A simple overview of what Arminius taught versus what the Bible teaches.
The “god” of Arminianism is Not Worshippable
By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
Throughout the Old Testament God warns His church that false shepherds are under His judgment and condemnation. They lead the flock of God astray and teach false doctrines that are “empowered” by demonic lies and satanic ploys to tear people away from God, and rely on their own works for salvation. God says in Jeremiah 23:1, “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” Again, God states in Jeremiah 23:2, “Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the LORD.” Christ warned His disciples that deceivers would come into the fold and deceive many being ferocious wolves among the sheep of God’s chosen people. Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders and warned them in like manner in Acts 20:29, “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” The Apostle Peter echoes the same when he warns the church against false teachers who come in teaching destructive heresies. 2 Peter 2:1 states, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…” Certainly, false teachers and false shepherds are a grave problem for the life and sanctifying vitality of the flock of God.
Not only did God, His prophets, His Son Jesus Christ, and Christ’s apostles warn the church that heresy and false teaching will enter the church, but the Scriptures demonstrate that such teaching will have success among a great many people. 2 Chronicles 18:21 is a very interesting passage that not only gives the indication that a demonic lying spirit would go out and deceive the king and his false prophets, but that God allowed this by saying the lying spirit would succeed in its task of deception, “So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’” Christ states the same when he says in Matthew 24:11, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” The Apostle Paul follows suit and states, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Tim. 4:1),” and “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13 ).” It is the duty of the Christian to be so thoroughly acquainted with the work of God and His redemptive plan through Jesus Christ that when deceivers come, the Christian may be able to defend his own mind against vain philosophy, heretical doctrine, and false teaching. As James exhorts in James 1:16, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Christians should know the Word of God in an exemplary manner so that they can defend themselves against heresy and false teaching, knowing it is destructive and an abomination to the Lord. But oftentimes Christians succumb to being children of their age, and the disciples of those that teach them even if they are heretical teachers. They think that since Pastor “so and so” is a godly man, what he teaches “must” be right. And this, unfortunately, has been the reason that the heresy of Arminianism has thrived so violently across the last two hundred years of the unsuspecting contemporary church. But even in addition to knowing the Bible well, one of the secondary guards against biblical and theological heresy and false teaching is to simply know church history, or historical theology. If Christians knew where they came from, they would know why they believe what they do, and they would be able to discern true teaching from false teaching. If Christians knew that Arminianism is heretical, or that it was condemned as heresy by the Synod of Dordt in 1618-19A.D., they would be more apt to listen and discern whether they should believe it or not.
So where did this deviant teaching come from? It was spawned by a 16th century gentleman named James Harmensen, born in 1560. This was his Dutch derivation, but is more well-known by his Latinized name – James Arminius. Thus, this is where “Arminianism” was birthed as a succession of an older heresy which was called Pelagianism. In other words, Arminianism was a form of Pelagianism that was not as extreme as Pelagianism, but more subtly destructive. Pelagianism denied the fall of Adam as affecting men in any way. Arminianism did not go to that extreme, but did say men were not completely dead in sin. In both views, though, men work for their salvation by coming, of their own accord, to Christ, on their own strength, and they “decide” to follow Jesus. Grace is good, and grace is helpful, but it is man that actually makes the difference. The reader may be directed to Arminius’ work published by Baker Book House in a three volume set which will demonstrate and convey the sense of all that this short article represents on his theology and thoughts about “god.”
Arminius, after serving as minister for some time, was called to the University of Amsterdam to teach as a professor of theology on the condition that he would adhere to the Belgic Confession (a Reformed confession that upheld biblical ideas surrounding salvation, God, His decrees, the nature of Christ, and other important topics). Arminius pledged loyalty to the Confession when entering the professorship. However, though Arminius gave allegiance to the confession, he really did not believe it. He was a scandalous, double-minded, shadowy and insincere individual. After a year or two he was finally caught and outwardly charged with being a scandalous teacher. It was his practice to teach the doctrines of grace in alignment with the Confession in class, but then distributed private confidential manuscripts among his pupils that taught Arminianism. By this “double-mindedness” he was able to continue in his popularity, while at the same time he was infecting the students under him of the same errors of “Arminianism” which he really believed. The States General of the Netherlands sent deputies of the Churches to question him on this, and to discover whether the rumors were true. This would involve an open debate and discussion, and then the consequences of the discussion would be taken back to the National Synod to be discussed further as to what ecclesiastical action should take place. Arminius denied the “rumors” and he agreed to meet with the council on one condition: if they found anything wrong, they would not report him to the Synod. The deputies, in view of his subtle refusal, refused to pursue the discussion believing that Arminius was not being honest and forthright with them. Instead, sometime later, they summoned him to council with a reformed theologian named Classis. Arminius declined and would not subject himself to an open synod (obviously knowing he would be caught in a lie). This was his continued position from that time forward. His strategy was to win over the secular men of the state and university to gain enough people behind him before going “public” on his “new and radical” views. This is important to note since Arminianism, like its father Pelagianism, is the secular man’s salvation.
Arminius died in 1609 before he could ever be brought openly before a public Synod. Most orthodox pastors and theologians hoped that with the death of Arminius that Arminianism would die quickly. Unfortunately, his infectious doctrine had overwhelmed too many younger students, and a group called the Remonstrants arose soon after. In 1610 the Remonstrants organized into a body and set forth a “Remonstrance” to the States General of Holland, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. The word “Remonstrance” means “vigorously objecting or opposing.” They vigorously objected and opposed accepted Christian truth, and instead desired to set forth their version of this new doctrine of “semi-Pelagianism.” The Synod of Dordt convened to examine the Arminian Remonstrance (their theological ideas set down on paper) as well as their Christian walk (their piety – or in other words, how their theology affected their “Christian” walk). Both their doctrine and life were “on trial.” The council was held for over a year. Arminianism was condemned as not only theologically deviant, but the liberal and openly abusive lifestyles of the Remonstrance gave practical application to bad theology. After the Synod convened in 1619, they gave the following censure by unanimous decision: They seriously and responsibly examined the Arminian tenants, “condemned them as unscriptural, pestilential errors,” and pronounced those who held and published them to be “enemies of the faith of the Belgic churches, and corrupters of the true religion.” They also deposed the Arminian ministers, excluded them and their followers from the communion of the church, suppressed their religious assemblies, and by the aid of the civil government, which confirmed all their acts, sent a number of the clergy of that party, and those who adhered to them, into banishment. They did not treat them as reprobate, but as those under ecclesiastical discipline. Arminianism had been banished from the land, though it thrived secretly, until a later time when it began to emerge and flourish again. It has now, for all intents and purposes, become the majority religious view of the contemporary church today. The American church overall has embraced the secular man’s religion.
What does Arminianism teach? Is the “god” of Arminianism the God of the Bible? No. Arminius did not plagiarize the bible; instead, he fabricated a brand new deity, or idol, for men to worship. The “god” of Arminianism is not the God of the Bible. For Arminius’ “god” loves everyone equally, and sent his “Son” to die for all men equally. This “god” did not decree the salvation of anyone in particular, and “the christ” of Arminianism did not die for anyone in particular. Instead Arminius’ “god” decreed and his “christ” died for making a “way” of salvation. The Bible, in refuting this, teaches quite a different God. God has predestined only the elect to salvation. These are those for who He “so loved” and “gave” in His beloved Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16). The Bible depicts Christ as the one who fulfills the works of the Covenant of Redemption and bestows, unilaterally, this effectual work in the Covenant of Grace through the power of the Holy Sprit only to those for whom He died. This is the basic Old Testament concept of sacrifice and atonement. Sacrifice and atonement are given on behalf of a particular person, or for the nation of Israel. It did not extend beyond those bounds. Jesus Christ died for His people, the elect. These are those that the Father has elected before the foundation of the world, and those He has predestined to everlasting life. As the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “These …men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. (John 10:14-16, 27-28; 13:18; 17:2, 6, 9-12; 2 Tim. 2:19).” God is the ever powerful God who not only plans out the redemption of men, but actually secures that redemption through ordained means. The Westminster Confession of Faith continues when it says, “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:4, 9, 11; Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:9; Rom. 9:11, 13, 15-16; see Eph. 1:5, 9, 11; 2:8-9; Eph. 1:6, 12). The “god” of Arminianism is impotent and unable to save anyone. Instead, the “god” of Arminianism “hopes” that some will come to Him, and “hopes” that some will be saved through His Son. In this way, Arminianism teaches that it is theologically and hypothetically possible that no one would come, and no one would be saved. Here, Arminius’ “god” relies on man to come to Him, and find salvation. The Bible speaks differently: Psalm 5:5, “The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.” Psalm 7:11, “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 11:5, “The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” Matthew 11:27, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” John 17:9-10, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.” Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 13:48, “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Romans 9:10-13, “And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” Romans 9:21-24, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Ephesians 1:3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”
