Biblical problems with faith as the gift, Calvinism, Can the spiritually dead respond, Charlie Bing, Double Predestination, Ephesians 2:8-9 commentary, Francis Chan, How to see people become saved, Irresistible Grace, Is faith the gift of Ephesians 2:8-9?, Is Faith the Gift?, John Macarthur, Limited Atonement, Paul Washer, Perseverance of the Saints, Predestination, Regeneration before belief, Spiritual death, Total Depravity, Total Inability, TULIP, Unconditional election, What must I do to be saved
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Cor 9:15
Many will tell us that faith is the gift spoken of in Ephesians 2:8-9. Is that what you see, and if so, maybe we should examine all the Scriptures that speak of the gift in the New Covenant?
For by grace are ye saved THROUGH faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9
Which is the gift? Faith or being saved? What is not of yourself, salvation or faith?
My friend Mark Greenwood shares a couple of quotes:
(Please prove all things – 1 Thess 5:21, with any quoted author, be sure of their gospel)
A. T. Robertson, “’Grace’ is God’s part, ‘faith’ ours. And that (kai touto). Neuter, not feminine taute, and so refers not to pistis (feminine) or to charis (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part”.
Kenneth Wuest says, “The word ‘that’ is touto — in the neuter gender. The Greek word ‘faith’ is feminine in gender and therefore touto could not refer to ‘faith’. It refers to the general idea of salvation in the immediate context”. I think faith in Acts 3:16 is the gift of faith given for that specific situation.
To show that faith is not a meritorious work, the Bible contrasts faith in Christ with meritorious works in both Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-5. Faith means exactly that we can do nothing for our salvation. We can only receive salvation as a gift. Faith is like an empty hand that simply accepts a gift.” ~Dr.Charlie Bing,
Many use Eph 2:1, being ‘dead in trespasses and sins‘ as the reason a ‘spiritually dead man cannot respond‘ (frequently repeated by Calvinist James White).
But spiritual death, does not mean there is no ability to understand or hear. People need to understand spiritual death vs. physical death. Spiritual death does not mean an inability to respond. Consider the rich man in Hades. He could respond, he could ask Abraham to send Lazarus to him to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue, and ask for someone to go back to warn his family (Luke 16:19-31). He was dead, but was able to think and respond.
Spiritual death separates us from God, and until the day that we hear and we believe the Gospel, we remain spiritually dead. Or if we do not respond by believing, we will die eternally and live in conscious torment–spiritual death. God set forth one way for us to come to faith. And He also gave us THE way to become saved, through the Hearing of His Word, through the power of Gospel. Yes, we can hear the gospel (or stop our ears) and we can choose to respond in two ways. We either believe or we can reject the gospel.
… in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Eph 1:13
We do not see the Holy Spirit being given first in order for one to believe, in fact the order is made quite clear in Eph 1:13.
If FAITH is the gift, wouldn’t it be dishonest for Jesus to chastise His disciples for having little faith? How about when He did the same with Peter? If Jesus as God had given the faith, is He not rebuking Himself for wrongdoing? Why on earth would He call His disciples a ‘faithless and perverse generation‘ if HE GAVE THEM THEIR FAITH?
Or when He praised the blind men for their faith? The woman with the issue of blood? Or when He told the Canaanite woman she had great faith, isn’t that giving credit to the wrong person? That is, if it is God who gives a gift of faith.
What about the Centurion? He said He had not found such a great faith, not in all of Israel?
Please think on and pray about this, search the Scriptures to see if these things are so.
WHO IS DUE THE PRAISE?
If you have a friend who gave you a piece of artwork he made, and it was beautiful, and he praised you as if you had produced it on your own, would that be right? Or what if it wasn’t so great, and he chastised you in front of others for it being poorly made?
Is that not completely dishonest?
If faith was the gift HE gave, then Jesus Christ would rightly give PRAISE where it was due for the faith…. that is IF God gave you that FAITH. Jesus would rightly give God the praise for having great faith not man. How could man be chastised for having little faith when God gives only perfect gifts?
If God gives the faith then why these words from Jesus? “Have faith in God.”
Why tell Nicodemus he must be born again, because we would be born again when He gave him faith?
