Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, April 28, 2006

What is Faith? (part 3)

... more on "Is Faith a Gift?"

I intend to go through each of the verses I received from my brother and two others that were posted in the comments section of the last post. These seem to have tied up for some the fatalism of the Calvinistic mindset. Somehow, they don't do the same for me. I think it is because I have many other passages of Scripture in mind that I think are very plain that would seem to indicate contrary to what some assert these to mean. I went to bed thoroughly disturbed last night and once again, decided that I must look honestly at these challenges to see what is true. If Calvinists are right, it has huge implications for me that I will not spell out here - they are very personal. But I believe the Bible is the Word of God and I want to know what it teaches. It make take a few days for me to cover these, but here is my understanding of the first two passages.

By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:16)

Look at Romans 10:17 - There we learn that faith comes by hearing the "Word of God." Jesus Christ IS "THE WORD OF GOD." (John 1) Is this inconsistent with the idea that anyone who hears the Word of God can believe? No. It compliments that idea. Faith comes through Christ. Christ is the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. It is the faith that comes through Him.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

This verse I think clearly teaches that faith is a gift. Does it teach that initial belief in Christ is a gift as in the anonymous billionaire depositing money into the account of a "recipient"? I don't think so. This is talking about the members of the body of Christ and how we all differ in levels of courage and trust. This is a different aspect of faith than the faith of the salvation passages. This is to those who have already been given the Spirit - those who are believers. To these this is relevant.

God has not given the same amount of faith to move mountains as he has to Paul, has He? Paul has been seen listing faith as one among many gifts that the Spirit has bestowed on believers: 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)

I will get back to the others later. Please feel free to offer any thoughts on what I have posted here.

52 Comments:

  • DON'T DO IT, Ros(i)e ("quit [your] job and become a hermit", that is. I took that in jest, as I presume you meant it. I also presume that John's comment was also facetious.

    I plan to read YOUR thoughts and, probably, comment as to THIS "post" later. Join me in thanking our Lord that He's given us capacity to even consider Truth!

    By Anonymous jim mcdermott, at 4/28/2006 10:35 AM  

  • I agree! Good verses to tie together. Very reasonable.

    It's too bad our English words are often so limited. The faith - belief that Jesus is who He said He was, sent by God to reconcile man to God - that brings us to repentance is not the same depth of faith that Paul mentions in the gift list.
    I have known people with that gift - they were the ones I wanted to pray for me. They just 'knew' God heard their prayer, and believed He was faithful in such a wonderful way.

    The imperfect example that came to my mind is - The 'faith' I have in my husband, is definately deeper than the 'faith' I have in a friend. I had 'faith' that he loved me and so married him - but as I have come to know him better I have 'faith' in his commitment to me that is much deeper considering all we have been through together.
    The arctic people have dozens of words to describe snow - too bad we don't have the same for words like 'faith, love, fear, patience...' as well.

    Thanks for a good post.
    Eunice

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/28/2006 11:01 AM  

  • rosie;
    kudos for addressing the passages. your 1st exegesis was good. It was the sort of insight i was looking for when i entered the blogoshere again. They were comments worth thinking about. They were not an attempt to cram a theology into a text where it doesn't fit.
    I am surprised to hear that election/predestination and the other Calvinist principals were new to you after studying the bible for 18 years or so. "God can save anyone He wants...Not all are saved...God chooses not to save all" was the common theology of much of historical Christianity. This is objective fact.(Pelagius was branded a heretic.)Calvinism is not radical or new. As you know, these issues jumped out at me without any outside influences except yourself. We know from scripture what God reveals to each of us. Our gifts, prayer and obedience lead to deeper understanding of the Word.
    I am content to claim "incomprehension" as to God's ways and means of salvation. I do not call myself a Calvinist and would correct anyone who called me one. The word "elect" is used 24 times in the NT. Phrases like "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life" and other words like "Called" are used many, many more. The point of this and yesterday's comment is that election preceding faith leading to salvation is a biblical "given." On the flip side, so is "unlimited atonement." God desires ALL to be saved is said a dozen different ways in umpteen different places. These 2 concepts seem incompatable to us or at least to me. In Romans 9 and 10 Paul wrestles with these issues and does not come to a conclusion either. some of you guys might be able to explain it to him when you get to heaven.
    I heard a guy on "to every man an answer" show say the other night that "when we start adhering to different -isms, we start to twist every passage to fit into that theology instead of letting the bible say what it says." Im content to claim then that I dont understand God and His plans or His methods for implementing them. Whats more, I dont THINK God intended for us to understand! Paul saw thru the glass darkly, but there appears to be a lot of people who can see alot better than that!
    The hard truth of "elect" and "non elect" should be no more palatable for caring saint than someone going to hell because they grew up on a remote pacific island never visited by missionaries or in a mormon family. The only difference all this should make to either end of this ideological spectrum is the reason why you evangelize and how you would explain your fruit or lack thereof. It all makes me feel that much more fortunate and makes me want to pray for MY family and friends that much more fervently.
    God Bless all you bloggers.