Arminius also taught that his “god” can be frustrated by the will of man because men choose their own destiny and that “god” allows them to do what they want to do without interfering. Not only is this “god” later to be deemed the “god of deism”, but it demonstrates that Arminius’ “god” plans salvation in a way that may not be effectuated. This “god” has offered salvation, but cannot actually bring about the happiness of the creature since man is autonomous and has, as Arminius taught, “a free will.” This means that man’s neutrality (denying total depravity) in “willing anything” is based on a choice that is never inclined toward good or evil. Arminius though is very wrong not only about how salvation works, but the nature of man as well. This “neutrality” is actually a smokescreen. Not only is everyone born under the fall of Adam totally depraved and sinful, but their wills are never neutral. Men only have sinful inclinations (Gen. 6:5). They are not neutral in any choice they ever make. Neutrality would mean they have an aversion to good or evil, but the Bible teaches men are inherently evil as a result of Adam’s fall and disobedience. Romans 5:12 emphatically states, “…just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…” Arminius taught that there was an island of righteousness in every man which was unaffected by the fall and thus able to do “good.” Grace, then, is a help, but as Pelagius also taught, not completely necessary since “god” has given all men “prevenient grace that aids them” in making a good decision to follow this “god” who does not interfere with their choice. The “god” of Arminius “offers salvation” to every sinner, and “he” does everything “he” can to aid them in “finding” salvation, but “he” will never convert them unless they desire to be converted. Thus, Arminius’ “god” is the ever-frustrated “god” that “hopes” men will come to “him” and heed “his” aid. It is easy to see that “his” offer of salvation and all the work “he” does in helping men with prevenient grace are frustrated at every turn since many people, in fact most people, refuse “his help”.
The Bible paints a very different picture of God in His work to save men. God “effectually” converts the wicked heart of man so that he can believe. But God does not do this for all men, only those for whom Christ died. In this, God sovereignly predestines, elects, and effectually calls men to salvation in His sovereign power. The Synod of Dordt said, “That some receive the gift of faith from God, and others do not receive it, proceeds from God’s eternal decree.” In this, Christ promised that none of the elect would ever be lost, but that all God desired to save would in fact be saved. Sinful men cannot save themselves, they need a true and real savior that converts and regenerates their heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 clearly states God’s converting power, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Christ in the same way explains that the Father “gives” life, and the Son “gives” life to those “they desire” to give life. John 5:21 states, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” One of the more classic Christological redemptive texts is John 6:37-40. Christ says, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Not that Christ might do this if men desire to come, but that He will do this as a result of His saving power and plan and they will come. Not everyone is a “child of God” or a “sheep of God’s pasture.” Jesus says in John 10:25-30, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” In addition, the God of the Bible is sovereign over the flesh of all men. John 17:2 says, “…as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:13, “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” God does not hope men will come, He changes men so that they will come and they will believe.
Arminius also taught that his “god” will not regenerate a sinner who does not first choose “him” with his inherent “free will.” With Pelagius, Arminius said that all men are inherently free, and have a “free will”. The fall of Adam has not rendered them incapable of doing good things. With this will they can either follow “god” or not follow “god.” Yet, at no time will “god” ever violate their free will to make them come to “him” or change their heart first without their consent to do so. Arminius’ “god”, then, is at the beck and call of sinners when it comes to their eternal destiny.
