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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Unequaled Greatness by Dr. Arturo Azurdia III | Main | Election & Evangelism - C. H. Spurgeon »

    Arminian Libertarians Who Believe in Eternal Security

    As you may know, many Arminians believe that salvation can be lost, so they reject the perseverance of the saints. They affirm that one can be saved (regenerate and justified) and then through sinful choices can become unsaved (unregenerate & unjustified). However, I have found that this is not always the case ... not a hard and fast rule ....I have actually run into several persons who classify themselves as Classic Arminians (and libertarian free-will theists) who will tell you they believe or embrace eternal security (while rejecting the other four points of Calvinism) --- i.e. they affirm that those who are saved will actually persevere to the end. Next time you run into one, here are a couple of questions worth asking them to expose some real inconsistencies in their thinking:

    1) Why do you affirm that conversion is a voluntary act (i.e. the result of a libertarian free choice), but perseverance to the end is an involuntary act (i.e. not the result of a libertarian choice)?

    2) Why does the libertarian freedom to do otherwise apply to conversion, but not to perseverance?


    Have a great weekend all.
    JWH

    Posted by John on June 5, 2009 06:10 PM

    Comments

    Indeed, I have spent most of my life going to a church with approx. 300 in Sunday School on a typical week, comprised of mostly Armenians who believe in "once saved, always saved".

    These are very good questions. Years ago, I probably would have said "Because after being saved, one is a new creature, the Spirit indwells that person, and the change God makes in that person is permanent...." Whereas Reformed theology teaches that regeneration leads to permanent faith, Armenians believe that faith gives us permanent regeneration, and that we will persevere.

    Come to think of it, this implies that only once must one "choose" faith in Christ out of a "free will" before his will is permanently altered so that he will always persevere in faith in Christ (in the Armenian view), which sounds odd.

    I have come to believe that all the points of TULIP must be believed before the full benefit of personal freedom in God can be expressed. No matter what we think or say or how we feel God is who He is and we will get to be a part of his Kingdom whether we get it or not mentally. We are whole people and not mind and body.He requires us to confess and repent and recieve Him through Christ. The rest will come to us as we more and more allow His Spirit to show us who we and how He operates.

    Jason,

    That is interesting ....but consider the implications of their belief: such a view would mean that unbelievers had a free will while believers did not have a free will?

    i.e., this would mean that they affirm that a person's nature determines their choice after regeneration but their nature does not determine their choice prior to regeneration. Such an inconsistency collapses in on itself.

    Talk about bizzare necessities arising from man-made theological constructs. :)

    Does not Jesus say the "truth will set you free". Freedom in the Bible is always freedom from sin, not libertarian free will to choose otherwise.

    Hi JWH,
    I am one of the “inconsistent thinkers” you mentioned in the above post. I believe in free will as well as eternal security. I’d like to take a moment to answer the questions you challenged your readers to ask “inconsistent thinkers” like myself.

    I affirm that conversion is a voluntary act (Christ died for ALL, not just the pre-ordained), I do, however affirm that perseverance is “involuntary” (as you put it) because you are talking about two dissimilar creatures. In a pre-saved form a person may choose to reject Jesus or repent of their sins and believe in Him (thus glorifying Him which is our entire purpose for breathing air). Once converted, they become a new creature, indwelt with the Holy Spirit. They cannot reject or deny Jesus Christ because as a new creature, He lives in their heart and guides them and once they have been saved, it is not temporary. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28. No contradictions or inconsistencies there that I can see.

    Your post suggests that Arminians think the saved person is basically the same as the unsaved. We put a lot more stock in the conversion of a soul than the predestinarian does because we don’t believe “it was going to happen sooner or later anyway.” To read your text, it sounds as if we think nothing has changed at all about the converted soul except, ho hum, a little matter of where they will spend eternity.

    Here’s another truth, while we debate the matter souls are dying and going to hell. I guess if you believe in predestination, we might as well debate the matter further because there is no way Jesus could work through us so that souls (with free wills) could be saved. He’s already pre-determined and pre-chose which of his children will burn in Hell for eternity… right? I mean, we (Christians) have no purpose but to keep the church house clean and stocked with fresh coffee for the next meeting. Bring the missionaries home! No need for revival! It’s all pre-ordained and set in motion anyway!

    An interesting quote I once read: “Talk about bizarre necessities arising from man-made theological constructs.”

    First off, Arminians and Calvinists are both Christians. Both brothers and sisters. And praise God that He saved us! So thankful, sometimes we examine these things so much we don't celebrate in the midst of just how amazing that truth is. Anyway, it makes perfect sense how someone could hold to arminianism and eternal security. John Wesley had a good theology when it comes to salvation. To think that being saved in the arminian view is pure free-will would be false. The idea we can just "freely choose God" without any sort of anything on His part is the plagianism. This is a straight up heresy which all bible believing Christians agree with. Now Arminianism from the John Wesley theology when it comes to salvation is different from this view. It is the view that in the point of salvation God the Father draws us in and convicts us by the Holy Spirit. As it says in John 6:44 "No one comes to me unless the Father draws him." and in this drawing is the decision to say yes or no and follow Christ that's the only part of it Arminians believe is free-will. But once you make that decision many Arminians believe in giving your heart over to God He will keep you eternally secure because you have given it all over to Him.

    Here is the spin - Initial belief is made by grace freely (ability to do otherwise). Yet once a person is saved, regenerated, they can and do have the ability to do otherwise on a daily basis, but God will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can bear, and situationally provides a way out. Almost like the compatibilist view. The retention of those who freely believe (faith) - by grace - are sustained under grace. They could resist, if they choose, but will not because God knows our breaking points and reasons and prevents them from breaking us down. Almost like the opposite of what Calvin says God did to Adam, giving him an “inadequate” subpar nature that determined him to fail. Where as in Christ God gives grace that sustains us with a nature that is adequate to resist the ultimate rejection of Jesus after we have him as our friend and savoir.

    Here is the spin - Initial belief is made by grace freely (ability to do otherwise). Yet once a person is saved, regenerated, they can and do have the ability to do otherwise on a daily basis, but God will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can bear, and situationally provides a way out. Almost like the compatibilist view. The retention of those who freely believe (faith) - by grace - are sustained under grace. They could resist, if they choose, but will not because God knows our breaking points and reasons and prevents them from breaking us down. Almost like the opposite of what Calvin says God did to Adam, giving him an “inadequate” subpar nature that determined him to fail. Where as in Christ God gives grace that sustains us with a nature that is adequate to resist the ultimate rejection of Jesus after we have him as our friend and savoir.

    Here is the spin - Initial belief is made by grace freely (ability to do otherwise). Yet once a person is saved, regenerated, they can and do have the ability to do otherwise on a daily basis, but God will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they can bear, and situationally provides a way out. Almost like the compatibilist view. The retention of those who freely believe (faith) - by grace - are sustained under grace. They could resist, if they choose, but will not because God knows our breaking points and reasons and prevents them from breaking us down. Almost like the opposite of what Calvin says God did to Adam, giving him an “inadequate” subpar nature that determined him to fail. Where as in Christ God gives grace that sustains us with a nature that is adequate to resist the ultimate rejection of Jesus after we have him as our friend and savoir.

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