Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 12 – Arminianism: Resistible Grace
In Part 11, we closed-out our discussion of the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace, with one question still lingering:
Arminians often respond to the Calvinistic doctrines of Irresistible Grace and Unconditional Election with the following objection: “So you’re saying that God drags people into heaven against their will, while those sincerely desiring to get in can’t because they’re not the elect?”
Banging on Heaven’s Door?
We’ll start with the second objection: Is it the case that there are sinners who want to reconcile with God but, God won’t let them because He didn’t elect them?
Here’s the problem with this objection: it doesn’t take into consideration the state of man. Scripture teaches that Adam’s sin brought spiritual death to us all (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13).
As a result, men are spiritually deaf, blind, and completely corrupted (Ecc. 9:3; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14); also, men are slaves of sin (John. 8:34; Rom. 6:20; Tit. 3:3) and children of the devil (Eph. 2:1–2; 2 Tim. 2:25–26; 1 John 3:10).
So how does natural man respond to the revelations God has given him? He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Consequently, man in his unregenerate state hates God and is therefore not seeking Him.
10) as it is written,
"THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12) ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE."
Kicking and Screaming?
Now to the former part of the objection: Is God forcing people into heaven against their will?
As we’ve just seen, man is dead in his sins and in complete and utter rebellion against God. Man’s plight is not simply that he needs to add a few doctrines to his belief system—no, he needs to be made a new creation (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 5:17–18), to have his nature renewed (Due. 30:6; Ezk. 36:26–2; 1 Pet. 1:3).
Being made alive by the Spirit (John 5:21; Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13), the sinner is granted repentance (Acts. 11:18, 16:14; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:25–26). Now with a new disposition towards God, he lives a life characterized by thankfulness and service unto the Lord (Rom. 6:1-14; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13).
The Arminian objection falls flat, for it does not truly represent the state of man, nor does it truly represent the gracious work of God in salvation.
In his fallen state, man is an enemy of God. He not only doesn’t seek reconciliation and entrance into God’s kingdom, but he is daily seeking to further himself from His holy Creator. The sinner’s only hope is a rescue operation—a sovereign work of God upon his heart. Once regenerated, the new believer lives a life of thankfulness and dedication to his magnificent benefactor.
In the next post in this series we’ll take-up the Arminian doctrine of Uncertain Perseverance: Although God’s grace has been extended to, and accepted by, the believer, he may still “fall from grace” and thus lose his salvation.
Labels: Calvinism vs. Arminianism