Category Archives: Repentance

The Gospel continues to be misunderstood


Chester Beatty Pauline Epistles – early 3rd century. (

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The Gospel continues to be misunderstood[1]

Even though the Gospel of eternal life vs eternal damnation is quite simple, it continues to be misunderstood and/or misrepresented. Many people are not sure to this day whether salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and His finished work of redemption, or whether baptism is necessary for salvation. Are other good works, or the sacraments, necessary for salvation?

Then there are some who claim that God arbitrarily elects some for salvation, and others for damnation (which would be a violation of the character of God as well as a travesty of the Gospel). This is the position of those who believe in double predestination such as John Piper.

Piper isn’t seeking to add two more points, but is simply calling attention to his belief in the traditional five points (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints) in a way that also points toward two additional “Calvinistic” truths that follow from them: double predestination and the best-of-all-possible worlds (Permann 2006).

Therefore, we need to be clear from Scripture as to what exactly is the Gospel, and how God saves sinners purely by His grace. I do not support Piper’s 7-point Calvinism.

Then there are some who claim that God arbitrarily elects some for salvation, and others for damnation (which would be a violation of the character of God as well as a travesty of the Gospel). This is the position of those who believe in double predestination such as John Piper.

Piper isn’t seeking to add two more points, but is simply calling attention to his belief in the traditional five points (total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints) in a way that also points toward two additional “Calvinistic” truths that follow from them: double predestination and the best-of-all-possible worlds (Permann 2006).

Therefore, we need to be clear from Scripture as to what exactly is the Gospel, and how God saves sinners purely by His grace. I do not support Piper’s 7-point Calvinism.

See my articles:

clip_image004Salvation by grace but not by force: A person chooses to believe

clip_image004[1]Who can be reconciled to God?

clip_image004[2]Prevenient grace – kinda clumsy!

clip_image004[3]Is any flavor of Arminianism promoting error?

The cornerstone of salvation

1. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim 1:15 NIV)

2. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV).

3. “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house (Acts 16:29-32 NIV).

4. ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”’ (Rom 10:9-13 NIV).

5. The importance of Jesus’ resurrection is emphasized in the Gospel:

clip_image006Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:1-4 NIV).

6. Romans 5:1-2 reminds us of another important dimension of salvation:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:1-2 NIV).

clip_image008 Eph 2:8-9 (NIV) emphasizes the importance of God’s grace in salvation: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

7. To have our sins paid for and for salvation to be granted, Scripture makes it clear

“he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk 24:46-47 NIV).

There is no salvation without the u-turn of repentance away from committing sins. We must not overlook this command from God: “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 NIV).

8. Remember that salvation is the initiative of God. He does not drag you into the kingdom kicking and screaming. Jesus stated clearly in John 6:44 (NIV), ““No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

However, that leaves the door open to the question. Who can be drawn? Is that only a small number of the world’s population? John 12:32 answers for us, “And I, when I am lifted up [or exalted] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

So, after Jesus’ crucifixion and exaltation, He draws all people to salvation.

Why don’t they all come to God/Christ?

clip_image010 ‘Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshipped beyond the River Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV)

Even though it’s an Old Testament passage, it confirms how people come to serve the Lord or otherwise: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh 24:15 NIV).

See my exposition of this passage in, Choose does not mean choice! Joshua 24:15.

Works consulted

Permann, Matt. “What Does Piper Mean When He Says He’s a Seven-Point Calvinist?” 23 January, 2006.


[1] Christian (online) 2019, The Gospel continues to be misunderstood, 28 April. Nathan12 #1. Available at: (Accessed 28 April 2019).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 07 September 2021.

The path Australia treads to ruin

By Spencer D Gear PhD


(The bushfire in Bunyip State Park, Victoria, Australia. Picture: Ionee Reid. Source: Supplied, courtesy[1]

If we want to deal with the devastation of Australia’s drought and other catastrophes, we need to start with a clean up of the churches and a call to repentance by the nation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s voice has been silent about this core issue that associates Australia’s spiritual condition with the drought, floods, fires and other crises.

1. A core issue

Why hasn’t the PM called the nation to HUMILITY, PRAYER AND REPENTANCE for our sins and for God to send rain to break the drought?

We need leadership from the Prime Minister to call for a Day of Repentance and Prayer for rain. Step up to the mark Mr Morrison and lead the way! What an example it would be to see a Christian Prime Minister, ScoMo, and many MPs in local churches praying as they repent and ask God to heal the land and send rain.

