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Modified Arminianism

Arminian theology is being radicalized today by those who think it necessary


to deny the full omniscience and absolute sovereignty of God in order to
maintain the free will of man. This makes it all the more important that the
Modified Arminian position be presented. In the Modified Arminian system it
is possible to believe in conditional election and limited free will and still
believe in the absolute sovereignty of God; to believe in the possibility of
apostasy (but not the probability) without the unbiblical doctrine of repeated
regeneration; and to believe in the full assurance of one’s salvation without
believing in the crass carnal security being popularized across America and
the world today.

For far too long Modified Arminians, out of the fear of being identified with
the extremes of Calvinism and being accused of teaching carnal security,
have feared saying that they believe in the security of the believer although
the Bible does clearly teach the security of the believer, if the believer is
properly defined. If John 10:26-30 teaches anything, it teaches that those
whose faith is evidenced by the practice of both hearing the Shepherd’s
voice and following Him are kept in the safety and security of the Father’s
hand. Therefore, regardless of anyone’s theological position on the security
issue, this passage teaches that the believer whose life is characterized by
these two factors is indeed secure in the Father’s hand.

It is time that the Modified Arminian stops being intimidated by those who
differ on this issue and simply let the Bible say what it says. The Bible
teaches that the believer whose faith is evidenced by him both hearing the
voice of Jesus and following Him will be kept securely in the Father’s hand
and “no man can pluck him” from that position of safety and security. The
Father placed him there on the condition of faith and He will keep him on
that same condition. It was the Father who placed him there and it is only
the Father who can remove him. As long as one believes (evidenced by
hearing and following) he is secure.

However, the Word of God does not teach carnal security. It offers
absolutely no security for that person who only heard and did not follow. If
offers absolutely no assurance to that person who made some type mental
assent to the truths of what he heard (the Gospel) but that mental assent
did result in following Jesus. One has to be both a hearer and a follower of
the Shepherd to qualify as a true believer and be kept by the Father. The

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Bible still teaches a transforming grace (Titus 2:11-13). One cannot simply
hear and acknowledge what he heard as the truth and be kept in the
security of the Father’s hand. He must also follow. Both verbs are
continuous action verbs. Therefore, that person who is kept in the safety
and security of the Father’s hand is one whose life is characterized by both
hearing the Shepherd’s voice and following Him. This believer is secure.
The Father will keep him and he will never perish.

If one will only go back to God’s initial dealings with man and analyze the
First Covenant and the Tree in the Middle of the Garden, he will come away a
Modified Arminian. Read the following analysis of the Tree and the First
Covenant and see if it does not dictate Modified Arminian Theology.

The Theology of The Tree In The Middle of The Garden

The title of the first book of the Holy Scriptures is actually a transliteration of
the Greek title given the first book of Moses by the Septuagint in about 250
B.C. This title was then copied by Jerome into the Latin Vulgate and came
over into the English Bible via the influence of the Vulgate. The Greek word
means “beginnings,” and it is certainly a very appropriate title for the first
book of the Holy Scriptures, since it indeed the book of beginnings. Apart
from this book, the rest of the Bible would not make sense. The evil and
sinful nature of man and the incarnation of Jesus Christ and His death on
Calvary only make sense in light of the fall of man as revealed in Genesis
chapter three.

However, there could never have been a fall, and Adam could never have
plunged the race into sin had God not seen fit to place the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden. One of the most
serious questions of the ages revolves around the very critical question of
why God deemed it necessary to place the Tree in the midst of the Garden.
The question that men often ask–“Why does God allow suffering?”–is not the
correct question. Every thinking believer very readily understands that all
suffering is a result of Adam’s fall. Therefore, the question of the ages
is, “Why did God place the tree in the middle of the Garden which
made the Fall possible and resulted in such tragic consequences
upon mankind?”

As people of faith, there are some conclusions we begin with before we seek
to answer this critical question. First of all, God’s omniscience and His
omnipotence dictate that it was placed there by design. The Fall was not an
unforeseen accident. The God of the Bible never says “oops.” In the all-

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knowing, infinite mind of God, the Tree was necessary–regardless of how the
mind of finite man views it. Secondly, whatever the reasons were, they did
not violate His holy and loving nature. His design in placing the Tree in the
Garden was in perfect harmony with His nature, although the finite mind of
mortal man may never be able to fully harmonize the two. Thirdly, one
must begin and proceed with the clear understanding of the immutability of
God. He never changes. Therefore, whatever there was about His nature or
character which dictated the Tree has not changed. He is still the
unchanging God of the ages.

The Tree in the midst of the Garden may very well be one of the most
unexplored realms of Christian theology left to theologians, especially
Modified Arminian theologians. God’s initial dealings with man in the
Garden and man’s subsequent response to God’s gracious and loving
provisions reveal much about the grace of God, the depravity man, and the
evil nature of sin and Satan. These observations are made with the full
understanding that we are reading and interpreting an OT event in light of
NT theology, which Adam and Eve were unable to do. However, as already
stated, since the infinitely wise God of creation does nothing by accident, it
is not an accident that so many NT doctrines are contained in germ form in
the Genesis account of God’s initial covenant dealings with man when He
instigated the first covenant in human history, which makes it the original
covenant.

The covenant God made with Adam goes by various names. Some call it the
Edenic Covenant, some call it the Adamic Covenant, while others call it the
Covenant of Life. Still others call it the Covenant of Works. I personally
question the appropriateness of the title “Covenant of Works.” The reason I
question it is that the First Covenant was first and foremost a covenant of
faith. The immutability of God dictates this conclusion. The author of
Hebrews makes it clear that, apart from a faith relationship, it is impossible
to please God (Heb. 11:6). And, since God never changes, He has always
related to man on the basis of faith and not works, as indicated by the entire
eleventh chapter of Hebrews. God dealt with Adam and Eve on the basis of
faith just as He deals with man today. They were to simply believe whatever
He told them and operate on it. It can easily be established that Eve’s, and
later Adam’s, decision to eat of the forbidden fruit involved an act of willful
unbelief.

The word “covenant” is not used in the first three chapters of Genesis, yet
according to Gen. 2:16-17, God and Adam entered into a contract which
bound both parties to certain obligations, and this contract was entered into
prior to the Fall. God promised Adam continued life in the Garden Paradise if
he and Eve would refrain from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and

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Evil. Adam’s continued occupancy of the Garden Paradise required
continued faith which would be reflected by continued obedience to God’s
command not to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Adam’s later ejection from the Garden certainly proves the conditional
element of the covenant. If Adam and Eve had never sinned, they would
never have died, and they would have continued to inhabit the Garden
Paradise. They would have continued to possess eternal life, but they
forfeited it by their sin.

The importance of the conditional element of this original covenant is that it


sets a precedent in God’s earliest covenant dealings with man. This is
especially important in a theological climate where some seek to make the
New Covenant unconditional by attempting to make almost all of God’s
covenants with man unconditional. Some go so far as to argue the totally
irrational point that the Abrahamic Covenant of Gen. 12:1-3 was
unconditional.

This is the first of God’s dealings with man. It is the first and the original
covenant in the history of the world. Since it is the original, it is not
patterned after any existing covenant. Subsequent covenants may be
patterned after it, but the original, by its very nature, cannot be patterned
after subsequent covenants. Therefore, the practice of seeking to form and
mold this covenant into some type of ancient suzerainty covenant is futile,
although it clearly is a covenant between a King and a lesser subject. God
did not pattern His covenant dealings with man after some human covenant
initiated hundreds or thousands of years later. This is the original.

A Description of the Original Covenant


I. It was an authentic covenant.

The original covenant was authentic in at least five ways. First, it involved a
binding contract between two agreeing parties. Second, the contract had
established stipulations which bound both parties. Third, there were are no
time limits. This was not a temporary, passing arrangement. It certainly
seems that, had Adam never eaten of the Tree in the midst of the Garden,
he would have enjoyed the bliss of the Garden forever. Fourth, this
covenant was not an outgrowth of distrust as many contracts are today;
rather, it was a covenant establishing guidelines of fellowship. It was
designed as a covenant of brotherhood to establish guidelines which would
ultimately draw them closer together and cement their relationship. Fifth, it
was authentic in that it was an unalterable covenant which is evidenced by
the agreed-upon repercussions of violating its terms immediately coming to

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pass.

II. It was a covenant of grace, initiated by a gracious God.


(The Greater to the Lesser)

God, as Creator and Supreme Sovereign, always takes the initiative and in
grace reaches out to man. This is reflected in His gracious provisions for
man even before the Fall and in His reaching out to fallen man after the Fall.
This covenant, if adhered to, would be to the benefit of man by guiding him
into continued fellowship with his Creator and occupancy of the Garden
Paradise. After the Fall, it is the gracious God who comes down and pursues
fallen man down though the Garden and tells of the ultimate defeat of Satan
and then provides adequate clothing for Adam and Eve via the death of the
animals who provided the skins.

III. It was the original covenant and therefore a pattern


covenant.

This covenant constitutes God’s original covenant dealings with man as it


relates to His relationship and fellowship with man. As the original, it sets a
pattern for His subsequent dealings with man which are also on the basis of
a covenant. This original and the subsequent covenants make it clear that
God has always related to man, as far as His fellowship and communion with
man are concerned, on the basis of a covenant relationship. This concept is
known as Covenant Theology and will be discussed further under the
discussion of this covenant also being a faith covenant.

As the very first covenant in all of history, it is futile to seek out a


subsequent covenant between a king and a subject and try to make the
original conform to a subsequent covenant as some do. While it is true that
this covenant does involve a compact involving the Greater covenanting
with the lesser, it still cannot be forced to conform to some type of later
covenant between kings and their subjects since all other covenants are
subsequent to this the original. Again, this is the original covenant, other
covenants may be patterned after it, but it cannot be patterned after
covenants which did not even exist when it was made.

The law of First Mention does have some bearing on this covenant.
According to this rule of interpretation, the first time a thing is introduced in
the Scriptures, it provides a general guide or pattern for interpreting it at
later appearances. Thus, although this rule of interpretation does not
dictate the same interpretation in every subsequent appearance of a

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covenant, it does provide a general guide or pattern, and this general guide
at least suggests that later covenants of relationship and fellowship with
man should be expected to follow this general pattern. There are at least
two features of this covenant which stand out. First of all, it was a covenant
of faith, and, secondly, it was a conditional covenant.

IV. The original, as a pattern covenant, was a covenant of


faith.

Being immutable, God has always established His covenants with man on
the basis of faith (Gen. 15:6; Heb. 11:6). He did make non-relationship/non-
fellowship covenants (Gen. 9:11) which were neither based upon faith nor a
response by man, and, as such, they were unconditional. However, the God
of the Bible has always related to man on the condition of faith. Above all
things, He desires the deepest affections and loyalty of man’s heart (Deut.
6:5; Matt. 22:36-37), but this deep affection can only grow out of a heart of
faith. Adam and Eve could never have eaten of the forbidden fruit until
they first ceased to trust the holy and loving nature of God. They did what
they did outwardly because of what they had already decided about the
trustworthiness of their God in their hearts. This was not a covenant of
works; it was a covenant of faith, which was to be evidenced by their works
or obedience in not eating of the forbidden fruit. Good works have always
been the evidence of faith (James 2:20), which is one of the reasons why the
Tree in the middle of the Garden was necessary. That is why calling this First
Covenant a Covenant of Works is so misleading.

