[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Eureka! It bit me in the face....

by Rose

I was having an exchange with Matthew today about the distinction between faith and works, the question 'is faith a work? ' and the idea put forth by some that faith is meritorious if it is not a gift. Matthew made the following observation. These thoughts point out such an obvious issue in the whole discussion as we have been engaged in for these couple of years in the blogosphere between "free-gracers" and "lordhsip salvationists," "calvininsts" and "non-calvinists." It is so obvious, it could bite you in the face, yet I had never read someone put it into such clear terms as Matthew did:

If faith would be meritorious if it was not a gift, then why does it matter that salvation is by faith or by works? We could quite legitimately claim that salvation is by both, both are gifts, and that they are both non-meritorious, being products of grace.

71 Comments:

  • I am sure somebody in the blogsphere has said something similar to this.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 7:04:00 AM  

  • I never read it put that way - with such clarity.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 7:35:00 AM  

  • Very logical. Problem solved. :)

    BTW, is it required in the new year to have a new avatar? Both of your's are very nice.

    By Blogger Missy, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 9:32:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Missy.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 10:49:00 AM  

  • Great point.

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 1:05:00 PM  

  • Hi all: I don't hold that faith is ever a work, but then my belief in unconditional election, (where faith flows from election) lets me consistently hold this position. On the other hand, if I were to hold that my faith is the cause or condition of my election, then there is certainly a strong whiff of merit there, with God evidently seeing (or foreseeing) that I loved Him and so, as a direct consequence, He loved me with that electing love.

    I'm heading off on Monday morning if the Lord permit so I can't get into any long drawn out discussions, but just my 2c worth as Rose invites us all to contribute over on her blog.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 2:09:00 PM  

  • Goodnight, I think you are confusing faith and love.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 2:28:00 PM  

  • HI Rose & Matthew, great point!

    Goodnight said:
    "...then there is certainly a strong whiff of merit there, with God evidently seeing (or foreseeing) that I loved Him and so, as a direct consequence, He loved me with that electing love."

    Faith is a "strong whiff" of seeing God through His Son already loving me not God evidently seeing I loved Him or getting a whiff of me loving Him in the future.

    Is there any merit to simply believing God? I think so; Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

    By Blogger Kris, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 4:16:00 PM  

  • Sorry, Goodnight, I should have said Hi to you also. I don't mean to be rude, but I was.

    Kris

    By Blogger Kris, at Thursday, January 03, 2008 6:04:00 PM  

  • Missy,
    Thanks for seeing the prblem solver in that. ;~)

    Thanks, Jon, for your concurrence.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 6:33:00 AM  

  • Hello Colin,
    It sounds as if you are saying the same thing as what Matthew was referring to: "faith would be meritorious if it was not a gift".

    Is that right? Do you feel that faith would be meritorious if it was not a gift?

    I hope you can spare the time to answer that one question, Goodnight. Thank you!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 6:35:00 AM  

  • Hi Kris.
    Thanks for shaping up! (haha)
    Hey, I wondered if anyone would bring up that verse.

    Is there any merit to simply believing God? I think so; Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

    I think that verse is referring to justification by faith. Justification by faith does not mean that faith is meritorious. It is saying that through faith, God is able to make us right. Faith is the open hand that receives the right standing. Does this make faith equal to all the good works that would be necessary to be good enough to have a right standing before God? I don't think that it what justification by faith means. Faith is the channel through which God transfers His righteousness to a human being, but faith itself is not the righteousness, it does not have the merit as a good works have... even though there is not enough merit in all the good works we could do. Nonetheless, good works are in the realm of merit. Faith is in a different category and realm altogether.

    I may be wrong (I hope others will jump in and correct me if I am) ;~)

    Tell me if that makes sense.

    That is how I see that statmement about Abraham. "Faith was credited to him as righteousness" would seem to mean that he was able to stand as righteous before God through faith (being the channel), but it doesn't mean that faith had earned him or bought him or made him deserving of some favor (meritorious).

    According to Merriam-Webster
    meritorious = deserving

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 6:57:00 AM  

  • Good morning Rose,

    You said:

    "That is how I see that statmement about Abraham. "Faith was credited to him as righteousness" would seem to mean that he was able to stand as righteous before God through faith (being the channel), but it doesn't mean that faith had earned him or bought him or made him deserving of some favor (meritorious)."


    I think we both believe the same way, it is just communication.

    Let me put it another way.
    Faith or belief is not a work(merit) on my part to get God to save me. Effort to try to have faith is useless it is the direct opposite of simply taken God at His word. Faith is believing that God already has saved me(wether I persevere to the end or not) through His Son. I believe Him, therefore He credits that to me has righteousness.

    Just like Abraham believed God when He told him he would have a son we believed God when he said he who believes in the Son is not condemned.

    By Blogger Kris, at Friday, January 04, 2008 7:48:00 AM  

  • Yes, Kris!
    Thank you. We agree.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 7:54:00 AM  

  • To take it a step further: It would seem that Paul could have said that works alone, being the gift of God, are what salvation is through (Eph 2:8). This would be especially true if the Reformed doctrine of perseverance were true.