This also means reversing the ungodly legislation that is a ‘disgrace’ to the people and the nation.

Other nations have called their people to repent in times of disaster.

1.1 Great Britain did it during World War 2

King George VI had called the people of Great Britain to National Days of Prayer and Repentance four times [during World War 2].  Yet, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, in [66][2] years as the Queen of England, has not once called for [a] National Day of Prayer. The last time Britain had a National Day of Prayer was during the Second World War (Newman 2012).

1.2 South Africans called to prayer during drought

South Africa’s Colin Newman related what happened in South Africa after his conversion to Christ in 1977. The President called for a National Day of Repentance and Humiliation before God. As a new Christian he was impressed with the masses of people in central Cape Town who filled the churches to overflowing. It was a time of intense, earnest heart searching prayers of repentance.

The rains came a couple days later and he was awe struck Newman 2012).

1.3 Zambia’s national day of prayer

clip_image004(map of southern Africa courtesy Biofocuscommunicatie)

Since Zambia officially was declared a Christian nation in 1991,[3] its President has called the nation to days of prayer during drought, and the nation has also celebrated National Days of Thanksgiving when God graciously answered their prayers with rain (Newman 2012).

Could you imagine this kind of statement appearing in any mass media outlet in Australia in a capital city or elsewhere?

“Our [Zambian] identity is established in the Lord Jesus Christ. The values, principles and ethics which we embrace as a people reflect the person of Jesus Christ.

“Love, dignity, integrity, honest, hard work, patriotism among others are the hallmark of who we are as a people,” she said.

That’s from the Lusaka Times 2016. Zambia commemorated its 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December.[4] Lusaka is the capital and largest city in Zambia, with a population of about 1.7 million people.[5]

1.4 Alabama, USA

With parts of Alabama [USA] suffering an exceptional drought, Gov. Bob Riley [was] turning to God for help and asking other Alabamians to join him in praying for rain.

Riley issued a proclamation Thursday declaring June 30 [2007] through July 7 as “Days of Prayer for Rain” and asked citizens to pray individually and in their houses of worship.

“Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty. This drought is without question a time of great difficulty for our farmers and for communities across our state,” Riley said in a statement.[6]

I know I’ll be criticised, especially by the media, for reminding you and our communities that droughts provide us with a reminder that human beings and government cannot control the creation of when rain comes or when the heavens are closed. Surely this drought reminds us we depend on a Higher Power – the Lord God – who sends the rain and stops the rain.

3. Call to action

clip_image006(James Edmund Allen 1938, prayer for rain, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Australia’s Brian Pickering explained:

It was back in 2006 when Australia experienced a severe drought. God called for Australia to repent following national prayer to end a severe drought. God is still waiting according to the leader of the Australian Prayer Network, Brian Pickering.

God Is Still Waiting for Australia to Repent.[7]

I add: God is still waiting for Australian legislation to be determined by God’s standards. Quit this human morality and practise God’s justice in ALL legislation.

How could my headline be changed to reflect what Australia can do about the BIG drought?

The big dry: ‘See us, hear us, help us Lord God Almighty. We repent of our sins against You. Lord, encourage Aussies please, please to dig deep and send material help to the farmers’.

Prime Minster, Scott Morrison, and church leaders: Australia needs your leadership to call all God-fearing people to pray for an end to the drought.

Why should God break the drought when ‘righteousness exalts a nation’ and Australia legislates laws that are a disgrace, i.e. promoting wicked, immoral behaviour?

We can take action as a nation by repenting of our sins, returning to God, and legislating God’s righteousness. That will mean cancelling legislation that violates God’s commands of righteousness.

3.1 Expect mass media attacks

3.1.1 The ABC

There was an opinion piece in ABC Religion & Ethics by Bryon Smith. It was titled: ‘Faith without works: Why the Prime Minister’s call to pray for rain is offensive’ (Smith 2018).

It was a response to Morrison’s speech in Albury: ‘It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today. I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that’.

Byron Smith found fault with this statement:

For many Christians, this was a small but encouraging gesture: the nation’s most prominent public official acknowledging that rain is a blessing we receive as gift, an expression of our dependence upon a whole network of creaturely relationships overseen by a Creator.


for many atheists, it was a small but offensive gesture: the national leader talking to a sky fairy, embracing and promoting irrational superstition. Some responded on social media with angry mockery, warning of theocracy or taking the opportunity to criticise Morrison’s particular brand of Christianity.

