Arminian schemes and worldly philosophies, that attempt to explain away the gospel of the Bible, are nothing more than straw-man arguments that fail to acknowledge clear category distinctions. For one, what is falsely being called “fatalism,” by the CoC, is actually God’s sovereignty. Secondly, what is falsely being called “robot,” by the CoC, is actually God’s chosen people.
So by mocking God’s sovereignty in salvation, Arminianism implies that it would be better for us all to be left to our own fallen will. By proposing that God’s sovereignty in salvation would make Him a puppet master and we His mere puppets, it implies that it would be better for us to be in bondage to sin as one of the devils puppets! And there needs to be a deep, humble-hearted repentance for even daring to entertain such thoughts.
It cannot be stressed enough… that fear of being a “robot” for God is nothing but complete rebellion against Him and reveals a total misunderstanding of how God’s people willingly serve Him because they want to.
But Arminianism ends up exalting man’s creaturely “free” will to sin, which is not free at all, for it’s a slave to the devils will (2 Tim. 2:25). Sin has so corrupted every faculty of our nature that we must be pulled out of the fire by the force of God’s love. Yet Arminian attacks against the God of the Bible imply that we should reject such a God Who would “force”…or as Scripture puts it…“make you” free and willing by His power (Ps. 110:3, Jn. 8:36).
Jesus’ blood doesn’t potentially save, based on our “choice,” but effectually saves, based on His promise. Not so we’d become “robots,” but so His people could know the joy of true freedom, which isn’t the ability to choose good or evil, or else God Himself wouldn’t be free, for He can’t choose to be sinfully evil.
True freedom is the God-given ability to hate evil and to love Him Who is completely free because He is completely sinless. So, indeed, God does set before us life and death (Deut. 30:19). But only when the Holy Spirit applies the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice to one’s life, can one choose life by truly believing, repenting and obeying the gospel.
So we all need to run as fast as we can to Jesus’ embrace. For “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Because there has never been one single, truly saved person who has ever resented God’s divine intervention in their lives and there never will be! Which is why it behooves us to renounce our own will, throw ourselves upon God’s mercy and give ourselves up to His sovereign disposal to do with as He sees fit, for He is God and we are not. And no amount of Arminian philosophies will ever provide an escape hatch from this truth.
God’s people are chosen according to His great mercy and distinguishing love. He causes them to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3, NASB). They don’t birth themselves. When a person is “born of God,” they have become a “new creation” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The Creator does not expect His creatures to re-create themselves. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots” (Jer. 13:23)?
God Himself accomplishes the “work of faith with power” (2 Thess. 1:11), which is why true believers in Christ can say, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Because they realize that it’s only by God’s grace that they have been given the gift of faith in Christ, repentance from sin and the ability to follow Him in spirit and in truth (Eph. 2:8-10), for they are “His workmanship!”
This is why all the glory goes to God, not mankind, “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God” (Rom.3:19). “So that no flesh shall glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:29). We are hedged about and surrounded by the all-encompassing truth of God’s sovereign purposes that are not based on our own works (Rom. 9, 2 Tim. 1:9).
The God of the Bible is Not the false god of open-theism, who has to wait on pins and needles to see how things turn out. He’s also not the “whatever will be, will be”… fatalistic…“it is what it is” god of Arminianism; casually sitting back while humans call all the shots. On the contrary, God is… “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10).
In Romans 8:29-30, we get a glorious glimpse of God’s golden scepter of saving grace being extended throughout the corridors of time. It beautifully reveals that His predestined election is by grace, not by works, and not even by God’s foreknowledge of our works. Because God saw sin on the horizon from the beginning, which is why He ordained His eternal plan of redemption in the first place, before time even began (e.g. Eph. 1, 2 Thess. 2:13, 2 Tim. 1:9).
God will not and cannot make another God. He is self-existent, self-sustaining and He alone is God. For He says: “Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me (Isa. 43:10). It’s the law of creation. And since only God is unchangeable, the creatures He made are changeable.
In the beginning God made everything good and upright. But since the creatures that He has made cannot be God and cannot be unchangeable, it was inevitable that they would change and fall from their original righteousness into sin. However, God decreed to permit it in order to manifest His justice, mercy, grace and the glory of Jesus Christ, by redeeming those He has chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:2, 20).
But many Bible verses are used to try to support the false, freewill doctrine. Even the fall of man is often used to try to prove the absolute, autonomous freewill of man. But by rightly dividing the Word of truth, it all ends up confirming God’s absolute sovereignty that much more.
Matthew 23:37, in context, reveals that Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for putting stumbling blocks, obstructions and discouragements, (similar to what Arminianism does today) before God’s children in Jerusalem, for they were jealous of their desire to come to Christ. However, God’s sovereignty is beautifully revealed in the fact that even though the Pharisees were not willing to let them enter into God’s kingdom, those who were meant to come to Christ did anyway, because nothing can hinder them from doing so for very long (Mt. 23:13)!
Yet natural religions of the flesh still twist 1Timothy 2:1-4 to imply that God tries to save all people (without exclusion), which would imply that His efforts could be futile. But the context reveals that He purposes to save all kinds of people (without distinction), even those in authority (v. 2), which means that even king’s hearts are at His disposal (Prov. 21:1). “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), for His will to save is Not determined by earthly factors, but solely upon His own sovereign purposes, which are always fulfilled (Isa. 46:11, Rom. 8:28).
