Last Friday, I was honored to be interviewed by a Missiology candidate student on Reformed Theology. One of the best question was: what did I think about the Armenian view on salvation and why did it not make sense to me.
What do I Think About Arminian View on Salvation
An Arminian hold a view that God, who is sovereign and possesses foreknowledge, has place each one of us in a particular time and place were we may in our freewill turn to him and be saved.
Thus election is based on God’s foreknowledge of those whom He knew would of their own freewill believe in Christ and persevere in the faith.
“God chose those whom He knew would, of their own free will, choose Christ”(Romans: An Interpretive Outline, by David N. Steele and Curtis Thomas)
Does This Make Sense?
I believe it does not. This view of salvation fails to capture the gravity of our radical depravity, viz our fallen nature.
God did not chose those whom He knew would of their own freewill believe in Christ, because none in their freewill would believe in Christ. When left alone, in our freewill, under sin “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)
J. I. Packer captured this well: He writes:
Since all are naturally dead in sin (i.e., cut off from the life of God and unresponsive to him), no one who hears the gospel will ever come to repentance and faith without an inner quickening that only God can impart (Eph. 2:4-10). Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65, cf. 44; 10:25-28). Sinners choose Christ only because God chose them for this choice and moved them to it by renewing their hearts.
Though all human acts are free in the sense of being self-determined, none are free from God’s control according to his eternal purpose and foreordination.
Christians should therefore thank God for their conversion, look to him to keep them in the grace into which he has brought them, and confidently await his final triumph, according to his plan.(Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.)
There is no possible world, or time and place where a sinner left by himself/herself would choose Christ. Christ Jesus put it clear, when he said “ No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44 ESV) and “ This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”(John 6:65 ESV)
No one is able to come because we as human beings freely choose to act according to our strongest desire(borrowing Jonathan Edwards’ thoughts in The Freedom of the Will). Apostle Paul put it this way: “ For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19-20 ESV)
Room For Boasting:
Arminian view on salvation gives a room for boasting. An Arminian can boast for his salvation. God has chose him because God knew he would, of his own free will, choose Christ.
“[T]he ground of our predestination is the good pleasure of God’s will, the goal of our predestination is the praise of God’s glory, and the predestined connecting links between the good pleasure of his will and the praise of his glory are the death of his Son and the holiness of his people.”(John Piper on : Ephesians 1:3-6 ). No room for boasting, for salvation is solely God’s doing. God’s choosing, God calling, God’s electing, God breathing new life, God’s drawing, God’s justifying and God’s glorifying.
I think Arminian view on salvation is wrong and that is why I am Not Arminian.
N.B: Foreknow in Romans 8:29; 11:2 (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2 and 1:20, where the NIV renders the Greek foreknown as “chosen” ) means “fore-love” and “fore-appoint”: it does not express the idea of a spectator’s anticipation of what will spontaneously happen.(Packer, J. I. (1995). Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs.)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.(Ephesians 1:3-12 ESV)
A spiritual dead person remain dead unless God breathe life in him. This makes salvation solely, God’s.
– R. C. Sproul