There are many views of salvation, yet there are two primary views Calvinism and Arminianism. These two systems of Theology are not completely contrary in their classic states, but with time came the evolution of both. Calvinism has not changed and diversified nearly as much as Arminianism; the latter system spans much of Christendom and varies greatly. Jacobus Arminius (1559-1609) was the protégé of Beza, son-in-law and successor to John Calvin and founder of Arminianism. There are many misconceptions of Arminius’ doctrines that are based on what some Arminians teach rather than Arminius’ teachings. With that said, let’s see what he has to say about salvation.
James Arminius states, “In this [fallen] state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded…destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace…The mind of man, in this state, is dark and destitute of the saving knowledge of God, and, according to the Apostle, incapable of those things which belong to the Spirit of God” This is complete and total depravity and inability to choose God, If an Arminian denies this Arminian doctrine such a person is actually a Semi-Pelagian and contrary to the doctrines of Arminius. What this is all saying is that due to the Fall of Man, we have spiritually died and are completely and utterly depraved. Our depravity is to the point that we cannot choose Christ, but by the Spirit of God we are led to the cross and given the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). Do not be so arrogant to think that you had enough goodness in your fallen state to choose Christ, which would be a good work. We did not choose Him rather He chose us and we cooperated; that is, we did not resist His grace and became saved through the faith He gave us as a gift. This is to mean that through the Holy Spirit’s help (the gift) we believe in Christ. Man being spiritually separated dead and separated from, by grace and through faith we can be made alive and rejoined to our Heavenly Father. William Birch said, “Faith is a human act by divine enablement and therefore cannot be monergistic.”
I feel that it is necessary to mention why we need to be saved, and what we need to be saved from. In the beginning was God’s perfect creation and His perfect man and woman. Through Adam came the curse and spiritual death. When sin entered the world God had to separate Himself from us because of His absolute hatred of sin and sinners (Ps 5:5 Ps 11:5). God is more than just love, He is just, holy, and many more things, His holiness is the birthplace of His hatred towards sin and his justice is birthed from His holiness. Both His holiness and justice are born from His love, His love towards His creation causes Him to hate sinners who are completely defiled and hurt his creation (specifically our fellow human beings). From God’s hatred towards sinners comes His separation from us, and from His justice comes our future punishment, everlasting torment. However there is hope, as a propitiation, that is a substitution for the punishment we rightfully deserve. Christ died on the cross, becoming a curse and taking our sins upon Himself. God so loved what He had created that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ that we may be saved! His wrath was heaped upon the head of Jesus in order that wretches like you and me can, by grace through faith participate in our salvation become spiritually alive and rejoined to God both now and in paradise! A good buddy of mine (Okay I have never met or talked to the guy) Matt Slick said, “It is better to accept the love of God found in Jesus that to reject it and suffer.”