The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...make humans human and including our limitations. These things were perfected present in the Lord Jesus Who is God and man.

The Lord Jesus in His nature was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). His human life had a beginning in time 2000 years ago. But His divine nature is without beginning. Furthermore, His conception was not a human work, but a divine miracle by the Holy Spirit. He was not born by “ordinary generation” (Chapter 6:3). In this way, the promise of the Protoevangelium was fulfilled in the birth of the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). He was from Judah (Gen. 49:10), of the seed of Abraham (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; Gal. 3:16) and David (2Sam. 7:12-16; Rom. 1:3), as the Scriptures promised and taught. His divine nature, as well as His human nature, is perfect. They are distinct and inseparably joined together in one person. Jesus does not have a divine person and a human person. Rather, He is one person with two distinct natures. Then the Confession goes on to explain what this joining of the two distinct natures is not. It is not the conversion of one nature to something else. It is not the composition (adding, combining) of two natures into one. Nor is it the confusion (fusing, mixing) of the natures. The Lord Jesus is one person Who is very God and very man. He is truly God and truly man. Nonetheless, there is but one Christ. There is not a human Christ and a divine Christ. There is only one Christ Who is both divine and human. Therefore, He is the only mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5), being able to represent both parties.


The Son of God, Eternal God

The Son of God is God from all eternity, in and of Himself. His deity is not derived or dependent upon the Father or the Spirit. Each Person of the blessed Trinity is deity in and of Himself. The Son has been God forever, see for example John 1:1, 14; 17:5; Isaiah 9:6. See also our discussion of the Trinity in chapter 2 of the Confession.

The Brightness of the Father's glory

The Lord Jesus is the physical representation of God. Truly, to see Him was the same as to see God the Father (John 14:9-10). He is described as the One Who has “exegeted” the Father to us (John 1:18). Hebrews 1:3 describes Him as the “radiance of the glory of God”. In the Lord Jesus, God is most clearly revealed. He shows us what and Who God is. As the High Priest and Prophet of the people of God, He teaches us about God and brings us to God as He is revealed in Himself.

Upholds and Governs all things

It is God alone Who governs and controls all that takes place in time. But the Bible declares that the Lord Jesus has this right and does this, therefore proving in another way His deity. To uphold and govern all things means to carry history to its appointed end. It means that He is the Sovereign controller of all things. All things He carries by His will to fulfill His purpose.

Heb. 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 

This verse declares the great majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus, Who is God Incarnate. The fact that He is equal with God the Father is seen in that He is “exact imprint of his nature”. He has the same nature as the Father. As the Father is sovereign, free, independent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, fully God, gracious, mercif...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

...e to that later.

Vision 2: Revelation 4-7

In this cycle we have a vision of God’s glory and of His heavenly reign, sovereignty over all things and the ceaseless praise which He receives. In chapter 4, we receive a vision of the awesome glory of God and the ceaseless worship which He rightly receives. In chapter 5, we receive a vision of Christ after His ascension. Because of His sacrifice, He has received authority from God as the Mediator to execute His sovereign purpose. He is the only One who is able to take the plan of God in His hand and execute it. He is the only One who is worthy and He is the only One who is fit for the task, because He is the God-Man. In Chapter 6, after the Lamb receiving the scroll from the hand of the Father in Revelation 5:7, the Lamb starts to break the seven seals with which the scroll was sealed (Rev. 5:1), and the things described in Revelation 6:1-8:5 come to pass, which includes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As we move on with the breaking of the seals, we see the signs being intensified in their effects, this is especially true when the sixth seal is broken. When the sixth seal is broken we have the contents of Revelation 6:12-7:17 coming to pass which describe the doom of the wicked and the eternal happiness of the righteous. In this we see a Progressive Parallelism. The visions are moving toward the end of the world. I believe that Revelation 6 clearly teaches the Final Judgment of Christ upon the wicked on the Day of the Lord:

Rev. 6:12-17 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Wouldn’t one without any presuppositions conclude that this is basically a description of the final judgment and destruction of the wicked? When the sixth seal is broken, the end of the world comes. Even the inanimate objects in the cosmos will react to the breaking of the sixth seal. Things will get weird not only on the earth, but also in the heavens. Verse 14 points us to the direction that we must take this as a description of the Final Judgment. Why? Because that is how the Final Judgment is described Revelation 16:20, but more clearly and definitely in Revelation 20:11 and 2 Peter 3:10. This is the time, just before the coming of the New World, at which the present cosmos goes and the New comes (Rev. 21:1). Notice also the extent of those being subjects of the Lamb’s wrath, they are said to be:

  • the kings of the earth;
  • the great ones;
  • the generals;
  • the rich;
  • the powerful;
  • everyone, slave and free.

