The idea that Arminians don’t believe in being saved by grace is simply unfounded. Arminians strongly believe that it is through the grace of God alone that a person is justified (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). We are not made righteous through our own strength or even through our free will (Romans 4:5). We simply disagree with Calvinists that God has predestined some men to salvation and others to damnation through sovereign election apart from the free choice of the individual.
What we Arminians do believe is that we are saved and kept only by the grace of God. It is not our good works that keep us saved as if we are saved by grace through faith but then we keep ourselves through our own personal holiness. Because of sin, we believe that only through dependance upon the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13) can we overcome our flesh. The grace of God is given to us so that we might learn self-control and discipline (Titus 2:12-13). We believe that only by the indwelling Holy Spirit can we stay faithful to God and keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21).
Good works do flow from faith (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26). As Martin Luther wrote, “It is not against good works that we contend but simply faith in them.” Good works demonstrate my relationship with God but they do not establish my relationship with God (Titus 1:16). No good works could ever obtain God’s righteousness (Romans 3:10-18). The cure for for my sin is not self-denial or reformation but the cure for my sin is simply the precious blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18-25).
Calvinists often attack Arminianism by trying to imply that Arminians believe we are saved by grace through faith but kept through our our own good works. This is simply not true. Semi-Pelagians might hold to this as well as many Roman Catholics (and a few evangelicals as well) but neither James Arminius or John Wesley ever held to such a position nor do any Arminian theologians that I am aware of. Arminians have always understood that we can not save ourselves except by the grace of God and we know that we can not keep ourselves saved apart from the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God.
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