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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss922.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 VII: Examining The Origin Of Salvation Faith In Scripture
A. Pertinent Scripture Words On Salvation Faith
- Since we noted Scripture verses on efficacious grace and God's call in the Gospel do not necessarily teach God effectually calls sinners to be justified, we leave room to imply men author their own faith.
- Yet, Calvinism holds God authors salvation faith, so we must find what Scripture claims on the issue.
- As most verses at FIRST GLANCE appear to make MAN author faith, something a Calvinist views ONLY as the EXPRESSION of faith WITHOUT detailing its AUTHORSHIP, to seek to avoid bias, we will START our study of passages which at FIRST view seem to give faith's authorship to God.
- This Hebrew O. T. noun means, "trust" or "reliable," B.D.B., Heb. and Engl. Lex. of the O.T., p. 52f.
- Though most of its uses reveal man as exercising faith without detailing who authors that faith, Exodus 4:5; 19:9 and Isaiah 43:10 may possibly be used to teach God authors man's faith.
- Yet, each of them can also show man authors faith: (a) In Ex. 4:5, several signs are given to elicit faith, so the faith might be an imperfect, humanly authored one; (b) In Ex. 19:9, no explanation exists as to who authors faith. (c) In Isa. 43:10, though God is said to have chosen Israel that she might believe Him, Israel needed to go into captivity to do so (v. 14), arguably displaying a man-authored faith.
- The N.T. Greek counterpart to the Hebrew word, aman is pisteuo, and it means, "to believe, believe in, trust, entrust to someone," Arndt & Ging., A Grk.-Eng. Lex. of the N.T. , p. 665-667.
- Though most of its uses reveal man as exercising faith without detailing who authors that faith, Acts 13:48, Romans 10:14 and Philippians 1:29 may possibly be used to teach God authors man's faith.
- However, each of these can be used to show humans author faith: (a) as we showed in our chapter on predestination, the Acts 13:48 participle, tetagmenoi that is rendered "were ordained" in the KJV is better taken in the Greek middle voice to mean "marshaled themselves [unto eternal life]," meaning God had not ordained these Gentiles to believe! (b) Romans 10:14-15 fails to express the view God authors the faith in its context. (c) Though Philippians 1:29 may be thought to say God gives faith as a gift for men to be saved, it is grammatically better to see the expression as a metonymy of the effect where the understood privilege to believe is God's gift: (+) both "to believe" and "to suffer" are written as compound infinitives so that were faith God's gift, the suffering would also be God's gift, an idea at odds with James 1:13-17. (+) Also, the advanced Greek grammar by Blass-Debrunner uses Phil. 1:29 to typify the use of the anaphoric article: both infinitives "to believe" and "to suffer" are in apposition to the nominative article, to, which article is hard to justify as a nominative as it is not the true subject of the verb, "give." (Blass/Debrunner, A Grk. Gram of the N.T., p. 205-206; C. F. D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of N.T. Grk., 1959, reprint by Cambridge Un. Press, 1975, p. 30-31). J. B. Lightfoot then suggests the privilege of suffering and believing is meant, Lightfoot, Epistle. to the Philippians, 1913, reprint by Zondervan, 1974, p. 85, 106.
- Pistoomai - Related to pisteuo, this word appears in 2 Timothy 3:14 possibly to imply Timothy passively became convinced of Gospel truths by efficacious grace; however, Paul could just as well have been the convincing agent as this very theme is stated in verses 2 and 10 of the same chapter.
- Pistos - Albrecht Oepke concludes the word, pistos as it appears in 1 Peter 1:21 as the object of the preposition, dia implies efficacious grace authored this faith as dia allegedly carries nearly a causal force ("who, because of Him, believe"), T.D.N.T., vol. II, p. 67. Yet, dia could carry an intermediary sense, making faith in Christ the path of faith in God, negating our seeing this faith as divinely authored.
