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Thread: What Faith Is

  1. #1

    What Faith Is

    Word of the CrossBible Study
    July 27, 2011

    According to Webster's Dictionary faith is "an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence." In the general sense of the word, to have faith is to believe in something or someone, to fully trust, to be so confident that you base your actions on what you believe. To have faith is to be fully convinced of the truthfulness and reliability of that in which you believe.

    Read Hebrews 11:1 ESV "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

    Literally the Greek of Hebrews 11:1 reads, "Now faith is the reality of things being hoped for, the proof of things not being seen."

    There is hardly any verse of the New Testament more important than this, for it states what is the genuine substance of faith, and is the only definition of it which is attempted in the Scriptures. Eternal life depends on the existence and exercise of faith (Mark 16:16) and hence, the importance of an accurate understanding of its nature.

    "Of things hoped for" - The Christian accepts the truth that they will be admitted into heaven; to be raised up in the last day from death, to be made perfectly free from sin; to enter into blissful union with God. Under the deposit of faith he allows these things to control his mind as if they were a most affecting reality.

    "things not seen" - The whole invisible and spiritual world: not in reference of things future and things present, as the "things hoped for," but that which cannot be accessed by our six senses. Believing is a mode of thinking not of feeling. It is that particular mode of thinking that is guided to its object by the testimony of another, or by some kind of inter-mediation. It is not intuitive as if welled up from the flesh to grasp. Faith springs from a fresh touch of God, initiated by the Holy Spirit.

    Let's look at this chapter in Hebrews a bit and see how faith affected the people of God.

    Read Hebrews 11:4 ESV "By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks."

    "By faith Abel offered - a more excellent sacrifice" - Abel, by faith, made more than one offering; and hence it is said, God testified of his Gifts. The plain state of the case seems to have been this: Cain and Abel both brought offerings to the altar of God. As Cain was a husbandman, he brought a eucharistic offering, of the fruits of the ground, by which he acknowledged the being and providence of God. Abel, being a shepherd or a feeder of cattle, brought, not only the eucharistic offering, but also of the produce of his flock as a sin-offering to God, by which he acknowledged his own sinfulness, God's justice and mercy, as well as his being and providence. Cain, not at all comprehending the problem of sin, or God's holiness, contented himself with the mincha, or thanks offering. This God could not, consistently with his holiness and justice, receive with acceptance as sufficient.

    Read Mark 11:23 ESV "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him."

    It is plain that this is not physical but moral obstacles to the progress of His kingdom were in the Redeemer's view, and that what He designed to teach was the lesson that no obstacle should be able to stand before a confiding faith in God. We can only move the mountains that God wants removed, not those that we want moved. (Example: Jesus prayed in Gethsemane or Paul’s thorn of the flesh.) “Moving mountains” was a phrase used by the rabbis to describe overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties; we must not of course take it in the literal sense. If we pray in this way, we can give thanks for the result before we see it, for the answer is sure within the will and purpose of God.

    Read Romans 10:10 ESV "For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

    "For with the heart" - Not with the understanding merely, but with such a faith as shall be sincere, and shall influence the life. There can be no other genuine faith than what influences the whole mind. Faith in God must be from the heart. It is not merely intellectual. It is spiritual. It is a deep revelation of Jesus, a beholding of the glory, fullness, completeness, ability, and willingness of Christ as a Savior, with the eye of the understanding spiritually enlightened. He who believes aright in Christ Jesus will receive such a full conviction of the truth, and such an evidence of his redemption, that his mouth will boldly confess his obligation to his Redeemer, and the blessed persuasion he has of the remission of all his sins through the blood of the cross.

    "With the mouth confession is made" - That is, confession or profession is so made as to obtain salvation. He who in all appropriate ways professes his attachment to Christ shall be saved. The reason why this is made so important is that there can be no true attachment to Christ which will not manifest itself in one's life by open profession. A silent or secret faith is not saving faith, but actually denial without word. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. It is impossible that there should be true belief in the heart, unless it should show itself in the life and conversation.

    Read 2 Corinthians 5:7 "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
    Faith causes you to know in your heart before you see with your eyes. This "walk" has reference to the fact that life is a journey, or a pilgrimage, and that the Christian is traveling to another country. The sense here is, that we conduct ourselves in our course of life with reference to the things which are unseen, and not with reference to the things which are seen.

    "By faith" - In the belief of those things which we do not see. We believe in the existence of what is invisible, and we are influenced by them. To walk by faith, is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come; in the belief of the existence of unseen realities; allowing them to influence us as if they were seen.

    "Not by sight" - Distinguished from living simply under the influence of things that are seen. God is unseen - but the Christian lives, and thinks, and acts in faith of God, and as if we have a relationship with him. Christ is unseen now by the bodily eye; but the Christian lives and acts as if he were seen, that is, as if his eye were known to be upon us, and as if he was now exalted to heaven as the King of Kings.

    Read John 20:29 ESV “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
    Some say, "Seeing is believing." It is an idiom that means "only physical or concrete evidence is convincing". Once you see the thing hoped for already existing in the natural order, you don't need faith. Jesus was stating in John 20, because you have looked upon my body, and seen the proofs that I am the same Savior that was crucified. Jesus here approves the faith of Thomas, but more highly commends the faith of those who should believe without having seen.

    "Blessed" - Happy, or worthy of divine approval. The word has here the force of the comparative degree, signifying that they would be in some respects more blessed than Thomas. They would be those who gave evidence of greater faith.

    Hope is a condition for faith. Hope is "a positive unwavering expectation of good". Hope is for the mind (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:19), an anchor for the soul. It keeps us in the place where we can believe, but it is not in itself "faith". Yet, without hope there are no "things hoped for", and therefore there cannot be faith.

    Through faith we can know we have the answer to our prayer before we see anything change in the natural order (1 John 5:14,15). Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them." (Mk 11:24). God expects us, even commands us, to believe that our petitions are answered by God at the moment we make them. We must believe that the response is immediately sent WHEN we pray. Faith is like the confirmation slip in our hearts that the goods are on the way. We have that confirmation slip instantly from God. We sense it in our hearts. The manifestation of those goods, the answer received, comes later as long as we are patient and do not throw away our confidence. (Hebrews 10:35-39; Hebrews 6:12)

    Living faith always has corresponding actions. We talk what we really believe, and we act according to what we really believe. The heroes of faith like Abraham were considered men of faith because they acted on what God showed them. They acted on their faith. (Hebrews 11:17-38, James 2:21-23). To live in faith means to do and say what you believe is right, without doubting.

    Faith is a rest. It is compatible with inner peace. It is not "trying to believe". To say that you are "trying to believe" God is to say that you don't believe Him. The man who is "trying to believe" may be sincere, but he does not have faith in that area yet.

  2. #2

    Faith Attained by Intellectual Ascent

    Often, I hear Christians describing faith in this manner. “Faith, begins with a thought, it is also sustained with thought.” This type of teaching is more along the lines of the first century Gnostics. They believed that esoteric or intuitive knowledge (nous) is the soul channel to spiritual awareness and ultimately God. This spiritual philosophy was also foundation in Neo-Platonism which yielded Theosophy.

    I realize that Romans 10:17 is a championed verse to uphold that position. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Or the passage in Galatians 3:2 “…Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?” But the revealed key lies in Hebrews 4:2 “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”

    Hearing the gospel by filter of intellectual ascent does not lead a soul to accept Christ, it has to be coupled with supernatural faith. Such is not mustered by human will or intellectual intent, but is the grace of God that leads us upward to Him.

    In our speaking the Good News, only those who are seasoned by God in preparation will receive it. It will be of little value to try to “intellectually” convince someone to receive the message, who is not touched by God’s favor (grace) which yields faith. The supernatural seed has to be present (previous or instantaneous) for the message to generate a soul response. Our call is to declare the truth to all mankind as to ferret out those who are seeded, ready to receive, ripe for harvest.

    One point I would make at this juncture, there is a difference between Natural Faith and Supernatural Faith. Every normal human being is endowed with common sense, a kind of judgment that serves him to make ordinary decisions for his own good and welfare. We trust by flipping on a light switch, a light will come on. By contrast, supernatural faith is NOT granted to everybody indiscriminately, since it is a special gift which Christ has obtained by his death in order to bestow it upon his elect people. It is a divine blessing, unmerited and without which nobody can enter heaven, for by supernatural faith (given to us by the mysterious operations of the Holy Spirit) we are united to Christ and enjoy his redemption. This kind of faith, which the Bible recommends, is a gift of God (Philippians 1:29). It originates as one hears the Word of the Gospel, as a seed is sown into the ground: it germinates and takes root and sprouts. Albeit the SOURCE of origin is divine, not mentally contrived.

    All men being born from the lineage of Adam, are devoid of the life of God, alienated from Him and antagonistic to His purposes. In mercy God seeks His wayward and brings the elect to Himself. This He accomplishes by a work of re-creation: He instills faith in the soul of man, so that man turns to Him in Christ and trusts Him for his whole salvation and entitlement to eternal life.

    The conception of faith, therefore, refers to that exact moment in time when the Holy Spirit deposits the gift of faith in a broken and contrite heart. To be sure, faith is exercised by man, and it is his responsibility to believe, yet he cannot do so without the implantation of grace given faith within his heart. It is God-given. For the origination and proper exercise of faith, we all are wholly dependent upon God. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44).

    In God’s blinding Saul, who was fighting against God’s purposes thinking he was serving truth; as soon as the Light shone upon him, the darkness was instantly banished. That is why, in proving that the gospel he preached was not man’s invention, Paul the apostle refers us back to his former manner of life and then continues: “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to REVEAL his Son in me…” (Galatians 1:15,16).

    Furthermore, the substance of faith is not by mere intellectual continuing in the way. It is ongoing grace that empowers us by residence of the Holy Spirit to “sustain” us by His unmeritable favor. It is the glory of God’s Spirit, from beginning to end and throughout. Unless God comes to us in mercy, we will never find him, for no man in his natural mind seeks after God nor can comprehend Him, being fundamentally idolatrous of heart.

  3. #3

    More Extended Thoughts on Faith

    Believing what the Word of God says about the Good News is proceeded by the seed deposited in us to have faith to believe it, not the other way around. First comes the Spirit that instills faith, then the ascent to concur intellectually.

    Christians often assume “faith” means an acceptance of the doctrines of Christianity. With this definition, we understand a series of facts or creeds, accompanied by adequate evidence to assure us they are true. It is this type of faith, designated by the Greek word pepoitha, which means “to be persuaded.” Although this type of faith or persuasion leads us to the truth, it is utterly impossible that a mere intellectual state will save us. This “faith”, though prompted by the will, is an act of the intellect. Though necessary for salvation, it is not sufficient. It is this type of believing, for example, which James indicates even demons possess.

    “You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19)

    No… intellectual faith alone is not saving faith. Reading the Bible to extract sanctifying truth is not the catalyst for generating faith. Instead, the truths found in Scripture direct our minds to correct thinking that allows the faith deposited in us to rise up and assist us to discern Gods mind. That same spiritual essence which is suppressed by the trials and pollution of daily living. We do not create faith by reading Scripture, instead we refine our perception of truth by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2), will and emotion. Much like prayer helps reunite our fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures leads us back to the treasury of God’s mind and heart.

    If faith is merely generated by our personal study, it would be corrupted by means of the interpretation contrived by the human intellect. You probably know people who are filled with biblical facts, who can quote scripture impressively, but their lives deny the faith. They can speak of lofty matters, but in review, their position is often found not in align with spiritual truth. Faith is a pre-conversion supernatural seed deposited before salvation. For the Day Star to arise in our hearts, as to supplant us as master, requires whittling away the mountain of self that restrains its position in us. That is the work of sanctification, and it requires a daily diet of truth and mediation to overrule the fallen nature. Not that we ADD to our spirituality by these endeavors, but rather we learn to yield as to die daily as to allow what is already deposited in us to grow up in us.

    Christian faith encompasses in part an intellectual faith, but is not exactly equivalent to it. In other words, one is not ultimately saved by believing, but one must believe in order to be saved. Becoming a Christian is an authentic choice of a whole man; it involves his reason, his emotions and his will; it is in this sense that faith is more than rational combined with a spiritual operand. Operating under the law of cause and effect, the mind and emotions are not virtuous. Virtue is part of the will; it is therefore free from the law of cause and effect.

    Christ himself taught that saving faith was a supernatural beckoning, not merely an intellectual ascent.

    “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44).

    John 12:32 “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

    John 6:65 “He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

    Enable him… that no man can come to me, except it be given him of my Father; which is the same, as to be drawn by the Father; for faith in Christ is the gift of God, and coming to him, is owing to efficacious grace, and is not the produce of man’s power and freewill. Here he says, it must be “given to a man to come” to Christ.