Why not just be straightforward and explain, “You will be born again, when or if God decides you are one of the people He will give faith”? There would be no choice, no ability to believe what we were told and shown, but just waiting on God to give us the faith… Is that the case? Does this make sense in Scripture? Are we born again first?
God is not a man that He should lie, this logic would not make sense, and faith being the ‘gift’ doesn’t have a second witness in Scripture either.
God gives us many, many ways to come to faith, to increase and strengthen our faith, both unto salvation, and once we are saved. But the gift of Eph 2:8-9 is not faith, however it is ETERNAL LIFE (being saved) THROUGH faith.
See all the ways God draws all men short of dragging or forcing them.
Some say it is a ‘work’ when we ‘muster up our own faith’, (or whatever misleading words or straw man arguments they may choose to use). The point is, we are told over and over our responsibility is to BELIEVE. We are also told faith is NOT works (Rom 4:5). Some will use this verse to state that faith is the work of God, again the gift. No, this is a response of what they should do to do what God wants, which is for them to believe on Jesus!
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29
Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30b-31)
The GIFT of GOD is eternal life
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
It is called Christ’s gift (Eph 4:7-8) or the gift of God (John 4). We see the Holy Spirit being poured out on believers as the gift in Acts 2, 10:45, 11:17. The free gift mentioned 5 times in Romans 5, as the gift that came BY grace > THROUGH faith (also seen the same way in Eph 2:8-9). This free gift of righteousness, which results in justification of life, has been offered to ALL men (Rom 5:18), not just gifted to SOME.
WHERE IS A GIFT OF FAITH SPOKEN OF REGARDING ETERNAL LIFE?
When the spiritual gifts are listed, only SOME believers are given a gift of faith. We know this does not speak to eternal life, or it would say that ALL believers had been given that same gift. These are the spiritual gifts He distributes as He wills, and this is to the body of Christ, those who have ALREADY believed (1 Cor 12).
Rom 12:2 mentions a measure of faith being given to all men. Does this have to do with salvation? If so, all would be saved wouldn’t they? So some say that speaks again to only believers. Does not the True Light give some light to every man that comes into the world (Jn 1:9)? Does not the entrance of God’s Word bring light (Ps 119:130)? Again, see the ways all men are drawn to God here.
So where in the whole Word of God do we see faith as the gift given which would result in eternal life?
We don’t. Unless you take the one verse that THEY say is the gift of faith (Eph 2:8-9). All men have faith, it’s who and what our faith is in that matters. We see very clearly below, FAITH is NOT works, and therefore we are capable of having faith. We see in the world men (unbelievers) having faith in all sorts of things. Might be misguided, but we are able to believe a truth, and the gospel is the POWER of God unto salvation, it is not the gift of faith that is the POWER of God unto salvation. It is BY faith that results in us being counted righteous. And note the person’s faith is what it is called, not the ‘gift of faith that God gave’ is counted for righteousness.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Rom 4:5).
We don’t ‘fabricate faith in of ourselves’, it’s not a work, otherwise it would contradict the verse above. It is our faith in a fact that is true, Christ and Him crucified. It is not a work, so faith it is not the gift He gives, otherwise, it is God’s Gift that is counted for righteousness. How can that be?
Then we must be back to only some are given the gift of faith, and some are not, HOW DO YOU GET IT?
One misused 2 Tim 2:26 with me and said “God grants repentance”. (Please read below on 2 Tim 2). Another person misused James 1:5 and said to pray for it. (James 1:5 has to do with praying for wisdom and having faith He will do it).
How do you pray for faith if God has decided before you were ever born?
Does God giving or granting Repentance speak to eternal life?
If we are using a ‘change of mind’ for the definition of repentance, we should also realize 2 Timothy 2 was spoken to believers, those that oppose themselves, were those spoken of earlier who had;
1) Had their faith overthrown
2) Were overthrowing people’s faith.
So how might it be that God might give them repentance? It’s TO the acknowledging of the truth and BY the way that God tells us to approach those who oppose themselves. We are exhorted to have grace, to send faithful men to teach the Word, to endure hard things, to keep the gospel, Jesus Christ and Him crucified in our remembrance, about not using words to no profit.