The Scriptures demonstrate God in a completely different light than Arminius’ ideas. In making a pact and agreement with the members of the Triune Godhead, the Father promises to send the Son, the Son promises to complete the work given Him, and the Spirit promises to apply the work that the Son accomplishes. This is not a “hope” on the side of God; rather, it is established in God’s eternal decree. This is electing grace. The Synod of Dordt said in opposition to Arminius’ teachings, “Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation.” The Westminster Confession of Faith states that, “Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.” Since God has done this, He will not simply “hope” that men come to Him. Instead, He ensures their belief by regenerating their hearts through his electing grace. The Confession states, “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.” Even the Belgic Confession, that which Arminius repudiated, though vowed to, says, “We believe that, all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest Himself such as He is; that is to say, merciful and just: merciful, since He delivers and preserves from this perdition all whom He in His eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works; just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.” The Bible teaches that God sovereignly regenerates the elect sinner apart from the sinner’s choice. If God does not first regenerate the spiritually dead sinner, then that sinner can never come to faith in Jesus Christ. The Synod of Dordt taught in Article 1, “As all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and are deserving of eternal death, God would have done no injustice by leaving them all to perish and delivering them over to condemnation on account of sin, according to the words of the apostle: That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God (Rom. 3:19). And: For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). And: For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).” Fallen sinners do not desire goodness, salvation, or God for that matter, since their hearts are evil. As the Apostle said in Romans 3:12, “They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” God must “regenerate” the spiritually dead so that they may be able to follow Christ. This is done by faith, and faith is not some “free will” contribution that men may make towards their steps to coming to salvation. Instead, they are given faith, and have implanted faith, the seeds of faith, as a gift of God so that they can believe. God sovereignly imparts faith and the ability to exercise faith toward salvation in the sovereign act of regeneration. Christ made this very clear in John 3:3, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Very simply, Christ says that man is 1) unable to see the kingdom, 2) that he must be born again, and 3) if he is not born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. This “seeing” means “spiritually perceiving”. Unless the Holy Spirit first births one from above spiritually, they cannot see the kingdom. Thus, Arminius’ is wrong when he says that man must see the kingdom first before being converted. That is the opposite of what Christ taught. Christ insisted that men cannot go to heaven without first being born again by the Spirit. In fact, they cannot even “see” the kingdom unless they are first born again. Christ again says that man does not have the ability to come to God without His help in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” In this way Christ says to His disciples in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” This salvation, or effectual working of God in the heart of sinners, is found all through the book of Acts and the work of God in the church after Christ’s ascension. Acts 11:18, for example, says, “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Certainly Paul’s letter reflect this same sovereign work of God. Romans 9:16 says, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” And also in Ephesians 2:1 he says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…”, and in Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” He also uses a very helpful term, “granted,” in Philippians 1:29 for this same idea, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Men are not the autonomous generators of “faith.” Faith is a gift given to them by God. As a matter of fact, Christ is said to be the Author of their faith, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Arminius taught hypothetical universalism. This meant that Jesus Christ died on the cross for every individual person making it possible for them to have salvation, and for every person to be saved. However, Arminius affirmed that in Christ’s death no one was actually saved. Christ only made salvation possible through the universal atonement for each man. This, though, is very confusing at the least, and heretical at best. If Christ died for all the sins of all men, then why does God still hold them accountable for unbelief? Their unbelief is a sin. Christ died for all their sins. But their unbelief still sends them to hell. In light of what makes a “sacrifice on behalf of one” an actual sacrifice, this makes no sense whatsoever. Arminius did not even understand the nature of the atonement, or how “atonement” rendered the one atoned for guiltless and reckoned righteous by God’s declaration. In this way, though, Arminius taught that even though Christ died for all men, most people are lost. His atonement does not actually save them. They must first save themselves by exercising their wills to their own good – something the Christ of the Bible said they could not do without Him and the Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 3:5). This “god” has little power, no power in fact, to actually secure the salvation of anyone.
In differentiation to Arminius, Jesus Christ taught that none are lost for whom He died. John 6:37-40 says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” In fact, the angelic proclamation demonstrates that Jesus will complete what He sets out to do, as shown in Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Jesus Himself says He dies for His sheep, “John 10:15, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus does not die for any of the goats. Rather, He lays His life down for His friends in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The church itself is bought with His blood – just the church – in Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Paul the Apostle even remarks that marriage is much like the union between Christ and the church. Christ is married to His bride and gave Himself for His bride. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Christ’s death, then, is what is theologically called a substitutionary atonement on behalf of His people. He died to save them, secure them, and bring them to glory. The Synod of Dordt concluded the same when they said, “Since, therefore, we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, He has been pleased of His infinite mercy to give His only begotten Son for our Surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that He might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.” For them, He actually obtained salvation, and the Holy Spirit applies that salvation which God first decreed would take place for elect sinners. Jesus actually atones for the guilt of His people. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Not only does He seek and save, but he also reconciles His elect to God, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). He did not make a “way of salvation” but obtained salvation for his people as Hebrews 9:12 makes clear, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” The Synod of Dordt follows this biblical outline and concluded, “For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation; that is, it was the will of God that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which, together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them, free from every spot and blemish, to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.”
