Arminian Presuppostion #5 Refuted

Arminian Presuppostion #5. Sinners are not condemned because of sin, but only because of unbelief.

In his book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen posited only three possibilities regarding the design and extent of Christ’s death. He died for:

1. All the sins of all men, or

2. Some of the sins of all men, or

3. All the sins of some men.

Assuming Christ’s death was, as the Scriptures uniformly represent it to have been, an accomplishment and not a mere provision, he could not have died for all the sins of all men else all would be saved, and the Scriptures clearly teach us that will not be the case. If he died for some of the sins of all men, then there are some sins remaining for which the sinner himself must atone. In such a case, no one would be saved since sinners cannot make atonement for their own sins. If he died for all the sins of some men, namely, the elect, then all for whom he died would be effectively redeemed.

The presupposition we are considering here is based on the assumption that Jesus’ intention in sacrificing himself was either to save all sinners or to make all sinners savable by satisfying God’s wrath for all their sins. If he satisfied for all their sins, the question remains, why are they not all saved? The answer of the Arminians and their Amyraldian friends is that Christ’s work of redemption was universal, but is limited in its application to only those who believe the gospel. In the case of the Amyraldians, that application was guaranteed by God’s decree of election. According to both these views, the work of Christ was a mere provision, and not an accomplishment. That, incidently, is the real issue that separates Calvinists and Arminians, not the sufficiency of Christ’s death. It follows, then, that the issue between the sinner and God is no longer sins, but only the sinner’s refusal to believe the gospel.

There are several questions I feel compelled to ask in regard to this presupposition:

1. What is it that sinners must reject in order to be condemned? If it is the gospel sinners must reject to become condemned, we would do them a favor by withholding the gospel from them.

2. Do sinners become condemned when they are confronted with a divine self-disclosure and reject it, or were they already condemned? There was an evangelist named Oliver Green from Greenville, S.C. who popularized the phrase, “It is no longer the sin question; it is now the Son question.” He based his view on John 3:18, “. . .whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The implication of this teaching is that sinners are condemned by an act of Christ rejection. What he failed to take into account is that it is the sin question that makes the Son question necessary. What the text actually teaches is not that an act of rejecting Christ condemns sinners but that a sinner continues in a state of condemnation (perfect tense–he already stands condemned) because he continues in a state of unbelief. Sinners are already condemned because of sin apart from any exposure to the gospel. Through faith in Christ, believers are justified because they are united to him who came under condemnation and satisfied all God’s righteous demands. If sinners already stand condemned apart from exposure to the gospel, what is it that condemns them if not their sins?

If you will permit me an illustration–Suppose with me there is an inmate on death row who has been found guilty of numerous crimes by a jury of his peers. He has exhausted all his appeals and is scheduled for execution within hours. Now suppose the governor of the state in which he is imprisoned grants him a full pardon. If he accepts the pardon, he will no longer be under condemnation, but will be a free man. The problem is, there are a couple of issues preventing his acceptance of the pardon. The governor is his bitter enemy whom he does not trust and fears he has an ulterior motive in granting his pardon. Additionally, he is afraid his acceptance of the pardon will be an implicit admission of his guilt. As unreasonable as it sounds, the man refuses the governor’s pardon and goes to his death by execution. Here is the question–Since he has refused the pardon, is he now no longer under condemnation for and being executed for his original crimes but only for refusing the pardon? No, he already stood condemned for those crimes. Nothing changed when he refused the pardon. He simply remained under the sentence the court imposed on him for his crimes.

In the same way, those who refuse the free offer of the gospel, though now under an aggravated condemnation for rejecting even greater light, continue in the same state of condemnation they were in prior to rejecting the gospel.

3. If, as the Arminian believes, God foresaw the faith of those who would become believers and chose [decreed] to save them on that basis, why would Jesus give himself, contrary to the Father’s decree, to satisfy God’s righteous demands and propitiate his wrath for those he knew would perish in unbelief. Did God intend what he did not decree? Even if we granted that the Arminian is correct in his belief that election is based on foreseen faith, we would still be left with a decree of election. The only difference is that in the Calvinistic system God knows what he has decreed and in the Arminian system God decrees what he knows or foresees. Either way, the outcome is determined beforehand. If God knows something will happen before it occurs, is it not certain to occur? Did Jesus really give himself to provide something he knew full well was contrary to the Father’s decree?

4. Since unbelief is a sin, and sinners can perish as a result of it, is it not a sin for which Jesus did not make satisfaction? In that case, he could not have died for all the sins of all sinners. Does the sinner make satisfaction for it by believing, and, if so, does not his faith become a meritorious act? Unbelief is not a one time act but a state of existence. A simple act of faith cannot atone for a lifetime of unbelief.

5. If sinners do no perish because of their sins, how is it that “The wrath of God is being revealed [present tense] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness? (Rom. 1:18). If Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for all the sins of all sinners, how can that wrath be being revealed against sinners now? Either Jesus satisfied it or he didn’t.

6. If sinners do not perish because of their sins, how could the apostle Paul write,

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:3-6)?

He wrote that “because of these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience.” He did not write that because of unbelief the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience. What are the things for which God’s wrath falls on the sons of disobedience? They are “sexual immorality and all impurity, covetousness, filthiness and foolish talking and crude joking, idolatry.

I fail to see how one could escape the conclusion that God’s wrath comes on sinners because of their sins. Disobedience and unbelief are simply symptoms of our depravity.


5 Responses to “Arminian Presuppostion #5 Refuted”

  1. January 13, 2013 at 1:12 am

    This none sense that a man must reject the gospel in order to be condemned is just as ludicrous as saying infants are saved until they sin, because there is that verse that says we are judged according to the sins we’ve committed (2 Corinthians 5:10). Hence, the kindest thing we could do would be to kill babies before they can do this. Both are just a silly as believing cats and dogs are the same critter.

    You are doing the body of Christ a GREAT service in publishing these exposes on the heresy known as Arminianism.

    • January 13, 2013 at 1:20 am


      Thank you for your encouragement. I am considering publishing these articles in booklet form. I would appreciate it if you would let me know of any areas in them that need clarification or expansion.

      • January 13, 2013 at 1:39 am

        Randy, Off the top of my pointy head I don’t know of any issues that I would recommend changes to. Excellent work. Would it be acceptable to you if I put these in the free digital Baptist library I maintain and give away?

      • January 13, 2013 at 2:36 am

        Yes, that would be great. I am not in this to make money but to spread the truth. You might wish to wait for the entire work to be finished and have some other eyes on it to look for errors. What do you think?

      • January 13, 2013 at 2:40 am

        Many thanks! I have your blog on my RSS reader, so every time you post something I get there. I will be looking for more of your excellent articles. How many more on this series? If you would like a copy of the library, let me know. It’s about 6GB with 1,650 or so books and articles and sermons – protestant history, Baptist history, Baptist theology and doctrine and about $300 worth of copyrighted material I’ve been given permission to include.

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