Ever see those who argue theological 10 cent theological terminology and rarely set out the Word which IS profitable? They love to use big words, cite ‘scholarly giants’ and ‘godly men’ (in their humble opinion). They think of men beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:5). We need to use the Word. It is His Word that has power. Study it with His approval in mind, so we won’t need to be ashamed in our dividing of His Word. Shun those profane and vain teachings that will eat away like cancer, and increase unto more ungodliness. When we don’t, we allow people into the flock, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus who have strayed from the truth, and overthrow the faith of some.
Does that mean these believers are no longer saved? No, God’s foundation is sure, He knows who are His, and we who are — should depart from sin. Why? The deceitfulness of sin, hardens our heart, it puts us out of fellowship with Him and others. Keep confessing your sin as your remember, keep short accounts, it is not for salvation, but for fellowship with Him, and for the day of our rewards. So that we can purge ourselves from dishonorable things and get into the Word, and be sanctified each day, cleaned up, so we are useful for the Master and ready and prepared for good works, which are beneficial to all (Titus 3:9).
Don’t let people draw you into foolish questions, unlearned (ignorant speculations), this breeds strife, we are not to strive if we are His servant, but even to these who oppose themselves, we have all these ways God has given us that perhaps, or peradverture, they will be given a change of mind to acknowledging of the truth, and recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.
Have any of you as a believer been there? Believed a false doctrine that has rendered you ineffective? Best way to deal with recovering those people to a ‘change of mind’ is all the many methods God gave us in just that chapter alone. It isn’t a pick and choose repentance, we have a responsibility to bring the truth, speak it aptly, gently, kindly, without foolish arguments, cleaned up ourselves, and ready and prepared by our study to answer these errors.
I do not see this chapter speaking to a ‘gift of repentance‘ .
‘God is so gracious to give us many opportunities to come to faith and tells us in His Word HOW we are able come to faith.
How do we come to faith?
The heavens declare God’s Glory, the firmament His handiwork. Each day and night, they reveal knowledge to ALL the earth. The end of the WORLD. The righteousness of God has been revealed from the beginning. It is man who holds the truth in unrighteousness. God showed ALL men the truth. From the heavens to the earth, to the invisible things of Him that are clearly seen since the creation of the world. Understood by all the things that are made. That is why they are without excuse, man knows God, but they do not glorify Him as God, and are not thankful. They have vain imaginations, and their foolish hearts are darkened (Not made dark by God, but these things.) They profess themselves to be wise, but became fools. (taken from Ps 19:1-6; Rom 1:17-22)
We see by this passage, we have the ability to understand. We have be showed the truth. It can be clearly seen by us.
Another theological problem with the view of faith as a gift of God is that it misunderstands the nature of faith.
Faith is not (as they claim) a divine energy, a special power, or an infused dynamic. That confuses faith with the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith is simply faith. It means that one is convinced or persuaded that something is true so that there is a personal appropriation of that truth. There is not a special kind of faith for eternal salvation. There is only a special object of faith—Jesus Christ. The kind of faith one might have in Buddha is no different from the kind of faith that one can have in Jesus. The only difference is the object: Buddha does not save; Jesus saves.
To make faith the power of salvation is to confuse faith with the Holy Spirit. According to Ephesians 2:8 grace is the grounds of salvation and faith is the means by which we appropriate that grace. Properly speaking we are not saved by faith, but through faith. 1
Also, to make faith the power of salvation, is to take away from the GOSPEL. We are clearly told IT is the power of God unto salvation.
AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE WHO WILL BELIEVE (WHOSOEVER): For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Rom 1:16-17 (see also 1 Cor 1:17-18
The work of God to draw ALL men!
1) HE DREW ALL MEN TO HIMSELF when He was lifted up on the cross. (Jn 12:32; Jn 3:14-16) – Which is why we should be determined to preach Christ and HIM crucified and not with wisdom of men’s words (1 Cor 2:1-5) People frequently use John 6:44 to say no one can come to the Father except He draw them. This is true. So let’s examine all the many ways God draws ALL MEN. Some will hear, some will stop their ears. Some will come, some will not.
2) THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit convicts the unbeliever (the world) of the sin of unbelief, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (Jn 16:7-11)How does that makes sense if they cannot believe?
If Faith is the gift in Eph 2:8-9, then why does Jesus commend some people in the Word for having great faith, and chastise others for having little faith? Wouldn’t that be God chastising Himself for the amount of faith or the lack of faith He had given someone?
