Posted by Gary on January 17, 2007
If you have never applied yourself to consider the claims of Calvinism and Arminianism, you owe it to yourself and the kingdom of God to do so. I regard Arminians as brothers but their doctrine is harmful and must be opposed. Often in the midst of debate between Calvinists and Arminians the Arminian will allege that Calvinism fosters sinfulness. The argument goes something like this: “You teach that a person cannot lose their salvation and that leads people to think that they can do whatever they want, you are promoting sin!”
Before responding to this accusation I would like us to acknowledge something about the gospel. The gospel is such good news that it leaves itself open to just such an accusation. I have always found this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans interesting:
Romans 3:7-8 “But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), “Let us do evil that good may come “? Their condemnation is just.”
Note the accusation being made against Paul and those with him, they are accused of teaching that we should sin so that good (God showing mercy) might come. This is essentially the Arminian accusation, you are teaching that we can sin and sin and God will continue to keep us as His children.
The gospel is such good news that it leaves itself open to abuse. Because salvation is absolutely free to the sinner and God has promised to keep His children to the end, one might think that sin no longer matters and that we can do whatever we like because our sin has been paid for. If I am preaching the gospel faithfully, I expect that some mistaken people might think I am teaching that we can sin and it doesn’t matter. The fact that some may think this and maybe even act upon it cannot keep us from preaching the true gospel that is gloriously free, the potential misunderstanding did not keep Paul from preaching the good news nor must it stop us.
Now to the accusation itself, what is our response to those concerned that we are promoting sin? The answer quite simply is that the person who believes they can sin all they want without fear of losing their salvation has never had salvation to begin with. This person needn’t fear having salvation and then losing it, they never had salvation to begin with.
On what basis do we say this? By very nature a person who has been born again is a person who has come to recognize the evil nature of sin. A person cannot become a Christian without coming to the place where they hate sin and turn from it. If you want a picture of a person who has truly become a Christian here are two:
Luke 5:8 “But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'”
This person the Arminian holds forth who believes they can continue in sin and yet go to heaven is a straw man. The Calvinist is not willing to accept the premise. The Arminian claims this is a child of God who thinks he can sin all he wants, the Calvinist responds, “He is not a child of God”.
The gospel is not a revamped system of works, it is what it claims to be, “Good news” news so good some in their sinfulness will try to distort it to indulge their sinfulness. That being said, the good news must be preached and the person who has come to understand it and has truly believed it is a person who hates sin.
Comments8 Responses to “The great straw man”
Leave a comment, and if you'd like your own picture to show up next to your comments, go get a gravatar!