Recently I posted the following on Facebook and Twitter:
It has been brought to my attention by a couple friends on Facebook that my recent posts regarding Arminianism have been unnecessarily divisive, provocative, and even mean. I apologize if my tone has come across that way. It was never my intent to be mean. It was never my intent to be provocative for provocation’s sake. It was never my intent, as some have suggested, to simply poke people in the eye.
This is what I believe.
If you believe that man has any inherent goodness, which enables him, by what he believes is his free will, to choose God…..
If you do not believe God has elected those who will be saved, but rather you believe God simply looks down the corridors of time and has a foreknowledge of those who will choose salvation by faith in Jesus Christ….
If you believe that Jesus shed His blood on the cross for everyone…..
If you believe man, by the strength and exertion of his will, can reject or stave off God drawing him to Himself…..
If you believe that one who is born-again can lose his salvation…..
Then I believe you subscribe to a false gospel that cannot save you. Because I love you, and with no anger or bitterness in my heart, and with genuine concern for the present state of your soul, and with genuine concern for where you will spend eternity…..
I plead with you to repent and believe the gospel while God has given you time. God shares his glory with no one, including YOU.
Friends and foes alike have expressed a wide array of opinions about what I wrote.
With affirmation and encouragement of people I trust and respect, I have decided to write this article to clarify my position–a position from which I see no biblical reason to retreat. I believe consistently-held Arminianism represents a different gospel.
I apologize to those I offended unnecessarily. I apologize to those I left confused. I apologized to those I caused to stumble by leaving them to fill in blank spaces on their own, which led some people to draw erroneous conclusions about my position.
Over the last couple of weeks, I offered bite-sized pieces of my thoughts regarding Arminianism. If those bite-sized pieces were put together, I believe a more presentable plate of food would emerge–an entree some would like and others would not. In hindsight, it was a mistake to think aloud and then immediately write sentence-long, sometimes paragraph-long articulations of my thoughts, expecting you, the reader, to follow my train of thought. Doing so left many of you with the responsibility of searching for Facebook and Twitter posts, gathering the pieces, and putting together the puzzle. Doing that was unfair to you, the reader. It was irresponsible and showed a lack of wisdom and discernment on my part. I should have waited until I was ready to say what I wanted to say in a single presentation.
So, I apologize for any confusion and/or distress my failure to exercise more wisdom and discernment in the articulation of my position regarding Arminianism may have caused anyone.
I also want to apologize for not being a better source of encouragement on social media. While there will be folks who will be quick to say my writings, audios, and videos are encouraging to them (and for that I am very grateful), my activity on social media has also been, at times, a source of frustration to some, including people close to me.
To be frank: social media has been a thorn in my flesh since its inception. While I believe I have accomplished much positive ministry online, and I hope to accomplish more for the glory of Christ, social media has provided me with far too many opportunities to sin. Regrettably, over the years I have taken advantage of too many of those opportunities. At times, through social media I have engaged in narcissism, false humility, instigation, provocation, attention-getting, and other sinful behavior.
I publicly committed these sins, so public confession is certainly warranted. I have confessed these sins to my Lord. I am certain of His forgiveness because He secured my forgiveness through His shed blood on the cross and His glorious resurrection.
During a time of prayer this morning, it became very clear to me that I must hack Agag to pieces (1 Samuel 15:1-34). This is to say I have to stop coddling and toying with my social media sins. I have to kill them–hack them to pieces.
Today I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I will not consider reactivating them until after January 1, 2016. At that time, I will confer with my pastors, ministry advisory board, and other men whose counsel I trust to determine if I should venture back into the social media waters.
So again, I apologize not only to those who I left confused and/or angry as a result of my context-lacking tweets and posts regarding Arminianism.
With that, clarification about my position regarding Arminianism is in order. I’m certain some will not be satisfied. I cannot help that.
The following clarifications should not be seen in any shape or form as a retraction of my position. Again, I am firm in my belief that consistently-held Arminianism is a false gospel.
No. I do not believe that all professing Christians who either identify themselves as Arminians or who simply speak like Arminians are lost and bound for hell.
Without hesitation, I give the benefit of the doubt to professing Christians who are simply theologically ignorant regarding the Doctrines of Grace. I give the benefit of the doubt to both new believers and those who have followed Christ for many years, who find themselves in Arminian churches, or under Arminian teaching, or under teachers who would not consider themselves to be Arminian, but they have not taken the time to teach their people the Doctrines of Grace.
My concern–my heartfelt, loving, compassionate, fearful concern–is for those men and women who fight for Arminianism. Yes. I am concerned for their souls. I believe consistently-held Arminianism is closer to Mormonism (2 Nephi 25:23) and Roman Catholicism (Prevenient Grace, for example) than it is to biblical Christianity. So, of course, my concern for the ardent Arminian is as great as it is for the Mormon and for the Roman Catholic.
