The Staunch Calvinist

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


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...y as indispensable to the progress of the kingdom.”[22] He connects this with the cessation of miracles. But if we consider 1 Corinthians 13:2 and Matthew 17:20, this kind of faith seems to be a true faith, but not one common to all believers. This is also that “faith by the same Spirit” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12:9. In 1 Corinthians 12:11, Paul makes it clear that the Spirit “apportions to each one individually as he wills” and the purpose for the gifts of the Holy Spirit are “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). This means that this is not the Gift Of Faith, but another gift, namely that of miraculous faith. There are some who have this gift, but not all have this gift.

The Grace of Faith

While we have laid out four kinds of faith which theologians and the Bible speaks of, the Confession in this chapter focuses on saving faith. This is the kind of “whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls”. It is not merely a belief in facts, but personal belief in the Savior of sinners and in what He has done for us. It is a faith that is brought forth by the Spirit and the Word. Many are called to believe and trust upon Christ through the outward ministry of the Word. But true faith does not find its origin only in the outward ministry of the Word. True faith finds its origin in the inseparable duo: Word and Spirit. For unless the Holy Spirit effectually and internally calls us, we will not have true saving faith. This means that this kind of faith is truly a “grace.”

We have already argued that faith is a gift in chapter 11 on justification. It is something that God gave us to exercise. We Calvinists do not believe that God believes for us, but that our faith finds its origin in God and comes to us through regeneration (1 John 5:1, see our discussion on this passage). By this faith, which is granted to us (Phil. 1:19) by the grace of God, we believe and are justified. The Word tells us that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We believe, are justified and received into the arms of God (Rom. 1:16-17; 5:1; 10:9). Again and again, we are told that we are justified by faith (e.g. Rom. 3:28-30; 4:5-10; 9:30; 10:4; 11:6; Gal. 2:15-16; Phil. 3:9). When we come to faith, we understand that even our faith was granted to us by grace (Eph. 2:8-9; Acts. 3:16; 18:27; 2 Pet. 1:1). So that we can truly say: Soli Deo Gloria! There is no contribution on our part for our salvation except the sin that made it necessary, as Jonathan Edwards said.

This faith is worked in us through the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit Who regenerates us and gives us new life (John 3:5-8). This regeneration results in us coming to faith and believing in Christ. The Reformed doctrine is that regeneration precedes faith (see our discussion here). The Spirit uses the Word of God preached to us in the gospel. The gospel proclamation goes out and the Spirit uses the gospel proclamation to draw the elect to the Son (John 6:44, 63). 2 Thessalonians 2:14 says that God called us through the gospel. The Lord did not merely elect a people and leave them. No, He goes out and through the gospel-preaching draws them to the Son in faith and repentance. The previous verse even says that God chose us to be saved “through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). The Word and the Spirit always go together for a salvific work of God. Our Lord also acknowledges this when He says, “​It is the Spirit...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary”; it refers to the whole of our salvation. Neither our faith nor our repentance (2 Tim. 2:26) 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. Charles J. Ellicott observes that “This attribution of all to the gift of God seems to cover the whole idea—both the gift of salvation and the Gift Of Faith to accept it.”[7] The Expositor’s Greek Testament observes:

τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι: for by grace have ye been saved. More exactly “by the grace,” i.e., by this grace, the grace already mentioned. Grace is the explanation of their own salvation, and how surpassingly rich the grace must be that could effect that!—διὰ τῆς πίστεως: through faith. That is, by faith as the instrument or means. Paul never says διὰ τὴν πίστιν, as if the faith were the ground or procuring cause of the salvation. It is the χάριτι, not the explanatory πίστεως that has the first place in Paul’s thoughts here.—καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἡμῶν: and that not of yourselves. That is, not as proceeding from yourselves or of your own performance...But to what does the τοῦτο refer? To the πίστεως say some (Chrys., Theod., Jer., Bez., Beng., Bisp., Moule, etc.). The neut. τοῦτο would not be irreconcilable with that. The formula καὶ τοῦτο indeed might rather favour it, as it often adds to the idea to which it is attached. It may also be granted that a peculiarly suitable idea results—the opportune reminder that even their faith, in which at least they might think there was something of their own, has its origin in God’s grace, not in their own effort. But on the other hand the salvation is the main idea in the preceding statement, and it seems best to understand the καὶ τοῦτο as referring to that salvation in its entire compass, and not merely to the one element in it, its instrumental cause, appended by way of explanation...[25]

While a bit technical, the point is clear that the “gift relates not merely to faith immediately preceding, but to the whole sentence”[16], which means that our salvation from the first to the last is of God’s grace and gift, including faith.