    (Faith flows from election; works flow from election. Faith is a gift; works are a gift.)

    So what is the difference?

    Why would Paul put faith and works in opposition to one another as approaches to God if both are gifts and accouterments of election? It would seem his discussions should be centered around discovering whether God has chosen to give an individual salvation ...or if Colin's idea is right, that faith flows from election, then why wouldn't Paul emphasize that individuals must find their own election - search for whether or not they are elect?

    Why all the emphasis on salvation by grace through faith if it is all about whether God is going to gift an individual with salvation and its trappings (faith and works) based on unconditional election?

    Someone explain that.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 8:29:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose and all

    The point that I was making is that if faith is the condition of our election to salvation, then it must carry the thought of merit, since it is this that puts the difference between me and one who was not elected. In other words, if the conditional election is correct, my faith was the cause that moved God to save me. If the conditional election is correct (as some on this blog, but not me, believe) the cause cannot be argued to be grace since God is believed to be more or less gracious to all. Therefore all souls, elect and reprobate, must stand together either to salvation or damnation. Since there is clearly a dividing of the great company of mankind in election, then it must be on the basis of something which the sinner does - in this case the fact that he believes. It is this, if the conditional election is correct that moves the arm of God to elect him to salvation. It is no longer grace through faith (as in Ephesians 2:8) but rather a weakened grace plus faith, since faith is not merely the channel, but the mainspring cause of election. Before any one asks: Yes, I believe that no one will be saved without faith and therefore exhort those in the pew to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved" (Acts 16:31) but I do not attribute the cause of their salvation to their faith, but rather to the sheer grace of God from the very beginning right through to the very end.

    To answer Rose's additional comments (isn't this email alert thing very good?) one reason why the Bible does not urge the sinner to make his calling and election sure is that it would be a very limited command and it would be sending many sinners off on what would be effectively a wild goose chase. Some one like Judas could never make their calling and election sure, since ultimately they were not elect. However, if we preach the message that sinners should look to Christ in faith (in accordance with Isaiah 45:22 and similar evangelistic verses) then it may be that this call will be accompanied by the power to look and they will be brought to Christ. In coming to Christ, they may then be assured that they are indeed elect according to the gracious foreknowledge of God.

    I cannot agree with Kris when he writes: Faith is believing that God already has saved me (whether I persevere to the end or not) through His Son. I believe Him, therefore He credits that to me his righteousness. Apart from the rather weak salvation package (pardon without persevering grace) he seems here to advocate that someone has salvation, both without faith and imputed righteousness. His definition of faith, as stated here, is not that I can have salvation and imputed righteousness, but that I have it already. Perhaps Kris has worded this clumsily, although you (Rose) appear to agree(?)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 8:46:00 AM  

  • Yes, I noted that with Kris's wording, but I figured he meant what I thought he meant, or he was talking about the one who is already saved knowing that he has it already.

    So anyways, why then does Paul put faith and works in opposition to one another, Colin, if they are both gifts and neither is a "cause" as you put it, of salvation? Good to be back with you and yes, I like the tmial notification!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 9:00:00 AM  

  • email notification, that is.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 9:05:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You ask: So anyways, why then does Paul put faith and works in opposition to one another, Colin, if they are both gifts and neither is a "cause" as you put it, of salvation?

    They are put in opposition one to another in relation to justification. Faith is an act of trust - the hand of the beggar that says that it has nothing to offer, but pleads for mercy. Works is the fruit of the man who has something to offer and who has something to do. If justification were by works, then how much works would be required?

    I assume, Rose, that you believe that faith is a gift and that our works (as Christians) are nothing less than the fruit of the Spirit? (Galatians 5:22)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:14:00 AM  

  • Hi Colin :~)
    Why would you assume that I believe faith is a gift (in the sense you desciribed in your previous comments)?
    :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:38:00 AM  

  • Rose: It is the Old Time Evangelical position that faith is a gift from God. I assume that you still hold to this OTE position? Correct me if I'm wrong!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:43:00 AM  

  • It is the Old Time Evangelical position that faith is a gift from God.

    If that be true, why is that, Colin? Should I just accept something because it is the "old time evangelical position" even though I am not convinced from the Bible?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:51:00 AM  

  • Although I do not know if I would stipulate to the notion that it is the Old Time Evangelical position that faith is a gift from God.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:54:00 AM  

  • ...in the sense you describe it. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:55:00 AM  

  • bam bam bam
    comment comment comment

    I feel like Mark. :~)
    (hi Mark - if you ever visit here anymore)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:55:00 AM  

  • No, I do not hold that faith is a gift in the sense you explain. I have departed then from the OTE position?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 10:57:00 AM  

  • Rose: Is faith a gift at all? If so, wherein is it a gift?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 11:16:00 AM  

  • Well, is thought a gift? Yes, thought is a gift. Is hearing a gift? Yes, hearing is a gift. Is drawing a picture a gift? Yes, drawing is a gift. In that sense, faith is a gift. Anything man is able to do it is because God has allowed him the hardware to do it. In that sense the ability to have faith towards God is a gift to all men because if God had so wanted he could have just hardened every last man and taken away or deprived him of the ability to believe in their Creator. He hasn't done that however. :~) So the ability to believe is a gift just as the ability to walk is a gift. We must walk. We must believe.