    By Anonymous pat, at 4/28/2006 11:07 AM  

  • In Romans 9 and 10 Paul wrestles with these issues and does not come to a conclusion either. some of you guys might be able to explain it to him when you get to heaven. Wow. Go Pat!

    These are difficult issues, Rose, and, yes, they have implications. It is good to consider these things and to try to discover what it is that the Bible really teaches. I believe what I believe now because there are some things that I cannot explain away, but I don't think that I have arrived at the absolute truth. There are some things in my finiteness that I will never comprehend. The Bible speaks of mystery for a reason, I think. I am saved by grace, and that one thing I know!

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 4/28/2006 11:33 AM  

  • I agree with ibex scribe, and with pat. There is mystery to God, and there are things only known by Him, to be revealed to us at a later date. :) (Deut 29:29)

    But I certainly believe He welcomes our questions, our wrestling with things. It drives us to Him, to the Word.

    This has been a great discussion on faith, Rose.

    Did you get my e-mail with those resources? Hopefully, I didn't overstep my bounds!

    By Blogger Gayla, at 4/28/2006 1:01 PM  

  • Pat
    '"God can save anyone He wants...Not all are saved...God chooses not to save all" was the common theology of much of historical Christianity. This is objective fact.(Pelagius was branded a heretic.)'

    Pat, it is helpful to pay some consideration to hte history of theology, for all the danger of being shackled to tradition.

    Pelagius was condemned, but not by those who accepted Augustine's Predestinarian theology. Pelagius was condemned by men who took a mediate view. They accepted Augustine's doctrine of Original Sin, but rejected his MOnergistic view of election and predestination.

    There is very little evidence of anything approaching Augustine's theology prior to his lifetime. What is more, it was a very long time after Pelagius' time that Augustine's views were commonly accepted.

    When we actually examine Augustine's thought, we find that it has far more affinity with Catholicism than Evangelicalism. Hence, the strong Augustinian influence in the Middle Ages and his abiding influence in Catholicism (softened by the Council of Trent).

    There were some among the Reformers who were also uneasy with Augustinian predestination, such as Melancthon and Coeccius (who had much influence on the development of Covenant theology). The Lutheran tradition also largely abandoned Augustinian ideas.

    There has always been a tradition in church history of rejecting monergism.

    It is unhelpful to assume that Monergism is the certain teaching of Scripture without conisdering the influence of Augustinian assumptions and paying attention to historical alternatives.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 4/28/2006 1:11 PM  

  • I can't imagine anyone soberly linking the spiritual gift of faith with saving faith?

    If some Calvinist somewhere is confusing saving faith with spiritual gifting, then that is an error that must be placed squarely on the individual - it has nothing to do with Calvinism, and everything to do with poorly dividing the word.

    Notwithstanding, Ephesians 2 is not talking about spiritual gifts - it is talking about saving faith being a gift.

    Bringing the foreign idea of spiritual gifting into the context of salvatory faith can only muddy the waters if we don't separate the two clearly in our understanding. I agree, Romans 12:3 is -not- talking saving faith, but in the context it is speaking of the measure given to believers.

    Like most believers, the hitch for me to get me over the "hump of unbelief" was scripture. When I read the truth in scripture, and realized that failing to believe can only happen when I call God a liar in my heart - I found myself unwilling to call God a liar. Saving faith followed shortly thereafter.