Does it seem that John is clearly describing a universal judgment upon the wicked or am I being biased? Obviously, the unbiased reading will agree with me that this is a judgment upon all the wicked, all over the earth. They are terrified at the...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

...color: #ff9900;"bettering of man's state. Here we have the following: 1) sovereign, divine imposition; 2) representation by Adam (i.e., federal or covenantal headship), a sinless image-bearing son of God; 3) a conditional element (i.e., obedience); 4) a penalty for disobedience (i.e., death); and 5) a promise of reward (i.e., eschatological potentional or "betterment").[12]

When Adam, as a Federal Head (see Chapter 6), was placed in the Garden, he was commanded to obey upon the threat of punishment. Life and blessing were not simply given to him; he had to earn the enjoyment of that which he had and the higher blessing which awaited him by his obedience in his time of probation (which the Bible does not say how long it would have lasted). Simply said, Adam had to obey for the blessing; disobey for the curse.

As the Federal Head for the whole human race, his disobedience brought condemnation upon all men (Rom. 5:12-21). Had he obeyed and earned eternal life, his righteousness would have been credited to all his posterity, much like Christ's (see Romans 5:12-21). The Covenant of Works does not imply that God treated Adam strictly according his works. Our Confession declares that God condescended Himself, even before the Fall, to make a covenant with Adam. Every covenant of God is a condescension and seasoned with grace. God was far more gracious to Adam even in Adam's innocence than he deserved. Indeed, God has no obligation to bless man, but He condescends to do that for His glory and the joy of man. It was of grace that God walked with Adam in the Garden, that God revealed Himself to Adam and communed with him. Thus, a covenant of works or the Covenant of Works does not teach that every part of Adam's blessed life had to be earned. No, it has a specific point. Adam was given a command to obey for life. If he disobeyed he would've brought death—which he did. He had to obey to earn life for himself and for all his descendants after him, whom he represented as the Federal Head.

Furthermore, notice what the Confession says:

although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

The Confession speaks of the reward of life, which in this case was what was promised to Adam had he obeyed. But notice that this reward of life is not due to man's obedience deserving that. But it is God's arragement to bless and reward that obedience because of His promise and condescension. This condescension of God, which He expresses by way of covenant, is most voluntary and free. There is no obligation placed upon God to be gracious or to commune with man. It is His mere good pleasure and will to do so. Notice also the last part of Nehemiah Coxe's statement above, "Suitably, the reward is of debt according the terms of such a covenant. (Do not understand it of debt absolutely but of debt by compact.)". It was "of debt" exactly because of God's covenant with Adam ("by compact").  

Concerning the blessings and obedience of and within the Covenant of Works, John Owen writes the following:

The covenant of works had its promises, but they were all remunerative [profitable, rewarding], respecting an antecedent obedience in us; (so were all those which were peculiar to the covenant of Sinai). They were, indeed, also of grace, in that the reward did infinitely exceed the ...


John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...;s saving work (chapter 4).

The next five arguments form a group on their own. They have a common form and are all taken from the biblical terms in which Christ’s work is described.

  1. (i). From the fact that Christ’s death wrought redemption (deliverance by payment) (chapter 5).
  2. (ii). From the fact that Christ’s death effected reconciliation between God and men (Chapter 6).
  3. (iii). From the fact that Christ’s death made satisfaction for sins (chapter 7, 8, 9).
  4. (iv). From the fact that Christ’s death merited salvation for men (chapter 10).
  5. (v). From the fact that Christ died for men (chapter 10).
  6. From particular texts: Gen. 3:15: Matt. 7:33; 11:25; John 10:11ff.; Rom. 8:32-34; Eph. 1:7; 2 Cor. 5:21; John 17:9; Eph. 5:25 (chapter 11).