    You said:
    Faith is an act of trust - the hand of the beggar that says that it has nothing to offer, but pleads for mercy.

    Thw way you describe it there is not a gift in the sense of a deposited understanding imposed on the mind from outside by the Creator as a result of regeneration because of election.

    Trust involves a motivation on the part of the 'trustor.'

    (that is not a word, is it - 'trustor'?)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 11:29:00 AM  

  • Rose: I assume again that you say would then say that there is nothing supernatural about faith?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 11:49:00 AM  

  • Is there a Biblical reason why I should say that faith unto salvation is supernatural?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 12:14:00 PM  

  • Rose: I would say so, but I am wondering if you do. If faith, after all, is merely in the same league as the ability to focus your eyes on a certain subject and describe it or the ability to create a 3D impression of it on an artist's canvas, then it need not be supernatural at all. I assume again that you hold that any fleshly, unregenerate heart can produce it at will without any specific work of the Spirit of God?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 12:24:00 PM  

  • I assume again that you say would then say that there is nothing supernatural about faith?

    I assume again that you hold that any fleshly, unregenerate heart can produce it at will without any specific work of the Spirit of God?

    No don't assume those things. No one can have faith without the Spirit of God lighting him through the Word of God. I WAS looking for your biblical reason, however.

    I will be gone for awhile now, but see ya later.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 12:31:00 PM  

  • So it is safe to say that faith is in a little different par than hearing or walking because the Word and the Spirit must minister to the person who does these things. Then again, is not the God allowing us to do the other things also? Is not God the giver of all life and ability? The Word of God formed the world after all and all the inhabitants therein, as unregenerate and as "earthly" as it all is.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 12:35:00 PM  

  • strike the "the" before God.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, January 04, 2008 12:36:00 PM  

  • Rose: I will be gone for awhile now, but see ya later. I came back to the computer to see if any one else had responded in the last couple of hours and discovered that your "while" and seeing me "later" came to the grand total of 4 minutes :-)

    I'll make reply in the morning if the Lord permit :-)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Friday, January 04, 2008 2:12:00 PM  

  • In the end what separates the reformed here from the non-reformed in their view of election is how far one is willing to go speculating, or reading-into scripture, as to who the elect are and exactly what they were elected into. The answer in scripture is conclusive, and is, that we aren't told as much.

    By Blogger Todd, at Friday, January 04, 2008 8:41:00 PM  

  • I wonder if I had said, "what the elect are", instead of, "who the elect are", if that would have improved the clarity? I think I'll go with "what the elect are".

    Or possibly, still no one cares anyway.

    By Blogger Todd, at Friday, January 04, 2008 9:22:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose/Todd
    Anyone who believes is the elect, and the elect is anyone who believes, they are interchangeable. If you’re talking about a believer your talking about an elect person and if you’re talking about an elect person then your talking about a believer. Well I think you get the picture.

    And remember they are the elect according ( kata "by") to God's foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2). Not that He needed to foreknow anything but I think He let us know how He did it for our benefit.
    All who are IN the Elect One Jesus Christ. And how did they get there? They believed! And believing is nonmeritorius that's why it's contrasted to works. And faith is NOT a gift. Anyone is able to believe something. And anyone who believes the saving message is born again. Of course no one will believe left to themselves. But God has not left us to ourselves but has commanded that we believe and has provided the way through His Son. So no One has any excuse for not believing not even the ones in far away lands. God says if they seek Him they will find Him and if they don't seek Him they have NO excuse.


    blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 3:43:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    One Biblical proof that saving faith is indeed a supernatural gift (and not something ordinary like seeing or painting etc.,) is that it is distinctly registered in Galatians 5:22 as being a fruit of the Spirit. That saving faith is not imparted to all men is seen [i] in the fact that all men are not saved and [ii] the Bible distinctly says that all men have not faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2) I agree entirely with our old time Evangelical friend, J Vernon McGhee when he wrote: "Now faith is the instrumental cause of salvation. It is the only element the sinner brings to the great transaction of salvation. Yet it too is the gift of God. I know someone will say to me, 'Since faith is the gift of God and God hasn't given it me, I guess I'm not to blame if I don't believe.' The answer is this: God has made it very clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. If you want to trust Christ, you will have to listen to the word of God. God will give faith to all who give heed to the message of the gospel." He continues (and not to everyone's liking, I'm sure, but we old time Evangelicals love it) "Someone else objects, 'Maybe I'm not given the gift of faith.' That's not your problem. Your problem is that you don't want to give up your sins which the Bible condemns. Whenever you get sick of your sins, when you want to turn from yourself, from the things of the world, from religion, from everything the Bible condemns, and turn to Christ, then you will be given faith. You can trust Him." If words mean anything, JVM limits the giving of faith to those who [i] heed the message of the gospel and [ii] give the evidence of repentance - "…then you will be given faith

    This modern stuff i.e. that faith is not a gift has no appeal to me at all.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 4:41:00 AM  

  • Hi Colin,

    You quote J. Vernon McGee:
    God will give faith to all who give heed to the message of the gospel.

