Friday, August 16, 2013
Is Evangelical Faith a Gift or Not?
If a blessing is bestowed through instrumentality can it be called a gift of God? If we remain true to the premise of many Primitive Baptists, then the answer must be no. Whatsoever involves men or any other means must be obtained by works. As Elder S.T. Tolley comments on Ephesians 2:8: "If, in fact, it should be(as some assume and wish it to be) that the faith mentioned here refers to gospel faith, which is brought about by the preaching of a preacher who must preach the gospel to a sinner who must hear, believe the message, and accept Christ (sic) as his Savior in order to be born again. But that simply cannot be allowed by the scriptural language where it says this is "...NOT of yourselves," but it is "...the gift of God...not of works..." The faith mentioned here is the faith that God GIVES to the ones chosen to salvation before the world began. It is that spiritual element which enables the born-again child of God to understand the gospel message and believe it. This is bestowed in the operation of the new birth---not by the preaching of the gospel." ("Must the Elect Family of God Hear and Believe the Gospel of Christ in Order to be Saved into Heaven's Glory?", The Christian Baptist, vol 35) This is what happens when one has created this dichotomy in his mind because of an a priori commitment to anti-means. Gospel-faith is considered as something distinct from the faith GIVEN by God, as if they are not the same. Yet I read on another church’s website something contrary: “We believe that evangelical faith is the gift of God (emphasis mine – KF) and good works are the fruit of faith, and justify us in the sight of men and angels, as evidence of our gracious state. Eph. 2:8, 10; Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:1; Heb. 11:6." (see Here) So is evangelical faith a gift of God or not? One says no. The other says yes. Certainly evangelical faith is a gift of God, but it is consistent with the teaching of time salvation to say that it isn't. It is part of that "salvation" which is by works. But I am used to reading these sorts of contradictions. If the faith which comes through the gospel is a gift, then God’s gifts may be imparted through means, can they not? How then is it stated that this "kind" of faith is obtained by the efforts of men, as opposed to that other "kind" of seed faith which is furnished by grace? Should we not then give glory to God for our “gospel salvation”, as it is called, instead of saying that it is something that we must do for ourselves? On the other hand, if it is not a gift, then God does not “freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32), does he? Peter was wrong when he stated that the power of God “hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). We must say only those blessings which we receive apart from means are gifts from the Lord. For the rest, God must be robbed of His glory. I must instead give credit to the preacher or boast of my own free-will when I “saved myself”. In answer to the question “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?”(1 Cor. 4:7), I must reply… Why those things which come through the gospel of course!”