Joh 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Joh 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Php 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Growing up in Fundamental Arminianism we didn’t hear very much about the sovereignty of God and especially so when it came to our salvation. When speaking about that subject we didn’t hear about God’s sovereignty at all. We were taught much about how each of us has a free will and it is up to choose whether we will believe in Jesus. In Arminian thought all men have a sovereign, autonomous free will that even God can’t control if we won’t let him. So our eternal destiny is determined, not by the will of God but by our will.
Of course, we know that the Bible teaches that all men have a will only it is depraved, at odds with God, and so unable to do any good thing before God. What many fail to realize is that there is a difference between a sovereign, autonomous free will (which only God can have) and a creaturely freewill that must be subservient to the eternal decrees of the only true Sovereign, God Almighty; notice it is not some mighty but all mighty!
But let me just focus on one teaching of Arminianism that shows the inconsistency of this theology. As a rule they make it clear that God cannot overcome our will or our will wouldn’t be free, so everyone must have a choice as to whether they want to believe or not. But oddly enough, when it comes to losing one’s salvation they are perfectly fine with God forcing our will.
Often I would hear the idea of “Once saved, always saved” and “Eternal Security”. They would use verses like those quoted above to teach that one cannot lose their salvation. Some even go so far as to say that all Baptist are “Calvinists” because we believe you cannot lose your salvation. By this they mean they believe the last point of the TULIP, Perseverance of the saints. But, of course, this is a corruption of this doctrine. They are saying that all this means is that God won’t let us lose our salvation but deny that he does this in part by transforming us so that we won’t walk away from the faith. So the idea is that no matter how we live God won’t let us be lost even if we could care less about being saved anymore.
I have heard “Eternal Security” illustrated as a lobster in a pot of boiling water. Once we are saved God closes the lid down and we can’t get out whether we want to or not. One immediate problem with this is that no real saint wants to walk away from the Lord but when your theology doesn’t need a transformation of the will in order to be saved then your will isn’t changed to begin with. So if you choose to be saved, the next day you might choose to walk away. Fortunately, they are saying, that God won’t let you.
But the most striking inconsistency with this illustration as well as the whole concept of “Once saved, always saved” is that they are saying that it is perfectly okay for God to keep us from ever walking away from him but it is absolutely unacceptable for him to change our will so we will believe in him to begin with. So it is okay for God to sovereignly keep us from rejecting Christ but he cannot sovereignly bring us to the point of receiving Christ. It seems that they are picking and choosing when it is okay for God to be sovereign or be God. And this is the whole problem with Arminianism; it puts man’s “free will” above God’s sovereign will and only one kind of will can be truly free and that is a sovereign will.
The Bible teaches our salvation is a result of the eternal plan and decree of God, not man’s will. God can’t decree to keep a people saved unless he first chooses to save a people; otherwise how does he even know if anyone will choose to get saved to begin with? So I ask, why is it okay for God to override our will (And I realize this is a totally unbiblical way to express it, but I am using the Arminian’s way of describing this) and keep us saved but he can only wait and see if we will choose him?
Part of the problem with this unbiblical theology is that Calvinists know and the Bible clearly teaches that God doesn’t merely force our will but he makes us willing and there is a huge difference between the two.
But at the end of the day even the lost can only do what the sovereign God ordains and yet they are at the same time doing exactly what they want to do and so are held accountable. I leave you will these texts to confirm this:
Psa 33:10 The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. Psa 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Dan 4:35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"
Pro 21:1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
Pro 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
Psa 105:25 He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
Finally, the passage that should end all debate, Act 4:26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'—Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
Will any doubt that Herod, Pilate, and the Jews all willingly crucified Jesus and that they were judged because of it? This is the greatest sin ever committed and yet they were doing and could only do what God had ordained they do from all eternity. It is not our job to understand how this can be true but it is certainly our duty to submit to this truth and live our lives in light of it.