Friday, 26 March 2010

by grace through faith: part 2

Calvinism claims that because man is dead in trespasses and sins he is unable to hear. Consequently man must be regenerated so that he can hear. The order, says Calvinism, must be first life and second hearing. The logic of that seems absolutely watertight except for the fact that we have Biblical data where that pattern is reversed.

The first that comes to mind is the statement of Christ himself; "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live." John 5:25. This statement puts the two stages in exactly the opposite order. Apparently, life is the consequence of hearing rather than the other way around. It might be objected that this is an eschatological statement and not one that pertains to personal salvation. There is truth in that but John's writings are always multi-layered and his careful compositions have left nothing to chance. There can be little doubt here that it is because the voice of Christ has been heard that life can begin.

The second that comes to mind is the account of the raising of Lazarus. 'Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."' John 11:11:43-44. Again we discover that a dead man responds to the voice of Christ. Apparently 'the dead' can hear when Christ speaks.

And hearing, of course, is fundamental to faith. 'How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?' Rom 10:14. Believing and faith and just the verb and the noun of the same word in the original Greek. It is important to see the order here too. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Rom 10:17 and this passage makes it clear that we are speaking of the kind of hearing which produces the right response to God. We are not putting man first here but simply declaring that when God has spoken a human response is necessary. The 'hearing of faith' causes a man or woman to 'call' upon the name of the Lord and those who so call 'shall be saved'.

I have my own definition of faith; faith is right response to the Word of God. A man or woman cannot chose to 'have faith' at their own whim. They cannot believe until God has spoken, but when God has spoken they must believe in order for 'salvation' to be accomplished. When God has spoken (and in the tomb of their deadness they have heard his voice) there must be the obedience of faith and the reaching out to receive what God has promised. Salvation is by grace AND through faith.


David said...

What you write about faith and hearing the word of God is true.

But faith and grace are gifts from god. Paul writes to the Ephesians; 'For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of god.'

I personally spent 30 years in fellowships hearing the gospel preached truly and the word of god ministered powerfully, but I couldn't find the faith to believe unto righteousness.

But last year, away from all christian influence for the past ten years, I was cycling in the countryside, and the Lord Jesus himself met with me - poor guilty wretch - and revealed himself in me, washing away all my sin and giving me his holy spirit and the gift of faith to believe him.

That's why I believe in predestination, because I know he had his heart set on me before the foundation of the world and has never given me up. He called me, justified me through his cross and glorified me by his spirit.

As I said before, I am not a calvinist, but who can resist his will?

Ron Bailey said...

I will address this in the next blog. It is salvation which is the gift of God in this verse. Does your testimony show that God wanted you to spend 30 years without the consciousness of his love or did you have some responsibility in the matter?