If one will take the time to analyze the first sin, when Satan confronted and
tempted Eve, he will find that the underlying motive of Satan was to bring
into question the character of God and thereby move Eve from belief to
unbelief. A close analysis of the sin of Eve will reveal that Satan moved to
first of all attack the trustworthiness of God. The focus of his conversation
with her was upon the character or the trustworthiness of God. He sought
by design to destroy her faith in God by destroying His credibility. Once this
giant step of unbelief was taken, the Evil One could then steal from God the
thing He prized the most. Satan could then steal their deepest affections
(Matt. 22:36-37) which were rooted in their faith in God as a holy and a
loving God.

An Attack upon the Loving Nature of God


The very first words of Satan as recorded in Gen. 3:1, "Yea, hath not God
said that ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden," were a lie and

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designed to suggest to Eve that God was unfair to her and therefore
unloving. His strategy was designed to plant the seeds of doubt in Eve’s
mind about the character of God. He suggested that God was unloving in
that He is making the unfair demand on her that she could not eat of every
tree of the Garden. How could a loving God who really cared about the
happiness of an individual make such an outrageous and unfair demand?
How could a God who really loved her forbid her anything her heart desired?
Satan was carefully moving to destroy Eve’s faith in God, but he had to first
destroy God’s credibility in her mind. His first step was to attack and deny
the authenticity of God’s love toward her.

By the way, Satan still comes to man via that same approach. He still seeks
to make it appear that it is a great sacrifice to live for God. He still suggests
that God’s demands for a holy and separated life are too strict and severe.
He still suggests that faithfulness to God in dedicated service to Him is
asking too much. Why should you give up the things of this world while
others bask in materialism? Why should you be expected to attend church
twice on Sundays and on Wednesday night? After all, you can live for Jesus
like most other “Christians” and not go to these extremes. Why, God is
making unfair demands on you!
An Attack upon the Holy Nature of God
Next, he suggested to Eve that God was untrue when he said, "Ye shall not
surely die!" This constituted a bold attack upon the holy nature of God. He
called God a liar. At this second step, Satan attacked God’s two primary
moral attributes. He suggested that He is really an unloving God, as seen in
His unfair demands upon Eve. Then, he attacked God’s holy nature by
boldly calling Him a liar and telling Eve that she will not die, she could eat of
the forbidden fruit and actually improve and help herself instead of being
punished as God had warned. He whispered into her ear, “Eve, God is a liar.
You can do it and get away with it.”

This was a brazen attack upon God’s number-one moral attribute–His


holiness. It was a carefully and subtly crafted approach designed to
discredit the outstanding moral attributes of God. He subtly approached
Eve as her friend, but in reality, he was her worst enemy who was out to
first of all deceive her and then to ultimately destroy her because she was
God’s highest creation.

This was the second step of a carefully crafted plan to destroy God’s
credibility and trustworthiness and thereby steal the thing God treasured
the most–the deepest affections of Eve’s heart. However, Satan knew that
before he could steal the affections of her heart he had to destroy the
credibility of God and thereby destroy her faith in Him. Eve’s initial mistake

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was her attempt to reason with the master of deceit. She was no match.
Having successfully brought into question God’s love to her, Satan then
boldly attacked His holiness by calling God a liar. The order is logical and
cunning. If the God she had believed to love her did not actually love her
and care for her best interests, then He would obviously lie to her.

What made the sin of Eve so wicked was her willingness to believe the worst
about God, Who had so graciously met her every need. Satan was moving
in for the kill, but he first had to discredit God in Eve’s eyes. She had to
cease to believe that He was a holy and a loving God who always acted in
her best interests. She had to question His character, and, once that
happened, Satan had pried the door to her deepest affections open. Eve no
longer trusted God, and it was here that her affections toward him were
born and controlled. Her love for God had grown out of her complete faith in
His person and character.

Satan’s approach to Eve is the same approach he still uses today. He said
to Eve, “You can do it and get away with it. God is a liar. You cannot trust
Him. He is not true to His Word. He is not the holy God that you think He
is.” He still whispers exactly the same lie into the ear of mankind today.
Satan still whispers into the ear of man, “Go ahead, do it! You can do it and
get away with it.” But, as the tragic consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin
later proved, nobody ever sins and walks away unscathed. No man has ever
had to sue to collect the wages of sin. God does not pay off every Friday,
but He does pay. Sin always has its payday. His payday is as certain as His
righteous character. He is not mocked. Men do reap what they sow.

An Attack upon the Person of God


(Sin is Good and God is Bad)
Finally, the Evil Enemy of man’s soul, having already suggested that God is
both unfair and untruthful, then suggested to Eve that God was
untrustworthy in that He was withholding something good from them.
This was the final and ultimate attack upon God’s character. The world’s
first and foremost liar turned the truth upside down and inside out. Satan
did to Eve what he still does today--he suggested that sin was good and God
was bad. He painted sin to make it look as if it was where the good times
were. He put a glitter on the forbidden fruit which made it look like it would
actually be good for Eve. The Devil has a way of packaging sin and
disguising it to make it attractive, even though it is vile and ugly.

His final move was an all-out attack upon the person of God. He told Eve
that God did not want her to eat of the forbidden fruit because He was
selfish and knew that if she did eat of the forbidden fruit, her eyes would be

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opened and she would be “as gods, knowing good and evil.” He suggested
to her that God was totally untrustworthy in His person and was actually
withholding something good from her. He suggested that, contrary to what
God had told Adam, sin is good and God is bad.

This was the ultimate and final attack crafted to totally discredit God as a
trustworthy person. According to Satan’s carefully constructed reasoning,
instead of being the holy and loving Person He claimed to be, God was a
selfish person who sought to keep Eve from the Tree because its fruit was
good for her and He wanted to keep it all for Himself. All of His motives
were brought into question.

His final approach to Eve involved the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life as set forth in I John 2:15. However, we must
understand that Eve, at this point, did not possess a fallen, depraved nature.
We cannot but notice that Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was “good for
food,” which was an appeal to the flesh. Next, she saw that it was “pleasant
to the eyes,” which was an appeal to the lust of the eyes. Finally, Eve saw
that the fruit of the Tree would “make one wise,” which was an appeal to the
pride of life.

Satan began with the heart. He sowed the seeds of doubt concerning the
character and integrity of God before he moved to the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The reason for this approach was
because that her heart and mind, which trusted God implicitly and was
therefore deeply in love with Him and committed to Him could control and
shut the Devil off when he appealed to the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of
life. Somewhere the seeds of doubt about His person had to first be sown,
and then Eve was vulnerable to an appeal to the flesh, the eyes, and the
pride of life.

The question which is often asked "Well, what was so wrong about eating of
the forbidden fruit?” clearly reflects a lack of understanding of the true
nature of sin as seen in what transpired between Eve and Satan. The
tragedy is not in the actual act of eating the forbidden fruit itself. The horror
of this sin and all sin is the wicked decision about the character of God which
Eve had already made in her mind and heart before she ever reached up
and partook of the forbidden fruit. Eve did what she did outwardly only
because of a tragic decision about the character of God and her love and
loyalty to Him, which she had already made inwardly. The outward act was
only a reflection of an inward decision.

Eve's terrible crime was unbelief. Before her arm ever reached upward to
pluck the forbidden fruit, Eve's mind had already reached downward into the

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deepest recesses of her heart and decided that God was not the righteous,
loving God that He claimed to be. Instead, He was a selfish, lying God Who
did not love her and Adam as He had claimed. He could not be trusted and
therefore His Word was not to be trusted. He was not deserving of their love
and loyalty. This is the horror of sin. Sin is a rejection of God as a God of
integrity. It is a vicious attack upon His innermost being. The holy, loving
God who took her from Adam’s side and formed her into a human being and
placed her into a Garden Paradise, was now to be considered as of such
corrupt and vile character that He was no longer to be believed and trusted.
His Word could no longer be considered Truth and His promises trustworthy.
This is the nature of all sin, but especially that of Eve and later Adam.
Ultimately, it was an act of unbelief. God has always based His relationship
with man upon faith, and it was their unbelief which shattered that
relationship which could only be restored by Jesus on Calvary.

Hebrews eleven traces the relationship between man and God all the way
back to Adam’s son Abel and states that it was by faith that he offered unto
God a more excellent sacrifice and obtained witness that he was righteous.
He moves up to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Joseph, to Moses,
to Gideon, to Barak, to Samson, to Jephthah, to David, to Samuel and on to
an unnamed host of prophets who through their faith in God were
miraculously delivered or suffered martyrdom. The very critical point that
must be recognized is that the author of Hebrews goes all the way back to
Adam’s son Abel and makes it clear that throughout history man has always
related to God on the condition of faith. This makes the above discussion on
Satan’s attack upon the character and credibility of God in order to destroy
Eve’s faith in God all the more credible.

Further, Hebrews 11:6 makes it very clear that, apart from faith, man cannot
please God, and this principle applies to Adam as well as to his son Abel. By
the way, where did Abel get the idea that it was faith which pleased God and
made his sacrifice acceptable? He got it from his father, with whom God
established the original covenant on the condition of faith.
That the Abrahamic Covenant was also a covenant of faith is seen in the fact
that the command for Abraham to leave his family and go into a land yet
unknown required a tremendous step of faith (Gen. 12:1-3). The NT writers
quoted Gen. 15:6 as clear evidence that Abraham’s relationship with God
was a faith relationship (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). The author of the
book of Hebrews is emphatic that Abraham’s relationship with God was a
faith relationship (Heb. 11:8-10). The fact that Abraham’s relationship with
God was a faith relationship would certainly dictate that the covenant
establishing that relationship be a faith covenant. Abraham’s willingness to
obey God and depart for a country yet unknown was a great step of faith.

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This same thing is true about the Mosaic Covenant. The keeping of the OT
law under the Mosaic Covenant was but an outgrowth of faith. The “curse”
of the Law from which Christ has redeemed us is not that the Law itself was
a curse. Paul repeatedly argues against that concept and declares that the
Law itself was good, for by it came the knowledge of sin which made man
aware that he needed a Saviour (Rom. 3:19-20). In Galatians, he argues
that it was man’s “schoolmaster,” or tutor, to guide him to Christ (Gal.
3:24). The curse of the Law was not the Law itself, but rather the Jewish
distortion of it into a legalistic system devoid of faith.

Paul makes it clear in Romans eleven that God did not set the nation of
Israel aside because of their failure to keep the Law. He is clear that God set
them aside because of their unbelief (Rom. 11:20). The failure of the Law
was not that theLlaw itself was a failure. The failure of the Law was Israel’s
refusal to walk by faith and observe the Law as an outgrowth of that faith.
Keeping the Law for the children of Israel in the OT was the equivalent of
good works in the life of the NT believer. Both are to grow out of and be an
expression of a heart of faith. Good works, regardless of the dispensation,
are the fruits of faith, and never the foundation of faith.

