Regarding 4 Views of Salvation(Grade Recieved 89%))

A positional synopsis regarding four views of salvation: Classical Calvinism, Moderate Calvinism, Reformed Arminianism, and Wesleyan Arminianism. Grade received from Masters program 89%. Have made improvements since then-see red statements in ( )’s. I have at one time or another called myself all 4 of these names. However, I now appear to be firmly established and in support of the Moderate Calvinist view. I would differ from the Classical Calvinist in believe that grace is eventually irresistible to the predestined but the grace of God does appear to all men and there is in fact resistible. The unsaved receive the same awareness but not the same Spirit. Naturally, God foreknew those who receive and those who do not. Further, Classical Calvinist’s seem to be more prone to seeing man as very low, even after salvation-which is controlled only by God, and therefore inclined to see the law as a gift, a guide, and a disciplinarian. Moderate Calvinist tend to see the law as completed, grace as the guide, and the believers part is only to believe-which comes only from God. Now the Reformed Arminian is slightly more choice, decision, action, and even self based or focused, and the Wesleyan Arminist even more so.

*Theologians I tend to like: 1.D.L. Moody 2.George Whitfield 3.Charles Spurgeon 4.C.I. Scofield 5.Lewis Chafer 6.Charles Ryrie 7.John Darby 8.Tony Evens 9.Norman Giesler 10. John Piper

Salvation is rarely aided on the bases of cultural or denominational tradition alone and becomes quite ineffectual when subjected to our own carnal minds or wishful demands. The Bible is not a patch of scriptures for one cause and different set for another, but rather it is a congruent message with a solitary purpose. God judges the condition of the heart and our intensions, which are made new through regeneration. This born again experience can be difficult to bottle and dissect, yet it is monumental in relevance. What are the conditions and evidences of our salvation? As we look at a couple of the predominant views regarding our eternal security let us seek to find not a tidy or packaged view but one that reveals and enables a multifaceted, personal God and the revelation of his encompassing message.

Despite the consistency shown regarding God’s faithfulness and sovereignty, the Classical Calvinist view leaves one with questions and uncertainty. The doctrine of once saved always saved is one principal of this view that seems to contradict the overall impression one receives from reading the entire Bible (not when discern what is written, when it was written and to whom). God states, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev 3:5) (stating a factual statement, a matter of happenstance, He has overcome and we with Him). It is God’s power that enables us to overcome, yet clearly there is something to draw on and overcome, and obviously it is possible to be in the book of life and then be blotted out. (We will not be, He will by no means remember our sins, Blessed is that man who sins are not imputed, Christ is our advocate). Further, the idea of predestinated election fails to adequately address the character of God and can produce a flippant attitude toward righteousness, which is needed to see the Lord (What manner of creature? One who does not understand grace-the only way to righteousness). Grace and repentance are two sides of the same coin. While God is sovereign and has a plan for us, the Bible as a whole text conveys a frequent theme of choice, rather than a cold matrix of only cause and effect or causality. (God’s initiated covenant which enables sure choice or man’s decision theology which can lead to instability). God can be both sovereign and give us free will to address the problem human depravity and salvation as God respects personhood of man and clearly gave Adam freedom and authority (is this too much for fallen man to accomplish by his own fee will?). Horton uses Jesus’ motivating speech to the elected apostles as an example of the election theory. However, one section or one case should not be imposed on the whole. God himself “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). (But not all do). Horton’s view almost seems to give an impersonal, puppet master identity to a God who offers no personal relationship or no intimate knowledge of his will regarding salvation (from a wrong perceptive, trust God and his goodness, no reason why such a relationship would not exist). This comes frighteningly close to losing the ability to differentiate from other religions that do not know how many prayers or lives are needed (answer: none only accept/concede). Do the Calvinist’s know if they are elect? (Come now). Perhaps the Calvinists would not put many of the previously mentioned issues in this manner, however it is difficult for ignore the vast potential or probability for such a message to be received. (surely, as they do not understand the Word).
