EXPOSE' by Rev. Hayes K. Minnick
SUMMARY OF DOCTRINE AS TAUGHT BY EXPONENTS OF ARMINIAN THEOLOGY:
1. All men derive from Adam a corrupt nature by which they are inclined to sin, But they deny that this corruption is of the nature of sin. Consequently sin consists merely in voluntary acts of transgression, and not in the state of the heart. According to this view men are responsible only for the voluntary acts of sin committed.
Answer: The Bible clearly teaches that all men inherit from Adam, not merely an inclination to sin, but a nature which is in itself utterly depraved and exceedingly sinful in the sight of a holy God. Cf Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 51:5; Mark 7:21-23. Contrary to the Arminian view, sin consists not only in outward voluntary acts of transgression, but in the condition of the heart. Cf Matthew 5:20-22,28. In the sight of God, the thought itself is sinful, apart from the outward act of transgression. Cf Proverbs 23:7; 4:23; Luke 6:43-45. An orange tree is not an orange tree because it bears oranges; rather, it bears oranges because it is an orange tree. It is the nature of the tree that determines the kind of fruit it bears. So also a person is a sinner, not because he sins; rather, he sins because he is a sinner. In the Old Testament sins of ignorance had to be atoned for (Leviticus 5:17-19), proving that involuntary acts of transgression are of the nature of sin and involve the person committing them with guilt.
2. Consistent with their denial of the Bible doctrine of the total depravity of human nature is their assumption that man did not completely lose his ability to do good through the fall. Hence, they insist that fallen man is to a certain extent capable of cooperating with God in the accomplishment of salvation.
Answer: The Bible doctrine of the total depravity of human nature involves the complete inability of man to do anything toward his own salvation. Cf Ephesians 2:1-10. What can a dead man do to produce life within himself? Absolutely nothing, If life comes to him, it must be imparted from without. Because man by nature is morally and spiritually dead, there is not one thing that a person can do to commend himself to God or to please God in any way. Cf Romans 3:12; 7:18; 8:8. While fallen man is possessed of the faculty of exercising his will, that will is so completely enslaved by his sinful, fallen nature that no amount of will-power, no amount of self-determination, no amount of human resolve can enable him to attain salvation. Cf Romans 9:16.
3. Since according to the Arminian view man is capable of cooperating with God in the attainment of salvation, it is this cooperation which becomes the ground of the individual's justification. They define faith, not as an act of receiving and resting upon Christ alone for salvation, but as a permanent and controlling state of mind. They assert that under the Gospel God does not require perfect obedience as He did from Adam, but in its place shows Himself willing to accept imperfect obedience on the part of men if they sincerely seek to do the best they can in cooperation with the grace of God. This imperfect "evangelical obedience," as they call it, is the ground of justification.
Answer: There is no indication whatsoever in the Scriptures that God lowered the standard of absolute righteousness to accommodate the imperfect obedience of man, no matter how sincere that imperfect obedience might be. God required of Adam, and of every member of Adam's race, perfect obedience, absolute righteousness. Cf Galatians 3:10; James 2:10. Every member of Adam's race has missed the mark, coming short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23. For this reason, no flesh, no member of Adam's race by ordinary generation, can be justified by the works of the law. Cf Galatians 3:1012; Romans 3:19-26; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7. Even the faith whereby we are saved is not a work of merit. The Bible never says that men are saved because they believe, but if they believe. In other words, faith is the condition of justification, not the ground of justification. The ground of justification is the finished work of redemption wrought by Christ upon the cross, Romans 5:18-19; I Corinthians 1:29-31. Saving faith is an act, not an attitude. It is the simple act of receiving Christ as personal Saviour acknowledging that His righteousness alone is the only ground of acceptance with God.
4. In teaching that imperfect human obedience in cooperation with the grace of God is the ground of justification, the exponents of Arminian theology thus deny the truly substitutionary nature of the death of Christ upon the cross. They deny that the death of Christ was a real satisfaction rendered to Divine justice. They do not believe that the penalty for sin was paid by Christ upon the cross. They deny that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer as the ground of his justification. Justification according to the Arminian view is merely a pardon. The death of Christ was symbolic rather than substitutionary. The cross was but a symbol of God’s displeasure against sin and of His willingness to forgive the penitent sinner.
