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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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  • « Members of Federal Vision Study Committee Appointed | Main | Images of the Savior (2 – His Presentation in the Temple) »

    Is Faith the Gift of God? What Does Jesus Say?

    This question has always been a controversial one, yet this is puzzling considering how plainly the answer to this question is granted to us in the Holy Scriptures. Some modern Evangelicals seem to think that faith is something that arises out of the fallen natures of some persons but not others ... and that this difference in response is not due to grace (for all had grace), but rather, some inherent difference in the persons themselves. But Jesus puts this kind of speculation to rest:

    Jesus declares "no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65) In the same passage Jesus declares: " all that the Father gives to Me will come to Me." (John 6:37) In both verses the phrase "come to Me" simply means "believe in Me" and so taken together Jesus is stating that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe". According to this passage, then, God grants faith, a faith that will infallibly arise in the heart of those He has given His Son...

    Faith is not the product of an unregenerated human nature. If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God it is because the Holy Spirit has given that person a new, humble nature ... not because some men are more humble than others. It was not by chance that one person believed the gospel and not the other, nor was it because one had some innate virtue that the other lacked. It is grace and grace ALONE that makes men to differ, not the exertion of men's wills. While God requires faith of all men He promises to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit (John 6:63-65), which quickens and disarms hostility so they are willing, and able to believe.

    (Also see 2 Chronicles 30:11-12; Phil 1:29, 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 13:48, Rom 9:15-18; John 1:13; 1 John 5:1)

    Posted by John on July 19, 2006 02:01 PM

    Comments

    IT IS NOT FAITH, BUT RATHER SALVATION THAT IS THE GIFT OF GOD

    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    By grace through faith you are saved, NOT, by grace you can have faith and are saved.

    Firstly, I’d like to offer a definition for the words grace and faith.

    Grace is God’s unmerited favor - something that is done for us without our help and is neither deserved nor undeserved.

    Faith is each person’s positive response to God, our decision to believe and trust, that comes from the free will that God has given us

    It is true that faith is evident in some persons but not others, and it is true that grace has nothing to do with it. All humans are able to obtain God’s grace ,“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11), and all humans are capable of faith, "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3) so God is being quite just when the author above says that ”God requires faith of all men” . The difference lies in the free will that God has given us in choosing whether or not we respond to his grace with faith or whether we choose to ignore it. Regardless of what we choose, we are all capable. The only difference is whether or not we are willing.

    "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65)


    “all that the Father gives to me will come to Me." (John 6:37)

    It is wrong to assume that this then means “Jesus is stating that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe”. We see in the scriptures that "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." (John 3:35) and "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." (John 17:2)

    Jesus states, that nothing happens without it being allowed by God. In giving all things to Jesus, God is granting all mankind with an equal opportunity to be saved, but that does not mean that all mankind will believe and be saved. God’s will as we se in 1 Timothy 2:4 is “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth”. Jesus’ power extends over all of mankind, including those who do not believe and God has given Jesus power to save “as many as thou hast given him”, yet as many, does not mean that all will be saved.

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3: 16).

    In sending his son to die for us, God has made atonement for our sins through His grace. This is for everyone, but the condition still lies in that we need to believe in order for his grace to become a reality in the form of salvation in our lives. That is, we need to respond in faith, and when we respond in faith, we receive the gift of salvation. Why is it a gift? It is a gift because we did nothing to prompt God to provide us with atonement in the first place. He did this out of his love for us.

    “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

    Grace and faith are both dependent on each other in order for us to receive salvation but it is important to remember that it was not our faith that moved God to respond with grace. God had already moved through his grace, and our faith is the response to what we believe God has done. God does not force people to believe, our belief comes from our desire to submit to God, and put our trust in him. It comes from our free will. It would be pointless for God to desire us to love and trust him, if this love and trust was nothing more than him making us love and trust him. God longs to have relationships with us, a relationship is one that is entered into voluntarily by both parties and although God has given all men a measure of faith, it is up to us to act on that, and take that step in trusting him and loving him. It is not grace alone, that makes men to differ, for God has made his grace available to all men through the death of his one and only son, Jesus, rather it is as the scripture says: by God’s grace through our faith, that we are saved. All men can attain God’s grace, all men have been given a measure of faith by God, all men stand equal and so it is our free will that makes us respond differently to the offer of salvation. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    A very simple example to explain how grace and faith are both dependant on each other, and to show that it is not just by grace alone that people respond in faith but rather free will, is this:

    A store in your suburb announces that they will be giving a free TV to each family, simply by coming to collect it from the store. You can respond to this announcement in several ways:

    You can believe and trust what they have said, and make your way to the store to pick up your TV.
    Or, you can choose not to believe that they are really giving out free TV’s, perhaps you assume that there is a catch of sorts or you simply don’t believe it to be true.

    Whether you believe or not, is not affected by the store’s decision to give out free TV’s. At the same time, the store’s decision to give out free TV’s is not affected by whether or not people will believe.

    The store’s move to give out free TV is grace. It happened because they wanted to give them out, not because anything the people had done had prompted them to.

    Your response to their offer of a free TV is faith. Each person is capable of believing that it is true, but not all will choose to believe.

    The TV is the gift, it is salvation. Only those who had faith in what the store announced and acted upon that by going to the store, received the gift. The TV.

    In order for people to receive the gift, two things were necessary, the grace… it was by the store’s grace that the store was giving out free TV’s, and faith… which moved the people to respond. Only with those two things working together were the people able to obtain their gift. Without the grace, and without the response of trust and acceptance, the giving or obtaining of the gift is not possible.

    But, it was not the store’s move to give out a gift that made any difference to whether people believed the claim or not. The people exercised their free will, to either believe and act on their belief or not believe, and do nothing about it.

    Dear Alejandra K. Cares Henriquez

    Thanks for your extended response. A few things need to be said with regard to your assertions:

    you said >>>>

    By grace through faith you are saved, NOT, by grace you can have faith and are saved.

    Actually it is not grace PLUS faith that one is saved but grace through faith. Fiath is the instrument which takes hold of Christ and his work, but it has no redemptive value in itself. It is the Holy Spirit which unites us to Christ through faith, not because of it. We all agree that a person must believe for justification before God. But no one is naturally willing to submit to the gospel (Rom 3:11, 12; John 3:3). Faith is not part of the price of redemption, as you would have it. Look at the context of the passage you are quoting: it says, "even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] quickened together with Christ--by grace you have been saved." In other words, an unregenerate man who does not have the Holy Spirit, cannot understand spiritual things, they are foolishness to him (1 Cor 2:14). Apart from the Holy Spirit, man has no free will to believe the gospel. His will is in bondage to the corruption of nature. Are you claiming that a person, dead in sin, blind, deaf to the things of God, desires Christ apart from a supernatural work of the Spirit? There is overwhelming evidence to overthrow this false understanding.

    Your response is filled with the presupposition that man has a 'free will' but the Bible gives no evidence whatsoever to this end. Can you show us where the Bible tells us a man has a free will, or are you using unadided logic alone? It appears you are claiming that apart from the Holy Spirit, a person, of his natural strength, has natural desire for spiritual things. But can the unspiritual desire the spiritual? Does the unspiritual have the mind of Christ that he might understand spiritual things?

    You said>>>IT IS NOT FAITH, BUT RATHER SALVATION THAT IS THE GIFT OF GOD

    Faith is part of that salvation .... Eph 2:8 itself says by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves but the gift of God. But this was not the passage we we exegeting. Natural man has no desire for spiritual things so He even needs the Holy Spirit if he is to believe. He must be quickened. It is not by the will of man (John 1:13) that one gets the new birth. His fallen will itself is directed by a heart of stone. Can a natural man change his own will go from stone to flesh? hatred to love? Can he humble himself apart from grace? Sorry this is a salvation of merit and contrary to the Christian message. To claim we can have faith of our natures is to make faith into a work.

