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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell -

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
B. Pertinent Scripture Passages On Salvation Faith
  1. 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.
  2. Yet, Calvinism holds God authors salvation faith, so we must find what Scripture claims on the issue.
  3. 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.
    1. Romans 3:22-28 and 4:1-4 - As Paul distinguishes faith from meritorious works in these passages, faith has no merit, leaving room for one to claim man authors faith while not donating merit to his salvation.
    2. Romans 4:21
      1. This passage reveals faith is the full persuasion that God is able to perform what He has promised.
      2. In light of Christ's statement that the amount of faith required can be as small as a grain of mustard seed (cf. Luke 17:5), the object of one's faith -- God, and not the amount of faith is what God seeks!
      3. [Faith as expressed by men in Scripture is often presented as an imperfect, small entity, something more fitting of human than divine authorship (cf. Mtt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lk. 22:32 et al.)]
    3. 1 Corinthians 3:5
      1. Paul claimed the Corinthians believed his Gospel "even as the Lord gave to every man." (KJV)
      2. Though one may claim this phrase supports the belief God gives salvation faith itself as an immediate gift to people to be justified, the New International Version changes this statement to imply what was given was God's assigned task of ministry to Paul and Apollos. The context supports the wording by the NIV, for Paul there speaks of the diversity of ministry gifts, not about justification or faith itself.
      3. 1 Corinthians 3:5 is thus not a proof text that God gives an immediate gift of faith for justification.
    4. 2 Peter 1:1
      1. Peter here writes believers "have obtained a like precious faith," a phrase using "faith" that one might use to support the stance that faith is an immediate gift of God to the sinner for justification.
      2. However, Peter's burden in the context is that believers might adhere to true Christian doctrine (cf. 2 Peter 1:1), a concern that closely matches the thrust of the Epistle of Jude (cf., Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, "Introduction to the Second Letter of Peter.") Then, Jude's epistle at verse 3 uses the word, "faith" to mean the body of truth delivered to the Church, a definition of "faith" that easily fits the burden of Peter in 2 Peter 1:1 where believers had obtained a like precious body of truth to be upheld! [Also, this is the way Henry Alford, a self-proclaimed Calvinist and scholar at Cambridge took the word, "faith" in 2 Peter 1:1 to mean, cf. The Grk. Test.: vol. IV, p. 389 (London: Rivingtons, 1861).]
      3. Thus, one would have to look elsewhere to prove God gives an immediate gift of faith for justification.
    5. 1 John 5:19
      1. As this verse shows the world is heavily influenced by Satan, one might conclude such great control reveals the necessity for a divinely-authored faith for justification even to occur.
      2. However, Christ taught the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment in John 16:8-11, so we would need to note the roles of the Spirit's convicting ministry and of human depravity before concluding a divinely-authored, immediate gift of faith is needed for man to be saved.
    6. Conclusion on the Authorship of Salvation Faith
      1. We find that no conclusive evidence exists that a divine efficacious grace or a divine efficacious call of the Gospel exist in those Scripture words or their passages or other pertinent Scripture passages that can possibly be used to promote the belief that divine efficacious grace exists.
      2. From the pertinent Scripture words and passages, man thus appears to author his own faith in the Gospel, and God alone justifies him by grace.
      3. Accordingly, we must examine the pertinent words and Scripture passages on human depravity and the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit before firming up any conclusion on the validity of the belief that God gives an immediate gift of faith to the sinner to believe the Gospel to be justified.