Again, I do not believe all Arminians are lost, just as I do not believe all Calvinists are saved.
Objection: “Calvinism is not the gospel!”
Correct. Calvinism (Doctrines of Grace) is not the gospel, but only in this sense. Calvinism is a systematized, biblical representation of the gospel. On the other hand: Arminianism is a systematized, unbiblical representation of the gospel. It is a theological construct that is antithetical to the Doctrines of Grace. Hence, If I believe the Doctrines of Grace rightly represent the gospel, and I believe Arminianism does not, then consistency demands I believe Arminianism is a representation of a false gospel.
I’ve yet to meet an Arminian who believes asking God to save people is unbiblical. Yet the person who consistently holds to the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace should never pray for God to save someone. To pray for God to save someone, to pray for God to in any way infringe upon a person’s will so that He can assert His own, is to ask God to make His grace irresistible to the person who is the subject of the prayer.
Certainly Arminians pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And most Arminians will insist as I do that God is sovereign. Yet the Arminian doctrine of Resistible Grace runs contrary to a prayer for the Lord’s will to be done and contrary to any assertion that God is truly sovereign.
Most Christians who ascribe to Arminianism will assert their confidence that they will one-day spend eternity with Jesus, in heaven. Yet, at the same time, they will assert they can lose their salvation. See the inconsistency? How can one have any hope, let alone confidence, of his salvation if he believes that salvation can be lost by his own doing? More about this toward the end of the article.
These are but a few, simple examples of Arminians who simply aren’t Arminians.
Again, I make a distinction between the confused Arminian described above and the rabid Arminian. While the rabid Arminian is certainly confused, the confused Arminian is not necessarily rabid.
I apologize for any confusion, concern, or stumbling my stand-alone posts regarding Arminianism may have caused anyone. I should have waited until I had my thoughts together, in an article like this.
I believe the Doctrines of Grace are the only accurate systematized representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I believe consistently-held Arminianism creates unbiblical positions regarding the character of God, the character of man, the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the means and manner of salvation (this is not an exhaustive list).
I believe Arminianism (a theological construct that is the antithesis of the Doctrines of Grace) is diametrically opposed to and a false representation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I do not believe that every professing Christian who subscribes to Arminianism is lost and bound for hell. I unhesitatingly give the benefit of the doubt of those who are ignorant to the Doctrines of Grace, as well as to those who worship, pray, evangelize, and otherwise live in a manner inconsistent to their professed Arminian beliefs. Their actions actually speak louder than their words. I believe most professing Arminians are far more Calvinistic in their theology than they either realize or, at the moment, care to admit.
I believe those who knowingly, wantonly, and vigorously defend consistently-held Arminianism, after what they believe is a careful study of the Scriptures, are deceived and may not be saved.
I believe those just described are holding to and defending a false gospel.
I do not believe those mentioned above are beyond hope. I hold the same hope for them as I would hold for anyone else whose salvation may be in question.
I do not hate a single Arminian, whether he or she is inconsistent or consistent in his or her beliefs. My concern is genuine for those whose salvation I believe may be in question.
What Besides Pride?
I was blessed to recently have the opportunity to serve as a speaker at the first annual Reformation Preaching conference, in Elizabethtown, KY. The last session of the conference was a Speakers Q&A. At one point, one of the speakers asked the rhetorical question (and I’m paraphrasing), “Why do Arminians fight so hard for the ability to lose their salvation?”
I was instantaneously struck by the profundity of the question. Moments later, when the microphone was available, I offered an answer.
I think the answer to the question is pride. What besides pride could it be? What besides pride could motivate a person to insist he could lose his salvation, regain it again, lose it again, regain it again, and….?
Oh, no doubt the ardent Arminian will insist, “Because that’s what the Bible teaches!” Of course, I don’t believe Scripture supports that. I agree with Jesus (John 10:28). I agree with Peter (1 Peter 1:3-9). I agree with Paul (Romans 8:38-39).
“It’s not true! I believe there is goodness in me!” That is pride.
“God didn’t elect me! God simply knew I would make the right decision and choose Christ!” That is pride.
“God is not a cosmic puppeteer, a cosmic rapist! He’s a gentleman! He wouldn’t force me to do anything against my will! Jesus died for my sins, but I had to choose Him! I had to accept Him!” That is pride.
“I must persevere to the end in order to be saved! I can lose my salvation, and I’m determined not to lose it!” That is pride.
Arminianism is a prideful, theological construct. God is opposed to the proud (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
There are no proud people in heaven. The reason? God humbled Himself. He humbled Himself by taking on human flesh and allowing Himself to be crucified for crimes he did not commit (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 12:2).
Yet God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). God will extend His saving grace to His Elect. Christians will likely be surprised one day when they see who is and who is not in heaven. I’m hopeful the redeemed will include many who call themselves “Arminians.”