By Shawn Lazar and Bob Wilkin
We are all familiar with the Calvinistic acronym TULIP which stands for:
Perseverance of the saints.
At a recent meeting of Wesleyan scholars Shawn heard a paper presenting an Arminian response to TULIP, called ACURA. That stands for:
All have sinned
Assurance of salvation.
We discussed this and came up with an acronym that fits with Free Grace theology: ASSURE. That stands for:
All have sinned
Selected to Serve (not for destiny)
The very name, ASSURE, suggests another important aspect of grace theology, i.e., that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. When we believe Jesus’ promise of life, we are sure of our eternal destiny. We remain sure as long as we continue to believe the promise.
Now let’s briefly walk through the five points of ASSURE.
All have sinned is a reference to Rom 3:23. The point here is that no one is able to gain everlasting life based on his works since we all have sinned and all fall short of God’s glory. This avoids the Calvinist extreme which says that unbelievers have no spiritual sensitivity at all and that they are unable to understand or believe anything in the Word of God. Their view that unbelievers are like cadavers at the bottom of a well is inconsistent with Scripture (cf. Acts 17:11, 27; Heb 1:6).
Selected to serve suggests that the only election we find in the Bible is vocational. Divine election is to ministry, not eternal destiny. For example, Aaron and his line were chosen to be priests. Moses was chosen to deliver Israel from Egypt. Jesus was chosen to die on the cross for our sins. Paul was chosen to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. Matthias was chosen to take Judas’ place as one of the twelve. There is not a single verse in the Bible which says that some are elected to everlasting life. Biblical election is vocational through and through.
Universal atonement means that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2). He did not merely die for the elect, or for those who would believe. Nor did His death merely potentially take away the sins of the world. It actually takes away the sins of the world. Because of the shed blood of Christ, people can be born again simply by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. They need not deal with their own sins. The Lord Jesus paid the full and complete price for our sins at Calvary.
Resistible grace alludes to the fact that God is drawing all to Himself (John 12:32; Acts 17:27). He doesn’t desire that any should perish. Thus anyone who does not come to faith has only himself to blame. He cannot say that God never drew him. The reason why he did not come to faith is because he resisted the grace which God was extending to him in Christ. This avoids the Calvinist claim that God only draws a small percentage of the people in the world.
Eternal security is another way of speaking of everlasting life which can never be lost. Unlike the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance, eternal security is not dependent on the believer persevering in faith and good works. Anyone who simply believes in Jesus has everlasting life. Even if he later stops serving Christ, he remains secure. In fact, even if he later stops believing in Jesus, he still has everlasting life. The believer is eternally secure. Of course, security is no license to sin. If a believer begins to stray, he reaps the consequences, including sometimes premature death (Jas 5:19-20). But his destiny remains secure.
This is only a suggestion, a thought experiment. No doubt ASSURE could be improved upon. But we assure you, ASSURE is a much more accurate reflection of the Scriptures than either TULIP or ACURA.