- This noun means "trust, confidence, belief, faithfulness, reliability, a body of truth believed, a conviction about" something, and is the main word in our study, Ibid., Arndt & Ging., p. 668-670.
- Many times, the word appears in the genitive case where it can be interpreted as a subjective or an objective genitive to give faith's authorship either to God or man, cf. Mark 11:22; Romans 1:5 et al.
- However, passages at first appearing to use pistis of a divinely-authored faith can each be explained to mean faith is humanly authored as follows: (a) Luke 22:32 where Christ prayed for Peter's faith not to fail, Peter was already a believer according to Matthew 16:16-17 in light of 1 Corinthians 12:3. Thus, this passage does not prove Peter's faith was efficaciously authored by God. (b) Acts 3:16 speaks of a faith through Christ, but this could be a faith in Christ rather than a faith authored by God. (c) Acts 15:9 tells us God cleansed believers by faith, but pistis could be a metonymy of the subject where faith is put for God's work performed when one believes (cf. Mark 2:5, 9, 12; cf. E. W. Bullinger, Fig. of Spch. Used in the Bible, 1898, reprint by Baker Book House, 1968, p. 567). (d) Romans 3:30; 10:17; Gal. 3:2, 5, 8; Phil. 3:9b; 2 Thess. 1:11; 3:2; 1 Tim. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:5 and Rom. 12:3 all may use pistis to teach the piety, or true religion and not necessarily the initial trust in the Gospel. Thus, the word may be a synecdoche of the part for the whole where pistis is one expression of one's whole concept of religious experience, not the product of divine authorship (Ibid., p. 613; Ibid., Arndt & Ging., loc. Cit.). (e) In Jude 3, the word could picture the whole body of Christian doctrine believed rather than the faith one puts in Christ's gospel to be saved, Ibid., Arndt & Ging. (f) Hebrews 12:2 could speak of Christ as the object of faith or the substance of Christian doctrine rather than salvation faith, cf. B. F. Westcott, The Ep. To the Hebrews, 1892, reprint by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974, p. 394. The verse could also depict the life of faith exemplified in Christ's earthly life, Ibid. (g) In Ephesians 2:8-9, we have already shown faith itself is not God's gift so much as the whole salvation package itself. (h) Gal. 5:22 shows pistis is part of the fruit of the Spirit, so it probably there means faithfulness in character rather than a divine efficacious gift for faith in the Gospel, Ibid., Arndt & Ging., loc. cit. (i) James 2:5 could use pistis to speak of the virtue of believers and not the expression of faith in the Gospel, Ibid.
- As we have established, many passages in Scripture use pistis which at first glance appear to credit man with authoring his expressed faith. Luke 7:47-50 is one such passage: there, the faith expressed had nothing to do with a healing event, but faith for justification of a sinful woman. Jesus would have been much clearer flatly claiming her faith was authored by God were He to have wanted to give full glory to God were faith thus authored; instead, He credited the faith to the woman, implying in very strong terms she authored her faith as God graciously justified her.
- At this point, we mention the many other times pistis is used that apparently credit faith's authorship to man: (a) commands for people to believe appear to make man the author of salvation faith, cf. Mark 11:22; (b) that there are degrees of faith (Matthew 8:10), that faith can be sometimes not expressed even by true believers (Luke 8:25) implies the fickle, non-divine quality of a human-authored faith. (c) C. Gordon Olson adds several more reasons why we might view faith as not a divinely authored, immediate gift at justification: (+) Christ repeatedly commented on the faith of those people who expressed it without crediting such faith to God's authorship (Matthew 8:10; 9:22, 29) and (+) Jesus Himself was amazed at the unbelief of his hometown people, Mark 6:1-6; if salvation faith were an immediate gift from God, Jesus as God Incarnate would have known such unbelief reflected the absence of God's immediate gift of faith were faith indeed authored by God, cf. C. Gordon Olson, "Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward An Amyraldian Soteriology," A paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Society at its Annual Meeting, Dec. 29, 1981.