As a Christian, I found Morrison’s comment to be offensive. But not because a Prime Minister speaks publicly of prayer or is open about his Christian beliefs.

Rather, what I find truly offensive is the profound disconnect between his professed prayers and the pro-coal – and thus anti-farmer – agenda of his government. To pray when facing a crisis like widespread drought is not the problem. But when the government Morrison leads has spent many years doing little or nothing about the root causes of the warming that is worsening such extreme weather, then inviting the nation to pray in response is somewhat galling (Smith 2018).

So, according to Smith, prayer is unacceptable until the government gets its act together over global warming.

Byron, who sends the rain and who withholds it? You’ve left the Lord God out of your equation, even though you say you speak ‘as a Christian’. Is God’s intervention that far down your priority list?

3.1.2 Pray for Rain

On 22 April 2007, The Sydney Morning Herald had this headline:[8]

Pray for rain, urges [John] Howard’


(photograph John Howard courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The report stated:

Prime Minister John Howard has urged Australians to pray for rain as hard-hit agricultural regions face zero water allocations due to drought.

Mr Howard warned last week that farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin faced having no water for the coming irrigation year unless heavy rain fell in the next six to eight weeks.

On Sunday he said he intended to meet irrigators over coming weeks to discuss the grim situation.

Meanwhile, he encouraged people to seek divine intervention.

“It’s very serious, it’s unprecedented in my lifetime and I really feel very deeply for the people affected,” Mr Howard told ABC Television.

“So we should all, literally and without any irony, pray for rain over the next six to eight weeks”

What was the result?

3.1.3 It rained

God held off the drought-breaking rains until 2010-11. The headline in ABC News, 14 April 2010, was:

Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin

Chrissy Arthur, ABC News, Brisbane, Qld: Posted 14 Apr 2010, 7:47am:[9]

A river expert says water from the Paroo River in south-west Queensland is flowing into the Darling River in New South Wales for the first time in 20 years.

There were record floods in the Paroo River last month (March 2010) and authorities say that is providing a boost for the Murray-Darling Basin.

clip_image010(No way through to Glenorchy, where the Wimmera River has flooded houses, sheds and farm properties. At Ashens, just north of Glenorchy, in the Wimmera region of NW Victoria, crops are under water. Photo courtesy Laura Poole)’[10]

Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, got it right on one point I’ve stressed in this series of articles:

‘“We can’t make it rain. But we can ensure that farming families and their communities get all the support they need to get through the drought, recover and get back on their feet” the government said in a statement’.[11]

He didn’t give any hint as to whom or what can cause it to rain. God Almighty has his reasons for delaying the rain, sending cyclones, allowing fires. Some of these include:

  • The link between a nation’s morality and God’s judgment.
  • ‘‘Righteousness raises a people to greatness; to pursue wrong degrades a nation’ (Prov 14:34 REB).
  • Ungodly legislation and practices in Australia are a disgrace to the nation and lead to Australia’s doom.
  • Only God sends the rain and withholds it.
  • Godless, secular Australia refuses to bow the knee to the Lord God Almighty.
  • We want his blessings of rain without the commitment to Him. We deserve what we get.
  • When will local, State and national leaders call the nation to prayer to break the drought and stop other disasters?


(image courtesy Pinterest)


(photo courtesy North Queensland Register)[12]

4.  Note

[1] Available at: (Accessed 25 May 2019).

[2] She began her reign in 1952 and the coronation was in 1953. As of 2018 she has reigned 66 years and was aged 92 in 2018.

[3] 2016. Zambia commemorates 25th anniversary of the declaration as a Christian Nation (online), 29 December. Available at: (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[4] Available at: (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[5] Wikipedia (2018. s.v. Lusaka).

[6] Phillip Rawls 2007 (Associated Press writer). Riley calling for statewide prayer for rain. The Decatur Daily (online), 29 June. Available at: (Accessed 6 November 2018).

[7] Vision Christian Radio 2018. God is still waiting for Australia to repent (online). Available at: (Accessed 18 August 2018).

[8] Available at: (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[9] Chrissy Arthur 2010. Flood rain reaches Murray-Darling Basin. ABC News Brisbane, Qld. (online), 14 April. Available at: (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[10] ABC Rural and News reporters 2010. Drought breaks at last, as Victoria floods (online), 5 September. Available at: (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[11] Stephanie Bedo 2018. Australia’s crippling drought crisis: Overcoming past mistakes to save ourselves for the future. (online), 6 August. Available at: (Accessed 7 January 2019).