Thus, the logical question–“What then do theologians mean when they


speak of the different dispensations in the Bible?” A dispensational change
in the Bible represents the initiation of a new covenant by God, but the
condition of faith never changes. The dispensational change marked by
the initiation of a new covenant may change the way God
administers His covenant, and it may even mark a change of the
people with whom the covenant is made, but the foundational
principle of faith never changes. If it is a covenant dealing with His
relationship and fellowship with man, it is always based upon faith,
regardless of the age or the title of the covenant. His immutability (His
unchanging nature) guarantees that. This concept is called Covenant
Theology in contrast to Dispensational Theology. Covenant Theology
also recognizes that there are dispensations in the Bible.

This is important because of the extremes of some elements of the


dispensational movement which almost make it to appear that men are
saved by grace today while they were saved in the Mosiac Dispensation by
keeping the Law. They often refer to the present age as the Age of Grace
while referring to the Mosaic Dispensation as the Age of the Law. It is true
that this age is the age of grace and the Mosaic age was the age of the law.
(Every age is an age of grace.) The problem with this terminology is that it
suggests that during the Mosaic Dispensation men were saved by keeping
the Law, while in the present dispensation, men are saved by grace. Such is
very misleading. Men have always been saved by grace through faith,

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regardless of the dispensation.

Some even go so far as to speak of the Bible containing three Gospels, as if


God has three different plans of salvation. Nothing could be further from
the truth. There is only one plan of salvation in the Bible, and that
plan is and always has been by grace through faith. That same
principle applies to the future Millennial Kingdom where some have another
gospel for that age which, according to them, is contained in the Sermon on
the Mount. (I have read that passage many times, and I am still looking for
something in it which tells me Jesus was not talking to the men of His day
and to all who would later believe and become His disciples. There is
nothing in the context itself which states that this sermon has no application
to today. Neither is there anything which suggests that is a “new gospel”
for the millennial kingdom by which men will be saved during that
dispensation. That concept must be imported and imposed upon the text.)

It is very critical that one understand that Paul argues in Romans chapter
four that Abraham, who lived under the Abrahamic Covenant, was saved by
faith and not by works (1-4). Further, he argues that David, who lived
under the Mosaic Dispensation, was imputed righteousness based upon faith
and not works (5-7). The author of Hebrews makes it clear that the men
who were saved between Adam (the First Covenant) and Abraham (the
Abrahamic Covenant) were also men of faith. He specifically mentions Abel,
Enoch, and Noah as men who walked by faith (Heb. 11:4-7). John 3:16 and
a host of other passages clearly dictate that the New Covenant be
conditioned upon faith. Thus, it is clear that one’s relationship and
fellowship with God has always been on the condition of faith.

The Word of God contains only ONE GOSPEL, and that Gospel is
salvation by grace through faith, regardless of the covenant in
effect or the dispensation in which it was in effect. God did establish
other covenants subsequent to the First Covenant which had to do with His
relationship to man. However, all of these covenants had faith as the
condition of man’s fellowship with God. No man has ever been saved and
brought into fellowship with God by any other means.

Dispensations in the Bible have to do with a change in how or who


administers His covenants. Initially, He used Adam, then He used the godly
seed of Adam through Seth which, as cited above, included Abel, Enoch, and
Noah. With the call of Abraham and the establishment of the covenant with
him, God began to administer the covenant through Abraham and his
descendants. The Mosaic Covenant was the official adoption of the nation
formed from the seed of Abraham. Israel was the channel nation by which
God administered His covenant of faith. Remember, it was Habakkuk, who

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lived under the Mosaic Covenant, who wrote, “The Just Shall Live by Faith”
(Hab. 2:4).

With the establishment of the New Covenant, God changed how and who
would administer His New Covenant, but, like all of its predecessors which
had to do with man’s relationship with God, it was still a covenant of faith.
The change in how the covenant was administered involved several points:

21728.The New Covenant involved the cessation of the OT sacrifices, each of which pointed to
and illustrated some aspect of His atoning death and were fulfilled by Him (Heb. 10:10).

21729.Further, it involved the cessation of the OT priesthood, since the NT believer would be his
own priest (Rev. 1:6) and Jesus would serve as His Mediator (I Tim. 2:5).

21730.A third major dispensational change between the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant
involved the Great Commission, which commands the participants in the New Covenant to go
into all the world and preach the Gospel. This stands in striking contrast to the nation of Israel
which God placed at the crossroads of the world at that time and commanded them to build the
Temple which would have been one of the wonders of the ancient world. This Temple and their
strategic location was for the purpose of witnessing. The Temple and the geographical location at
the crossroads of the ancient world would serve to draw people to those who were supposed to
tell them about their God.

Under the New Covenant, instead of waiting for men to come to them, the Church is
commanded to go to them. They are commanded to go into all the world as aggressive
witnesses, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and preach the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark
16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:31; Acts 1:8).

The who of the administration of the covenant was also changed:

22244.God ceased to use the institution of the Jewish nation and turned to the Church.
22245.Second, He ceased to deal via the Jews as a people, and turned to the Gentiles. In the
Great Tribulation, the Church having been raptured, He will once again turn back to the Jews
(Rom. 11 & Rev. 7).

V. The original covenant, as a pattern covenant, was a


conditional covenant.

God made it clear in to Adam (Gen. 2:16-17), who passed the message
along to Eve, that he was not to eat of the Tree in the midst of the Garden
and that if he did disobey this one negative command and eat, the cost
would be tragic. The conditional aspect is made undeniably clear by the
tragic consequences of Adam violating the one condition of the covenant.
This conditional aspect of this initial covenant, like its faith aspect, is very

−13−
critical in understanding God’s subsequent dealings with man.

These are two critical elements of this First Covenant (Pattern Covenant)
which we as Modified Arminians must be aware of. First and foremost, since
this original covenant was a covenant of faith, we may expect subsequent
covenants of relationship and fellowship to also be conditioned upon faith.
Second, since this original was also conditional, we may expect subsequent
covenants relative to God’s relationship and fellowship with man to also be
conditional. The Law of First Mention at least suggests this.

It is extremely important to one’s overall theology that he begins on the


right foundation. It is foundational to all subsequent theology that one
understand that God has always related to man on the condition of faith.
This becomes even more critical later when we encounter those who teach
that it is the initial act of faith which secures one’s salvation forever, or that
an individual can actually renounce his faith in Jesus and still go to heaven
when he dies. Once again, man’s relationship with God has always been
conditioned upon faith, and those who do not (present tense) believe on the
Son will stand condemned at the judgment (John 3:18).

VI. It was a covenant of fellowship.

God created man for His fellowship. The rules set forth by God as the
initiator of the covenant were the conditions for continued fellowship. The
fact of Calvary clearly illustrates the great cost God went to in order to
restore that broken fellowship. However, this fellowship was always a faith
relationship which did not violate His holy nature, which explains the Tree
and the prohibition. The fellowship aspect of the covenant is seen as Jesus
came down into the Garden in the cool of the day to fellowship with man
whom He had created for His fellowship (Gen. 3:8).

VII. It was a holy covenant.

God’s two primary moral attributes are holiness and love. He can never
violate Himself in order to relate to man. Therefore, all relationships with
Him must function in harmony with the very core of His being, which is His
holiness and His love, from which all of His other moral attributes flow.

Prior to the Fall, Adam and God’s relationship was pure, untainted, and
unhindered by sin. The holy nature of God dictated that any fellowship with
Him be of a holy nature (Lev. 11:44-45; I Pet. 1:15-16). This is seen by the
broken relationship brought on by Adam’s sin and the great sacrifice of
Calvary demanded by a holy God as payment for man’s sins in order to
make it possible to restore that broken fellowship broken by sin. Sin always

−14−
inhibits fellowship with God (Isa. 59:1-2).

VIII. It was a covenant of love.

Once again, God cannot violate His nature. All of His actions, regardless of
the dispensation in which they occur, must always be in keeping with His
fundamental moral nature. This means that, when He created Adam and
moved to establish a relationship with him, He was guided by His infinite
love.

Therefore, out of His love, God gave Adam the responsibility to “dress” and
“keep,” or guard, the Garden. (Work is not a result of the curse--God did not
make man to be idle.) Since He created man, He also knew how man would
best function. A productive working man is a happy man. God gave Adam
work because He loved him.

The loving God of creation took care to provide for Adam’s every need.
Adam lived in a Garden Paradise created especially for his enjoyment by his
loving creator God. When God saw that Adam was lonely, He created for
Him a wife as his beloved lifetime companion. Because He loved him, God
took care to meet Adam’s physical, social, and spiritual needs.

−15−
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

THEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS
OF THE TREE IN THE MIDST OF THE GARDEN

The tree in the middle of the Garden not only poses problems regarding why
God deemed it necessary knowing the resulting catastrophic consequences
upon man, it also poses serious problems for the Calvinistic theological
system as a whole. If one accepts the rationalistic theology of Calvinism, he
has absolutely no rational explanation as to why God deemed the tree
necessary. Further, the tree in the middle of the Garden and the covenant
made with man in light of that tree contradicts the very basic tenant of
Calvinism which is sovereign or arbitrary election. The Tree in the Middle of
the Garden poses serious problems for Calvinism as will be demonstrated
below.

I.
Arbitrary Election & Limited Elect makes the Tree in the
middle of the Garden totally unnecessary.

If, as Calvinism teaches, a few men of the masses of mankind love God only
because He unconditionally elected them in eternity past, regenerated them
in time, gave them the gift of faith, then arranged circumstances that were
so overwhelming and so enabled them by the Holy Spirit that they could
only choose to trust in Christ, then the whole process is hardly more than a
robotized, preprogrammed event scripted by God. In this theological model,
man is hardly more than a puppet on a string being manipulated by God to
act out in time what He ordained him to do in eternity past. The elect “will”
to believe only because God willed for them to believe.

The unelected masses of mankind are, for some mysterious reason known
only by God, passed over by God. This decision not to elect them
automatically doomed them to the eternal fires of hell. They do not believe
because they cannot believe. Jesus did not die for them. God made
absolutely no provisions for their salvation. As the non-elect, He did not
regenerate them, give them the gift of faith, arrange overwhelming
circumstance and then enable them to believe by the power of the Holy
Spirit God. They do not believe because they cannot believe. According to
Calvinism, they are spiritually dead, and dead men cannot respond to
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

anything until they are made alive by the regenerative power of the Holy
Spirit. Yet, this same God who condemned them by refusing to elect and
enable them, condemns them at the judgment because they did not do
what He refused to enable them to do.

Here is the point that needs to be seen. In this mechanized system, men
only love God because God elected them and ultimately worked all the
details of salvation in a manner so that they, as the elect, love Him. Here is
the problem with that model as it relates to the Tree in the middle of the
Garden. What was the purpose of the Tree? If the elect only love God
because He ultimately worked this love in their hearts by arbitrary election,
then why did God not opt to simply create only the elect? What did He gain
by creating the vast hordes of the non-elect and dooming them to hell? In
what way does this bring more glory to God?

