Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss918.s.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part II: Examining Scripture On The Will-Related Doctrines
Chapter V: Examining "Divine Efficacious Grace" Throughout Scripture
- If our definition of election holds God does not choose who will believe the Gospel, we appear to imply God does not effectually cause men to believe in Christ.
- Yet, this counters the Calvinistic belief the Holy Spirit authors faith (Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 61).
- We thus study pertinent Scriptures CLAIMED to teach efficacious grace to see if this belief is true:
- Exodus 33:18-19
- When Moses asked to see God's glory, God said He would be gracious to whom He willed to be so.
- As the passage does not explain if this grace applies to justification, God's remark may mean those who, like Moses, already trust in Him will be shown mercy with no reference to how faith is authored!
- 1 Samuel 10:9
- This verse reveals when Saul was anointed as king, the Holy Spirit gave him a different heart.
- Yet, we do not know if this marked Saul's justification or whether the reference is to his equipping to rule (cf. 1 Samuel 16:1, 14 where the Spirit left Saul), so this is no proof of efficacious grace.
- Proverbs 21:1
- God here sovereignly turns the king's heart like an irrigation worker controls "channels of water."
- However, there is no proof such activity means God directly authors human will. Indeed, as in the case of Pharaoh (discussed earlier), God could use external circumstances to influence such choices.
- Isaiah 45:1-4
- We have before seen verse 4 shows the pagan Cyrus did not acknowledge God as Lord in accord with our extra-biblical observations in his famous cylinder of Cyrus' devotion to his pagan god, Marduk .
- Hence, the work of God to influence Cyrus' decisions do not apply to efficacious grace.
- Jeremiah 32:40
- This verse foretells the everlasting covenant God will make with Israel when He placed the fear of God in the hearts of its people. The method for this activity might possibly refer to divine efficacious grace.
- However, the author of the faith of those involved is not mentioned, so one could as well describe this placement of God's fear as a result of God's justification, not its cause! (cf. Also Ezekiel 11:19-20)
- Joel 2:28-29
- God is here predicted one day to pour out His Spirit on all flesh in the latter days.
- Since Acts 2 demonstrates at least a partial fulfillment of this prediction, and all those upon whom the Spirit came were believers, and that throughout Acts, one could readily claim the provision of the Spirit here is the result, not the cause of justification!
- Mark 9:24
- As the father of the demoniac asked help with his unbelief, did he request efficacious grace of Jesus?
- Well, Jesus did not respond to the comment other than to heal the man since his request exhibited faith.
- Thus, this passage does not provide a proof text either way regarding the validity of efficacious grace.
- Mark 10:23-27
- The fact salvation is impossible with man here does not imply the existence of efficacious grace.
- Christ might just as easily refer to the actual work of justification, a work entirely of God without making any comment on the authorship of faith that is required for God to justify a sinner.
- Luke 1:13-15
- When the unborn John heard Mary's greeting, the Holy Spirit caused him to leap in Elizabeth's womb, an event one might possibly explain supports efficacious grace as it applies to John's salvation.
- However, John later did not even know Jesus, claiming the Holy Spirit had to signal to him so he could mentally discern as much, John 1:31, 33-34. This event was not one of efficacious grace that produced John's justification, but was a work of the Spirit to motivate John to leap irrespective of his faith!
- John 6:29-30
- Jesus here stated the work of God was that men believe on Him, and Calvinists would claim this refers to God's work of efficacious grace to cause men to believe.
- Yet, Jesus was responding to the question of what people could do to perform God's work, and He might have been thus directing them only to believe in Him (versus doing any meritorious work).