These are great chapters, especially chapters XI-XV, which deal with important essential benefits of Christ's death in some detail as they retain to the subject of atonement. I'd like to take a quick look at a few of his arguments.

The New Covenant (Arg. I)

The Covenant of Grace, i.e., the New Covenant according to 1689 Federalism, is made only with the elect (see chapter 7 for more on Covenant Theology). If that is truly the case, then we have a problem with universal atonement. For more see chapter 7 on Jeremiah 31:31-34; chapter 17 here and here.

Owen's basic argument is as follows:

The first argument may be taken from the nature of the covenant of grace, which was established, ratified, and confirmed in and by the death of Christ; that was the testament whereof he was the testator, which was ratified in his death, and whence his blood is called “The blood of the new testament,” Matt. 26:28. Neither can any effects thereof be extended beyond the compass of this covenant. But now this covenant was not made universally with all, but particularly only with some, and therefore those alone were intended in the benefits of the death of Christ.[16] (Book III, chapter 1)

The Two Classes of Men (Arg. IV)

Owen's argument here is that since the Bible separates people into two categories, namely, believers and unbelievers, and various other designations of the groups, therefore, when Christ is said to die for one, it is implicit that He did not die for the other. In his own words:

If all mankind be, in and by the eternal purpose of God, distinguished into two sorts and conditions, severally and distinctly described and set forth in the Scripture, and Christ be peculiarly affirmed to die for one of these sorts, and nowhere for them of the other, then did he not die for all; for of the one sort he dies for all and every one, and of the other for no one at all.[17] (Book III, chapter 2)

The elect are designated also as:

those whom he “loves”…Rom. 9:13; whom he “knoweth,”...John 10:14, “I know my sheep;” 2 Tim. 2:19, “The Lord knoweth them that are his;” Rom. 8:29, “Whom he did foreknow;” chap. 11:2, “His people which he foreknew;” “I know you not,” Matt. 25:12: so John 13:18, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen.” Those that are appointed to life and glory, and those that are appointed to and fitted for destruction, — “elect” and “reprobate;” those that were “ordained to eternal life,” and those who “before were of old ordained to condemnation:” as Eph. 1:4, “He hath chosen us in him;” Acts 13:48, “Ordained to eternal life;” Rom. 8:30, “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he jus...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

...

The T Is First

In formulating the Doctrines of Grace or the Five Points of Calvinism, the Calvinists actually formulated these in answer to the five points of Arminianism. The five points stand and fall together. They are interconnected and dependent upon each other. Although some may object to the terms used, all the doctrines of the five points are indeed biblical, we believe. The five points are known with the acrostic TULIP:

  1. Total Depravity (see Chapter 6)
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement (see our case in chapter 8)
  4. Irresistible Grace (see chapter 10)
  5. Perseverance of the Saints (see chapter 17)

There is a logical direction toward which these doctrines move. First, people are depraved, cut off from the life of God and are unable to come to Him. That’s the way that God sees them and He has chosen them as fallen sons in Adam. That is unconditional election. Then comes the Son who pays their debt. The Spirit applies the work of the Son and they are kept forever for and by God. Total Depravity is defined as:

Because of the Fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free; it is in bondage to his evil nature. Therefore, he will not –indeed, he cannot—choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ. Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not salvation, but itself a part of God’s gift of salvation. It is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.[22]

The five points go from one who is utterly, radically depraved, to one who is made holy and blameless because of Christ’s atoning death and kept safe forever in the arms of God. So, in thinking about election we must presuppose the depravity and fall of man. When God chose, He chose those who would by Adam’s Fall, fall into sin, misery, and depravity. We are told that He chose them to be “holy and blameless” (Eph. 1:4), presupposing that we were not holy and blameless. When thinking and speaking of Unconditional Election, we do not have in mind the election of people who were good, but the election of people who were fallen in Adam and on their way to Hell, if God did not intervene. If there was no election, no one would be saved, because man cannot and desires not to come to God, without the special and gracious work of God in his heart. This point is taken into consideration in the 6th chapter of the Confession.

