F1. Five points of Calvinism vs. Arminianism (Question 61)
Depravity or Total Inability
Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is sinful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore he cannot choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Only after the Holy Spirit regenerates him can he be saved.
Will or Human Ability
Although human nature was seriously affected by the Fall, man has not been left in a state of total spiritual helplessness. God graciously enables every sinner to repent and believe, but He does not interfere with manís freedom. Each sinner possesses a free will. Faith is manís act and precedes the new birth.
Godís choice of certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. Election therefore was not determined or conditioned on any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man
Godís choice of certain individuals to salvation before the foundation of the world was based on His foreseeing that they would respond to His call. He selected only those whom He knew would of themselves freely believe the gospel. Election therefore was determined by or conditioned on what a person would do, whether he would cooperate with the Spiritís working.
Atonement or Particular Redemption
Christís redeeming work was intended to save the elect only. The effect of atonement was limited only to the redemption of the elect.
Atonement or Universal Redemption
Christís redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of everyone. The effect of atonement is sufficient for the redemption of everyone.
Grace or Efficacious Call of the Holy Spirit
In addition to the outward general call to salvation, which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation. This internal call cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion.
Grace or Call of the Holy Spirit can be Effectually Resisted
The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation. But inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spiritís call. Faith on the part of man precedes and makes possible the new birth.
of the Saints
All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of God and thus will always persevere to the end.
from Grace Possible
Those who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation by falling to keep up their faith or to deliberately refute their faith. Not all Arminians agree on this point.
|The whole human race is lost in sin, and each individual is totally corrupted in intellect, will, and emotions by sin. Man is unable to respond to Godís offer of salvation because he is spiritually dead (Jer 17:9; Jn 6:44; Ro 3:1-23; 2Co 4:3-4; Eph 2:1-3).||If man is unable to respond and cannot obey God, then how can God truly offer salvation to all through the gospel and expect obedience from man (Mt 11:28-30; Jn 3:16; 6:35)?|
|God is sovereign in all He does, all according to His good will and pleasure. He is not answerable to man, because He is creator and can choose whomever He wills to save (Ro 9:20-21; Eph 1:5; Php 2:13; Rev 4:11).||God desires everyone to be saved (1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9).|
|God has chosen certain people for His special grace, irrespective of their descent, character, or good deeds. (Jn 6:37,44,65; 15:16; Ac 13:48; Ro 9:6-24; Eph 1:4-5).||God would not be fair in choosing only some to eternal life and passing over others, because this would violate manís free will to choose and because the offer of the gospel to all would not be in good faith.|
|Election is an expression of Godís sovereign will and is the cause of faith (Eph 2:8-10).||God cannot demand that man believe if faith comes from Him.|
|Those whom God chooses will certainly come to faith in Christ (Ro 8:29-30).||There is the possibility that those who have come to faith may fall from grace and lose their salvation.|
|Election is from all eternity and is immutable (Eph 1:4,9-11).||God foresaw those who would believe and elected them in eternity (Ro 8:29).|
|God desires all persons to be saved and does not desire the death of the wicked (Eze 33:11; 1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9).||God has selected some to be saved, not all; and He has even chosen not to reveal some truths to some people (Mt 13:10-16; Jn 10:24-30).|
|The universal character of Godís commands and exhortations reveal His desire to save all people (Jn 3:3,5-7; 1Pe 1:16). God issues a universal invitation for all to come to Christ (Isa 55:1; Mt 11:28; Jn 9:37-39).||Godís standard does not change because of manís inability to obey; a person can come to God only if God draws him (Jn 6:35-40,44-47,65).|
|All people are able to believe and be saved, because God has issued a universal call to salvation and because God has given all people prevenient grace to counteract sin and to render everyone able to respond to the gospel.||The term "prevenient grace" is not found in the Bible. Paul expresses the fact that man is unable to turn to God and does not even seek God, but that he rejects the revelation he has been given (Ro 1:18-32; 3:10-19).|
|It would be unjust of God to hold people responsible for what they are unable to do.||Everyone is personally responsible for their sins, and no one has a claim on Godís grace.|
|God does choose some to salvation and pass over others, because He has foreseen who will accept the offer of salvation in Christ. Foreknowledge is Godís knowing beforehand who will receive salvation and is closely tied with election (Ro 8:29; 1Pe 1:1-2).||Foreknowledge as used in Scripture is not just knowledge of future events, but is a relational term showing that God has loved the elect before they came to existence and chose them regardless of their deeds (Ro 9:26-29).|
F4. Universalism: varieties (Question 61)
b. Universal pardon (Dodd): Maintains that God, being loving, will not hold unswervingly to the conditions he has laid down. Though threatening eternal punishment He will in the end relent and forgive everyone. God will treat all persons as if they had believed.
c. Universal restoration (Origen): At some point in the future all things will be restored to their original and intended state. Full salvation may be preceded by cycles of reincarnation or by some purgatorial period at the beginning of the life hereafter.
d. Doctrine of a second chance: The work of Christ is sufficient to secure the salvation of the elect, but salvation is effectually secured by the means of faith (Ro 10:10-13). All people, even those who have heard and rejected, will be confronted with the claims of Christ in the life to come. Everyone given such an opportunity will of course accept it.
F5. Universalism: arguments for and against (Question 61)
|It is ridiculous to think that a living, all-powerful, and sovereign God could create a system whereby a portion of mankind (the epitome of His creation) would be condemned to everlasting punishment.||God will not do anything that contradicts any of His attributes. Hence in order to harmonize His perfect love and perfect justice, he devised the system of redemption.|
|To condemn the unsaved to everlasting punishment as a result of their relatively short life span on earth is unjust.||God is the final standard of justice, not man.|
|If an all-powerful and sovereign God desires all people to be saved (1Ti 2:3-4; 2Pe 3:9), then surely all are saved.||Although God desires salvation for all mankind, a person must respond to Godís offer of salvation and many do not (Jn 5:40).|
|Christís death has acquitted all mankind of their condemnation before God, just as Adam brought the entire human race into sin (Ro 5:18; 1Co 15:22).||The context of both verses clearly shows that the benefits of Christís death are for those in Christ, just as the penalties of Adamís sin are for those in Adam.|
|The theme of NT is that of Godís sovereign love. If His love is sovereign, it must be completely victorious. To say that Godís love is not adequate to secure the salvation of all mankind in the end presumes a finite God.||Agreed, God has infinite love, but He also has justice and holiness. He has already devised a plan consistent with all His infinite attributes. It is up to man to accept Godís plan, instead of devising his own plan and calling God unjust if He does not accept it.|
|Christ paid the penalty of sin on behalf of all mankind (Heb 2:9), and legally, if such an adequate substitution is made and accepted, it is unjust for the creditor to require the original payment also.||The substitutionary death of Christ was sufficient for salvation of all (2Co 5:19); however, each person must believe in order for it to be effectual on his behalf (2Co 5:20).|
|Godís all-encompassing attribute is love. His judgment is only a temporary measure to reform unrepentant persons, and hence is itself motivated by love. Ultimately all people will be reformed, whether in this life or the after-life, and hence ultimately all will be saved.||Scripture never refers to the abode of unbelievers after death as a place for reformation. It is always referred to as a place of destruction and punishment (Mt 25:46; Lk 16:19-31). The only reference to any encounter of Christ with unbelievers after their death is in 1Pe 3:19; and this passage is at most applicable only to the unbelievers of Noahís day.|
|Ultimately all mankind will believe, whether in this life or the hereafter (Php 2:10-11; 1Pe 3:19-20).||Christís death made all people saveable (2Co 5:19), but man must believe in order to be saved (2Co 5:20).|
|Many will not believe in this life, but the after-life offers a second chance.||The scriptural references to "saving faith" clearly indicate that some will never believe (1Jn 1:11-12; 3:18; 30:31).|
|The words of Jesus indicate clearly that some go to eternal life and others to eternal punishment. Further, in Mt 25:46, the word for eternal is aionos, meaning "relating to the final order of things which shall not pass away."|
|Warning of "lostness" are merely hypothetical and constitute one of the ways in which God secures the universal salvation of all mankind.||Other NT scriptures point to the destruction of the nonelect (Ro 9:22; 2Th 1:9; Rev 21:8).|
|Christ and the apostles were constantly warning people of Godís wrath and judgment on sin and urgently calling them to repentance. Hence, if universalism is true, Christ and the apostles were either ignorant or grossly deceptive.|
b. Chafer (Dallas Theological Seminary) in his Systematic Theology (1948): "The New Testament does not impose repentance upon the unsaved as a condition of salvation." He recognizes that many verses call upon people to repent, but he simply defines repentance away as a "change of mind" that does not include sorrow for sin or turning from sin. Recently, Zane Hodges (Dallas Theological Seminary) repeated a similar argument.
c. Both repentance and faith are included in the gospel (Ac 20:21; Heb 6:1; also Isa 55:6-7).
d. It is true that in some biblical instances, the call to salvation includes only a call to faith (Jn 3:16; Ac 16:31; Ro 10:9; Eph 2:8-9)
e. However, it is also true that in some biblical instances, the call to salvation includes only repentance (Lk 24:46-47; Ac 2:37-38; 3:19; 5:31; 17:30; Ro 2:4; 2Co 7:10). Further, sometimes salvation is demonstrated by actions (Lk 18:18-30; 19:1-10). The one who did good works was declared by Jesus to have salvation. Thus the proper understanding of true saving faith should include both faith AND repentance, with subsequent godly works.