Two theologies of salvation came at the hands of two theologians. John Calvin, born in France in 1509, who became the successor of Martin Luther and, Jacob Arminius, from Dutch born in 1560.
Calvinism is the doctrine that brings us predestination. The Calvinist believed that some people are predestined to go to heaven and others predestined to go to hell.
Armianism, on the other hand, is the doctrine that establishes that salvation is a personal decision, that God has something to do with it, that He initiates the process but ultimately, the phenomenon of salvation is in our own hands.
Make no mistake about it, if you are saved, God chose you. John 15:16 tells us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (NKJV) God also told Moses, “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19 (NKJV)
We don’t have to understand everything. Why God is choosing some and seems not to chose others? Or why some get saved and other don’t? I don’t know!
The greater question for me is, if God is in charge of choosing, why not send us to those who are chosen exclusively? But He is sending us to preach this Gospel to the whole world. Can somebody chosen able to reject God? The Calvinist doctrine teaches that no one is able to resist God; that God is supreme and in control of everything. The Armianism, on the other hand, teaches us that people reject God all the time. The Apostle Paul told Timothy in First Timothy 2:1-4,
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJV)
If it is God’s will for all to be saved and, in reality, not all get saved, then, can we conclude that obviously some are rejecting Him? If it is God’s will for all to be saved, then why some get saved and some don’t? If anybody can reject Him, then is it possible that they can accept Him also and therefor; do we have something to do with our own salvation? Can we, as evangelist contribute to somebody’s salvation? Can we pray them in?
I do considered Armianism, on issues of salvation, to be bad theology. I don’t argue that we have a free will, but the Bible specifically tells us that salvation is the total work of God; it is all a gift from heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)
If salvation is a matter of decision, then repentance is not necessary. I can arrogantly say; I am making a decision to follow Christ. For example, the rich young man wanted to make such decision to follow Christ, while holding on to everything he had. Many are convinced that they could be saved while approaching the Gospel just as the rich young man did. In Matthew 19:21-22 we read,
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (NKJV)
I think that many times we fail to understand that Jesus accepts us as we are, but not without us repenting for what we have done. To follow God we must surrender all to Him. If you let Him do that kind of work in you, He will. However, we also have the right to reject any gift, that is, including the gift of salvation. Jesus told this young rich man to follow him, but the rich man rejected him, as he did not want to let go of his possessions. This is a typology of many that want to come to Jesus as long as they are allowed to continue in their sin. That attitude alone is evidence that repentance have not taken place. The story of this young rich man continue,
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26 (NKJV)
Noticed that in verse 26 we see a little of the Armianism and a little of the Calvinistic approach. The rich young man executed his will by not following Jesus, even after Jesus himself asked him to follow Him. This proves that God can’t be rejected. On the other hand, I see some Calvinism because Jesus made it clear that with God all things are possible. Can we say that if the rich man was truly a chosen one maybe the outcome would have been different? I only know in part!
To be continued…