John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain. RSV
What you do in the power of the Spirit will not fade away. Those that you win to Christ, those that are brought by the ministry that you will be ministering will abide, and this cause will nourish in the earth and spread unto the uttermost parts till every nation shall hear the word, and out of every tribe and nation of earth shall come, at last, fruit that shall remain. This is what he means, “Greater work than these shall you do, because I go to the Father.” It is his work in us.
Ray C. Stedman
Arminian pastors and leaders love to bandy the words grace and gospel in front of their listeners. The sobering truth is that they mean something entirely different by these words than can be found in the Bible. An Arminian congregation can go several generations and never hear the term Governmental theory of atonement. Nor will the name Grotius ever be mentioned - nor Pelagius - nor imputation. I propose the seminarians schooled in Arminian salvation are ashamed of the underlying supportive rationale of the theory (the means), but relish the hammer (the effect) held over the heads of those naive enough to believe that they can lose or give back a salvation by faith through grace secured in the all-sufficient blood of Christ.
Maxim: One may not appreciate the priceless antiques in a room filled with modern distractions.
(Arminian theology, aside from a more detailed and illuminating discussion, simply stated, says that salvation, once believed and received may be lost and regained, in a revolving door system of salvation. The "Purpose Driven Church" philosophy, "Dake's Annotated Reference Bible," and the salvation offered by a Jehovah Witness - compared to "Charles Ryrie's Study Bible," "The Old Scofield Study Bible," or the ministry of Moody Bible Institute are commonly encountered, every-day examples.)
My focus is not on the "person" of what is termed Arminian Christian belief. Rather, the underlying basis of a contemporary Soteriology (the biblical teaching or doctrine of salvation), or the value of the death of Christ in salvation, is the object of my exposition. The evaluation of the sacrifice made by Christ shapes and underlies a gospel presentation. Quite the reverse of a widely preached and personally accepted Lordship gospel is the believing and receiving of salvation through a divinely recognized and accepted trust that one is forgiven and saved eternally.
Whereas, it may be easily grasped in a "Lordship " gospel that the responsibility of a self-maintained "parolee" salvation rests upon the individual - not Christ. The more difficult gospel claim is that salvation becomes final during one living moment. That is to say, forgiveness and destiny is not determined after death. When confronted with this dichotomy in Christian salvation, the sincere Arminian (e.g., John Wesley and Methodist salvation, etc.) follower of salvation is inclined to respond: I only wish that were true. He sees not a choice, but an impossible wish, like that of human flight.
If a system of so-called Christianity and its gospel is wrong about the value in the death of Christ, that system's evangelical presentations and teachings concerning the believer's salvation and daily walk are quite literally - a waste of time and effort. Likewise, faith in Buddha nor Mohammed, or a great spirit will afford myself or anyone else the certainty of a secure, greatly improved afterlife. Jesus is "all things," (Gk. ta panta), and all things come by Jesus.
I hold forth the magnified differences between the two systems of salvation and advise strongly to avoid the distraction of semi-Pelagian (the heretical "humanistic" teachings of Pelagius, circa 400 A.D., denounced in the letters of Augustine) arguments concerning man's unlimited ability to effect his "free will" in choice and the continuance of salvation. Free will and saving faith are a response, not a cause of salvation. Man did not manifest the conditions of salvation, he merely responds to an offer created by God through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. A Savior who is acting even now to expand and conform His body of believers. Therefore, my prime concern is that the reader may understand what is a proper gospel invitation to God's graceful salvation in Christ Jesus.
In sharp contradiction to Arminian teaching, salvation, like conception, is not a continuing process. Whereas, practice in spiritual maturity, or sanctification, as with natural development and growth, does continue throughout a believer's lifetime.
Naturally developed fruit is not man-made. Fruit requires a tree or a vine. Abundant fruit requires cultivation of the branches. A believer is not the fruit; but the branch. The bloom on the branch fertilizes another by the natural process of bird, wind, or bee. The fruit is of the Spirit and the Light. The fruit is of the tree and holds the potential to produce new branches for new fruit. And the cycle continues.
The original tree or vine, the Alpha, is essential to the fruit, the Omega; but, by natural design the fruit proceeds from the branch. It is God who enjoys the fruits of His labor. But just here a problem arises. Based upon a theory of atonement that rejects the imputation of penalty and worth in the death of Christ which, accordingly - translates into recognition for personal worth - the Arminian fully anticipates entrance into heaven by taking advantage of grace and assuming the greater part of God's enjoyment to be rightfully his.
Saving faith is not a response that can ever be repeated. It might only be improved upon as daily faith is exercised in the belief that one is saved and destined for the glory prepared by Christ. A glory waiting on the souls of those who are vitally joined through His glorified humanity to His divine and ever-existing "fullness," (Gk. pleroma), and felicity of eternal life. The very life in the Godhead shared by the Father and the Spirit of God. Unity with God is a grand and marvelous reality straight from the truthful lips of Jesus in the Gospel of John, chapters 13-17.
Salvation is why God became the Unique God-Man of a new race of women and men possessed of a heavenly destiny. The Arminian doctrine of salvation, where the death of Christ is seen as a "token" death that releases the Father to benignly forgive some sins, is defined by a man-made conception known variously as the Federal, Governmental, or Rectoral theory of atonement may not - because of inherent self-destruction - allow itself the freedom to cherish the real divine motive of salvation. Jesus, the ultimate husband, loves His own "body" so very much. How might He ever deny a truly trusting soul after the two have become one?
2 Cor 11:3 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 11:3 But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough! NET
*If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you would like to read, "Author's Forward, "Is It Really True That You Can Lose Your Salvation?"" found under he heading of Christian Living.
Copyright 2007 David Coulon. Use with credit.
"The Pursuit of God," AW Tozer
"The Freedom of the Will," Jonathan Edwards
A paper discussing the many different gospel invitations has been produced by the AWANA Clubs International and may be found at bible.org. As well, many other articles detailing the salvation taught in the Bible may be found on this Dallas Theological Seminary ministry site.
Copyright 2007 by David Coulon. All rights reserved. Use with credit only.
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Copyright 2007-2008 by David Coulon. Registered and released under CC license 3.0 2007-2008.
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