02 October 2017

René A. López on Faith as a Gift of God

        [I]f faith is a gift from God, then people should be asking God for regeneration before they can believe. But such a request is completely foreign to the Scriptures. […] Numerous verses call for people to believe, that is, to exercise personal faith (e.g., John 1:12–13; 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Acts 16:31; see also Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3:21–22, 25–26, 28; and 4:3–6). […]
        Another problem with the faith-is-a-gift view relates to sanctification. According to advocates of this view[,] true believers will never fail to live godly lives. This is because God, having infused them with faith, guarantees their sanctification throughout their lives. However, this diminishes the seriousness of the commands of Scripture for believers to pursue holiness.
         If faith is a gift, then many commands in Scripture that exhort, command, prompt, and warn believers to live obediently become superfluous because the ultimate end of infused faith guarantees the sanctification of believers without their involvement. Followed to its logical conclusion[,] the gift-of-faith view lessens the urgency of putting forth effort to obey scriptural exhortations. (p. 275)

        The assumption that people are spiritually unresponsive and thus unable to exercise faith for salvation does not stand up to biblical scrutiny. Since faith is never considered a work in the Scriptures, God need not endow individuals with faith in order to avoid a merit-based salvation. Instead, the Bible presents faith for salvation as a human response much like that of a beggar holding out his hand for food. Passages that supposedly teach the gift-of-faith view do not, on careful examination, support that view. (p. 276)

—René A. López, ‘Is Faith a Gift from God or a Human Exercise?’, Bibliotheca Sacra 164 (Jul.–Sept. 2007)[1]

Copyright © 2007, Dallas Theological Seminary. All rights reserved.

        1. For the full article, see René A. López, ‘Is Faith a Gift from God or a Human Exercise?’, Bibliotheca Sacra 164 (Jul.–Sept. 2007): 259–76 (<http://www.dts.edu/download/publications/bibliotheca/bibsac-lopez-isfaithagiftfromgodorahumanexercise.pdf>). —J. D. Gallé

10 June 2017

Matthew 22:14: A Calvinistic Paraphrase

J. D. Gallé | Saturday, 10 June 2017

‘For many receive the external, ineffectual call that, taken by itself, is insufficient for the sinner to respond positively in repentance and faith to the good news of salvation; but few receive the accompanying internal, irresistible call of the Holy Spirit to rightly respond to the gospel invitation.’ (Matt. 22:14)[1]

        1. The above ‘paraphrasewas inspired by Guy Watersarticle from The Gospel Coalition website, ‘What Did Jesus Mean by “Many Are Called, but Few Are Chosen? ’ (9 Jun. 2017):

Copyright © J. D. Gallé, 2017. All rights reserved.

Latest revision: 11 June 2017 (made slight emendations).

28 May 2017

Return to Yahweh | Isaiah 55:6–7

“Seek the LORD while he may be found;
        call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
        and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
        and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(Isa. 55:6–7, ESV)

25 April 2017

Clark H. Pinnock on the Gravity of Annihilationism

        [W]hatever hell turns out to be like, it is a very grim prospect. Though annihilationism makes hell less of a torture chamber,[1] it does not lessen its extreme seriousness. After all, to be rejected by God, to miss the purpose for which one was created, to pass into oblivion while others enter bliss, to enter into nonbeingthis will mean weeping and gnashing of teeth. Hell is a terrifying possibility, the possibility of using our freedom to lose God and destroy ourselves. Of course we do not know who or how many will be damned, because we do not know who will finally say No to God. What we do know is that sinners may finally reject salvation, that absolute loss is something to be reckoned with. I do not think one needs to know more about hell than that.
—Clark H. Pinnock, ‘The Conditional View’, in Four Views on Hell, ed. William Crockett, 1st ed., Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 165.

Copyright © 1996, Clark H. Pinnock. All rights reserved.

In order to purchase Four Views on Hell (1996),[2] see the following vendors:

        1. That is, ‘less of a torture chamber’ than the conventional view of ‘hell’. The traditional understanding of the future and final state of the unrighteous is that the lost are to experience endless bodily and soulish suffering in Gehenna/the lake of fire along with the devil and his angels.
        2. A new edition of this volume has been released under the same title with different contributors. See Preston Sprinkle (ed.), Four Views on Hell, 2nd ed., Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016). —J. D. Gallé

22 April 2017

The Remonstrants on the Nature of Faith

        [K]nowledge alone of the divine will does not suffice for true and saving faith, or understanding of all the concepts [that] are contained in the gospel. For this is possible without assent and trust. Indeed, it really is in the demons, and in many of the ungodly and unbelieving. Nor indeed is it any assent whatever, namely sudden, perfunctory, implicit, brutish or blind, ungrounded in reason and yielded without judgment. For this by itself, taken alone, is not saving, nor can it ever sufficiently move the will to any rational and free obedience. And therefore [assent] is not rarely found in those who live little like Christians, but it must be entirely firm and solid, strengthened by the command of a deliberate will. Finally, assent which is faithful and obedient is called faith, not just an absolute confidence of special mercy, almost as if already secured, namely, by which I believe that my sins are already forgiven me (for this is not the essential form which constitutes justifying faith, but only a certain additional consequent, indeed it necessarily presupposes saving faith itself, as its prerequisite condition), but by which I firmly establish that it is impossible that I should escape eternal death and to the contrary obtain eternal life by any other means than Jesus Christ, and in any other way than by that prescribed by him. And hence this has always had joined to it our debt of new obedience to Jesus Christ, that is, not some sterile purpose of obeying or feelings without effect, but which continually brings forth of itself true and actual obedience itself.
—Simon Episcopius,[1] ‘On Faith in Jesus Christ’, in The Arminian Confession of 1621, trans. Mark A. Ellis, Princeton Theological Monograph Series (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2005), pp. 78–79.

Copyright © 2005, Mark A. Ellis. All rights reserved.
In order to purchase a copy of The Arminian Confession, see the following vendors:

        1. Simon Episcopius (1583–1643), protégé of Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609), is attributed as the primary (if not sole) author of the Arminian/Remonstrant Confession of 1621 (i.e. the Confession or Declaration of the Pastors which in the Belgian Federation are called the Remonstrants, on the principle articles of the Christian Religion’). See Ellis, ‘Introduction’, in Arminian Confession, p. ix (par. 2). Ellis’ translation of the confession is from Latin to English. (As an aside, the Dutch names of Episcopius and Arminius are Simon Bisschop and Jakob Hermanszoon [respectively].) —J. D. Gallé