Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gill and Duty Faith

In "CALVINISM AND HYPER-CALVINISM: Mr. J. E. Cracknell's Reply To Mr. Wale's LETTER ON "MINISTERIAL APPEALS TO THE UNCONVERTED,""  (see here) a defense of duty faith is given in response to a Hyper Calvinist.  Here are some excepts. (emphasis mine)

"I now come to the sure word of prophecy. You are very decided in your statement that faith (saving faith) is not a duty. Allow me to ask is unbelief a sin? If you reply no, then I ask you to explain the following passages: "When He (the Holy Spirit) is come He will reprove the world of sin . . because they believe not on me." (John xvi. 8, 9.) "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Out Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thes. i. 7, 9.) "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John iii. 19.) "He that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark xvi. 15) I know the meaning some would give to these passages in order to make them square (according to human reasoning) with other portions of the truth, but the plain teaching appears to be, that unbelief is a sin, the damning sin. If you admit this, what becomes of your statement that faith is not a duty? If it is a sin to reject Christ, is it not a duty to receive Him? If unbelief be a sin, then must not faith be a duty?

"This is God's commandment that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John iii. 23.) "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (John vi. 29.) True, man has no power, but seeing that his inability arises from the corruption of his nature, the enmity and wickedness of his heart, his lack of power is sin, and for this he is justly condemned."

"Dr. Gill is generally quoted as being sound in the faith by those who hold the same views as yourself, but he distinctly states man's guilt is the greater for rejecting and despising the gospel. I quote the following from his writings :—

"Though such is the condition of man by the fall, that he cannot believe in Christ without the powerful influence of that divine grace which God is not obliged to communicate, yet it is not the withholding of that influence, or denying of that grace, which lays him under the necessity of not believing, but it is the corruption of his nature that lays and holds him in the chains of unbelief, and therefore his unbelief is not to be imputed to the want of this powerful influence, which God is not obliged to give, but to the enmity and wickedness of his heart, on which account he is justly blameworthy."

In a web page discussing the question of whether John Gill was a Hyper Calvinist, the writer cites Tom Nettles on the question with citations from Gill.  (see here)  One such citation is this:

"It is man’s duty to believe the word of the Lord, and obey his will, though he has not a power, yea, even though God has decreed to withhold that grace without which he cannot believe and obey. So it was Pharaoh’s duty to believe and obey the Lord, and let Israel go; though God had determined to harden his heart, that he should not let them go. However there are many things which may be believed and done by reprobates, and therefore they may be justly required to believe and obey; it is true, they are not able to believe in Christ to the saving of their souls, or to perform spiritual and evangelical obedience, but then it will be difficult to prove that God requires these things of them, and should that appear, yet the impossibility of doing them, arises from the corruption of their hearts, being destitute of the grace of God, and not from the decree of reprobation, which though it denies them that grace and strength, without which they cannot believe and obey in this sense, yet it takes none from them, and therefore does them no injustice."

Nettles then is cited as saying:

"Gill argues that the reprobate’s unbelief arises only from the corruption of his own nature. Man’s inability does not exempt him from any duty, though the grace of God alone can cure man of his impenitence and unbelief. The lack of grace causes neither. Unbelief arises from “the vitiosity and corruption of their hearts.'” When we see that God is pleased to withhold His grace from some men, He does not condemn them for a lack of grace, but He condemns them for their impenitence and unbelief. Even though they cannot repent and believe without efficacious grace, God is under no obligation to bestow it. To conclude otherwise would lead to an absurdity, i.e., because man is so corrupt he cannot be subject to the law without the aid of omnipotent power, it can be no sin in him to remain unsubjected to it."

"Gill even shows himself willing to affirm that “men are required to believe in Christ, to love the Lord with all their heart, to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit.”‘But it does not follow that men may do these things of themselves, and the exhortation to such only shows their desperate need of them and that they ought to apply to God for them.

He also believes that refusal to believe savingly aggravates guilt, a belief possible only on a platform of duty-faith.

For Gill, therefore, faith is not disjoined from man’s obligations to the law. Faith fulfills these obligations. Gill’s conviction kept him from rejecting duty-faith and duty-repentance and inspired in him a commitment to the necessity of evangelism.

Tom J. Nettles, By His Grace and for His Glory, 2d ed. (Cape Coral Florida: Founders Press), 2006), 42-46. [Underlining mine; and footnotes from Nettles not included.]

One of the many verses that I believe uphold the duty faith position is this verse.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."  (Matthew 23: 23)

In commenting upon this verse Dr. Gill wrote:

""Faith" may not only design faithfulness in a man's keeping his word and promise, and fidelity to a trust reposed in him; but also faith in God, as the God of providence, and as the God of grace and mercy; believing in his word and promises, and worshipping him, which the law requires; and the rather this seems to be intended, because Luke, instead of "faith", puts "the love of God", which faith includes, and works by, and is the end of the commandment, arising from faith unfeigned: so that Christ instances in the weightier matters of both tables of the law, which these men neglected, and the latter, as well as the former; not believing the revelation of the Gospel, nor the Messiah, who was promised, and prophesied of by God, in the writings of the Old Testament: these ought ye to have done: more especially, and in the first place, as being of the greatest use and importance."

Gill clearly upholds it as the responsibility of all men to have faith in God.

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