Thursday, August 24, 2017

To A Sinner Possible Salvation Is Impossible Salvation

A possible salvation would be to a sinner an impossible salvation. Mere salvability would be to him inevitable destruction. It will be admitted, without argument, that a possible salvation is not, in itself, an actual salvation. That which may be is not that which is. Before a possible can become an actual salvation something needs to be done—a condition must be performed upon which is suspended its passage from possibility to actuality. The question is, What is this thing which needs to be done—what is this condition which must be fulfilled before salvation can become a fact to the sinner? The Arminian answer is: Repentance and faith on the sinner's part. He must consent to turn from his iniquities and accept Christ as his Saviour. The further question presses, By what agency does the sinner perform this condition—by what power does lie repent, believe, and so accept salvation? The answer to this question, whatever it may be, must indicate the agency, the power, which determines the sinner's repenting, believing and so accepting salvation. It is not enough to point out an agency, a power, which is, however potent, merely an auxiliary to the determining cause. It is the determining cause itself that must be given as the answer to the question. It must be a factor which renders, by virtue of its own energy, the final decision—an efficient cause which, by its own inherent causality, makes a possible salvation an actual and experimental fact. What is this causal agent which is the sovereign arbiter of human destiny? The Arminian answer to this last question of the series is, 'The sinner's will.' It is the sinner's will which, in the last resort, determines the question whether a possible, shall become an actual, salvation. This has already been sufficiently evinced in the foregoing remarks. But what need is there of argument to prove what any one, even slightly acquainted with Arminian theology, knows that it maintains? Indeed, it is one of the distinctive and vital features of that theology, contra-distinguishing it to the Calvinistic. The Calvinist holds that the efficacious and irresistible grace of God applies salvation to the sinner; the Arminian, that the grace of God although communicated to every man is inefficacious and resistible, and that the sinner's will uses it as merely an assisting influence in determining the final result of accepting a possible salvation and so making it actual. Grace does not determine the will; the will 'improves' the grace and determines itself. Grace is the handmaid, the sinner's will the mistress. Let us suppose that in regard to the question whether salvation shall be accepted, there is a perfect equipoise between the motions of grace and the contrary inclinations of the sinner's will. A very slight added influence will destroy the equilibrium. Shall it be from grace or from the sinner's will? If from the former, grace determines the question, and the Calvinistic doctrine is admitted. But that the Arminian denies. It must then be from the sinner's will; and however slight and inconsiderable this added influence of the will may be, it determines the issue. It is like the feather that alights upon one of two evenly balanced scales and turns the beam.

Moreover, this will of the sinner which discharges the momentous office of determining the question of salvation is his natural will. It cannot be a gracious will, that is, a will renewed by grace; for if it were, the sinner would be already in a saved condition. But the very question is, Will he consent to be saved 2 Now if it be not the will of a man already in a saved condition, it is the will of a man yet in an unsaved condition. It is the will of an unbelieving and un converted man, that is, a natural man, and consequently must be a natural will. It is this natural will, then, which finally determines the question whether a possible salvation shall become an actual. It is its high office to settle the matter of practical salvation. In this solemn business, as in all others, it has an irrefragable autonomy. Not even in the critical transition from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God's dear Son, can it be refused the exercise of its sacred and inalienable prerogative of contrary choice. At the supreme moment of the final determination of the soul “for Christ to live and die,” the determination might be otherwise. The will may be illuminated, moved, assisted by grace, but not controlled and determined by it. To the last it has the power of resisting grace and of successfully resisting it. To it—I use the language reluctantly—the blessed Spirit of God is represented as sustaining the attitude of the persuasive orator of grace. He argues, he pleads, he expostulates, lie warns, he beseeches the sinner's will in the melting accents of Calvary and alarms it with the thunders of judgment—but that is all. He cannot without tres passing upon its sovereignty renew and re-create and determine his will. This is no misrepresentation, no exaggeration, of the Arminian’s position. It is what he contends for. It is what he must contend for. It is one of the hinges on which his system turns. Take it away, and the system swings loosely and gravitates to an inevitable fall.

Now this is so palpably opposed to Scripture and the facts of experience, that Evangelical Arminians endeavor to modify it, so as to relieve it of the charge of being downright Pelagianism. That the attempt is hopeless, has already been shown. It is utterly vain to say, that grace gives ability to the sinner sufficient for the formation of that final volition which decides the question of personal salvation. Look at it. Do they mean, by this ability, regenerating grace? If they do, as regenerating grace unquestionably determines the sinner's will, they give mp their position and adopt the Calvinistic. No; they affirm that they do not, because the Calvinistic position is liable to two insuperable objections: first, that it limits efficacious grace to the elect, denying it to others; secondly, that efficacious and determining grace would contradict the laws by which the human will is governed. It comes back to this, then: that notwithstanding this imparted ability, the natural will is the factor which determines the actual relation of the soul to salvation. The admission of a gracious ability, therefore, does not relieve the difficulty. It is not an efficacious and determining influence; it is simply suasion. The natural will may yield to it or resist it. It is a vincible influence. Now this being the real state of the case, according to the Arminian scheme, it is perfectly manifest that no sinner could be saved. There is no need of argument. It is simply out of the question, that the sinner in the exercise of his natural will can repent, believe in Christ, and so make a possible salvation actual. Let it be clearly seen that, in the final settlement of the question of personal religion, the Arminian doctrine is, that the will does not decide as determined by the grace of God, but by its own inherent self-determining power, and the inference, if any credit is attached to the statements of Scripture, is forced upon us, that it makes the salvation of the sinner impossible. A salvation, the appropriation of which is dependent upon the sinner's natural will, is no salvation; and the Arminian position is that the appropriation of salvation is dependent upon the natural will of the sinner. The stupendous paradox is thus shown to be true—that a merely possible salvation is an impossible salvation.” 

John L. Girardeau, Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism Compared, Part I, Section III: Objections From Divine Goodness

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