Answer: It is at this point that the heresy of the Arminians is seen to be so serious. For to deny the truly substitutionary nature of the death of Christ is to tear the heart out of the Gospel. The Bible clearly teaches that the death of Christ as the sinner's substitute represents a full satisfaction to Divine justice. Every demand of God's holy law was met at Calvary. The guilt and condemnation of the sinner was imputed to Christ, Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; I Peter 2:24; 3:18; II Corinthians 5:21. In turn, the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer. It is this imputed righteousness of Christ which is the ground of the believer's acceptance with God. This is what is meant by the term "justification." The Bible doctrine of justification involves much more than a mere pardon from past sins. It means to be declared absolutely righteous through the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, with the result that the believer is completely justified from all sin -past, present, and future. Cf Hebrews 10:10-14. A mere pardon leaves the crime unatoned for, and the person committing it just as guilty as he was before he received the pardon. Justification, on the other hand, is granted upon the ground that the guilt of sin has been completely removed, the penalty fully paid. Cf Romans 8:1, 33-34. The death of Christ was of a penal and punitive nature, not merely corrective or remedial as according to the Arminian view. Far from being merely symbolic, the death of Christ was of a truly substitutionary nature, the rendering of complete satisfaction to Divine justice for human sin.
5. If the death of Christ (according to the Arminian view) was merely symbolic and not of a truly substitutionary nature, then the death of Christ was not an absolute necessity. God could have chosen some other symbol to express His displeasure against sin and His willingness to forgive sinners. This is exactly what the exponents of Arminian theology teach.
Answer: To say that the death of Christ was not an absolute necessity, and that God might have chosen some other object to symbolize His willingness to forgive sin is nothing short of blasphemous. Had there been any other possible way to atone for sin, God would certainly have chosen it and spared His sinless Son, The death of Christ was an absolute necessity; there was no other way. Cf Hebrews 10:4-14; Matthew 26:39-44. The fact that the cup was not permitted to pass from Him, but that according to the Father's will He must drink it (John 18:11) signifies that the death of Christ alone could atone for human sin. There was no other way. As the God-Man, the death of Christ was of infinite value in the reconciliation of sinful men to a holy God, 11 Corinthians 5:18-19.
6. Since according to the Arminian view, justification depends upon the gracious acceptance of imperfect human obedience, it is clear that the entire system represents a mixture of two principles -- works and grace. In such a system there can be no security. According to the system it would be possible for a person to lose "salvation." One could never really be sure whether he would be ultimately saved or not.
Answer: The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is by grace, and by grace alone, all works of human merit excluded, Ephesians 2:8-10. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not the condition. Works and grace are mutually exclusive principles and cannot possibly be mixed together. Cf Romans 11:6; 4:4-5. Salvation by grace through a substitute is the only message that can bring peace to the heart and guarantee the eternal security of the believer. Cf Hebrews 4:9-10.
7. According to the Arminian view, the person receiving pardon through Christ stands in relationship to God as the subject or citizen of a state stands in relationship to a governor or a judge. In other words, the relationship between God and the person receiving pardon is a governmental relationship. Pardon merely puts the individual on probation, subject to forfeiture of the pardon upon future acts of wilful transgression. The moment the individual ceases to render the required evangelical obedience, his "salvation" is lost.
Answer: It is true that the relationship of unsaved persons to God is a governmental relationship. But when a person receives Christ he is brought into an entirely different relationship to God. He is completely justified from all sin -past, present, future -- and thus receives a standing in perfect righteousness before God. Being born again by the Holy Spirit, he is possessed of eternal life, John 5:24; 10:28. This entirely new relationship into which the believer is brought is a father-son relationship, John 1:12-13: Romans 8;14-17; I John 5:10-11. Once born into the family of God, it is impossible to be unborn. The father-son relationship is a relationship which can never be broken, not even by acts of wilful sin. Once embraced by the love of God in Christ, the believer can never be severed or separated from it, Romans 8:28-39. Does this mean that God condones sin in the life of a Christian? No, not for a moment. He deals with it in a different way however than He deals with sin in the life of an unsaved person. God deals with sin in the life of a Christian through chastisement, as a father deals with a son, for the purpose of correction. Cf Hebrews 12:5-11; I Corinthians 11:31-32.
Sin in the life of a Christian mars fellowship, but never breaks relationship. Through chastisement God as a Father brings the Christian to confession of sin and restoration of fellowship. Cf I John 1:9-2:1.
Paper written by Rev. Hayes K. Minnick