The heresy of Pelegiansim - in modern dress
Many people believe that God wants to save every single person in the world, but of course, he leaves it up to us whether we want to go to heaven or not. For, it is said, “God’s won’t take us to heaven screaming and kicking. He respects our will too much to do that!”
The idea that man’s “free will” is the deciding factor in salvation is so prevalent today and yet...Scripture is decidedly against it. For instance: “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16).
Indeed, when we repent and turn to Christ, we do so because we want to do so. But we do so because God changes our will! In the words of the Westminster Confession, “When God converts a sinner, and transfers him to the state of grace, he frees him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good” (Chapter 9:4). As proof-texts it gives Colossians 1:13, John 8:34-36, Philippians 2:13 and Romans 6:18,22.
In spite of the Bible’s insistence that our salvation depends upon God’s mercy alone (and not on anything we do), the church is still enmeshed in many practices that virtually oppose God’s free grace. I will point out a few of them.
1. The so-called "altar call." This practice assumes that man, upon hearing the gospel, "can decide for Jesus Christ." It is said that it is incumbent upon man to come and pray and "receive Christ," assuming all the time that man is the deciding factor in salvation.
This "third evangelical sacrament," so popular today, is tantamount to denying the Spirit's work of regeneration (not with the lips perhaps, but certainly with the action). Only when man is born again can he really repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, as presented to us in the gospel. Also, the altar call denigrates the Spirit’s sovereign ministry, who works when and where and how he pleases (John 3:7,8).
It is not the preacher who calls, but the Father in heaven. "No man can come to me unless the Father which hath sent me draw him..." (John 6:44). The preacher has no idea when and whom the Father is pleased to draw to his Son.
2. Pelagianism is present in the church today, both by what is being taught and by what is not being taught. I find that the virtual absence of any mention of original sin in the ministry of many preachers indicates the virus of Pelagianism. I have sometimes heard that infants and children are "saved” until the "age of accountability," which they generally place at sometime during teenage years.
Isn’t' this Pelagianism, and a shameful neglect of Romans 5:12ff.?
3. Christians who adopt the theory of evolution or even theistic evolution are walking in the steps of Pelagius. For evolution teaches that death existed for millions of years before man appeared on the scene. It also teaches that death is man's natural end, exactly as Pelagius taught.
This is a denial of the biblical doctrine, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
4. The Wesleyan idea of conditional election is Pelagian. If God chooses man upon his foreseen faith, then it is no election at all. It is simply God's endorsement and approval of man's act.
Thus Arminians are simply Pelagians who play hide and seek with Scripture. They cannot get rid of the doctrine of predestination; thus they twist it to mean something completely different, which actually exalts man instead of God.
Arminianism, which is Pelagianism in a more sophisticated garb, therefore despises Romans 9 and Ephesians 1, where election shines brightest.
5. Christians who deny the perseverance of the saints tend to be Pelagic, for they unwittingly make their salvation to depend on their walk and holiness, at least to a certain extent. Just as they willed to be saved, they can will to become lost again. But holiness is a result of salvation, not its basis.
Such Christians disregard Scripture testimony such as Jude 24-25, John 10: 27-29 and Romans 8:31-39.
Do you see yourself shut up exclusively to God’s undeserving mercy?