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (Emphasis mine).
But Arminianism puts a spin on this verse, to try to make it seem as if there are many in Hell that God planned to save, but couldn’t, due to their almighty “freewill.” Yet in context, it becomes clear who the “us-ward” are that Peter was writing to…the elect!!… “the children of promise”…“that have obtained like precious faith“ (Gal. 4:28, 1 Pet. 1:2, 2 Pet. 1:1). Because the elect will never perish in Hell, for Jesus said, “I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand (Jn. 10:28).
The key to understanding many of these verses is to know the difference between God’s preceptive will of command and God’s decretive will of purpose. We can resist His precepts and commands by not obeying Him. Yet even with this resistance, God must allow it. We cannot resist sovereignly and autonomously, for our will is limited. God’s decretive will of purpose is what actually happens, because it’s what God has divinely ordained and decreed, so that it cannot be resisted or changed. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33).
According to God’s preceptive will of command, He commands the reasonable duty of all His creatures to obey His precepts, for they are good and holy, because they reflect His character and reveal His worthiness to be worshipped. So anytime we go against His perfect precepts and commands, we are sinning against Him. As God, He commands and deserves all of our worship and praise, for it is obviously all of creations duty to worship the Creator. This is why it’s right for God to command all to repent, believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, even though He knows all will not do this.
According to God’s decretive will of purpose, He foreknew what would happen when people would be left to themselves. He foreknew that without His saving mercy, they would refuse to keep His commands and would reject Christ and His offer of salvation (Jn. 12:39-40). Thus, He could infallibly declare that they would not inherit salvation. He didn’t make them wicked, and He didn’t cause them to sin by leaving them to themselves. He just gives them over to their own desires. Neither does He predestine people to Hell in the same electing way that He predestines people to Heaven, for the type of double predestination called “equal ultimacy” is wrong.
God simply foreknows that those He leaves to themselves will end up in Hell due to the natural consequences of sin. He takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11), and He does no harm by leaving them in the condition that He originally made them in—upright image bearers of God (Eccl. 7:29). So they are without excuse. This is one way He makes His power known and is one way He reveals how bad sin is. But He does all of this sinlessly and is justified in all that He does (Rom. 1:20, 24, 28; 9:22).
God foreknows all things because He foreordains all things (Rom. 11:36, Rev. 4:11). For example, God prophesied to Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart for His purpose of being glorified in the deliverance of Israel (Ex. 4:21). This is why God could infallibly declare to Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to listen, because He was going to leave Pharaoh to his own sinful, fallen will (Ex. 7:13, 22; 8:15; 9:12). And note, God could not have infallibly declared Pharaoh’s destiny if Pharaoh could have repented and changed his own heart and mind apart from God’s saving grace (Rom. 9:17).
God knows His own in a special way because He decreed that they would be holy and blameless before time began, for the purpose of glorifying His grace (Eph. 1:4-6). He also knows those who aren’t His elect, but only in a general way, for He created them. “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). Hell, the wicked and even the cross all reveal the glory of God’s holy wrath and justice. Moreover, they all exist to reveal the incredible worth of the Savior!
Yet Arminianism makes Jesus and His finished work seem worthless, by teaching the lie that our “freewill” determines whether we are saved or not. It declares that we must “allow” God to save us by believing. But Scripture says just the opposite. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). God intimately foreknew His people because He foreordained them to eternal life, the same way He foreordained Jesus to be a sacrifice for their sins (Acts 2:23). The same Greek word used for “foreknow” is also translated as “foreordain” in other verses as well (e.g. 1 Pet. 1:1, 20).
God foreknew those He has chosen to eternal life, for they’ve been “called according to His purpose,” not according to His mere observation of their future “freewill” choices. Jesus laid His life down for the sheep, knowing exactly who He was dying for on the cross (Jn. 13:1, Rom. 8:28). He died for people, not a nameless, faceless plan. And He says to those who are not His, “ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep” (Mt. 25:32-34). But still, no one is excused from their reasonable duty to repent and believe the gospel, for God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are compatible.
Although God takes divine initiative in salvation, we are not excused from our reasonable duty to use the means that He provides. When Jesus taught that regeneration is a divine act (e.g. Jn. 3:5, 6:29, 37, 44, 63 and 65), someone raised an objection to His doctrine by asking “are there few that be saved?” And His reply was, “strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk. 13:23-24).
Our duty is to put all of our trust in Jesus Christ and His power to save…no matter what… even before we know for sure that He died specifically for us or not. Because only then can we know that He is faithful to all of His promises, and that He is sovereign over salvation, and that its main purpose is to glorify Him, which should bring us the most inexpressible joy imaginable! And it should be our greatest comfort ever to know that nothing takes God by surprise, for He’s in complete control of all things.
So we must NEVER question His ways or doubt His goodness, for we are in no position to do so. Only God can see the big picture, so we must trust that only He can know what’s best. Like Job, we must submit to His inescapable sovereignty, be humbled into the ground by His truth, and repent in dust and ashes. For, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29).
Copyright ©2020 by Lee Anne Ferguson.