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How and Why Do We Come to Christ? The Different Answers


From S. Lewis Johnson’s Systematic Theology series, this message provides a good summary look at how different groups answer the question:   How and why do we come to Christ?  Herein we see the distinctions between Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Arminians and other variations of belief.

Pelagians:  We come by ourselves.

  • Attributes salvation to our human will and denies total depravity.  S. Lewis Johnson observed “Adam when he fell was the first Pelagian.”

Semi-Pelagians:  I wanted to come, and God helped me.

  • Denies prevenient grace (grace exercised by God on us, before we come to Christ), but admits “cooperative grace” occurs if I choose to come.

Arminians:  God gives me sufficient grace to come, because Christ died, and I cooperate.

  •  Believes that men are depraved.  But Jesus Christ in His death provided sufficient grace for men — which becomes efficient grace when we cooperate with it.

Lutherans:  God brought me and I did not resist.

  • This variation believes that men are totally depraved, but thinks that God’s grace is resistible.  When a  man comes to Christ, he comes by virtue of God’s grace. But if he does not come it is because he resists God’s grace.

Calvinists: God brought me to Christ.

  •  As expressed by Jonah (Jonah 2:9), Salvation is of the Lord.

For all of these differences in the theology, we note, though, that “in a practical way, most genuine Christians respond the same way to the life of God.”  We pray to God believing He is able to do something.

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  1. Truth2Freedom
    July 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. james jordan
    July 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    God after the fall was the first Pelagian. You know, when he tells Cain: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, behold sin crouches at the door and its desire is to have you — yet, you can master it.” Too bad Calvinists and Augustinians rely on a medieval misreading of Genesis rather than actually reading it for themselves.

    • July 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

      James, I don’t know your background, but such a view is NOT biblical Christianity. That is a classic Pelagian idea, that if God gave a command the people must be able to obey it. But that runs completely contrary to the whole of scripture — the whole point is man’s inability and God’s grace and mercy to fallen, wicked mankind. Yes, man is a responsible moral agent, and has the duty to repent, to turn to God — but that is only one side of the truth, the other being that no man will come to God except God first does the work in him.

  3. July 6, 2013 at 5:32 am

    “For all of these differences in the theology, we note, though, that “in a practical way, most genuine Christians respond the same way to the life of God.” We pray to God believing He is able to do something.”
    I think this hits the nail on the head.I love the words of this hymn:

    I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
    he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me.
    It was not I that found, O Savior true;
    no, I was found of thee.

    Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
    I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
    ‘Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
    as thou, dear Lord, on me.

    I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
    of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
    For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
    always thou lovedst me.

    • July 6, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Thanks for sharing, Tom. And often the hymns reflect better understanding of salvation than the head-level theology, as in examples from the Wesley brothers.

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