Arminian Presuppostion#7 Refuted

Arminian Presupposition #7. The Holy Spirit convicts all sinners in the same way, and it is this conviction that causes some sinners to believe the gospel.

Perhaps it will surprise you to know there is but one reference to the Spirit’s work of “conviction” in the New Testament Scriptures (John 16:8-11). It may be helpful in dealing with this Arminian presuppostion to consider these verses in some detail. There are several issues we need to investigate in regard to the Holy Spirit’s work in the sinner’s conversion. First, we should investigate the phrase “The Holy Spirit convicts.” Second, we should consider the contention that the Spirit convicts “ALL sinners.” Third, we should consider the idea that the Spirit convicts all sinners “in the same way.” And finally, we need to examine the idea that it is this work of conviction causes some sinners to believe the gospel, while others successfully resist his best efforts.

What does the Bible mean when it says “He will convict the world of sin?” We have been led to believe the Spirit’s work of conviction involves making people feel guilty for their sins so they will leave their sins and believe in Christ. We are told of people who are “under conviction,” which means they are feeling guilty. Sinners may and should feel guilty under this ministry of the Spirit, but the action itself is not the eliciting of feelings of guilt, but the pressing of the evidence on the sinner’s consciousness.

The reality is, “conviction” is about guilt, not about feeling guilty. I am not denying that a feeling of guilt may follow. I am simply saying that it is the proof of guilt not the feeling of sense of guilt that should follow that is in view. Whether the sense of guilt follows or not, the Spirit has done his work in pressing the evidence on the sinner’s conscience. Sinners who remain unregenerate will continue to “resist” [to fall against, or throw oneself against] the Spirit. In this sense the Spirit can be and always is resisted.

The word translated “convict” concerns demonstrating guiltiness. It is the same word Jesus used when he asked, “Which of you convinces me of sin” (John 8:46)? He did not mean to say, “which one of you can make me feel guilty of sin.” Instead, he meant which of you can present convincing proof that I am guilty of sin. The word means “to convince with proofs.” The Spirit’s work is not to make sinners feel guilty but to prove them guilty. A prosecuting attorney does not care whether the accused feels guilty or not. His job is to prove him guilty before the court. The Spirit’s work is to act as a prosecuting attorney. In conjunction with gospel proclamation, his work is to press the evidence of the sinner’s guilt, to convince with proofs. Whenever “the world” is confronted by the gospel, it is brought to a position in which it can no longer gainsay the evidence. It must either come to the light or reject it. As the Paraclete bears witness concerning Jesus, through the witness of the Christian community, the world is brought face to face with stark reality concerning its guilt and the consequent judgment. This work of the Spirit is quite specific. He will convince the world with proofs regarding three issues–sin, righteousness and judgment. The particular sin concerning which the Spirit prosecutes sinners is the crowning sin of Christ rejection. This is a continuation of Jesus’ earthly ministry. His ministry was always an “in your face” confrontation concerning the natural person’s failure to love God and hostility toward God. In the previous chapter he had informed his disciples that because they were not of the world, the world would hate them. He, then, told them the world would hate them because it hated him first and that it hated him because it hated the one who sent him. Proper gospel proclamation coupled with the Spirit’s ministry of pressing convincing proofs of the sinner’s guilt on his conscience will leave sinners no quarter in which to conceal themselves. Jesus said, sinners continue in their guilt and condemnation because “they do not believe on me.” Thus, the sin in view is a sin against clear revelation. This is in keeping not only with Jesus’ teaching during his earthly ministry but also with the clear theme of light vs. darkness in John’s gospel. He wrote, “This is the condemnation that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. . . .”(John 3:19). Those Jesus calls “the world” always react in the same way toward him. The same is true of the Spirit’s ministry when he testifies [or causes believers to testify] of Jesus in the proclamation of the gospel. Stephen said to the Jews to whom he was preaching, “. . .you stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). “Always” it the key word in this sentence. Sinners in a state of nature will ALWAYS be guilty of the sin of Christ rejection.