    This is where I think you and JVM would disagree because here he is describing saving faith. It doesn't sound like he is describing one who is thrust toward the gospel by divine decree when he says "give heed to."

    The other reference you give from JVM and the Galatians 5:22 ref, if I am not mistaken, is to the confirmation of the Spirit that what one has trusted is indeed true, which confimation and testimony of the HS, I agree, is a gift to the one who has given heed to the message of the gospel.

    Then again, I do not want to argue over whether JVM is with your view or my view. That would be pointless. I like him either way and have benefitted greatly from his well-balanced minstry. I read through *all* of his notes on the Bible and never came away with Calvinism, so I can tell you that he is well balanced. You may pull out a snippet here or there, but I still think he is well balanced. :~)

    "Modern"? That is not the issue. What if Martin Luther had let that idea (that his views on the Scripture were modern) quell his interest in finding the truth? I think all of us would argue that our view may be the intent of the authors of the Bible and therefore would be opposite of "modern."

    Saying a view is "modern" in relation to that of the 15th century (or any other time in the past besides when the Bible was actually written) is not fruitful in deciding whether it is correct or not.

    Now let me ask you:
    Why does Paul discuss faith so much if salvation is on the basis of election? Why is not his main emphasis 'election' then?

    Why does he say that he tries to persuade men - if faith is a gift?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 5:24:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    The reason why I quoted JVM is that I agree with him that he is describing saving faith. I don't believe that anyone is thrust toward the gospel by divine decree so that comment is somewhat redundant and of no consequence.

    Another reason why I quoted JVM is not because he was a Calvinist (he wasn't) but (as indicated) because he was an Old Time Evangelical. His words on this matter are very clear and plain to me. His comments are drawn from Ephesians 2:8-9 where the subject is clearly the gospel of salvation. If he is wrong here on these verses where he advocates faith given to those who seek God and who are willing to turn away from sin and the world etc., (often branded on these very pages as a works salvation) then where does it matter if he should get it "right"? While I hold firm to my Calvinistic faith, yet I see this new doctrine that faith is not a gift as a threat to the Old Time Evangelical faith and I am happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Evangelical Non Calvinists in defending that same faith. This is why I quoted him. I get the impression that you are somewhat uncomfortable with his views here and that this is why you do not want to go down this road? I wish I had more access to H.A. Ironside. Rose: Are you sincerely advocating that faith is not a gift or are you playing devil's advocate here?

    I take the reference in Galatians 5:22 to be faith in all its connections, from saving faith right through to the walk of faith and the dying in faith etc., As indicated before, all men have not faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2) and those that do are given it by the Spirit of God. Unto us it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29)

    Re: Luther and the taunts of Rome that he advocated something new. The Reformers answered by supplying copious quotations from the early church (Augustine etc.,) and showed (what the "faith-is-not-a-gift" folk haven't done) that their doctrine was no new thing, but the ancient faith. I agree that ultimately "what is written" is the final benchmark, but it does take a great amount of faith (thankfully, available from within) to believe that it took this generation to see it, where few, if any, in past days saw it.

    Paul discusses faith so much because it is the instrument of salvation whereby the elect are brought to Christ. There is no imperative in the Bible to elect ourselves and no man can elect himself. However, the command is given to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15) and those sinners who heed the command do so because they are enabled by the Spirit of God. They believe through grace (Acts 18:27) and repentance is likewise given them (Acts 11:18) There is no contradiction between seeking to persuade men if faith is a gift. Faith is drawn out (under God) by means of the persuasive preaching of the gospel. No one is advocating that God does not use means.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:30:00 AM  

  • I hope you are having a good day, Colin.

    "Faith is a gift" is the whole backbone of the doctrines of Grace. "Faith is a gift" logically leads to the D.O.G.
    It may be a good tactic for you to imply that most Christians have believed the foundation of your D.O.G. theology, but it is not the best representation of the true situation.

    You imply that only people in this generation have had the idea that faith was what the sinner brought to salvation and that God responds to that faith by granting that one righteousness. (I know the wording of that offends your sovereign sensibilities.) You are clearly wrong on that. This is not a peculiarity to the 20th and 21st century. You may be able to charge some of Zane Hodges teachings with "peculiarity," but what I am talking about - that faith is not a gift in the sense you claim it is - is widespread and has been among non-Calvinists through the ages. It is not novel.

    The charge of novelty is overdone by Reformed bloggers, IMHO. :~)

    You still haven't shown me where the Bible teaches that faith unto salvation is a gift.

    Here are the passages you quote so we can see them together:

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:45:00 AM  

  • Galatians 5:22
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

    2 Thessalonians 3:2
    and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.

    Philippians 1:29
    29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

    Mark 1:15
    and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

    Acts 18:27
    And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;

    Acts 11:18
    When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”


    Colin,
    Those passages do not teach that faith is a gift from God given specifically to the elect and not coming from the sinner. Maybe you have a better, more convincing one for me. Please quote it along with if its reference if you would.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:52:00 AM  

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 is a great verse on how salvation is a gift:
    Ephesians 2:8-9 and salvation being a gift.