[12] North Queensland Register is based in Townsville City, Qld, Australia. Available at: (Accessed 4 April 2019).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 24 May 2019.


A Calvinist’s deceitful attempt

By Spencer D Gear

Why are so much heat and little light generated in the Arminian-Calvinist debates? I write as a convinced Reformed or Classical Arminian. See Roger E Olson’s description of ‘Reformed Arminianism’.

I encountered one such attempt on a Christian forum on the Internet. This was his claim: ‘It is true repentance and faith are privileges and free gifts.” JW’.[1] I thought he was using JW as referring to the Jehovah’s Witnesses so I replied accordingly, ‘But which Jesus???’[2] As it turned out, he was referring to the Christian revivalist and biblical preacher in the England, John Wesley.[3]

What to do with an isolated quote?

So here we have this one-liner, an isolated quote from John Wesley, ‘It is true repentance and faith are privileges and free gifts’ and he, a Calvinist, is asking people on the forum to respond to Wesley, an Arminian, and the content of this one sentence.

My response was, ‘When I see the citation with context and accurate referencing of where the quote came from in Wesley’s Works, then I’ll be able to reply. But I will not reply to something that has no bibliographic reference to confirm that this is from John Wesley’.[4] Before a bibliographic reference was given, I went searching online and this is what I found:[5]

He edited & censored elements of the quote [6]

Double Check Mark Clip Art

It is interesting to observe how this fellow censored Wesley’s quote by leaving out something important from John Wesley in the one-liner he gave. My search online located this as what was stated in the paragraph in context from John Wesley, which was a letter ‘To a Gentleman at Bristol. BRISTOL, January 6, 1758‘:

It is true repentance and faith are privileges and free gifts. But this does not hinder their being conditions too. And neither Mr. Calvin himself nor any of our Reformers made any scruple of calling them so (emphasis added).

In this edition of ‘The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., Vol VI‘, this punctuation is provided:

It is true, repentance and faith are privileges and free gifts. But this does not hinder their being conditions too. And neither Mr. Calvin himself, nor any of our Reformers, made any scruple of calling them so (p. 98).

This online fellow was pleased to quote the one sentence by John Wesley but he didn’t mention a thing about what followed immediately in Wesley’s quote about ‘Mr Calvin himself nor any of our Reformers’ not having scruples about calling repentance and faith conditions as privileges and free gifts.

I find this to be disingenuous when he did not provide the exact statement in context where Wesley stated that Calvin and the Reformers didn’t have any scruples about calling repentance and faith, ‘conditions’ (of salvation).

In the Works of John Wesley, there is much more to this discussion than the one-liner he gave. Wesley was answering an Anglican opponent (remember, Wesley was an Anglican) and Wesley was countering the allegation that this Anglican was a promoter of justification by works. In the larger context, this is how it unfolded:

John Wesley by George Romney.jpg

John Wesley (image courtesy Wikipedia)

These undoubtedly are the genuine principles of the Church of England. And they are confirmed, as by our Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies, so by the whole tenor of Scripture. Therefore, till heaven and earth pass away, these truths will not pass away.

But I do not agree with the author of that tract in the spirit of the whole performance. It does not seem to breathe either that modesty or seriousness or charity which one would desire. One would not desire to hear any private person, of no great note in the Church or the world, speak as it were ex cathedra, with an air of infallibility, or at least of vast sell-sufficiency, on a point wherein men of eminence, both for piety, learning, and office, have been so greatly divided. Though my judgment is nothing altered, yet I often condemn myself for my past manner of speaking on this head. Again: I do not rejoice at observing anything light or ludicrous in an answer to so serious a paper; and much less in finding any man branded as a Papist because his doctrine in one particular instance resembles (for that is the utmost which can be proved) a doctrine of the Church of Rome. I can in no wise reconcile this to the grand rule of charity–doing to others as we would they should do to us.

Indeed, it is said, ‘Dr. T. openly defends the fundamental doctrine of Popery, justification by works’ (page 3); therefore ‘he must be a Papist’ (page 4). But here is a double mistake: for (1) whatever may be implied in some of his expressions, it is most certain Dr. T. does not openly defend justification by works; (2) this itself — justification by works — is not the fundamental doctrine of Popery, but the universality of the Romish Church and the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. And to call any one a Papist who denies these is neither charity nor justice.

