May 23, 2009

Faith is God's Gift

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6: 37 KJV)

In John 6 "coming to Christ" is equivalent to believing on Christ, and believing on Christ is equated with receiving Christ, or the truth concerning Christ.

The "giving" of sinners to Christ, by the Father, is a divine act that precedes the act of sinners coming to Christ. Those who come to Christ are the same number who were previously given to Christ by the Father. The Father chooses sinners to be this gift. Thus, "all who the Father gave to me" is equivalent to "all who the Father chose to salvation," or "all the elect."

All the elect will come to Christ, will be made to live by faith. That is what Jesus is affirming. This the Calvinist recognizes. Coming to Christ is not the cause of being chosen, but the effect. Jesus did not say - "all who come to me will be chosen (given to me by the Father)."

This choice of the Father, of sinners to be given to Christ, is not based upon a foresight of faith. If it was, then the text would be interpreted to say - "all who the Father foresaw would come to him (believe) shall come to me (believe)." Such would be a kind of tautology. Is Jesus simply saying that what God foresaw would come to pass will come to pass? By the Arminian theory of election based upon foreseen faith, this is simply all Christ is saying. "All whom God foresaw would believe, will believe." Or "all shall come to me whom the Father foresaw shall come."

I see the passage as saying that all whom God chose to draw to Christ, or to give faith and salvation unto, shall certainly be successfully drawn to Christ, given faith and salvation.

"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (verse 65)

Most Arminians are not willing to confess that faith, or coming to Christ, is a "gift" of God. It is, conversely, the Calvinists, who assert that faith, even conversion (coming to Christ), is the gift of God. Some will even try to get the Calvinist to affirm that Ephesians 2:8 says that "faith" is the "gift of God." Some Calvinists will affirm that "faith" is the "gift." Others will not. If a Calvinist affirms that the passage identifies "faith" as that which is "given," the Arminian will show him how in the Greek it cannot be. At this point, the Arminian feels that he has refuted the Calvinistic notion that "faith" is a "gift" of God, given to some, but not to others.

But, though Ephesians 2: 8 does not specifically identify "faith" as the "gift" of God, other passages do. In the above passage, Jesus clearly says that "coming to him," or "believing," is "given to him of my Father." Paul also affirmed the same, writing:

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake..." (Philippians 1: 29)

Other passages also affirm that faith is given of God. So, why deny it?

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (vs. 44)

Why am I a Calvinist? Because Jesus taught, in John 6, sovereign unconditional election to faith and salvation. Because he taught the total depravity of man and his utter dependence upon divine grace for salvation.

John 6 teaches the election of grace. It teaches total depravity. It teaches effectual calling. It teaches that none of the elect and called will be lost.

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