THE ORIGIN OF FAITH
GEORGE L. FAULL
The Calvinistic preacher had preached a sermon on the text of:
Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God."
He stressed the total depravity of man and his inability to believe the Gospel because of his sinful nature. He stressed that man must be given faith by God in order to be saved. Afterwards, a listener came to him to inquire earnestly for salvation.
Seeker: Sir, I am zealous to receive salvation. How do I do so?
Preacher: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
Seeker: Oh, yes. I know and I acknowledge that I am a sinner, but I fear you closed the door to my salvation. I do not yet have what you call "saving faith."
Preacher: You should pray for it and perhaps God will grant it.
Seeker: But how can I call on Him in whom I have not believed? I have heard you preach before that faith is necessary for prayers to be heard. What then can I do?
Preacher: Wait upon the Lord, my friend, for saving faith.
Seeker: But today is the day of salvation. I may die in my sins and be lost. Is there nothing to which I can cling for hope?
Preacher: You are yet depraved, and saving faith has not yet come to you. When God in His mercy gives you faith, you will believe and be saved. The natural man cannot believe, because of his sin.
Seeker: But sir, the devils, depraved as they are, believe and tremble. Surely there is something we are overlooking.
Preacher: (Now frustrated.) Sir, you are dead in your sins. You cannot believe without the Holy Spirit operating in your heart. Being dead, you cannot act. You must first be made alive so you can believe.
Seeker: But sir, Jesus said, "He that believeth hath eternal life." He also said, "He that believeth not shall not see life." How can I get life to believe, when believing is necessary to have life? It appears to me that life is the result of faith, not faith the result of life. I am more confused than ever.
Preacher: Let me put it this way. You cannot believe because you are blind.
Seeker: But I don't understand. If I cannot see because I am spiritually blind, how can I hope to see?
Preacher: God will have to remove your sightless-ness so that you can believe and be saved.
Seeker: You mean that I must tarry for faith and wait for Him to give it to me so that I may see, and then believe?
Preacher: Exactly, sir. Faith is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
Seeker: Then why do you so earnestly plead with us sinners to repent? Why does God say, "Why will you die?" I don't want to die in my sins. I want to be saved. I'm terrified. Is there nothing I can do to get God to give me saving faith?
Preacher: You must wait until it pleases God to give you faith and repentance, sir.
Seeker: Sir, do you and your congregation wish me to come to a saving faith?
Preacher: Most definitely, my friend, we are praying for this.
Seeker: "I still think something must be wrong with all this. I want to believe and be saved. You and your congregation are praying for my salvation, yet God is withholding it. Doesn't the Bible say something about God not being willing that any should perish, but that all might come to repentance?
Preacher: Hu-ru-m-ph! Well, it does say something like that. But man is depraved and has lost his ability to believe. Thus God must give him faith so that he can believe and be saved.
Seeker: Woe is me! God commands me under threat of eternal damnation to believe and be saved. But now I find that I must tarry for Him to give me the faith that saves. You tell me to pray for it, yet I must have faith to pray. The offer of salvation is offered to believers today, but I must wait on it for another day. I am too depraved to believe, and yet the devils believe and tremble. I must be made alive so I can believe, yet I must believe to be made alive. I cannot see because I am blind, and yet I must get over my blindness before I can believe. You and your church want me to believe and to be saved, but God has not yet given me faith so I can believe. Yet you say that God is a God of grace, who wants people everywhere to believe. It is so confusing to me. I cannot believe all this. I am forever lost and I cannot see any hope of my salvation. It appears to me that God is at fault if I do not believe. Good-by, sir.
Preacher: Good day, sir. I will pray that God will give you the gift of faith as He has me. For surely God is not a respecter of persons.
Seeker: Indeed? Why then does He give to you what He has not given to me? And why is my salvation dependent upon faith which only He can give? Why does He hold me responsible for my unbelief, though I am willing to believe?
Preacher: You charge God with foolishness, sir!
Seeker: If I may say so, I suspect that we both have much to learn about God's dealings with men. It seems to me that if all you say is true, then God is the author of confusion.
Preacher: (Indignantly) He certainly is not the author of confusion. God cannot lie!
Seeker: I did not mean to slander God. I only know that I desire to be saved. I want a saving faith. The more I read the Scriptures the more I believe in the goodness and mercy of God, His holiness, justice and long-suffering. Yet, I read in His Word that He has appointed a day of judgment. I believe in Jesus, His Son, but I have not yet experienced any "inner light," except that I'm a sinner, and I need a Savior. I had hoped that you could tell me how to find peace.
Preacher: Well, we will pray that faith will come by our prayers. Good-by.
The above dialogue is typical of Calvinistic preaching. Calvinism has God as the one responsible for whether or not a man will believe. The abuse of the text in Ephesians 2:8-9 needs to be corrected. The King James Version states:
Ephesians 2:8-9, "8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."
It is assumed by many that the text says a man's faith is the gift of God. It does no such thing.
"But," it may be objected, "it says we are saved by faith, and that not of yourselves."
We reply, "It does not. The word 'that' (touto) in the text does not refer back to 'faith' or 'grace.' 'That' is in the neuter gender, and cannot refer to either 'grace' or 'faith.' These words are both feminine. Obviously, Paul is telling us that salvation is by grace, not by our own works. 'That' refers to the whole concept of salvation."
It is a great error to teach that God gives us faith. The Scriptures are plain. Faith is our responsibility before God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
John 20:31, "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
Again we read:
I John 5:10, "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son."
Mark 1:15, "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel."
Common sense shows that faith is our responsibility. Is it reasonable to think that God would command us to have what only He could give us? Is it reasonable to believe that He would say, "Whoso-ever believeth on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life," if God alone gives faith to an elect few? The doctrine of Calvinism, that God gives faith to some and not to others, is a damnable heresy. Jesus said that if Sodom and Gomorrah had had the advantages of the Jews, they would have repented. He upbraided the cities which saw His power, but would not repent. Calvinism makes God a tyrannical parent who demands from his child that which the child cannot possibly do. This is blasphemy.
God in His mercy gave His Son so that we might be saved. This is God's offer. We need only to accept it. When we do so, we have lost all rights to boasting and pride. Salvation is not of ourselves. It is a gift from God.