Is Faith Effectually Given?

Is faith something God effectually (or irresistibly) gives to some people and withholds from everyone else? Calvinists, such as John Piper, believe this is what the Bible teaches. This article will examine the proof texts Piper, and many modern day Calvinists, use to validate their position. Pastor Piper puts it like this,

“Paul is concerned that people were ‘thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think.’ His final remedy for this pride is to say that not only are spiritual gifts a work of God’s free grace in our lives, but so also is the very faith with which we use those gifts. This means that every possible ground of boasting is taken away. How can we boast if even the qualification for receiving gifts is also a gift?”[1] 

Was Paul addressing “Arminians” or “synergistic free will advocates” in Romans 12:3 because he was concerned about them taking credit for their salvation and boasting about their choice to trust in Christ? Or, was Paul addressing believers with various gifts being jealous or boastful due to the kind of gift or role they were given within the body of Christ? Let’s look at the context:

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,  so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;  the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8, emphasis added)

It could not be any more clear that Paul is addressing the body of Christ and their various spiritual gifts (prophecy, service, teaching, etc.) and not Christians bragging about their “free will decision” to humbly confess their sin (which is obviously an absurd conclusion). Erroneous proof texting is when a pastor, like Piper, takes a passage out of context which is clearly addressing one error and they apply it as if its addressing someone (i.e. a free will advocate) who disagrees with their particular theological position (i.e. Calvinism), which is obviously about a completely different point than the biblical author was addressing. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to many interpretive errors. Piper continues,

“That’s how important humility is in God’s eyes. This is exactly the same aim of God mentioned in Ephesians 2:8-9 where Paul stresses that saving faith is a gift: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith is a gift from God, so that no one may boast. Or, as Romans 12:3 says, So that we will not think too highly of ourselves. The last bastion of pride is the belief that we are the originators of our faith.”[2]

Notice how Piper carries over this imposed intention into Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, as if the Apostle is actually addressing “free will advocates” who have been boasting in their choice to humbly confess their sin and trust in Christ. The absurdity of his approach would not even need to be addressed if it was not for the overwhelming number of young and impressionable students who are adopting it. It really is a shockingly inappropriate approach to proper biblical hermeneutics and it surprises me how few mainstream Christian scholars are calling him out for it.

Most commentaries which reflect on the original language reveal that the demonstrative translated ‘this’ in verse 8 is ‘neuter,’ but the noun for ‘faith’ is ‘feminine’. For Piper’s somewhat idiosyncratic view to stand, these two terms should agree in gender, but clearly they do not. Greek scholar, Dr. Dan Wallace, explains,  “On a grammatical level, then, it is doubtful that either ‘faith” or ‘grace’ is the antecedent of [touto].’[3] Instead, Paul is simply stating that salvation as a whole is obtained by a gift of God.

There are even many Calvinistic leaning exegetes who are unbiased enough to admit that the grammatical structure of Ephesians 2:8-9 does not support the idea that faith is some kind of effectual gift. In his own commentary of this passage, John Calvin said,

 “And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”[4]

So, this is not just a bias against Calvinism, as even John Calvin himself taught that Piper’s view is a “common error.”[5] Piper goes on to say,

“He said to the Philippians, ‘To you it has been given for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake’ (Philippians 1:29). This is why he thanked God and not human resourcefulness for the faith he saw in his churches…”

God does grant us the ability to believe and suffer for His sake. But “granting” or “enabling” faith, or the subsequent suffering that may result, is not the same as “effectually causing it.” Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:11-14), which is sent (or granted) first to the Jew and then the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). In other words, God is enabling faith by bringing the word of faith (His revelation), which is said to go first to Israel and then to “the high-ways and by-ways…the good and bad alike” (see the wedding banquet parable in Matt. 22). Remember, during the time of Paul, the Jews, generally speaking, had grown calloused to God’s revelation, otherwise they might have seen, heard, understood and turned to God, so the apostles took the message of repentance to the Gentiles, who unlike the Jews, “were willing to listen” (see Acts 28:27-28; John 12:39-41; Romans 9-11).

Is Faith is a Gift?

Yes, in one manner of speaking it is, but that does not mean it is an effectual gift given to a relatively small number of people mysteriously chosen for unknown reasons before the world began. We do not have a problem saying that “faith is a gift” in so far as all good things are ultimately from God. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, or to trust in God, is given to us by a gracious God.

