Do you believe that our salvation depends on the Almighty God alone? Or do you think that our salvation also depends on our independent choice?
The way you answer the above two questions would determine if you a Calvinist Christian or an Arminian. Christians who are Presbyterians ( included), Reformed Baptists, and others who hold to Reformed confessions such as the Three Forms of Unity, are Calvinists. All who reject Calvinism such as the Wesleyan Methodists, , and Roman Catholics, are . There is no middle ground, you are either a Calvinist Christian or an Arminian.
Calvinist Christians believe that true believers are elected unconditionally by God who grants them irresistible grace to believe in Him. The elect will certainly attain salvation because God wills to save and He will certainly preserve His elect that they will never lose their faith. Calvinist Christians believe in the absolute sovereignty and almighty power of God and therefore, we rightly believe that our salvation depends on our Almighty God alone.
think that God has given man an independent choice to accept or reject faith and salvation. They think that God chooses as His elect those who will accept faith and salvation through their free choice. Therefore, think that salvation also depends on man.
Some time ago, I read an online article where a Theology professor at an American university explained why he was . From my understanding, the main reason he rejected Calvinism was his refusal to accept the Calvinist teachings on Predestination and free will. The professor thought that the Calvinist Christian position on the true biblical teaching of Predestination did not allow free will. Like all other , he thought that for a man to truly have free will, he must be able to freely and independently choose to accept or reject faith and salvation. However, are in error because firstly, they have a wrong understanding of free will and secondly, they have forgotten the truth that the will of God will certainly be done.
Before I continue with this article, I would like to point out that Arminianism was condemned as a heresy during the Synod of Dodt of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1619. The Canons of Dodt (the five points of Calvinism or TULIP) from the same Synod was published to clarify the doctrine of Predestination. Presbyterians ( included) and all other Calvinists take the same position taken by the Synod of Dodt, and we totally reject Arminianism as a heresy. I would also like to point out that Arminianism from Roman Catholicism because Arminian teachings are basically Roman Catholic teachings. Jacobus and his followers lived during the Protestant Reformation and would unsurprisingly be influenced by teachings of Roman Catholicism.
To understand free will, we can read the ninth chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith (On Free Will) that teaches about the four states of man first taught by the Church Father Saint Augustine of Hippo. The four states of man are: () state of where man is able to sin and able to not sin (this is the state of Adam and Eve prior to the fall), (ii) state of sin where man is unable to not sin (this is our state before God grants us grace and faith to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ) , (iii) state of grace where man is able to not sin (this is our state after we believe in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ), and (iv) state of glory where man is unable to sin (this is our state when we are in the Kingdom of Heaven). Our will depends on our nature while our nature depends on our state.
Due to the original we inherited from Adam, we have a sinful nature, an inclination to sin in us certainly committing sins. The Apostle Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Prior to the Almighty God granting us His grace and the saving faith to believe in Him, we were in the state of sin and everything we did, thought, and said were sinful. Were we forced or pressured to sin? Absolutely not! We freely chose sin instead of righteousness. with our free will, were simply acting according to our sinful nature. Moreover, due to the total depravity of our sinful nature, we were totally unable to resist sin or do anything good. St. Paul wrote in Romans 8:7 that the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. We can understand from Genesis 6:5 that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually. Therefore, when a man is in the state of sin, he would certainly and naturally with his free will, reject faith and salvation.
However, when the Almighty God grants us His grace and the saving faith to believe in Him, we the state of grace. God grants us a new righteous nature so that we can now defy our original sinful nature and supernaturally with our free will, accept faith and salvation. This is a miracle. With our new nature, we resist sin, to choose righteousness, and to do good. We must remember that because of the corruption and original sin that remain in us, we still sin and we still sin. However, contrary to the man in the state of sin, we now have a continuous war between our old sinful nature and our new righteous nature, between our old man and our new man. This war is described by St. Paul in the seventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. The war will end with a complete victory for our new righteous nature and our new man on the day we the Kingdom of Heaven and the state of glory. This is the day when our original sin and all remaining corruption are completely removed. Without our old sinful nature, we will no longer be able to sin. Therefore, when we are in the Kingdom of Heaven and the state of glory, we with our free will according to our righteous nature, will only choose holiness and righteousness.
We have now concluded that our free will depends on our nature, and no man in the state of sin will naturally with his free will ever accept faith and salvation. From here, we will consider the Arminian thinking that teaches the possibility of believers falling from the state of grace and therefore, losing their salvation.
The seventeenth chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith (on the Perseverance of the Saints) teaches that true believers who are elected unconditionally by God, will never fall from the state of grace and will never lose their faith and salvation. The perseverance of the saints can very clearly be seen in the Scriptures, for example, in John 10:27-29, Philippians 1:6, 2 Timothy 4:18, 1 Peter 1:5, and Jude 24. We must remember that we do not preserve our faith and salvation by our own will and ability. The Almighty God who elected us to be His people and wills to save us, will as in 1 Peter 1:5, keep us by His power through faith unto salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us in John 10:28-29 that no man pluck us (His elect) out of His hand and His Father’s hand. The will of God will certainly be done and if God wills to save us, we will certainly be saved. As written in Psalm 33:9, God spoke and it was done, and He and it stood fast. Proverbs 21:30 also reminds us that there is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against God. Proverbs 16:9 teaches us that while a man’s heart devises his way, his steps are directed by God. Therefore, we conclude that the will and actions of man will never influence the will and Providence of God who has absolute sovereignty over all creation.
Membership of the visible Church, regular attendance in worship services, and active participation in church activities do not make a man a true believer. Those not elected by God will never be true believers. God does not save those who He did not elect. Matthew 1:21 teaches us that our Lord Jesus Christ shall save His people from their sins. Very clearly, His people are all true believers who are elected unconditionally by God. Meanwhile, the man who is not a true believer does not lose his salvation because he is not saved at all and has never received salvation at any time.
Therefore, we rightly conclude that our salvation depends on the Almighty God alone. The will of God will certainly be done and if He wills to save us, we will certainly be saved. God will certainly preserve us (His elect) that we will never lose our faith. Our free will and all our actions will never influence the will and Providence of God who has absolute sovereignty over all creation.
We also conclude that are in error and their idea of free will is clearly unbiblical. wrongly magnifying the ability of man such that man can freely and independently determine his own eternity, Arminianism does not believe in the absolute sovereignty and almighty power of God. We must reject Arminianism.