3) THE LAW – Is the tutor to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:24, gives us knowledge of sin. Helps us understand His grace as we were delivered from the penalty of the law. Set free, married to another, the righteous requirement fulfilled by Christ alone. (Rom 6:23, Rom 7-8, Gal 2:19-21, Gal 3:2,5, 13). Note: before you inform me Gentiles were not given the law (I agree), please consider this:
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another… Rom 2:14-15
4) THE WORD – Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Rom 10:17), the Word is able to make people wise unto salvation. The Entrance of His Word gives light (Ps 119:130). It’s powerful and penetrates (Heb 4:12). It doesn’t return void (Is 55:10-11). Preach the Word in and out of season (2 Tim 4:2).
5) PREACHERS OF THE WORD – He sends people to preach the gospel to the WORLD. Rom 10:14-15. The one that was foretold in the Scriptures. (Is 53; 1 Cor 15:1-11)
6) THE GOSPEL – The gospel is the POWER of God unto salvation for EVERYONE who believes (Rom 1:16)
The righteousness of God is revealed in the preaching of the gospel (Rom 1:17)
7) THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH – The heavens and earth declare His glory, there is no language where it is not understood, day after day and night after night… (Ps 19:1-5).
8) GOD SHOWED THE TRUTH TO ALL MEN – They suppressed it, they have no excuse. (Rom 1:18-21)
9) EVEN THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF EARTH ARE CLEARLY SEEN AND UNDERSTOOD (Rom 1:18-21). These magnificent things in creation testify of Him.
10) PROPHECY – Prophecy testifies of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers know and have heard of Mayan prophecies and Nostradamus, but they will not listen to the testimony of God regarding His son.
11) BY HIS LIGHT – Jesus is the true Light that gives light to EVERY MAN that comes into the world. (John 1:9)
12) HE GAVE ALL MEN A CONSCIENCE – He is no respecter of persons. Rom 2:11-16
13) BY THE BODY OF CHRIST PLANTING AND WATERING – And for our labor, we will receive a reward (1 Cor 3:6-9)
14) BY PRAYER FOR ALL BECAUSE GOD DESIRES ALL MEN TO BE SAVED AND ALL MEN TO COME TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH. 1 Tim 2:1-6. This would not be possible if spiritually dead men could not hear or understand the truth through the Word that would be deceptive.
15) BY PRAYER FOR LABORERS FOR THE HARVEST. Matthew 9:36-38, Luke 10:1-2
16) BY GOD’S SHEER GOODNESS TO BE NEAR TO US ALL SO THAT WE MIGHT SEEK HIM. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Acts 17:26-28
17) BY BELIEVERS BEING READY WITH AN ANSWER OF THE REASON OF THE HOPE THAT IS WITHIN US But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. 1 Pet 3:14-15 (see also Col 4:5-6, Pr 22:17-21)
18) BY OUR TREATMENT OF OUR ENEMIES – Matt 5:44-45; Luke 6:27-28, 35-36; Rom 12:14, 19-21
19) BY OUR GOOD WORKS TO OTHERS – And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Gal 6:9; Titus 3:8, 2 Thess 3:13
20) BY OUR SPEECH – Col 4:5-6, Titus 2:7-8
21) HAVING A GOOD CONSCIENCE SO THEY MIGHT BE ASHAMED – having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
22) BELIEVERS HAVING COMPASSION ON OTHERS (Jesus did) – Jude 22-23
23) HAVING GOOD DOCTRINE- Titus 2:1, 7-8; Rom 6:17-18; 16:17; 1 Tim 4:1-6
24) BELIEVERS SUBMITTING TO OTHERS, I.E., THOSE WE WORK FOR, OUR NEIGHBORS – Titus 2:9-11; 1 Tim 6:1-2; Eph 6:5-6, Rom 13:7-10
25) BELIEVERS BEING A GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHAT A BELIEVER IS: 1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7-8; 1 Pet 5:2-3
26) BELIEVER’S SINCERITY AND GOOD CONDUCT – Titus 2:7-8; 2 Cor 1:12; Phil 1:27
27) BY OUR DAILY PREPARATION IN THE GOSPEL (part of the armor) Eph 6:15; Isaiah 52:7; Rom 10:14-17
28) BELIEVERS LOVING AND SUBMITTING TO ONE ANOTHER – 1 Pet 5:5-7; Eph 5:20-21; John 13:34-35; Rom 8:9-13
All these are some of the ways the Lord tells us about in His Word to draw UNBELIEVERS to Himself. Each can choose to believe or put confidence in what is True. We all do it each and every day.