    I once did a post on that verse. It was a great discussion. Does Ephesians 2:8-9 say that faith is a gift?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 6:59:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I have had better days, but worse also so I am not complaining. I hope your day is good.

    I am not using any tactics here at all, but making the charge that what you are advocating here is a new doctrine, which Evangelicals (of both main schools within Old Time Evangelicalism) have rejected. The issue is not whether it is faith that brings the sinner to God and that God grants the faithful one righteousness. I do not deny this truth, so the wording of it (apart from the erroneous charge you attach to it) does not offend my sensibilities at all. It is taken for granted, again by Evangelicals of both schools within OTE. I don't know where you are getting that I have said or implied that only those of this generation believe it. I am pains to point out that I am an OTE and again, I am charging that what you are clearly advocating is not old at all, but really is a modern invention. The best way, of course, to silence this charge is to answer it with solid proof. Show me who denied that saving faith is a supernatural gift from God prior to (say) 1900? Making counter charges, Rose, of things that I have not advocated isn't an answer. (I think we both know that.)

    If all men have not faith (as Paul believed) and that those that believed did so through grace (Greek: charis often translated as gift) then it follows [i] that the grace is not given to all men, for the charge is not that they do not exercise faith, but that they do not have it and [ii] those who have it and use it (i.e. the elect) are given it by grace.

    We'll not fall out over this, but the only way it will be satisfactorily solved is to show where your view is not modern at all, but the ancient faith of Evangelicals. I doubt that you can do it, but I stand (as ever) to be corrected.

    Regards,

    P/s I have not introduced Ephesians 2:8 as a proof text. It may interest you to know that Calvin did not take the "not of yourselves" to relate to faith He advocated it elsewhere, but not from Ephesians 2:8

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:16:00 AM  

  • I think we may be having a wrinkle in communucation, Colin.

    I don't know where you are getting that I have said or implied that only those of this generation believe it.

    I thought that you were saying that it is modern to view faith as *not* a gift. You are saying that it is modern to view faith as *no*t a gift, but as coming from the sinner, right?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:24:00 AM  

  • From my perspective, the idea that faith was what the sinner brought to salvation = faith is not a gift, but comes from the sinner.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:26:00 AM  

  • I see it now. I was expanding on my view of faith not being a gift and I think some of what was in that expansion you did agree with.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:31:00 AM  

  • I am still waiting for the clear scriptural teaching that faith unot salvation is a gift, and does not come from the sinner, but from God.

    Meanwhile, I will try to prove what you ask, although it may take a while for me to research it.

    *****************************
    _____________________________
    MAYBE SOMEONE ELSE CAN HELP.

    Colin has asked me to prove that the concept that faith is *not* a supernatural gift only for the elect is *not old* at all, but really is a modern invention.

    So how can I show him that others in the past have not held to the idea that faith is a gift from God in the sense of the D.O.G.?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:37:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    I am saying that Evangelicals of both schools have always viewed faith as a supernatural gift from God. It is the "sinner's faith" in that it is not God who believes, but the sinner who actually ventures his trust upon Christ. But faith does not start within the sinner - it is graciously imparted to him by God who enables him to believe. The wicked deceitful heart of the sinner cannot originate saving faith or true repentance.

    I am saying that it is a modern view (at least among professing Evangelicals) that faith is not a gift from God but something that the sinner can cook up for themselves. Unless, I am mistaken, then you seem to be advocating this latter view, hence these comments.

    I hope this smooths out the wrinkles in our communications? (We're both too young to have any other wrinkles!)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:39:00 AM  

  • Rose: It will be interesting to see if anyone can come up with some Evangelical from a past day who categorically denies that faith is a gift from God. As said before, it will be the only way to properly show whether my charge is correct or not.

    I wish I had more time to do my own research on the matter, but I am away on Monday for a few days. I wish I had a laptop whose battery didn't compete so much with the clock along with free access to the Internet while sitting 6 hours on the train. Things busy here at the moment, although this discussion is good.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:43:00 AM  

  • Well I am not saying that the sonner can "cook it up" himself. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We are able to see the truth of God's word because of the HS. I never said we could cook it up for ourselves.

    But you and I view it differently. I see faith as the sinner entrusting himself to Christ. this is not a gift, but a trust on the sinners part.

    (No wrinkles yet, but grey hairs are popping out).

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:43:00 AM  

  • ...grey hairs and a problem typing.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 7:44:00 AM  

  • OK Rose, Now we're getting places. The Holy Spirit enables the sinner to believe - I assume that this is the import of your "because of the Holy Spirit." He enables the sinner to overcome all the sinful bias's of his wicked heart and to venture his faith upon the Son of God. Agreed? (I think so) Is this enablement (Bill Gates has just rejected this word, but so what?) a gracious enablement on the part of the Holy Spirit? IOW: Could He have withheld it from us, being without any obligation to impart it? If so, then it is a gift i.e. it is based on grace alone, hence as Luke observes in Acts 18:27, we believe through grace i.e. through the gift.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 8:03:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    I think it's safe to say that no man(even any elect in one form or the other) will believe with out hearing the word of God and that it's simply hearing the word of God that imparts the gift of faith.

