LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Faith - The Sovereign Gift of God

Faith - The Sovereign Gift of God
by Colin Maxwell

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. (Acts 15:11)

I heard Rev. John Greer (Ballymena FPC) preach on this text recently. During the course of the message, he pointed out that the literal Greek rendering of this verse puts it that even the faith that saves is the product of grace. I notice that Robert Young, of Concordance fame, renders it as follows in his Literal translation:

But, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, even as also they.' (YLT)

This leaves us wondering then do all men, without exception, receive this faith to believe (and obviously do not exercise it) thus rendering it null and void or do only the elect (and none other) receive it. I run with the latter interpretation and here's a few reasons why:

1) The faith that saves is a specific gift from God is stated elsewhere:For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; (2 Corinthians 4:13)

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)

I might have mentioned Ephesians 2:8 where there is a strong argument that the gift of God refers to the faith, as well as the salvation, even though the Greek word for that is neuter and the Greek word for faith is feminine. Handley Moule points out that the Greek construction is used to introduce an addition of thought or a heightening of what goes before (examples: 1 Corinthians 6:8/Philippians 1:28) and that there is no new force if it but refers to gratuitous salvation. Therefore (argues Moule) it refers to the introducing of the idea that even the faith that saves is as much the gift of God as the salvation itself.
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2) The Bible specifically says that all men have not faith
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:2)This is evidently referring to saving faith, in that men do have faith in false gods, false philosophies etc., But it would be a very strange way of wording it, if all men did have saving faith, but had failed to exercise it.

3) Saving faith is much more than the opportunity to believe or the ability to believe but the actual and effectual belief itself. Evidently, we must protect ourselves against the erroneous thought that God believes for us, yet it can still be said that God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) which must go further (again) than merely meaning that He has merely given us the invitation to believe. If He has actually given us and enabled us to effectually believe to the saving of our soul, then it is obvious that He has not done so to every man without exception i.e. not every man actually believes. Therefore He gives such faith only to those who actually exercise it and these are the elect of God. (No matter how we believe that men arrive at the stage of being elect.)

Have I left any good arguments out? Are some of my arguments less than watertight? Is there a silver bullet for the opposing side that God has given all men saving faith even though all men are not and will not be saved? The above is of the top of my head (except where I reread Moule on Ephesians 2:8 so that I could state it accurately). What are your thoughts?

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6 Comments:

Blogger donsands said...

That was good. Acts 15:11, I'll remember that verse. 2 Thes 3:2 was an excellent point as well.

I am certain that saving faith is a gift from the Lord. Many of my friends, who some are quite biblically studied, argue these same verses that faith is innate and "neutral", otherwise God would be unjust to condemn those who do not believe.

One other verse that came to mind was: "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus". 1 Tim. 1:14

October 01, 2007 8:14 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Today is the day I finally realized that Colin Maxwell is GoodNightSafeHome.

That's funny.

Post was good too.

October 01, 2007 10:31 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

John 6:37: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

If God must intervene, then faith is a gift. From John 6:37 we see:
Those that believe in Christ and come to Christ have eternal life. Therefore, the Father gives Jesus people who will come and receive eternal life, and all (100%) will come. The inescapable conclusion is that God intervenes and plants an irresistible desire for some to come and believe, but He does not plant this desire in everyone. If it were not irresistible, then it would not be 100% effective. If it is 100% effective, then some do not receive this desire to come. Therefore, this intervention implants a saving grace that is irresistible and that is why Jesus said, “All that the Father gives to me will come to me.” Irresistible grace gives a sinner an irresistible desire to willingly come to faith in Jesus Christ.

October 01, 2007 10:45 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Acts 15:11 (Wycliffe New Testament)
Wycliffe New Testament (WYC)
2001 by Terrence P. Noble,

11 But by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we believe to be saved, as also they.
======
Apostelgeschichte 15:11 (Luther Bibel 1545)
Luther Bibel 1545 (LUTH1545)
Copyright © 1545 Public Domain

11Sondern wir glauben, durch die Gnade des HERRN Jesu Christi selig zu werden, gleicherweise wie auch sie.

October 01, 2007 11:57 AM

 
Blogger Jim said...

It is inaccurate to say that all men have faith because not all men have heard the word.

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Apart from the divine revelation no man can have faith.

October 03, 2007 11:15 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Yes,but Jim, when Paul made that statement was he not refering to a man that was well within his sphere of evangelism?

October 03, 2007 11:53 AM

 

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