Additionally, the Spirit will produce convincing evidence concerning righteousness. “Of righteousness because I go to the Father and you see me no more.” The evidence of Jesus’ righteousness is that he has gone to the Father and they see him no more. Only a righteous one could enter the Father’s presence and be accepted. This also offers a contrast to their imagined righteousness. Official Judaism had treated Jesus as a sinner, a lunatic, a demon-possessed person, but never as the righteous one he was in reality. The Spirit will press home the evidence that Jesus is all he claimed to be.

Finally, the Spirit will produce convincing evidence of coming judgment. That Jesus is exalted to the throne gives indisputable evidence that the ruler of this world has been judged [stands condemned]. Jesus’ triumph over the wicked one in his death, not only provides convincing proof of their judgment concerning him, but also of their impending condemnation.

I find it interesting that in Peter’s Spirit inspired sermon on the day of Pentecost, his message included these three elements. Of sin–“you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”(v. 23). Of righteousness–resurrection and ascension–“God raised him up (v. 24). Of judgment–Jesus is enthroned, “Sit at my right hand, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES YOUR FOOTSTOOL” (v.35).

As we consider John’s teaching on these facets of the Spirit’s ministry it should become clear to us that this ministry is not carried on apart from the gospel witness. Since this is the case, there are certain conclusions that must follow:

1. Only if everyone in “the world” hears the gospel can every member of the human race be the subjects of this work of the Spirit. John apparently used the word “world” to indicate either the wicked and ungodly character of those whom the Spirit convicts in this way or that his ministry would be to people of every nation. It is possible it was a combination of these meanings. What is certain is that the Spirit does not “convict” every member of the human race.

2. If the Spirit does not convict “all,” he certainly does not convict all in the same way. However, there is no way of knowing with what variation of fervency the Spirit prosecutes those he convicts. My belief would be that the Spirit convicts all in the same manner.

3. Finally, in regard to the idea that “This work of conviction causes some sinners to believe the gospel, while others successfully resist his best efforts,” it seems to me the Scripture is clear. The Spirit’s work of “conviction,” in and of itself, is not successful in bringing sinners to faith any more than the gospel has the power, in itself, to bring sinners to faith. Consider Stephen’s words again–“. . .you always resist the Holy Spirit . . . .” The gospel is always foolishness to those who are perishing. What sinners need is not proof of guilt alone. What we need is a radial change of nature. The Spirit’s work of “conviction,” although essential and important, is not the only work God performs in bring his elect to himself through faith in Christ. It is God’s effectual call that unites sinners to Christ and ushers us into the blessings of the new covenant and the new creation to which it belongs. This work he performs in accordance with his eternal purpose.

Though I am not sure exactly what they meant by the following statement, even the Remonstrants admitted that faith is impossible apart from regeneration. They wrote,

Saving Faith.—Man in his fallen state is unable to accomplish any thing really and truly good, and therefore also unable to attain to saving faith, unless he be regenerated and renewed by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit (John xv. 5). (Third Article of the Remonstrance of the Arminians).


21 Responses to “Arminian Presuppostion#7 Refuted”

  1. January 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    “Saving Faith.—Man in his fallen state is unable to accomplish any thing really and truly good, and therefore also unable to attain to saving faith, unless he be regenerated and renewed by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit (John xv. 5). (Third Article of the Remonstrance of the Arminians).”

    I don’t know what was meant at the time it was written either, The terms regeneration and renewal on their faces don’t seem to mean some sort of mere prevenient grace that is something less than either one. I

    • January 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Whatever the original Arminians meant, they clearly wouldn’t make such a statement today unless by “regeneration” they meant prevenient grace and most would not even know the term. Most today, I think, would use the term “conviction” and not really know what it means.

      Sent from my iPad

  2. January 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Your restatement of article of the remonstrance caused me to pause. I’ve read many versions of the Arminian document, did not recall any statement like the one you posted. Went and researched it again. One must really read all 5 articles to see the thread of heresy that holds it together.

    • January 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Did the version you read have the statement I posted? It clearly seems to contradict the position they set forth, unless, of course they are using a different definition of regeneration.

