This will no doubt be a very controversial post, but it is something that, especially after reading pastor Fernando’s latest blog entry, I believe must be addressed. Not addressing it would be wrong, I believe, in both the eyes of our Glorious God and those He has given discernment too.
To many who profess the doctrines of grace, they say the Arminian cannot be their brother; they fail to realize that many who hold to that position do not even know they do, until confronted with it; they have been taught that faith to believe is universally applicable to all men, and not a gift from God (or a gift that makes belief possible, but not concrete, until “energized” by a movement of the dead-in-sin will), or that it is a gift from God that they must accept, thus faith accepts faith.
Of course, this seems a silly proposition: to believe to believe, yet even so, we hear it expressed in Scripture by the desperate father of the child with the spirit that throws him into the fire and the water (Matthew 17:15-18; Mark 9:17-27), and the disciples ask the Lord to increase their faith (Luke 17:5), so it is not so silly after all, is it?
By this, we do not mean that man, of himself, has the kind of faith that is only divinely granted by God, but what we deny is that one who is steeped in the tradition of man’s teaching, regarding God’s sovereignty, man’s depravity, and other of the truths of Scripture, cannot come to a greater understanding, and we understand that not just in orthopraxy, but in all matters of growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that, with the apostle, we ought to say, “Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained (Philippians 3:15-16).
Since “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5),” should our attitude then reflect the fleshly manner of expression that is contrary to that charge, in unwarranted antagonism, for brethren less mature in the faith (the body of doctrines God has given us); from we who say we are spiritual, are able to discern a true love, thankfulness, and worship of God?
Who is being mature in the faith in such circumstances as these?
I would contend that neither party is doing so – zealousness mixed with the flesh is hardly spiritual maturity.
This is not to say we do not fully disagree with the traditions of men taught as the doctrines and commandments of our God, but we must realize that we are to give the reason for that which we believe, which is always according to “the hope that is in us,” with unwavering humility and fear of representing the very thing we are seeking to give patient, humble instruction and correction regarding – to look like the world and reason from the flesh in any degree will not correct, but alienate, those whom God wills we speak and teach of His life, trust, and truth; this we must always fear to do, as children of the most High God, and co-heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ, entirely of Him.
Do we realize that most of those brought up in the various churches today have largely accepted modern philosophical and psychological patterns of thought that actually are not even a part of the message of God’s truth and gospel, yet that also many of these same people actually do believe, by the same grace we believe, or are we so arrogant as to think that one is not born again unless they have all the doctrinal ducks in a row?
How many of those who cry the loudest, in the most rude and condemning manner, against the confused synergism of today which they call Arminianism (most of it is hardly that, but based loosely upon such, or semi-Pelagianism), were themselves not fully persuaded of these divine truths prior to giving vent to such vitriol?
I grant, there are times when such must be said, but certainly in a manner that is consistent with the glory of God, and not the depravity of the flesh.
The litmus test for us should be this: when confronted with the grand truths of God’s sovereignty, man’s radical depravity, and His gloriously free grace, do those we speak of such to continually wail and cry out against these, instead insisting that the created creature must have the ability to dictate their alleged self-governing will to bend that of their Creator, no matter how often they are faced with the fact that it is only God who truly has such a will, and that in so infinite and good a measure, as with all of His most holy qualities, that it defies complete comprehension?
Again, do they insist that the Creator of all there is, who has determined their boundaries and dwelling places, and given them even the breath they must have, must love all people, of all time, in an anonymous, generic “love” that they themselves will never observe (see, for instance, Ephesians 5:26-27)?
These are the places of the battle within the visible church, the lines that are drawn by God’s own truth, and He has determined the manner in which we do such with those who even the apostle calls brethren, while stating that they are Christ’s, unless they have believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:1-2); should our manner of address be any the less honestly steeped in the life, faith, love, and yes, truth, that our God has given us?
True, there are lines that must not be crossed, and we must be quick to point these out to those we call brethren, or who call themselves our brethren, such as works-salvation, or the so-called carnal Christianity that is nothing other than telling people they can live like hell, as long as they have made a “decision” for Christ; other than these, however, our marching orders are clear, and if we hold that those who have not come to the place of maturity in the faith – meaning the doctrines of God – have no place or inheritance with us, let us beware, lest we be found to be fighting against God Himself.
Remember, most we would label Arminian do not even have enough knowledge of the Word to understand that position, and may very well be of those elect of God, while some who do hold to these most precious truths may show themselves not to be by their very words and actions, for both knowledge without love and emotional counterfeits of love without knowledge can prove themselves to be devoid of the actual truth of God.
I applaud the so-called New Reformation, but wonder at the zeal of condemnation of those who promote these doctrines in a manner that would make any humanistic, materialistic, relativistic post-modern atheist proud.
Remember, we are to love in word and deed, and pride is that which brings each fall; let us keep these things in mind, and trust in the God who saved us to make His points, rather than thinking ourselves wise in our own eyes, for to do such is not to trust in our God completely, acknowledge that He will direct all our ways, and is the very essence of evil, for the fear of the Lord is lacking in such discourse (Proverbs 3:5-7); therefore, sharp rebuke is to be saved for those who turn away to very foolish myths among the brutish (Titus 1:10-16), and gentle teaching and encouragement should be the discourse of the wise to those who have not reached that level of understanding, mixed with faith, love and a good conscience, which is ours to follow.
In His love and grace – Bill Hier