The Insufficiency of Gospel Advice to Save Anyone
Arminians view God as a divine salesman, who is pitted against Satan. With equal persuasion, each salesman pitches his product. In God’s presentation, He attempts to persuade each person to choose eternal goods, by each person employing his or her free will. In the devil’s presentation, he attempts to persuade each person to choose temporal, material goods. Simple observation deems we congratulate Satan, for his far more impressive sales figures.
The Arminian error always elevates man, which simply follows the Pelagian heresy of the fifth century A.D. The crux of every point, in the Arminian system, is to maintain man’s free will at all costs. This man-centered determinant of one’s salvation naturally skews other doctrines, including election; regeneration; conversion (repentance/faith); etc.
In the Arminian view, a preacher is sent by God, to gently advise sinners to decide for Jesus. Because man is not truly and spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, his unhindered will can make the right choice, when given the right amount of information. This is a denial of the doctrine of total depravity that claims: the natural man is unwilling and unable to seek God or His salvation (Rom 3:10–12; 8:7). It denies that natural man is a slave of sin (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6, 16-20), and suggests, he can just walk away from Satan’s plantation.
The Arminian preachers sell a “gentleman God,” who would never impose His sovereign will upon anyone. This is noble, and it treats God’s customers with the respect they deserve, as potential buyers. The Arminian sees Jesus knocking on the door of sinners’ hearts, with the promise to come in (Rev 3:20 — perverted), if only, today, the sinner will choose whom he will serve (Jos 24:15 — perverted).
Because sinful man just needs more information about Jesus, there is no reason that advising (moral) grace should not be sufficient, to allow him to choose wisely. Man’s free will is merely waiting to make a right choice, given good news and counsel from the persuasive preacher. Arminians often blame the church for not sending more salesmen, to sell to more potential buyers of the Gospel.
With a morally neutral free will, potential consumers of the Gospel wait for the opportunity, to be the determiner of their eternal destiny. Without the information the people will perish, which serves as the impetus for the missionary endeavor. Everyone everywhere is merely one sales presentation away from deciding his or her own fate. This is the Arminian view of conversion. It is in dire need of correction, which we will now consider.
First, God, in eternity past, chose a specific group of people, to save in time, after the fall from Eden (Gen 3; Eph 1:4–5; Rev 13:8; 17:8). Therefore, not one of these elect ones must be sold on salvation. God saves His people from their sins (Mt 1:21); and then, He lets them know about it, through Gospel preaching (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; 1 Cor 1:23; 2:2, 4; 2 Tim 4:2).
Second, the fall of man ruined all of Adam’s offspring (Rom 5:12). The biblical term used to describe the state of natural man is, “dead.” We are all conceived in sin and spiritually dead, as a result (Ps 51:5; Eph 2:1–3). In other words, dead souls occupy living bodies, which are all temporary and soon die (2 Cor 4:16; Heb 9:27).
Third, although man is responsible for sin and death (Rom 5:12; 6:23), God is the sole Giver of life to the soul (Jn 6:63; 1 Cor 15:45). When God sends the Holy Spirit to one of His chosen, He regenerates that person (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), by the singular work of causing them to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). This is not man’s free will choice (Jn 1:12–13; Rom 9:16), but God’s free will choice (Mt 11:27; Rom 11:5). It is not in cooperation with dead men, but a new creation (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), solely brought forth by God’s will and work (Phil 2:13), when He pours out His love upon one of His lost sheep (Mt 15:24; Rom 5:5).
Fourth, it is the grace of God that actually saves His beloved (Eph 2:8; Titus 3:5), not a mere advising, to produce a possibility of salvation. When the Holy Spirit begins the life of God in the Christian soul, His work is all grace. This is evidenced by the grace that grants repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim 2:25). All of God’s commands for His people to repent become effectual (Jer 3:22; Ezek 33:11; Is 45:22; Mt 18:3; Acts 2:38; 16:31), according to the grace that now reigns in them (Rom 5:21).
Grace also gives faith, as a gift (Phil 1:29), in accordance with the measure determined by God (Rom 12:3), who is the Author of our faith (Heb 12:2). The promise of God is for those who believe (Gal 3:22), and His saints believe because God has raised their dead souls to life. He made them alive (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), by giving them His Spirit as a gift of His love (Acts 2:38; 10:45; Rom 5:5). His faithfulness causes them to be faithful, as a fruit of the Spirit’s indwelling work (Gal 5:22).
In conclusion, we deny the blasphemy, suggesting God is competing with Satan for souls. We reject the false idea of grace being a mere advisement. We deny the wrong teaching that man determines his own eternal destiny, by a morally neutral decision of his autonomous free will.
Instead, we praise God for His sovereign choice in election; for His successful work in redemption; for His precise application of Christ’s benefits, secured alone for His bride, the church. We give thanks for His sending preachers of Gospel grace, who herald His finished and ongoing works. We celebrate the first and continuing work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who removed the heart of stone and replaced it with a pliable heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26), who made us willing in the day of God’s power (Ps 110:3), and who teaches us the truth of the sovereignty of God in salvation (Ps 3:8; 115:3; 135:6; Jon 2:9; Titus 1:3; 2:13; 3:6; Rev 19:1).
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 22, 2022