      Sent from my iPad

      • January 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        Here’s the version I pulled up last night – http://www.theopedia.com/Five_articles_of_Remonstrance

        Whereas, here’s the paraphrase (art 3) that I had saved from a reformed web site a few years ago:

        “Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe in Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone’s sins. Christ’s redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.”

        I think the people who paraphrased went out of their way to make sure Arminian heresy was in plain site in each sentence. Not sure it’s a valid paraphrase.

    • January 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm


      In the version I am reading, articles three and four seem clearly contradictory. What is clear is that no modern Arminian would believe regeneration precedes and cause faith. Additionally, my experience with them is they believe “conviction” is the only thing the Spirit does in the process of conversion.

      Sent from my iPad

      • January 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

        My experience with modern Arminians is similar – one must believe to be born again. A misunderstanding of what Jesus is teaching Nicodemus in John 3. This reminds me of a horrible line I’ve heard from more than one SBC pastor – a person must belong (to the church) before they can believe. barf

      • January 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm

        In a sense we are being charitable to these folks in referring to them as “Arminians.” In reality, the original Arminians were much closer to the truth. Many of these are much more closely allied with the Pelagians.

        Sent from my iPad

      • January 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        I think the paraphrase Art. 3 you read corresponds to Art. 2 in the Five Articles of the Remonstrances. It is a pretty fair representation of that Article.

        Sent from my iPad

    • January 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      It is the “resistibility” statement in Art. 4 and the Calvinists’ response that has given ground to the charge we believe God “forces” sinners to believe. I thing effectual enablement is a much better way to describe our position than “irresistible” grace. I am writing the next article in this series on “calling” universal or effectual. I believe “calling” or “drawing” is the term most commonly used in the New Testament Epistles/John’s Gospel to describe the divine activity in the sinner’s conversion. Sent from my iPad

  3. January 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    When confronted with the apparent contradictions in the Articles of the Remonstrants I have to remember they were written ‘against’ something.

  4. October 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Did u contradicted yourself to say the spirit will not convict all/everybody when it said it so clearly . The world in Greek means everyone in this passage but not everyone will accept it but some will reject the offer of free grace.

    • October 17, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      No, I wrote exactly what I intended to write and there is no contradiction unless you are so simplistic that you think that “kosmos” always refers to every single person without exception. How could the Spirit reprove every person of the specific sin of Christ rejection if not every person has even heard of Christ? The “reproof” that Jesus spoke of is one that accompanies the preaching of the gospel. Everything the Spirit witnesses, he witnesses in conjunction with the preaching of that message.

  5. October 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Unfortunately, you are demonstrating your ignorance of the issues the early church was discussing as well as the usage of the word Kosmos in the NT Scriptures. That doesn’t even take into account your ignorance of our doctrines. I would suggest that you watch my YouTube Series called “Burning Straw Dummies” to learn what the real issues are in this debate.

    Since you are the one claiming that “world” must refer to every person distributively, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that from a careful word study of kosmos in the NT Scriptures. John tells us “the world” did not know Jesus but in the following verses makes it clear that there are some in the human family who did know him. Had they ceased to be part of the human race? Were the Jewish leaders actually afraid that every member of the human race was going to follow Jesus? You need to show not that there is one example of the world “kosmos” that includes the entire human family but you need to show that it can mean nothing other than the entire human family every time it is used in the NT Scriptures. For example, show me how the word “kosmos” means every person without exception since it is used to designate the Gentiles as opposed to the Jewish people (Rom 11:12). The burning issue in the early church was not how many people God loved, for how many people Christ died, or how many people the Holy Spirit would reprove. It was whether the blessing of redemption was universal or not, i.e., was it for the covenant nation alone or was it for people of every nation. Can Gentiles come to the fount of blessing as Gentiles or must they be circumcised and become part of the covenant nation? If you ask the wrong questions you will continue to give the wrong answers.