My next breath is a gift of God, but I am responsible for how I use that gift, right? Likewise, we are “granted” faith or repentance when God brings the means by which we may believe and repent, but we are still responsible for how we use that gift.

So, when the scripture says things like, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18; 20:21) it does not mean “God has effectually caused the Gentiles to repent” but only that God has sent the gospel to the Gentiles so that they too may believe and repent unto new life (John 20:31) and be grafted into the olive tree (Romans 11).

Piper, along with most Calvinists, erroneously assume that for God to receive the maximum glory for giving gifts that He must give them “irresistibly” (in a way that effectually causes the recipients to take and use the gift appropriately). But, since when must a gift be effectually or irresistibly bestowed in order for the giver to get full credit for giving the gift?

If I were to buy laptops for all four of my children and three of them trashed it, or used it inappropriately (while only one of them used it as I intended); am I a less generous or benevolent father? Of course not. My children are responsible for how they used the gift I provided, and that does not impact my benevolence or my character in any way as their loving father who generously provided for their needs.

What would negatively reflect on my character as their father is if you found out I was somehow the “decisive cause” of my children’s inappropriate preferences and choices, which is precisely what Piper teaches in regard to God’s relation to those who rebel against His provisions. In an article titled, “A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will,’” John Piper argues,

…God is the only being who is ultimately self-determining, and is himself ultimately the disposer of all things, including all choices — however many or diverse other intervening causes are.

On this definition, no human being has free will, at any time. Neither before or after the fall, or in heaven, are creatures ultimately self-determining. There are great measures of self-determination, as the Bible often shows, but never is man the ultimate or decisive cause of his preferences and choices. When man’s agency and God’s agency are compared, both are real, but God’s is decisive. Yet — and here’s the mystery that causes so many to stumble — God is always decisive in such a way that man’s agency is real, and his responsibility remains.[6]

I propose that Piper’s view actually downplays God’s glory by presuming effectuality. On the Traditionalist/Provisionist’s view, where God provides the means of salvation for all people, God gets the glory for the gift provided for every person, not just those who use that gift appropriately.

What diminishes God’s glory is suggesting that He is withholding what is necessary for people to believe in Him all the while judging and punishing them for their unbelief. In Mark 6:6 it says that Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief,” and in Luke 19:41 we read about Jesus literally weeping due to the unbelief of the Israelites, and in Mark 16:14 Jesus rebukes his followers for their unbelief — as if they actually had some control over it. Is Jesus being disingenuous in these passages while secretly withholding this so-called effectual gift of faith? Piper’s claim that faith is some kind of an effectual gift from God granted to a preselected few, while being arbitrarily withheld from the masses, makes much of the scripture completely and utterly irrational. For this reason, it should be respectfully rejected and vigorously rebutted.

Below is a broadcast where faith as a gift is discussed in more detail:


[1] John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-has-allotted-to-each-a-measure-of-faith

[2] John Piper, same as above…

[3] D B Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 334-5.

[4] John Calvin’s Commentary on Ephesians, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/ephesians-2.html

[5] I recognize that Calvin, in this same commentary, sides with Piper’s soteriological views. That is not the point. The point is that Calvin, unlike Piper, acknowledges that this verse in particular does not grammatically support their position.

[6] John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-beginners-guide-to-free-will

36 thoughts on “Is Faith Effectually Given?

  1. Wonderful article!

    N.T. Wright says
    – Paraphrased
    “We in the reformation tradition have systematically misread Paul, because we weren’t interested in and we weren’t focuse on – those specific things Paul was interested in and focused on.”

    Wright believes the reformed reader has a mechnism in his mind which automatically -quote “blocks out certain bits” of Paul’s words. And if the reformed reader could somehow switch off that mechanism – and then read Paul’s words in Paul’s original language – then those “blocked out bits” would become visible.

    Write believes this mechanism is at work within the reformed mind – based on a need to stay aligned with Augustine. Wright believes the tradition of reading scripture this way originated with Luther whose mind was unable to shake off Augustinian influences.

    If we look at what Paul is focused on here, we see that he is focused on differences in FUNCTION – using the analogy of different parts of the human body with each having a different purpose and therefore a different function.

    But Paul does not hint to the idea that certain parts of the body are dead while other parts are alive. With living parts boasting over being alive – comparing themselves to dead parts. So Paul is focused on GIFTS OF FAITH specific to functionality of living body parts.

