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This Christian Journey:

 

Concerning Calvinism and Arminianism

 A Christian form India sent me the following question and my response follows.  I forward it to you because I believe many struggle with this same issue.  Your responses are always welcome. 

Dear Brother Walter, 

Thank you for your gracious response. I did go through your website and read a little on 'Predestination'. And I was glad that you did not incline to either Calvinism or Armininism. I too have found that Calvinism does not hold the truth of Scripture and is detrimental to the full functioning of the Body of Christ. I praise God for your very balanced view on this issue. 

However, I have been, of late, wondering about the fact of man's inability to repent. I understand that you do believe that man, of  himself, cannot repent and turn to Christ. In a sense, I do agree that, if it were not for the Lord's mercy and grace towards me, I would not have repented and turned to Christ. The Lord did grant me repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

You mention in your Doctrinal Statement - "Man's basic nature is so fallen he cannot repent by himself but must accept God's enablement with sincerity of heart." 

Now if this is true then why did our Lord Jesus, and the apostles also, call upon people to 'repent'. If man cannot of himself repent, i.e., change his mind about God and His Word, His view of himself and sin, etc., then why ever give out such a call. If only God can help people repent then it would be more right to ask God to grant repentance than ask people to repent. But probably, in all of this what we all really mean to say is - We ask people to repent, and although they really can't do so without the help of the Spirit of God working in their hearts, if they AT LEAST HAVE THE DESIRE TO DO SO, the Lord helps them in doing so. Is this really what we all mean to conclude or is there some thing else to this whole issue? Besides, throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel were asked to 'choose' to follow God and choose His Word. Could they choose or couldn't they unless the Spirit of God helped them? The Lord Jesus also clearly mentioned that He often wished to gather the children of Israel under His wings ... but they 'wouldn't' - they did not want to come to Him. They were unwilling to come and therefore chose not to come. Was our Lord wrong in putting the 'blame' on them for not coming. Surely, He alone could have known the whole truth that, if this were true, they would not be able to come to Him on their own.  And yet He 'blames' them for not coming. Is God unjust or unfair? Far be it from us to entertain such a thought! Are people merely puppets under the total and complete control of a God who determines who should turn to Him in repentance and who shouldn't and then 'blame' those who didn't turn to Him and actually punish them for not turning to Him? 

For myself, I believe, that man is totally responsible for all of his actions and decisions. Therefore he deserves to be punished and is answerable for his actions. He needs to be told to repent since Christ and all of His apostles urged people to repent and turn to God, yes and even 'commands' repentance. However, when a sinner repents and turns to God, he should acknowledge and realize that it was not his efforts or act of repentance or even the act of turning to God that he is forgiven, saved, etc. but by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ alone that he is in Christ. 

In conclusion, all I can say is that the Bible teaches both sides of the picture. In John chapter 6 our Lord Jesus clearly affirmed that no one could come to Him unless the Father draws him to Him. At the same time the Lord also affirmed that He will in wise refuse or turn away anyone who comes to Him. So people are responsible to come to Him. How both these truths are to be fully understood or reconciled - I leave it to the Lord. The very fact that both these truths are taught in scripture, to me is clear proof that they are already reconciled. They are truths, not for us to debate about or explain with logic, but to accept in faith that the God of all the earth cannot do that which is unjust. Praise be to His everlasting Name for evermore. 

Dear Brother, I am only thinking out aloud and not in any way trying to argue out my point, nor do I wish to enter into debates. Nor am I trying to imply that you or your website is inviting arguments. I am much younger than yourself. Besides, I have always been eager to learn from brethren far more spiritual and matured than myself, such as you clear are. I trust the Lord will make all things plain to me as well. 

In Christ, an inquiring Christian. 

My Response 

Dear Brother in Christ, 

I fully understand the discourse you have written and the struggle we have in trying to fully understand the Word of God and all that it reveals. 

I believe that every human being is fully responsible for their choices and must either choose to accept or reject our Lord Jesus Christ and His precious gift of eternal life.  I also fully realize that in order for us to repent we must first hear the revealed Word of God (Rom 10.17), have our heart tuned and turned by the Word of God, and willingly submit to the action of God's Word within us.   

I fully believe that it is not God's will that any human being should perish and thus God is inviting all of humanity to respond to His gracious invitation to be saved.  I also believe that repentance is two fold; it is a human choice, but it is also the super natural act of God.  These both work in harmony to work out the wonder of the new birth within us.  As we hear God's initiation, or Jesus knocking at the door of our heart (God's Part in Christ – Rev 3.20), realize the reality and implications of His initiation (The Holy Spirit's Part in awakening or illumination – 1 Cor 2.9-16), respond to the God's invitation (Our human part – Rom 10.9-10,13), we experience a super natural transformation (The Father's part in our New Birth – Rom 12.1-2; John 3.3).  So that in our repentance and redemption there is the harmonious work of God and our human will all at the same time.  God does not and will not ever force our decision, but He certainly stands ready to respond to any sincere decision or hearth felt response. 

In no way do I, nor will I, stand with the Calvinist that would say it is all of God and nothing of our will.  At the same time I cannot say it is all of us and nothing of God.  It is both working in harmony together to produce that which only confounds philosophy and reason.  It is the supernatural act of God moving in response to a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  It is the human being realizing and confessing the greatness of His need, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and his inability to work out the needed response on his own, who then calls out upon God to work in him that which he can not possibly do on his own.  To which God is all too pleased to respond with divine power and authority (Praise God!) and the New Birth is the result. 

Perhaps this helps, or perhaps it confuses, but it is my mortal attempt to explain a deep spiritual truth that is far beyond our intellects.  None-the-less it is my explanation. 

Thank you for your response and I would love to help you in anyway that I can.

 



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