    This is exactly what we see in Romans 10:14,17 - "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?... So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." - that is, hearing Christ's redemptive message is a critical precursor to saving faith. Just as Paul said in the first chapter of Romans 1:16-17 - God infuses the good news about His redemptive plan with power that produces salvation in those who believe (whether Jew or Gentile). Surely, God's word does not return to Him empty, but succeeds in doing whatever God intended it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

    Luke records the Aposltes pleahs to have their faith increased (Luke 17:5), and Peter tells us that just as babes are fed by milk and grow, so we too, if we are fed by the word of God, will grow in our faith (1 Peter 2:2).

    God's message works not only in the genesis of our faith, but also in the growth of our faith - I think we all agree on this.

    Paul clearly paints faith as a gift however in Ephesians 2 - and this text doesn't stand in isolation. Peter says as much in the opening salutation of 2 Peter 1:1 - "... To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" - that is, the faith was obtained from without, and not generated from within. He doesn't exposit the idea, speaking in a way that presumes the fact to be understood beforehand by all.

    We do recognize that Jesus is the "telietace" of our faith, that is the the one who makes our faith mature - not just because it is plainly stated that Jesus does this very thing (Hebrews 12:2), but also because we see everywhere in scripture the encouragement to be diligent in our faith in order to receive assurance, enjoying the benefit of God's promises (Hebrews 6:11,12), having a full understanding (Colossians 2:2), etc.

    Surely Christ is the one who makes our faith mature, the "finisher" of our faith.

    While the bible does teach that Christ is the finisher of our faith - that is only half of what scripture says - and we want to keep the other half clear in our minds - Christ is not only the Finisher of our faith, but the Author (originator, inaugerator) as well.

    When Paul teaches that our faith is a gift from God in Ephesians 2:8-9, he is saying the same thing as the author of hebrews says in Hebrews 12:2 - God is the originator of our faith - not us, we cannot credit our selves with believing (boast), because the ability to believe was a gift given by God through the hearing of the gospel according to God's eternal plan - for His glory, and only His glory.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 4/28/2006 1:25 PM  

  • Ros(i)e ~

    I comment sooner than (and more briefly than) I had intended. I commend you for being willing to pursue Truth despite its potential ramifications for you, whatever you consider such to be.

    I don't condemn you for it (not that I could!), but I must remind you that Scripture cannot mean to us what it didn't mean to them (the original audience); it cannot mean now what it didn't mean then. Specifically, just because EUANGELION is translated "word of God" in English doesn't mean that euangelion is interchangeable with Jesus (John 1 informs not at all as to such). If that's not clear, consider John 19:30, translated in English as "[i]t is finished". The Aramaic word Jesus proclaimed is, Scripture informs us, TETELESTAI. Tetelestai is the word which was, at the time Jesus breathed oxygen, affixed to commercial and loan transaction documents of that day. It meant "paid in full". "It is finished" is true in a sense, but it is a pitiful translation which presents no obstacle to religion (spelled "do", as in what do I have to do?) (Christianity may be spelled "done", as in have I transferred my trust to the Jesus' finished work on the Cross?). Capiche?

    Yes, of course (!), generally, faith comes "by" (as in via) Jesus (John 14:6); specifically, faith comes by hearing, hearing the gospel. The Ten Commandments don't save (they condemn, as Paul so painstakingly taught). The Sermon on the Mount doesn't save (Exhibit 1: Liberal "Christianity")

    We must preach the euangelion -- that Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slaughtered as Substitute; that God's wrath on Jesus (Isaiah 53, among many Scripture verses) was propitiatory; that the righteousness of Jesus and the sin of the believing sinner are exchanged (imputation; Romans 4).

    The euangelion isn't a "stand-alone" doctrine, however. It is silent, but Scripture, as a whole, is not, as to the Doctrines of Grace. Proper understanding of the Doctrines of Grace results in evangelism which relies on the power of the Seed rather than the skill of the sower. The Gospel presentation is the power of God unto salvation.

    No, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. A proper understanding of the Doctrines of Grace results in Preaching the euangelion and leaving the results to God. Insistence that the individual is sovereign as to his/her eternal destiny results in "gospel presentations" which are merely ploys to cajole, manipulate, persuade, etc., someone to "make a decision for the Lord". That's the travesty that is the legacy of the American church.

    By Anonymous jim mcdermott, at 4/28/2006 2:14 PM  

  • Rose,

    I truly wish Jim had mentioned how the regeneration fits in with his line of interpreation.

    He comes closest when he says in the comments section of your Faith part 2:

    "Once our Lord has removed the veil, that is, once He's regenerated someone, the euangelion is understood; indeed, it's astonishingly simple!"

    If faith comes by hearing the gospel and the hearer cannot understand the gospel until the veil has been removed(or regeneration has occurred) then when did the regeneration occur so that the hearer could understand the gospel? It had to have occurred before reading the gospel, but when?

    I would ask him but his presentation is so hurried and disjointed that I thought I would try you first. Maybe I'll just throw in to Jim that his presentation of his idea was incomplete as stated and that it would be useful if he would slow down and organize it, rather than just contibute to the confusion.
    Thanks, Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/28/2006 3:53 PM  

  • Rose,
    After reading your Faith part 3, I would like to add the following thoughts to the discussion:
    Scripture in many places gives the external call to all that read are listen to the preaching of the Word of God. In evangelism, Calvinist’s also give the external call to all that will listen. This is God’s chosen way of reaching sinners. Dr. D. James Kennedy started EE and is a Calvinist. Some of the verses I have seen quoted over the past few days and weeks are cited as proof that all who hear have the ability to believe, when in fact they are only giving the external call and do not speak to ability one way or the other. John 3:16 for example gives the gospel call, but is neutral on whether one has been empowered by the Holy Spirit to believe. When I understood the difference between the external call and the internal or effectual call of God, it really helped me to understand such passages.

    If I could give a commercial, I would invite you over to my site where I have a link to my Photo Meditations and cover the external and the internal call in numbers 13 & 14. They are very brief and a photo is given for illustration. Who knows, you may see a photo of Jazzy or her sister Cuffy, although not on 13 or 14.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 4/28/2006 4:19 PM  

  • "If Calvinists are right, it has huge implications for me that I will not spell out here - they are very personal."

    Maybe this is getting at the heart of the issue?

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 4/28/2006 5:12 PM  

  • Rose,

    Thanks for this message.

    I remember talking to a good pastor friend of mine and I was quoting the verse on the "measure of faith God has given you."

    He looked at me like, I was crazy when I went on to explain that verse in the context of how you have explained it in the fact it is not saving faith, but the spiritual gifts of faith (Romans 12:4-7). He said "no ways does it say that" and then we looked at the verse together a bit more. After awhile he seemed more calm.

    He seemed to want to rip out that page out of the bible as he was very disturbed by that verse.

    I guess most of all I think we have all been there sleepless trying to understand verses like that.

    Thanks for your honest look at those verses and I pray God keeps you seeking his grace when things seems confusing.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 4/28/2006 5:36 PM  

  • So when is the spiritual gift of faith given? Is it at regeneration or after?

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 4/28/2006 7:56 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 4/28/2006 8:15 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 4/28/2006 8:21 PM  

  • Jonathan,
    The spiritual gift of faith would come along in various measures with the gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit would accompany and probably define regeneration, given in exchange for faith. I believe.

    Grace is the power of God free for the taking by faith. Everything from God is a gift, even damnation, but damnation is not the one you want. But you have to take one.

    Anytime brother.

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/28/2006 10:57 PM  

  • Daniel,

    "When I read the truth in scripture, and realized that failing to believe can only happen when I call God a liar in my heart - I found myself unwilling to call God a liar. Saving faith followed shortly thereafter."

    I can't believe that you have just demonstrated yourself exercising you own free will in aquiring saving faith. You bring up this odd idea of 'inability to believe' which is reasoned (particularly in the last of Roses posts) exclusively in your own language and not scripture. You bring up the idea of boasting which no where in scripture is tied in with faith but only with works of the Law. In scripture the definition of faith always includes a relationship between two things, or the acting out of it, as in faithfulness between to things, and only meaningfully between man and God. Once you disable or take away one of the players you invalidate the word. It morphs into something that would need a new word to describe. You can't combine the word faith with a concept that proposes there is 'an inability to (have it)believe' unless it is no longer faith. If it is no longer faith then you can no longer call it faith. That to me is the illegitamacy of the concept of 'the inability to believe'. The bible does not ask me to embrace this sort of reasoning.

