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Discussion in 'Calvinism/Arminianism Debate' started by Yeshua1, Nov 23, 2013.
How would each side see that concept as applying to salvation by/from God towards sinners?
Friend, I do not know if either side defines the word differently. It is how faith is viewed in the soteriological process that is important. The word itself comes from the Greek word πίστις (pistis). It means to believe or trust. In the context of soteriology it means to trust/believe in Christ.
Soteriologically speaking faith, the ability to believe/trust in Christ, is gifted by God (Eph. 2:8, 9). Man is not born with faith, nor can he acquire faith apart from it being divinely given by God. This is the classic Reformed view.
It is important to make the distinction between temporal faith and saving faith. The former is possessed by all men. The latter only by the elect. All men are capable of belief/trust. The passenger on an airplane trusts the pilot knows what he is doing. The patient undergoing surgery believes the surgery team is competent. However, this type of faith lacks the ability to save. Saving faith enables the individual to believe God's promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Arent you confusing Grace with Faith?
true, but as you stated , there is a HUGH difference on how we see just where faith comes from, resides, how produced etc...
calvinists like you and me would see that as NOT being a natural aspect of our fallen natures, that we MUST get it from the Lord himself, while our Arminians friends see it inherit and in all of us, and we just have to "choose" to use it!
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Saving faith exists because of grace. If faith was not a gift from God (because of God's grace), then we would possess faith at birth. But since we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13) we do not have saving faith at birth.
True. They may explain it differently, but it does come down to that. The Arminian/Semi-Pelagian position is that all men have the capacity of exercising saving faith independent of internal illumination (regeneration).
I think you've about explained it fairly in your posts....except that many Arminians would make a distinction between "internal illumination" and "regeneration"....
The former of course, they would affirm, the latter, they would deny.
To the Arminian the Spirit may very well need to actively "illuminate" or "enable" etc....
But, of course "regeneration" then proceeds faith. They often see the one as a necessary condition and then the result being regeneration. For the Calvinist, they are effectively synonymous........not so the Arminian, hence the "Prevenient Grace" stuff.
1.) To the Calvinist: Faith is a "work" which is inherently meritorious
2.) To the non-Calvinist: Faith is only and always in direct contra-distinction to any form of "work" and is similarly not inherently meritorious in any way.......it's simply what God has chosen to demand of man in order to be saved.
To the non-Calvinist: Faith is something man excercises in order to have peace with God. It has no merit, but is simply the demand God has placed upon men as his condition for salvation.
To the Calvinist: "Faith" is a gift that God gives to certain random persons which God chooses to accept in order to impute righteousness upon them.
To the Calvinist saving faith* is a gift from God (grace) which is neither earned nor deserved (Ephesians 2:8, 9)
To the Calvinist saving faith is gift that God gives to elect persons whom He chooses. The person who receives the gift of faith exercises it by believing in Christ, and is then justified by that faith (Romans 5:1).
*when using "faith" in a soteriological context I will sometimes refer to it as "saving faith".
Hi Reformed...(Thank you for you postings B.T.W.) I do not understand how what you said and how what I said was appreciably any different....It seemed like the same thing to me. What in my verbiage did you feel the need to clarify?
I think I was saying the same thing as you are. Can you elaborate?
Thank you for your kind words, I.J.
You wrote, "To the Calvinist: Faith is a "work" which is inherently meritorious."
Theologically speaking faith is not a work. If it was meritorious (deserving of reward or praise) then the person being saved can claim credit for their salvation.
You also wrote, "Faith" is a gift that God gives to certain random persons which God chooses to accept in order to impute righteousness upon them."
In my previous post I explained that faith is gifted by God to His elect, not random persons.
I hope this explains the difference in verbiage.
I have not learned my soteriology from Calvinists but from scriptures. For example, Ephesians 2:8 and the phrase "by grace are ye saved" represents a particular Greek construction that grammarians call a "periphrastic construct" which involves the use of a regular verb with a present tense linking verb. In this case the regular verb is a perfect tense verb translated "saved" and demands a completed action already completed and continues to stand completed up to the present time. So a more literall interpetation of this perfect tense verb would be "having once been saved and continues to be saved. This perfect tense is then joined with a present tense linking verb translated "are" which intensifies the present completed state of salvation.
In context, this phrase "by grace are ye aved" has been introduced in verse five to describe the act of quickening:
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved
Again verse 5 is further descriptive of verse 1 where the same contrast was made between previous dead in sins to divine quickening:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Therefore, "saved" in verses 5 and 8 refers to the act of divine quickening.
Furthermore, this same "saved" completed action in verse 5 is negatively defined to be "not of yourselves...not of works" but then positively defined to be a "gift of God" and "his workmanship created in Christ Jesus in verses 8b-10a.