Unconditional Election From Scripture

After laying the basis for man’s utter depravity—the fact that He cannot and will not come to God (Rom. 3:11; 8:7-8), the Five Points of Calvinism move to Unconditional Election, which as I have pointed out above by quoting some theologians, it is God’s free decision to choose out of the fallen race of Adam, before creating the world, some who would not receive their just punishment, but instead will be saved from God’s righteous wrath on the basis of Christ’s work. While a case for absolute divine election can be made if one goes to church history, but that is not much of interest to me. The Scripture teaches it, church history confirms it. The Scripture is the only standard for the truth and we should go into this inquiry about election to the God-breathed Scripture as the highest and infallible authority (see chapter 1). There should be humility to ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

.../span hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

1. First of all, we again encounter the idea of the Father giving a specific people to the Son in verse 29 as we did in Chapter 6 above. The believers here are designated as the sheep of Jesus the Shepherd. They are His, why? Because the Father has given them to Him. They hear His voice, why? Because He is their Shepherd and they follow no other. They follow Him, why? Because He is their Good Shepherd and the sheep recognize the voice of their Shepherd and they follow Him. The elect are Jesus the Shepherd's possessions and He is the One who seeks out the sheep when they've gone astray. He has this charge, as we saw from John 6.

2. The sheep are given eternal life by the Son. They are given eternal life in the present time, not after death or after Judgment Day. Eternal life begins on this side of eternity. It is the sheep who are specifically given eternal life, which does not primarily describe the length, but rather the quality of life. Eternal life is described in terms of knowing and having a relationship with God, and does not merely refer to unending life after the grave, although it does also refer to that, but we also know that the Bible speaks of eternal life as a present possession of believers on this side of eternity (e.g. John 3:16; 5:13). But more on this point below in the next section.

3. The sheep are given eternal life and then another thing follows, namely the fact that they will never perish. The same group is still under discussion. The same sheep who were given by the Father, are given eternal life and we are assured that "they will never perish." The expression οὐ μὴ ἀπόλωνται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (ou me apolontai eis ton aiona) may be translated with "shall certainly not perish for ever". The HSCB translates it with "they will never perish — ever!" The idea here is clear that apostasy, or perishing for the sheep is an impossibility. It is not an exaggeration to claim this. It is simply what our Lord says here. We see first that they're given eternal life by the Son, which according to John 3:16 means therefore that they will not perish. But also that they're Christ's sheep who were bought by His blood. He died to save them. He is the Good Shepherd who will lead them and be their Guide and the One Whom they will follow, because they know Him (John 10:7-9, 14-15).

4. Our Shepherd says that it is not possible for the sheep to be snatched from the Son's hand. They are in His hand, they are under His care and protection. He is the One responsible for them. It is His task to protect and guide the sheep. The Lord Jesus, being the Lord who is our Shepherd, is faithful to guide His sheep into His ways. Who can stop the Son of God from accomplishing His purpose or who can thwart His purpose? The elect are in the Son's hands and it is impossible for them to be snatched, taken away and seized from His hand. To be snatched from His hand is to perish. The idea is the same, but the Lord Jesus adds this to further strengthen His claim to deity and almighty power to preserve the elect. To suggest that no one can snatch the believers, but they can forfeit their salvation, or go out from His hand is beyond absurd, for when the Lord says "no one...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...written in his heart, but God gave him one positive precepts, namely, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” and threatened death and misery upon the breach of that particular commandment saying "for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16). He did eat of it, he died spiritually at that moment and death came through his sin into the world. We all died in Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). For more on Federal Headship and Adam's disobedience see Chapter 6.

That law, which as the Confession says was written upon Adam’s heart, did not vanish away with his disobedience, but remained. The radical difference now is that Adam had lost the freedom to will the good (see chapter 9) and therefore, obedience to the Law without grace became impossible. While before the Fall, the creation being “very good” (Gen. 1:31), he did not have to put effort into obedience as that was the “very good” state in which he was. Obedience came naturally to him as a very good creature. While after the Fall, obedience does not come naturally, but rather disobedience comes naturally. The moral law within man is part of what it means to be a rational creature and a human being in the image of God. What separates us from the brute beast is that we act according to choice and not by instinct. We can think through our choices and their consequences. We can know the difference between good and evil. Such a knowledge animals don’t have and I believe it is in this sense that man is in the Imago Dei. We reflect (or better said, we were supposed to perfectly reflect) the person of God, His rationality, His goodness, His love and represent Him in the world.

