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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Foundations of Deconstructionism | Main | The Results of the Atonement Seen »

    Is Faith a Work?

    We confess with the Bible that our regeneration or new birth in Christ is monergistic (a work of God alone) and not synergistic (i.e. a cooperation of man and God in regeneration). Thus our faith in Christ arises out of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to change and soften our natural hostile disposition toward God. We likewise affirm that only by upholding monergistic regeneration do we faithfullly herald the biblical doctrine of 'Sola Gratia', or salvation by grace alone. All other schemes in which unregenerate man either takes the initiative or cooperates to be regenerated (by a faith produced or drawn from their native ability), should be considered synergistic. Some may be unhappy with being called a 'synergist' because it implies that they believe man and God work together toward salvation which clearly is a form of semi-pelagianism. So to defend themselves many synergists may respond as follows:

    "Why do you call our belief that faith precedes regeneration synergistic? How can this be, unless faith is understood to be a work? Faith is not a meritorious work, by definition. In essence, the two are mutually exclusive. Accepting a gift is not a work, therefore it can't be considered synergism. If salvation is by faith, then works are nowhere to be found in the process. Again, to argue that faith precedes regeneration is synergistic would only be valid if faith = works."

    I might respond to this line of reasoning by saying something like the following:

    "You are correct that the Bible teaches that faith is not a work, but we make it into a work as soon as we view it as something we can autonomously come up with, apart from any work of the Holy Spirit. Those who believe we can, from our own resources, change our naturally unregenerate hardened hearts in some way that is independent of God are promoting rank Pelagianism. Ask yourself, in light of Scripture, can you believe the gospel apart from ANY work of the Holy Spirit? (see 1 Thes 1:4,5). God commands us to come to Him but unregenerate man is naturally faithless. The reason for this is that he is by nature unspiritual (i.e. w/o the Holy Spirit). We cannot grasp spiritual truth without the Holy Spirit. To claim we might do so would be a contradiction, for spirituality is a condition of spiritual understanding. In 1 Cor 2:12 Paul affrims this by writing, "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." ( i.e. the gospel). That is why through the prophet Jeremiah, God makes the promise, "I will heal your faithlessness" (Jer 3:22). With this in mind do you think we can heal our own faithlessness?

    The question we need to be asking ourselves is, "what makes us to differ from other men who do not believe?" ... the grace of God or the will of man? If we say "the will of man" it is a boast and therefore not the kind of faith that is contrasted with works in the Bible. For Eph 2:8,9 speaks of faith that is the gift of God, a faith which leaves no room for boasting. True faith is seen as God's merciful gift which then looks away from its own resources and looks unto Christ for all spiritual blessings, including the very ability to believe. This is utterly distasteful to the natural man, not to mention humbling. And as Spurgeon said, "...no one natually submits to the humbling terms of the gospel". Elsewhere to strengthen this point Spurgeon said,

    "...did you ever meet a Christian man who said, "I came to Christ without the power of the Spirit?" If you ever did meet such a man, you need have no hesitation in saying, "My dear sir, I quite believe it-and I believe you went away again without the power of the Spirit, and that you know nothing about the matter, and are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity."

    In the synergists understanding, what ultimately makes us to differ from unbelievers is the will of man, not the grace of God. For, in that system, God has given all men equal grace ('grace' meaning nothing more than something freely offered to them), so God's blessing hinges upon a condition we meet, our action, our wisdom, our spiritual sensitivity. But it was for this very reason God sent His Son, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves, (that is, including providing us with the spiritual resources to meet God's demand of faith and repentance.)

    What makes men to differ to the synergist, therefore, is not grace, for, to them, all have grace, so the difference is how one man uses that grace better than another. Grace no longer, therefore, has anything to do with it, for ultimately it depends on a fallen person creating a right thought or affection about Christ thus believing in our ability to believe in Him. That our moral inability to exercise faith, due to a corruption of nature, does not itself need to be redeemed. Why, then, do some believe but not others? In answer to this most synergists say "because some believed" ... but notice that we did not ask what they did, but why they did it.

    In John 10 Jesus said some do not believe BECAUSE they are not My sheep, and "My sheep hear my voice". Who they are in essence, therefore, precedes how they respond. Jesus explains this in detail when he says that Spirit gives birth to spirit but flesh gives birth to flesh...for this reason I said that no man can come to me UNLESS God grants it (John 6:63, 65). To believe in Christ God must grant it, and further, the Bible says ALL to whom God grants it, will believe (John 6:37).

    It is true that the Bible contrasts faith and works, but biblical faith is never seen as something we, in our unregenerate condition, had to autonomously (apart form the Holy Spirit) contribute. Can the synergist thank God for his faith? How? Consider this prayer, "God I thank you for your salvation, except for my faith, the one thing I exercised on my own." Or consider this prayer, "Thank you Lord I am not like other men who do not have faith. While you extended grace to all men, some did not make use of it, BUT I DID." Such boasting, whether unconsciously or not is the result of believing that what makes you to differ from others is not God's grace but your faith. But the work of Christ redeems us unto faith, not on the condition of faith.

    In the synergists' system, all men have grace, but only some have faith, yet because that faith does not comes from God's gift (since not all men have faith), is therefore, something we produce naturally on our own, apart from the Holy Spirit. That is why, after the Rich Young Ruler when away sad when called to repent and follow Jesus, the Lord answered his disciples' question "who then can be saved" with "what is impossible with man [i.e. faith and repentance] is possible with God."

    Most of you who visit this site are convinced that the Bible teaches that salvation is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone, that is, that man and God do not cooperate in salvation. Most would further affirm that faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature but comes about as the result of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, opens our spiritually blind eyes and unplugs our deaf ears to the gospel. We believe the gospel can only be heard by those God has spiritually granted to hear it (John 6:63, 65). This is not only what the Bible teaches from beginning to end, but this safeguards the reality that all glory goes to God for our salvation.

    We affirm that our blindness and deafness to the gospel cannot be changed by mere human persuasion, (just as light itself does not make a blind man see) but rather it is by God doing a work of grace in our heart to change our naturally hostile disposition to one of love for Christ. We believe the Bible teaches this because, without the Holy Spirit, the natural man does not understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14) but thinks of them as foolish. He naturally loves darkness and hates the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20) The human will as a 'slave to sin' does not, therefore, by liberty obtain saving grace, but by saving grace obtains liberty.

    I would like to leave you with the following bit of the Hebrew Scripture: Sometimes in the Old Testament and the New, God reveals behind the scenes how He enabled particular persons to obey his Word when they were called to repent: In 2 Chronicles chapter 30 when couriers with a message of repentance passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, those who heard laughed them to scorn and mocked them when they were called to repent,

    "Nevertheless [the Bible says] some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 30:11-12)

    The text says some resisted the call, but all those tribes which the hand of God gave a heart to obey the Word, repented.

    - J.W. Hendryx

    Posted by John on March 21, 2006 04:20 PM

    Comments

    John,
    It was reasoning such as this that began my journey toward acceptance of the Doctrines of Grace.

    Dan

    In Thessalonians Chapter 1 Verse 3 Paul thanks the Thessalonians for their "work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope".

    For what is he thanking them and why?

    Context suggests that faith begets work, love begets labor, and hope begets endurance. Faith, hope, and love - the spiritual gifts.

    In Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the spiritual gifts and defines love as the greatest of the three.

    If faith alone is the prerequisite for salvation, then where falls hope and love and how do you reconcile Paul's ordering of the gifts in Corinthians with the concept of faith alone?

    Are we to assume that the gifts of hope and love also resultant of grace, or are they borne of faith or are they given independently?

    As spiritual gifts, are hope and love also to be differentiated as recieved involuntarily by the faithful and therefore not available to all?