Thus quickening is an act of grace, it is being "saved" as a completed action, and is divine quickening which is a creative work of God. All these other verbs are Aorist in tense denoting a punctilliar completed action thus complimentary with the perfect tense completed action.
It is this perfect tense completed and punctillar action that was accomplished as a creative work of God "through faith" demanding that "through faith" was contemporaneous or simeltaneous with that completed action or it could not have occurred "through" it as the "it" was not a progressive action.
This corresponds with 2 Cor. 4:6 describing the necessary "substance" (Heb. 11:1a) of faith as a creative work of God. God called into existence light by a divine command according to Paul in 2 Cor. 4:6:
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Here is a direct and explicit statement by Paul that explains how "the light of knowledge" which is the "substance" and "hope" of which faith consists comes into the darkened heart of a lost person. It comes by divine fiat or by an express creative command of God and therefore "we are HIS WORKMANSHIP CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS" (Eph. 2:10). Hence, faith is a created act of God within the darkened heart called quickening as the very "light of knowledge" spoken into existence by the creative act of God is the "subsance" and is the "hope' of which faith consists.
Thus, when Jesus told Peter, "flesh and blood hath NOT REVEALED" the substance of saving knowledge "but my Father which is in heaven." He is denying that this internal revelation to Peter came by external human means but he is saying that faith is "a gift of God" as a creative act by God that quickens the dead sinner and thus a supernatural divine revelation by God that brings life out of death and reverses the unregenerate condition as described in Ephesians 4:18.
This creative act is called QUICKENING as this is the creation of inner light of knowledge which is "life" (Jn. 1:4) eternal (Jn. 17:3) and thus quickening and faith are inseparably in this creative action by God. No human being can create anything much less put such knowledge into a darkened heart.
It helps...thank you.
I was not ENTIRELY accurate. I know that for the purposes of POLEMICS, SOME Calvinists insist that if a man can "have faith"...then Arminians believe in a "works" salvation.
(It's a polemical device sometimes employed). Obviously, this is not true and not all Calvinists employ this tactic.
I've actually had to debate some Calvies on this board that "faith" is not a "work" because they don't want to give up that particular polemical tool......I've had them cite this:
John 6: 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
I should have (in fairness) demonstrated that not all Calvinists classify Faith as a work that way.....
Also, of course, no self-respecting Calvinist would submit that men are chosen "randomly" or arbitrarily.
Of course, Arms think it's one and the same.....but that's another issue for debate
Thank you for clarifying...I should not have broad-brushed that "Calvinists" say faith is a "work"....some do (only for Polemics) but they're insane for it, and not all Calvinists do.
Thank you for your response again Reformed! :wavey:
I.J., you are more than welcome.
FWIW I am acquainted with the polemical argument used by some Calvinists that Arminianism teaches a work based salvation. To be fair that is more true of Semi-Pelagianism which teaches that man cooperates with God in salvation. Most modern day Arminians are not classical Arminians. The differences they have with Calvinists is marked, but different than Semi-Pelagianism.
Have a good evening. I have a message to finish this evening, so I may not be back on tonight.
Thanks and you too!
I don't think there is any need to employ such an argument because saving faith is not found within the sphere of the fallen nature and its ability. It must be "given" by God just as 2 Cor. 4:6 says "to give" the light of knowledge.
I think the problem is in part the definition of saving faith and then how it is derived within the darkned heart of man. The proper definition of saving faith is the "substance" which provides "hope" of eternal life. Not any "substance" provides that specific "hope." That "substance" is the promise of the gospel.
We do not disagree that God uses external means to bring that substance UNTO men. Where we disagree is how that substance finds its way INTO the heart of men. We claim that no external means can operate within that INTERNAL sphere of man. Most Arminians generally agree and claim that it must be the Holy Spirit that operates within that sphere but through enablement of the fallen nature. It is at that precise point where the major disagreement occurs. We assert that the Biblical characterization of the fallen nature cannot be enabled to participate with God either before or after regeneration without fundementally changing its very character. That characteris is defined in Romans 8:7-8 by the STATE OF BEING VERBS and nouns which describe its nature. We believe a completely new nature must be created by God by the impowerment of the very "substance" brought UNTO man through divine fiat WITHIN man by the Spirit of God. The "substance" of saving faith is "given" (2 Cor. 4:6) by divine fiat which is "light of knowledge" which is "life" eternal (Jn. 1:4 with John 17:2-3).
Biblicist is quite biblical in his answer.
Saving Faith is the miraculous creative work of God in a sinner who does not deserve nor has he earned this gift.
It is not, however, a gift which is placed at the door of a man's heart waiting for man to accept or reject.
It is, in fact, a gift which is freely given by God, (which has been earned by Jesus alone), and is sovereignly, effectually and actually realized in the Elect because it is the result of the same absolute power and will of God which decreed, "Let there be light."
Thank you. I have heard it opened up this way and it is quite clear to any who want truth.