Throughout the Bible God has always looked for someone in the earth to agree with Him, a response that is not altogether passive(once we see we concede, not conjure up or produce ourselves). A covenant means we have a decision and a response, as opposed to simply awaiting our invitation into some elitist club. Horton states “Not one of his sheep shall be lost-simply because of that eternal covenant that God swore to himself, in the intra-Trinitarian covenant” (Pinson p 42). There is little evidence that such a covenant exits(expect throughout the Bible). If election is the result of a predetermined decision, it seems inescapable that humans would fail to see the benefit of intersession, prayer or evangelizing(we don’t know who the elect are, more know of God, the heart will evangelize). Further, it may bring an uncertain or disheartening psychological feeling to the unsaved or to those who are looking to make a choice for Christianity, wondering if God may or may not be for them(they will know and be comforted and secure). Even if there is an element of truth represented in a sovereign God that knows those who will be saved, there seems to be little to no advantage in presenting the gospel in this manner.
The Moderate Calvinist’s view succeeds only slightly more than the Classical Calvinist. Geisler acknowledges the free will of humans to reject the grace of God and that humans must accept this gift by faith(choice, but do so with God’s provided faith). Even though the truly regenerate will have works as a byproduct, no definable evidence is ever adequately ascribed to this faith(right believing will bring right action, putting the cart before the horse will be problematic). Also the view seems to retract regarding free will. Geisler states, “We can choice to get into situations that we cannot choose to get out of (e.g. suicide)” (Pinson, p. 83). To his credit he places God’s grace and love as the over ridding, empowering force and focus and not man’s will. However, his pervious statement appears to be contradictory and we feel as though God is running a mafia-like sect(some believe this is too good to be true-some want the law). Geisler also makes several presupposed assumptions as well. He may do well to recognize that it is not God’s word that is untrue, but rather the problem lies with us not exercising it(we are not rightly discerning it-context, who speak to, ect). Much of Paul’s writings indicate stern and impassioned warnings for righteous living and that we should examine ourselves as we can deny God by the evidence of our works(speaking of being justified before men not salvation, all of Bible states grace is the only way to such living). It could be argued that God’s wrath and sin has been taken care of once by Jesus our eternal High Priest that exist throughout the Book of Hebrews, yet it should also not be forgotten that it is the effects of sin that effect our hearts toward God(harder for us to realize what we are/have). There is no problem with Geisler’s acknowledgment that works by themselves do not cause salvation; however the desire or regeneration from within is passively neglected(rather regeneration is properly explained and more firmly established). Geisler takes for granted that we will abide in Christ and produce the fruits of the spirit(has more confidence in God’s power, Spirit and Word than the flesh of man). It seems improbable to have free will yet freely preserve with no chance of rejection(there is a change of wills, now we are and seen in Christ). Geisler conveniently makes the assertion that those that fall were never true believers(did’t know Christ, His faith, who they were, what was done). Does not God interact with us as well as with our resolve?(thank goodness).
The Moderate Calvinist view seems to fail to give a suitable deterrent for the potential production of a lukewarm faith(God’s grace give in Christ is the only antidote for sin or a life of ineffectual faith), where grace may be used to sin(funny, that question even never comes up as it should and did for Paul). Perhaps such a person has not yet come to the full knowledge of God, yet potential believers may feel mislead, frustrated or unsuccessful regarding their Christian walk when they find real choice and change will be need to be cultivated(He will change us, must trust, believe, and see Him, not all that is ourselves). Salvation by being in Christ must be a heart change(seems quite a task for fallen man), not simply by way of human confidence or belief alone(truly believing in God is having His confidence). If we are not changing by the power of the Spirit how do we differ from demons who believe Jesus is son of God but do not obey?(we are changed, we believe Jesus that we are righteous by faith). If perseverance is unconditional, why take up the cross daily or guard our hearts with diligence?(we will be persecuted and there are things that impact the successfulness of our Christian lives and renal of minds, but grace empowers us to work). Although this view exudes some truths, by trying to appease all sides it becomes one of confusion, assumptions, and convenience.