    Finally, is it possible to have these gifts bestowed upon you and yet to refrain unintentionally from acting upon them?

    Thank you,

    Mike

    Mike thanks for your post.

    You may wish to take a closer look at the passage in 1 thess you cited

    I Thess. 1:2-4, Paul states "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."

    He thanks God for their work of faith. Why doesn't he thank them for it? Beacuse Paul is not looking to secondary sources but to the fountain, the source, which is God.

    Then Paul adds additional information in I Thess. 2:13: "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." Notice that it is this man's reception of the Gospel that is the explicit "cause" for which Paul is thanking God! Paul puts in God's account man's initial reception of the Gospel, and subsequently thanks God for it continually.

    Still more information is added in II Thess. 1:3: "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth." Here Paul expands his previous statements. He declares that he is "bound" (i.e. obligated or constrained) to thank God,Not only is God to be thanked for the fact that a man possesses faith and love in the first place, He is also to be praised and thanked when that faith and love grows and abounds in the lives of Christians. God, then, must be responsible, not only for the initial presence of faith and love, but also for it's maintenance, continuance and fruitfulness in the face of various trials and afflictions (see II Thess. 1:4).

    II Thess. 2:13-14: "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Consider this question. Can you sincerely look to God and say, thank you Lord for all that you have done for me, except for my faith, which I came up with on my own. Such a statement would be blasphemous, yet it is the result of believing that we are the authors and finisher of our own faith.

    if there is nothing that I on my own can do to be saved and recieve eternal life then how can I become saved?

    Caleb:

    He that calls upon the name of the Lord, says God, shall be saved.

    PAULS FAITH & WORKS: Unlike with James, when Paul puts faith & works in opposition to each other, he is dealing with the AGENCIES involved in salvation, with the corollary of who should get the credit. Paul always takes the utmost pains to REMOVE from man any idea that regeneration/salvation is initiated by the agency of himself. He knows that if any man is of the opinion that HE initiated his salvation, and what’s more, maintains it by his own actions, that man’s soul, as he warned the Galatians, is lost. For that man has dreamed to usurp for himself the place of, and imagined himself to be the foremost agency of, his salvation, and so has been bold enough to clamber onto the throne, and accept the glory directed there.

    Notice how Paul deals with the issue of agencies in salvation in the verses below, continually taking away any cause for man’s self-appropriation of the credit and for boasting, continually accentuating the fact that GOD is the one efficient cause of it all, and so all the credit goes to HIM alone.

    Eph. 2:1. “He has made you alive, who were once dead..”

    2:4. “But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us 5 even when we were dead in sins, (God) has made us alive..”

    2:8. “Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

    2:10. “For we are His workmanship, created..”

    Rom. 4:2 “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast; but not before God.”

    Rom. 9:11. “Not of (our)works, but of Him who called..”

    2 Tim. 1:9 “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose

    Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..”

    Paul has made it quite clear, as to what part the agencies of GOD & MAN have played in regeneration and justification, making it further plain by ascribing to God ALL the glory.

    SO MAN MAY NOT BOAST:
    Rom. 3:27. “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Notice that the faith Paul talks about removes man’s right to boast. Why, if it makes all the difference in salvation? - BECAUSE that faith itself, is a grace gift from God!!!

    1 Cor. 1:29. “That no flesh should glory in his presence. 31 That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

    2 Cor. 10:17. “But he that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

    Eph. 2:9. “Not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

    Rom 4:2. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast; but not before God.”

    But the God who has, on the cross, (it is claimed) done ALL that He can do, for the salvation of any soul, and now can only wait for the human responses to occur, - THIS God CANNOT righteously receive ALL the glory!!! - He MUST admit that each person HAS, by his or her positive response, ‘activated’ the work of the cross in his/her case, and so that person clearly DOES deserve some of the credit for the occurrence of it in their life, and so DOES HAVE SOMETHING OF WHICH TO BOAST, - something which God’s word absolutely denies!

    When Paul talks about justifying ‘faith’, he is taking AWAY man’s initiating agency in justification and its consequent glory, and giving it all to God. When he talks about ‘works’, he is talking about ANYTHING which men & women put forward as the initiating agency of their salvation that is not GOD Himself. To many, that THING, is their own self-generated faith, and thus the initiating agency of their justification that they put forward, is NOT God, but THEMSELVES.

    beautiful defense of the biblical view and explaination on the relation of saving faith to works.

    Ephesians 2:8–9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is not from yourself or anything you've done, but the gift of God."

    What is "through faith" - even if God is doing it - what is the outward or inward sign that you have "faith"? your holy life? your thoughts? your desires? your mental ascent to some doctrine? something else? how do you know this "faith" is being exhibited?

    at what age does faith start?; what intellectual/mental/emotional/relational "abilities" are pre-requisties for this God-given gracious gift of faith to be manifest?

    I'm not sure you quite addressed the hypothetical challenge. It was rightfully pointed out that, since faith is not a work, man can claim credit for his own belief, without taking credit for his salvation. IOW, one can be a synergist in regard to faith, while a monergist in regard to salvation. You responded:

    "You are correct that the Bible teaches that faith is not a work, but we make it into a work as soon as we view it as something we can autonomously come up with, apart from any work of the Holy Spirit."

    2 points: 1) even arminians (at least classical arminians) don't believe that men believe apart from the Holy Spirit. Just a minor point. 2) Where in scripture does is say that faith becomes a work IF it's developed autonomously? This second point seems to be a philosophical view of yours, but not one derived directly from scripture.

    Scripture makes a clear case that faith earns nothing (Rom. 4:2-8), but not for the reasons you claim, i.e. the absence of autonomy. Pauls says God RECKONS faith as righteousness (Rom. 4:3,5,9-10, 22). This implies faith, in and of itself, falls short of earning salvation. This is why it must be reckoned by God as righteousness. The term is actually an accounting term which conveys the idea of placing something in someone's account.

    If faith in men is 100% a product of God, then why does it fall short? Why would God do something insufficient that then needs to be reckoned as righteous?

    But this is not what Paul says. He says, the faith of men earns nothing, and therefore it requires God's special reckoning. On its own it falls short. And, if it falls short, why would you be concerned about men taking part in it or partial credit for it? If it has no meritorious value, what is there to boast about?

    This notion that that autonomous faith is a work, has no scriptural foundation. Until you can make that case, biblically, I'll have to just take Paul's word for it.

    I think I can sum things up concisely in this one statement.

    The fact that faith is good FOR us, does not imply that it is good OF us. Yet this seems to be the inference you're drawing.

    Hope that helps as you think this through.

    Calminian

    Calminian, you're inconsistent. If Arminians say that faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it logically follows that the Holy Spirit is NOT giving "faith" to everyone! Everyone who believes is "born again" or "born from above", which in fact precedes faith. A child cannot exist without first being conceived and born of his mother. In the same way every Christian cannot exist or even believe unless they are first regenerated, born again by the Holy Spirit. If everyone has the Holy Spirit, then it follows that no one is lost and everyone is on the way to heaven. Obviously, that is not the case. Only the elect are regenerated, given faith, converted, justified, adopted, sanctified, and glorified. Everyone else is "free" to continue to sin in accordance with their own evil desires.

    The Holy Spirit doesn't have to reside in a person to move upon them. He gives a person the ability to place their faith in Christ. So it is a gift, but that person still has the choice to resist the Spirit as Stephen's hearers did when they stoned him. Without the Spirit moving upon a person (not meaning to reside in) a person cannot exercise faith. Nobody CAN believe without being drawn.

    Also works have to do with actions performed to make one righteous apart from faith. That is what the Pharisees had become. It is the reason that James could say that works are a part of or an outflowing of faith.

    Even with faith, it is not the faith that saves, but Christ's work on the cross. So where would the boasting be? Faith just accepts it. God could save without faith if He chose to, but faith could never save without God. Therefore it is still all of God.

