Pristine Grace

Arminianism is a False Gospel
by Brandan Kraft
Arminianism is a False Gospel

Editor's note:  I wrote this in 2004 and have updated it.  I don't think it's that good of an article, but I publish it today in hopes that someone finds some use in it.  Thanks for reading! - Brandan (12/18/2018)

     I hate false gospels… I really do. Every one of you out there who believes and loves the Gospel of Grace in the Christ will stand in hatred with me. Nobody even remotely likes a teaching that takes the FREE GRACE of Christ and twists it into a perverted form of self-righteousness under the guise of the gospel. That is the ultimate attack on God; but sadly it takes many forms. One of the things about these false gospels is that people are easily brought to believe their lies because they deceptively use the language of the true gospel to present themselves. For example the Roman Catholic Church teaches a form of works based salvation but if you talked to many Roman Catholics today, they would be shocked if you told them that. The Roman Catholic Church officially teaches salvation is solely by  grace. That’s all fine and dandy – and to that no true believer will disagree. What many people don’t realize about the pope's teachings, however, is that they also teach that a person is declared saved based on what their god is doing in that person by what they call grace. It’s a deceptive form of works based salvation because people look inside of themselves for the infused righteousness rather than outside of themselves to Christ alone as the basis of their justification and salvation.

     I rejoice today that many people who call themselves “reformed” or “calvinistic” recognize the deceptive and perverse gospel of the Roman Catholic Church and refuse to give people caught up in that system of lies any comfort in their religion. Giving comfort means to pray, worship, or extend fellowship.  Actually it's spiritual fornication to give comfort to those who have no knowledge of grace by justification  in Christ alone. Although there are many "calvinists" who recognize the errors of the Roman Catholic Church and refuse to extend fellowship to Roman Catholics, many of these same people fail to make the same discernment concerning another deadly and deceptive religion. The mistake they make is they fail to treat Arminianism/Free Willism the same way they treat Roman Catholicism.

     If you are wondering why I’m writing this editorial, please allow me to explain. I’ve come out strong against the popular free will religion of today. In fact, I've come out so strong that I’ve stated things such as "free willers are lovers of self" or "free willers have no knowledge of Christ." I still believe these things. Yet, for some reason or another, I have been accused of not portraying my understanding about God in a loving manner. Maybe it's because most of my discussion on this topic has been through the medium of the Internet instead of through face to face conversations. I somehow have not conveyed all of my thoughts that go along with these beliefs of mine. Because of this, I have drawn the charge of being arrogant, prideful, harsh, unloving, and numerous other names. I don't draw the charge as much as I used to, so that's an improvement!  But, I suppose these charges are warranted because some of these people that have accused me of such have only heard half of my message.  

     First of all, let me state up front that I do not believe a person has to have a perfect understanding of the doctrine(s) of sovereign grace or TULIP in order to be a believer. Neither do I think the main issue between Calvinism and Arminianism are these five points although I think they are very important. I think the real crux of the argument between these two gospels is the basis for justification. What is the basis for salvation according to God? I can sit and argue all day on limited atonement, election, and perseverance with the saints with free willers, but I prefer to skip all of that and go right to the real controversy: justification. Show me an "arminian" or anyone else who believes in “free will”, and I will show you someone who is resting in the works of his own mind rather than one who is resting in the finished work of Christ alone. How can I make such a claim? It’s really quite simple and it boils down to one question..

What is the ultimate difference between someone who is saved from their sins and someone who dies and perishes in their sins?

     What is the difference? Those of us who know the Gospel can affirm that Christ Alone is the difference. We recognize that when Christ came into this world He had His people in view and had their sin (and only His people's sin) imputed to Him on the cross. When we come to recognize our sin and a need of a saviour, we officially recognize our guilty status before God and turn from all of our deeds of righteousness to the perfect righteousness of Christ. Those who don't know this Gospel and affirm the gospel of freewillism believe that Christ died for every human being and the only difference between them and their pagan neighbor was their free will decision. I have yet to meet a person who truly believes in free will affirm that Christ alone is the difference. The answer I always receive when these people are questioned is their salvation is conditioned upon their decision making abilities. These people have faith in their faith. They have not seen their sinfulness because they have not repented of their belief in their ability to be saved. They are looking to themselves, at least partially, in the same way that a Roman Catholic looks their god's work of "grace" inside of them rather than to Christ’s perfect life of obedience and death alone. It’s the most deceptive form of idolatry - and the most common.

     Secondly, when people hear me say that these men are unbelievers, they automatically assume that I believe these people are hell bound! At least that’s what I’ve been told by at least a few people now. One person at least knows me well enough to know I don’t believe that but said I came across as being “glad” these people didn't know Christ. Let me set the record straight…  I DO NOT KNOW the secret things of God.  I do not know who His elect that do not yet believe are.  It's not my business to be condemning anyone to hell or to rejoice in someone's sorry state.  What I am GLAD about is God has saved His people in Christ, and that EVERY ONE OF THEM will turn from their self-righteousness to Him at God's appointed time.  And I'm glad that God is glorified in the salvation of sinners and the reprobation of others.

     What I hear coming from those who confess to believe the gospel of Grace is that many of these free willers are brethren in Christ. This to me is a very disturbing thought, and every time I hear it, I cringe. Why would we want to give these people any comfort in their self-righteousness? Why would we want to diminish the Gospel of free and pristine grace?  Granted, I don’t think we should condemn anyone to hell or lash out at these unbelievers with hatred. But to boldly proclaim amongst those who love the gospel of Christ that even *some* Arminians are fellow believers is to possibly give someone comfort in their sin. Further it tells everyone else who is watching that this Gospel that we claim to love really isn't that important - in fact it means we probably don't believe it ourselves. It’s as if these five points of sovereign grace (TULIP) are just beliefs that should be picked up by everyone, but are not essential. It’s saying to everyone that it’s ok to believe something more than Christ is necessary for salvation even if we may privately believe the opposite. Do we really want to convey this message?  If we do, what does it say about  we are relying upon?  

      Thirdly, I do not believe just because a person is in an Arminian church that does not mean they are not God's elect and not unbelievers. I was converted while attending a church that consisted of Arminians and Amyraldians. Was I converted believing their teaching? Absolutely not. I was not a freewiller although I may have been in an Arminian church. God reached out to me through His word and changed my stoney heart into one of flesh and revealed to me the true Gospel of Free and Sovereign Grace.  He did this through John Gill's book, The Cause of God and Truth.  I started reading about TULIP, and God in His providence put that book into my hands.  Shortly after this conversion, the teaching of the church became too much for me to bear and I left.  It took a while for me to get really good at recognizing false gospels, so God even had me for a time in a "calvinist" church that conditioned salvation on the conversion experience.  I didn't realize it at the time.  In fact, I thought they believed in God's sovereignty like I did, and later I discovered that I believed something totally different from them.  We departed that place too!  I do not believe anyone who knows the true gospel can stomach the false teaching around them for very long.  By leaving these dens of iniquity, they are evidencing themselves to be true believers. 

     Those of you who are reading this and have embraced as brethren free willers, think about this before you respond. Are you so adamant that some free willers are your brethren because you think you were converted as a free willer or you don’t want to think about your loved ones as hell bound? When talking with many of you, that seems to be the case because I am often asked if I think any Calvinists were converted when they believed that salvation was conditioned on the sinner in any form. Are you humble enough to admit that you might not possibly have understood and believed the gospel when you were a free willer, or does that thought scare you? Does your standing before God today depend on your conversion experience? Does your past really mean that much to you? Are you willing to repent of your former self-righteousness and confess that you now depend ONLY upon Christ’s righteousness alone as the basis for your salvation?  The truth is, if you are one of God's elect, you were bought and constituted as righteous in Christ before you were even born.  If you are one of God's elect, you will be given knowledge of the Gospel at His appointed time.  If you are one of God's elect, you will turn from the self-righteous religion of arminianism and conditional calvinism.

     These questions are not easy to answer because by nature we hate to be confronted in our sin.  Those of you who understand total depravity should know what I’m talking about! It’s not easy to be confronted – and so I now confront you as tenderly as possible. Where do you stand? Is a person converted believing a false gospel? If you say yes, I have to question if you really understand the truth.

I leave you with this test:

Is Arminianism / Freewillism a false gospel?
If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, how is it that salvation conditioned upon the sinner is the gospel? I'm sorry, but you don't know the true gospel if you think arminianism is a true form of the gospel.

Are people converted believing a false gospel?
If no, proceed to the next question. If yes, are you saying it’s ok to be a roman catholic, a muslim, or a mormon too? If so, you don't know the gospel of Grace in Christ. 

If you passed the previous questions, how is it that anyone who is an Arminian (that is believing Arminian doctrines) is a Christian?

Thanks for reading.  

Objections and Answers: Below are all objections I have received since writing this article. I have paraphrased these objections and added my response.

"I don't think you can generalize and say all Arminians are lost because it's possible for a person to believe the true gospel in his heart and express another gospel with his mind."