    I understand that you are approaching this issue with your synergistic blinders on and therefore cannot see the truth. You have made several statements for which you have not even attempted to offer biblical evidence. There is nothing in the text of Scripture that suggests that the Spirit “inclines” anyone to come near to God. Additionally, the point you have missed is that sinners “ALWAYS” resist the Holy Spirit. In a state of sinful nature, people universally hate the light, believe the gospel is foolishness, and persist in resisting the Holy Spirit as he reproves sinners in conjunction with gospel preaching. Your burden is to show how that persistent resistence is overcome in the conversion process. There is not a single verse in any didactic passage of the NT that indicates that that issue is resolved by the power of free will. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “It [the manifestation of God’s glory in the demonstration of his mercy] is not of him who wills or of him who runs but of God who shows mercy. Perhaps you should ask yourself a searching quesition. If God intends to save every person on earth without exception, why doesn’t he insure that every person without exception will at least hear the gospel? He is the one who must send preachers “How shall they preach unless they are sent?” Who sends? God does. He controls to whom they are sent (See Acts 16:6-10). When God calls a person to preach, that person is under constraint to preach the gospel (see 1 Cor. 9:16). Surely God’s universal revelation of his glory in the creation is sufficient to leave sinners without a legal defense but it is not sufficient to bring them to saving faith. Surely God could do more to bring everyone to Christ if he truly wanted to.

    You don’t even seem to understand the doctrines we teach. That is clear from your post that is filled with Straw Man arguments. Your implication is that we don’t believe in the free proclamation of God’s good news to every sinner we meet. That is a misrepresentation of our doctrine. If you are going to make accusations, you must, at least, provide some basis for those accusations. For example, bring an example from a major Calvinistic confession of Faith or from a reputable Calvinist who states that the gospel is to be preached to the elect alone and not to sinners indiscriminately. Additionally, work on your capitalization and puncutation. Your writing style is deplorable. Finally, If you are going to continue to comment here, you need to read the rules. If you continues to make statements like “Irresistible grace is a doctrine of Satan,” you will be blocked from this site. Please remember that posting here is a privilege and not a right.

    • October 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Sir u obviously don’t know Greek the Greek word kosmos comes with different variations and please stop with long replies your long answer didn’t prove much. Do u know what Jesus meant by John 3:16 Or 1 John 2:15 the same Greek word and the same variation as kosmon. Also it is used in the passage of John 16:8 where Jesus will convict the world of sin. The Greek word for world here is also kosmon. If I heard u correctly did u just say offer the gospel only to the elect. That is so unbiblical. The gospel is too be offered to all sure u will tell me you don’t know who the elect are so u preach too everyone but then god will basically be giving u a false command since your Calvinist god pre decreed that they don’t believe. How does that make sense for a god too already fix someone’s destiny to end up in heaven or hell. Then say that the gospel is too be preach to all. Do u know what grace is. The spirit of grace is the holy ghost. And Jesus said he will send the holy ghost to the world to convict it of sin. Grace is offered to all. That means men on there on free will can accept or reject that grace. See Hebrew’s 10:26-29 Paul is talking to believers and warning them not to sin willfully now why would Paul warn the elect not to sin willfully if god with his 100% sureness knows that they will never perish. Its clear that true believers are always told to endure through the end to be saved. We also see that the holy ghost can be resisted in acts 7:51. You also said that if god intends to save every men without exception then why doesn’t he. Don’t u know the difference between god desired will and his decreed will. Do u know what incline means it means to be disposed torwards. It is not irresistible as u seem to be confused about. Free will does matter just because I said it does it does not mean iam a synergist. Salvation/grace is 100% from god now u seem to be misinterpreting me.

      Here is my definition
      Salvation is available for all without exception to accept or reject it
      Luke 3:6 all flesh shall see gods salvation

      But only for those who believe will be regenerated with the holy ghost.
      Romans 1:16

      Free will does exist so deal with it. If u deny free will u deny the word of god.

      And sir I do see the truth. Just because I believe in free will does not mean im a synergist.