    Acts 2 - Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,and said unto Peter,what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent,and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    1. They were pricked in the heart, not given a new heart. The Holy Spirit brings conviction to all men when the gospel is preached.

    2. Peter said to repent and be baptized and then you will receive the Holy Spirit so clearly they did not have it at point.

    Then in Acts 7 - When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart,and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

    1. They were cut to the heart just like in Acts 2.

    2. They responded by stoning Stephen.

    I am still amazed that Romans has not put an end to this debate. Romans chapter 1 clearly teaches that all men reject God,are without excuse for doing so,and therefore the wrath of God abides upon them(1:18-20) We know this involves ALL men as it is clearly taught by Paul throughout the first 3 chapters, namely in his summarizing of chapters 1 and 2 in 3:9-20. All men are unrighteous and unable to be so in that the wrath of God has GIVEN them over to the lusts of their heart(1:24,26). All men do not like to retain God in their knowledge upon knowing that which 1:19,20 implies as a sufficient understanding of God, and are therefore GIVEN over to a reprobate mind(1:28). Therefore in Paul's summary of his first 2 chapters he says...none are righteous, not even one(for all rejected God) ...none understand(because all are given over to a reprobate mind) ...ALL have gone astray(if the first 2 are true then how can you not?!). I have no need to defend Total Inability (Depravity) from birth, from which the remaining doctrines of grace by necessity must follow( for if all are totally unable to come to Christ, then there must be an election made by God on who will come seeing as there exists a hell for those who will not come. And that election must not be conditioned upon any man's merit seeing as it's already established that ALL men abide under the wrath of God...hence UNCONDITIONAL election. And therefore, Christ knowing that only the elect were to receive His atoning work on the cross, His coming to perform it was for them specifically...hence LIMITED atonement...etc...etc). I need only start from the point that Paul does which is the judgment upon man that blinds them from the ability to see the truth of the gospel and come to Christ. Paul sees no use at this moment in teaching the truth of the gospel to explain why EVERY human being rejects God upon sufficient knowledge of who He is. Rather he simply expounds upon the fact that because all do this "God has concluded(consigned; penned up; caused to be;hedged in) ALL in UNBELIEF that He may have mercy upon all." (11:32)Did you get that?"ALL in UNBELIEF"
    And again concerning the Jews specifically "At this present time there is also a remnant according to the election of grace.......What then? Israel has not obtained what it sought for, but the election has obtained it and the rest were BLINDED! For it is written 'God has given them a spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear unto this day.' And David said,' Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them! Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see....'(11:1-10)

    And this is repeatedly and invincibly taught throughout Paul's letters. But just to surely consign the Gentiles into this blinding(though Paul has already stated that ALL are given over to this reprobate mind that can not understand), he says in 2Cor4:3 "If our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world has BLINDED the minds of THEM WHICH BELIEVE NOT lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them!"
    How does this not put an end to this? He invincibly states that ALL who do not believe have been blinded so that they can not believe the gospel! It's light cannot shine unto them. He then goes on to say in v6 that "GOD who commanded the light to shine in darkness has shined in our hearts to GIVE THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

    So Paul concludes that all who DO NOT believe have been blinded from the ability to believe....and all that DO believe believe only because GOD shined the knowledge of the gospel in their once darkened/blinded hearts just as He commanded the light to shine in Genesis out of darkness. So how can we conclude that any can have faith apart from being elect...or rather from being un-blinded as it were? You can not.

    Summary:
    -ALL men reject God
    -ALL men are given over to reprobate/blinded minds
    -ALL are therefore unrighteous and going astray without UNDERSTANDING
    -ALL in this way have been CONSIGNED by GOD in UNBELIEF
    -ALL who believe only believe because God has given the "light" of understanding to them
    -ALL who do not believe remain in blindness without the ability to to understand the gospel in order to believe


    I think that ends it, or rather should end it...but just in case not, to further prove this, consider one more teaching from Paul in 1Cor1:18-31(I'll use selections to be brief, you read it all for yourselves):
    v18)The preaching of the cross is to them that are perishing(unbelievers/blinded) foolishness, but unto us which are saved(those enlightened by God) it is the power of God
    v19)For it is written"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise...."(which was done to ALL men as explained in Rom1-3)
    v20) ...has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world?!(what wisdom in particular?see v21)
    v21)For this world in their wisdom knew not God.So it pleased God to save them that believe by what this world in their false wisdom(blinded wisdom) declared as foolishness(dont get hung on "...them that believe.." Paul's about to explain)
    v22)Jews want a sign and the Greeks(the rest of the world)seek for wisdom(what makes sense to them)
    v23)But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews its a stumblingblock (they seek a sign and cant see it)and unto the Greeks it's foolishness(it makes no sense in their false/blinded wisdom)
    v24)BUT unto them which ARE CALLED both Jews and Greeks it is the power of God and the wisdom of God!

    Conclusion:Both Jews and Greeks are CALLED in the sense that they ALL received/heared the gospel. But Paul says that only unto the "CALLED" of the Jews and Greeks is it understood and received. As shown in Romans and 2Cor all are blinded and unable to see its truth to believe in it...even upon hearing it! Only the CALLED can hear it and see it not as foolishness or a stumblingstone but as the wisdom of God!

    Final thoughts:
    Paul teaches that no man CAN have faith apart from divine enlightenment and regeneration from our blindness of heart and mind. Therefore, just as he states in Eph2:8 "By GRACE are you saved, through faith, and THAT(faith) is not of yourselves! but a gift from God." So if you have not the ability to believe(have faith)...how can you even assume that you must believe first to be saved? You can not. There's SO SO SO many scriptures i want to write on hear but I will be polite and not take up much more space. Thanks!

    Charlie Ray,

    Sorry. You misunderstand what Arminian says. Arminian does not say faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit. What it says is that one can not believe apart from the Holy Spirit. What is the difference? One needs the work of the Holy Spirit in order to believe. However, one can also reject the work of the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit will move a person to a decision, then at that point, the person can either accept or reject the invitation of the Holy Spirit. No one will accept the gospel apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. But at the same time, not everyone who is moved by the Holy Spirit chooses to accept the gospel. For example, Christians with their new life in Christ are still capable of resisting the guidance of the Holy Spirit too.

    Josiah:
    I'm not sure that Arminian's view can stand under scripture. I can surely see how one might come to Arminian's conclusions on some texts, but there seem to be far too many other texts that teach the opposite. If you would consider just a couple in John 6:

    v37 ALL that the Father gives me WILL come to me and he that comes to me I will not cast out.

    v39This is the Father's will which sent me, that of ALL(that being people as seen in the previous verse) which He has given to me I should lose NOTHING, but raise it up again on the last day


    v45It is written in the prophets,"And they shall all be taught of God. EVERY MAN therefore that has heard and has learned of the Father COMES to me.

    John 10:

    v16Other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them I must also bring. They SHALL HEAR MY VOICE and there SHALL be one fold and one shepherd.(meaning they also follow and become part of the one fold)
    v25I told you and you believe not. The works I do in my Father's name bear witness of me.
    v26But you believe not BECAUSE you are not of my sheep as I have said unto you.
    v27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, AND THEY FOLLOW ME.
    v28And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.
    v29My Father has GIVEN THEM TO ME...


    And 1 John 2:19:

    They went out from us but they were not of us, for if they had been of us they WOULD HAVE CONTINUED WITH US(His sheep hear His voice AND THEY FOLLOW!!!). But they went out from us to show that they were not all of us.