    The bible states that faith is a gift, no one could argue otherwise. We simply have to accept that without knowing how the precise dynamic works, since we're not told, lest we come up with a multitude of unsubstantiated guesses.

    Many great evangelical thinkers have agreed with the D.O.G on 'election' without being able to prove them satisfactorily. That makes no sense to me. The D.O.G. on 'election' simply takes on an attractive life of it's own apart from the bible and will always be a needless source of controversy.

    Just had to think out loud here Rose. Thanks.

    By Blogger Todd, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 9:26:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    I offer the following scriptural example of one being chosen beforehand and yet having the freedom of choice.
    When the servant of Abraham went to the city of Nahor to get a wife for Isaac he stopped at a well out of the city and prayed to God and said, “Let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac.” Gen 24:14. Before he had done speaking Rebekah came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. He asked her for a drink. She gave him a drink and said she would draw water for his camels also. Verses 15-19. So Rebekah was the one whom the Lord had chosen or elected for Isaac. Here is election beforehand of one to be Isaac’s wife.
    The man went into the house and told his errand. In the morning the family called Rebekah and asked her if she would go with this man. She said, “I will go.” Verses 57-58
    So we see that Rebekah had her choice in the matter. God’s election of her beforehand to be Isaac’s wife did not deprive her of her choice in the matter. So it is with God’s election of us to salvation. His choice of us beforehand does not deprive us of our choice. God’s foreknowledge enabled Him to know the choice that Rebekah would make. Even so did His foreknowledge enable Him to know the choice that we would make.

    Blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, January 05, 2008 11:59:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose /and ALL
    Biblical faith is being convinced something is true.
    Saving faith is being convinced the gospel is true.
    Speaking of Abraham: He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being FULLY CONVINCED THAT WHAT HE HAD PROMISED HE WAS ALSO ABLE TO PERFORM. Romans 4:20,21


    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in HIM should not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE.

    John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and BELIEVES in HIM may have EVERLASTING LIFE; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    John 6:47 “Most asssuredly, I say to you, he who BELIEVES in ME has EVERLASTING LIFE.

    We see these three things BELIEVES in HIM has EVERLASTING LIFE.

    Anyone who is convinced that Jesus promise is true has saving faith.

    The Calvinistic faith is unknowable. It’s loaded with commitment, repentance, so you can’t know you have really done it until you persevere unto the end. Since they believe that faith is a gift from God, if it’s real it will endure until the end. So you cant know until the end whether you have the real thing because they believe in what’s called a spurious faith that can fool the one who has it into thinking they have the real thing but then find out they had a false faith. It’s impossible for them to know they have eternal life until the end of their life because they MUST persevere in good works unto the end of their life or the rapture. But the bible clearly tells us we can know we have eternal life based solely on the promise of God and not our works.
    1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, THAT YOU MAY KNOW YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE


    Quote from Colin:
    As indicated before, all men have not faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2) and those that do are given it by the Spirit of God. Unto us it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29)

    However, the command is given to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15) and those sinners who heed the command do so because they are enabled by the Spirit of God. They believe through grace (Acts 18:27) and repentance is likewise given them (Acts 11:18)


    My comment: See the gift of faith as Colin suggest all is built in, it’s a complete package. It’s unknowable you can always question yourself did I repent of everything or was my repentance sincere enough. It’s all introspective. Notice also the Gospel of John which is the ONLY evangelistic book that has Jesus signs in it for the purpose one might believe and have life does not have repentance in the whole book ONE time (John 20:30,31). And also Paul’s book on the defense of the gospel Galations does not have repentance in it ONE time.
    Why is that??? Because repentance is a work, it’s turning from your sins. But the gift of eternal life is a gift that can be taken freely. Notice those verse up above the ONLY condition was BELIEVE not repent and believe BUT SIMPLY BELIEVE!!!


    Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come, Whoever DESIRES, let him take the water of life FREELY.

    blessings alvin
    Not also: If it’s unconditional election then it follows that it’s unconditional salvation. So the ones in the past who believed in a conditional election also believed in a conditional salvation.

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 1:06:00 AM  

  • Good morning, all and sundry:

    Alvin: The idea that men need to repent and in faith turn from their sins to God and the doctrine of perseverence of the saints are not exclusively a Calvinistic doctrines. You keep writing as if they are and unfortunately it betrays a lack of understanding of your part. If you are going to brand those that believe these things as propagators of a works gospel, then I ask you to categorically state here and now, without any equivocation, that both J. Vernon McGee and Harry Ironside (neither of whom were Calvinists) were propagaters of a false gospel.