It is part of the Moral Argument for God to claim that for objective moral standards there must be a Lawgiver. Man, by virtue of him being a creature of God has in him an innate knowledge of good and evil. We know what is good and what is not good even if we had never heard of the Ten Commandments. But, before some protest, knowing the law of God, or knowing what is good and what is evil, does not mean that we are willing to follow that lead. Our depraved nature is averse to the law of God and we often go against our conscience (e.g. Rom. 8:7-8). I believe that the conscience and the moral sense that all people have is proof for the assertion that this law, which was written in Adam’s heart, was not destroyed but is written in every person’s heart which enables them know good and evil.

Romans 2:12-16

All people know that God exists and by virtue of them being creatures of Him, they have the moral law upon their hearts. They know good from evil, whether they do that which is pleasing in God’s sight is another story. They have knowledge of God’s Law. The text chiefly cited for this is Romans 2. I would like to make a few comments upon this passage.

Romans 2:12-16 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...
  1. As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a more special manner it taketh care of his church, and disposeth of all things to the good thereof. 1
    1. Prov 2:7-8; Isa 43:3-5, 14; Amos 9:8-9; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11, 22; 3:10-11, 21; 1 Tim 4:10

Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof [Return] [Commentary]

  1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour1 Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, 2 which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory. 3
    1. Ecc 7:29; Rom 5:12a, 14-15; Gen 2:17; 4:25-5:3
    2. Gen 3:1-7; 2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 2:14
    3. Rom 11:32-34; 2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chron 21:1; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Sam 16:10; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28
  1. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon allall becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. 2
    1. Gen 3:22-24; Rom 5:12ff; 1 Cor 15:22-22; Ps 51:4-5; 58:3; Eph 2:1-3; Gen 8:21; Prov 22:15
    2. Gen 2:17; Eph 2:1; Titus 1:15; Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10-18; 1:21; Eph 4:17-19; John 5:40; Rom 8:7
  1. They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free. 1
    1. Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Ps 51:5; 58:3; Job 14:4; 15:14; Gen 8:21; Prov 22:15; Ephesians 2:1-3; Romans 6:20; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10
  1. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, 1 do proceed all actual transgressions. 2
    1. Matt 7:17-18; 12:33-35; Luke 6:43-45; John 3:3, 5; 6:37, 39-40, 44-45, 65; Rom 3:10-12; 5:6; 7:18; 8:7-8; 1 Cor 2:14
    2. Matt 7:17-20; 12:33-35; 15:18-20; James 1:14-15
  1. The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin. ( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )
    1. 1 John 1:8-10; 1 Kings 8:46; Ps 130:3; 143:2; Prov 20:9; Ecc 7:20; Rom 7:14-25; James 3:2
    2. Ps 51:4-5; Prov 22:15; Eph 2:3; Rom 7:5, 7-8, 17-18, 25; 8:3-13; Gal 5:17-24; Gen 8:21; Prov 15:26; 21:4; Matt 5:27-28

Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant [Return] [Commentary]

  1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience to him as their creator, yet they could never have attained the reward of life but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant. 1
    1. Job 35:7-8; Ps...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...ists have always insisted that faith is a gift from God given to us and does not have its origin in us or our wills. We don’t believe that God believes for us, but we believe that it is God who works faith in our heart and changes our nature so that we are made able to exercise faith in Christ. God gives us faith and we believe. Faith does not originate with us. It is a divine work which lasts until we see Him in heaven. Unless this work of grace takes place, Scripture teaches us that we are both unable and unwilling to come to Christ (see Chapter 6). Let’s take a look at a few passages which Calvinists have used to support the idea that faith is a gift and to see whether this is indeed biblical.

