I received a call from a man I knew years ago. We will call him Frank. I had not talked with Frank in ten or fifteen years. He used to be a solid Free Grace guy. But no longer.
We spoke for nearly an hour. Frank wanted to warn me that I am teaching heresy and that I am leading many people astray. He was hoping to get me to convert to Arminianism.
Here are some of the points Frank made that I thought were significant:
- True faith is not simply believing some facts. While it includes believing facts, true faith is primarily trust. It is turning away from our sinful ways and turning to the Lord. It is wrong to tell people that faith is merely being convinced.
- While Frank is an Arminian who believes that we can lose our salvation if we fall away, he is currently attending a Calvinist church. Frank said there really is no difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. Both believe and teach that only those who persevere will be saved.
- He said he was bothered that some Free Grace people say that anyone who simply believes in Jesus for everlasting life is eternally secure even if that person lives like the devil; yet these same people say that Arminians are hell bound, even though they love the Lord and serve Him faithfully. I told Frank that I knew he was born again because he once believed the promise of life, and hence, he is secure forever. I told him that if a person ever believed the promise of everlasting life, he remains eternally secure even if he becomes an Arminian. Or even if he were to become an atheist. Once a person is saved, he is saved forever. Of course, if a person has never believed the promise of life, then he is not yet saved. That is why Free Grace people are concerned about those who believe in Lordship Salvation and works salvation.
- Frank had an interesting understanding of John 10:27-28. He started our conversation by saying that many FG people “cherry pick John 10:28 and the Lord’s statement, ‘And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.’” He went on to say that we must understand John 10:28 in light of John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” I said, “Let me see if I understand. Are you saying that all who hear His voice and follow Him are His sheep, have eternal life, and are eternally secure?” He said, “No. They are His sheep. They have eternal life. But a person only keeps eternal life and will not perish if he continues to follow Christ. If he stops following Christ, then he loses eternal life.” I did not attempt to show him why that does not fit the words of John 10:27-30 or the entire Gospel of John because I knew that would sidetrack our discussion. Nor did I explain what “they follow Me” means. Once he said that lifelong following was needed, it was clear the text was not driving his thinking.
- He indicated that he was convinced that I am a heretic and that I am misleading people. I told him that if he is right, then I am a heretic and I am misleading people. I added that if what I’m saying is right, then he is a heretic and he is misleading people.
- I pointed out that based on his beliefs, Frank could not be sure where he is going when he dies. Nor could he be sure where his wife and children are going when they die. Under his way of thinking, no one can be sure of his eternal destiny until after he dies. I implied, but did not directly say, that this is a sad way to live (and not the way God wants us to live).
- He pointed me to several books by Arminians that had a big influence on his thinking. Sadly, Frank was led astray by the well-intentioned but confused thinking of various modern authors.
We agreed to disagree and ended the conversation in a cordial manner. The funny thing was that I did not feel the need to defend our views. I did not think that Frank was open. So, I did very little to refute his statements. I wanted to hear him out more than anything. And I did. Hopefully the Lord will use our conversation to bring Frank back to the faith. But I’m glad to know he is eternally secure, even if he himself does not know that.