Believing in something doesn’t make us right. Believing upon Jesus Christ makes us Righteous.
- By the Conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding the sin of unbelief, judgment, righteousness (Jn 16:7-11)
- Faith comes by hearing the Word (Rom 10:17: Ps 19:7b; 1 Jn 5:9-13; John 20:31).
- By knowing the Holy Scriptures. (2 Tim 3:15).
- By the preaching of the Gospel which is the Power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16-17, 1 Cor 1:17-18).
- By the prayer of the Saints for the lost
- By the planting and the watering by the Saints
- By the increase which God gives after the above.
Why do some believe and others not?
People preach with wisdom of men’s words instead of the simple gospel and make the cross of ‘none effect’ (1 Cor 1:17).
Like Satan, these crafty men, corrupt minds from the simplicity that is in Christ (1 Cor 11:3).
They preach another Jesus, or bring a different spirit or a different gospel (2 Cor 11:4).
They preach an accursed gospel. They have added works to justification and are accursed (Gal 1:6-9).
People suppress the truth. God reveals His righteousness, but people suppress the truth that has been shown to them, in unrighteousness, and with unthankful hearts (Rom 16:17-25).
People are given free will and the testimony of Christ is in the Scriptures but they WILL NOT COME.
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER (Not all inclusive)
1) UNBELIEVERS: Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The sin mentioned is UNBELIEF. Jn 16:8-11
2) WHAT BELIEVERS MUST DO: Faith comes by hearing the Word, (how shall they call on Him in who they have not believed? They must HEAR the GOSPEL, and obey it by BELIEVING. Rom 10:14-17 (Isaiah’s report – Is 53-Jesus the Messiah and His prophecy)
3) THE GOSPEL (1 Cor 15:3-4). Christ died for OUR sins (wages of sin is death). It was prophesied in the Scriptures (Isaiah 53 is one.) He was buried and rose again (as was prophesied in the Scriptures-see Ps 16 for one EXAMPLE) Jesus is Lord (means God, the Messiah) Only God has the power to take life again. When we believe on Jesus for our salvation and what He did in our place we become His).
4) WHAT MUST WE DO TO BE SAVED: (Acts 16:30-31-Jn 6:28-29) If we believe the gospel, we are saved and given eternal life. John 5:24, Not by any works we can do. Belief justifies us and gives us peace/reconciles us with God. Rom 5:1, Rom 4:4-5; Gal 2:19-21
5) WHAT HAPPENS UPON BELIEF: When we believe, the love of God through the Holy Spirit is poured out in our hearts (Rom 5:5), we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body (1 Cor 12:13), and we can know we are His right away, (1 Jn 5:9-13) by believing His Word regarding the way to be saved. (Jn 20:31).
WE ARE MADE CLEAN: Christ becomes our sanctification (positionally) our righteousness, and our redemption. We are justified, glorified and sanctified upon belief (again positionally). We are children of God given eternal life. Rom 8:30, 2 Thess 2:13, John 1:12-13, Jn 8:35. Born again of incorruptible seed 1 Pet 1:23, and Christ comes to dwell in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17, Rom 8:9), we are sealed forever by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13, 4:30). Perfected (sanctified) forever (Heb 10:14), never to be lost (John 6:39-40, John 10:28-30
6) WALKING WORTHY: Discipleship begins. We ‘should’ do things, but people don’t always do what they should. We need washed in the water by the Word –Eph 5:26; John 17:17. We need to acknowledge Him in all our ways (prayer), leaning on Him, trusting in Him-Pr 3:5-6. Getting time in His Word gives us help with sin (Ps 119:9-11) and growth in Him – Acts 20:32. Confessing sins, keeping short accounts to be in fellowship with Him (1 Jn 1:7-11) We need the Scriptures daily-Acts 17:11, He will teach us if we apply ourselves to His wisdom (Pr 22:17-21). We need fellowship with other like-minded believers. (Heb 10:24-25, 1 Jn 1:3,7)