    Some evangelicals refer to this as an “antinomy” or something well beyond our ability to comprehend in this life, so they say both election and natural man’s ability to turn in faith to Christ are both true. But this is a fairly serious theological error and misunderstands a key element of the gospel. This is one of the erroneous bents in Arminianism which I cannot embrace, although I am not a Calvinist either.

    We might agree that we must keep both elements in mind: the sovereignty of God, His efficacious work to infallibly bring His people to faith, and man’s responsibility to believe and respond to the grace of God. Instead of considering from Scripture how both can be true, too many evangelicals fall upon human reason and conclude that man’s responsibility necessarily implies ability thereby negating the doctrine of election.

    So the question is, how can human responsibility and divine election both be true without compromising either and how does this relate to the gospel? We know that God commands souls everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. This is man’s responsibility and this repentance is the free act of man’s volition based on his desires. Whosoever believes will be saved. At this point, all evangelicals are in agreement here. It should be noted, that the Bible has nowhere taught that natural man has a free will to believe, only that man has the responsibility to do so. The element that, unfortunately, divides evangelicals is that there is an additional truth that must be presented in any gospel presentation because the apostles and Jesus himself taught it. That is, because of man’s broken fallen nature, he has no desire to repent and thus will not repent. He is morally unable to do so. Moral inability is vastly different than a physical inability. Our “free will” is always disinclined from God, not because He, in any way, constrains us, but because we just plainly do not want Him. Each part of our nature actively opposes God and is hostile to the gospel. In other words, man naturally loves sin more than he loves God and will not come into the light. If we only preach man’s responsibility without also clearly preaching man’s desperate condition of moral inability then, at best, we are only preaching a half-gospel. Understanding the full dynamics of faith is crucial to grasping the full gospel message.

    When spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit, the word of God has the power to graciously open people’s eyes by means of a spiritual touch, change the disposition of their hearts, draw them to faith, and save them (James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23, 25). The gospel declares that repentance and faith (commands of God) are themselves God’s working in us both to will and to do (2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:5, and not something that the sinner himself contributes towards the price of His salvation.

    Repentance and faith can only be exercised by a soul after, and in immediate consequence of, its regeneration by the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:1; Acts 16:14b; Acts 13:48; John 10:24-26; Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 6:37; John 1:13; 1 Cor. 4:7; 1 Cor. 15:10; Jas. 1:17; John 3:27). God regenerates, and we, in the exercise of the new gracious ability given, repent. God supernaturally disarms the opposition of the human heart in preparation of faith, subduing the hostility of the carnal mind, and with definitive power (John 6:37), draws His chosen ones to Christ. The gospel confesses, “We love him because He first loved us.” Whereas before we had no desire for God, God’s regenerating grace gives us desire, willingness and delight in His person and commands. Faith, works, and perseverance, therefore, are the evidence of new birth, not the cause of it.

    So John 3:16 is universal in the sense that we preach the free offer of the gospel to all men. “Many are called but few are chosen.” God extends the command to all, but we are obstinate and will not come (Romans 3:11, 1 Corinthians 2:14). God is not under any obligation to save any and could justly cast us all into the abyss, which we all rightly deserve. Yet, God, in eternity, has given a bride to his Son, the church. There He determined to whom the Holy Spirit would apply the benefits of the atonement. What great love God has for His people that, in spite of themselves, that He would be willing to save some. But what of those who don’t come to faith in Christ? Think of it this way: if you all agree that it would be just of God to condemn us all to hell due to our sin, then why wouldn’t it be just of Him to condemn some? So, as R.C. Sproul often says, “we either get justice or mercy.” God gets all the glory either way.

  4. #4

    Final Thoughts on the Spiritual Aspects of Faith

    Not in an attempt to over-spiritualize this subject. However, some teachings on faith is so utterly man-centered, that I seek to magnify the spiritual to arrive at a balance.

    It is true, Romans 12:3 states that we receive a measure of faith. We receive a measure of faith to the degree that we are able. Grace is spiritual, therefore has no means of quantitative measure, it is not subject to time or subjective physical mensuration as we know it. The same is true of faith. All spiritual gifts and attributes are not subject to linear measure, but limited by accessibility. The degree given is in part subject to our submission of self over to death. If we yet cling to our vices and sins, our criterion of faith will be extremely restrained compared to one who was wholly crushed of self, recognizes their need of the Savior in fullness, and surrenders radically. One might look at Peter the rebellious and foul-mouthed fisherman, Matthew the hated publican, or Saul the murderer of Christians. God fills the worst of turned sinners with a greater measure of grace, because they are the most pertinent (Romans 5:20). All converts have equal availability, but not all are going to experience the same measure.

    In the same manner, Ephesians 4:7 states "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift." Correlating with Romans 12:3 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

    According to the measure of the gift of Christ - Grace is bestowed upon all true Christians, and all have enough to enable them to live a life of holiness. The degree that we experience is largely dependent on our submission to the indwelling spirit in humility and holiness. God grants us a measure, but that infinite spiritual resource is sometimes limited by our own choices and inclinations. God wants us to experience the fullness of His Son, our self will has other agendas. Christ experienced the full measure of all spiritual abilities, because he fully surrendered to the will of the Father. And Christ said of us in John 14:12, we too shall do even greater things than he, meaning we could experience even greater measures of faith that results in powerful works after him. But the question lingers, would he find such faith among the brethren? Was it not a pagan soldier that Jesus marveled as have the greatest of all faith's found in Israel (Matthew 8:9)? He did not marvel at those who followed him, but had to hand hold them all the way. Jesus even asked, will he find faith when he returns as he surveyed the weak faith among his followers in Luke 18:8.

    Spiritual faith is available in full, we only experience what we are able, which is defined as the "measure".

    We must be careful when we step up to teach others. As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 3:1-5, "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly -- mere infants" He said he had to speak as unto children, for those who received the letters were as children, unable to comprehend the mature range of truth revealed in Spirit. Therefore much of what Paul wrote was in simplicity, not in depth. Peter wrote of Paul in 2 Peter 3-16 "He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction." He is stressing that interpreting the writings by allegorical or contextual appearance can lead to erroneous, even spiritually destructive end conclusions. Which is why James wrote in 3:1, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers". Because in our error, we can delude ourselves and can cause others to stumble, even fall into a spiritual crisis.

    Sober thoughts...

  5. #5
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    “Faith, begins with a thought, it is also sustained with thought.”

    This is most certainly true...If the man has been drawn by the Holy Spirit.

    “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:44).

    John 12:32 “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

    John 6:65 “He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

    Enable him… that no man can come to me, except it be given him of my Father; which is the same, as to be drawn by the Father; for faith in Christ is the gift of God, and coming to him, is owing to efficacious grace, and is not the produce of man’s power and freewill. Here he says, it must be “given to a man to come” to Christ.

    The verse only states that unless God "draws". There is a difference between "drawing" a person to salvation and forcing them to be saved through the Calvinistic false idea of "irresistible" grace. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction in a man's heart which is God's drawing him to Christ.

    According to God's own word, the basis of condemnation is that a man rejects the truth that God reveals to him. That is precisely Man is without excuse because God reveals Himself to man. The wrath of God is based on man's rejection of that truth. If the basis of condemnation is God predestined a man to hell then man does have an excuse....that excuse it that God will not allow him to believe. Clearly, this is a distorted and false view. God says that "man" is without excuse....man is at fault. God, the Lord Jesus died and paid the penalty for the sins of every man at 1 John 2:2 plainly states and salvation is open to all who will believe.

    God enables a man to exercise his will to accept or reject Him. Over sixty times in the New Testament God tells us to believe....in Him and be saved. Why would God say, we are to believe, if we cannot exercise our wills and believe? The matter is really very simple.....yet man continues to muddle the waters and brings confusing questions that distort the simplicity of God's plan of salvation.

    Think with me.....if God tells us to believe and be saved......what literally does that mean? Does it mean He is asking us to do something and if we do not we will be lost?

    John 3:15-19 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

    John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him

  6. #6
    No, I am sorry Chris, saving faith does not begin with a thought nor is it retained by thought. It begins with a beckoning from God and is sustained soley by His grace (unmeritable favor). If man's thoughts were sufficient for saving faith, then efficacious grace is negated and any works based religion is sufficient for salvation. If thought carried us through to the finish, then we are not trusting in the power of Christ, but in the deficient intellect of man. We essentially end up with a humanistic religion.

    As one old time preacher stated, "the outward call is rejected if the inward touch is not received." This spiritual truth is vital to understand the operation of the Holy Spirit, the call and salvation. To believe anything else leans toward another gospel. It does not matter what we "personally" believe, if our position doesn't line up with the sure word of Scripture, it becomes to us a blinding of discernment. And if we insist on embracing error, a veil is drawn over our spiritual eyes where we can no longer see or comprehend truth correctly. This is the condition of myriads of splinter groups and cults that have wandered away from the strict exactivity of Scripture.

    I could paste many outlines by significant teachers through the ages that bear witness to these truths that I have in detail expounded, but what purpose is there if a person cannot receive it?

    "A saving faith begins with the provision of God in Christ for our salvation. God by His Spirit calls and moves the elect to believe. God takes the initiative. But a saving faith is generated in man when he becomes receptive to the moving of God’s Spirit to enter into an experience of repentance unto life." - Rev. Kester, M. Div from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

    "Man's reasoning and human intellect can lead man away from the truth of the Word of God. Human reasoning and human intellect can cause man to miss the divine Grace of God. The human intellect has nothing to do with salvation of the human soul. Philosophy (not Christianity) is based on human intellect and reasoning." - Kenneth L. Olsen, M. Div.

    "There are two distinct kinds of "calls" from God mentioned in Scripture: a general and a particular, an outward and an inward, an inoperative and an effectual. The general, external, and inefficacious "call" is given to all who hear the Gospel, or come under the sound of the Word. This call is refused by all. It is found in such passages as the following: "Unto you, O men, I call; My voice is to the sons of man" (Prov. 8:4); "For many be called, but few chosen" (Matthew 20:16); "And sent His servant at suppertime to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse" (Luke 14:17, 18); "Because I have called, and ye refuse; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded" etc. (Prov. 1:24-28).

    The special, inward, and efficacious "call’ of God comes only to His elect. It is responded to by each favored one who receives it. It is referred to in such passages as the following: "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" (John 5:25); "He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice... and other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice" (John 10:3, 4, 16); "Whom He called, them He also justified" (Rom. 8:30); "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Cor. 1:26-27). This call is illustrated and exemplified in such cases as Matthew (Luke 5:27, 28), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5, 6), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:4, 5)." - Arthur Walkington Pink, World Reknown Pastor 1948

    However, I don't think discussing this any further will achieve anything based on the current results

    More on this topic from a 2009 post.

    http://www.eternalpath.com/forums/faith-verses-reason/122-assistance-seminary-assignment.html#post375

  7. #7
    Christ's Bride Johanna's Avatar
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    This is such a fascinating subject! Even though I don't manage all the details of this conversation, I'd like to only quote some verses of Matthew 7:

    24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
    26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

    I believe these verses are clear in that anyone, everyone, will have a chance with God - by hearing and obeying Him. And I think that since the Lord can see deep in our hearts, He can see when the heart is broken and his Holy Spirt can work, so He willingly does. That specific moment is hard to determine. We might think that we started believing - or the seed of faith was planted - in this or that date, or before or after a certain event, but who knows really? Only our God that searches our hearts and has provided for the salvation of all mankind since before we were created. In the end, it is for his glory only, and that is the most important thing, right?

    I'm sorry if I went off track here, but thought I'd leave a thought anyway
    .

  8. #8
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Please note, no debating or arguments coming from me. I am an open vessel ready to understand this difficult truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The bible verses that I am offering is not a way to convince you or change you, because without the prompting of the Holy Spirit this is meaningless. The reason why I offer a few bible verses is because these verses come to my mind when something you try to teach me seems unscriptural. God warns me to test everything, even the words coming from my beloved mentor and friend.

    I understand that conversion into the faith and sanctification occurs because of the power of the Holy Spirit. What I do not understand is that in scriptures it seems as though there is a human component though for this faith. It is almost as if God desires for us humans to what we can do and He will supply the rest. The only part that we can do is believe in Jesus Christ.

    From the lips of Jesus Christ---"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." (Luke 8).

    It is also well taught in the Bible that we must believe to be saved. To believe in something is beyond intellectual knowledge, it is the type of belief that leads to action or fruit. I agree with you that this takes the power of the Holy Spirit, but is it not true that we need to be open to this power to change us at the core?

    Sorry but I am having a hard time understanding predestination/election. The quotes given by famous theologians are appreciated, but it seems as though they come from the camp of 5 point Calvinism. I think many of the points of Calvinism is agreeable, but a few of them i do not agree with. I agree with many of the points in Arminianism, but several of them I do not agree with. This is one of the reasons why i have a hard time listening to John Macarthur at times. Sometimes what he preaches does not line up with something that i have read in the Bible. Not sure who is right or wrong, all I know is what I read in the Bible and what the Holy Ghost gives me insight for. I prefer to simply read the Bible, try to understand it, and then try to apply it as stated above in Luke 8.