    These clear teachings say that all those who are Christ's WILL NOT turn or resist. One can not say that BECAUSE they didn't resist they are His sheep...no....the texts won't allow that interpretation. The texts demand the conclusion to be that BECAUSE they were ALREADY His sheep and GIVEN to Him by the Father they listen and follow...not the other way around. In this the Arminian view, for me, fails and therefore I can not accept it. One has faith not because he/she generates it within themselves...even if we want to say that one needs the Holy Spirit to even make the choice. That doesn't solve the issue for me. The scriptures just don't seem to allow any conclusion or succession of events that end with man making the choice to be the one "given" to the Son. But rather, BECAUSE they were and are given they believe and follow. Consider this in John10:16 listed above....were they Christ's sheep before or after they saw and heard Him? BEFORE! For He says,"Other sheep I HAVE.... I MUST bring them and they SHALL hear my voice...." That is, people who have yet to hear His voice are already considered His sheep and BECAUSE of this they will hear and come. Also note that He says "....them also I MUST BRING..." How do they come to Christ? By their own initiative? No. They are brought to Him BY HIM. And in the same context and speech of Christ He then says again in v29 it is because they are GIVEN to Him of the Father. But this is MOST CLEARLY and UNDENIABLY shown in verse26 listed above! It places the reason for unbelief in those who refuse Christ on the fact that they are not His sheep!!!! It does not say that BECAUSE they won't believe they are not considered His sheep. NO!!! It says "You believe not BECAUSE you are NOT my sheep, as I have said unto you."

    John

    The intriguing question is "Why did some believe?"

    Faith as required for salvation is not work (it is a gift of God) "lest anyone should boast".

    From the many contributions to this discussion and the multiple scripures already quoted, it is conclusive (and scriptural) that salvation is WHOLLY and ENTIRELY of God, with no substantive input from the man being saved. To detract from this fundamental position strays from the full view and holistic interpretation of the position of the scriptures. If this then is true (and it is true) salvation is PURELY by ELECTION of God with no contribution required from the one being saved, for to come to the Son, one must FIRST be granted by the Father.

    What has however not being addressed is the place of FREE WILL (and possibly considered the "work") of the one to be saved, for scripture also very clearly states that "Whosoever will... (Jn 3:16, Rom 10:17). I submit that though one believes in order to be saved, it is not a pre-requisite to being elected to be saved. This does not deny the existence of the free will of man (even to believe), but safely infers (from scripture) that insofar as salvation is concerned, man's free will has no originating or independent credit. HOWEVER, once saved, he or she has the FREE WILL to stay or walk away (Heb 6:4) and the choice is evinced in the WORKS that he/she does.

    All this said, the basic question - Why did some believe & others not? - still has not been answered. Why are some ELECTED and others not? If we must venture beyond the encompassing providence of God as the defining reason for election (Ex 33:19, Rom 9:14-25), I suggest that the only contributing work of man to the election of men is not from him/her that is to be saved, but from them (us) who are already saved. It is in prayer, in the intercession for the souls of men. It is prayer of the righteous that avails much (the prayer of the sinner is an abomination to the Lord). When we pray, we move the hand of God and He grants unto them that are not His sheep to come to the Son that they may be saved. Daniel 4:17 illustrated this principle in the exile of Nebuchadnezzar - "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, by the demand of the Holy ones, that the living may know that God reigns in the affairs of men and gives it to whosoever He wills". See also Isaiah 62:6-7 - "set as watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem to give Him no rest until He [elects to] establish and make Jerusalem a praise...

    So the responsibility, as far as it lies with man, is upon us to pray so that "they" may be saved. Prov 11:30 "He that wins souls is wise".

    And so "why did some believe? Because, somebody somewhere, somehow prayed that they should believe.

    Ochuko
    (I pray that we would also be amongst them of whom it will be said prayed that others might believe).

    Ochuko,
    I would like to comment on the second paragraph of your comment in which you spoke of the free will of man to walk away from the faith and thereby God once "given" to Christ by the Father. I do not believe that the weight of Scripture supports that. I know that there are many scriptures that at least strongly give this impression. I will address these as a whole in a minute. But first I would like to show some of the scriptures that explicitly and undeniably say that this cannot happen(maybe better stated theologically as "will not" happen as concerns the doctrine of regeneration). First I would like to draw your attention to the very verse that you alluded to in your opening paragraph to support sovereign election when you said, "for to come to the Son, one must FIRST be granted by the Father". This draws from John6:65 in which our Lord says,"Therefore I said unto you that no man can come unto me except it were given him of my Father". So you draw correctly from it that the granting precedes the coming. However I would like to point out some things. First, it does not say,"no man can come unto me except it were GRANTED him of my Father". It says "GIVEN" of my Father. I'm not at all picking pointlessly over words here. Obviously if you are given by God then it has been granted to you by God as well. But this distinction matters greatly and shifts the direction of thinking thereby bringing us to a different conclusion on the ability to walk away from Christ after having been GIVEN to Him.
    -Notice He said, "Therefore I SAID unto you...".Meaning that He is repeating a previous statement. Considering that previous statement then is vital to understanding His meaning here while, coincidentally, He is dealing with disciples who are now going to walk away from Him.
    - It refers back v44 which states, "No man can come to me except the Father...draw Him. And I will raise him up on the last day". Notice the switch from DRAW(v44) to GIVEN(v65) which gives us some clarity on the meaning of DRAW. Those DRAWN are those GIVEN. Now it needs to be pointed out that He declares that all those given in v44 WILL be raised up on the last day. Which brings us to a conclusion:
    -To be drawn or given includes the absoluteness that the one given will remain with Christ unless we wish to conclude that one can deny Christ and still be saved(which I will show false in a minute).This also brings clarity as to why He explains this remark to His disciples in v65. He is addressing them because many were offended by His teaching(v61) and from that moment on they were no longer going to walk with him(v66). This is why Jesus tells them,"Therefore I said unto you that no man(none of you) can come unto me....". He was showing that the fact that they were offended proves that they didn't really believe and were therefore going to "walk with Him no more". This contradicts the previously revealed fact by Jesus in v44 that those given to Him WILL stay with Him thereby being raised on the last day for He said,"...I WILL raise him at the last day". This is why in v65 when His disciples are leaving He says," Therefore I said unto you..." meaning "This is why I said this to you a moment ago....because your being offended and leaving shows that you NEVER believed which shows that you were never GIVEN to me. Because those given to me stay and will be raised on the last day".
    -More specifically in vs61-64 He is referring to their being offended by His words. And so He tells them that this shows that they never had the Spirit(those who do not have the Spirit are none of His.Romans8:9) because His words are Spirit and those in the flesh cannot understand them or submit to them (Rom8:7, 1Cor1:18, 24, 2:14). All of this comes to His conclusion in v65 that they were not given to Him by the Father and it is evidenced by their being offended and walking away, as is scriptural according to 1John2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us then they would have no doubt continued with us. But they went out that it might be manifested(evidenced) that they were not all of us".

    Does this interpretation fit the rest of the context? I believe so. This revelation begins to be given by Jesus in v37 and continues to v40. This fact is repeated throughout His statements here:
    v37)ALL that the Father gives me SHALL come to me. And him that comes(that is given) I WILL IN NO WISE cast out.(how can this statement hold if we conclude that one given can turn thereby of necessity being cast out by Jesus?)
    v38)I came to do the Father's will
    v39)This is the Father's will:ALL which He gives me I will not lose ANY but RAISE IT UP ON THE LAST DAY.(If HE will not lose ANY then none will walk away)
    v40)EVERYONE who sees the Son and believes on Him(which in context by necessity of their being raised up means those who are given)will have everlasting life and I WILL RAISE HIM UP AT THE LAST DAY.