According to Calvinists, this decision to place the Tree in the middle of the
Garden and to allow the Fall, is somehow supposed to bring more glory to
God in that He does save a select few from the doomed masses. We are
reminded that He did not have to save any and this is supposed to bring
more glory to God. That is the equivalent of someone setting a high rise
building on fire with a thousand people trapped on the top floor and then
asking to be recognized as a national hero because he chose to save
seventy-five of the doomed when he had it in his power to save them all.
For some unknown reason, he decided to save the seventy-five let the
remaining nine hundred and twenty-five die. I somehow doubt that this man
would become a national hero. There would be a national horror over those
he arbitrarily left to die in the flames. Yet, in the Calvinistic model, this
action on the part of God is somehow supposed to bring Him more glory.

Once again, if the doctrines of Unconditional Election and Limited Elect are
true, then why create the non-elect? Why did God not just create the Elect
and then program them to love Him? These two doctrines make the Tree in
the middle of the Garden totally unnecessary unless one accepts the illusion
that God’s choice to save a few from the masses who are doomed by His
placing the Tree in the middle of the Garden brings more glory to Him.

II.
The Tree in the Middle of the Garden proves that
God desires love by choice rather than by coercion.

The Tree in the middle of the Garden is not the only indication that God
desires love by decision rather than love by decree. Apart from the Tree,
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

there is the fall of the angels who followed Satan in his rebellion against
God. They could have been created without the ability to make that choice.
They could have been created and programmed to love God without the
ability of choice. But, according to the Scriptures, God gave them a time of
probation along with the freedom to make their choice about trusting and
serving Him. Once that choice was made, those who chose to love and
serve Him were sealed in that state, with no provisions for the redemption of
those who chose to believe the Devil’s lie and in unbelief follow him in his
rebellion.

According to John 14:21, the Tree in the midst of the Garden was necessary
because it was Adam and Eve’s only means of proving the reality of their
faith and love. To understand the necessity of the Tree in order for Adam
and Eve to prove their love to God (and ultimately the authenticity of their
faith), there are three essential biblical truths which must discussed:

22760.First, we must understand the importance of the deepest affections and loyalty of the heart
of man to the God who made him. We must understand that, above all things, God desires that a
man love Him. Jesus articulated this in a very emphatic form in Matt. 22:37-38 when, in response
to the Pharisees’ question about the number one requirement of God upon man, He said, “Thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This
is the first and great commandment.” It is impossible to divorce the tree in the middle of the
Garden from these words of Jesus. The tree in the middle of the Garden cannot be divorced from
God’s intense desire that man love Him supremely.

22761.Second, we must understand that faith and love cannot be separated or isolated. Love
grows out of trust. Man cannot love a God Whom he cannot trust. The greater he trusts God,
the more he will love Him. Therefore, when the Bible says that the number one requirement of
God upon man is that man love Him, implicit in this love is a trust in Him and His character which
elicits that love.

3.Third, the tree as the only concrete means of man proving his love to God cannot be understood
apart from Jesus’ words in John 14:21, “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it
is that loveth me.” Therefore, God gave Adam the command not to eat of the tree in the midst
of the Garden as the only means of proving the authenticity of his love to Him, which was
ultimately a test of his faith.

Adam and Eve could have told God that they loved and trusted Him as often as they desired, but
this did not actually prove their love to Him. Talk is cheap. Jesus makes it clear that God is
impressed by man’s actions, not simply by his words. The tree provided Adam and Eve with their
only concrete means of proving by their actions that their love for Him was more than mere empty
words. They could demonstrate the authenticity of their love and faith by their actions.
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

The obvious thing is that God gave the angels the opportunity to make a legitimate choice about
whether they would believe and follow Him or believe and follow the Devil. As sovereign
Creator, God did not have to give the angels that choice, but He did. Apparently, this decision
was important enough to Him for Him to allow those who chose not to trust and love Him to
suffer throughout all eternity to come in the flames of eternal Hell.

This is also the only logical explanation of why God deemed it necessary to place the Tree in the
middle of the Garden when He knew the eventual horrible ramifications of this decision upon
mankind and creation in general. Since He was clearly able to see the tragic consequences of
placing the Tree there, it must be concluded that something of tremendous importance moved our
omniscient, holy, loving God to place that Tree in the middle of the Garden. The most logical
explanation of the Tree is God’s desire for love by choice rather than by decree. Apparently God
does not place much stock in programmed love. The Tree certainly seems to suggest that God
places the utmost premium upon man loving Him by a personal choice rather than by a
programmed choice.

III.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves that
God’s initial relationship with man was conditional.

Although the conditional aspect of the covenant was presented under “A


Description of the Original Covenant,” it is mentioned again briefly because
of its important theological implications. The covenant was not a unilateral
covenant. It was a two-party covenant which bound both parties to certain
conditions. Adam’s continued occupancy of the Garden Paradise and his
possession of eternal life was conditioned upon not eating of the forbidden
fruit (2:17), which was but a manifestation of His continued faith in His
Creator. In return for Adam’s keeping his part of the covenant, God
promised him that he would never die which included his continued
occupancy of the Garden Paradise God had prepared for him. Adam’s
subsequent expulsion from the Garden and his immediate spiritual death
and eventual physical death is undeniable proof of the conditional nature of
this covenant.

The theological implication of this conditional aspect of the original


covenant between God and man has to do with all His subsequent
covenants which involve fellowship and relationship. It is recognized that
His subsequent covenant with man that He would never flood the earth and
destroy all man was indeed an unconditional unilateral covenant (Gen. 9:11-
16). This was an unconditional promise on the part of God to do something
in behalf of man which required no response on the part of man. It was not
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

a covenant of fellowship and relationship. It did not involve anything


spiritual. It involved a physical benefit promised by a gracious God to man,
His highest creation.

The law of first mention certainly comes into play here. Since this is the
very first covenant involving relationship and fellowship between God and
man, it can be expected to serve as a general guide in all subsequent
covenants involving fellowship and relationship. Therefore, when one says
that the New Covenant is conditional, that it is conditioned upon faith, he is
only following the pattern God established in the original, or the pattern,
covenant.

IV.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves the reality of
man's free will.

Unless one is willing to violate James 1:13 and accuse God of being
responsible for sin by decreeing or causing Adam and Eve to sin, he is forced
to recognize that God gave them the freedom of choice, and that they chose
on their own, by an act of their own free will, to rebel against Him and eat of
the forbidden fruit. Otherwise, God, not man, is responsible for the fall.

This is not to suggest that man has an absolute free will. Only an absolute
sovereign can possess an absolutely free will. This is true because only an
absolute sovereign being can never be challenged. As sovereign, He is
totally free to do what he desires and nothing or nobody can thwart His will.
Therefore, there is no such thing as a free will in the absolute sense for
anyone but our sovereign God. However, a sovereign can choose to grant
man a limited free will and still maintain his sovereignty. This is what God
did in reference to man, and it at least appears to resolve the Calvinistic
antinomy of sovereignty and free will.

According to the Scriptures as a whole, and especially Genesis chapters two


and three, God has granted man the freedom to choose to trust and love
Him or to believe the Devil’s lie about His character and cease to trust Him
as evidenced by eating of the forbidden fruit. He could have made Adam
and Eve robots. He could have made the Garden without the Tree in the
middle. He could have not granted them the freedom to decide whether or
not they would eat of the Tree, but the record is clear that He chose
otherwise and created Adam and Eve with a free will. Unless God
programmed Adam and Eve to sin, and He did not, then He had to have
given them the freedom of choice as it relates to their partaking of the
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

forbidden fruit.

The implications of this freedom are serious. First, the freedom of choice
granted by God to Adam and Eve clearly implies that God placed the
responsibility for their choice to trust and love Him in their hands. This does
not mean that He did not help them by creating them with a righteous
nature inclined toward righteousness, but it is clear that, after having been
provoked by an outside source, the Devil, they were able to then make their
choice. That same principle applies today. Since the Fall, man’s nature has
been reversed. His nature is inclined toward sin instead of righteousness. It
must now be provoked by an outside source, the Holy Spirit, before it can
choose to do righteously. However, just like Adam and Eve prior to the fall,
the ultimate choice is still the responsibility of man.

The second implication is that God obviously desires faith in Him and love
toward Him by choice rather than by coercion. Otherwise, the free will of
man served no real purpose other than to plunge the race into sin and
chaos, dooming billions of souls to hell.

V.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves that man can
act contrary to his nature.

One of Calvinism's arguments against the unregenerate man being able to


believe on Christ is that he incurred an unrighteous nature at the Fall, and
that he cannot act in a manner contrary to his fallen, depraved nature and
believe. However, that argument will not hold up under the scrutiny of the
Fall. Unless God created Adam and Eve with unrighteous natures (which no
Calvinist would argue) then Adam and Eve acted contrary to their righteous
natures and sinned.

Man’s nature was inverted by the fall. Prior to the Fall, man had a nature
dominated by righteousness and only sinned after being influenced by an
outside force or agent, the Devil. Likewise, man subsequent to the Fall has a
nature dominated by unrighteousness and must be influenced by an outside
force or agent (the Holy Spirit) before he can do righteously and believe on
Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour

Unregenerate man is "dead" in the same sense that the Christian is dead to
sin in Romans six. The “dead” man in Romans six is not totally dead to sin
to the point that he can never sin again, but he is dead to sin to the point
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

that sin does not dominate him. The unsaved man is dead to righteousness
in that same sense. He is under the dominion of sin, but he is not dead like
a rock, which is what Calvinism teaches. Because of the effects of the Fall
and man's depraved nature, he must first of all be convicted, enlightened,
and enabled by the Holy Spirit before he is able to repent and turn in faith to
God, but even then he must act contrary to his nature in order to believe.

VI.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves that
eternal life can be forfeited.

The Calvinistic argument which says that if an individual could cease to


possess eternal life, then it was not eternal, will not hold up to Adam’s
forfeiture of eternal life when he fell. This argument will be discussed in
more detail later, but the pertinent factors surrounding the Fall will be
presented at this point:

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ZZZZ.First of all, eternal life does not and cannot cease; however, one can certainly cease to
possess it, as demonstrated here by Adam and Eve.
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

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AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.The ultimate proof that
eternal life can be possessed and forfeited is that it has already happened once. The Scriptures are
very emphatic that the wages of sin is death. Therefore, if Adam and Eve had never sinned, they
would never have died. Therefore, they possessed eternal life, but they forfeited it by their own
free choice when they chose, by willful unbelief in the holy and loving character of God, to sin
against God and eat of the forbidden fruit.

It is recognized that some will argue that what happened to Adam and Eve is not analogous to a
person today who has been saved by the atoning death of Christ, and in certain points that
certainly is true. However, the only point of this argument is that what happened to Adam and
Eve proves that eternal life can be possessed and forfeited.

VII.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves that free
acts can be foreknown without being foreordained.