    You said>>>

    Faith is each person’s positive response to God, our decision to believe and trust, that comes from the free will that God has given us

    First I suggest you need to prove to all of us from the Text of Scripture that man even has a free will. Then your statement might have validity. However, you are imposing your own belief into the Scriptures. This is an assumption you bring from outside Scripture. For the Scriptures CLEARLY teach that man is a slave to sin until Christ sets him free. Is a slave free? He loves darkness and hates the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19). He is a slave to darkness. Can those who are corrupt, BY NATURE, make their own heart love Christ or see his beauty and excellency?? No, this also comes about by grace.

    Also God commands all persons to repent and believe the gospel. But this does not imply any man has the desire or ability to do so. Only those God has granted repentance. God also commands us to obey the Ten Commandments? Does this imply anyone can perfectly do so? In other words, God commands us to do something we are utterly incapable of. Why would he do this? Romans 3 teaches that it is to reveal our impotence and sin: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin."

    IN other words, the purpose of the divine legislation is to reveal, not what we can do, but what we cannot do. And the Bible says "This is the command of God, to believe in his Son." God commands it. This does not mean we are willing. Willingness comes from grace, not nature.

    You admit>>>> "It is true that faith is evident in some persons but not others, and it is true that grace has nothing to do with it. All humans are able to obtain God’s grace"

    So you acknowledge that grace has nothing to do with the reason some have faith and not others. Can you prove your assertion from Scripture? All humans are ABLE to take hold of God's grace purely by nature as you claim? Please show us where the Scripture asserts fallen man's moral ability to desire Christ? In other words, you are claiming that the Holy Spirit is completely unnecessary in the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers. So we should, therefore, forget about praying for unbelievers for, in your view, God can do nothing to help them. The moment you admit the necessity of the Spirit, then you admit that man has not free will apart from Him. You definition of grace precludes God doing ANYTHING to change the heart.

    But the Scriptures contradict your understanding - Consider the following:

    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thess 1:4, 5)

    No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

    In other words, your definition of grace is totally inadequate. Grace is much more than simply God's unmerited favor. It also includes the work of the Holy Spirit prior to salvation in opening blind eyes to see the truth, opening deaf ears and turning our heart of stone to a heart of flesh (according to Scripture). God does a work of grace in men's hearts, which are naturally hostile to the gospel. Cessation of hostility is not done through mere persuasion but because the Holy Spirit illumines and quickens the heart of those he came to save.

    "It does not depend on man's desire or effort but on God's mercy" (Rom 9:16) The Scriptures plainly testify that the Spirit gives life and the flesh counts for nothing. Nothing means nothing. We must become spiritual to exercise a spiritual will.

    You said >>>"God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3)

    Again, you have completely misquoted the text and even taken it out of context. This is written to Christians and Christians only, not to the unregenerate. In context Paul says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers". "Brothers" does not include unbelievers. So actually this verse loudly proclaims that God's a measure of faith is ONLY to the elect, not universaly. He does not give this measure of faith to all, in other words.

    "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."

    you said >>> The difference lies in the free will that God has given us in choosing whether or not we respond to his grace with faith or whether we choose to ignore it. Regardless of what we choose, we are all capable. The only difference is whether or not we are willing.

    How do you know this?. Did you get this idea from Scripture or some other authority? You created a presupposition that all men can believe the gospel apart form the Holy Spirit because you claim that grace is ONLY grace offered and God does nothing for unbelievers beyond that. This is not only unbiblical, but Pelagian, a heresy condemend by many church councils. Is it not grace itself that makes us humble and willing? "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).

    you said >>>>

    Jesus states, that nothing happens without it being allowed by God. In giving all things to Jesus, God is granting all mankind with an equal opportunity to be saved, but that does not mean that all mankind will believe and be saved.


    no he does not say this. You are rewriting the Scriptures. Jesus says nothing of the sort. He says "ALL that the Father gives to me will come to me." (JOhn 6:37). Look closely, ALL, not some. All who are gives to the Eternal SON, will believe the gospel. This text could not be plainer. So no one can believe UNLESS God grants it and ALL to whom God grants it will believe. If the passage meant what you say, that it gives all the opportunity, then it would nmean universalism, that all will believe the gospel, but this simply is not the case.

    >>>> Jesus’ power extends over all of mankind, including those who do not believe and God has given Jesus power to save “as many as thou hast given him”, yet as many, does not mean that all will be saved.

    Yes, it actually does. Look at the passage in John 17 where you got this. It does not say that Jesus merely gives opportunity to all that the Father has given him, but rather that "he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." AS MANY as thou hast given him, not all persons whatsoever. Rememeber the same word is used earlier in John 6 which says that ALL who the father has given the son will believe. ALL, NOT SOME. Then in John 17 he further says,

    "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

    In other words, those who the Father has given the Son are not the same as the rest of the World, for he only prays for them, and actually excludes the rest of the world in his prayer.

    You said>>>>God does not force people to believe, our belief comes from our desire to submit to God, and put our trust in him.

    You have a very unbiblical view of man's condition prior to salvation. To think that fallen man will naturally desire Christ or to submit to God, apart form the work of the Holy Spirit, is pure Pelagianism. How can an unspiritual man desire spiritual things?


    you said again>>>It comes from our free will.

    So you claim that man can freely believe in Christ apart from the Spirit of God? All the Scriptures contradict you. Man's will is in bondage to corruption. We are naturally hostile to God because of what we are. Our choices result from our nature and disposition. We hate God by nature. None of us naturally see Christs beauty and excellency.

    Jesus says some do not believe BECAUSE they are not his sheep (John 10).

    Finally, you do not explain why one person believe the gospel and not the other. Is one naturally more humble than the other? more sensitive to spiritual things? If so it would be salvation based on merit, on the character of the person believing over the one who does not. God's love for his own would then be conditional. But God saves in spite of ourselves. To say God's free gift does not include His Holy Spirit to grant understanding and moral ability is to think way too highly of those who are dead in sin. Dead in sin because they have no spiritual life in them. Spiritual life comes prior to willingness.

    You store analogy of givine free TVs away is flawed and here's why I think so: Consider that a blind man is not helped by merely shining a light into his eyes. He must be healed and given eyes to see before He sees. Grace does not merely stand aloof and hope that the blind man will see by exercising his will. He comes and delivers him. SO your analogy has the prior assumption that the gift of God is both desirable and something we have the ability to receive. But neither can be proved from Scripture. In fact, the Scripture testifies that the new birth is what causes faith (1 John 5:1)

    Lastly, if faith is not the gift of God then the Scripture gives false witness about itself. Paul thanks God for the faith of the Thessalonians and others. Can you thank God for your faith Alejandra? or is this the one thing you contributed to the price of your redemption?. You would then have to pray, "God thank you for everyting except my faith. I PRODUCED THIS." This is boasting and therefore contrary to the gospel.


    After reading the above dialogue i am perplexed. Are there two kinds of 'faith' used in the scripture? What kind of faith does James talk about in 2:14-26? Is it both, a committed lifestyle and a free gift at the same time? Is faith merely given to preordained individuals as God sees fit? Are both a person's intellect and God's sovereign choice playing in perfect harmony to produce a beautiful song of salvation? How about the story of the 'sheep' and the 'goats'? Was it not the very outworking of their love for God that saved them?? Please save me from this perpetual confusion.

    Iain

    Iain

    You asked>>>> What kind of faith does James talk about in 2:14-26? Is it both, a committed lifestyle and a free gift at the same time?