    JVM: "Someone else objects, 'Maybe I'm not given the gift of faith.' That's not your problem. Your problem is that you don't want to give up your sins which the Bible condemns. Whenever you get sick of your sins, when you want to turn from yourself, from the things of the world, from religion, from everything the Bible condemns, and turn to Christ, then you will be given faith. You can trust Him." (Comments on Ephesians 2:8-9 on Salvation by grace through faith and that not of ourselves)

    HAI:- "People say, “I see you believe in that old Baptist doctrine of ‘once in grace, always in grace.’” Or another says, “I understand you hold that old Presbyterian idea of ‘the final perseverance of the saints.’” I do not know why this should be called either Baptist or Presbyterian, only to the extent that Baptists and Presbyterians agree with the Book, and the Word of God clearly shows that once God takes us up in grace nothing can separate us from the love of Christ so that evidently the expression, “once in grace, always in grace,” is a perfectly correct one. But, on the other hand, I am not so enthusiastic about the other expression, “the perseverance of the saints.” I believe in it; I believe that all saints--all really belonging to God--will persevere to the end, for the Book tells me, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13), and if a man starts out and makes a profession but gives it all up, he will never be saved, because he was never born again to begin with, he was never truly changed by grace divine. On the other hand, the reason he endures to the end is not because of any particular perseverance of his own. What I believe in, and what the Word of God clearly teaches, is the perseverance of the Holy Spirit. When He begins a work, He never gives up until it is completed. That is our confidence." (Eternal Security of the Believer)

    Come on, Alvin, be consistent. Come out and charge both these non Calvinistic Evangelicals as propagaters of a works gospel.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 1:42:00 AM  

  • Colin, believing in Perserverance does not necessarilly entail believing a works gospel.

    A person may believe that she will perservere because she is maong the elect. However, this does not necessarilly make her a propogator of a works gospel.

    Often people who believe in perserverance preach a Scriptural Gospel message. They tell people that if they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ they will have eternal life.

    The fact they teach perserverance may cause confusion to their converts later, but this is another matter.

    It is when people preach that persons must change their behaviour to be saved that they preach a dangerous false message.

    It is also dangerous when person make conduct a basis for assurance, a tendency that was attacked by Plymouth Brethren (if not always consistently).

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 5:14:00 AM  

  • Matthew: I agree with you here. Unfortunately your spirit of discernment doesn't seem to be shared by Alvin whose ability to throw charges round him is unmatched by his ability to back them up. He isn't saying what you are saying. The context of his reply charges me with believing that I am saved by good works rather than faith. He says: But the Bible clearly tells us we can know we have eternal life based solely on the promise of God and not our works. This is true. I believe it 100%, but it is being put forth against the doctrine of perseverance of the saints as if we believed that our persevering works contributed something to salvation. Hence my challenge to him on this doctrine and especially on the doctrine of repentance. A challenge which (at this time) he has been unable to take up.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 5:51:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    Colin, you need to quit blowing smoke and pointing at other people and other religions! You’re the one that claims to be a Calvinist! You need to take the fire like a man! No offense to you women! IMO the women for the most part will have more gold , silver , and precious stones at the Bema. The women for the most part seem to be more faithful and they like precious stones he! he!!! Now getting back to the subject at hand!
    Colin you said:
    The context of his reply charges me with believing that I am saved by good works rather than faith. He says: But the Bible clearly tells us we can know we have eternal life based solely on the promise of God and not our works. This is true. I believe it 100%, but it is being put forth against the doctrine of perseverance of the saints as if we believed that our persevering works contributed something to salvation. Hence my challenge to him on this doctrine and especially on the doctrine of repentance. A challenge which (at this time) he has been unable to take up.

    Colin here you are blowing smoke by saying you believe 100% BUT, that’s a big BUT!!!
    Because your faith has repentance in it, that is turning from sins, also if that faith is true it will endure to the end to be saved. And your saying if that faith doesn’t then it wasn’t true faith. You clearly don’t believe in faith alone in Christ alone which is a free gift. But you must turn from your sins to get that gift.
    Colin what you say in the following I see as double talk:
    Hi all: I don't hold that faith is ever a work, but then my belief in unconditional election, (where faith flows from election) lets me consistently hold this position. On the other hand, if I were to hold that my faith is the cause or condition of my election, then there is certainly a strong whiff of merit there, with God evidently seeing (or foreseeing) that I loved Him and so, as a direct consequence, He loved me with that electing love.

    I said:
    Where Colin says (where faith flows from election) lets me consistently hold this position.
    This is just a word game! Saying faith flows from election is how he gets the works in there without calling it what it is works (repentance turning from sin, perseverance). Don’t get me wrong I believe in progressive sanctification which will be completed when we see our Lord face to face. But I also believe some will fall from grace in this life and shipwreak their faith. There is a possibility all their works being wood, hey and stubble being burned up but they will be saved yet as by fire.
    Notice Colin contrast his type of faith with the faith of one who believes in conditional election as a faith that has a strong whiff of merit. Because he sees if the condition for being elected is faith then it’s works. This shows he believes in a unconditional election and an unconditional salvation. Other words God does it all, your pretty much a robot! But we see over and over in scripture that the condition for salvation is to believe, therefore we know that election is conditioned upon believing. This is what God foreknew who would believe, this allows man to have a choice whether he has ears to hear or not. You see Colin sees faith as a work, that’s why to Him it has to be a gift in order not to be a work. I believe that faith is simply being convinced that something is true. And saving faith is being convinced the gospel is true. And eternal life truly is a free gift anyone can take freely without having to turn from sins or live a godly life.

    Blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 3:50:00 PM  

  • Hi all.

    Alvin, you disappoint me greatly on this thread. I asked you specifically for your views on two promine tand well respected non Calvinists who held to the same views as me (or I to them) on perseverance of the saints and repentance. You signally failed to answer or even acknowledge these questions, but resorted to your usual throwing out of what is now becoming very stale accusations. I deplore your lack of substance and your consistency ratings are barely above nil. If I am preaching a works gospel then so is JVM and HAI.

    I am unable to proceed with this thread with you because I am heading for a train in less than half an hour and will be away for a few days. Besides, I am unsure how profitable it is to continue to debate with you. You have already said what you keep saying and it is starts to get pretty wearisome. I hope this doesn't sound nasty (no intention for it to be) but (as said) you do surprise me. I hoped for better.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at Sunday, January 06, 2008 11:01:00 PM  

  • Good Morning Rose

    Hi GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME

    Well I don’t hear you denying anything I said? So you must agree!!!
    Your faith is like that spaghetti commercial that says “IT’S ALL IN THERE!” If it ain’t you got the wrong sauce! I can tell you Colin that type of faith can’t save because you can never tell if it’s all in there till the end, then it’s to late when you find yourself in the wrong place.
    But at least when you get there and find out your faith was a works faith you can at least say well at least I never lost it because I never had it to begin with!

    A little bit from Calvin: By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God by which He determined with Himself what ever He wished to happen with regard to every man all are not created on equal terms but some are preordained to eternal life others to eternal damnation and accordingly by and each have been created for one or the other of these ends. We say that he has been created or predestined for life or death.

    Note: If you were created for damnation there is no hope for you. He created some people to be damned He created some people to be saved and that is the bottom line. The decree I admit Calvin said is dreadful.
    It makes me scratch my head when I hear people so gleefuly proclaiming Calvinism because the majority of humans were doomed from the womb!!!

    Colin you’re not as safe as you think!

    Blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Monday, January 07, 2008 4:18:00 AM  

  • Did Goodnight ever give a scripture reference to show that faith is a gift from God?

    By Blogger Dawn, at Monday, January 07, 2008 11:14:00 AM  

  • Hi Dawn,
    No he did not. Maybe he will yet.

    Matthew,
    I agree with your assessment in that last comment and I can see where Colin's frustration comes in. We have ideas about the logical conslusions of individual's personally held beliefs, but that does not mean they preach those conclusions to the unsaved.

    Maybe you or I shoud develop that point that more.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:08:00 PM  

  • Todd,
    you say "The bible states that faith is a gift, no one could argue otherwise."

    Tell me where, please so I can read it for myself. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:09:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    In the sense that everything there is is a gift from God to freely use as we will use it.

    But that sounds way too dipsy, plus that's not God speaking either, (I don't think...?), so let me round that out, in the next day or two, and firm that up, if no other than in my own mind. Short on time at the moment.

    Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 3:58:00 PM  

  • ...and I remember your post on "Is Faith a Gift" too. I put that in my "storage blog" and think I'll pull that out later tonight.

    By Blogger Todd, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 4:04:00 PM  

  • ...rather, "What's Faith", Apr. 2006.

    By Blogger Todd, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 6:41:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,
    I'm thinking specifically of somewhere that Paul credits the Lord for engaging with him to help him sustain the strength of his belief. Paul words it in such a way that describes it as being giftlike. To the point where, in a certain sense, he cannot sustain his faith all by himself, but the Lord intercedes and assists.

    I took that as license to describe faith as a gift in that sense. I know that notion solidified in me before I realized there were people out there who were working off of the invented notion of "the inability to believe". I hadn't really proofed it against being mistaken for an incorrect reading of Eph. 2:8.

    I apologize for not remembering the remarks of Paul's which I mentioned above that portrayed faith in the sense of a sort of gift. I'll keep my eyes open and try and track down exactly what I was reading.


    I do look at faith as a gift in the sense that James gets into here:

    Jas 1:17, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."

    But that's pretty generally speaking.

    It's unfortunate, the mere mention of faith as a gift can have divisive implications when the Word, it would seem, would not lead us to such a position.

    That would have God testing our faith-as testing himself, wouldn't it?

    Oh my, and that's debateable? I think I'll just go with the sure thing.

    Alright, so I've got to find that spot that got me going on the gift thing. Maybe it was in the King James which I don't do too much of anymore. I'll try and find it.

    Otherwise, maybe it's not a gift afterall, who knows. He's got to say it somewhere for it to be real.

    By Blogger Todd, at Tuesday, January 08, 2008 8:11:00 PM  

  • Todd,
    I think you and I would say that faith is a gift in the same sense as one another. It is the 'inability to believe' view of faith as a gift that I beg to differ with - where is the Scriptural support for such a notion?

    "No one seeks after God..."

    that doesn't say that faith can't come by hearing the Word of God.

    Let us know what verse you were thinking of. See ya.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, January 09, 2008 11:34:00 AM  

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