I found this excellent short article from Reformation Theology quoting Calvinist pastor Charles Simeon’s conversation with famed Arminian pastor John Wesley.
Simeon found common ground between them and fellow-shipped with Wesley on that turf.
Sigh… If only today’s Arminians were as Calvinistic as Wesley!
The problem in the 21st century is the turf we share with many of today’s ‘free-will’ advocates amounts to no more than a molehill.
Imagine surveying any number of the top evangelical preachers if they believe man is totally depraved and can only respond to the gospel through a sovereign act of God. I sincerely believe most would scoff at the notion! They might say ‘man is basically good, needing only a little positive encouragement to accept Christ.’
If asked if they preach that man must despair of any hope of recommending himself to God for salvation, i’m confident most would say, ‘nonsense! Such statements would likely scare off many potential candidates for salvation. Man needs only to respond to an altar call or recite a sinner’s prayer. Making a commitment is all God requires of man.’
If asked if they believe man is kept by grace after salvation and not according to his own power I believe most would reject that. By not believing in the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement for all the sins of all his people, this belief yields to a ‘grace is a gift, but you are responsible for holding on to it’ kind of mentality. Honestly, if any part of God’s grace depended upon man’s ability it would no longer be grace.
Perhaps we need to keep our daggers drawn after all!
Daggers aren’t necessary in dealing with believers of a different disposition concerning the doctrines of election and predestination. Preaching the truth of God’s word, uncompromisingly declaring the whole counsel of God, even the difficult, hard to accept doctrines, is the responsibility of all who abide in Christ. These declarations must be tempered by a humble heart and a spirit of love. I must remind myself as in my salvation, it was God alone who opened my eyes up to these magnificent doctrines. I believe God must reveal these doctrines to us through the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
The absolute sovereignty of God is repugnant to the natural mind. Man, (even saved man sometimes) loves the idea of his own autonomy. He is enraptured with the ideology where he is master of his fate and captain of his soul. Scripture does not nurture this view, but smashes it to pieces beneath the crushing weight of man’s own sin and depravity.
Proclamation and prayer are the true weapons of our warfare in the battle for salvation of souls and illumination of truth. Both are the results of the work of the Holy Spirit. Preach the word and pray that God unstops the ears, opens the eyes, and gives understanding to all those who are called according to His purpose.
The daggers of ‘vehement argumentation’ and ‘uncharitable discussion’ as Simeon puts it should be sheathed in favor of exhortation and encouragement. Those who can accept the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation should accept it, for the glory of God!