    No its not. The kind of faith james speaks of can only arise from a heart that is renewed by Christ. Those without the Holy Spirit cannot love Christ. Their heart of stone must be made a heart of flesh. We live a committed lifestyle because God saved us and changed our heart, not in order to receive life, but because we have life.

    The reason why some persons believe the gospel and not others is bwecause of the grace of Jesus alone. Otherwise some persons who naturally had a "good will" would be the only ones who could curry God's favor and this would be salvation by something he sees in us rather than Salvation by Christ alone.

    Man does not cooperate with God because without the Holy Spirit he cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:14). We love God because he first loved us, not the other way around and not a cooperation with God's love. We were dead and unwilling to come to Christ, all of us but God in his mercy granted us a new life that we might believe. He does not merely offer salvation but delives us. What kind of a parent would simply call to his child from the curb if a car was about to run him over? No, a parent who loves his child runs out in the street risking his own life scoops up the child to make certain the child is safe. God's love for his own is unconditional. Not conditioned on our fallen will. He loves us in spite of ourselves even becoming flesh to do for us what we could not and were unwilling to do for ourselves. He knows better than his children what is good for them. If left to our own will we would always choose death. He must renew our will if we are to believe and be saved.

    Just a few more Scriptures to fortify that faith & belief IS a gift from God (whether or not you get that from Eph 2):
    2Thess 3:2 - Not all have faith
    2Pet 1:1 - Peter was writing to those whom "obtained" the same faith by the righteouess of God and Savior Jesus Christ
    Phil 1:29 - God, in regards to Christ, gave the believing on Him as well as the suffering. The antecedent is clearly God here (vs 28) who granted the believing.

    Solo Deo Gloria!

    Steve

    Hey guys- good stuff. I like the dialogue! But in case there is still some doubt as to whether faith AND believing are both divine gifts from God- here are some more passages to consider:

    "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through THE FAITH OF THE OPERATION OF GOD, who hath raised him from the dead." (Col 2:12)

    "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who BELIEVE ACCORDING TO THE WORKING OF HIS MIGHTY POWER which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." (Eph 1:18-20)

    "Looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR and finisher OF OUR FAITH." (Heb 12:2)

    "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the WORK OF GOD, THAT YE BELIEVE on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:29)

    *Now if you may ask "How is it the work of GOD- that WE BLEIVE? Aren't WE the ones doing the believing?"

    MY ANSWER IS THIS:

    "For it is God which worketh in you both- TO WILL AND TO DO -of his good pleasure." (Phil 2:13)

    NOW MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

    Since the Bible clearly states that "not all men have faith" (2Thes 3:2) and yet you managed to obtain faith and believe, while your neighbor did not- WHO MAKES YOU TO DIFFER? Was it you who made the difference- or God?

    "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, WHY DOST THOU GLORY, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1Cor 4:7)

    The fact is- Faith is sovereignly bestowed, and therefore has it's origin in God - NOT IN MAN. We believe because we have been born again- Not the other way around-

    "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1John 5:1)

    The very FAITH that we believe with (according to the working of his mighty power) is actually born of HIM-

    "For whatsoever is BORN OF GOD overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, EVEN OUR FAITH." (1John 5:4)

    Our FAITH comes from Christ by way of His Spirit, it does not come by us. FAITH is God's gift to us, not our gift to God-

    "And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, THE FAITH WHICH IS BY HIM hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." (Acts 3:16)

    Ephesians 2:8, 9 should be clear enough for all who wish to contend with the truth- but obviously there are those who wish to interpret this passage as being completely redendant! But the fact is the "that" is referring to the direct antecedent- which is faith. And the faith is of grace. Look at the verse again-

    "For by grace are ye SAVED THROUGH FAITH; and THAT not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8, 8)

    *In case of any confusion, and any persisting doubt that we do in fact believe BY GRACE, consider this verses-

    "And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much WHICH HAD BELIEVED THROUGH GRACE." (Acts 18:27)

    *One more thing. The popular belief is that "Yes, we believe through grace, but God gives this grace to everyone. What about Romans 12:3, "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."??

    I understand that this is the popular belief, but this interpretation is clearly ignorant of the context. The answer is in the very verse that is being quoted!

    "FOR I SAY, through the grace given unto me, TO EVERY MAN THAT IS AMONG YOU, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." (Rom 12:3)

    Clearly Paul is limiting the gift of faith to every man "AMONG YOU," that is- at the church of Rome- to whom he was writing.

    Compare- "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as THE LORD GAVE to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but GOD GAVE the increase." (1Cor 3:5, 6)

    Tell me- Did Paul plant the seed of the gospel in the heart of EVERY MAN ON EARTH- and did Apollos water the seed of the gospel in the heart of EVERY MAN ON EARTH? Obviously not. But even if they did- The "every man" can only refer to those that "believed, as the Lord gave" and is necessarily limited to those men for whom "God gave the increase."

    IN CONCLUSION-

    FAITH is a gift of God and is only given to the elect. That is why it is called "the faith of God's elect." (Titus 1:1) If we claim that we produced it- we have dishonored God and have proven the Sacfrifice of Christ to be insufficient to save sinners. This would mean that His sacrifice would be useless and powerless unless we add to it- "our own faith." PERISH THE THOUGHT. God did not choose us because we had faith, but like James said, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world TO BE rich in faith?" The FAITH you now have is yours ONLY BECAUSE it has been given to you- but remember- Christ is the Author of it and this is why He calls it "My faith" in Rev 2:13. Some food for thought- Notice how Paul always thanked GOD for other people believing. Why thank God for someone elses faith? See Rom 1:8, Eph 1:15, Col 1:4 etc. God Bless your studdies!

    In His hands,
    Paul Liberati

    "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times FOR YOU WHO BY HIM DO BELIEVE IN GOD, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (1Peter 1:18-21)



    Anyone who has had much discussion with Muslims will be reminded of the parallel that exists with those who argue for the moral ability of the natural man.

    Ask a Muslim why some man has done something immoral, and he will say, "Because he CHOSE to do bad things." When you pursue the reason WHY the bad choice was made, he can only say, "Because he is a bad man," but as to WHY one man is worse than his neighbour, he is at a loss to say other than that some people are intrinsically more virtuous than others. Logic, which is the mathmatics of reason, has him in a corner, for if he or his Arminian bedfellows once admit that there is none that seeketh after God, his only escape is sovereign, irresisable grace.

    Obeying the Gospel implies having faith. No man can be saved without faith. Faith is a personal choice. Faith is not merely a passive state of the mind; it is an active state of the heart. It is by faith that men obey God (Heb. 11). Faith and faithfulness are necessarily connected, the former being the cause of the latter. Faith is not only the assent of the mind to the truths of the Gospel but faith also includes the consent of the will to the demands of the Gospel. Gordon C. Olson said, “Saving faith is not merely an intellectual state… Saving faith is an act of the will in total commitment… Saving faith is always our own act…” Gordon C. Olson (The Truth Shall Set You Free, Published by BRCCD, p. 135-136) Faith is the hearts active embrace and compliance with the truth. Faith is deliberate. Believing is a deliberation of the will.