I do not agree with the author in what follows: Dr. T. ‘loses sight of the truth when he talks of Christ’s having obtained for us a covenant of better hopes, and that faith and repentance are the terms of this covenant. They are not. They are the free gifts of the covenant of grace, not the terms or conditions. To say “Privileges of the covenant are the terms or conditions of it” is downright Popery.’

This is downright calling names, and no better. But it falls on a greater than Dr. T. St. Paul affirms, Jesus Christ is the Mediator of a better covenant, established upon better promises; yea, and that better covenant He hath obtained for us by His own blood. And if any desire to receive the privileges which are freely given according to the tenor of this covenant, Jesus Christ Himself has marked out the way: ‘Repent, and believe the gospel.’

These, therefore, are the terms of the covenant, unless the author of it was mistaken. These are the conditions of it, unless a man can enter into the kingdom without either repenting or believing. For the word ‘condition’ means neither more nor less than something sine qua non, without which something else is not done. Now, this is the exact truth with regard to repenting and believing, without which God does not work in us ‘righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.’

It is true repentance and faith are privileges and free gifts. But this does not hinder their being conditions too. And neither Mr. Calvin himself nor any of our Reformers made any scruple of calling them so.

‘But the gospel is a revelation of grace and mercy, not a proposal of a covenant of terms and conditions’ (page 5). It is both. It is a revelation of grace and mercy to all that ‘repent and believe.’ And this the author himself owns in the following page: ‘The free grace of God applies to sinners the benefits of Christ’s atonement and righteousness by working in them repentance and faith’ (page 6). Then they are not applied without repentance and faith–that is, in plain terms, these are the conditions of that application.

I read in the next page: ‘In the gospel we have the free promises of eternal life, but not annexed to faith and repentance as works of man’ (true; they are the gift of God), ‘or the terms or conditions of the covenant.’ Yes, certainly; they are no less terms or conditions, although God works them in us.

‘But what is promised us as a free gift cannot be received upon the performance of any terms or conditions.’ Indeed it can. Our Lord said to the man born blind, ‘Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.’ Here was a plain condition to be performed, something without which he would not have received his sight. And yet his sight was a gift altogether as free as if the pool had never been mentioned.

‘But if repentance and faith are the free gifts of God, can they be the terms or conditions of our justification’ (Page 9.) Yes. Why not They are still something without which no man is or can be justified.

‘Can, then, God give that freely which He does not give but upon certain terms and conditions’ (Ibid.) Doubtless He can; as one may freely give you a sum of money on condition you stretch out your hand to receive it. It is therefore no ‘contradiction to say, We are justified freely by grace, and yet upon certain terms or conditions’ (page 10).

I cannot therefore agree that ‘we are accepted without any terms previously performed to qualify us for acceptance.’ For we are not accepted, nor are we qualified for or capable of acceptance, without repentance and faith.

‘But a man is not justified by works, but by the faith of Christ. This excludes all qualifications.’ (Page 13.) Surely it does not exclude the qualification of faith!
But St. Paul asserts, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness.”’ True; ‘to him that worketh not.’ But does God justify him that ‘believeth not’ Otherwise this text proves just the contrary to what it is brought to prove (SOURCE, emphasis added).

Wesley stated that he joined with Calvin and the Reformers in affirming that repentance and faith are conditions for entering the Christian covenant of salvation.

Are faith and repentance gifts of God?

Faith   Dynamite

(images courtesy ChristArt & ChristArt)

What is the role of God in salvation? Are responses needed by human beings or is it entirely up to God’s unconditional election and irresistible grace (the Calvinistic perspective from Charles Spurgeon)?

Thomas Oden, an Arminian, wrote that for John Wesley,

grace works ahead of us to draw us toward faith, to begin its work in us. Even the first fragile intuition of conviction of sin, the first intimation of our need of God, is the work of preparing, prevening grace, which draws us gradually toward wishing to please God. Grace is working quietly at the point of our desiring, bringing us in time to despair over our own unrighteousness, challenging our perverse dispositions, so that our distorted wills cease gradually to resist the gift of God (Oden 1994:246).

In one of his sermons, Wesley preached, ‘Whatsoever good is in man, or is done by man, God is the author and doer of it. Thus is his grace free in all; that is, no way depending on any power or merit in man, but on God alone, who freely gave us his own Son, and ‘with him freely giveth us all things’ (‘Free grace’, Sermon 128).