    Now, does this fit the rest of Scripture to say that ALL real Christians who have been GIVEN by the Father will NOT walk away? I think yes. I will only consider a couple texts in John's epistles.
    1John:
    1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness we lie and DO NOT KNOW THE TRUTH(you are deceived to think that you have been given to Christ if you live in sin..which is the same as denying Him. His reason for reaching this conclusion is in v9)
    1:9 If we confess our sins He is Faithful and just to forgive us our sins AND to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.(He concludes that just as sure and positive as Jesus forgives sins HE will also, if your His, cleanse you from all sin...thereby you walk in darkness as a way of life no more which surely includes walking away from Him into a life of darkness. On this truth he builds the rest of this letter)
    2:3-6 This is how we know that we know Him, if we keep His commands. He that says "I know Him" and keeps not His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him truly is the love of God perfected(cleansed from all unrighteousness). This is how we know that we are in Him.He that says he abides in Christ will also walk as Christ walked.
    2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us then they would have no doubt continued with us. But they went out that it might be manifested(evidenced) that they were not all of us
    3:6 Whosoever abides in Christ does not continue sinning. Whoever continues sinning has not seen Him or known Him(which "seeing the Son" again is the qualifications Jesus mentioned above in John's gospel 6:40 to being given to Christ).
    3:7 Do not be deceived! He that does righteousness is righteous even as Christ is righteous.
    3:8 He that continues to commit sin is of the devil.
    3:9***(important verse)WHOSOEVER is born of God(been given to Christ) DOES NOT continue to sin.(WHY???!!!) BECAUSE God's seed(Holy Spirit) remains in him and he CANNOT continue to sin BECAUSE he is born of God(given to Christ).

    This last verse tells us something staggering! It says that the individual that has experienced the new birth/been given eyes to see Christ/know Christ/believe in Christ/has His seed(Holy Spirit) in him does not have the ABILITY to continue to sin! This inability is based upon God's sanctifying of His children as mentioned in 1:9 "He is faithful and just to CLEANSE you from ALL unrighteousness". I know that this is stepping into a different topic. But as you well know, all doctrine is connected and is upheld by another and upholds another. So you cannot properly discuss one without touching another...as you have shown by stating the fact that one can leave by free will after having been given to Christ thereby placing us into a topic of the perseverance of the saints when we started our discussion at "Is Faith A Work?". However my point is this, if one cannot continue sinning habitually after being given to Christ, and by necessity this means that one will not walk away as already shown, especially in the words of our Lord and in John's 1st epistle in 2:19 when it states that if this happens it proves that they were NEVER Christ's to start with, then we conclude that it is an impossibility for it to happen. There are many, MANY more verses that teach this from other epistles as well.

    So why do such verses exist in the bible like those in Hebrews ch6 that give the idea that it is possible? Well, I can give a short easy answer that I'm sure will birth disagreements due to the fact that it is so short and without satisfying explanation. But here it goes anyway. One reason is I believe that they are speaking in the realm of impossibility as a means to exhort it's readers(true Christians) to continue on in the faith just as a child is warned about things that are good to be warned about though a parent will never let it happen. An example(though a greatly flawed one) would be this:
    I take my child into the pool to teach Him how to swim. All the while I am holding him up as he lays on his stomach to practice kicking his legs. Though I am holding him I still correct his form and his shortcomings with warnings. I say,"You must do it this way or else this will happen". Yet it will never happen so long as he is in my arms. But nonetheless, I desire him to know how to swim and how to swim properly. All other children may hear my words and warnings and pick up some tips and try to imitate, but without me holding them up they will soon grow weary and fall away and drown evidencing that i was not holding them up.
    I know that this is flawed in many ways when you include all the reasons why we are here and all the infinite glories God is bringing to Himself through His purposes in us....but for lack of time and space at the moment, maybe this gives you a flavor of what I'm trying to explain. I am forced to conclude such by the clear weight of scripture telling me that it is an impossibility that I will choose to walk away once given to the Son. Also, I hold to this because it is very much like God's workings in the Old Testament. He gave many commands that He knew could not be followed with the purpose of revealing the fact that sin existed in us and its existence was such that we could not follow or understand Him without His causing us to(Rom3:19,7:7-8,13, Gal3:21-24). So in a similar way God gives us in the NT many gospel promises, commands, and warnings meant to convict, exhort, and bring us to completion;an act which He is faithful and just to complete.

    Hi to all.
    Much of the foregoing debate revolves around the (sometimes hidden) an assumption that 'faith' either is or is not a 'work' - this determiens a lot of the debate. Calvinism maintains that faith can be a 'work, Arminianism (and the Eastern orthodox and Judaism and Catholicism,...) that it is not.
    I would like to suggest some points to possibly (re)consider in all of the foregoing.
    Regarding Eph.2:8 as 'proof' that faith is itself a gift [post by Joshua], to do this is grammatically a problem. I take the liberty to reproduce at length here some comments by Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier (thank you Wayne); note especially that Calvin himself apparently saw the "gift" as referring to "salvation" and not to "faith"(thank you Wayne):
    "...There is no specifically-stated antecedent for “gift” in this context. However, it is to be inferred. The gift is the salvation that is implied by the verb “saved.”...
    Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender. The “gift” is not “faith.” Some have objected to this argument, contending that the Greek noun for “salvation” is also feminine, thus it cannot be the antecedent of “gift.” While it is true that the Greek noun, “salvation,” is a feminine form, the verbal construction found here, used in connection with a neuter pronoun (“this”) requires that the antecedent must also be neuter, thus, “salvation” [understood], not “faith” (see: Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, Delight, AR: Gospel Light, n.d., p. 86; Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, Joplin, MO: College Press, 2002, p. 200).
    Professor Arthur Patzia of Fuller Theological Seminary, who believes, “theologically” speaking, that faith is a gift, acknowledges that “the Greek sentence [Eph. 2:8] does not permit such an identification, because the two words differ grammatically” (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990, p. 185).
    Even John Calvin interpreted the “gift” of this passage as “salvation,” and not faith (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144). This, of course, is in perfect harmony with Paul’s declaration elsewhere that the “gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23)." [end quote]

    Similarly, if examined grammatically, and contextually, it is virtually impossible to formulate a completely consistent system that takes a perfect account of all scriptures one way or the other on whether faith itself is a 'gift'. Consistent with Calvin's acceptance of continuity between the 'old' and the 'new' testaments, we could, for example, enlist the help of Deuteronomy 30:19 - ""I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants," - to support the case for free will.

    To Ochuko, may I offer the following. In the 1st main paragraph you say that "it is conclusive (and scriptural) that salvation is WHOLLY and ENTIRELY of God"; however, in the 2nd para. you maintain a place for free will. On a strict and consistent reading, I would say that these two positions are in opposition. Although I may have missed something there, thorough-going calvinism does (in some form or another) uphold double predestination (the 'decretum horrible' of Calvin) even when moderate calvinism denies this, unfortunately. This form, to be consistent, would hold that man is therefore, more-or-less an automoaton entirely at the will and mercy of the Divine, because even the slightest portion of free will has been disallowed. Sorry, but there really is a problem there, which just will not be resolved by pulling out the 'mystery' card or by forcing the 2nd-part of double predestination back down onto man's responsibility (that is simply attempting to have a bet each way and makes the attempt even more difficult). Either thre is, or there is not, free will involved, and other parts of the system must fall into line with that.

    On the question of 'proving' that faith is itself a gift by tying it to election, there is a problem. To argue from within a system of rules to prove another rule of the same system is to fall prey to circular reasoning, the attempt cannot even get off the ground with that. As well, there is a deficiency in using the 'elect' argument - not a single one of us can actually point to another person and say 'there is one of the 'elect'' - this is an idealised category within calvinism (in particular, the 5-point TULIP form); so while it works in a certain kind of logic system it can be dangerous to then go on and presume application in the real world this way (after all, only God knows the heart).

    Josiah, your summary on Arminianism sounds about right I would say - "the Holy Spirit will move a person to a decision, then at that point, the person can either accept or reject the invitation of the Holy Spirit."
    Calvinism, while it disagrees with that, has now been wrestling with the 'New Perspective(s)" on justification for some time, in particular the 'ordo salutis' and where/how faith comes into the believer's justification - and this is where the 'free will' aspect has once again become important within Reformed ranks.

    The "New Perspective" views on faith/assurance/election have not yet been canvassed here, this could be of interest.

    In the interests of 'dialogue' in faith,
    Mark S.

    Hi to all.
    Much of the foregoing debate revolves around the (sometimes hidden) an assumption that 'faith' either is or is not a 'work' - this determines much of the debate. Calvinism maintains that faith can be a 'work, Arminianism (and the Eastern orthodox and Judaism and Catholicism,...) that it is not.
    I would like to suggest some points to possibly (re)consider in all of the foregoing.
    Regarding Eph.2:8 as 'proof' that faith is itself a gift [post by Joshua], to do this is grammatically a problem. I take the liberty to reproduce at length here some comments by Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier (thank you Wayne); note especially that Calvin himself apparently saw the "gift" as referring to "salvation" and not to "faith"(thank you Wayne):
    "...There is no specifically-stated antecedent for “gift” in this context. However, it is to be inferred. The gift is the salvation that is implied by the verb “saved.”...
    Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender. The “gift” is not “faith.” Some have objected to this argument, contending that the Greek noun for “salvation” is also feminine, thus it cannot be the antecedent of “gift.” While it is true that the Greek noun, “salvation,” is a feminine form, the verbal construction found here, used in connection with a neuter pronoun (“this”) requires that the antecedent must also be neuter, thus, “salvation” [understood], not “faith” (see: Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, Delight, AR: Gospel Light, n.d., p. 86; Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, Joplin, MO: College Press, 2002, p. 200).
    Professor Arthur Patzia of Fuller Theological Seminary, who believes, “theologically” speaking, that faith is a gift, acknowledges that “the Greek sentence [Eph. 2:8] does not permit such an identification, because the two words differ grammatically” (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990, p. 185).
    Even John Calvin interpreted the “gift” of this passage as “salvation,” and not faith (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144). This, of course, is in perfect harmony with Paul’s declaration elsewhere that the “gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23)." [end quote]

    Similarly, if examined grammatically, and contextually, it is virtually impossible to formulate a completely consistent system that takes a perfect account of all scriptures one way or the other on whether faith itself is a 'gift'. Consistent with Calvin's acceptance of continuity between the 'old' and the 'new' testaments, we could, for example, enlist the help of Deuteronomy 30:19 - ""I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants," - to support the case for free will.

    To Ochuko, may I offer the following. In the 1st main paragraph you say that "it is conclusive (and scriptural) that salvation is WHOLLY and ENTIRELY of God"; however, in the 2nd para. you maintain a place for free will. On a strict and consistent reading, I would say that these two positions are in opposition. Although I may have missed something there, thorough-going calvinism does (in some form or another) uphold double predestination (the 'decretum horrible' of Calvin) even when moderate calvinism denies this, unfortunately. This form, to be consistent, would hold that man is therefore, more-or-less an automoaton entirely at the will and mercy of the Divine, because even the slightest portion of free will has been disallowed. Sorry, but there really is a problem there, which just will not be resolved by pulling out the 'mystery' card or by forcing the 2nd-part of double predestination back down onto man's responsibility (that is simply attempting to have a bet each way and makes the attempt even more difficult). Either thre is, or there is not, free will involved, and other parts of the system must fall into line with that.

    On the question of 'proving' that faith is itself a gift by tying it to election, there is a problem. To argue from within a system of rules to prove another rule of the same system is to fall prey to circular reasoning, the attempt cannot even get off the ground with that. As well, there is a deficiency in using the 'elect' argument - not a single one of us can actually point to another person and say 'there is one of the 'elect'' - this is an idealised category within calvinism (in particular, the 5-point TULIP form); so while it works in a certain kind of logic system it can be dangerous to then go on and presume application in the real world this way (after all, only God knows the heart).

    Josiah, your summary on Arminianism sounds about right I would say - "the Holy Spirit will move a person to a decision, then at that point, the person can either accept or reject the invitation of the Holy Spirit."
    Calvinism, while it disagrees with that, has now been wrestling with the 'New Perspective(s)" on justification for some time, in particular the 'ordo salutis' and where/how faith comes into the believer's justification - and this is where the 'free will' aspect has once again become important within Reformed ranks.

    The "New Perspective" views on faith/assurance/election have not yet been canvassed here, this could be of interest.

    In the interests of 'dialogue' in faith,
    Mark S.

    Hi to all.
    Much of the foregoing debate revolves around the (sometimes hidden) an assumption that 'faith' either is or is not a 'work' - this determines much of the debate. Calvinism maintains that faith can be a 'work' of merit, Arminianism (and the Eastern orthodox and Judaism and Catholicism,...) that it is not.
    I would like to suggest some points to possibly (re)consider in all of the foregoing.
    Regarding Eph.2:8 as 'proof' that faith is itself a gift [post by Joshua], to do this is grammatically a problem. I take the liberty to reproduce at length here some comments by Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier (thank you Wayne); note especially that Calvin himself apparently saw the "gift" as referring to "salvation" and not to "faith"(thank you Wayne):
    "...There is no specifically-stated antecedent for “gift” in this context. However, it is to be inferred. The gift is the salvation that is implied by the verb “saved.”...
    Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender. The “gift” is not “faith.” Some have objected to this argument, contending that the Greek noun for “salvation” is also feminine, thus it cannot be the antecedent of “gift.” While it is true that the Greek noun, “salvation,” is a feminine form, the verbal construction found here, used in connection with a neuter pronoun (“this”) requires that the antecedent must also be neuter, thus, “salvation” [understood], not “faith” (see: Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, Delight, AR: Gospel Light, n.d., p. 86; Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, Joplin, MO: College Press, 2002, p. 200).
    Professor Arthur Patzia of Fuller Theological Seminary, who believes, “theologically” speaking, that faith is a gift, acknowledges that “the Greek sentence [Eph. 2:8] does not permit such an identification, because the two words differ grammatically” (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990, p. 185).
    Even John Calvin interpreted the “gift” of this passage as “salvation,” and not faith (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144). This, of course, is in perfect harmony with Paul’s declaration elsewhere that the “gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23)." [end quote]

    Similarly, if examined grammatically, and contextually, it is virtually impossible to formulate a completely consistent system that takes a perfect account of all scriptures one way or the other on whether faith itself is a 'gift'. Consistent with Calvin's acceptance of continuity between the 'old' and the 'new' testaments, we could, for example, enlist the help of Deuteronomy 30:19 - ""I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants," - to support the case for free will.

    To Ochuko, may I offer the following. In the 1st main paragraph you say that "it is conclusive (and scriptural) that salvation is WHOLLY and ENTIRELY of God"; however, in the 2nd para. you maintain a place for free will. On a strict and consistent reading, I would say that these two positions are in opposition. Although I may have missed something there, thorough-going calvinism does (in some form or another) uphold double predestination (the 'decretum horrible' of Calvin) even when moderate calvinism denies this, unfortunately. This form, to be consistent, would hold that man is therefore, more-or-less an automoaton entirely at the will and mercy of the Divine, because even the slightest portion of free will has been disallowed. Sorry, but there really is a problem there, which just will not be resolved by pulling out the 'mystery' card or by forcing the 2nd-part of double predestination back down onto man's responsibility (that is simply attempting to have a bet each way and makes the attempt even more difficult). Either thre is, or there is not, free will involved, and other parts of the system must fall into line with that.