    Some say that faith is a gift from God in such a way that it is not man’s free choice. This would make God responsible for all of the unbelief of the world. Unbelief would not be man’s fault because he doesn’t have the ability to have faith. Augustine even admitted that God was responsible for the unbelief of the world because he believed that faith was God’s gift, not man’s choice. Augustine said, “Faith then, as well in its beginning as in its completion, is God’s gift… this gift is given to some, while to some it is not given.” Augustine (God’s Strategy In Human History by Paul Marston and Roger Forster, p. 258) They use Eph. 2:8-9 as their support. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Referring to this passage, John Piper said, “Faith is a gift from God.” John Piper (A Godward Life, Book Two pp.327-332) This verse however is not saying that faith is not of ourselves, but that salvation is a gift. Salvation is not something that we earn by our works but something we receive by a living and obedient faith. We cannot boast since salvation is unmerited and undeserved; it is by grace. Even John Calvin did not interpret the “gift” of this passage as “faith” but as “salvation”. John Calvin (The Epistle to the Ephesians, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965, p. 144)

    Salvation is God’s gift but faith itself is our choice. The word “heart” in the Bible is commonly used as a metaphor to refer to a man’s will. Heart is figurative or symbolic for the human will. And the Bible says it is with the heart that men believe. “If thou believest with all thine heart…” (Acts 8:37) and “…believe in thine heart… for with the heart man believeth…” (Rom. 10:9-10). Jesus commanded men not only to repent, but to “repent and believe” (Mk. 1:15). This means that believing is a person’s choice just as repenting is a person’s choice. A command is a declaration of what you should choose. Telling me to “repent and believe” is nonsense unless repenting and believing is their choice. Jesus charged his audience to “believe the works” that he performed so that they might believe in his relationship with the Father (Jn. 10:38; 14:11). Jesus told his hearers to “believe on the light” or the illumination which he had given them (Jn. 12:36). Paul told the jailer in Philippi to “believe on the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31). All of these examples show that it is within man’s ability to believe. To speak to men in this way or manner takes for granted that faith is a choice. To tell a man to believe presupposes that faith is a choice which they are capable of making.

    Unbelief also is a personal choice. Unbelief is not merely a passive state of the mind; it is an active state of the heart. Unbelief is the hearts active rejection of the truth. The Bible tells us to “take heed… lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief…” (Heb. 3:12). “Take heed” implies choice and “evil heart of unbelief” means that unbelief is not merely of the mind but is of the will. Unbelief is described as being deliberate. “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed…” (Matt. 13:15; Acts 28:27). Men purposely turn their ears away from the truth. (Acts 7:57; 2 Tim. 4:4) Unbelief is the wills active state of suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18). “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 3:15; 4:7) Men refused to believe in Jesus Christ (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 20:17; 1 Pet. 2:7) Unbelief is disobedience. Disobedience is contrasted with believing. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner…” (1 Pet. 2:7). An unbelieving heart is the wills rejection of the truth that is revealed to the mind. Jesus even rebuked men for not believing, which implies that it is their choice to believe or not. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” (Luke 24:25). It would make no sense to rebuke men for not believing, unless faith and unbelief is their free choice. Their unbelief was their own deliberate choice, as implied in the rebuke “slow of heart to believe…” Jesus did not look at them in their unbelief and think, “poor men, God has not yet granted them the gift of faith”. He knew that their unbelief was their own fault, not God’s.

    In response to Paul MacKinnon and Jesse Morrell,
    It is painfully obvious that you either haven't read or ignored what people have posted on this site. You make the same fallacious arguments even though they have been thoroughly rebutted and make claims without backing them up with scripture.
    Paul said, "Faith is a personal choice."
    Can you back this up with scripture? I didn't think so!
    Philippians 1:29 NIV
    For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
    Romans 12:3 NIV
    For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
    Acts 13: 48
    48. Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
    "Looking unto Jesus the AUTHOR and finisher OF OUR FAITH." (Heb 12:2)

    "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, WHY DOST THOU GLORY, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1Cor 4:7)

    Scripture leaves no doubt to the fact that faith is indeed from God and originates from God! To claim that man in his unregenerate, natural state without the Spirit of God can submit to God and produce any type of faith is to essentially claim that salvation begins in and by the flesh—shame on you! You may try and claim man can do this out of his own free will, but scripture clearly refutes your claims.
    Romans 8:6-7 6. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
    1 Cor. 2:14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    Nowhere in this entire blog did anyone state that faith is simply a state of mind or intellectual consent; this is nothing more than a straw man you set up tear down. We give credit to God for our faith, credit to God for keeping us in that faith, and living by that faith. Faith is made known by the works produced in our lives; works does not produce faith! Scripture backs these claims up—unlike any of your claims.
    • Jude 1:24 NKJ
    Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
    • Hebrews 12:2 NKJ
    looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    • Philippians 1:6 NKJ
    being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
    • Philippians 2:13 NKJ
    for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
    You said, "Some say that faith is a gift from God in such a way that it is not man’s free choice. This would make God responsible for all of the unbelief of the world. Unbelief would not be man’s fault because he doesn’t have the ability to have faith.”
    You then retreated to non-biblical resources to back your claim. Is the only thing you have, philosophical objections? Do you have nothing biblical to add? Philosophy needs to line up with scripture and not the other way around. But in response to your philosophical objection, I will point out that your claim is absolutely absurd. If I have some cash and see a beggar on the street and chose to instead to feed my kids, this does not make me responsible for that man's poverty. Likewise, just because God chose to give faith to his elect does not make him responsible for the unbelief of others.
    Asserting that God does not make commands that men cannot comply with or that God would be unjust in doing so, is merely a philosophical objection rather than a biblical one.
    Did not God demand all men to repent?
    2 Timothy 2:24-26
    24. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25.Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,26.and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
    Why should we hope God grant people repentance if they could do it of their own free will? No one can repent unless God grants it; even though he commanded all men repent.
    Did God not give the law to the Jews? Did he not command them to keep everything within the law? Are we to believe God honestly thought anyone, other than Christ, could do it? Paul said the law was given so that trespasses would abound; this is quite the opposite of your argument.
    Romans 5:20-21
    20. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21.so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Consider these verses below:
    Romans 8:7-9
    7. The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.8. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.9. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
    This verse says the sinful mind is hostile to God, cannot submit to God's law. Does this mean God is unjust for judging men who break his law? Certainly not!
    9. If you return to the Lord, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him."
    2 Chronicles 30:10-12
    10. The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them.
    11. Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem.
    12. Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the Lord.

    From this verse we can see that when God gives us commands, in order for us to comply, he gives us the heart to do it.
    Jeremiah 24:7 NIV
    I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
    Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
    I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
    Jeremiah 32:39 NIV
    I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.

    Jesse you seemed to miss the whole argument here with your statements. We assert that man without Christ willingly and deliberately, hates Christ and refuses to come into the light. This is the default position of all men apart from Christ. They would never choose to believe or submit to God's commands; and the bible makes this clear. Our point is that God has to reach down and give us a new heart and nature in order for us to submit and love God. Turn to the book of Acts and read about Paul's conversion; it is nothing like an Armenian would have it be.
    Jesse you said, "Their unbelief was their own deliberate choice, as implied in the rebuke “slow of heart to believe…” Jesus did not look at them in their unbelief and think, “poor men, God has not yet granted them the gift of faith”. He knew that their unbelief was their own fault, not God’s."
    You spent a great dealing talking about how these men (mainly the Jews being referred to here) refused to believe. While I will agree with you that their unbelief is not God's fault, your conclusions about God not giving them faith is wrong.
    Matthew 13:11-15 11.
    He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.12.Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.13.This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.14.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.15.For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

    I remember reading this verse several times and having a totally different interpretation of it. I used to think the devil kept them from seeing, or that them not being able to hear or see was their own choice. After researching this, I am convinced this was God acting out his sovereignty in who would be saved. This is evident when the verse Jesus was quoting from in Isaiah is examined.

