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His Chosen Ones – Part 4

posted Nov 29, 2016, 9:56 AM by First Baptist


In this series, we’ve been wrestling with the question of God’s sovereignty versus human choice in the matter of salvation. Does God choose us, or do we choose Him? Or both? If both, is the choosing simultaneous, or does somebody go first?


Last week, I explained why the question is important and how two major schools of thought have emerged since the Reformation 500 years ago. The two schools are known as Arminianism & Calvinism.


In this weeks’ article, I will summarize the key points of disagreement between the two schools, and then next week, we’ll see if any conclusions might be drawn.


Although the Arminian school went first with their Five Articles of Remonstrance, it is the Five Points of Calvinism that have become the focal point in the debate. This is probably because the Five Points of Calvinism are often depicted through a helpful acronym, that being TULIP.


Total Depravity


Calvinism: Human beings are dead in sin and therefore cannot (on their own) turn to God in repentance & faith.


Arminianism: Human beings retain the ability to turn to God in repentance & faith.


Unconditional Election


Calvinism: God chose before creation, not based on foreseen faith or human choices, which sinners will desire salvation and respond to the gospel.


Arminianism: God chose in advance to save those whom He foresaw would freely place their faith in Christ.


Limited Atonement


Calvinism: Christ only died for the elect. [Note: Many who otherwise ascribe to Calvinism do not agree with this point.]


Arminianism: Christ’s death provided full payment for all the sins of all humans and His atonement is enough (sufficient) for every person to be saved, should each individual accept His gift.


Irresistible Grace


Calvinism: God’s saving grace can’t ultimately be rejected by those whom He has chosen. In His timing, He will overcome their resistance to the gospel.


Arminianism: God invites all people to be saved, but never over-rules a person’s decision to reject His grace.


Perseverance of the Saints


Calvinism: God guarantees that those whom He has chosen will continue in saving faith and go to Heaven.


Arminianism: Salvation is a freely received gift that can later be freely rejected or otherwise forfeited. [Note: Many who otherwise ascribe to Arminianism do not agree with this point.]




I would offer four observations:


1.      The two schools are sharply at odds with each other on at least 4 of the 5 points.

2.      Logically, both schools are consistent & coherent.

3.      Both schools are also considered orthodox, meaning either is acceptable for a Christian to ascribe to.

4.      Both sides love God and believe His Word, but emphasize different portions of it.


Given these observations, Christians can debate and even disagree over these points, but we ought not divide over them. We should also be humble in our views insofar as some things are beyond human comprehension.


Pastor Dan