Arminius also taught that his “god” cannot secure salvation for anyone, and thus, those sinners that choose “him” may also subsequently fall away from grace after they have taken hold of it. In this way, Arminius’ “god” loses people to the devil and to eternal torment, due to their decision to “stop following” “him.” These wayward souls simply give up and reject their faith. Thus, salvation can be lost at any time.
The Scriptures not only defy the idea that the elect can lose their salvation, but completely teaches the opposite. Whatever God wants, by His good pleasure, He gets. This means that after God has sovereignly saved an individual, He does everything necessary to keep that individual in His eternal grace and under the blood of Christ. This is typically called the “preservation of the saint”. It demonstrates that those who persevere in the faith are those God preserves so that they cannot lose their salvation. Otherwise, like Arminius’ “god”, God would be impotent to bring His desires to pass. Jesus Christ taught that those who have eternal life will never lose it. John 5:24 states, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 10:27-29 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” Romans 8:29-30 explains that God will give His people everything they need to not only be saved, but finally glorified. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Paul enters into an oratory of ecstasy when he proclaims in Romans 8:35-39, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Peter teaches the church that those who are saved are kept by God’s power for salvation. 1 Peter 1:5 says that Christians are those “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” God is able to do this, and willing to do this and actually does do this for His saints. Jude 1:24-25 asserts, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”
The Bible condemns Arminius’ teaching as heretical. The Bible makes it exceedingly clear that different Gospels, counterfeit Gospels, are no Gospels at all and deserve condemnation, not admiration. Paul said in Galatians 1:8-9, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Worshippers of a different “god” and different “gospel” are not going to be slapped on the wrist and sent to their room in heaven. Rather, they are going to be sent to hell for being idolaters. Idolaters do not enter heaven, as Paul said in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Idolaters are damned. Arminius taught a different Gospel and deviated even from what the common consent of biblical truth was in his day. He rejected the Belgic Confession which, at the time, was an important explanation of the Bible for the church, and instead gave birth, through secretly training his disciples, to the Arminian Opinions and Arminian Articles. Both these Remonstrant documents teach a different “god” and different “gospel”. Arminius was ultimately a closet Pelagian and deeply infected with Pelagius’ doctrines. In turn he infected others with a deviant variation of Pelagianism (called semi-Pelagianism) which now plagues the contemporary church all over the world. This aberration and deviancy is found in the preaching, teaching and books of such popular authors as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyers, Benny Hinn, Max Lucado, Chuck Smith, Dave Hunt, Chuck Swindoll, Billy Graham and many other “lime light” (but sorely misguided and misinformed) “preachers” of today. They are popular, yes. But this again demonstrates the same popularity that Arminius had with the “secular man” and the religion that catered to the flesh. The contemporary church today is not only accepting Arminius’ teaching, but running after it, selling it in their Christian bookstores (making a profit on heresy), teaching it in their seminaries (so that young and upcoming ministers affect the congregation they will one day pastor), and preaching it from their pulpits to the layman who trusts their pastor’s every word. Arminius taught the secular man’s religion – a religion of works by personal merit – and America is eating it up. Dr. John Owen called it the “brain child” of wickedness. Dr. Jonathan Edwards called it “deep darkness.” Rev. Augustus Toplady called it the “Road back to Roman Catholicism”. Westminster Divine Dr. Leighton called it “the last and greatest monster of the man of sin”. Rev. Christopher Ness called it an “abomination” and “chambers of imagery” (or fabrications). This writer, in like mind, calls it heresy. Suitably, the worship of this “other god” that Arminius created is summarized biblically as idolatry.
