I had some one tell me this week that they had heard I was teaching Sinless Perfectionism and Semi-Pelagianism. Most people do not know what either of these terms mean, other than it is not a good thing.
The glossary in Finney’s Systematic Theology defines Sinless Perfectionism as “SINLESS PERFECTION: [also called PERFECTIONISM] a theological view that holds that a believer can ‘arrive’ at a state in which (1.) his walk in obedience and holiness is not dependent on the grace of God, and that (2.) he no longer has the ability to sin. Finney rejected this view entirely.”
That definition is kind of unreal, but whatever. Of course I do not use the term Sinless Perfectionism as I prefer to use Scriptural terms. I do, however, teach the Free from sin teaching, and I think I am in good company on that one (Rom 6:18).
“Semi-Pelagianism is a Christian theological understanding about salvation; that is, how humanity and God are restored to a right relationship. The Semi-Pelagian teaching is derived from the earlier Pelagian teaching about salvation (see below), and teaches that it is necessary for humans to make the first step toward God and then God will complete salvation.
According to Semi-Pelagianism, man does not have such an unrestrained capacity, but man and God could cooperate to a certain degree in this salvation effort: man can (unaided by grace) make the first move toward God, and God then completes the salvation process. This teaching is distinct from the traditional patristic doctrine of synergeia, that the process of salvation is cooperation between God and man from start to finish.”
I reject Semi-Pelagianism completely. I would not even accuse those that reject the Biblical doctrine of original sin as Semi-Pelagianians, but I know some that would. I just find is so strange that someone would think I hold to Semi-Pelagianism.
So here is how I understand the Bible teaching concerning a person coming to God.
By God’s unmerited favor (grace) toward mankind, He has promised to draw every person to Christ (Joh 1:9, Tit 2:11, 12). If God did not awaken us to our need of salvation and draw us to Christ, no-one would ever be saved.
The key scripture is “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (Joh 6:44).
This may happen through your reading of the Bible, through listening to someone’s testimony of how they found God, through attending a church meeting, through a dream, through God speaking directly to your heart, or through reading a track or booklet on how to find God.
As God draws you to Christ, by awakening your conscience, you will feel convicted of your sins and reproved for your sinning (Joh 8:9, 16:8). As you consider what your awakened conscience is telling you, you will either defend your sins and make excuses for yourself, or you will agree with your conscience and accept the conviction and reproof.
When you agree with your conscience, the grace (unmerited favor) of God will begin to work a godly sorrow in your heart for the sinfulness of your life (2Cor 7:10). This godly sorrow will work a hatred in your heart for your sins and a desire to be free from them (Rom 7:15).
In this state of conviction and godly sorrow, you will find yourselfunable to do the good that you would desire to do, and the evil that you do not want to do, you will find yourself committing (Rom 7:19). This conviction and godly sorrow is brought on by the grace of God and will lead you to a crisis decision where you will either reject God and his dealings, or you will repent (Luk 13:3) and be converted.
Now, so much for me holding to Semi-Pelagianism.
Here is how to pronounce Pelagianism: