Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Only a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.

One of the questions that comes up often in discussions of the nature of conversion has to do with faith. Is faith a gift?

8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
-Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV
What is the gift of God? Is it faith? Is it God's grace? Is it the kwan of our salvation?

Exegetes will disagree, but many in my camp want to affirm that faith is a gift and others want to object, to strenuously object.

What if instead of seeing faith as a gift, one sees regeneration as a gift?

And if one sees regeneration as God's gracious gift of:

-giving eyes to see and ears to hear

-making them born again, before which they cannot even see the kingdom (let alone see the kingdom, like the kingdom, and choose the kingdom) (John 3:3-6)

-making those who are dead alive (Eph 2:1-3)

-opening hearts to believe (Acts 16:14)

-drawing them to Christ, because they cannot come otherwise (John 6:44)

-changing their hearts (Ezek 36:26-27) so that they no longer love the darkness and hate the light, but now they love the Light of the World (John 8:12) and believe in Him and are justified freely by His grace

Then really the gift is not so much faith, but the ability to see and thereby trust the object of faith, Jesus the Christ.

Really, I think gets more to the biblical understanding of things with regard to God's gift. It also explains the nature of the will in the process of conversion. God does not violate the will of the person, for the will of the person is such that he/she always does what he/she wants. In that sense, the will is free (cf. Edwards', Freedom of the Will). But, likewise, this faculty of choosing we call the will is such that a person must do what he/she wants. That's why the will is said to be in bondage (cf. Luther's, Bondage of the Will) for the unconverted person. That person is bound by a sinful heart to always and only do in accord with loving the darkness and hating the light (John 3:19-20).

But, after regeneration folks have new hearts and through new eyes Jesus is seen rightly and since they now have hearts disposed to love the light, they come to Him, believing on Him for salvation.

Everyone has faith in something or someone, but the unregenerate do not really have Christ available as an option because the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing and faith seems unreasonable.

Their hearts will never incline them to do what seems logically for us who are being saved, but it's foolish to look for logic in the chambers of the human heart ... before it's renewed. They don't believe because they don't want to. They will never want to until Christ appears as trustworthy to them, which cannot happen apart from divine grace. This is the gift of regeneration.
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who brings to life the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone, apart from which humanity is powerless to positively respond to God.
-Statement of Faith, Providence Church

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At 06 June, 2007 07:28, Anonymous Markus Bahrelius said...

I like your perspective as you can't prove anything exegetically from Eph. 2:8 about what "this" (the gift) is referring to since grace and faith are feminine, "having been saved" is a masculine participle and "this" is neuter. I'm inclined to say that we could derive from that that the whole act (that is faith, grace and that we are in a state of having been saved) is the gift of God. Hence, it's best to say, that regeneration (or being brought to new birth) is the gift of God.

Also, it's good to find you again.

At 06 June, 2007 07:36, Blogger Lance said...

Thanks for that clarity. To say that Ephesians 2 declares faith a gift can be an interesting discussion, so I appreciate your clarification.

On the note of Lydia's heart being opened in Acts 16:14, I heard a very popular SBC teacher once say, "Lydia opened her heart to believe," which is grammatically impossible, being that in that sentence, God is the subject and Lydia is the modifier of "heart."

Interestingly enough, we discussed this very subject with our youth last night. In Ephesians 2:4 and Acts 16:14, I simply diagrammed the sentences and asked, Who is the subject and Who is the object.

As far as that SBC teacher, I was deeply saddened by her raping of the text, especially knowing of her immense popularity among so many Christians.

What is it that makes us not want to accept that God made us alive??

Does that fact not only bring great glory to God but also great joy to our hearts??

At 06 June, 2007 07:45, Blogger Rev. said...

'Well, ain't it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved.'

Nice, succinct post, bro. Ah... that all within the walls of the Church would really believe that salvation is a GIFT!

At 06 June, 2007 22:32, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks, Rev.

Other than this, the only good thing I ever done was getting hit by that train!

I think I know which road Lance is going down and I feel your pain.

Making the dead live, isn't that physically and spiritually what God does?!

Yes, it certainly seems to me that God's glorious grace is all the more magnified in the gracious nature of his gift that is, by definition, undeserved if gracious.


At 07 June, 2007 06:08, Blogger Rev. said...

Lance... I know of whom you speak. Makes me cringe. What's worse is that in one of the evangelism classes I had at some seminary the very well known and highly respected prof (whom I love!) said basically the same thing.

Funny how "we" (Reformed folk) are often accused of teaching and preaching things that are unbiblical with our "Scripture twisting." ;)

At 01 December, 2008 16:50, Blogger Strong Tower said...

"believe that salvation is a GIFT!"

I think this is the crux.

To say that grace is a gift is redundant. Grace indicates something given, it not just *. It is then that faith is a gift, but then so is regeneration, repentannce, knowledge, conviction, trust... the grace is all the graces which accomplish the salvation perfected in Christ. And he has given us all that pertains to life and Godliness in the new birth.

...was blind but now I see...

The instrumentalist will say, yeah, but you got to open your eyes. That is just silly, how does keeping your eyes closed negate the reality outside? Or, to put it another way, we have been translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, so wake up O sleeper.


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