Friend, anyone who knows the Gospel of Grace cannot help but express the true Gospel. Anyone who is aware of their salvation cannot possibly express belief in salvation by their own hands. Further, Scripture teaches no head heart dichotomy - "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart...(Mt 15:18)" - "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)"

"You really shouldn't use the term Arminian as that's too broad of a generalization. Instead you should use terminology such as 'those who have faith in their faith instead of Christ alone.'"

But isn't this what Arminianism is? When I use the term Arminian, I mean exactly what you think it is. Anyone who claims to be an Arminian is a person who has "faith in their faith."

"I fail to see the purpose of this article. It's not in any way edifying. Yes, it's true that all Arminians are probably lost but it's not our job to go around judging people's hearts and condemning them to hell."

First, the purpose of this article is twofold. One, I hope that elect Arminians that have not been revealed their sin of self-righteousness read this and are brought to repentance. Second, I hope that those who are resting in Christ Alone are brought to a further understanding of the Gospel through this article.  Further, how is it that a presentation of truth is not edifying? It may not be edifying to you at this moment, but God can certainly take truth and apply it at will to some of His elect as He desires. 

Also, I do not think it's our job to go around condemning people to hell because of their belief in the false gospel. However, if we are to be loving toward these people, we will refuse to give them any assurance of their salvation. I don't think there is anything wrong with taking an Arminian acquaintance aside and telling them in love that we cannot walk together (Amos 3:3) as they are not resting in Christ's work ALONE. If we have the courage to do this, then we should do so in the hopes that God will grant them as one God's precious elect the gift of repentance and faith through the presentation of the true Gospel. We should never run around in an arrogant attitude condemning people to hell. When rejecting our Arminian associates, we must always present the Gospel of Grace and Truth and depend on the Holy Spirit to call His elect into fellowship as the Lord would lead to us in providence.

"If you were to take what Arminians say is the gospel, I agree that this evidences that they are lost. However, men such as Spurgeon and other great reformers of the past counted Arminians as brethren. Therefore, we should do the same."

     We must be very careful to avoid the cult of the personality. Spurgeon spoke a lot of true things, but he also taught a lot of false doctrine.  And this was over the course of a very long career.  What Spurgeon said one year, he may have denied with his preaching the next. These men were fallible; and we must avoid erecting protestant popes at all costs. Our rule for thought and practice comes from the Scriptures alone and not from church tradition.

"Everything in this article is true, but we must keep these things to ourselves because we will turn arminians away with the message that they are lost."

Yes we will turn many arminians away with this message, but that's the nature of the Gospel. But what you are failing to realize is it's the truth that God will use to call His elect. We must be willing to speak the whole counsel of God when given the opportunity in God's providence.

"Some people are just ignorant of the truth concerning God's sovereignty. Do we really want to push these people away?"

If they were truly converted, they wouldn't be ignorant of the truth. Now, while I believe it's possible for an immature believer to be confused on some terminology, (that is they may not be able to express their thoughts concerning salvation well), they will not express belief in a false gospel of salvation conditioned upon faith. Further, if these ignorant people are truly believers as you say they are, then when presented with these facts of Christ's Sovereign Grace they will not be pushed away but instead will rejoice and love the truth as it's delivered.

"Some new believers reading this will really be shocked and shaken when they read this. This article appears to be cruel and unloving because you're not taken these brethren of ours into account."

Anyone who loves the Gospel does so in "fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12). A sobering view of the world is helpful to be moved to adoring worship. You are right that this will shock and shaken up some of our newly converted brethren, but this will be good for them and God will preserve them through this ordeal. They may even be brought to a further joy in the Lord that bought them!

"How can you say all Arminians are not believers when some of the greatest works in Christian literature have been authored from Arminians?"

Mt 7:22-23, (KJV), Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 

Our standing in Christ is not based on anything we do. It is true that God has used Arminians to produce some things of benefit to His elect, but that in no way means these men were believers when they produced these works. 

John Gill, a great particular baptist theologian wrote the following that expresses what every true believer will agree to: "I depend wholly and alone upon the free, sovereign, eternal, unchangeable and everlasting love of God; the firm and everlasting covenant of grace, and my interest in the persons of the Trinity; for my whole salvation: and not upon any righteousness of my own, nor any thing in me, or done by me under the influences of the holy Spirit; nor upon any services of mine, which I have been assisted to perform for the good of the church; but upon my interest in the persons of the Trinity, the person, blood and righteousness of Christ, the free grace of God, and the blessings of grace streaming to me through the blood and righteousness of Christ; as the ground of my hope."