    On the question of 'proving' that faith is itself a gift by tying it to election, there is a problem. To argue from within a system of rules to prove another rule of the same system is to fall prey to circular reasoning, the attempt cannot even get off the ground with that. As well, there is a deficiency in using the 'elect' argument - not a single one of us can actually point to another person and say 'there is one of the 'elect'' - this is an idealised category within calvinism (in particular, the 5-point TULIP form); so while it works in a certain kind of logic system it can be dangerous to then go on and presume application in the real world this way (after all, only God knows the heart).

    Josiah, your summary on Arminianism sounds about right I would say - "the Holy Spirit will move a person to a decision, then at that point, the person can either accept or reject the invitation of the Holy Spirit."
    Calvinism, while it disagrees with that, has now been wrestling with the 'New Perspective(s)" on justification for some time, in particular the 'ordo salutis' and where/how faith comes into the believer's justification - and this is where the 'free will' aspect has once again become important within Reformed ranks.

    The "New Perspective" views on faith/assurance/election have not yet been canvassed here, this could be of interest.

    In the interests of 'dialogue' in faith,
    Mark S.

    Hi to all.
    Much of the foregoing debate revolves around the (sometimes hidden) an assumption that 'faith' either is or is not a 'work' - this determines much of the debate. Calvinism maintains that faith can be a 'work' of merit, Arminianism (and the Eastern orthodox and Judaism and Catholicism,...) that it is not necessarily.
    I would like to suggest some points to possibly (re)consider in all of the foregoing.
    Regarding Eph.2:8 as 'proof' that faith is itself a gift [post by Joshua], to do this is grammatically a problem. I take the liberty to reproduce at length here some comments by Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier (thank you Wayne); note especially that Calvin himself apparently saw the "gift" as referring to "salvation" and not to "faith"(thank you Wayne):
    "...There is no specifically-stated antecedent for “gift” in this context. However, it is to be inferred. The gift is the salvation that is implied by the verb “saved.”...
    Grammatically speaking, there is no agreement between “faith” and “gift.” Faith (pisteos) in the Greek Testament is a feminine form, while “gift” (doron) is neuter gender. The “gift” is not “faith.” Some have objected to this argument, contending that the Greek noun for “salvation” is also feminine, thus it cannot be the antecedent of “gift.” While it is true that the Greek noun, “salvation,” is a feminine form, the verbal construction found here, used in connection with a neuter pronoun (“this”) requires that the antecedent must also be neuter, thus, “salvation” [understood], not “faith” (see: Clinton Lockhart, Principles of Interpretation, Delight, AR: Gospel Light, n.d., p. 86; Jack Cottrell, The Faith Once For All, Joplin, MO: College Press, 2002, p. 200).
    Professor Arthur Patzia of Fuller Theological Seminary, who believes, “theologically” speaking, that faith is a gift, acknowledges that “the Greek sentence [Eph. 2:8] does not permit such an identification, because the two words differ grammatically” (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1990, p. 185).
    Even John Calvin interpreted the “gift” of this passage as “salvation,” and not faith (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144). This, of course, is in perfect harmony with Paul’s declaration elsewhere that the “gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23)." [end quote]

    Similarly, if examined grammatically, and contextually, it is virtually impossible to formulate a completely consistent system that takes a perfect account of all scriptures one way or the other on whether faith itself is a 'gift'. Consistent with Calvin's acceptance of continuity between the 'old' and the 'new' testaments, we could, for example, enlist the help of Deuteronomy 30:19 - ""I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants," - to support the case for free will.

    To Ochuko, may I offer the following. In the 1st main paragraph you say that "it is conclusive (and scriptural) that salvation is WHOLLY and ENTIRELY of God"; however, in the 2nd para. you maintain a place for free will. On a strict and consistent reading, I would say that these two positions are in opposition. Although I may have missed something there, thorough-going calvinism does (in some form or another) uphold double predestination (the 'decretum horrible' of Calvin) even when moderate calvinism denies this, unfortunately. This form, to be consistent, would hold that man is therefore, more-or-less an automoaton entirely at the will and mercy of the Divine, because even the slightest portion of free will has been disallowed. Sorry, but there really is a problem there, which just will not be resolved by pulling out the 'mystery' card or by forcing the 2nd-part of double predestination back down onto man's responsibility (that is simply attempting to have a bet each way and makes the attempt even more difficult). Either thre is, or there is not, free will involved, and other parts of the system must fall into line with that.

    On the question of 'proving' that faith is itself a gift by tying it to election, there is a problem. To argue from within a system of rules to prove another rule of the same system is to fall prey to circular reasoning, the attempt cannot even get off the ground with that. As well, there is a deficiency in using the 'elect' argument - not a single one of us can actually point to another person and say 'there is one of the 'elect'' - this is an idealised category within calvinism (in particular, the 5-point TULIP form); so while it works in a certain kind of logic system it can be dangerous to then go on and presume application in the real world this way (after all, only God knows the heart).

    Josiah, your summary on Arminianism sounds about right I would say - "the Holy Spirit will move a person to a decision, then at that point, the person can either accept or reject the invitation of the Holy Spirit."
    Calvinism, while it disagrees with that, has now been wrestling with the 'New Perspective(s)" on justification for some time, in particular the 'ordo salutis' and where/how faith comes into the believer's justification - and this is where the 'free will' aspect has once again become important within Reformed ranks.

    The "New Perspective" views on faith/assurance/election have not yet been canvassed here, this could be of interest.

    In the interests of 'dialogue' in faith,
    Mark S.

    ‎I quote Charles Spurgeon:
    "Still, I again remind you that faith is only the channel or aqueduct and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith nor think of it as if it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God on whom faith relies. Grace is the powerful engine, and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul is attached to the great motive power. The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps and appropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from the contemplation of our own faith; but it comes to us from Him who is our peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches, and virtue comes out of Him into the soul."

    Spurgeon, C. H. (1996). All of grace : An earnest word with those who are seeking salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ (electronic ed.) (36). Springdale PA: Whitaker House.

    ‎I quote Charles Spurgeon:
    "Still, I again remind you that faith is only the channel or aqueduct and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith nor think of it as if it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God on whom faith relies. Grace is the powerful engine, and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul is attached to the great motive power. The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps and appropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from the contemplation of our own faith; but it comes to us from Him who is our peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches, and virtue comes out of Him into the soul."

    Spurgeon, C. H. (1996). All of grace : An earnest word with those who are seeking salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ (electronic ed.) (36). Springdale PA: Whitaker House.

    There are works of God and works of men. To understand works, you must distinguish between the two.

    Faith is a work of God (John 6:28-29). Water baptism is the working of God (Colossians 2:12).

    Neither of these are meritorious works of men (Ephesians 2:8-9). Man cannot earn salvation on his own and apart from God. Without God, salvation is an impossibility.

    Yet, man must obey God. When God commands something of you + you obey God = it is not your own work. It is obedience to God.

    Jesus saves those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). We must keep His commandments if we love Him (John 14:15). Obeying/Keeping God's commands = is not a work of man.

    Many today teach "do nothing". Yet, those in Acts 2:37 asked "what shall we do?", they were told and they were obedient (Acts 2:41, 47). The Jailor asked, "what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) and he was told and he was obedient (Acts 16:31-34).

    Neither of these were told, "do nothing".

    "...the churches of Christ salute you" (Romans 16:16)

    Vaughn

    Indeed obedience is an imperative, that is, something we are called to do as it is commanded by God. No one here calls sinners to do nothing. We call all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. But telling men what they OUGHT to do is not the same as having the ABILITY to do so. If you squander $10 Million you borrowed from the bank in las vegas, your inability to repay does not alleviate you of the responsibility to do so. Likewise we owe God a debt we cannot repay. The command to believe still stands though. But thanks be to God Christ pays our debts and gives us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe.