    I agree – to carrying this beyond what Paul is focused on – in order to use it to canonize Augustinian – is to commit the very fallacy that Paul is writing against in this very text.

    1. Hi BR.D
      I had an idea…would it be possible to collaborate with you in writing an article…I want to send it to some family members who are not Calvinist but it would be a way to help them see the dangers and errors. I think you and I see the same things and I think we could put together a helpful piece… These posts here are great and have an important place but comments are also very disjointed and then RH comes along and interjects and before you know it the important topic is dropped and RH becomes the center of attention. His complaints and his rabbit trails become the focus. My idea is if we could work to lay out Calvinism as a Worldview giving a short bit of history then starting with:
      1. Universal Divine Causal Determinism (as you put it)
      2. Then the offspring of that error within Calvinism such as TULIP and others…
      3. Also showing how each of these errors is a horrible attack on the nature of God.
      4. Showing what I call the TOOL BOX that Calvinist use to make their system appear legit such as (New Definitions, New Terms, Mystery, False Humility, Bullying, Extrapolations, Confusing Israel with the Church etc…)
      Much of these issues have been covered here but to find them again is like a needle in a haystack.
      My hope is we could put together something that could help lots of people see and identify the dangers and errors before folks have started to accept some of the false assumptions that are then so hard to get rid of once you have believed them as truth.
      If you are willing to do this graceandlove4all AT gmail.com is my email. Blessings

  2. PARTISANSHIP IDENTITY—VICARIOUS BOASTING—AND HERO WORSHIP

    PARTISANSHIP IDENTITY:
    Kenneth Burke (1897), an American literary theorist, in Attitudes Toward History, writes:
    “It is natural for a man to IDENTIFY himself with the business corporation he serves. This is his birthright, and insofar as he is denied it, he is impoverished and alienated. But insofar as business becomes a ‘corrupt sovereign’, his only salvation is to make himself an IDENTITY, in an alternative corporation. The struggle to establish this alternative corporation is called the struggle for the ‘one big union’.”

    Burke is describing the sociological phenomenon of an individual’s re-mapping of PERSONAL IDENTITY. Hence, the drive for UNIONISM – and the process of separating people into parties, so that members of Party-A can boast they are better than members of Party-B.

    The unique individual’s urgency here is to escape a perceived INSIGNIFICANT PERSONA, and acquiring a vicarious state of PREEMINENCE BY ASSOCIATION WITH a Guild, Group or Party.

    VICARIOUS BOASTING:
    Burke clues us, that ‘VICARIOUS BOASTING’ is one of the outward manifestations to look for.
    -quote:
    “One may note, however, the subtle ways in which IDENTIFICATION SERVES AS BRAGGADOCIO. By it, the modest man can indulge in the most outrageous ‘CORPORATE BOASTING’. He identifies himself with some corporate unit (church, guild, company, lodge, party, team, college, city, nation, etc.) –and by profuse praise of this unit, he PRAISES HIMSELF.

    For he OWNS SHARES in the corporate unit—and by RIGGING THE MARKET the value of the stock as a whole, he runs up the value of his personal holdings. And this braggadocio also helps to establish PARTY LOYALTY.

    HERO WORSHIP:
    Burke continues
    -quote:
    “The function of VICARIOUS BOASTING leads into the matter of EPIC HEROISM and EUPHEMISTIC VOCABULARIES of motives.

    When heroes have been shaped by legend, with the irrelevant or incongruous details of their lives obliterated, and only the most DIVINE ATTRIBUTES expressed, the individual’s COVERT BOASTING (by identification with the hero) need not lead to megalomania (extreme delusion of grandeur)….the legendary hero, is by definition, a superman. HE IS THE FOUNDER OF A LINE!

    I leave it to the insightful SOT101 reader here – to discern the observable signs of PARTISANSHIP IDENTITY, VICARIOUS BOASTING, and HERO WORSHIP – as observable characteristics within the Calvinist Guild. :-]

  3. Thank you Leighton this is another great article!!! I’ve not viewed the Podcast yet, but I intend to.

    This statement is key!!!

    “I propose that Piper’s view actually downplays God’s glory by presuming effectuality.”

