My Discussions with an Arminian:

A Dialogue on Eternal Security

by Kenny Wells

Note: This topic has brought about ill feelings by people on both sides of the issue. I feel very passionately about it, being a supporter for the doctrine. I believe it fits with God's plan of Salvation for us. I warn you, you may be offended. It IS NOT my intent in providing this e-mail discussion, to judge anyone or criticize, but this is a doctrine I do try to defend in a way that provides truth, although not always in a pleasing manner. Sometimes, TRUTH HURTS. That's the plain fact. I urge you, if you are an Arminian, don't be offended. I have changed the name of this person to Fred, so as not to criticize or make known the actual person. No one knows who this person is except him, the Lord, and me. I did not obtain his permission, but since NO ONE WILL EVER know who I'm talking about the secret's safe. (-: Likewise, please consider my thoughts. I have edited this e-mail dialogue some and provided occasional notes here and there to clear up or justify what I meant.

This whole discussion is my reply to his 2nd e-mail he sent me. What I wrote, he hasn't responded to as of yet. This is not a back-and-forth type dialogue. All that he wrote was included in one e-mail, and all that I wrote in response is in the last e-mail I sent him.

P.S. My further notes are in brackets. I proofread this one a little bit, but no big changes were made, without a notation.

Fred: [I had written] "This is just what I believe." [I meant that I didn't feel like arguing, without having to all-out explain myself.] Ask yourself a question: (be honest) Are you married to your doctrines, or are you married to Christ?

Myself: I was trying to avoid an all-out discussion, but I AM married to Christ...He doesn't divorce. I have faith in Doctrine. This doctrine is in the Bible.

Fred: But by sound doctrine you will save both yourselves and your hearers(1Tim 4:15-16)!

Myself: I, myself, am already saved and do, likewise, believe that Doctrine is the thing that explains Christ to others. For example, there is a Doctrine of salvation!

Fred: People in this nation have been duped into believing that they can feel sorry for their sins, say a "sinner's prayer", get saved and baptized, and then live in sin and still go to heaven! This hellish doctrine of "once saved, always saved" has filled our churches with lukewarm, pew-warming, chronically-backsliding hypocrites!

Myself: [I almost lost it at the mention of "hellish", but I tried to speak mercifully-Gal. 6:1] Notice you said "say" a sinner's prayer. When I said it, I BELIEVED! Christ came into my heart that day I became a Christian. My heart is not a HOTEL. Christ is there to stay! A preacher I know said that yours is a Hellish doctrine. The fact that God would give us a FREE GIFT (nothing is to be given after we receive it) and take it back is totally preposterous! Jesus Christ's death was, is, and forever more will remain sufficient! You are taking away from effacing blood of Jesus Christ when you say something such as that! Now, those people who think they can simply "say" a prayer and that's it, with no REAL element of belief in it, they are probably ultimately lost my friend. They haven't experienced the true salvation of the Holy Scriptures. I know one man that described that "repentance" is a changed attitude. We feel sorry, repent, and that means our attitude should be changed and we should then feel bad when we sin and have a desire to do the Father's will! If you don't believe in Eternal Security, then you have to believe in a "salvation" by works, meaning that you have to constantly work to remain in salvation. It takes nothing on our part! Christ's death is sufficient and His gift is free! I have taken the gift and I am JUSTIFIED, or "declared righteous or (more accurately,) innocent." I assume you know that that is what justification means. Sanctification, on the other hand, is a life-long process, whereby we constantly try to be more like Christ. Glorification is where we'll be in Heaven in our new bodies!

Here is the scope of things according to Scripture.

*Justification (Moment of Salvation)--We are declared innocent of the crime of unbelief and are no longer required to be punished by death in Hell.

*Sanctification (Whole life)--This is where we constantly live like Christ.

*Glorification (In Heaven)--We'll have new bodies without sin.

John F. MacArthur, Jr. makes this distinction:

*Justification-We are freed from the penalty of sin.

*Sanctification-We are constantly being freed from the overall power of sin.

*Glorification-We will be freed from the presence of sin altogether.

This is what the Scriptures teach. Those who remain in sin, like Paul once said, were never part of us anyway. THEY WERE NEVER REALLY SAVED. If you aren't bearing at least some fruit, you probably didn't really put your faith in Christ. Some people simply have an emotional high, whereby they make no real decision!

Fred: Christians don't sin.

Myself: Yes they do. We are not perfect. In your view this means that if you use foul language playing a sport, you must then get "saved" again or you will go to Hell if you die before having time to do so. Christians are not perfect. You can be a Christian and sin. You must then ask forgiveness of that sin and try to quit doing it. [I DO NOT condone foul language, by the way]

Fred: Should a Christian ever sin, they must repent, or else be cast into hellfire on the Judgment Day (Heb 10:26-31)!!!