    Your comment makes it sound as if a man could do this apart from the grace of God turning their heart of stone to a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26). Jesus says, "no one can come to be [believe in Me] unless God grants it. (John 6:65)

    In other words, if you discount the grace of God you then are ascribing your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, humility, sound judgment or good sense rather than to Jesus Christ alone.

    Yet, Paul says that even the VERY wisdom to believe in Christ is a gift of God lest we boast that it was our own....

    "God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,so that, as it is written,“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

    Blessings
    John H

    QUESTIONS:
    1. In Romans 10:9-13 why did Paul say the word of faith is in our lips and in our hearts if man can not believe after hearing the gospel?
    2. Why did Jesus in Mk 1:14-15 command us to repent and believe the gospel if we can not?
    3. Why not God gave all men the ability to believe so all can be saved for that it is His desire for all men to be saved and gave Jesus a ransom for all in 1Tim 2:3-6?

    Hi, the following is how i've come to understand how salvation happens, after many, many hours of studying the subject over the last few years.

    I agree with the statement that the "gift" of God in Ephesians 2:8, is salvation. The previous context is about "love"..."mercy"..."kindness"..."grace". The focus is clearly on grace, in verse 8. That salvation is by grace and not merited of works of yourselves. It is the gift of God given through faith in Christ and His atoning work on the Cross...faith in God who justifies the "ungodly" ("ungodly" = Not looking to faith as the grounds of salvation, but rather, looking to Christ's atoning work on the Cross).

    Is faith a gift of God? If it is, the proof text is not found in Hebrews 2:8.

    The Bible contrasts faith from works of the law, even calling it "the law of faith" (KJV).

    (Romans 4:5, 6) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

    (Romans 3:25-28) Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Faith involves receiving the gospel of Christ (Christ's death, burial and resurrection, as defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4) into your heart so that it takes root in the heart (you believe it):

    (Luke 8:13, 15, 18) They on the rock [are they], which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. ... But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [it], and bring forth fruit with patience. ... Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

    (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    In John 6, we see that to be drawn is to learn of the Father:

    (John 6:41-45) The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 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. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

    This spiritual drawing precedes faith, which means that it precedes imputed righteousness and eternal life that God gives to us when we believe (come unto Christ...drink the water (Spirit) of life freely without price). In the context, Christ spoke about Himself as being life giving bread and coming down from heaven. The Jews murmured at the parable and looked to their own carnal reasoning instead of inclining their ear to hear and receive the knowledge of God. Christ said to not murmur and then said how no man can come unto Him (believe) unless drawn of the Father. Later in the chaper, Christ's disciples also murmured and one responded to His words by saying it was a hard saying (hard to understand). Christ gives a similar reply to them, speaking about the drawing of the Father. Why did Christ speak of the drawing of the Father after both instances of murmuring? Why did He tell the Jews not to murmur? I think that He was indicating that God would not draw them unless they submitted themselves unto the word and received the knowledge of God per God's drawing:

    (Romans 10:1-5) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

    The Jews didn't submit themselves unto the righteousness of God...the way of salvation (Christ). Instead, they were ignorantly going about to establish their own righteousness.

    Is hearing required in order to incline your ear to receive the hearing...the knowledge of the Father that is given when He is drawing you to come unto Christ (believe in Him for salvation)?

    (Isaiah 55:1-3) Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for [that which is] not bread? and your labour for [that which] satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye [that which is] good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, [even] the sure mercies of David.

    To thirst is to understand that you have no money (no righteousness) and are in need of the life giving water (Spirit) that Christ gives to those who come unto Him (believe...drink...receive the living water (Spirit) that Christ freely gives without money or price to those who believe in their hearts. I agree with a previous comment about the Spirit being with a person when they're being drawn before they believe, and being in a person the moment when they believe unto righteousness. Confessing Jesus as Lord out of abundance, will follow when faith is genuine and in the heart.

    In Acts 16, the jailer asked what he must to do be saved. He didn't ask what he must do to fulfill the law. What was the answer? "believe...". Was that answer instruction to do a work? No, because the jailer asked what he must do to be saved (not what he must do to fulfill the law). The answer was not a trap to lead the jailer astray. The answer was about receiving salvation. The word was preached and the jailer believed in God, per their instruction, and rejoiced. His house also believed. There was no warning that the jailer's act of believing might be a work and he might not become saved as a result...no Calvinism to be found in this presentation of Christ to the jailer.

    We are not to look to faith as being the grounds of salvaion. If we do look to the exercising of faith as somehow meriting salvation, then the gospel was presented to us in a perverted way. Or we misunderstood that our trust should be entirely in Christ and His atoning work on the Cross.

    (John 1:12, 13) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    This verse is indicating that the blood of animals and the will of the man to keep the law, is not meriting salvation, which is by grace. Those who received the word, became born again because of God, not because God was obligated to give them grace because of their receiving Christ per God's drawing.

    In Hebrews 12:2, the word "our" is not in the Greek. Christ is the "author and finisher of faith", which i understand can mean that He was faithful unto death, walking on water by faith, etc. Christ as the "Son of Man", had to operate according to a protocol just as a sinless man would. Adam failed to follow God perfectly, but Christ who is the second Adam, did not fail. He walked on water. He did miracles. He was faithful unto death. He endured the testing and did not listen to satan who tried to get Him to give in to his physical hunger. He gave His life for the sheep and did the Father's will perfectly.

    Conclusion:

    I believe God draws those who incline their ear to hear and do not resist the Spirit. I believe the knowledge about Christ has to be received and our carnal minds submitted, per God's drawing, and then we will believe in a way that will result in salvation. When the word of God takes root in the heart is when we believe the word (the scriptures testify of Christ).

    So, God draws us to receive the word, and when we have learned of the Father...drawn unto knowledge, we then will come unto Christ...believe what we have received in our heart.

    (1 Thessalonians 2:13) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

    The word of God effectually works in those who receive it as being the word of God and not of men. They are drawn to hear the word with understanding, and believe that word, per God's drawing. Faith comes by hearing (receiving unto understanding) the word of God, and that hearing unto understanding comes when we are drawn (John 6:44, 45), which happens before we are made righteous and given the gift of salvation (believe and confess).

    Yes, i believe Christ's atoning aacrifice is sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) and He draws all men unto Himself (John 12:32) and the Holy Spirit can be resisted by those who choose to be stiffnecked (Acts 7:51) and not submit themselves unto the drawing unto the knowledge of God that has to do with Christ and their need for Christ...their own unrighteous condition (Romans 10:2), and recieve Christ by faith.

    (Romans 10:8-10) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, [even] in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    The more i've studied the Bible, the more i find myself leaning away from Calvinism, and leaning towards Arminianism. Where Calvinism goes wrong, i beleive, is it confuses the drawing of God with being born again (made righteous). The Bible is clear that we are not made righteous until we believe and not one moment before, regardless of where faith that's unto righteousness, ultimately originates from. The drawing precedes faith, which means that the drawing cannot be the result of being quickened in terms of being born again, but rather, must be a prerequisite to being born again.

    I see the drawing unto salvation, like riding in a canoe down a stream that turns into a river. You don't do any work to flow with the current of the stream, but you could get out of the boat and swim to shore. The work is in denying the word and choosing to how receive it. I think it takes work to choose to be an Atheist and resist the Spirit. To submit oneself unto the word is a choice, but God is doing the drawing, so how is it work to receive the word? If we hear and believe the word, God did the work in us. Our choosing to not resist the drawing of the Spirit, is not meritorious of anything. God is not obligated to give us salvation because of that choice. And if we think he is, then He will not save us, because we are not receiving the way of salvation and are understanding God's word wrongly. God's word is truth, and part of receiving the word, is learning that you are one of the ungodly who need to be justified, looking to Christ and His atoning work on the Cross alone:

    (Romans 4:5-7) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [Saying], Blessed [are] they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

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