    Isaiah 6:9-10 9.
    He said, "Go and tell this people: " 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'10.Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."
    • Romans 11:8 NKJ
    Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."
    1 Peter 2:8-9
    8 and,
    “A stone that causes men to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”
    They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
    9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
    John 17:2 • as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
    John 6:44, 65 44.No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
    The word for draw in this verse is translated from the Greek word "helkuo" which literally means to drag.
    65. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
    John 6:39-40 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
    In the verse above I made a point to add verse 40 so it would not appear as though I was hiding anything. I used to use verses such as these to argue an Armenian point of view. But the bible always specifies the "everyone" and the "whosoever's" .In the verse above the "everyone" is specified by the verse directly above it. So who is the "everyone" this verse is speaking of? It is the ones the Father had given Jesus. Who is the "whosoever" such as in John 3:16? The elect, the ones God chose from the beginning, the ones given to Jesus Christ.
    Acts 13: 48
    48. Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

    Acts 18:27
    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;

    1 Cor. 1:26-31
    26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
    Philippians 1:29 NIV
    For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
    John 10:25-26 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
    I used to think we had to believe in order to become sheep, but Jesus says just the opposite. Sheep is just another word Jesus used for elect or those the Father has given him. This is clear in Acts 13:48 all who were appointed to eternal life believed.
    Please remember what the Lord said:
    John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.


    Sorry Paul just realized I accidentally mistook Jesse's quotes as yours; please ignore your name there.

    Faith
    May we be reminded to consider, as J. Gresham Machen put it in his "What is Faith" pg 172.; "faith consists not in doing something but in receiving something."

    This is Gods world, Gods movie, Gods play, we are just the clay characters! Some have been predestined unto the mercy seat and some were passed over to go to justice/wrath/great white throne/lake of fire. No one shall boast in heaven, not one, for God chose to save a remnant according to his mercy, with nothing what so ever on the part of the elect. God only foreknew the ones he called, justified, and glorified. This is Gods world, not mans, he does what he does, read the word..


    Inresponce to John H.
    and for Gods glory.


    D. L. Moody was once asked if he thought faith was a gift of God. He replied, “Some say that faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it; so is bread, but you have to eat it; so is water, but you have to drink it. Some are wanting some miraculous kind of feeling. That is not faith. ‘Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.’ It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come stealing over me…it is for me to take God at His word.”

    The teaching that faith is a gift of God is a truth stated in Scripture. It is given by the One who gives every good and every perfect gift. Faith is not the only gift which comes from the Father of lights. The Scriptures also teach that salvation is an unspeakable gift (2 Cor. 9:15). Our daily bread is a gift from God, along with His grace, the Word of God, and the Son of God. These and many others are God’s gracious gifts. Indeed, the gift of faith is one of God’s most precious gifts for it is by grace through faith that we are saved.

    The Scriptures and the Gift of Faith

    A number of scriptures speak of faith as a gift of God, such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-9, “For to one is given…faith by the same Spirit.” These verse when carefully studied reveal that this gift of faith is not a condition for salvation but a requirement for effective Christian living and service. The gift of faith in this sense is the special ability given to members of the Body to accomplish great things for God. George Mueeller of Bristol, who established an orphanage which thousands would call home, and Hudson Taylor, who reached the previously unevangelized interior of China with the gospel, show examples of this gift of faith. This may have been one of the gifts that Stephen possessed, for he was “full of faith.” This may have been in the apostle’s mind when he wrote, “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). But this gift is not the faith which saves but the gift of faith for service.

    The important question is not so much whether faith is a gift of God; rather, is this gift given in a unique way exclusively to those whom the Bible calls the elect? These teachers appeal to the words of Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” They are convinced that the gift of God spoken of here is faith, that is, saving faith without which no one can be saved. Their argument runs: since salvation is fully and exclusively of God, saving faith cannot proceed from the natural man; it must be a gift of God. They conclude that faith which flows out of the natural man cannot save, for this faith would be a work, and no one is saved by works.

    Is Faith the Gift of God (Eph. 2:8)?

    The Greek construction of this verse seems to indicate that faith is not the gift but rather that salvation is the gift of God. New Testament Greek authorities contend that the key to understanding Ephesians 2:8 is to properly identify the antecedent of the pronoun “that” (tauto). A general rule of Greek grammar concerning identifying the antecedent is: Pronouns agree with their antecedent in gender and number. Their case is determined by their use in their own clause. The fact that the demonstrative pronoun “that” is neuter and the words “faith” (pistis) and “grace” (charis) are feminine in gender must rule out faith as the gift of God. If Paul wanted to say that “faith” was the gift of God, he would have used the feminine form of the word “that” (haute).

    A number of respected evangelical Greek scholars, commenting on the grammatical structure of this verse, have concluded that salvation and not faith is the gift of God. The word “that” seems to refer back to verses 4-7, to God quickening and raising us up together and in showing His grace toward us. None of this is of works; it is a gift of God. Commentator F. F. Bruce writes, “The fact that the demonstrative pronoun ‘that’ is neuter in Greek (tauto), whereas ‘faith’ is a feminine noun (pistis), combines with other considerations to suggest that it is the whole concept of salvation by grace through faith that is described as the gift of God.”1

    W. E. Vine, a respected authority on the Greek New Testament, concerning the word “gift” writes, ”...Doron, to give, is used of salvation by grace, as the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8.”

    What is Faith?

    After considering whether or not faith is the gift which leads to salvation, one naturally asks: What then is faith? The biblical faith which leads to salvation, sometimes called “saving faith,” consists of three primary elements: 1. knowledge of the object of faith; 2. mental assent—what the Bible says about Christ, the object of our faith, is true; and 3. the use of the human will to place dependence in Him alone. It is noteworthy that this definition is accepted by Calvinist teachers. It is striking that this definition of faith includes the exercise of the human will. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists concede this point. The Calvinist generally will go further in his theology and state that new birth by the Spirit is prior to the exercise of faith.

    This is in striking contradiction to the biblical order which posits that faith comes first and then is followed by new birth or salvation. The non-Calvinist believes that man through the Fall, as the Scriptures describe, is “dead,” “lost,” “perishing,” “condemned,” “in darkness.” The Fall includes all of this and more besides. However, the Fall has not brought to pass an inability to believe in Christ unto salvation. For the boundless grace of God and penetrating power of the Word of God and convicting of the Holy Spirit are more than sufficient to enable a man to exercise faith (Jn. 5:25).

    Faith truly is a Gracious Gift of God

    What is the source of faith? The Word of God tells us that, from the divine side, the Scriptures, the Spirit of God, and the grace of God work in concert to produce faith. But there is the human side, which is the exercise of the human will in response to these divine promptings. The Word of God tells us: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Concerning the Spirit’s work in new birth we read, ”...except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). Although God enables us to believe through divine promptings, the responsibility to believe is ours. God has done all that is necessary for salvation. Our responsibility is to receive the gift of salvation by faith.

    Concerning the inter-working of the divine and human aspects that together produce faith which ultimately leads to regeneration, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost comments, “The Word of God convicts, reproves, enlightens, exhorts, reveals, not only our need but the Lord Jesus Christ who can meet that need. The instrument that convicts is the Word of God, but it is the Spirit that produces the new birth. The Word of God, energized by the Spirit of God, produces new birth.”

    Another respected author, C. H. Mackintosh, comments, “New birth is not a change of man’s fallen nature, but the imparting of a new divine nature. How is this new nature produced? This is a point of immense importance, inasmuch as it places the Word of God before us as the grand instrument which the Holy Ghost uses in quickening dead souls…All who place their trust in Christ have gotten new life—are regenerate.”4

    Is Faith a Work?

    Some argue that unless faith is given irresistibly by God, salvation is a “works salvation.” It is said that this defective salvation is not of God, for it is partly of God and partly of man. Is this view in accordance with Scripture? Does this view stand upon sound logic?