      Of course god wants all to be saved it doesn’t mean all will be saved. Even Matt slick owner of carom.org agrees

      You said said that sinners always resist the holy spirit. In a state of rebellion

      Then ill tell u if Jesus knows a 100% sure that sinners will always resist the holy spirit then why would he send the spirit to all without exception to be convicted. And just because you are inclined to do something it does not mean u have to practice it. Do u really believe if someone struggles with porn and has a lusty sinful nature. His genetics are gonna force him to do it NOOOO!!!!!! It is your desire. Now please read this carefully

      Then u will say that is because Jesus will not send the holy ghost to all without exception.

      Then ill will say that u deny the free offer of grace to all without exception.
      As i mentioned before in Luke 3:6
      What about revelation 22:17 im surprised Calvinist never read into these passages or else it will affect there theology.

      Then u will say I don’t know who the elect are so I preach to everyone I see.

      Then ill will say again god is being deceptive such a god is not the god of the bible. God cannot lie.

      God doesn’t control what we do.
      U seem to quote Romans 9 dealing with it is not of him who wills or he that run it is god who show mercy.

      Do u know the context of that verse
      Here is what it really means

      It is not of man that will or man that run it is of god who show mercy.

      Now lets compare that to here.
      Proverbs 16:1 and verse 9
      Says that men has the desire to plan his way. But god is the one who gives the answer.

      Right back to here Romans 9:16
      So righteousness does not depend on mans work but on gods mercy/grace
      Gods mercy is his grace .

      Romans 4:16

      Romans 10 talks all about the gentiles not submitting to gods righteousness by faith but by reliance of the works of the law.

      U can’t just read one chapter u gotta read the whole book and always the whole counsel of god.

  6. October 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Well, as I said, given your presuppostions further discussion with you on these issues will be futile. God’s saving grace does not appear to all without exception. Paul is not talking about grace offered but about grace that saves. Without the article “all” indicates “all kinds of.” Even apart from the Greek, it should be clear that God’s saving grace does not appear to all without exception. Those to whom it appears are taught to deny ungodliness etc. Unless you begin to understand the issue that was being discussed in the 1 st century, this will never be clear to you. You don’t honestly believe God promised to pour out his Spirit on every human being without exception do you?

    I think it is a good idea that this is your last comment. I have written copiously on these issues. I have several books on Amazon Kindle and will soon be publishing another called “Authentic Evangelism and Its Counterfeit.” I would suggest that if you wish to interact with me on these issues, you do so after educating yourself on these issues. I have to confess that if find your your unwarranted assumptions insufferable.

  7. October 18, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    If you read my forthcoming book, you will find a discussion of this one passage in the NT that speaks of the Holy Spirit reproving. No one believes that the Spirit’s work of reproving is irresistible. I am weary of your ignorance of the issues. If you wish to discuss this with some other Calvinist, I would suggest that you first understand our doctrine. I don’t suffer fools gladly.

  8. October 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm


    Just so you know, I earned a ThM from Westminster Theological Seminary in New Testament studies and I can assure you that required a great deal of work in the Greek NT. I am not sure where you studied Greek, but the evidence of your study is woefully lacking. You don’t even do that well with English. What I am saying is take your attitude and your insults somewhere else. As I stated before, I am not going to tolerate your insults and your total lack of understanding of our views. I will summarily delete all future comments you post.

    • October 18, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      Gosh Randy – you mean the world “world” doesn’t ALWAYS mean all people everywhere without exception? I’ve heard Frank Page say otherwise. And that view gets very interesting in John 12, which I was listening to during lunch. Jesus had raised Lazarus and people were going after Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” (verse 19) According to Page and his ilk, the Pharisees trying to kill Him were included in those who for Him, because they were in the world and that term included EVERYONE!

      Simple-minded hermeneutics make my mind hurt.

      • October 18, 2016 at 10:51 pm

        Mine too my brother. It is a presuppostion they can’t seem to shake. It is virtually impossible to get any of them to define words based on their usage in the NT Scriptures. For some reason they insist on ignoring the issues that were being discussed in the first century and impose an artificial meaning that it will not bear in the NT. Then, they have the unmitigated gall to comment here and tell us our doctrine is Satanic. That dog ain’t gonna hunt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: