It's been a month, but the break feels well-deserved. Here's the fifth and final article of the Remonstrants of 1610:
That those who an incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of His life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through His Spirit in all temptations, extends to them His hand; and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire His help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ's hands, according to the word of Christ, John 10:28 "Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." But whether they are capable. through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.
I really agree and really disagree with parts of this.
I am in agreement with this Article in that it says because of our true faith in Christ and with the help of His Spirit, we have "the power to...win the victory." In an earlier blog I talked about how often we (non-charismatics for the most part) turn away from talks of the Holy Spirit and act as though we don't have that Power living in us. I'll quote Adrian Rogers:
If you are a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the best friend you will ever have on this earth is the Holy Spirit...The Holy Spirit is to be to us what Jesus Himself was to the disciples when He was in the flesh here on Earth. Jesus walked, talked, and fellowshiped with them; He guided, instructed, and protected them. He said "I'm going away but I'm sending Another to walk with you, befriend you, and be with you."
What truth. The Holy Spirit has replaced Jesus as the forceful presence on Earth for believers. Without His constant guidance and working, we would all be wandering astray. God is truly in us. This I believe and confirm that through this power, we can all persevere. This is the perseverance of the saints: that because we are saved, the elect, we are able to gain victory over the wiles of the devil because of God's constant presence in our lives.
Now I will venture to disagree. When Jesus said in John 10:28 "neither anyone" and reaffirming in v. 29 that "no one" can pluck the elect out of His hand, He truly meant not a soul. This includes the individual believers themselves. As soon as someone trusts in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, God will not let His newly adopted son be cast off. There is a special thing that happens at this moment of salvation. We believe and God fills us with His Holy Spirit. This is what I was just talking about. We are indwelt by the third Person of the Trinity, the One who convicts and teaches perfectly. In this we are sealed.
And do not grieve the Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30
On game shows they sometimes ask contestants if they want to "lock-in" their answers. When you first accepted Jesus Christ, you were locking-in your faith to a Heavenly Father that will never let you leave the family. You have been promised eternal life.
This is where a Romans 4/James 2 controversy arises in discussing the functionality of faith and works in a believer's life. Romans 4 makes it clear: we are saved by faith and not works (vv. 2-4). However, James 2 makes it clear as well: truth faith produces works which continually save us from evil (v. 26, Phil 2:12).
With that said, it should also be noted that Jesus claimed that we would know others' hearts by their fruits, or actions.
So what do we make of all this? I think the Article ends itself well in basically saying that we are not the choosers of who will make it to Heaven or not. We are not able to determine someones salvation, only the Lord could do such a thing. We can look at the actions of others and judge whether that person needs to hear the gospel or not, but we cannot say if he or she is going to Heaven or Hell unless that person full embraces or rejects the Cross of Christ. That's about all I can say on that.
So, in conclusion of all 5 Articles, I am comfortable in saying that I am a 5-point Old School Arminian*. The word still sounds a little scary just because all of the circles I've known are leaning Calvinistic, but I really think the original Remonstrants of 1610 line up with Scripture*. However, as we all know, this is a secondary issue and in the long run and for the sake of the gospel, we should not be fixed on issues like these. Let's get out and serve!
*with minimal execptions