    First, the very nature of faith is an admission that man is unable to earn or merit salvation but rests on God alone and His grace. It is an act of the will prompted by the moving of God’s abundant grace. Faith is not the act of doing something but of receiving something. Does the downtrodden beggar who accepts a handout receive the credit for the gracious deed? The act of receiving God’s unconditional gift of salvation is of no merit to the receiver. All glory goes to the Giver. Faith may rightly be considered a gift of God in the sense that all good things come from God. Faith is of God, who has inscrutably given fallen man the ability to respond to the drawing power of God—through the promptings of the grace of God, the Word and the Spirit working together to form faith in a willing heart. Yet the responsibility to believe is all of man. The charge from God to the lost is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” We are not to pray to receive the gift of faith so we can believe. We are to believe as an act of the human will in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation.

    First, I shall state that I wholeheartedly agree with my clearly-Calvinist brothers that faith is a gift "so that no man can boast".

    That said, I believe that God is teaching me to view this discussion (among most others) in a less dualistic (either/or) way.

    Is anyone else out there beginning to see the limitedness of their own paradigm [by which we are interpreting everything]?

    On forums such as this, I have often seen folks try and achieve "balance", as if there is actually a "middle ground" between Calvinism and Arminianism.

    However, I submit a third opion (many will probably not see the difference, and that's OK): SYMMETRY.

    What if the Gospel is really this beautiful diamond that we can keep turning, seeing many different angles - many of which SEEM TO contradict each other?

    What if seemingly contradicting truths are often true at the same time?

    ***Please don't confuse this idea of "symmetry" with postmodern relativism. The idea here is to appreciate two [seemingly opposed] sides as equally valid, while remaining faithful to how God has revieled Himself 1.)TO YOU personally, and 2.)in Scripture. Such change in worldview would not likely change a Calvinist into an Arminian, but would help those of us in the Reformed camp to keep a humble heart as we remain faithful to what we know to be Truth.

    Consider it a good dose of Gospel charity being injected into the reformed camp of "I represent the 'true' side of the argument, so you are therefore WRONG - end of discussion..."

    Of course, this does not represent all adherents to reformed theology, but only those who have often embarrassed those of us who desire to dialogue in a more benevolant manor than many of "us" have in the past. After all, we are each a "man in process" - a process that He has promised to complete (is the sanctification of our Arminian brothers not also a GIFT from God?)


    ~JS

    Wish you would argue these great truths on another quite anti-Calvinistic website.....

    www.gracecentered.com

    (Under "Theology Forum")

    Wish you would argue these great truths on another quite anti-Calvinistic website.....

    www.gracecentered.com

    (Under "Theology Forum")

    Congratulations to all who have exercised your "free will"in this page, those who hold that faith is a voluntary act (have exercised free will) and those who believe that faith is a gift and those is embedded in you for salvation (have exercised free will & how can a fallen sinner have faith in not exercising a command of faith?)[this is an exercise of "doubt". In addition if you rest on that only those who are "chosen" and thus " already are benefactors of faith & thus already chosen/saved, the question is what makes you think you are chosen/saved, as an absolute fact? for if God can choose you to be saved can not he also choose you not to be saved? so well in that case what makes it such an overwhelming truth that solidifies your resting on wether you are truly saved? you might think you are chosen and are not!, Mat 7:15, 20-23 (NIV) "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves... Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them... Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'
    If faith is "The Gift" then in Ephesians 2:8 For by Grace are you saved and it is a gift of God, then there would be "2" gifts, so which is it? is it the faith that is the gift or is "Salvation Offer" that is the gift, God already gave everybody a brain, that is a gift, animals can not think!, only humans, well in that it is a gift, unregenerate man can think, can he not?, he does not have to be chosen to think!, God commands you to think but he does not force you to decide! There is only 1 gift in Eph 2:8, forget that wether a sinner is worthy without the Holy Spirit, he of course is not, you already know God said in Titus 2:11 he wants all men to be saved!, so what is the problem?, it is YOU!, you decide to be "stubborn", you are pushed around by ÿou", by your past, by your past teachers, by wrong interpretation!
    In judgement day,which will happen, the books will be opened, you will be alone, He would ask simply... why should you not be sent to everlasting torment? will you say... Lord, because you have said in your word that you have chosen me because I was unworthy to have faith in myself... what would God say? will you take the chance of not receiving the "atonement of his blood shed for all mankind?", there can not be 2 gifts in Eph 2:8, is the faith or is the Salvation that is the gift. Plainly Satan does not want you to know that Jesus and his diciples you must believe to be saved, how plain is that?, if God gives you faith then why would he ask it of you? If God already gave you the faith because you are chosen, then why on earth would he ask for you to have faith, don't you already have it?, if you still disagree, it is plain you have exercised your "free will" to be ... unbelieving, you have stubbornly refused to "exercise faith", and God will say ... I will grant your wish to not believe, for you thought you already was "faith embedded"! what will be your end? an Eternal thought, you will have plenty of time to think about it for all eternity, will you take this risk?
    will you believe what "______ teacher taught you and risk eternal damnation? again, if God wishes all man to be saved, why would he choose some for damnation? A unregenerate unbeliever can not understand why God says he wishes all men to be saved!, that is man's problem, not Gods'.

    I don't understand how you arrived at your "translation" of "elthein": "believe in me." Clearly the word carries the "come to me" idea, thus warranting the common translation we see in both verses mentioned. How about some clearer verses showing faith to be a gift?

    Jesus marveled at the centurion’s great faith in Matthew 8:10: "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." Jesus marvelled because, in Jesus' eyes, he was seeing a marvellous thing: a Gentile person responding to God's Truth with huge faith .

    Some (like the writer of the article above) are reviving the popularity of a doctrine which teaches that man is totally depraved, so that even the faith we place in God is a gift which God gives to us. In the Calvinistic concept, fallen man needs an implantation of faith because true faith could never arise from within the unregenerate heart.

    There are plenty of Bible stories to serve as test cases for such a theory. In this centurion's case, I ask why does Christ marvel & personally applaud this man’s faith? If faith at its true root has nothing to do with the individual, then this individual deserves no commendation for his faith. If the theory holds true that faith is a gift, then his faith came from no decision of his own, but through a direct implantation of God. Why is Christ "marvelling" and praising this man's faith?

    This is not an isolated incident. Other stories in Scripture involving human faith beg the same question. In some cases, people are scolded for their lack of faith. In other cases, they are praised for their great faith.

    When Christ speaks about faith, it is interesting to note that He refers to faith in a very personal, possessive sense. He indicates the faith BELONGS to them, it is their possession.

    In Matthew 9:22, "When He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; THY faith hath made thee whole."

    Christ said to the woman in Luke 7:50, "THY faith hath saved thee."

    In Luke 17:19- "And He said unto him, Arise, go thy way: THY faith hath made thee whole."

    In Luke 18:42- "And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: THY faith hath saved thee."

    As a final point -- Scripture also clearly defines the origin of faith: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Faith comes...it develops. Faith arises. Faith is a developing reaction to God's Word, it is not a direct implantation. Faith arises from WITHIN a person as a result of hearing , specifically, the Word of God.

    I plant a tiny apple seed, but a whole tree of apples grows from it. I plant a small kernel, and reap a tall corn stalk.

    What God buries within the heart of a man is not faith; He buries His Word. Faith is the result of a man's heart being saturated with the Voice of God.

    Faith CAN sprout from WITHIN the depraved heart of sinful man. It is not faith which needs to be implanted in the heart of a man-- what is needed is the powerful Word of God.

    Despite Calvinistic teaching, no man has any privileged "excuse" of being spiritually handicapped so that he cannot believe. In truth, every man and woman in the world possesses the ability AND the responsibilty to come to God by faith. But man will not make that decision until he first hears and considers the voice of God speaking to him through nature, through his God-given conscience, through the written and spoken Word of God, and through the godly witness of others.