    This is a resounding Yes Yes & Yes!!!  Maybe an example could be of a strong grown man giving a small child who is physically weak an impossible task of picking up a beam. The strong man knows the child can’t accomplish the task, but loves to watch the child’s fear & anxiety of not being able to accomplish the task. The strong man then punishes the child, because he can’t pick up the beam and he loves the power that gives him. All the while claiming he loves this weak child. So either the strong man is lying? Or he finds pleasure in causing stress and anxiety in the child he says he loves? Or the strong man needs psychological help, because he believes he’s justified in punishing this helpless child who he knew could never respond to his request. Our gracious God has revealed His offer of salvation through the finished work of the cross! We aren’t effectually given faith & made to respond or He is confusing us… which I know He is NOT

    Br.d I agree with this;
    N.T. Wright says
    – Paraphrased
    “We in the reformation tradition have systematically misread Paul, because we weren’t interested in and we weren’t focuse on – those specific things Paul was interested in and focused on.”

    This absolutley reminds me of what the apostle Peter wrote about Paul’s writings;

    2 Peter 3:16 NASB — as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    This is true Leighton;
    “Piper’s claim that faith is some kind of an effectual gift from God granted to a preselected few, while being arbitrarily withheld from the masses, makes much of the scripture completely and utterly irrational.”  Yes, Yes & Yes

    & ABSOLUTELY what you say here;
    “For this reason, it should be respectfully rejected and vigorously rebutted.”

    Not pushed under the carpet and walked around!!!
    Again thank you🙏

    1. Reggie
      Maybe an example could be of a strong grown man giving a small child who is physically weak an impossible task of picking up a beam.

      br.d
      I had an analogy that was almost identical to yours Reggie.
      A father stands over his 5 year old son holding a pencil out
      He commands – if the son does not take the pencil he will throw the son into a fire pit.

      The father then purposefully holds the pencil high enough to guarantee the boy can’t reach it.
      That way the father can claim – throwing his child into a fire-pit is a just to do.

  4. Thank you for that Br.d, it is similar & there is comfort in knowing there are like minded believers! It is good that this site is here to sound an alarm, because many Christians don’t think these issues matter, but really they are misrepresentations & they do matter.. There are others who need this site so they know they’re not alone! Of course as Christians we know we’re not alone He will never leave us, but having others with skin see this systematic doesn’t stand up against the entirety of Scripture is very comforting!

    2 Corinthians 13:11 NASB — Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

    1. Reggie, I totally agree that this site is important, that it is sounding an alarm, and that most Christians don’t think these issues matter. Our wonderful church has been taken over by a strong, dogmatic Calvinist who “manipulates” people into agreeing with him (or at least into not vocally disagreeing) by saying things like “Humble people accept predestination. It’s clearly taught in the Bible, so we have to believe it. You don’t have to like it or understand it, but you do have to accept it. Because God said it.”

      It makes me sick. And just a couple days ago, we resigned our church membership because of his dogmatic theology. But almost no one else seems to be questioning him. They are not checking Scripture themselves to see if he is right.

      I wish they would find a site like this, which gives plenty of biblical support to disprove Calvinism. So thank you to Leighton for being willing to sound the alarm against this insideous, invasive, destructive theology. (I am trying to do that too at https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com and https://anticalvinistrant.blogspot.com.)

      1. Great post heather!

        If I might just add – something honest Christians are not expecting with Calvinists because of how dogmatic they *APPEAR*.

        What they met out with one hand – they sneak back with the other.
        That is the tell-tale sign that much of it is a well played masquerade.

        When the hidden motivation is a need for preeminence – spiritual pride always wears a mask of spiritual humility.
        And a man-made theology needs to present itself as “Bible based” in order to APPEAR legitimate.

        But whoever practices the truth comes into the Light, so that it may be clearly seen what is truly wrought in God. John 3:21
        I thank the Lord for the light – we have here at SOT101.

      2. Hi Heather I’m really sorry about your church home I’m sure that is not easy!!😔 your not alone!!! Sadly to me this systematic looks like a goliath at times, but it is soooo encouraging to hear how your speaking up for the recognizable Goodness of our God. It is so sad when people take a (they) sources word for what God’s Word reveals!!!! maybe they find comfort in trusting a person who they can see☹ Of course there is comfort when God gives us like minded believers, but ultimately I trust as I’m sure you do our hope is in Him and His Word and there is No deceit in Him🌻 (I’m adopting the sunflower as the provisionist flower😄) but no joke calvinism is heartbreaking to me for many reasons, so as Leighton said in his video of leaving this systematic here we stand we can do no other,… (because we care for the harmony of the Scriptures & what logically in the end this systematic paints God to look like to a hurting world)

      3. Hi Heather,
        So sorry for the pain this is causing but that is the M.O. of Calvinism.
        -Strong assertions with “out of context proof text”
        -Redefine words so that the Bible is made to agree with TULIP – They Use our vocabulary but a different dictionary.
        -Introduce/Invent New Terms so they can smuggle in additional extra-biblical concepts
        -Cover over the contradictions with an appeal to “Mystery,Paradox,Tension”
        – Pious confusion- Claim that true humility will swallow this even if it does not make sense.
        -Reformer Reverence, Claim they couldn’t have had anything wrong especially John Calvin…their writings are valued as if scripture
        -Since it is a historical belief 400 yrs old it must be true because of how old it is. I remind them lies go all the way back to Eden.
        -If these tactics fail then they attack calling you names. They have a host of names they will hurl your way..

        So glad you have been able to come out from under their oppression…Believe me it is an oppressive system full of self-righteous pride and arrogance. Because of the way the systematic is, it also cultivates insecurity even in the lives of the saved. I heard John Piper on 3 different occasions say that the Number 1 question he received during his 33 years of being a pastor was: “How can I have assurance?” — Not in the least bit surprising to me… TULIP makes it hard for them to ever know if they are really one of the Elect and if They are doing enough to meet the P… and just maybe their faith is a spurious Faith and not a Saving Faith.
        Some are trapped in this twisted system through ignorance and being deceived by others, while another group is doing the deceiving… as has already been pointed out elsewhere on this site Calvinism has it’s roots in Gnosticism and Stoicism. This of course lends itself to the pride of believing they are the only ones selected to know the deeper things.
        2Ti 3:12  Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 
        2Ti 3:13  while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 
        Keep your nose in the WORD don’t let their intimidation get to you…Keep looking to the God you know…Not the God they are trying to paint.. The Word Not Calvin. The Word NOT Piper or JMac or Carson or Pink or Grudem.

  5. Thank you for addressing this topic!
    Such clarity!!!

    “So, when the scripture says things like, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18; 20:21) it does not mean “God has effectually caused the Gentiles to repent” but only that God has sent the gospel to the Gentiles so that they too may believe and repent unto new life (John 20:31) and be grafted into the olive tree (Romans 11).”

    “Most commentaries which reflect on the original language reveal that the demonstrative translated ‘this’ in verse 8 is ‘neuter,’ but the noun for ‘faith’ is ‘feminine’. For Piper’s somewhat idiosyncratic view to stand, these two terms should agree in gender, but clearly they do not. Greek scholar, Dr. Dan Wallace, explains, “On a grammatical level, then, it is doubtful that either ‘faith” or ‘grace’ is the antecedent of [touto].’[3] Instead, Paul is simply stating that salvation as a whole is obtained by a gift of God.”
    THIS SHOULD BE ENOUGH TO PUT THIS TOPIC TO REST!

    John Calvin said,

    “And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”[4″
    WOW!

      1. Thank you!
        lol, But I dare not take the credit!…I was just quoting the bits that stood out to me from the article! (blush blush) 🙂

  6. I don’t think that faith is given or a gift. I think that grace is a gift to all humanity from God in the form of proper cognitive faculties – rational faculties to assess our moral experiences and come to conclusions about right & wrong, free will to choose between right and wrong, provision of moral laws (which includes Law, prophets & gospel) and provision of Holy Spirit to the seekers. But it becomes effective when humans use their reason and free will to choose good and right and God’s calling. Faith to me is trust in something we have enough reason to be true. It is not a gift, it is a choice we make, in my view.

    1. Thank you Scott

      God using the faculties that each person already has – limited though they may be – surely looks like the principle Jesus follows in all of the healing miracles. These are obviously examples of the power of the Holy Spirit bringing a form of physical redemption to the individual. And there is nothing in the texts that indicate God has to infuse the individual with a measure of faith they don’t already have in order for them to be healed.

  7. Leighton….. this is so true…

    “What diminishes God’s glory is suggesting that He is withholding what is necessary for people to believe in Him all the while judging and punishing them for their unbelief.”

    And yes…. why does Christ “marvel because of their unbelief”?

    And yes…. why does Christ weep about their unbelief?

    And yes …. why does Christ rebukes his followers for their unbelief?

    And another one for you…. why does Jesus marvel (again) AT faith “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 (Calvinist ESV).

    Jesus is marveling (amazed) and is saying that He “found” this faith.

    None of these make any sense in the Piper model.

    Truly God gets more (not less!) glory by providing a way of escape to all people and by being willing to accept their rejection of Him! After all, one of the key descriptions of Christ is “despised and rejected” so we know that God can handle that….for His glory.

    Calvinism: To most people the offer is not extended and to those few to whom it is extended, it cannot be refused.

    What in the world is glorious about that?

    1. FOH After all, one of the key descriptions of Christ is “despised and rejected” so we know that God can handle that….for His glory.

      Reggie great point!!!!!!!

  8. A further thought on the Isaiah 53 statement that Christ was “despised and rejected.”

    In the Calvinist model, He can be despised….because if Total Depravity is true He will be despised.

    But rejected?

    Someone makes an offer on a house you are selling, you can accept or reject it.

    Someone visits your house and then leaves…. you cannot “reject” their offer. They did not make one.

    The governor offers a pardon to an inmate. The inmate can accept or reject it. But if no offer is made, he cannot “reject” it.

    In Calvinism…. Christ never offers Himself to the “non-elect”. And any offer God makes (to the “elect”) is irresistible.

    So, in Calvinism, Christ is NOT “rejected”. (1) He cannot be rejected by those to whom He is really offered (irresistible); (2) He is not even offering to the rest (so it cannot be said that they are rejecting Him).

    1. FOH
      So, in Calvinism, Christ is NOT “rejected”.
      (1) He cannot be rejected by those to whom He is really offered (irresistible);
      (2) He is not even offering to the rest (so it cannot be said that they are rejecting Him).

      br.d
      This is where Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern comes into play.
      Christ did not die for the NON-elect – *AS-IF* he did.
      Effectual Salvation is not offered to the NON-elect *AS-IF* it is.

      I feel sorry for Calvinists
      Their system has them REJECTING certain things as heretical
      Forcing them to SNEAK those very things back into their system in camouflaged form.

  9. Thank you so much for all the teachings here on Soteriology 101, it has been a wonderful tool for my wife and myself to strengthen our faith and stay true to what Scripture teach. I have learned so much. Please keep on sharing and we are praying for you to stay on the strait and narrow!

    Kind Regards

    Riaan and Lourie Kloppers
    Hermanus, South Africa

  10. Hi Dr. Flowers!

    First of all, thank you very much for all your efforts in order to proportionate an alternative interpretation for a lot of very complex biblical passages. It has been a great help for me in order to try to understand some texts that could be used by my Calvinistic brothers. In fact, I’m trying to decide and clarify what truly Scriptures teaches about salvation and faith.

    It always has been always strange to me to hear that faith is a gift from God in a Calvinistic way (where you can’t do nothing to believe and it is all up to God). Nevertheless, I want you to ask you what it is your interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3:5-7: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (ESV). Does not teach this text that in ultimate terms faith and believe in God dependes on Him? Because, ultimately, interpreting in this sense the text, He gives the growth of the faith, no matter how much we preach. Also, the first part, when says “as the Lord assigned to each”, does not that trying to say that the Lord not only permit or make possible to believe in Him, but that He assigns faith to the person?
    However, the NIV version it is a little bit different and says that “the Lord has assigned to each his task”, so that phrase would not be about faith but tasks/roles?

    Thank you so much for your answer. As I said before I’m trying to learn what truly teaches the Scriptures and not merely human systems (Calvinism/Arminianism).

    God bless you! Greetings from Chile, South America.

    1. Welcome Miguel! You will have a better opportunity contacting Leighton with your question on his FB Soteriology101 page.

      Here’s my response to your question. Hope it helps. God does bring the increase… through faith. It’s grace through faith… so faith must be in place first for saving grace to go through it.

      Light then Faith then Life!

      Jhn 1:9, 12 NKJV – 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world…. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
      Jhn 12:36 NKJV – “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
      Jhn 20:31 NKJV – but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
      Gal 3:26 NKJV – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
      1Pe 1:23, 25 NKJV – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, … Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

      Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life! What kind of birth does not make one a child or give life? Very silly… besides being a clear rejection and twisting of clear Scripture teaching.

      For the Calvinist regeneration is kinda like a drug that had been before willfully refused by the woman that a man offered it to, along with his proposal of marriage to her… but then he slips it into her drink without her knowing and she immediately accepts his next proposal of marriage.

      Now does that sound like true love? And how can you call a drugged woman’s “yes” her “personal responsibility” even though she was unable to do other because of a change the “drug” made in her? When it was given to her, she was still firmly rejecting the one making the proposal who was slipping her the drug without her understanding.

      I see no personal willing acceptance of that woman… nor do I see love in the one who caused the change in her instantly upon her using that drug.

    2. Miguel:

      Thanks for joining. I am not sure if Leighton will get back to you but here is a start. I will let someone else talk about what Paul could mean by that. But how about this:

      Paul says he “convinces” “persuades” “reasons with” men in the Scripture. Surely there are more verses in that direction…..stating Paul’s part and the hearer’s part.

      Look what he says here:

      “I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

      “to win as many as possible.” [even Paul doesnt believe this is a fix number…. “as many as possible.” That does not sound one bit like he is supporting the idea that God has chosen before time how many will be saved.]

      “so as to win those under the law.”

      “so as to win those not having the law.”

      “so that by all possible means I might save some.”

      “by all possible means”

      I, I, I (says Paul)

      “I might win some.”

      He is saying that all of his efforts make a difference “as many as possible” “so as to win” “by all possible means.”

      Paul does not even mention the Holy Spirit or the Doctrines of Grace in any of these passages….. He ONLY mentions what he is doing.

      Always the 1-2 “Calvinist-sounding verses ” (for which there is an alternative interpretation) are more important than the dozens of others? Keep asking!!

  11. Great statement: “We do not have a problem saying that “faith is a gift” in so far as all good things are ultimately from God. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, or to trust in God, is given to us by a gracious God.”

    I would add that our lives are a gift each and every breath you take is a gift from God. The big question is “Are you using it in a way that glorifies God?”

    The question is NOT do some people have faith and others Do NOT have faith. Everyone has faith…the only question is what is the OBJECT of your Faith. Faith,Believe and Trust are virtually the same thing. We can believe a lie or believe the truth…we can have faith in a lie or have faith in the truth. The BIG question is the OBJECT of my Faith God and what He has said or is it something else? Notice in the verses below…the exact same word Believe is used in the context of Believing a lie or Believing the Truth so you see the absence of Faith/the ability to Believe is not the issue the Issue is always the OBJECT of our Faith.

    2Th 2:9  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 
    2Th 2:10  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 
    2Th 2:11  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe a lie 
    2Th 2:12  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 

    v11 says believe a lie
    v12 says believe the truth — The lack of Faith is not the issue only the OBJECT of ones Faith.

  12. I posted this on another string, but it did not go and would not let me re-try. So again here:

    Mr X has faith in something (Evolutionary accidents, Islam, Mormonism, Catholicism, etc).

    Johnny Baptist presents the Gospel to him (which includes the line “Christ died for you” —- included everywhere by MacArthur and Piper).

    Mr X says ….. that is stupid and foolishness.

    Mrs X (always the wiser gender!) says “Let’s just go with Johnny and Ethel Baptist to church next week on Father’s Day.”

    Mr X sits in the pew and say this is foolishness.

    Two guys he knows from his bowling league see him and ask him to a Dudes’ Night Bowl Bible Study.

    Mr X attends and bowls and hears a little bit of Bible study, which is foolishness (but he does know the cool dude teaching the study….so… he’s curious why he would believe this foolishness).

    Mr X attends the Dudes’ Bowl Study for 4 years. Cool leader explains the Gospel (including Christ took your place— which is said to everyone there).

    During these same 4 years Mrs X is going to church regularly… and goes also to MOPS, and several ladies’ retreats (she got to keep the lovely center-piece at her table!).

    During these 4 years Mr Cool is “persuading” Mr X (2 Cor 5:11). Mr Cool “reasons with” Mr X (Acts 17:2). Mr Cool “convinces” Mr X (Acts 28:23).

    After 4 and a half years, Mr and Mrs X make a public profession of faith and get baptized, having gone from “foolishness to being convinced.”

    They give their testimony in front of the whole church before being baptized and it is filled with the word “foolishness” “convincing” “persuading”….. and since this is a non-Calvinist church everyone says amen and claps.

    Everyone…. except three visiting, bearded, tattooed, young, white, male, college guys in the back. They are grieved that people would be allowed to “rob God of his glory.” At the coffee hour after the service they, in a snarky manner, insist that Mr X was actually “dead” and the Gospel was “foolishness” and he was given that faith.

    Mr X asks the angry-sounding YRR guys “When did He give me faith? Was I dead all those 4 years of Bible study and consistent searching of the Scriptures in discussion with friends and my wife? When—- at what point was I Calvinistically ‘regenerated’ and ‘made alive’ so I could then ‘freely choose’?”

    The angry young men quickly use their phones to go to Sproul’s site (one of the young men) and monergism.com (the 2 others).

    They say to Mr X….. “Your were regenerated nanoseconds before you believed and made the public profession.”

    Mr X, scratches his head (cuz he was actually present during the whole process) and asks, “What was I during those 4 years of Bible study, prayer, and seeking answers?”

    Angry young man #1 (the one with only his left arm in full sleeve-tattoos, plus one tiny tat-cross on his neck) says to him with conviction and vigor….”You were ‘dead’ and a God-hater.”

    Mr X responds simply, “That’s Good News alright!”

    ……………… then after a moment of reflection…… Mr X adds, “Yep…. your ‘gospel’ is indeed foolishness!”

    1. FOH,
      I think I have met those 3 guys…
      Sproul has also said that – A man can be regenerated even months before he expresses “Saving Faith”. – This is his way of answering the dilemma laid out in your story. Their extra Biblical Worldview makes it necessary that they come up with many creative extra-Biblical answers. You have to hand it to them they are very very creative in making scripture stand on it’s head.

      1. GraceAdict
        Their extra Biblical Worldview makes it necessary that they come up with many creative extra-Biblical answers. You have to hand it to them they are very very creative in making scripture stand on it’s head.

        br.d
        Another bulls-eye GraceAdict!

        The art of Calvinism is the ability to twist (language – logic – and scripture) – into a pretzel
        And then tell yourself you’re not doing it. :-]

      2. GA,
        RH has stated on this blog many times that Sproul teaches that it is at the same time.

        I cannot find it on the Sproul site since the articles that discuss it are all paid-for articles ($2, $5, etc).

      3. Yes, he has stated both… he may have evolved to just hold to one point of view. The time I heard him state that it could be months was in a video…also it was an older video as he looked younger. At the time he was trying to reconcile the facts as stated in your argument, a person is hearing truth they are beginning to responded to the light that they have but have not yet placed their faith in the Gospel message. So his dilemma was, how can an unregenerate, God hater, Heart of stone, respond positively to truth before he has been given new life…his conclusion at that time was a person can be regenerate, not know it even months before he places his faith in the gospel. I am sure some of his fellow – Calvinists took him to task and told him -you can’t say that, this will undermine our credibility if you say there are Regenerate, people who have not placed their faith in the Gospel and therefore NOT Justified. Regenerate, Unjustified, Unsaved people walking around won’t work R.C. you have to get back on the team- I can imagine it was a slap upside the head. He was trying to reconcile what you and I know to be true about unsaved people responding to truth even before they have as they put it “saving faith”.

      4. Indeed GA,

        That is a real show-stopper for Calvinists.

        Some people’s “journey to faith” takes years and years. I mean they study the Bible….go to church…. do research on Scripture and the Gospel for years.

        Of course “dead” people dont do this …. and God-haters dont do this….. and people who think it is “only 100% foolishness” do not do this.

        According to Calvinism they must be regenerated to even seek at all. In any form.

        So…. Calvinists are left with: “regenerated for years before salvation” or “unregenerated people seeking”

        No a lot of wiggle room in there.

      5. GraceAdict
        [Sproul’s] conclusion at that time was a person can be regenerate, not know it

        br.d
        This lines up with Calvin who states essentially that a LARGE MIXTURE of Calvinists are deceived by Calvin’s god into believing they are regenerate and not know it.

        A significant portion of Calvin’s god’s relationship with his creatures is spent deceiving them.

      6. FOH
        Sproul site since the articles that discuss it are all paid-for articles ($2, $5, etc).

        br.d
        All over priced – since each is only worth 2¢ :-]

Leave a Reply