in history and for interpreting complex biblical prophecies.

[2] Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor.  For his work, he received two honorary doctoral degrees.

Eternal Security ~ Part 4

Apostasy ~ Part 1

In my last post, we began to look at the concept of Eternal Security.  We will be coming back to that topic throughout this series as we discuss other aspects of it.  In this post, we will explore the issue of Apostasy in more detail.  We will, also touch on the issue of Backsliding.

 In Part 2 of this series, I provided a brief definition of Apostasy.  The Greek word is aphistēmi which means to “depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self or falling away.”

In the Brit Hadashah its usual meaning is that of a religious defection.  The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim [End Times] some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” ~ 1 Timothy 4:1. Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living God! ~ Hebrews 3:12.   This is called “apostasy from the faith:” a secession from the kehilah and a disowning of the name of Messiah. The grave nature of Apostasy is shown by such passages as:

 “For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, of raging fire that will consume the enemies. Someone who disregards the Torah of Moshe is put to death without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. Think how much worse will be the punishment deserved by someone who has trampled underfoot the Son of God; who has treated as something common the blood of the covenant which made him holy; and who has insulted the Spirit, giver of God’s grace!” ~ Hebrews 10:26-29 Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 4”