Our question for this issue is: "Can someone who is theologically Arminian be truly saved?" This is not an easy question.
We want to emphasize at the beginning that Arminianism is another gospel that is no gospel (Gal. 1:6-7). Its teaching denies the sovereignty of God in salvation and the power and effectualness of Christ's death on the cross (by teaching that Christ died for all it teaches that His death actually saves no one). It also denies that salvation is by grace alone with its teaching concerning the sovereignty of the human will. These are fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.
Not only that, but we believe that Arminianism has crept into the teaching of many Reformed churches under the guise of a love of God for all men, a desire on God's part that all men without exception be saved, and the teaching that there are gifts of grace and benefits of the cross for all. This poses a deadly danger to Reformed churches.
We agree, therefore, with the following quote: "False doctrine is worse when it goes under the cover of the truth, and when it quotes Scripture, and sings Amazing Grace. Satan is always at his best in opposing the truth when he does it in the name of Christ. There has never been a more subtle expression of false doctrine than which affirms all the 'truths' of the Christian faith on the basis of human effort, merit of works, foreseen faith, or 'free will.' To affirm grace on the condition of works is the ultimate perversion. It is The Lie" (John K. Pederson, Sincerity Meets the Truth, pp. v, vi).
But does this mean that those who hold to free will and other teachings of Arminianism cannot be and are not saved? We do not believe that. Even here, however, we wish to be very careful in our answer. We would insist that a person who truly and consistently believes that he is saved by his own willing and running, contrary to Rom. 9:16, cannot be saved; he has denied the very heart of the gospel.
The teaching that man is saved by his own running is Rome's, the teaching that he is saved by his own willing is that of apostate Protestantism, but really they are no different. That teaching, according to Romans 10:1-4, is ignorance of and refusal to submit to the righteousness of God, and leaves a person in need of salvation. By his emphasis on will and works a consistent Arminian sets himself outside Christ (Gal. 5:4).
Nevertheless, many people inconsistently confess both grace and works. They ascribe their salvation wholly to God's grace, and yet speak of having chosen Christ, of having free will, and of God being dependent in salvation on their own free will choice. They thank GOD for their salvation and yet speak as though they were the ones who made the decisive choices.
Usually this is the fault of the teaching they have received - teaching which speaks along two lines. It is a teaching that affirms grace on the basis of works and free will. Those who teach such things have the greater fault. Nevertheless, those who think along these lines, though they may be saved, also need to realize that what they believe is not the truth, and need to repent of it.
So too, as the author quoted above says: "We need rather to be greatly ashamed of ourselves for our tolerant friendship with the doctrine of human sovereignty which lies at the rotten core of evangelicalism, and which, on account it, of our sleepy indifference to is a testimony to our own cowardice." Grace saves, not free will and works.
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 17
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
State or ProvinceWA