I agree with John Wesley, John Calvin, the Reformers and this Calvinist on the forum, that faith is a gift from God, but a response of faith is needed by human beings. Romans 4:4-8 affirms it,

4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (ESV).

Faith in the one who justifies is needed for salvation to be received and according to Romans 4:4, this faith is a gift from God. Against such a person, the Lord will not count his/her sin. She/he has been forgiven – through faith in the one and only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.[7]

What must I do to be saved?

Scarlet Salvation Button What did the apostle Paul say to the Philippian jailer who asked, ‘Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”’ (Acts 16:30-31).

Paul did not say something like, ‘There is nothing for you to do. God does it all and you are either in or out of the kingdom, based on the deterministic unconditional election and irresistible grace of God. You have absolutely no say in whether you become a Christian or not’. That is not what Paul said, but instead: ‘[You] believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’.

There was a similar reaction to Peter’s preaching on the Day of Pentecost,

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).

So the jailer had to ‘believe in the Lord Jesus’ to be saved, but we know that ‘faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom 10:17 ESV).

The Scriptures affirm two elements in having faith in Jesus:

(1) God saves and gives faith, and

(2) There will be no faith unless a human being responds in faith to God’s offer of salvation through Christ in the proclamation of the Gospel.

This has often been put into the language of synergism (Arminianism) vs monergism (Calvinism). John Kebbel has rightly challenged this dichotomy:

Monergism and Synergism are extra-Biblical terms coined to encapsulate Bible truth. They fail. God’s dichotomy is Works and Faith, not Monergism and Synergism. Works are bad; faith is good. Faith in Jesus is something humans do (with prevenient grace courtesy of the Holy Spirit); saving these believing humans is something God does. (Monergism Versus Synergism: Beware, Kobayashi Maru Ahead!).

Bossmanham explained:

It is often charged by Calvinists that Arminians believe that man must work with God to procure their salvation. Man must make a move toward God and then God will make a move toward them. It is often described as God meeting man half way. Is this what is taught by Arminians? Did Jacobus Arminius believe this way?

The answer is no. Arminians believe the work of salvation is started and completed by God. The Bible says in order for man to come to God, He must draw them to Himself (John 6:44). Arminians believe the initial work of salvation is done by God. God must do this, because due to the effects of sin, man’s will toward faith in Christ has been lost and destroyed. God must free the person’s will in order for them to make a conscious decision whether to accept His gift of grace or not.

God the Holy Spirit acts upon the heart of a man when that man is exposed to the grace of God. This is done through the hearing of the Gospel (Romans 10:17). God has declared as the great commission for His children to spread His gospel (Matthew 28:19) for this reason. Upon the hearing of the word, the Spirit of God calls the sinner to repent of his sins, draws the sinner to accept Christ, enables the sinner to accept Christ, and convicts the sinner of his or her sins and their need for Christ. After being enabled by the Spirit, the response of the sinner is passive. The sinner must stop resisting, repent of their sins, and place their faith in Christ. This gift, like any gift, is not irresistible. The sinner must accept the unmerited gift of God. Once this is done, following the plan of the Father, the Spirit joins the sinner to Jesus and thus begins the Savior’s relationship with the sinner (Monergism, Synergism, and Arminianism).


There is no salvation unless God works on the inner person (known as the heart) through prevenient grace. God does that through the proclamation of the Gospel and draws people to salvation by the Holy Spirit’s work within. However, there is a human response through faith and repentance. This is an Arminian understanding of the Scriptures as outlined above.

Works consulted

Oden T 1994. John Wesley’s scriptural Christianity: A plain exposition of his teaching on Christian doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.


[1] Christian Forums, Christian Theology, Soteriology, ‘How can unregenerate people worship God’, cygnusx1 #697, available at: (Accessed 8 March 2014).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen #699.

[3] Ibid., cygnusx1 #704,

[4] Ibid., OzSpen #711,

[5] The Calvinist eventually provided the bibliographic reference as, ‘Wesley, John, Works VIII, (Appeals and Minutes Wesleyan- Methodist Book –Room), 361, The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A. M. – John Wesley – Google Books. My source,…ntance/#_ftn29’, at ibid., cygnusx1 #718, at

[6] Ibid., OzSpen #730,

[7] If you want to read his response to my lengthy quote and my further replies, see ibid., cygnusx1 #732, – and what follows.

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:28 May 2019.