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Calvinist, Arminian, Or Biblicist?

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
–Romans 9:16

Yesterday we looked at Calvinism, the system of belief that emphasizes God’s sovereignty in election. The other system of belief is Arminianism. Arminianism acknowledges God’s sovereignty, but it also emphasizes man’s responsibility to exercise faith in salvation.

Arminianism is based on the teachings of a man named Jacob Arminius, who lived in the 16th century. Jacob Arminius did not accept all the teachings of the Reformers, so he developed a system of belief in refutation to their theology. After his death, the followers of Jacob Arminius summarized his teaching in five articles of faith.

Article one of Arminianism says God has chosen to save some people on the basis of their faith in Christ. That is, God chose people based on His foreknowledge that they would exercise faith.

Article two of Arminianism says Christ died for everyone. Although He died for the sins of the world, only those people who believe in Him will actually experience the forgiveness of sins.

Article three says man cannot do anything good, except exercise faith in Christ, apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, Arminianism and Calvinism are in alignment.

Article four says that although man cannot do anything good apart from believing in Christ without the grace of God, God’s grace is not irresistible. Arminians believe it is possible for a person who has an opportunity to believe to resist the grace of God.

Article five says whether those who are genuinely saved can ever be lost is uncertain and demands further study in Scripture. In other words, Arminians are not sure believers are secure.

A few months after I came to First Baptist Church of Dallas, somebody approached me and said, “You are Arminian, aren’t you?” A few months later, somebody came up to me and said, “You are a Calvinist, aren’t you?” Which am I? Which are you? I will never forget the words of Dr. Charles Ryrie, one of my seminary professors. He said, “Don’t ever let yourself be known as a Calvinist or an Arminian–be known as a Biblicist.” I do not feel any compulsion to align myself with any system of theology that tries to explain the inexplicable. The Bible teaches God’s sovereignty, and the Bible teaches our responsibility. Teach the Bible, and you will be balanced. By the way, Paul was neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. He was a Biblicist. He embraced the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures about election, but he also believed in everyone’s responsibility to trust in Christ and to spread the gospel to others. We see that in Romans 9.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Is God Unfair?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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