Saturday, March 31, 2007

1st John 5:1

1st John 5:1-15 states: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Have Calvinists taken a passage on the characteristic of a Christian, and rendered it the causation of becoming a Christian?

There is no question that the Holy Spirit gives the new creature in Christ (2Cor 5:17), gifts, among which includes a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) In fact, it is through the Holy Spirit that Christians are able to confess Christ as Lord: "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit." (1st Corinthians 12:3)

In order to understand Calvinism, you must know that one of its most central teachings is that unless a man is made Born Again, he cannot believe in the Gospel. In this way, Calvinism teaches that a man must be made preemptively Born Again in Christ, in order to repent, believe and be saved. Arminianism, in contrast, teaches that a person is not made Born Again in Christ until after he has been sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit, as per Ephesians 1:13. So here you see the divergence. Also realize that a contrast among Calvinism and Arminianism is NOT whether man is depraved, but the solution to man's depravity. Is the solution a preemptive new birth in Christ, as per Calvinism, or is it the supernatural power of the living and active, faith-producing Gospel (Romans 10:17), as per Arminianism? Arminians often ask of Calvinists: Do you believe that the Gospel is powerful enough to persuade any unregenerate sinner to confess his sins and repent? The Arminian feels that the Calvinist answer is "Yes," only if it's accompanied by a preemptive new birth in Christ, which the Arminian ultimately takes as a "No" answer.

So it's here at 1st John 5:1 that the Calvinist attempts to prove that one must be made born of God in order to believe in God and become saved. However, the Arminian protests that such is not the point of the apostle John, who is merely identifying the marks of true Christians, from false pretenders. So is the Arminian protest, a valid one?

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