God had forbidden His people to worship idols. He still does. This has never changed. Idols are “representations” of Him in some “earthly form”, or they are fabricated gods of the debased and wicked human mind. God set down many commands and examples of forsaking idolatry in every form. God said in Leviticus 19:4, “Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God.” God’s people have been prone to idolatry as a result of ignorance and accepting the teaching of the “gods” of neighboring cities and peoples. The Scriptures say of the Israelites in 2 Kings 17:12, “for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”” Idols are basically a fabricated versions of what sinful men think God should be, or what a “god” might do for them. There are gods that help people have children called fertility gods, ones that help prosperity, cause agriculture to prosper, give kings power, and even require the worshipper to sacrifice their children for blessing. Other ideological gods take the form of worshipping money, work, family, an idea or ideal. The prophet Isaiah said in 2:8, “Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made.” Whether an idol is a physical statue or an idea that one worships, idolatry is still committed. Heresy itself is idolatry of the mind.
Idols, by definition, are not to be worshipped. Not only are they not to be worshipped, they are never to be created to begin with. Whenever the God of the Bible is forgotten, or changed into some deviant idea, people worship a “useless, worthless” idol. As Jeremiah recorded in 18:15, “Because My people have forgotten Me, They have burned incense to worthless idols.” And Jonah was explicit when he said that those who worship idols forsake the mercy of God and forfeit salvation. Jonah 2:8 states, “Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy.” It is an unfathomable to wonder why people will turn to something worthless to worship it? Habakkuk the prophet wondered this as well when he said in Habakkuk 2:18, “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols?” Think about the foolishness of idolatry. Someone cuts down a tree, makes an idol of it, and then bows down to worship it or pray to it. In the same way people sit around taking biblical ideas to ponder, ponder them wrongly, create a god of their own thoughts, write them down on paper, or publish them in a book, and people eat it up as gospel truth. The Apostle John exhorted the church never to fall into idolatry of any kind when he said in 1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Whenever God’s people, or those leading God’s people, fell into idolatry, it provoked God to be exceedingly angry and to destroy those false teachers and those who forsook the Lord with their idolatry. 1 Kings 16:26 states, “For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols.” In 1 Kings 21:26 it records, “And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.” Even the Apostle Paul was moved in this same way when he saw the city of Athens given over to idolatry in Acts 17:16, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.” God hates idolatry of every kind, and His people should as well.
Think about the logic of worshipping an idol. Physical and mental or ideological idols are relatively the same in substance – they are mute, impotent, debased fabrications and inventions of the fallen and depraved mind worshipped by the fallen sinner. Whether an idol is seen or thought makes little difference. Idolatry is committed when God’s people have wrong thoughts about Him, how much more when entire theological systems are created in lieu of a new fangled idea or trumped-up forgery! Idols are not worshippable. They hold no inherent value and therefore cannot be worshipped as “the Highest Good.” They are not “worthy” to be worshipped. Rather, they should be rejected, abolished, banished, and destroyed. Idols do bio good or have any real consequence except that they pull people away from the One, True, Living God. They have a negative, sinful affect on people, not a positive, sanctifying affect. They damn those who would rather worship the idol than worship the Triune Godhead.
Even though Arminianism is a theological idea, that idea has filtered down into the “god” most people worship throughout Christendom today. The “god” of Arminianism, though, has no inherent value, is impotent, frustrated, incapable of securing salvation for anyone, and is thwarted by the insignificant whims of mere mortals. That “god” is valueless; worthless. It is a god that ought not to be worshipped for any reason. That “god” is not worthy of worship. For the thinking Christian who has had even the most minimal contact with the biblical God and Creator of the universe, the Arminian “god” is not worshippable for him. Christians should simply not be able to worship such a gross misrepresentation of the God of the Bible. Many people are ignorantly spending week after week, and worship service after worship service in serving an idol, and the True God of the Bible is angry with them. Does ignorance excuse them? God says “No.” As a matter of fact, God promises to reject, forsake and finally destroy those who are ignorant about Him. Hosea 4:6 states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Not only will God forget the one worshipping in ignorance something that ought not to be worshipped, but He will even forget their children and visit the iniquity of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. In other words, God is very serious about the way He is to be worshipped and understood! In precluding the Israelites to worship strange idols or fabricated ideas about God, the Lord said this in Exodus 20:4-5, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” God equates idolatry with hating him. Arminius’ doctrine demonstrates that he and his followers hate God. By their ignorance, or willful disobedience in following after an idolatrous “god”, the Lord Himself says they hate Him. It is apparent, then, that the “god” that Arminius created cannot be worshipped without enacting God’s fervent jealousy and vengeful judgment.