According to Eph. 1:4, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the
world; and, according to I Pet. 1:19-20, God knew before He made the world
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

that Christ was foreordained to die for man's sins. These facts make it
conclusive that God knew when He created Adam and Eve that they would
exercise their freedom of choice and choose to sin. So, we must conclude
that either God in His omniscience knew what they would do based upon his
foreknowledge, or we must conclude that He foreknew what they would do
because he foreordained what they would do. The latter choice would make
God the author of sin, which clearly violates Scripture. Foreknowledge does
not dictate foreordination. The God of the Bible is a much bigger God than
that. He can accomplish His sovereign purposes via the free acts of free
men just as easily as He can by the foreordained acts of programmed men.
This demonstrates that, contrary to Calvinism, God can maintain His
sovereignty and still grant to man a limited free will.

VIII.
The Tree in the midst of the Garden proves that God’s
relationship
with man focused upon His holy and loving nature, and not
His sovereignty.

The focal point of the relationship which existed between God and the first
couple was a fellowship growing out of His holy, loving nature. God created
Adam and Eve for fellowship, not as a means to display His sovereignty. It
was a relationship which grew out of the heart of a righteous and
compassionate God, as is clearly seen in Jesus coming down (apparently in a
visible form) to fellowship with them in the cool of the day.

Calvary, as at least implicitly implied in Gen. 3:15, was not a demonstration


of a sovereign God, it was a demonstration of a holy, loving God as He seeks
to restore the broken fellowship between Himself and man, His highest
creation. If the focal point of the relationship between Adam and God had
been God’s sovereignty, then all that God needed to do was sovereignly
program Adam and all of his descendants to love Him. If the focal point of
their relationship had been the sovereignty of God, then the Tree was
absolutely unnecessary. The focus of the Scriptures is upon a Redeeming
God, not upon a Ruling God. The Word of God places the emphasis upon a
Saving God instead of Calvinism’s Sovereign God, although He is indeed
sovereign. The difference is a matter of emphasis.
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

IX.
The Tree in the middle of the Garden proves that God, by
allowing
Adam and Eve to sin via unbelief and thereby cease to
possess eternal life, in
no way denies or denigrates His love, His power, or His
sovereignty.

The argument that the suggestion that an individual can cease to possess
eternal life, which is what the Modified Arminian doctrine of Apostasy is,
somehow denigrates God’s love, denies His keeping power, and destroys His
sovereignty simply does not hold up when brought into the Garden and to
the Tree in its midst. Certainly the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent,
sovereign God of creation could have kept Adam and Eve from falling. That
is not the issue. The issue which must be recognized is that God clearly
allowed Adam and Eve to sin and thereby forfeit their possession of eternal
life.

This brings up the question that, if God allowing Adam and Eve to forfeit
their possession of eternal life via unbelief did not in any manner denigrate
His sovereignty, His keeping power, or His love, then how does the apostasy
warned against in the N.T. and especially in the book of Hebrews, denigrate
them?

The real issue is not His power to keep but His plan to keep. Did He plan
eternal life as conditional or unconditional? Neither God’s sovereignty, His
love, His power, nor any other of His attributes are in question. The
question revolves around His sovereign saving plan. As Sovereign, God can
plan the continued possession of eternal life to be conditional or
unconditional. Neither plan brings into question any of His attributes or His
sovereign rule.
X.
The Tree in the midst of the Garden helps us to
understand man’s depraved nature.

It is most interesting that Adam and Eve did not immediately seek God and
cry out to Him for forgiveness and restoration when they sinned. Instead of
turning to God in repentance, the depraved heart of man led him to do the
following two things, which all men still do:

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Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

First of all, they sought to escape the presence of God instead of seeking after Him and His
forgiveness. This is reflected in Adam and Eve’s actions in their response to the gracious call of
Jesus when they heard Him walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. Please note that they ran
in the opposite direction and hid themselves among the trees of the Garden. This is still true of
the proud, depraved heart of man today. He still runs from the call of a gracious God. He still
hides behind the trees in the Garden. Someone has rightly summed this up with the couplet,

They will not seek,


They must be sought,

They will not come,


They must be brought.

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Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

Second, they sought to make themselves presentable to God by their own personal efforts. After
having sensed the effects of the fall upon themselves in that they perceived that they were naked
and unworthy to stand in God’s presence, they began to sew fig leaves as covering for their
bodies. These fig leaves represent fallen, depraved man’s vain efforts to make himself acceptable
in the eyes of God. They represent the myriad of approaches, from good works to human
sacrifice, that man has invented in order to gain for himself good standing in the eyes of God.
These fig leaves reflect the fact that the proud heart of fallen man would rather do anything than
to humble itself and bow and confess its guilt and unworthiness to God.

C. The third observation which can be deduced from Adam and Eve’s actions immediately after
the Fall is the reason man still flees the pleading voice of a gracious God. Man flees a loving
and pursuing God of grace because, as a result of the fall, he has incurred a nature which is
inclined toward sin and not toward God. Contrary to humanism’s claim, men are not
basically good. Man is basically evil, and this evil nature is seen in his fleeing the presence
of the holy God who created him and communed with him prior to the fall.

XI.
God’s pursuit of Adam and Eve after the Fall provides
some excellent guides on personal soul winning.

The scene subsequent to the Fall and Jesus’ dealings with Adam and Eve
provide the Church with the story of the very first soul winner in history and
some very critical elements essential to personal soul winning.

1.The soul winner must seek out the lost; they will not seek him out. Due to their depraved
hearts, the lost are still hidden among the trees of the Garden. They still flee the thing their
inward man desires the most, which is a right relationship with God.

2.The soul winner must understand that, like Adam and Eve sewed their aprons of fig leaves, men
still sew their aprons of fig leaves made of a thousand different things. The proud human heart
still clings to human merit, although it will vary from individual to individual. Men still sew their
fig leaves.

3.The soul winner must seek the lost, but he must do so with tact and tenderness. Notice that
Jesus did not blow Adam and Eve out over their terrible sin. One can almost sense the tenderness
of His voice as He cries out, “Adam, where art thou?” That same tact and tenderness must also
characterize the soul-winner of today.

4.It was not simply a one-sided conversation. Jesus did not do all of the talking. He drew Adam
and Eve into the conversation and gave them opportunity to respond.

5.At some point in the witness, sin must be confronted on a personal level. Jesus did not attempt
Theology of the Tree Modified Arminianism Implications of the
Covenant

to only present a “positive gospel” as some are advocating today. Note that he did confront
Adam and Eve about their individual sin.

This does not mean that one has to be obnoxious. Although sin must be confronted, it must
be done tactfully and in love. Man will never see his real need of a Saviour until he first of all
sees himself as a sinner in danger of hell. That witness which avoids dealing with sin is not a
true Gospel witness. Sin must be presented as the awful thing it is and as being so evil that it
demands punishment. Note that Jesus told Adam and Eve about the repercussions of their
sins and its tragic costs in their lives.

6.God’s enmity against sin must be presented. In other words, the soul winner must present God
as a holy God with a holy hatred for sin which dictates that He always punish sin, regardless of
who and how insignificant. This is reflected in 3:15 and the enmity spoken of there.

7.The soul winner must offer God’s provisions for covering the sins of man provided solely by His
grace. This is reflected in 3:15,21, where God made for Adam and Eve a coat os skins. The first
soul winner in history made it very obvious that the aprons of fig leaves were totally inadequate.
However, be careful to note that He did make available to Adam and Eve the only covering
adequate to give them good standing before God. We too must offer the sinner the imputed
righteousness of Christ made available to all men alike by the atoning death of Christ on Calvary.
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

I.
Summary Statement of the
Modified Arminian Doctrine of the Security of the
Believer

A.
Modified Arminianism teaches the Security of the Believer.

John 10:27-30 clearly teaches that the Father will keep in the safety of His hand
those whose lives are characterized by hearing and following (present tense,
continuous action) Christ. The security of the believer is based upon the keeping
power of his God and not upon anything man can do for himself. I Pet. 1:5 makes is
very clear that the child of God is kept by His power on the condition of faith.
However, the Word of God offers absolutely no security for the unbeliever, nor does
it teach carnal security

B.
Modified Arminianism teaches a "Know-So" salvation.

The Word of God clearly teaches that eternal life is a present possession
of the saved. First John 5:12 teaches that "...he that hath the Son hath life."
Note that John does not say that he that hath the Son "shall," at some point
in the distant future, have eternal life. The verb translated "hath" is a
present indicative. The indicative is the mood of affirmation or declaration.
The present tense together with the indicative voice is an affirmation that
the person who has the Son also, in the present tense has life. It is an
assured present possession.

The preceding verse clarifies this by saying "And this is the record, that God
hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in the Son." Once again, if a
person is in the Son, and he is in the Son if he is saved, he can be assured
that he possesses eternal life right now and not at some point in the future.
The verb translated "hath given" is in the Greek an aorist indicative which
refers to a past completed event. Thus, God has already given to those who
are in the Son the possession of eternal life. The indicative mood affirms
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

this to be f act from the speaker's point of view and the ultimate speaker is
the Holy Spirit who is God and He cannot be mistaken.

This explains why John, in the thirteenth verse of this fifth chapter, would
very clearly declare "...that ye may know that ye have eternal life." God
intended that His children know without a doubt that they are saved and
that, as a result, they possess eternal life. Read the entire verse,

These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name
of the Son of God.
C.
Modified Arminianism does not teach that sin severs the
believer's relationship with God.
The believer's relationship with God is both established (Eph. 2:8-10; Jn.
3:16,36) and maintained by faith (Col. 1:21-23; I Pet. 1:5; Heb. 2:1; 3:6,14;
4:11,14; 10:35,38). From the beginning to the ending, salvation is conditioned
upon faith. A person is born into the family of God conditioned upon faith in
Christ and His finished work on Calvary (Jn. 3:16). That same person maintains
his relationship with God via that same faith, as is indicated in the numerous
passages cited above. This is exactly what was meant by the oft quoted
statement "The just shall live by faith." Sin breaks the believer's fellowship with
God, but not his relationship with God (I Jn. 1:9). This is not by any means a
diminishing of the horror of sin and its disastrous results in the life of the
believer.

Man did not establish his relationship with God because he stopped sinning.
Neither does he maintain his relationship with God by not sinning. This is Paul's
argument to the Gal. 3:1-6 where he calls them "foolish Galatians" because they
thought that they were saved by faith and kept by their good works. It is God
who does both the saving and the keeping, but He does both on the condition of
faith. Good works are the fruits of salvation and not the roots of salvation. Good
works grows out of and cannot be separated from faith (James 2:20).

D.
Modified Arminianism does not teach repeated regeneration.
(That a person can be saved and lost over and over again)
One will search the Scriptures in vain to find a single example of anyone being
saved and lost and then being saved again. The Scriptures teach that there is
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Eph. 4:5). Hebrews 6:4-6 teaches that it is
impossible to renew the apostate (one who has renounced his faith in Christ and
His atoning death) to repentance. Having renounced his faith in Jesus Christ,
there remains no other sacrifice for the apostate's sins (Heb. 10:26-29). The
"willful sin" of Hebrews 10:26 is defined in verse 28 as a willful rejection and
repudiation of Jesus and His atoning death. Such an act leaves the apostate
hopelessly lost, since there is no other sacrifice to which he can turn for the
atonement of his sins. Therefore, apostasy is irremediable.

