The Arminian kingdom of heaven is like an architect who lived during the boom of the American economy. He was extremely good at his job. Josh, the architect, had an enemy who was massively cruel. Every building Josh would erect, Stan ( his opponent) would attempt to destroy. Josh decided to build the peak of His architectural feats. He was going to build the world’s largest residential complex. It would house all the known population of New York city. In this complex, one could commute to work, live, swim, spend time at a park, etc all without ever leaving the building. There was no pollution, no disease, and one wouldn’t even feel as if he were indoors when playing in the indoor parks, or pools, or whatever. On top of that electricity was half the cost than power outside of the complex. This was the utopia of New York City.
Josh knew Stan well though. He knew Stan would try to wreak havoc on not only the structure itself, but on the residents who would live in it. He knew Stan so well that he knew exactly how Stan would go about attempting to destroy the building and the people in it. Knowing this Josh took an extra precaution. He made a way in which the people could get out of the building – a trap door that Stan didn’t know about.
As a matter of fact, hardly anyone knew about it. The handful of people that did know didn’t tell everybody about it either. So when Stan detonated the bombs, and set fire to the edifice, many perished because they didn’t know about the trap door. Some knew about it, but just figured the little rumble they heard from the 100+ floors below was just thunder and there was no need to panic. Others jumped out the windows because they heard the bombs but didn’t believe the trap door was really their way of escape. And others chose to walk through the door, some really believing what they were told and others just trying it hoping it would work, not really believing at all but having no other viable option.
1. Was Josh really their savior or did he just make a way for them to save themselves if they chose to?
2. If Josh did the same thing for every resident in the building, and some of them weren’t saved by what Josh did – was it Josh that made the difference between life and death for them?
3. Was it possible, based on the effectiveness of Josh’s work; for no one to have been saved and all die in the burning building had they chose to. In other words, could Josh actually make sure his escape plan was effective?
4. If Josh couldn’t guarantee that the residents be saved, and Stan couldn’t guarantee all the residents perish, but it was up to the residents themselves – who has the power to determine the success of the antagonist and protagonist schemes?
I was looking at some reviews of the “Iron Man 2” movie. The Christian based website I was on rightly attempted to give parents a resource for turning movie viewing time into an opportunity to teach the children. This is very biblical, and as a parent I must confess that I fail many times in turning every moment into a teaching moment. But not only is seizing that moment vital, but what you teach in that moment is vital. Here is their recommendation:
“A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God’s help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David”
Now I’m not knocking the website and saying it is trash. I think the site has some helpful things to offer. I want to use this to point out something concerning synergism. Synergism is the idea of two parties working together to accomplish a goal. This isn’t the same as a carpenter using a hammer to drive a nail. In synergism, both parties are active and dependent upon the other. In the carpenter instance, the tool is passive and the carpenter could just have easily completed the job through some other chosen means – AKA nail gun.
This “God needs me” mentality is prevalent in society as it is what comes naturally to us. We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we out to think. Even among believers, this mentality oozes out. Let me show you the difference:
Synergism – “Joseph changed the world with God’s help.”
Monergism – “God used Joseph to change the world.”
It may seem subtle, but they say the devil is in the details.
Synergism – “God voted for you, Satan voted against you, and it’s up to you to cast the deciding vote!”
Monergism – “But God…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”.
What are we teaching our children?
I Thess. 1:1-5
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”
I Thess. 2:13
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
Q: Does God choose based on forseen faith or does the choosing of God result in faith
A: vs 5. “We know that He has chosen you because…” and goes on to say that the gospel they heard came with power and conviction. That their reception of it bears witness that God has elected them.
Q: Who is responsible for our belief? If God only gives man the opportunity to believe, but doesn’t secure that faith then man is the responsible party to which gratitude should be given. True that God should be thanked to the opportunity, but man is the one who seized it. BUT – If God secures the faith that He requires then God is to be praised for man’s belief.
A: vs. 13 – Here Paul says that He thanks God for the fact that they received God’s Word as God’s Word. Paul thanks God for their faith.
“Let us consider the following analogy to illustrate synergism. Developers purchase some undeveloped land to create a new housing subdivision. They hire contractors to build houses on the land. The contractors hire electricians to wire each house for electricity. The power company is hired to bring electric power to the subdivision and hook each house up to the power. The houses are sold and occupied. If one drove through the subdivision at 11:30 p.m., and noticed that the lights were on in some houses but not others, who would they consider responsible for that fact? Since every house was equally wired with power and occupied by a person capable of turning on a switch, the only reason the lights would be on in some houses but not others is that in some cases the occupants turned them on. The occupants are the responsible parties.
We could imagine many other analogies for synergism, but they all lead to the same conclusion. Whether it’s called the “prevenient inspiration of the Holy Spirit” as it is in Trent, or something else, synergists claim that God has already made it possible for every person to be saved. God has done his part, like the power company that wired the houses. Turning on the switch is up to the individual. The person with the lit house may say, “Thank God for the power,” but they were ones who decided to turn it on. If it is on for them while their neighbors sit in the dark, the difference is only attributable to human actions, not to anything the power company did.
Likewise, the synergist must admit that the reason he or she is saved and someone else is not is found only in themselves, not in God. Why? Because in their system, (a cooperative effort between God and man), God ALWAYS continually does His part. Some synergists claim that fairness requires that God MUST do everything He can to save everyone. Since they assume this as an a priori belief, they will not accept any Biblical evidence to the contrary. But a logical corollary to their belief is that if God is indeed always doing everything He can to save everyone, and yet some are saved and some are not, then the reason some are saved has to be found in them, not God.
Synergists may say that salvation is 99 percent from God and 1 percent from man, but the 1 percent part that is man’s doing determines who is saved and who is not 100 percent of the time. Back to the analogy—God wires the entire human race to the Holy Spirit power source and humans either turn on the spiritual light through a free will choice, or they do not. That is the essence of a synergistic system of salvation.” (quoted from Bob Dewaay’s article “Recovering Reformation Theology“)
This is a telling illustration of exactly how most are taught to believe.
Brother/Sister in Christ, why did the light shine in your heart?