    I think I am on the same page as Jo above. When I read about God and His love, it does not fit into my small mind that He would not give everyone a chance somehow.

    When I read the Bible verses that use the word "elect" I comprend them to mean somehting different than what you comprehend. I understand that election is not to salvation, but to what salvation accomplishes in the life of the one who believes. Election is God's plan for what He desired would be the benefit of those who believed and put their faith in Him. Election then is God's plan or blueprint of salvation. Election is not what individual God will save, but what salvation would mean to those who accept His grace.

    "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:4-6)

    Verse 5 says God predestinated that believers would be "unto" (eis) the adopted children by Jesus Christ by the "good pleasure of His purpose will."(eudokia) In other words God purposed that believers would be the adopted children of God. The statement does not address who God would save, but the relationship of the believer who is saved. Verse 6 states "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1:6) God's plan that He chose, was that those who are saved would be holy, without blame and be the adopted children of God. Therefore it is plan that is in view, not who would He would save. His plan, which is the blessing that is being proclaimed is that those who by faith received God's gift of grace are "to the praise of the glory of his grace."

    In love,
    Chris

  9. #9
    Christ's Bride Johanna's Avatar
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    Maybe what is happening here might be a case of "You can't see the forest through the trees." The mystery of the Gospel is just that, a mystery. It is given to us only by revelation of the Holy Spirit, not the mind. There is nothing we can do to get it or earn it. Grace is key. The Lamb of God was put to death for all humankind. That is the choice God offers the world. However, there will be some who will receive that gift while others will reject it. The clear thing is that it is not up to us to make salvation. It is not by our own will that we are saved. Christ is the author and finsher. Up to that, I'm sure we are all in agreement.

    I don't think Steve holds any predestination doctrine or Calvinist teachings. Using the word "elect" found many times throughout scripture does not mean someone supports Calvinism. Could it be any different when Scriptures are clear that God through his spokesmen begs for our reconciliation with Him?: "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20)

    So going back to my first paragraph, I'd like to just remind us all of our Father's warnings: “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen” (2 Tim. 2:14) and "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless." (Titus 3:9)

    So if we do agree on the core of the matter, which is 'by Grace we are saved', then why should we keep on beating a dead horse as they say and go on to 'quarrel about words and provoke ruin' (as declared in the verse above)? 2 Thess. 3:14 is a warning, including Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17. Paul was very strict about debaters and divisive people, pride ruins everything.

    On the contrary, our struggle should be in keeping the unity based on the foundation that is Christ, "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." (Phil. 2:1-2)

    Love you all in Christ, the cornerstone of our salvation.
    .

  10. #10
    Follower of Christ cmnahrwold's Avatar
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    Hey Jo

    As I stated above these posts are not meant to be a debate or an argument. I simply write my points as part of the discussion as I thought we were having in a very positive light. I think this is a very appropriate forum to have such theological discussions. I do not agree that there is any quarreling about words going on here. We are not yelling at each other or calling each other names or anything of the like. This discussion is a very healthy discussion because it involves the Word of God and how two persons may have read something different when honestly trying to seek God. I don't understand the point of having a forum if the moderator gets to express their point of view, but when someone else has a differing view than they are accused of quarelling and being in sin. This discussion began in Abstract Reasoning and I decided that this was not the appropriate forum for a discussion of this nature, since many people on facebook do not desire having such discussions. Since Steve decided to post several of the discussion posts on Eternal Path I thought that he must have decided it was an appropriate discussion in this forum, since people on this forum seem to like having these type of discussions. So my question is why place a discussion on a "forum" that is meant for discussion, if they are not willing to actually discuss it?

    I never said that using the word "elect" means that one holds all Calvinist doctrine to be true. I simply stated that he provided several famous theologian sources who are strict 5 point Calvinists. My point was that not all famous theologians hold on to these strict doctrines in the same way. I do not think that Steve is a 5 point Calvinist and probably not even close. From his writings though it does appear that he holds onto several key doctrines of Calvininsm that involve a) Unconditional Election b) Limited Atonement

    My entire point in writing was to understand why people hold on to these doctrines. Just honestly trying to learn.

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