    On another note Daniel,I thought Rose did a accurate job of mapping this verse out a few posts ago.

    "Eph. 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

    Grammatically in the Greek, does the attachment provided to the word 'it' not designate that 'it' is referring to 'salvation'. And that 'faith' is in the feminine designation, whereas 'salvation' is in the same 'nueter' designation as 'it' is, therby signifying what 'it is referring to? How do you handle that? Even though that was very poorly explained by me. Maybe you understood that. Is that not how we can know what 'it' is referring to and that it is referring to salvation?

    Just wondering, Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/29/2006 12:06 AM  

  • I'm not sure where I got it, but I have absolute faith that we'll understand it better by-and-by.

    By Blogger Joe, at 4/29/2006 8:30 AM  

  • Rose I will only offer that we agree in our understanding of these scriptures.

    By Blogger Kc, at 4/29/2006 10:26 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Hope you've got a refreshing weekend mapped out for you and yours. We finally might be getting a little bit of that rain you guys have been hording down there(or maybe it's been a little dry by you too. See you.

    Joe, Amen, Amen.

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/29/2006 12:43 PM  

  • todd;
    you wrote: "Grace is the power of God free for the taking by faith. Everything from God is a gift, even damnation, but damnation is not the one you want. But you have to take one."
    Grace is "unmerited favor" or simply God's graciousness or kindness. I have been told when the bible uses the word "lovingkindness" it is an attempt to translate a Hebrew word for which we have no word strong enough for. The point is, it has nothing to do with God's power per se. It by grace or God's kindness/love/mercy we are saved through faith.
    Hell and damnation is certainly not a gift either. it is a just punishment. I don't think anyone down there is saying "thank you sir, may i have another!"

    By Anonymous pat, at 4/29/2006 1:26 PM  

  • Well,
    John was up half the night sick as a dog ... and there has been illness in the kids and myself Thursday-Saturday, so instead of going to church, I am at home. Why not blog a little?

    Jim McDermott,
    I am thinkful that God has given us a capacity to consider His Word. I am thankful that He has given us the Word. Indeed.

    Eunice,
    Thanks you for the encouragement. I agree - our language could use some more words that would capture the nuances. Also - we all need to try not to jump to conclusions when we see certain words and think more about what things are really saying. Often, I think we get a first impression (I know I do) and upon further study, the first impression may not have been right. (like a gut reaction)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 10:36 AM  

  • Hi Pat,
    Interesting what you see as objective fact. I also see that God can save whoever He wants. The question irks me when it starts to turn into some arbitrary group. The Bible states very clearly who He wants to save:

    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)

    This is not hard to understand. It only becomes difficult when we start talking about faith as a gift ... and inability to believe etc... Those things are NOT main themes in the Bible. Sharing the gospel message, living in Him, presenting Him to people is simple and is our business, (and is the main theme of the NT) not trying to unravel the mysteries of the mind of God and His secret operations. Is that what you are trying to say?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 10:43 AM  

  • IBEX,
    Thanks for your wise comment. The mind of God, in one sense is a mystery, but in another sense, we have been given a glimpse into Him through Christ and that is where our focus should be. Amen.

    Gayla,
    You too. Yes I got the eamil. No bounds overstepped. I like getting emails and I appreciate reading many things. Thanks.

    Matthew,
    What did you think of my post? You broke guiding principle for this blog #1. That is so unlike you. I am shocked! :~)
    I do appreciate your knowledge of these things and thank you for sharing. So, what you are trying to say is that Pat's asserion that [monergism in the Calvinistic sense] is objective fact.(Pelagius was branded a heretic.) Calvinism is not radical or new. is not necessarily correct?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 10:54 AM  

  • Hi Daniel,
    I appreciate the fact that although you and I seem to be on different pages with many things, that you came to the same conclusion about the difference between saving faith and the spiritual gift of faith. Phew!

    It is not clear to me at all that Ephesians 2 is teaching that faith is a gift. This is how I see it. I also posted what a Greek scholar had to say about it. ... not that we always need Greek scholars to figure everything out, but that verse is not as clear as one would like. I got one impression reading it and my brother a competely other impression. I see it as saying the same thing as Romans 5:2: through faith, by faith.
    ... we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

    Now, as to what you say about Scripture being the thing that got you over the hump of unbelief - amen! How can they believe in that which they have not heard? How can we know God's truth if we don't hear it or read it?
    I found myself unwilling.. was this a gift?