It would be pointless to point to verses which declare that people repented or believed. We do not dispute that. We simply believe that God is the One who works in us faith and gives us the true and lasting faith, which we exercise every day. Unless God works faith in man, man will never believe. That is our position. Ephesians 2:8-9 states–

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We are saved by God’s grace, which comes to us through the channel of faith. This is how we are justified, by grace through faith. Both are present. But the question here is to what does “this” refer to? The ESV Study Bible says:

this. The Greek pronoun is neuter, while “grace” and “faith” are feminine. Accordingly, “this” points to the whole process of “salvation by grace through faith” as being the gift of God and not something that we can accomplish ourselves. This use of the neuter pronoun to take in the whole of a complex idea is quite common in Greek (e.g., 6:1); its use here makes it clear that faith, no less than grace, is a gift of God. Salvation, therefore, in every respect, is not your own doing.[8]

The “this” refers to the whole “by grace through faith”; it refers to the whole of our salvation. Neither our faith nor our repentance (2Tim. 2:26) did originate with us but were given to us by grace (demerited favor). Our entire salvation, including faith and repentance (Acts 20:21), was given to us as a gift with the purpose that we would have no ground to boast. In fact, Ephesians 2:10 even says that God beforehand prepared works for us to walk in them. This also is a gift so that we may glorify Him through them. So, even in our good works, we cannot actually boast. The next passage is Philippians 1:29

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

The word granted is the Greek lexical form of χαρίζομαι (charizomai, G5483), which is basically defined as “to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue”.[9] God has not only graciously granted us to suffer for Christ’s sake, which is not a reproach, but an honor and an occasion of joy (Acts 5:41; 16:23-25; Matt. 5:10-12; Luke 6:22; Rom. 5:3; 2Cor. 12:10; Heb. 10:34; Jam. 1:2; 1Pet. 4:13-16). He has also granted us to believe in Him! Just like God has granted and ordained that His children suffer according to His will (1Pet. 4:19), so likewise He has graciously granted us to believe in the Lord Christ. Our faith did not originate with us, but it was given to us by God for the sake of Christ. Christ has completely propitiated and pleased the Father on our behalf...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling - Commentary

...is not good people whom the Lord calls by His Word and Spirit. Neither it is those who are neutral and would love to be with God, rather it is those who are in the state of sin. It is those who are totally depraved. It is those who are dead and soaked in sin. All they know is sin (Rom. 14:23). It is those people who by their sinful nature and thanks to the fall of Adam, are dead in sins and trespasses. This is who we were before the Spirit called us to that which we do not deserve which God had beforehand ordained that we would attain.

See for more Chapter 6 on the Total Depravity of man (see also this) and chapter 9 on the will of man in the State of Sin.

Enlightening our Minds

God changes our nature and cleanses us (Ezek. 36:25-27) and thereby He also cleanses and enlightens our minds and enables to understand the things of God. The commission which Paul received was:

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 

We lived in sin and darkness (Eph. 2:1-3; Matt. 4:16), but the light of the Lord has enlightened us. He has turned us from the darkness and sin that we previously loved to the light of the glorious Gospel. We were blinded by sin and Satan, but God has shone His light in us–

2Cor. 4:4-6 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

We were held in darkness by the god of this world, but God in His mercy has reached down to us and shone the light of Christ in us. This work is described as nothing other than a re-creation. Just like God, at the beginning said “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), so likewise there had to be a work of spiritual creation in our hearts. He made the light of Christ to shine so that we would see the glory of God, Who is actually a person, even our Lord Jesus Christ. He shone the light of the Gospel so that we would acknowledge Him as the Lord of everything and the Savior of our souls. So that we would see His beauty and treasure Him above all things as the satisfaction of our souls.

Eph. 1:17-18 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 

Paul prays that the believers may more and more know God intimately and understand His work. He prays that God would especially reveal to us Himself and the riches of the salvation that He has given us. He prays that we would be freed from our sin and made children of the living God. He wants not their physical eyes, but their spiritual eyes–the eyes of their hearts, to be enlightened so that they may at the present behold the glory of God and in the future in our flesh see God (Job 19:26-27). God reveals Himself to His children through His Spirit and infallible Word.

The natural person does not understand the thi...