The Reformed Arminianist takes some significant strides in seeking to come into a broader and more encompassing biblical view. An emphasis on the transfer of our own accounts with Christ’s account gives homage to what is indeed the good news. Ashby gives a basic, yet seldom used, evangelistic proposition by contending that in order to reach God and salvation we can either adhere to the law perfectly or trust in the imputed righteousness of another to satisfy God’s justice. Ashby rightly conveys that God has no grandchildren, nor can salvation be inherited from a church. Further, we must hear and know the truth of the gospel and our free will is in tacked until the end(will feely choose according to His purpose). The Holy Spirit is a dove not a tsunami to impose a will on us. It is a gift to be opened, not a lighting bolt(will you refuse such a incredible gift that you don’t even deserve). Also, to Ashby’s credit he does put more attention to our response to God’s influence by remaining in Christ as a union(do you break it when you fluxuate? I am glad I am running the race not because I deiced to but because He has chosen me). When speaking of our redemption in Christ, Ashby states, “Yet on practical level, it remains for us to appropriate all the blessing that are ours in him” (Pinson, p 153). This is assurance in something real: abiding in Christ. A continued faith in Christ is not a legal qualification of works but is a byproduct of a genuine heart, attitude, and relationship as opposed to belief only, which can be defined a number of ways(humans want to exult that byproduct rather than its source).
It maybe a valid preponderance that a focus on remaining in Christ can most effectively deter us from falling back into the old person, rather than a focus on sin or performance. This view dose well in holding the cross and Christ finished work high. Yet regarding a daily walk, it is questionable whether this view adequately addresses the nature of sin or God(of the Old Testament/covenant perhaps, religion has taught us to be focused on sin which either has been taken care of/satisfied at cross of Christ or not). Ashby conveys that continued confession is not an issue of salvation. What manner of union is this that after deliberate sin one is not compelled to communicate in confession with Christ?(do so because we are saved and can obtain mercy/help, not to get saved). Cannot this external manifestation possess the possibility of resulting in a real shift of one’s belief system, even to apostasy?(confess am blessed as sin not imputed to us, receive abundance of grace and gift of righteousness). Even if not to maintain salvation, confession should be highly valued as a means of getting back into agreement with God. Ashby does believe a renouncement of faith can derail a believer’s salvation. As stated before, despite this ability to exit, there is a denial of any chance of coming back. It is difficult to fathom someone who fully knows Christ to reach such a hardened heart state, and perhaps God knows this form will not choose to return. However, does there exist a broader consensus received from the Bible that if the heart is willing, God to is willing to make all things possible?(if reject then not an actualize Christian-knowledge of Christ). Ashby attempts to use Hebrews to demonstrate his one-way exit approach. However, some of these scriptures may only be speaking of maturity, while others may imply repentance cannot be found for those whose mind remains in apostasy.