    You bring up Hebrew 12. I am going to do a separate post on that. Maybe you will contribute there.

    I still really wish that you would stop the talk of something to boast about. A beggar has nothing to boast about when he takes the 50-spot handed to him by a kind man walking by ... just picture him boasting over such a thing. What if there were a group of beggars and he was the only one the kind man handed the 50 to. Could he say, "Hey fellas, look - he chose me to give the money to -and not you! I must look clenaer than y'all."
    Can you imagine the student who took the gift of the watch standing up and boasting to his classmates: "Well, I knew the teacher was sincere and you were all just too unwise to receive the watch ... I'm better than you." No, he just took the watch because he believed the offer to be real and sincere. He might wonder why the others were so suspicious, but he would have no grounds to boast that he had gotten a gift of a watch. Now, stop it about the boasting. Boasting is what we could do if righteousness came through works. Or .. this seems like boasting to me: "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22) But, saying that man is free to receive or reject Christ is NOT BOASTING. Straw man, Daniel. Thanks, I am trying to grow some grass ... it comes in handy for that. :~) :~) :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 11:28 AM  

  • Jim McDermott,
    I am confused by your writing sometimes. I think in the beginning of your comment you are saying that John 1 doesn't teach that Christ is the Word of God. What do you do with Rev. 19:13?
    13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.
    I have never seen anyone question whether Jesus is the Word of God. I am intrigued by your thoughts.

    As to your ideas about "doctrines of Grace" evangelsim. You present two extremes. The firs type of evangelism is to tell people that Christ died for sinners ("one of which may have been you" - oh, no- you don't tell them that, right? You keep the limits under wraps) leaving the results to God ... not depending on the skill of the sower. This is the method you employ, right? You just tell the truth to people and move on, never expecting anything or pushing, but leaving all results to God. Good.

    Then, you present a second type of evangelism: Insistence that the individual is sovereign as to his/her eternal destiny results in "gospel presentations" which are merely ploys to cajole, manipulate, persuade, etc., someone to "make a decision for the Lord". That's the travesty that is the legacy of the American church.

    Your second series of thoughts is a little telling. It seems you may be allowing the teaching of these Christian philosphers to influence your thoughts in regards to evangelism. Did Paul think men were "sovereign"? No. (Using that language is a straw man as well, Jim - shame shame) Did Paul seem to think that it was indeed the hearers' responsibilty to respond to the Lord and make peace with Him? Yes.

    We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

    Is manipulating what is needed? No. Must we use ploys? No. Should we persuade men to see the truth? Yes.

    Every Sabbath [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:4-5)

    11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthains 5:11,20

    Was Paul wrong? He implored people to respond to the gospel, Jim.

    We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

    Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. While it may be the practice of some to rush people through gospel presentations and manipulate them into saying some prayer that they don't really mean or make some decision that they don't really understand, Paul clearly did more than just tell folks what Christ had done and move on ... he pleaded with them. Paul did not have the "Grace Evangelism" handbook.
    ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 12:02 PM  

  • Todd,
    We haven't had a lot of rain. Thus, my grass seed is suffering - therefore, I am thankful for the straw on this blog. :~)

    You remind me of a thought that my husband, John, shared with me and another blogger. We were talking about regeneration preceding faith etc... and he said Regeneration>-Conversion>-Justification>-Adoption>-Sanctification ... why do you view this as a process? Why not view these as simultaneous?

    Simultaneous, that would sure simplify this, wouldn't it?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 12:17 PM  

  • Jazzycat,
    Thank you for your visits. Thanks you for bringing up the internal call and the external call issue. I need to look into that more ... and visit your blog. You're a nice little kitty. We used to use EE at our church.

    Jonathan,
    No, that is not the heart of the issue, just a side issue. What do you think about the post? Aren't we given all our spiritual gifts at the time we are born again?