E.
Modified Arminianism teaches the possibility, but not the
probability, of a genuine believer, by an act of his will,
renouncing his faith in Christ and committing apostasy.

Jesus Himself spoke of an individual believing, and then He spoke of that


same individual ceasing to believe. The believing He spoke of was unto
salvation, and not someone who almost believed unto salvation but did not
quite truly believe. This truth is not drawn from the parable of the Sower
and the Seed, but from His explanation of the parable. In Luke 8:12 Jesus
explains the seed which fell by the way side.

Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away
the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Notice that Jesus is not talking about some artificial faith. He is not talking
about some hypothetical situation. He is not talking about someone who
tasted and sampled and decided against Him. He clearly states that if those
people represented by the seed sown by the way side had believed they
would have been saved. Therefore, the rule of context dictates that when
in the very next verse He speaks of the people who believed for a while, He
is speaking about believing and being saved and then falling away.

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with
joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of
temptation fall away.

We have not less of an authority than Jesus Himself who tells about
someone believing for a while and then ceasing to believe and falling away.
(If he believed for "a while" then he obviously stopped believing.) This
passage clearly dictates a couple of conclusions.
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

1. It is undeniable that Jesus taught that it is possible for a person to believe


for a while and then to cease to believe. Therefore, when the Modified
Arminian speaks about the possibility of the cessation of faith, he is in
pretty good company.

2. The context of the preceding verse makes it clear that Jesus is talking
about a belief unto salvation. This eliminates the typical explanation of
a "hypothetical situation" or of someone who almost believed unto
salvation but, at the last moment drew up short.

3. Jesus' explanation of this parable harmonizes with numerous other


passages which also suggest or warn of the danger of ceasing to believe.
However, if this was the only passage in the entire Word of God which
suggested the possibility of apostasy, it would still be true. A truth has to
be stated in the Word of God only one time for it to be true. Repetition
does not make a truth more true in the Scriptures. Warnings of this same
nature appear over and over again in the Scriptures. Hebrews 3:12-13 is
another example. The author warns,

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing
from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, lest any of
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

God would not warn those who had never come to Him of the danger of
departing from Him. Neither would He warn those whose hearts were
already hardened via the deceitfulness of sin to beware to such a danger.
Further, God certainly would never admonish the unsaved to exhort each
other about the dangerous hardening effects of sin upon their hearts.

Having recognized the warnings as genuine warnings directed toward


genuine believers, it is important to note that the author of Hebrews issues
another warning in Heb. 6:4-6, but then goes on to say that he is persuaded
of better things of them. In the ninth verse He wrote,

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that
accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

Therefore, it is biblically correct that we take the warnings as serious


warnings directed to authentic believers since God does not play games with
His children. He does not issue warnings where no danger exists. But, on
the other hand, we must also recognize that the author of Hebrews, while
writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, said that he was persuaded of
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

better things of the Hebrew Christians than them returning to Judaism and
thereby crucifying Christ afresh by their denunciation of Him. So, it is
biblically correct to say that the Bible warns of the possibility but not the
probability of apostasy.

F.
Modified Arminianism does not teach that a person can
"lose" his salvation.

It is incorrect to ever speak of an individual "losing" his salvation. Apostasy


is not a sudden nor an accidental event. It involves a conscious rational
willful decision of the heart and mind. Apostasy is the tragic culmination of a
long hardening process of sin due on the rebellious heart of man (Heb. 3:12-
13). Apostasy is committed by an act of the will. It incorrect to ever speak
of a person "losing" his salvation. Apostasy is a conscious act of the will.

Apostasy involves all that would have been included in the "willful" sin of
Hebrews 10:26-30. In the context, apostasy would involve the individual
renouncing his faith in Jesus Christ as the true Messiah. This would also
involve a willful rejection of Jesus as the Son of God and would then dictate
that His death have no atoning value. In spirit and in mind, it would place
the apostate in with the Jewish crowd who rejected, taunted, and mocked
Him and ultimately had Him put to death. This is why the author of Hebrews
spoke of their anticipated return to Judaism as ultimately crucifying Christ
afresh and putting Him to an open shame (Heb. 6:6).

Therefore, it is unethical to represent the Modified Arminian position as


teaching that a person can "lose" his salvation as if it was an accidental or
unknown event or act. Apostasy is the result of the long hardening process
of sin and the continued willful rebellion against God. It is a conscious,
reasoned, and willful decision to denounce one's faith in Jesus Christ as
one's Lord and Saviour. However, this does not happen in a vacuum. An
individual cannot turn his back on Christ and move to a neutral position.
Because of his very nature, man as a religious being, will move to some
form of belief system, whether it be paganism of agnosticism.

G.
Modified Arminianism does not teach that a Christian
dying with
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

unrepented sin on his life goes to hell.

The statement "a Christian dying with unrepented sin on his life goes to
hell" is a theological contradiction in and of itself. Christians do not go to
hell. Only lost people go to hell. Therefore, in order to be theologically
correct, that statement must be changed to say, "a lost person dying with
unrepented sin on his life goes to hell." Christians, regardless of whether or
not they have unconfessed sin when they die, do not go to hell. Anytime an
individual has to do anything to avoid going to hell when he dies, that
individual is lost. Death is not the determining factor in an individual's
eternal destiny. It only seals him in the state he was in when he died. If he
was saved one second prior to his death, he went to heaven. If he was lost
one second prior to his death he went to hell. Therefore, a person believing
this doctrine is forced to conclude that the Christian became lost when he
sinned, otherwise, if he had still been a Christian, he would have gone to
heaven when he died.

Those holding to this position appear to believe that, if a person only has to
repent in order not to go to hell when he dies, he is not actually lost. In their
thinking the person with unconfessed sin on his life is in some state of limbo
where he is neither saved nor lost. Yet, they affirm that if he does not
repent and dies in that unrepentant state he will go to hell. Anytime an
individual is in a condition that if he dies in that condition he will go to hell,
that individual is lost. There is no spiritual limbo in the Bible. The Word of
God knows of only two kinds of people (the saved and the lost) and saved
people go to heaven when they die and lost people go to hell.

To affirm that a Christian dying with unrepented sin on his life goes to hell
dictates that every time a Christian commits a sin his relationship with God
is severed and he is lost. It therefore dictates that he can keep himself
saved by not sinning. This means that God must let him into his heaven
because he has been good and has not sinned. This is a clear mixture of law
and grace, which Paul warned against in Galatians three. Here he asks the
question about how they initially received the Holy Spirit, or how they were
saved. The question is structured so as to make it clear that they received
the Spirit by faith. He then asks if they were foolish enough to believe that
what they had begun by faith could be perfected by the flesh. This question
is so structured, and the context makes it clear, that what was begun by
faith (salvation) must be continued or perfected by faith. Salvation is
initiated by faith and continued by faith. God saves on the condition of
faith, and God keeps one saved on that same condition (I Pet. 1:5) and not
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

one's ability to keep himself saved by his ability not to sin.

II.
Differing Views of the Security of the Believer
Given below are four of the various forms of security being taught today. It
is the perverted forms, which offer a false security to people who obviously
were never saved, which are creating havoc across America today. It is
tragic the number of people, especially in the Bible belt, who are complete
pagans in their life-style, who have absolutely no regard for Jesus and the
things of God, but are nevertheless convinced that they are going to
heaven when they die because they have been indoctrinated with a false
security.

A.
Modified Arminian View

God will keep secure, by His power, those whose faith in


His Son is evidenced by them hearing and following His
Son. God both saves and keeps on the condition of faith.
The Scriptures warn true believers of the possibility but
not the probability of apostasy via willful unbelief. The
sign of being saved is not having prayed the sinner's
prayer, but a faith which results in loving Jesus, which is
reflected in keeping His commandments (Jn. 14:21).

This view security is based upon God's gracious offer of salvation by grace
through faith and not one's ability not to sin. Further, this view is actually
closer to Calvin's view than most of what passes today as Calvinism. The
major difference between the two is that the Modified Arminian view takes
the warning passages seriously and admits that they are warnings
addressed to genuine Christians. On the other hand, Calvin offered
absolutely no security to that individual who made a profession of faith
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

which was not evidenced by a life of holiness.

B.
Reformed View
There is the view of the Reformed Faith (Five Point
Calvinism) which, as Calvin did, teaches that the ultimate
proof of being a genuine member of the elect (being
saved) is a life of holiness. If a person makes a profession
of faith and does not persevere in a life of holiness that
person was never saved.

It is possible to believe in the eternal security of the believer and not hold to
a carnal or a paganized view of security. It is possible to believe in the
security of the believer and still believe in living right. This is the view of
John Calvin and represents true Calvinism which is often called the Reformed
Faith. This view of security does not make allowances for the carnal security
taught by many today. Neither does this view make allowance for a person
apart from faith ever walking the streets of the holy city. It recognizes the
transforming grace of God and teaches that if a man makes a profession of
faith and does not reflect this faith by a life of holiness (hearing and
following Jesus) He was not truly saved or was not truly a member of the
elect. This view does not offer the false hope held out by many today to
millions whose hearts have never been converted and transformed, who do
not love Jesus, but who have nevertheless been given a false assurance of
salvation based upon nothing more than the fact that they at some place
and time prayed the sinner's prayer.
C.
Carnal Security View
There is the view of security that teaches that everybody
who "believes" and prays the sinner's prayer is saved and
therefore eternally secure regardless of whether or not
any evidence of the transforming Grace of God is ever
evident in their life. The ultimate evidence of salvation is
that they prayed the sinner's prayer. Many who hold this
view also reject repentance, or submission to the will of
God, as essential to salvation.

This doctrine makes the utterance of a prescribed prayer to be the ultimate


Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

sign of salvation. Whether or not that person's moral nature was ever jarred
by the Gospel is irrelevant. Whether or not that person ever manifests any
interest in spiritual things is also irrelevant, and according to this view, to
demand such is to teach a works salvation. The all important thing is that
at some point in life they prayed the sinner's prayer. That is all that counts.
In this view, it is a violation of free grace to demand any external evidence
of being saved. Carnal security reduces the Christian experience to the
mental assent to a set of facts and denies the necessity of a changed life.

This view is illustrated by Zane Hodge in his book The Gospel Under Siege.
In this work, Dr. Hodge rejects any external evidence as evidence of a
person's salvation. He equates any demand of a changed life with the
Judaizers of the days of Christ. He suggests that the adulterous woman of
John four may have returned home to her adulterous relationship. This view
declares that demanding a changed life of a saved person is adding to the
Gospel.
D.
"Pagan" Christian View
There is an even more radical view of security which goes
so far as to teach that, even if a believer did actually
renounce his faith in Jesus Christ as his only Lord and
Saviour, God, because He is faithful, would still take him
to heaven. (This would result in unbelieving pagans being
in heaven.)

Although those who espouse this extreme view would most likely deny it,
this view actually makes room for pagans to go to heaven. It is the view
espoused by Dr. Charles Stanley in his book Eternal Security and at least
suggested by Kenneth Wuest when he argues that it is the initial act of faith
which secures one's salvation forever.