Finally, the progression of these views reaches a finial culmination in the Wesleyan Arminian view. Harper in many ways represents a view that most wholly encompasses biblical revelation and perspective, more concerned with the pertinent issue of God’s character than defining and applying some ridged archetype or construct(feel it misses the beauty of God’s character). The view seems to confront the problem of sin most effectively by confessing sin and confessing Jesus(I John 1:9 is to the Gnostics not a fix for Christians). Although works, confession, and repentance are only a means in themselves, they are evidences of a sincerely honoring and remaining in Christ(grace results in a life honoring Christ why so love the response itself). If the conscious is not addressed, even after conversion, our sensitivity to things of God can dull, harming ourselves as well as our testimony(our conscious has been cleansed-Jesus was the one punished for us). Sin opens the door to the devil and can foster real potential for a hardened heart and weakened faith(Christ disarmed the enemy making the law of none effect, he cannot use the law against us, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law making us heirs of the promise). The conscious slowly collects dirt and must be taken to the cross, leaving the burden there(already done once for all). This view promotes healthy, genuine repentance over guilt and remorse(sin consciousness is not healthy, now no condemnation is). Abstract belief must meet the power and experience of God’s mercy resulting in a new heart and mind(what is being called abstract is actually a trust in belief and what is being called experience is trust in human effort). When one’s sin only makes he or she run back to, or even closer to God, this shows a true convert that is desperately relaying on the imputation of Christ and using that net as a means to continue to onward progression(not by being translated from one position to another but knowing you remain with God and in Christ cause us to continue on). Wesley also introduces a fantastic philosophy of looking at biblical themes with an “and/both” mentality as opposed to an “either/or” one. Harper states, “And because justification, viewed by Wesley as initial sanctification, it is also the ongoing means by which God pardons and forgives us” (Pinson p. 235). Another example of this concept is Wesley’s use of both the governmental theory with penal satisfaction to form a more biblically sensitive view. Christ’s crucifixion acts as imputed righteousness and reconciliation as well as the satisfying of a legal demand, showing us what sin deserves. Repentance and faith are treated as both the absolute finality of Christ’s work as well as a progressive and theological life. The Wesleyan view also acknowledges genuine human interaction with God by conveying a belief that if we commit apostasy, there remains the choice of repentance and forgiveness(Abraham did not live a rollercoaster Christian life). This allows for a full panorama of free human choice while demonstrating a true elevation of God’s sovereignty and interaction with his creation. This view has a solid grasp on biblical salvation and appears to have fewer claims that lack cohesiveness(it may be easier for the human mind to grasp but so is the law). Also, even though there are mistakes to be made by all human endeavors, such as the Harper’s view would seem to make the least harmful ones(obliviously I would no longer agree).
As Christians we are ambassadors to the world for God and the Kingdom, and
seldom do we have a greater opportunity to portray this then when dealing with the universal appealing topic of salvation. However, it is also invaluable to realize we cannot assume that we can know and judge the hearts of others, but can see the consistent fruits of their actions. Courage and mercy are needed when addressing the issue. Further, God is able to use the full spectrum of his Word. Wesley appears to have the fullest grasp on the essentials, recognizing the loving character of the God we serve, yet still incorporates our own roles and experiences. When we align with God’s love and will, we can have the assurance of a sovereign and faithful God who is concerned with not only our salvation, but the resolution of his children as well.
Certainly perfection is not the merits of salvation, for if so the cross would not be needed. The Christian more so will stumble in sin and not dive into it. If there is not a radical difference there may just be head knowledge without really understanding(the spirit) and picturing what happened on the cross. The love of what was suffered and the words of Christ during his ministry, convicts us to see the horribleness of even the so-called littlest of ungodly thoughts and deeds. We move form persuaded belief in God to experience that you touch, put on, and commit yourself to because it so consumes your heart, interests, and pursuits. True repentance(change of mind regenerated by grace and the faith of God) cannot help but produce fruits in interacting with others and falling in love with gain knowledge of God in the Word. Particularly in the four Gospels, we seen over and over scriptures of heaven rejoicing over repentance and not just decisions or salvation by some means of unconscious absorption(this is not so in beliefs other than Wesley’s, there is still full awareness-just given by God. Grace may seem slower but it will be sure and effortless change. You will find that you actually have to get in the flesh in order to find or allow the desire to sin. In closing, the early Christian’s message regarding salvation and a Christian life is noticeably different from much of what we hear today. There is a common evangelistic message of believing upon Jesus as a point of salvation but then we must really watch out or else you may lose your right standing or fellowship. Jesus and his followers taught to make disciples, not to simply go and get confessions. By making decision theology the focus, we are actually lowering the standards and effeteness of the Gospel. If our exegesis stays true to conveying a Biblical message our words can have greater evangelistic and social impact. Our speech has lost the desire and urgency that Paul possessed in making lasting and genuine followers of Christ).

Sources: Four Views on Eternal Security Edited By: J. Matthew PinsonBy: Michael Horton, Norman L. Geisler, Stephen M. Ashby, J. Steven Harper. Zondervan / 2002 / Paperback

 
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