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/elmss919.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 (Continued)
- 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:
- John 6:37, 39, 44-45, 64-65; 10:26-29
- In these key verses, God the Father is said first to draw those who then believe on the Son, a statement readily used by Calvinists to claim God efficaciously causes people to believe in Christ.
- However, Christ could be explaining those Hebrews who believed in Him had already become followers of the Father, for verse 32 reveals it was not Moses, but God Who had actually fed the people manna in the wilderness, so He was now giving His spiritual manna, Jesus Christ, to Israel.
- As the Father and Son are One in Essence (John 10:30), one who believed in the Father would readily believe in the Son as the attributes of both Persons belong to the same Essence, John 14:7-10.
- Thus, this passage (with the similar John 10:26-29) can not prove the existence of efficacious grace.
- John 17:2, 6, 9-10
- The people in verse 2 who had received eternal life from Christ are said by Jesus to have been given to Him by the Father, a statement one might claim refers to divine efficacious grace.
- Yet, in verse 6, Jesus explains to the Father, "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me . . ." (KJV), and "were" is written in the imperfect tense to depict indefinite past time ("were being") (UBS Grk. N.T., p. 396; J. G. Machan, N.T. Grk. For Beg., p. 250. As in John 6:37-65 and 10:26-29, they may already have believed in the Father, meaning one must turn elsewhere to prove efficacious grace exists!
- Acts 5:31
- Christ is said here "to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (KJV), a statement allowing room for Calvinists to claim Peter referred here to divine efficacious grace.
- Yet, Peter here may have used a metonymy of the effect where the subject is omitted (Bullinger, Fig. Of Spch. Used in the Bib., p. 564), that subject being the opportunity to repent. Note how this explanation fits Philippians 1:29: Paul wrote the Philippians had been granted (the infinitives) "to believe" and "to suffer" for Christ. Yet, the article connected to these infinitives is anaphoric, written in the nominative case which is hard to justify as a nominative in that it is not really the subject of the verb, "give." (C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of N.T. Grk., p. 30f). Lightfoot claims these infinitives describe the unnamed subject -- the opportunity to believe and suffer, J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Ep. To the Phil., p. 85, 106. (cf. Also Acts 11:18.)
- Thus, Peter in Acts 5:31 and Paul in Philippians 1:29 may not have referred to an efficacious grace.
- Acts 15:8-9 - The statement that God purified the Gentiles' hearts by faith may refer to efficacious grace.
- <:I576,0,0,0>However, faith could be put for the work of salvation God performs in saving men, cf. Mark 2:5, 9, 12, and that as a metonymy of the subject, so one must look elsewhere to prove efficacious grace exits.
- Acts 16:14 - Lydia believed after God is here said to have opened her heart, a possible allusion to efficacious grace. Yet, Lydia was already a Hebrew believer in God (Acts 16:14), so the Father may have led to her as a believer in Himself to trust in the Son as in the case of John 17:2, 6, 9-10 described above.
- Acts 18:27 - People are here said to have believed "through grace" (KJV), a potential reference to efficacious grace. Yet, "grace" (charitos) may be a metonymy of the cause where grace is put for the Gospel that God presented to the hearers to be justified upon their faith in it, Ibid., Bullinger, p. 539.
- Romans 12:3 - The reference to the grace given to Paul from God may not be efficacious grace for him to believe, but allude to his spiritual gifting for service as an apostle, cf. Romans 1:5; Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 440. One would have to prove the existence of efficacious salvation grace from another passage.
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 - Verse 4 mentions the grace given to the Corinthians, a possible reference to divine efficacious grace. Yet, grace may be put for the work of God in a metonymy, and what that work is Paul does not clarify. Again, one must turn elsewhere to prove the existence of efficacious grace.
- 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 - Verse 5 may be teach efficacious grace as it reads "the Lord gave to every man" (KJV). However, the NIV implies what God here gave was spiritual gifts and service assignments.