Now we move to the next passage, 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”.[26] 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; 2 Cor. 12:10; Heb. 10:34; Jam. 1:2; 1 Pet. 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 (1 Pet. 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 so that all the graces which the Father of mercy sends down upon u...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary not the intended meaning, so they prefer to use other phrases as Particular Atonement/Redemption. That is fine, but as with every big theological term, we cannot simply assume the meaning. We must learn and try to understand what is being conveyed through the use of the term.

Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith, which unites them to Him. The Gift Of Faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.[28] 

By saying that the atonement is limited, we are not saying that it is limited in its power, rather it is limited in scope. The Father’s will and desire is for Christ to be a perfect Savior for those whom the Father has given to Jesus (John 6:37-40). It was not the Father’s will or intention for Christ to be the substitute for all sinners, but only those whom the Father has given Him. This is what we mean by Limited Atonement or Definite Atonement.

Both Calvinists and Arminians limit the atonement but in different aspects. The Calvinist limits the atonement in its scope, the Arminian limits it in its power. Charles Spurgeon rightly observed:

We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it, we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question-Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They say, “No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say, “No; Christ has died so that any man may be saved if”-and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say then, we will just go back to the old statement-Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why you... We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.[29] 

Basically, the Arminian believes in a potential atonement and salvation for all men without exception who would repent and believe. On the other hand, the Calvinist believes in a definite and certain atonement made on behalf of everyone whom God has chosen and through which faith and repentance are purchased for the same group. Our discussion is based on the fact that the atonement was substitutionary as we argued above. If we do not agree that the atonement was meant to propitiate the wrath of God there is no use of speaking about Limited Atonement. All cases for Particular Redemption are based upon the fact that the atonement satisfies the wrath of God again...

John Owen's Case For Particular Atonement

...rews in connection to the atonement below. The reader is referred to the chapter[6] for the rest of the passages which he surveys (e.g. Heb. 7:24-25; 9:11-13; 10:19-22).

The Fruits of Christ’s Intercession

The fruits of Christ’s intercession is the application of the work of redemption to those for whom it was intended. It is the granting of the Gift Of Faith, it is the calling, justification, adoption, sanctification and all the countless graces of God poured out upon us.

In Romans 8:32, Paul argues from the death of Christ that God will certainly “with him [Christ] graciously give us all things”. Since God went to such ways to demonstrate His glory and redeem us, what doubt can we have that He will not give us all good things which He intended for His glory and our good? This is in the immediate context of Christ’s intercession. Christ intercedes before the Father on behalf of those for whom He offered Himself, that the benefits of His work may be applied to them. That through the intercession of Christ, God does indeed graciously give us all things that we need.

In John 17, the great High Priestly Prayer, the Lord Christ intercedes before the Father on behalf of those who were given to Him, in direct opposition to “the world” (John 17:9), i.e., those who were not given to Him. Right before offering His great sacrifice, the Lord Jesus, our great High Priest, finds it necessary to explicitly say that His intercession is certainly not for the world, but only those given to Him. In the same chapter, Christ’s prays...

  • that His own may be kept in the Father’s name and from the evil one (John 17:11, 15);
  • for the sanctification of His church in the truth of God’s Word (John 17:17, 19);
  • for the union of Christ’s universal church in the Trinity (John 17:20-23);
  • for them seeing His glory and the love which the Father has for the Son (John 17:24);
  • that the love which the Father has for the Son may be in them (John 17:26).

Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Christ “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” The basis for the fact that He is able to save them to the uttermost, or “save completely” (NET), “save forever” (NASB), “save to the very end” (YLT), is grounded upon His intercession. Those who draw near to God, draw near to God through Him (cf. John 14:6). But we know that it is God Himself who draws us to Himself through Christ (John 6:44). In this way, everyone who draws near to Christ, Christ is able and willing to save to the uttermost—to the very end and thus accomplish the will of the Father.

Christ does much more than we ask. Just as He prayed for Peter (Luke 22:31-32), so likewise He prays for the faith of His elect. In short, Christ prays that the fruits of His death may be applied to all His people.

The Infallibility of Christ’s Intercession

The foundation on which Christ’s intercession is built is upon the fact that He always does the will of God. His mission from the Father was to accomplish the work which He had given Him (John 17:4) and that the Lord Christ certainly did. He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father (John 6:38). What is the Father’s will for Him? “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). Basically, that He should save them and keep them to all eternity. Well, the question now ...

Limited Atonement, Definite Redemption - Scripture List & Case

...e intention of Christ in His cross-work was to save His people specifically. Therefore, Christ’s sacrifice is perfect and complete, for it actually accomplishes perfect redemption.[1]

Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith, which unites them to Him. The Gift Of Faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.[2]

For a defense of this doctrine see here.

The Atonement of the Lord Jesus was Penal Substitutionary/Vicarious

Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.[3]

Isa 53:6 ​All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isa 53:12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Rom 3:21-25 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

 2Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Gal 3:13-14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Heb 9:25-28 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Heb 13:11-12 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.

1Pet 2:24 He himself bore our sins in hi...