I recently was listening to a series of teachings by a Calvinist speaker that I enjoy when he began to discuss praying evangelicstically for the lost. He asserted that Calvinist can truly pray for the lost since Calvinism teaches that God alone saves by His own sovereign will therefore the Christian can pray for the lost to come to Christ for His honour and for His glory. Furthermore, the Arminian could not pray such a prayer sinceArminians believe that its through the sinners free will that they are saved and thus through their own power and not the power of God. Praying for the lost then in the Arminian theology was pointless and unproductive.
However these statements are simply not true. I don’t know of any Arminian who first of all doesn’t pray for the lost and then secondly I don’t know of one Arminian who believes that salvation is anything less then by the power of God’s grace alone. No Arminian that I know of believes that people save themselves. That is notArminianism but semi-Pelagianism if not out right Pelagianism. True Arminiansim does not teach that salvation is all of man or even man working with God but rather it is man surrendering to the prevenientgrace of God and to surrender to the righteousness of Christ and not their own. Arminians believe that the cross of Christ alone provides the necessary atonement to achieve eternal life (Romans 3:22-25; 1 John 2:1-2).
So why do Arminians then pray for the lost?
- It’s Biblical (Matthew 9:37-38; Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-6) – Since Arminianism believes that the Scriptures are the sole authority for faith and practice, Arminians surrender to the Scriptures call to pray for the lost. We believe that the Lord opens men’s heart to the preaching of the Word (Acts 16:14). We believe that its through the drawing of the Spirit that men can come to Christ (John 6:44). The only difference I see between how a Calvinist prays for the lost and how an Arminian prays for the lost lies in whether the grace of God is conditional or unconditional, resistible or irresistible.
- We Believe In The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20) – Arminians take seriously the call to evangelise the earth. We believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and that without the shedding of blood that is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Without Christ, men have no hope of God’s righteousness (Romans 10:4; Hebrews 10:4). We pray then that the gospel will go forth and bear much fruit (Matthew 13:23; Romans 10:14-17).
- We Believe God’s Heart Is To Answer Our Prayers (Isaiah 55:6; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 11:1-13; 1 John 5:14-15) – Arminians believe that God hears our cries through the work of Christ’s intercession (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25). There is no power in prayer in that the words contain power but prayer is powerful because of the God who hears our prayers (James 5:16-18). Since God sent His Son to die for the entire world (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 19; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:1-2), we believe that God’s will is to save the lost through His Son and so we pray for God to open men’s eyes to His Son (John 1:12-13).
- We Believe Salvation Is Of The Lord (Jonah 2:9) – Arminians believe that salvation is not through our works (Titus 3:5-7) but through the grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). We believe that from first to last, salvation is totally by the grace of God (Titus 2:11-12). My earnest prayer is for sinful humanity to see their depravity, to repent of their sins, and be baptised into Christ Jesus through faith in His blood (Luke 13:5; 24:47; John 3:5-7; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 10:44-48; 11:15; Romans 2:4; 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27-28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Colossians 2:12-13). The religious world is plagued with people trying to earn God’s righteousness which only comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:7-11).
In conclusion, Arminians do not believe that our prayers for the lost are in vain. Contrary to this popular Calvinist Bible teacher, Arminianism actually exalts the grace of God by proclaiming the same as Calvinism that sinful man can-not save themselves apart from the drawing of the Holy Spirit. Like Calvinist we pray for the gospel to go forth and for God to honour His Word and His Son by drawing sinners unto Himself. The contrasting difference lies not in our praying nor in what we believe about the saving work of Christ but in whether the sinners reaction to the grace of God can be nullified through unbelief.
[Link to original post on Roy Ingle’s blog]