Do Arminians believe the saving message?
Someone asked that question in light of their denial of the doctrine of eternal security. Actually, some Arminians even say that eternal security is positively evil (see here)!
What is the saving message? It is Jesus’ promise of eternal life.
And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life (1 John 2:25).
You can think of that promise in terms of a condition and a consequence.
- The condition is a single act of believing that the promise of life is true.
- The consequence is eternal life as a present possession that cannot be lost.
You need both A and B to have the promise of life. If you deny either, you deny the promise.
Given that, do Arminians believe the saving message if they reject eternal security?
Arminians explicitly deny B. They teach you can lose your eternal life. They also often deny that eternal life is a present possession. Instead, they believe it is a future goal that you can hit or miss (i.e., “final salvation”). Hence, Arminians do not believe the consequence of the promise of life.
Arminians also implicitly deny A. How so? By denying eternal security. They say you can lose your eternal life by sinning, by not doing good, or by not persevering in the faith. In other words, because they deny eternal security, Arminians say it is not enough to simply believe. You need to do other things to be born again or to stay born-again. Hence, they deny the condition of the promise of life.
By denying both A and B, it is clear to me that Arminianism, as a school of theology, denies the saving message. While they may believe many true things about Jesus, they do not believe His promise of eternal life.
This raises a related issue: is eternal security essential to the saving message? I think it is. That is what Grace Evangelical Society holds. So do many Southern Baptists. But not everyone agrees, even among Free Grace people.
Some say that eternal security is a benefit that believers get without having to know about it or believing in it. They note there are nearly forty positional benefits that believers get at the moment of faith (e.g., a new creation, foreknown, qualified for inheritance, adopted, appointed a priest, etc.). You do not need to understand or to believe all those benefits to be saved, including the benefit of eternal security.
I disagree. Eternal security is different. It’s not just a side-benefit but part of the saving message itself, as I demonstrated above. It is essential to both the condition and the consequence of what Jesus promised.
You can be ignorant about the priesthood of all believers and still believe the promise.
You can be fuzzy about your life on the new earth, yet know that Jesus gives you eternal life through faith.
You can be clueless about your spiritual gift and know that salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone.
But can you deny eternal security and still believe the promise?
No, you can’t, for all the reasons I mentioned above. Eternal security is central to the saving message. It is essential to both the condition and the consequence of the promise of life. If you deny it, you deny the salvation that God offers.
If any Arminian reads this, I pray they would read what Jesus promised about eternal life and believe what He said.