A warning to the reader:
It may be that you are an Arminian. I am very saddened that you have been caught up in thinking that Arminius’ “god” is the real God. However, you have been duped. Satan has used his false teacher to dupe you, along with much of the church today. You are not alone, but you are certainly not in a safe place. Arminianism is darkness, wickedness, evil, and heresy of the worst kind – and you have bought into it. Even scarier, God has allowed you to believe a lie (2 Chronicles 18:21). That should cause you to tremble. Take the Scriptures to heart; as 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 explains, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” If that is not a scary thought for you, dear reader, I do not know what is more frightful. Not only are you believing a lie, God has sent it to you that you may be blinded and condemned in unrighteousness!
Yet, do not lose hope. You have been confronted with the truth of the God of the Bible in this article, and God may indeed spare you an eternal condemnation if you would repent of your idol.
Arminians are of different stripes. Some people in Arminian churches may be truly converted, ignorant of their church home, and ultimately the Lord will rescue them out of their ignorance for He promises He will not allow His little ones to perish (such a rescue can come from Scriptural truth used in a simple internet article!). Such Arminians, if they may even be called that, are newly regenerated, but as they spend time in God’s word, they will see the error of those who preach and teach a different Gospel, maybe even the errors that they are currently holding. Ultimately they will have to leave their church to find a biblical church if they are truly convicted about the truth of the Word of God. They will leave and will learn the truth because they have the ears of s sheep that hear their Shepherd.
Secondly, there is the Arminian who knows “enough to be dangerous” and is wrestling with understanding the differences between the “god” of Arminianism and the God of the Bible. If you have just read through this article, and were an Arminian of the first flavor, now you are an Arminianism of the second camp. That makes life exceedingly dangerous for you. The truth has been given to you and the outcome of your choice will determine whether the Spirit has truly converted you or not. Will you follow an idol, or the true God of the Bible? If you continue in your idolatry following after Arminius’ deformed “god”, and you do not repent, God will judge you on the day of your death for your idolatry. The Scriptures say idolaters do not go to heaven. Thus, according to the Scriptures, you will be damned. You must recognize the fact now that you are serving a “god” that cannot be worshipped, no, that ought not to be worshipped. God forbids it. So, what will you do?
Thirdly, it may be that you are a staunch Arminian. You are sure Arminius was right. Or maybe you have never even heard of “Arminianism” but your theology is the same as Arminius. Regardless of whether he came up with his theologically deformed ideas, or you came up with those same deformed ideas, they are still heresy and have been condemned by the orthodox church for hundreds of years. Yet, if you took but an hour or two to skim through Arminius’ works, you would find 1) that he probably thought through all this far more intricately than you have, and 2) that your theology is much the same as his and of his Remonstrant disciples. Repentance for you is even harder since you have been serving and worshipping an idol for so long. The longer one remains in idolatry, the harder it is for them to break free from it, especially if their theology is going to have to be relearned and remolded to conform to the Truth of the Word of God. Your whole world will be turned upside down. It is difficult to believe that everything you have believed is really a lie. Be warned though, the Pharisees did not like the kingdom that Christ brought in. They would have rather had their own fabricated “god” and “kingdom”, than Christ’s God and Kingdom. You are just like them if you reject and rebel against the Truth of the God of the Bible. Jesus came to teach the truth, and they rejected the truth because they were not His sheep. Are you His sheep?
It may even be that you are saying, “But I thought I was believing in the God of the Bible!” Alas, it is most sad that you think so because that simply gives way to demonstrating the quicksand you have fallen into. And it will be very hard and very difficult to accept that you are wrong. Such an “error” has eternal consequences to it. So it would behoove you to make some changes in your thinking, and repent of your current idolatry to serve the Living God. Will you do what the Remonstrants did and decide to reject the God of the Bible for their own “version” of God? If you worship the “god” of Arminianism, of even the “christ” of Arminianism, you must repent and acknowledge the reality that you do not worship the God and Christ of Scripture. You have been sorely deceived in your idolatry! Sure God was right when He rebuked His people for being “destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Study the Scriptures and learn of the True Christ. Pray for grace to repent, and ask Christ, the Christ of the Bible, to change your heart and mind and to understand the truth of His Word. If you are sincere, He will teach you. If you desire, He will send His sovereign grace to you to aid you.