It is tragic to see Dr. Charles Stanley actually use the term "unbelieving
Christian" and "unfaithful Christian" (Eternal Security, ch. 10, pp 93-94). By
his use of the word "unfaithful" he does not mean that the unfaithful
believer is inconsistent in his Christian life and does not go to church etc.
Dr. Stanley uses the word "unfaithful" to refer to a person who is
unbelieving. He is a person without faith. When he uses the term
"unfaithful believer" he is actually speaking of an "unbelieving believer."

Both of these terms are obviously very contradictory terms. There is no


Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

such thing as an "unbelieving Christian" which would be tantamount to


speaking of an "unbelieving believer." A person cannot be a believer and an
unbeliever at the same time. Neither can he be an unbeliever and be a
Christian at the same. Not only is that unscriptural, it is irrational. There is
not a single verse in all the Word of God which remotely suggests that an
unbeliever can be a Christian, and certainly does not make the absurd claim
that one can be both a believer and an unbeliever at the same time.

The Bible makes it very clear that unbelievers go to hell. The Apostle John
wrote in Rev. 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the
lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Calvin's form of security is not nearly as offensive to the Modified Arminian


as the others. It is when a doctrine is turned into an open license to sin that
one must take a stand, regardless of how popular and appealing the
doctrine is to the flesh. Grace, whatever it is, can never be construed into a
license to sin. The holy nature of God clearly violates this fleshly concept.

The fact that once in the OT and three times in the NT the child of God is
reminded that "the just shall live by faith" clearly makes faith the link which
binds God and man. The fact that the author of Hebrews tells us that apart
from faith man cannot please God (11:6) certainly suggests that necessity of
faith as the tie that binds man and God.

One of the most often ignored passages in any discussion of faith and
security is Paul's explanation of why most of Israel was not saved and why
their lostness was not a sign of the ineffectiveness of God's Word (9:6). By
the way, he does not attribute Israel's lostness to the fact that God did not
elect them, which would have to be the case if the doctrine of Limited Elect
was true. Paul argues that Israel's lostness was due to their seeking a
righteousness apart from faith.

Rom. 9:30-32

30. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after
righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

faith.
31. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to
the law of righteousness.
32. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of
the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.

Interestingly, he then warns the Gentiles in the eleventh chapter of the


danger of pride and also of the necessity of them continuing in the faith, the
essential link which binds God and man.

Rom. 11:19-21,23

19. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in,
20. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by
faith, Be not highminded, but fear:
21. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not
thee.
23. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is
able to graff then in again.

There are some very clear truths which can be drawn from this passage
which are very relevant to the security issue, especially the false form of
security advocated by Dr. Stanley.

1. Although God is faithful (II Tim. 2:11-13), this faithfulness did not capture
Him and violate His holy nature forcing Him to admit unbelievers into
heaven as Dr. Stanley suggests. If the holy God of the Bible was ever
going to make an exception and take anyone to heaven apart from faith
it certainly seems like it would have been the His chosen people.
However, the text says that He set them aside because of their lack of
faith.
2. If Romans chapters 9-11 teach anything, they certainly teach the
necessity of faith as the link which binds God and man and apart from
faith an individual is apart from God.
3. Paul very clearly warns the Gentiles in the 20th verse above of the
necessity of their continued faith and reminds them that "thou standest
by faith."

This passage is not dealing with individual apostasy. It is only explaining


that God rejected Israel because of their unbelief. However, it is critical that
it be recognized that the passage makes it abundantly clear that the link
which binds God and man is faith and that apart from faith man is apart
from God. It is important that the text makes it abundantly clear that the
Summary Statement Modified Arminianism Security of
Believer

child of God stands by faith. Further, it has always been that way. Paul does
not argue that Israel was not accepted of God because they did not keep the
law. He argues that Israel was rejected because of their lack of faith just like
he argues in chapter four that Abraham was accepted because of his faith.

III.
Reasons why Eternal Security is so Popular

If something is so wrong and so dangerous, then how could it be so popular?


Is it like a local pastor once said of the doctrine, "It must be right, because
everybody believes it!" There are two major problems with this brother's
logic. First of all, everybody does not believe in eternal security, especially
in carnal security. Most folk, even the laity, recognize that there is
something drastically wrong with a Christianity which preaches drunkards
and other sinners of the vilest type into heaven when they die.

The second problem with this type logic is that theological truth has never
been determined by a head count. If we are going to accept doctrine based
upon its popularity, then we need to start to baptize infants, since it is such
a widespread practice. No, truth is determined by a careful exegesis of the
Word of God as the final authority in all matters of practice and doctrine.

A.
Eternal Security is popular because it appeals to the flesh.

Anything which can be construed as a weakened form of discipline or


restraints upon the flesh will always appeal to the fallen depraved nature of
man, even to Christians, since they too still possess a fallen depraved
nature. It is fully recognized that eternal security does not have to be
construed to be an open license to sin. Calvin certainly did not. It is
understood that a person can believe in and teach a form of security which
cannot be construed into a license to sin. But, never-the-less, the
cheapened brand of Christianity being peddled to much of America today
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removes almost all shackles of the flesh and justifies the most carnal of life-
styles. It appeals to the fallen nature of Christians since their flesh is not
regenerate and is just as depraved as it was before being saved (Rom.
8:23).

B.
Eternal Security is Popular because Popular is Popular.

Nothing breeds success like success. Nothing attracts crowds like crowds.
Everybody wants to be on the bandwagon, or on the apparent winning
team. Few people will dare stem the tide. It is easy to go with the flow, to
ride with the tide, and sail with the prevailing wind. If one has political
ambitions and is desirous of making a name for himself in the church world
of today, he must accept the doctrine of eternal security in some form.

With some, this doctrine has almost become a fundamental of the faith.
With many, anyone who does not espouse their radical form of carnal
security is theologically suspect. Grace has been construed to be a license
to sin, and those who do not go with the flow are often represented as not
fully understanding the doctrine of grace. Few will dare stem the tide. The
peer pressure will be too great. They want to fit in and in order to fit in with
many they must accept the doctrine of eternal security.

C.
Eternal Security is popular because of the
Distorted Perception of Arminianism.

Calvinists tend to label all Arminians as advocates of a works salvation.


They call Arminians "semi-pelagianists." And, it is admitted that one could
take the extremes of Arminianism and apply those terms, but to
characterize the entire movement by those labels is to willfully misrepresent
the truth. Both sides of this issue have an innate weakness. Arminianism
tends towards works, while Calvinism tends towards worldliness. Neither is
innate to the system, but both can easily be construed that way. It is
unethical to label any group by its extremes. The part does not always
represent the whole. On that same basis, one could label all Calvinists as
antinomianists or libertarians since some Calvinists are advocates of a
cheap, worldly type Christianity. Calvinism also tends toward fatalism. It's
doctrine of limited elect has been used by some elements to justify a non-
evangelistic approach to the Christian life. However, Christian ethics
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demand that we represent our opposition truthfully. We must tell the truth,
even about the Devil. There are some Arminians who teach a works
salvation, but there are some Calvinists who teach a crass form of carnal
security which is a false security.

The form of security set forth in this work teaches salvation by grace. It
teaches that a man is both saved and kept by God. Man does not hold on or
hold out. He is saved by God's saving power on the condition of faith, and
kept by God's keeping power on the condition of faith. If being kept by God
on the condition of faith (I Pet. 1:4) is a works salvation, then being saved by
God on the condition of faith is also a works salvation (Eph. 2:8-10). Our
Calvinist friends cannot have it both ways. They very readily teach that a
man is saved by God's saving power on the condition of faith, but want to
balk when one says that God keeps man on that exact same condition. If
getting saved on the condition of faith is not a works salvation, then staying
saved on the condition of faith is also not a works salvation.

D.
Calvinism's Rapid Recovery from the Impact of Theological
Liberalism, and Arminianism's Slow Recovery, helps
explain Calvinism's popularity.

Both Arminianism and Calvinism were adversely affected by the invasion of


theological liberalism into this country in the late eighteen hundreds and the
early decades of the nineteen hundreds. Up until the fall of the Methodist
Denomination, the gradual shift of the Nazarene Denomination in that
direction, and the canalization of the holiness movements, Arminianism was
a major voice for Christianity in America.

The greatest voice for the Arminian position was the Methodist
Denomination, which was a major player on the theological landscape until
its fall into the open arms of theological liberalism. With the sudden demise
of the Methodist Denomination, and the gradual demise of the Nazarenes in
that direction, Arminianism lost its major spokesmen.
Few movements were more influential than the Methodists in early American
history. If one will visit the town squares in every American city or town, he
will usually find a Methodist church on or near the square. The Methodists
were very evangelistic, and were used by God to reach millions of souls for
Christ before their demise to theological liberalism. They owned large
publishing houses, which poured forth Arminian literature. They built and
operated several colleges and seminaries, which propagated Arminian
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theology. Tragically, because of their hierarchal structure and


denominational ownership of local church buildings, when the leadership
fell, they took the church properties with them. This made it more difficult
to oppose than congregational controlled congregations and properties.
When the Methodist Denomination fell, the Arminian movement lost its chief
spokesman and its chief propagator of Arminian theology.
The holiness movement, which was Arminian in theology, has fragmented
and gone is several directions. The modern day Charismatic Movement
represents a section of the old holiness movement. The Vineyard Movement
is a part of the Charismatic Movement, but has headed off in another
direction. From this fall and fragmentation, the movement has never
recovered.

Two other majors factor also greatly enhance Calvinism's influence in


America today. One is that most major publishing houses are Calvinistic in
theology. Some will not publish anything Arminian. Another is that most
Christian institutions of higher learning are also Calvinistic, which also
explains the growing influence of Calvinism in America. However, there are
a growing number of very apt scholars who are moving to the position as set
forth in this work. It presents far fewer problems in exegesis and
interpretation than does the crass, carnal security being peddled across
America today.

E.
Eternal Security is popular because of the number of
Biblical Texts Which Can Be Interpreted to Teach Eternal
Security

I once had a professor who made the following statement. He said, "the
reason there are so many Arminians is that there are so many Arminian
passages in the Scriptures." Then he said, "the reason there are so many
Calvinists is because there are so many Calvinistic passages in the Bible."
There are any number of texts in the Scriptures which can easily be
construed to teach eternal security. However, there are many texts which
clearly suggest the possibility of apostasy, as will be demonstrated later.

Here is why this author is forced to accept a theological position which is not
the popular position. It clearly creates far fewer problems in interpretation.
It is possible to take the passages which on the surface appear to teach
eternal security and follow the established rules of interpretation and
explain them in a way which easily harmonizes with the Modified Arminian
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position of conditional security. On the other hand, it is impossible to take


some of the passages which will be set forth in this work and interpret them
to teach eternal security without first violating the rules of interpretation.

IV.
Reasons for Believing in Conditional Security

A.
Jesus believed in Conditional Security. He spoke of an
individual believing, and then He spoke of that same
individual ceasing to believe, which dictates the doctrine
of conditional security.