Myself: Okay, this one is quite simple. Those people mentioned were probably enticed to return to the Judaizers, those who lived by the law.

Henry C. Thiessen explains:

They were losing their faith and confidence in the promises of the gospel and were looking back to what they had forsaken. It is a dangerous thing for a person to become actively involved in Christian things and with Christian people without actually turning from darkness to light and from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of Christ.

These people probably went to church, etc. and did the deeds of the law, but there was no real evident change in their heart. This is what many people do today. They think they can get by just saying a prayer with no real trust and then expect to get to Heaven. God looks at the heart and He knows that I meant that prayer I said, and He resides in my heart!

[He referred to] 1 JOHN 3:5-10 [as support for his "doctrine"]

This is easily explained also. Thiessen again clears this up:

Attention to the Greek tenses removes the possibility that this is sinless perfection, for they are all the present tense. Accordingly, the meaning is, he that habitually sins is of the devil; he that is of God does not repeatedly sin. If this is not the meaning, then John contradicts himself in this very Epistle, for he tells the believer what to do in case he sins. "My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1f). The believer is not enjoined to sin, but if he sins he has a remedy.

[He referred to] JOHN 5:14 [also]

MacArthur has this to say:

Although Scripture makes clear that not all disease is a consequence of sin (cf. 9:1-3; Luke 13:1-5), illness at times may be directly tied into one's moral turpitude (cf. 1 Cor. 11:29, 30; James 5:15). Jesus may specifically have chosen this man in order to highlight this point. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

Fred: Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh....

This is true, but no one walks in the Spirit all the time [This is one of the first verses I memorized to give me strength during temptation; I just remind myself of WHO I serve]. Whenever we sin, it is because we are not thinking on Christ and holy things. Yes, we do sin whenever our minds are not on the things above, but Christ tells us we have an Advocate whenever we sin. MacArthur makes this distinction:

"WALK IN THE SPIRIT." All believers have the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20) as the personal power for living to please God. The form of the Gr. verb translated "walk" indicates continuous action, or a habitual lifestyle. Walking also implies progress; as a believer submits to the Spirit's control-that is, responds in obedience to the simple commands of Scripture-he grows in his spiritual life (see notes on Rom. 8:13; Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16). "THE FLESH." This is not simply the physical body, but includes the mind, will, and emotions which are all subject to sin. It refers in general to our unredeemed humanness. See notes on Rom. 7:5; 8:23; cf. v. 13. John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

Likewise, with Galatians 5:19-21, it provides the idea of a lifestyle. After being justified, we should then focus on living a Christ-like life. Notice, the New King James has correctly translated v. 21 this way. ". . . that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

MacArthur justifies this view:

"PRACTICE." Here is the key word in Paul's warning. The sense of this Gr. verb describes continual, habitual action. Although believers undoubtedly can commit these sins, those people whose basic character is summed up in the uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of them cannot belong to God.--John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

In his note to check out 1 Corinthians 6:11, MacArthur refers to the fact that:

Some who used to have those patterns of sinful life were falling into those old sins again, and needed reminding that if they went all the way back to live as they used to, they were not going to inherit eternal salvation, because it would indicate that they never were saved (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).--John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

With your view of Salvation, almost no one would be saved. The Bible tells us that "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."-1 John 4:17; The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982. This means that if you know you should read your Bible at 11 p.m. before you go to bed, but you don't, then if you die in your sleep, you're going to Hell (according to your belief). The Scriptures tells us that we are to:

. . . submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Pet. 2:13-15).--John F. MacArthur, Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible, (Dallas: Word Publishing) 1997.

This means that if you go over the speed limit, get in an accident, and get killed, then you will go to Hell (according to your belief), since we are to obey the laws of the land that don't contradict the Word, and that one doesn't.

Your belief is that of works. You imply that we must constantly good works to be saved. If we don't show good works, we are lost. This is Salvation by works. Of course we aren't righteous; that implies that we must constantly be doing good to get into Heaven and that if we commit a sin, we must get saved all over again.

The REAL question is: Have you ever placed your trust in Christ alone, and believed that he could save you, or do you think Christ is constantly taking the free gift you should have accepted back? Christ paid the debt to give you salvation. What amount do you think you can pay to make Him take it back? Next to Christ, SIN is not an excuse to make Him take His FREE gift. He overrides that excuse every time. My debt is paid refunds accepted!!!


That's all, folks! Thanks for reading this. I hope this settles some disputes you may be forced into in your daily walk with the Lord Jesus. Please feel free to contact me, especially if you are a supporter for this doctrine and want some more information about it. Pray for me.

May 31, 1998

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