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Calvinist vs. Arminian: A Great Debate, or Failure to Notice? - Comments (0)

Printer Friendly Category: Articles,Doctrine
Author: John Malone
Date: 24th February, 2014 @ 11:19:23 PM

The major argument between Calvinists and Arminians is a failure to rightly understand the {two justifications of Abraham as pointed out in James 2:21-24.

This so-called “great debate” is attributable to a few oversights in the passage itself. So let me make a few observations:

  1. The question in verse 21 is a rhetorical one with the answer “yes” implied. Therefore, the statement is definite that Abraham was justified by works WHEN he offered Isaac his son on the altar. This event occurred approximately 60 years after Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6.
  2. This advancement in Abraham’s life is said to be a matter of works working with his faith to make it MATURE (v. 22).
  3. The Scripture therefore was fulfilled, because Abraham was “called the friend of God.”
  4. So you see that a man is justified by works, and not only faith.
  5. There is a justification by works that follows a justification by faith.

#1. The main subject here is, “When.” So few seem to even see this. Abraham was justified by works about 60 years or so after he was justified by faith. For many of us that’s a lifetime. It’s late in his life.

Abraham looks and sees the place (of the skull? I think so.) from far off.

When we look at the account of this sacrifice of Isaac, we see the outline of Gods testing of the faith of His children.  Abraham has forward-looking (mature, “now”) faith. He sets forth according to the Word of God (therefore by faith).

He promises those who stay behind that he and the lad, 33-year-old Isaac, will return . It is the case that Abraham – and more particularly Isaac – are going the way of the cross, Isaac bearing the wood for his own sacrifice. He assures Isaac that God will provide a lamb.

By faith, Abraham receives Isaac from the dead.

#2. Abraham’s faith was made mature by this work. He had to look forward according to his hope, even forward beyond the grave. He was embracing a far-off promise. We are told he looked for a city that had foundations. Mature faith is forward-working faith. Beginning faith looks backward, to the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Beginning faith is justifying faith. Mature faith is justifies its holder by works. Later. For us, this is the faith tested by fire at the judgment seat of Christ, before which we shall all stand

#3. Abraham’s 2nd justification resulted in an accolade. AND, the Scriptures say, Abraham was called the friend of God! Not all was fulfilled about Abraham at Gen 15:6. Not all is fulfilled about you or I, brother, until the great and ominous judgment seat of Christ! Will we be justified by works, having them tested, and then receive an accolade from God? Will He say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”|Mat 25:21}

After all, we are His friends, IF AND ONLY IF we do what He commands.

Yet we are His children, having been born again by faith in the Great Substitute, our Lord Jesus Christ. And that is true, my brother, no matter what you do, before or after you receive Him.

#4. So, there you can see it. If the Calvinists and Arminians would see this, they would realize their “Great Debate” is based on things that differ. Things that require a more detailed look. But they won’t look because they love their argument. What a shame.

#5. There are two justifications, and Abraham experienced both of them. So, you see, a man is [also] justified by works, and not by faith only. It’s the “when,” and the viewpoint, that distinguishes them.

Now, brethren, carry on with your argument. Arminian, keep making-believe your eternal life is in jeopardy, because you can’t distinguish these justifications. And Calvinist, keep playing “fruit inspector” and telling brethren who don’t meet your standard “not really saved.” “Eighteen inches from salvation: head to heart.”

Keep on your phony argument, and let the rest of us go on to maturity, if God permits.

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