My wife said to me the other day, ‘When it finally hit me, when John the Baptist said: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and what that really meant, was paramount in my walk”.
Can an Arminian representation of the gospel message save? Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘saved’?
For instance, would the Holy Spirit ever deliver error and lies? Is Regeneration and conversion the same thing?
The Holy Spirit is at the basis for all belief; Regeneration is the first thing to occur in a disciples life. Regeneration is the doorway for information. It allows for the disciple to get information onboard to ‘believe’. For one to be considered a believer, one must ascend to certain biblical propositions and truth. A disciple is not synonymous with a true believer. Belief is either divinely received or merely by logic. Judas was a disciple as was Demas, Ananias and Saphira.
Conversion is the ascent to truth. It follows regeneration; the doorway is open, the elect receive the truth and are converted. Most times this event happens all at once. Other times, it is gradual.
Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Can an Arminian Gospel save? No! It is a lie. Arminian preachers are false prophets:
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?
2 Tim 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5 But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry.
Could one of the elect be in the fold of an Arminian setting? Of course! The elect come from every tribe, tongue and nation. Could an elect be regenerated in an Arminian setting? Yes. Regeneration is not dependent on the faithfulness of men, but God. Regeneration requires nothing. God, the Holy Spirit moving around, based upon God the Father’s decree alone, landing on the elect according to God’s good pleasure.
Could a disciple be converted in an Arminian setting? What is not possible with men, is possible with God. One needs to qualify this statement however in light of truth. For instance, If Arminian preaching, i.e. the extrapolation of God’s word, is used, it being a lie, it cannot save. However, God’s word is truth; it is not an extrapolation. For instance, if I am a false teacher, disseminating lies, not intentionally but because of my own unregeneracy, and I am faithful in reading God’s word from the pulpit, the regenerate man can be converted by those words-they are truth; even in light of erred extrapolations.
Like my wife, hearing truth in aberrant settings, can convert. The elect do not remain in aberrant settings. Truth sets one free. The Holy Spirit will lead all believers out of aberrant setting, eventually.
One caveat: Is it possible that a true believer could stay in settings as such? No. It is quite possible that ‘new’ believers are regenerated and converted in these settings never make it out of these settings prior to their passing into glory. In these cases, those true believers are translated to glory. However, this is not the typical. It would be flawed thinking that a true believer, one with God’s Spirit would remain in aberrant settings as their is no truth there, essentially.
You might ask, “Scott, but don’t believers have differing levels of faith? Some 30%, some 60%, some 100%?”
Matt. 13:3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Yes, true. Those with 30% have truth. It is not like the 30% are at a disadvantage to those who have 100%. The bare minimum is still truth and that truth sets one free. You might ask, ‘Free from what?’ Free from condemnation. Free from lies. Free from error. The 30% spoken of is a portion of the whole. In that portion, the believer has enough truth to distinguish between truth and error. The believer with the bare minimum will eventually leave aberrant settings and attach themselves to a true church with a faithful preacher. Remember, the scriptures clearly warn of us false teachers-they are real and out there. God uses them for his divine purposes as well. Think reprobation and the filling up of their cups of condemnation! Not all reprobates are just out there wallowing in sin. Many are sitting next to you in church. They are morally good people. Many live their lives according to God’s word, even. The difference between you and them is that they remain in their flesh. All that they do are works. Think, Unregenerate Roman Catholics or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
Look at what Thomas Brooks says:
That God does manifest his love only to some at their first conversion, not to all. Though he dearly loves every penitent soul, yet he does not manifest his love at first conversion to every penitent soul. God is a free agent, to work where he will, and when he will, and to reveal his love how he will, and when he will, and to whom he will. It is one thing for God to work a work of grace upon the soul, and another thing for God to shew the soul that work. God oftentimes works grace in a silent and secret way, and takes sometimes five, sometimes ten, sometimes fifteen, sometimes twenty years; yea, sometimes more, before he will make a clear and satisfying report of his own work upon the soul. Though our graces be our best jewels, yet they are sometimes, at first conversion, so weak and imperfect, that we are not able to see their lustre. The being of grace makes our estates safe and sure, the seeing of grace makes our lives sweet and comfortable.
Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, vol. 2 (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 349.
‘All truth?’ God’s word does not show me how to understand physics! If I do not understand physics, can it not be said that I don’t understand ‘all truth?’. Yes, however, when the scriptures speak of ‘all truth’ it pertains to the now and not yet. In the now, it generally refers to God’s truth-the main tenets of the faith; all true believers will get this information onboard prior to translation into glory. Some of this information will be thorough sanctification and others through miraculous means, i.e. those elect peoples dying prior to gathering all this data. No one gets into Heaven with sin. In the flesh we all have indwelling sin. Prior to our glorification, the Holy Spirit is sifting. Do you think that an infant dying in the womb lacks any truth about who God is and all those things that come with knowing God? Absolutely not. Prior to being glorified, all sin is removed. Anything other than truth is lies. ‘We see dimly now, but later face to face’.
All the dimness is removed. The truth sets one free from error.
Can an Arminian be saved? Yes! All men start out Arminian. It is in our sinful natures to believe we can build another tower to God. The converted are no longer Arminians. They understand sovereignty. They understand sinfulness. They understand that salvation is monergistic. God saves sinners. Sinners respond. Much like the moon and stars, God calls and the sheep come.
John 6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, “And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”