Tell Me Then… Who, or What, Makes You Different?
1 Corinthians 4:7 [KJV] “For who maketh thee to differ [from another]? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive [it], why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received [it]?”
1 Corinthians 4:7 [LITV] “For who makes you to differ? And what do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive?”
Classic Arminianism (as opposed to Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism) declares that though man is fallen, and cannot come to Christ on their own, the Spirit of God “restores” the human will of all mankind to such a point, as to allow them to either (sincerely) accept the Lord Jesus Christ, or else, reject Him.
Say, for a moment, that this was true… what would be the key cause, or explanation, as to why some would accept Christ and others would reject Him? What is the defining or distinguishing factor? What are the vital conditions and circumstances that would lead to each distinct choice?
Did those “accepting Christ” accept Him solely on a whim, as if by luck or happenstance? Did they “accept Him” because they were in the right place at the right time? Did they accept Him because they were inherently smarter than those rejecting Him? Or were they innately holier, better, or more spiritual by nature? Did they have greater reasoning skills or did they simply hear a better-crafted testimony? Were they exposed to biblical truth whilst in a better mood, a better state of mind? Were they not as jaded, or biased, against “Christendom” (as some are due to past abuse, exposure to greater degrees of churchianity/hypocrisy, etc.)? Was their witness, or preacher, nicer or more articulate, convincing, or sincere, than the witness to the ones rejecting Christ? What if one accepted Christ, whilst another rejected, both whilst listening to the same preacher, at the same time, under the same circumstances? How would that be explained? Simply put, what is it precisely, that caused/causes some (whose will is restored, as they say) to accept the Lord whilst countless millions reject Him?
The ultimate problem with Arminianism (as with Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism) is that ultimately, it is the individual, their will, something specific to them, or perhaps even intrinsic in them, that causes them to accept Christ whilst others reject. Some degree of openness, willingness, holiness, goodness, wisdom, understanding, intelligence, or some other factor (amongst scores of other possibilities unrelated to the divine) made the difference. The key reality is that, in their scheme, whatever ultimately served as the deciding factor had to stem from the person, and not fully from God because God, by the Holy Spirit, already did all that He could to save the person (i.e. by restoring them to a state wherein they could “freely choose” or freely reject the Lord).
The true Arminian declares that God does not interfere with, nor infringe upon, that “now free” will. They maintain that God doesn’t make anyone believe; He doesn’t force a choice upon them; He doesn’t make them willing in the day of His power; nor does He doing anything else that takes away from, or inhibits, their sovereign right/ability to “freely choose.” In the Arminian view, God can only go so far as to bring a person to a pre-fall, Adam-like state of objective neutrality, wherein they can exercise their will, unhindered, to either decide for Christ, or to decide against Him… and yet, the ultimate decision is sovereignly in the head, heart, and hands of each fallen fallen son and daughter of Adam.
Contrast this to the Predestinarian view, the Sovereign Grace view, which is the biblical view. Per an abundance of affirming scriptural proof-text, the Lord Jesus came to seek and to save, actual sinners; and not just actual sinners, but those amongst actual sinners who are described as the lost; and not just actual sinners who are described as being lost, but those lost, actual sinners specifically described as His people, i.e., Christ’s people. And who are “His people?” We read in John 6:37 that His people are ‘all that the Father gives Him.” The verse actually reads (KJV) “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” And who are these that the Father gives to Christ? We read of them in:
Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
God the Father gives to the Lord Jesus Christ all whom the Father already chose in Christ, from before the world was. Those chosen in Christ, and given to Christ, fell in Adam like everyone else. They became abject sinners subject to eternal damnation like everyone else. They were as all mankind, perishing, even being destroyed (which is what lost / ἀπόλλυμι / apollymi / G622 means] — but they were chosen, they were elect, they were purposed by God from eternity to be saved by the blood of the Lamb. They had no natural, or even “generally, or commonly, restored will” to accept Christ. They were rebels like the rest of fallen humanity; rebels that would by nature utterly reject God –but for- the sovereign, effectual working of the Spirit of God, in light of eternal union with Christ, by the eternal will of God the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ came to seek and to save His own, His own people, a people that were lost, having no strength to seek Him (let alone to turn to Him of their own natural, “commonly-restored,” or supposedly “free” will). For them, Jesus really paid it all at Calvary, secured it all upon His resurrection, and does it all, by the Holy Spirit, in the lives of His elect.
When the Lord finds one of His lost sheep, and speaks spiritual life into their being, God takes away their stony heart; gives them a heart of flesh; gives them a new, born-again, born from above, spirit; and puts His Holy Spirit within them. The Spirit of God makes them ready (i.e. prepared, like proper soil for the seed), willing, and able to repent of their sin, and to turn to Christ (as both their Lord and their Saviour). The Spirit of God sovereignly works repentance in their new heart, works faith in their new heart, and effectually causes them to come to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him, bowing before Him, needing Him, and loving Him, all by sovereign grace. The Holy Spirit doesn’t just bring them to a place where they, in their natural, stony, desperately wicked hearts, can accept or reject Him at their leisure. No! He works in them both the will to do, and the actual doing, of His good pleasure — with the chiefest of that good pleasure being their turning from sin, towards God, in/by/through Christ, in light of the inner working of the Holy Ghost. Remember, God in 1 Corinthians 2:14 makes it abundantly clear that the natural man, those still in their sin, the yet unregenerate ones, cannot receive (accept, take to oneself) the things of the Spirit of God (the chiefest being the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, and the glad tidings concerning Him), because the Lord Jesus, His Gospel, and all of the spiritual truths flowing from Him, are foolishness to those who are not yet born again. Those who are still natural, still unquickened, cannot believe, or appropriate for themselves, or unite themselves voluntarily to Christ, because they cannot savingly know Him whilst in such a state. Why? Because He must be spiritually discerned, and only the already-made-spiritual in Christ, by the Spirit of God, can so discern Him.
In closing, God doesn’t bring “all mankind to a state wherein they can either accept or reject the Lord Jesus;” instead, He quickens each of the spiritually dead, elect children of God (at their eternally-appointed times). He gives them spiritual life and all that it encompasses (a new heart, a new spirit, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit); spiritually baptizes them into Christ; converts them; leads them into the gift of God-wrought repentance; works in them the gift of God-wrought faith; and otherwise leads them along effectually, through the Narrow and Strait Way, which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (and all that pertains to eternal life). God leaves nothing up to His elect as it pertains to initiating, maintaining, or sealing their own salvation; the Lord Jesus paid it all, did it all, and the Spirit of God makes it effectual and manifest in the lives of all for whom Christ died. Remember, all for whom Christ died will be saved; all who were given to Him by The Father will be saved; all who were from-eternity chosen in Him will be saved; but countless billions will be passed-over. Don’t let that be you dear reader, cry out to the Lord today, whilst the breath of life is still in you, and seek His yoke and mercies, seek His oh so great salvation, and do not rest until you find it.
To God be the glory, in Christ Jesus,