    If faith is a gift, someone needs to explain Romans 10:14. "How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

    The whole point of Romans 10:14 is that God's Word is needed, missionaries are needed, God's voice needs to be shared with the world BEFORE they will believe. If faith is a gift, then we don't really need preachers, we don't God's Word, and we don't need missionaries. All we need is for God to do what He does -- implant faith. If God is freely sharing faith within the hearts of men, then our whole missionary endeavours are unnecessary.

    But that's not the way it works. Faith is not a gift, it's a result of God's Word being shared ... and that's the reason WHY all of these missions-minded endeavours are necessary, commanded, and practiced.

    I would like to comment on Titus 2:11. If you read Titus 2 from the first verse, you'll notice that Paul gives a list of people - men, women, young and slaves and then he opens verse 11 with a conjunction which connects the verses 1 through 10 with 11 saying that all people no matter race, gender or social position you are, grace is available independently of that. It does not mean that grace is delivered to every individual person, if you say that grace has appeared to everyone meaning every person who ever lived to freely choose God you make verse 11 false because it is not the reality we see in the world. For instance, tribes in the middle of Amazon were not reached by missionaries and how could they believe if no one preached the gospel, and faith comes by hearing the Word of God? Faith is product of hearing the Word and Grace is presented only then... Titus 2:11 only teaches that Grace will be offered to every nation, not only the Jews but Greeks as well, it's parallel to Romans.

    Thank you teaching the doctrine of man's total depravity and utter inability and unwillingness to repent apart from God's grace. This includes God's unconditional election of those whom God has chosen by grace and God bypassing those who are not chosen (Acts 13:48, 2Tim2:25, Matt. 22:14, Romans 9).

    ALL HAIL THE POWER OF HUMAN TRADITION!

    John 3:35 plainly says the Father has given Christ ALL things.

    John 17:2 plainly says the Father has given Christ authority over ALL people so that Christ can give Eternal (Eonian) life to ALL that the Father has given him. (what has he given him? ALL-ALL-ALL)

    John 6:37 plainly says that ALL that the Father has given to Christ will come to him. What has he given him? ALL, All, ALL.

    When are we going to stop MUTILATING the word of God by filtering it through our traditions.

    God has given Christ everything and everybody so that he can give eternal (eonian) life to all that God has given him. Everything that God has given him will come to him. He has given him everything and it will all come him.

    How many times does John have to say it before it sinks through our thick skulls.

    Tradition be DAMNED.

    ALL HAIL THE POWER OF HUMAN TRADITION!

    John 3:35 plainly says the Father has given Christ ALL things.

    John 17:2 plainly says the Father has given Christ authority over ALL people so that Christ can give Eternal (Eonian) life to ALL that the Father has given him. (what has he given him? ALL-ALL-ALL)

    John 6:37 plainly says that ALL that the Father has given to Christ will come to him. What has he given him? ALL, All, ALL.

    When are we going to stop MUTILATING the word of God by filtering it through our traditions.

    God has given Christ everything and everybody so that he can give eternal (eonian) life to all that God has given him. Everything that God has given him will come to him. He has given him everything and it will all come him.

    How many times does John have to say it before it sinks through our thick skulls.

    Tradition be DAMNED.

    but is the argument about 'all things' not self defeating in that human beings aren't in the category of 'things' but beings made of the image of God with a free will. Surely the reason Christ died on the cross is to make it possible for man to be forgiven, to destroy death's power, and as John says "....so that whoever believes in Him..." Include salvation in the category "all things" but not humans. Wherever all people is used in the bible like in Joel it denotes people of every nation.

    Free will is shown in Eden where Adam and Eve choose to disobay God. Or are you claiming that God planned for them to disobay??? Another passage that proves free will:
    Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away…See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall perish…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…. (Deut. 30:11–19)

    Whether the children of Israel are blessed or cursed depends on what they CHOOSE to do. God set before them the possibilities of life and death, but they decide which possibilities they shall actualize.

    How can we explain verses where faith and the strength of our faith is attributed to us or that we are commended for? I.E. Mt 8:26 'little faith', 15:28 'great faith', Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

    Clayton,

    When are you going to wake up and realize that the word "all" DOES NOT mean "each and every individual"? Neither does the word "world." Look up every instance of the word "all" in Scripture and ask yourself if it truly means "each and every individual." You will be hard pressed to make it mean such. Fact of the matter is, it DOES NOT mean such in the English language either. If you go to an event or affair of some kind and they say, "It's great to see all of [City] here tonight," is "all" of [City] there? Is everyone that is there from [City]? No! Problem with Armenians/Pelagians is that you read the English TRANSLATION at face value (although often ignoring much face value) and think you have the truth. Funny how "Calvinists" actually STUDY the original languages and their grammars and can actually provide backup for their accurate interpretation. The terms "Calvinist" and "Arminianist" are merely labels slapped on a severe issue in order to cover it up. Ignore the labels and let's get down to brass tacks (tax?). The FACT is, any time you have two opposing view points or interpretations, an appeal to the original language and grammar will ALWAYS decide the case between the two definitively and conclusively. Guess what? The Arminian/Pelagian views lose EVERY time, because they are based on feelings/opinions rather than on the evidential facts of God's Word.

    FACT: There is NO such thing as a "free will." Romans 6 states crystal clearly that prior to Christ your will is SLAVE to sin and the devil. You CANNOT "choose" anything because you are DEAD. Dead men/women CANNOT make a choice. They CANNOT revive themselves. They CANNOT regenerate themselves. I used to believe the same lies you guys do UNTIL I started reading my Bible for myself and studying it. When you pay attention to what God's Word SAYS, rather than what you WANT it to say, you have the choice to obey or disobey what has been revealed to you. That is the only choice you have. You CANNOT choose to be saved. If man has a "free will," then where was Nebuchadnezzar's "free will" when God MADE HIM act crazy and eat grass for 7 years? Where was Jonah's "free will" when God OVERRODE his will with HIS OWN? Where is my "free will" in choosing who my parents were, where I was born (geography), what colour my skin was, how tall I was, etc., etc., etc? The ability to make choices DOES NOT equate a "free will." Our choices are determined based upon the kind of person we are, which is based on the circumstances we face in our lives, which are a direct result of the working of GOD! Therefore, my choices are limited and I will ALWAYS choose what appeals to me. And since my fallen, depraved will is SLAVE to sin and the devil, it does what appeals to my hard heart of stone. Man DOES NOT have "free will." And CERTAINLY NOT in relation to salvation. Man can contribute NOTHING to his salvation, otherwise it is by works and he has something to boast about. If my faith saved me, it is a work and I can boast in my faith. It's stated twice in Ephesians for emphasis: BY GRACE YOU WERE SAVED!!! That grace worked THROUGH faith, which was given you by God, but salvation IS NOT OF YOURSELVES, so that NO man can boast. Faith is merely an instrument.

    So, if you want to say that you can choose to have faith, sure you can... but it DOES NOT mean you are saved. Matthew 7 makes that clear. The people uttering "LOrd, Lord," clearly thought they were saved. They obviously displayed faith. However, Jesus DID NOT know them. So you can choose to have faith all you want, but that faith WILL NOT save you. So your exercise of that faith was in vain.

    Man makes choices every day, but man CANNOT choose to be saved. The Bible states that salvation is IMPOSSIBLE with men, but that ALL things are possible with God. The Bible states that salvation is a gift FROM GOD, NOT something of yourselves. Grace and faith are ALSO gifts from God. So is repentance.