As already discussed above, Jesus tells us that the seed which fell by the
wayside represents those who hear the Word and the Devil comes and takes
it away out of their hearts lest "they should believe and be saved." Thus,
according to Jesus, if they had believed they would have been saved. Then,
in His explanation of the very next seed, the seed which fell on the rock,
Jesus tells us that this represents those "who, when they hear, receive the
word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time
of temptation [testing] fall away."

So we have no less of an authority than Jesus Himself warning of the danger


of believing for a while, but falling away in times of testing. The Greek word
translated “fall away” literally means “ to put away, to separate, to
withdraw, to induce to revolt, to make defection, to apostatise.” The word
carries with it the idea of wilfully repudiating a former position or belief. It is
a strong word used by Jesus to describe some folk who actually believed and
were saved, but in time of testing they renounced their faith.

Regardless of the commentators attempts to explain this warning away, the


warning is still there. Jesus clearly warns of the danger of turning from the
faith in times of trials.

Interestingly, this same Jesus tells Peter, just prior to his denial of Him, that
He had prayed for him that his faith “fail” not.
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Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted,
strengthen thy brethren.

According to the doctrine of eternal security, it is impossible for a believer's


faith to fail, which would make Jesus' prayer useless or fraudulent.
However, since Jesus prayed that Peter's faith fail not, it must have been
possible for Peter's faith to fail.

The word translated “fail” is a Second Aorist verb in the Subjunctive mood
which is the mood of potential or conditional action. The word itself actually
means “to fail, to come to an end, to be defunct.” Thus, Jesus’ use of the
Subjunctive Mood means that it was actually possible for Peter’s faith to
have failed or to have come to an end. Jesus Himself believed in Conditional
Security, based upon continuous faith. As long as an individual believes,
God will keep him (I Pet. 1:5).

B.
God the Father believed in Conditional Security since His
initial dealings with Adam and Eve were conditional which
means that his initial covenant with man was conditional.

It would seem that if it could be clearly established that God’s initial


dealings with man, in the very first covenant involving His relationship and
fellowship, was conditional, then one could expect all subsequent covenants
of relationship and fellowship with man to also be conditioned upon a
continuous faith. Adam and Eve’s not eating of the forbidden fruit was
simply a manifestation of their continued faith and love for their Creator
God. Not eating of the Tree in the Middle of the Garden was the only
concrete means they had to actually prove the reality of their faith and love
(James 2:20; John 14:21).

We do know this for sure, had they have never eaten of the forbidden fruit,
they would never have died. Thus, Adam and Eve did, at one time possess
eternal life and they did forfeit it by their unbelief which was evidenced by
their eating of the forbidden fruit, being cast out of the Garden, and
eventually dying physically. (They died an immediate spiritual death the
very instant they ate.

C.
All of God's major covenant dealings with man have been
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conditional, which certainly suggests that the covenant of


salvation (the New Covenant) is also a conditional
covenant based upon the sole condition of continued faith
in Jesus Christ.

If we accept the fact that our God is an immutable God which means that He
never changes, then we are forced by Heb. 11:6 to recognize that God has
always related to man on the condition of faith. Hebrews chapter eleven
traces the faith relationship between God and man all the way back to Abel
who was Adam's son. Based upon this and the historical record of the
events surrounding the Fall, we conclude that Adam also related to God on
the basis of faith. This has to be true if God is immutable (Mal. 3:6)

Over one hundred times in the N.T., faith is set forth as the condition
necessary in order to be saved and become a participant in the New
Covenant. To deny that the New Covenant is conditional is to deny that
faith is necessary in order to become a participant. Not only is faith the
only condition necessary for man becoming a participant in the New
Covenant, it is also the only condition necessary for continued participation.
Always in the Scriptures, it is faith that links man to God and unbelief that
separates man from God.

D.
The many passages which clearly warn the believer of the
necessity of continuing in the faith demands that the
possibility of not continuing in the faith actually exist.

It would be impossible for a true believer not to continue in the faith if the
doctrine of absolute and unconditional security was true. This would then
dictate that there would be absolutely no need to urge true believers to
continue in the faith. Why does the Scriptures contain no warnings of the
danger of a Christian getting happy and jumping over the moon? Because
to do so would be ludicrous, since it is absolutely impossible for anyone to
jump over the moon. Yet God continuously warns believers of the necessity
of them continuing in the faith. Why would John so consistently use the
continuous action (present tense) verb form when he makes reference to
believing unto salvation? Why would Paul warn the Colossians that they
would be presented unblameable and unreproveable, only if they continued
in the faith, if it was impossible for them not to continue (Col. 1:21-23)?
Why would he warn the Corinthian believers that they would remain saved if
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they kept in memory that which he had preached unto them lest they had
believed in vain (I Cor. 15:1-43)? Why would he tell the Ephesians that
Christ would dwell in their hearts on the condition of faith (Eph. 3:17)? Why
would Peter tell those addressed in I Peter that they would be kept by God's
power on the condition of faith, if faith was not necessary, or if they could
never cease to have faith (I Pet. 1:5)? Why would John warn in I John 2:24
that the condition for them remaining in the Son was that they let that abide
in them which they had heard from the beginning, which was the Gospel of
the atoning death of Jesus Christ (I Jn. 2:24)? Why would the writer of
Hebrews so repetitiously warn of the necessity of continued faith if it was
impossible for the believer not to continue to believe? All of these warnings
would be false and totally unnecessary if the doctrine of eternal or
unconditional security was true.

E.
There are too many passages in the Scriptures which
clearly warn the true believer of the danger of departing
from God to deny that such a danger exists.

These warnings simply cannot be harmonized with the above forms of


security. However, they can be harmonized with the doctrine of the security
of the believer if the emphasis be placed upon the continuous nature of the
word "believe." The author of Hebrews clearly warns genuine believers of
the danger of departing from the faith. In Heb. 2:1-3, he clearly warns of
letting the things that they had heard slip away, or run out as a leaking
vessel. In order to deny that Heb. 3:12-14 is not addressed to true
believers and is a warning to them of the danger of departing from God, one
must clearly violate the rules of interpretation. Paul publicly names two
individuals who had departed from the faith (I Tim. 1:19-20). Peter clearly
warns of the danger of departing from the faith, and also of its irremediable
state (II Pet. 2:19-22).

The point needs to be understood that this is not an attempt to build a


doctrine from some isolated unclear passage. These warnings are found
throughout the N.T.

F.
The holy nature of the God of the Bible dictates that when
He warns the believer of the necessity of continuing in the
faith, then the possibility of not continuing in the faith
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must be real.

If it was impossible for a believer to ever depart from the living God (Heb.
3:12-13), then the holy God of the Bible would never warn "take heed
brethren lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing
from the living God." If it was impossible for a believer to ever cease to
believe, then the holy nature of God demands that He would not warn "Now
the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no
pleasure in him." Note that God says that the just must "live" by faith, and
not just get saved by faith. God would never warn the Colossians that they
would be presented holy and unblamable in the judgment only if they
continued in the faith if it were impossible for them not to continue (Col.
1:21-23). God's holy nature dictates that when He issues a warning
of a danger, that danger is real. The holy God of the Bible does not cry
wolf. He does not play games with man. He does not warn of a danger
which does not exist. His holy nature dictates that.

G.
Paul believed in Conditional Security as reflected in his
Concern over the Continued Faith of the Thessalonican
Christians Demonstrates that He Believed that it was
Possible for Them to Renounce their Faith in Christ.

Anyone who reads I Thessalonians beginning in 2:19 and continuing to 3:13


cannot help but discern Paul's concern over the danger of these persecuted
Christians renouncing their recent faith in Christ. He clearly tells us of his
overwhelming concern in 3:1,5. In the fifth verse he makes it clear that it is
the steadfastness of their faith which is his primary concern. He said, "For
this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by
some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain." In
3:2 he states specifically that he sent Timothy to establish them in the faith
so that "no man should be moved."
There are two very clear deductions which this passage dictates. First, Paul
was clearly worried about these persecuted Christians abandoning their
faith in Christ which would not have been a concern if he had believed in
eternal security. Second, he was also concerned that his labors not be in
vain which also would not have been the case if he had believed in eternal
security. So, when this is compared with his stated concern over the
Colossian Christians continuing in the faith in 1:20-22, and his concern over
the Corinthian Christians (15:1-4) and them standing fast in the faith, one is
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forced to the conclusion that Paul did actually believe in the possibility of
apostasy via unbelief and his labors then being in vain.

H.
The Apostle John Clearly Believed that Continuing in the
Father and the Son Was Conditioned upon Continuing in
the Faith

When he writes in I John 2:24 and admonishes these believers that if what
they had heard from the beginning remained in them that they would then
remain in the Father and in the Son, he clearly made continued salvation to
be conditioned upon continued faith.

I John 2:24
Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the
beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall
remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

The context is dealing with those who deny the deity of Christ and
constitutes a warning about abandoning this critical doctrine. It is essential
to Bible Christianity and anyone who abandons this teaching also abandons
the keeping power of the Father and the Son and according to the very next
verse can no longer possess eternal life. One thing is clear, if the doctrine of
eternal security was true, this warning would have been totally unnecessary.
These people would have remained in the Father and the Son regardless.

I.
The doctrine of apostasy committed by unbelief creates far
fewer problems in interpreting the Scriptures than the
doctrine of unconditional security does.

It is an absolute impossibility to harmonize the doctrine of eternal security


with the book of Hebrews without blatantly violating the established rules of
hermeneutics. It is interesting to read the introductory remarks of the most
commentators on the book of Hebrews, who tell us that the book is written
to a group of Hebrew Christians who are undergoing intense persecution
and are considering abandoning their Christian faith and turning back to
Judaism. Then, when those passages which warn against such
contemplated action appear in the text, they deny that they are addressed
to true Christians. These warnings suddenly become some type of test of
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true faith when the reality of these Hebrew Christian's faith is never under
consideration. They are always warnings addressed to genuine believers
who, as most commentators readily admit in their introduction, are
contemplating abandoning their faith in Christ and returning to Judaism.

As has already been demonstrated above, if one interprets Jn. 10:27-30,


which is probably the most often used passage in defending eternal
security, by the rules of hermeneutics it very clearly teaches conditional
security. The truth of the matter is that Calvin's fifth point is not established
by the exegesis of countless passages from the Scriptures, it is dictated by
the first four points of his T U L I P.

Conclusion
The Modified Arminian system presents far fewer problems in interpretation
than does the typical Calvinistic Model. It is a grace system based upon
salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on
Calvary. Man can neither save himself nor keep himself. God does both the
saving and the keeping, but He does both on the condition of faith (Eph. 2:8-
10; I Pet. 1:5). The link which ties man to God is faith and apart from faith,
man is apart from God (Jn. 3:18). Works are the fruits of salvation and faith
is the root of salvation. The Modified Arminian God is sovereign and infinite
in all of His attributes.

The Modified Arminian system avoids the extremes of both typical


Arminianism and Calvinism in that Arminianism tends towards a works
system while Calvinism tends toward a worldly system, although neither are
innate to the system. Modified Arminianism offers the needed balance of
both systems although it is not a system resulting from an attempt to
synthesize the two. It is a system built upon solid biblical exegesis. One can
order a fully developed exposition of the system from Southeastern Free Will
Baptist College.

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