Jared Smith's Bible Doctrine

5 Bible Doctrine – What Is The Spectrum Of Sovereign Grace?

A Transcript Of The Video Study

In our previous studies, I have drawn a clear distinction between two frameworks of theology—Arminianism and Calvinism. I have sought to show you that Arminianism is based on the philosophy of Humanism, and is therefore the epitome of all false religion; whereas Calvinism is based on the revelation of sovereign grace, which is the essence of all true religion. However, the leading factor which determines whether a sinner will enter into the kingdom of God is the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit; not the substance of a preacher’s sermon or the content of a sinner’s creed. Henceforth, it is possible for a regenerate sinner to subscribe to the teachings of Arminianism, just as it is possible for an unregenerate sinner to subscribe to the teachings of Calvinism.

Now, if we want to distinguish between these frameworks of teaching, then it is helpful to set them side by side horizontally for the purpose of comparison and contrast. And that is what I have done in the foregoing studies. However, if we want to integrate these frameworks of teaching, for the purpose of showing how a regenerate sinner may subscribe to the teachings of Arminianism, then it is helpful to stack one on top of the other vertically.

At the bottom, and separate from the two frameworks, is the philosophy of Humanism—the epitome of all false religion. It is to this category all unregenerate sinners belong. Let’s use these black dots to identify the unregenerate sinners. When we come into this world, we are conceived in sin and shaped in iniquity, dead in trespasses and sins. In this unregenerate condition, we measure all things according to our perception of self-glorification—we are Humanists by nature. We worship and serve the creature more than the Creator who is blessed forever. Self-glorification leads to self-gratification, and therefore we not only transgress God’s law inscribed upon our hearts, but we take pleasure in doing so.

However, when the Lord is pleased to regenerate His people, the Spirit of God unites the soul with the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of which the life of Christ flows into the soul, and the graces of Christ are imparted to the soul. Among the graces of Christ are saving faith and godly repentance. And, it is important to observe, when the sinner is born again, he/she begins his/her spiritual life as a babe in Christ. Let’s use these green dots to identify the regenerate sinners. And notice, there are different shades of green, representing the level of spiritual maturity to which a regenerate sinner has grown.

You see, there are two obvious problems every new babe in Christ encounters. First, the new born sinner lacks a full and accurate knowledge of the gospel—by the very nature of being a babe in Christ, he/she must begin the learning process of growing in his/her knowledge of the gospel. Second, the new born sinner is hindered by the old nature and its governing philosophy of Humanism—the new babe in Christ must begin the slow process of unlearning what he/she has spent a lifetime acquiring as an unregenerate sinner. And you see, these are the two problems which brings us to the Spectrum of Sovereign Grace.

The Spectrum Of Sovereign Grace is a color gradient designed to illustrate how a regenerate sinner grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how the lightest shade of green is at the bottom of the framework of Arminianism, while the darkest shade of green is at the top of the framework of Calvinism. I say again, the lighter and darker shades represent the maturity level of a regenerate sinner. The light shade at the bottom are babes in Christ, in need of milk, unable to handle the deeper things of God; the dark shade at the top are mature in Christ, in need of strong meat, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern the deeper things of God.

The lighter shades of green are closer in understanding to Humanism—and what can one expect? The babe in Christ lacks a mature understanding of sovereign grace. I pointed out in previous studies that Arminianism is nothing other than an attempt to Christianize Humanism. Just as the free will and good works of man are the governing principles of Humanism, so the free will and good works of man are the governing principles of Arminianism. It is therefore natural, when a sinner is born again, that he/she views the gospel on the basis of those principles. This is the baggage we carry with us from our unregenerate condition. This is the way our minds have been conditioned prior to our new birth. Our entire worldview has been based and built on Humanism. Henceforth, it is natural for us to embrace the teachings of Arminianism, as they are congruent with the philosophy of Humanism.

On the other hand, the darker shades of green are closer in understanding to sovereign grace—again, what should we expect? As the believer grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, the philosophy of Humanism becomes more and more repugnant. The more regenerate sinners mature in the faith, the more clearly they are able to distinguish between the philosophy of Humanism and the revelation of Sovereign Grace. It is in this way that a person is able to subscribe to the teachings of Arminianism, and yet be truly born again—they are babes in Christ. This is also the reason why every Calvinist in his/her early walk with the Lord subscribed to the teachings of Arminianism. That is true, you know. If you ask a Calvinist how he/she arrived at those convictions, you will invariably hear about his/her journey in grace, moving from the lightest shades of Arminianism to the darker shades of Calvinism.

It is for this reason, my dear friends, we should exercise discernment when conversing with those who subscribe to the teachings of Arminianism. While it is certainly true, there are unregenerate sinners who subscribe to the teachings of Arminianism, as well as those of Calvinism, yet there are also regenerate sinners who subscribe to both frameworks of teaching too. It should be our goal, therefore, to discover whether the person has been truly born again, rather than to flat out condemn the individual based on his/her Arminian leanings. Whereas we staunchly reject the teachings of Arminianism and repudiate its philosophical roots of Humanism, yet we embrace in love those baby Christians who remain juvenile in the faith and hindered by the yoke of free will and good works religion.

And, in addition to exercising discernment, we must also exercise patience. We must remember, there was a time when we nurtured very low views of God’s grace. There was a time when we belonged to the lighter shades of Arminianism. We haven’t always understood the deeper things of God, my friends. Let us therefore be an encouragement to our weaker brethren, seeking to build them up in their most holy faith, rather than tearing them down and discouraging their spirits. The point I am driving at is this—while we do contend earnestly for the faith and oppose Humanism in all its forms and shades, yet we must also be sensitive towards true believers in Christ, seeking to instruct them in the gospel of sovereign grace.

In closing this study, I wish to read a couple of statements made by the Apostle Paul, as he discerningly, lovingly and patiently conversed with babes in Christ.

The first statement is recorded in 1 Corinthians 3:1,2: ”And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”

The second statement is recorded in Hebrews 5:12-14: ”For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

My dear brethren, if you are a baby Christian, then nurture your soul on the milk of the Word; and, if you are a mature Christian, then nurture your soul on the meat of the Word. Either way, milk and meat will feed your soul, and thereby I pray the Lord will build you up in your most holy faith.

Jared Smith