    Fact is, if you argue the Arminian/Pelagian interpretation of Scripture, taken to its end conclusion you MUST argue for Universalism, because that is what your beliefs are teaching. The Bible states clearly that God will accomplish ALL that He purposes and that He does HIS will in ALL the Earth. So if your erroneous interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9 means "each and every individual," then guess what... NOBODY will end up in hell because it is "God's will" and God's will is ALWAYS accomplished. Ergo, Universalism.

    Study John 6:37-44 out carefully some time. You cannot substantiate your belief claims. "It is the Father's will that of ALL He has given me I shall lose NOTHING, but raise it up on the last day." If "all" means "each and every individual to ever walk the planet, according to this verse Jesus will lose NONE of them. They will ALL end up with eternal life. But the "all" refers ONLY to God's elect, and NONE of God's elect will be lost. They will ALL be raised on the last day. Pay attention to the WORDS of Scripture, and if the English words are confusing you, study the Greek words and grammar. In verse 44, the "him" that is drawn is the same "him" that will be raised, so if God is drawing "all" men to Himself, guess what? "All" men will be raised to eternal life. Universalism.

    Riddle me this, Batman. If Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross for "ALL" mankind, what about those who were already in hell before He came to the Earth? Are their sins forgiven? Are they washed by the blood? Are they redeemed? NO, they are not! The Bible says that Jesus was slain from the foundations of the world. Twice in REvelation it states that those NOT written in the Lamb's book of life WERE NOT written in it from the foundations of the world. Ephesians says that believers were chosen IN Christ from the foundations of the world. EVERYTHING was decided from the foundations of the world. EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL who has ever lived has earned their place in hell and, without God intervening, would JUSTLY receive their sentence to spend eternity in hell. BUT for His OWN glory God CHOSE to save SOME. Not based on anything in them, but based on His OWN sovereign choice so that HE would get ALL the glory for saving individuals who RIGHTLY deserved to spend eternity in hell. This is where your problem begins. You do not think that man deserves to be in hell. He does. You think "Calvinists" teach that God chooses who He sends to hell. They do not. He does not. Man is ALREADY headed there. God merely choose who He will save for HIS own glory. This is what you need to come to terms with.

    You anti-"Calvinist" and anti-biblical believers in here quote two types of verses. The first type are random, isolated verses you ignore the context to and force your own feelings/opinions on. The second type are verses you fail to pay attention to that destroy your argument if you would simply pay attention to what it is they are saying, for they agree with the "Calvinist" understanding.

    Read John 3:16-21 CAREFULLY. It does not mean what you think it means. Pay attention to those who are condemned ALREADY and WHAT that condemnation is. Their condemnation is not to come. They are condemned ALREADY. Read Romans 8:29-30 CAREFULLY, too. Pay attention to the order. Those God FOREKNEW, He predestined to conform to the image of Jesus; those He PREDESTINED, He called; those He CALLED, he justified; those He JUSTIFIED, he glorified. Foreknowledge has to do with those God knew in saving relation to Himself. It has nothing to do with a corridor of time. The order here condemns that idea. It makes absolutely no sense to claim God looked down the corridor of time and said, "Oh! He's going to believe in me, so I'll predestine him to the image of my Son and then I'll call him, justify him, and glorify him."

    I could give you passage after passage after passage to consider, both OT and NT, but then I would have a novel on my hands here. Many of the passages have already been handed to you. Drop your pride, throw out your traditions of what you were taught and how you were raised, yield yourself to God's Word and conform yourself to the truths that are clearly taught there. You must come to Scripture seeking what GOD has to say... NOT what you want it to say or what you think it to say. Be humble and let God teach you His Word. And when He does, obey and conform yourself to it. Otherwise you are in disobedience to clearly revealed truths. I was once where all you Arminian/Pelagian people are now. I have always been open to search God's Word and conform myself to its truths, and that is why I no longer believe as you. Because God's Word does not teach what you believe. And so as an honest seeker of God's Truth, I had to conform my beliefs to what was revealed in His Word or else I was in disobedience. You need to deal with this, too. Ask Him to change your hard hearts and to remove the scales from your eyes. Allow Him to teach you His truths.

    God bless!

    in the use of romans 12:3 to make the case that God has granted ALL a measure of faith I have to say reading the whole verses together paul is talking to the brethren, not all men..as he tells them just prior to present their bodies a living sacrifice.
    Also to many verses speaking of un belief vs belief..

    but yes all are "capable" of faith..but not all have faith.

    James 3:17 "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."


    What a great discussion! But here is where the alarms go off in my head. When both sides have such powerful and compelling arguments about such foundational elements of the Gospel. And it starts getting deep and complex. More complicated than the average person can comprehend. I start thinking we are deviating from the Nature of our God.
    Because lets be honest, any non-believer looking from the outside would clearly see that both sides are irrefutable and even if I can say, even contradictory. How can you really ignore all the scriptures that point that God is in control of "everything" and all the scriptures that call us to "respond to Him and DO things". How can you be Saved from things you are not responsible for? And how can God not be in control of everything.
    When it gets "legitimately" confusing (not blatant misinterpretation of scripture) it has become us and not God.

    In my opinion on this topic, the scriptural evidence is so strong for both sides that I become immediately suspicious of anyone that takes a hard stance on either way.

    My conviction is we must believe that both are true and that God could devise his plan where that is possible.

    The Scripture that points me most powerfully in that direction is Luke 18: James 3:17 "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."


    What a great discussion! But here is where the alarms go off in my head. When both sides have such powerful and compelling arguments about such foundational elements of the Gospel. And it starts getting deep and complex. More complicated than the average person can comprehend. I start thinking we are deviating from the Nature of our God.
    Because lets be honest, any non-believer looking from the outside would clearly see that both sides are irrefutable and even if I can say, even contradictory. How can you really ignore all the scriptures that point that God is in control of "everything" and all the scriptures that call us to "respond to Him and DO things". How can you be Saved from things you are not responsible for? And how can God not be in control of everything.
    When it gets "legitimately" confusing (not blatant misinterpretation of scripture) it has become us and not God.

    In my opinion on this topic, the scriptural evidence is so strong for both sides that I become immediately suspicious of anyone that takes a hard stance on either way.

    My conviction is we must believe that both are true and that God could

    James 3:17 "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere."


    What a great discussion! But here is where the alarms go off in my head. When both sides have such powerful and compelling arguments about such foundational elements of the Gospel. And it starts getting deep and complex. More complicated than the average person can comprehend. I start thinking we are deviating from the Nature of our God.
    Because lets be honest, any non-believer looking from the outside would clearly see that both sides are irrefutable and even if I can say, even contradictory. How can you really ignore all the scriptures that point that God is in control of "everything" and all the scriptures that call us to "respond to Him and DO things". How can you be Saved from things you are not responsible for? And how can God not be in control of everything.
    When it gets "legitimately" confusing (not blatant misinterpretation of scripture) it has become us and not God.

    In my opinion on this topic, the scriptural evidence is so strong for both sides that I become immediately suspicious of anyone that takes a hard stance on either way.

    My conviction is we must believe that both are true and that God could create his plan accommodate both.


    The Scripture that most powerfully leads me to that conclusion is.
    Luke 18:6
    "And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His ELECT who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He FIND FAITH on the earth?”

    You have both the element of the "elect" and the action of God "looking" for people who have decided to have faith in God.

    Thoughts?

    In my opinion on this topic, the scriptural evidence is so strong for both sides that I become immediately suspicious of anyone that takes a hard stance on either way.

    My conviction is we must believe that both are true and that God could create his plan accommodate both.


    The Scripture that most powerfully leads me to that conclusion is.
    Luke 18:6
    "And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His ELECT who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8“I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He FIND FAITH on the earth?”

    You have both the element of the "elect" and the action of God "looking" for people who have decided to have faith in God.

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