    Hi Shawn,
    Your story reminded me of a former pastor, a great man named Dr. Earnest Pickering. He was known to have occasionally said this from the pulpit (with a firm Texan accent) "You're not afraid of the Bible, are you?" (John likes to imitate and quote that often)
    Shawn, I miss your smiling face, but am glad that you can comment some.

    Todd,
    I think you have gotten to the heart of my trouble with these concepts, here:
    In scripture the definition of faith always includes a relationship between two things, or the acting out of it, as in faithfulness between two people, and only meaningfully between man and God. Once you disable or take away one of the players you invalidate the word. It morphs into something that would need a new word to describe. You can't combine the word faith with a concept that proposes there is 'an inability to (have it)believe' unless it is no longer faith.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 12:46 PM  

  • Joe,
    You just filled my haert with song. I look forward to that day with great anticipation. Thank you for that simple and clever word of encouragement. :~)

    KC,
    Is that all you have to say? Hows come you and I always agree? I couldn't even pick you out in a crowd. I can't wait to meet you someday, here, or in the sweet by and by that Joe refers to. :~)

    Pat,
    I would also like to know what Todd means by his thought that damnation is a gift. That sounds like a very unwelcome gift that I will not unwrap. "Please sir, can I have some more?"
    :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 1:05 PM  

  • Pat,

    Paul was using the widely used language of Greek with that word 'grace' to build his biblical concept of the meaning of the word 'grace'. For instance his word 'charis' that he frequently used to refer to God's 'grace' has a definition which includes it as being 'of manner or act' and 'the devine influence upon the heart, and its reflections in the life', with the many more minor components of the idea of 'grace' spreading out to include 'benefit, favour, acceptable, gift, joy, liberality pleasure, graciousness, and gratitude, and more I would even suppose.

    From this definition I gather that grace is both a 'manner' and an 'act', each containing 'influence'. 'Influence' is the effects of power. So 'grace' contains inluence and tus it contains 'power'. So grace is the 'devine influence upon...'. It may be carried out by the Holy Spirit, Christ(the Word)[is the power of God], the gospel [is the power of God] as well, and numerous other ways I'm sure. So grace is both a 'manner' of God which not only stands alone but 'influences' the heart of the recipient, and/or an 'act' of God which 'influences' or effects through power. The biblical word 'grace' has a huge self-contained diverse dynamic, but should be able to be defined in understandable spiritual terms. And there should be no reason why those terms should not be able to be clearly understood by any child. IMO that should be a part of our method in sharing the gospel, and that explains what I've tried to do here. (And on an unrelated note, Jim McDermott was neither clear nor thourough).

    In the primary general Biblical sense, I think I can get away with saying that grace is, both a 'manner'(posture?), as well as an 'act', of 'devine influence' by God towards us, of 'unmerited favor' and 'lovingkindness'.

    In short, 'grace' is always a transforming power having an effect on the recipient.

    So grace is the power of and from God free for the taking. It can also be enacted on you irresistably in your favor, or withheld from you to your destruction.

    Everything must come from God. Anything there is must be 'given' to us by God. Where else? How else?

    A gift is 'the act, power, or right of giving'. By virtue of eveything we have being given to us by God then everything is, in a general sense, a gift from God. Well sure, we have all sorts of other connotations and ways things are given that get more specialized in definition, but everything falls under the general catagory of being a gift from God. Not very profound but nonetheless appears to be true.

    Along with the gift of the Spirit, we get 'gifts of the Spirit' as well. But the Holy Spirit, alone, is also a gift in a general sense. In the same general sense damnation is also a gift since it is given to some, and my only point to Jonathan, and anybody else listening, was to make a thought provoking lighthearted little remark, to ponder, that I think holds up quite well scripturally. And I'm sure that's how everyone took it including yourself Pat. Thank you. My whole purpose here is to get set straight(or for me to get even a mild butt whooping) so I can make corrections and go on and grow towards the Truth. Just like us all I suspect. So help me out Jonathan! Where have I strayed? I think this is were the real honest searching begins.

    With you all in Christ! Todd

    And incidentally, God would have no reason to withhold the ability to believe from us since ability would not threaten or demean His sovereignty in any way, in fact it's that ability to believe which His entire message to us depends upon. That's a whole other comment I'm looking forward to.

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/30/2006 3:47 PM  

  • I guess I'm trying to add a little perspective to the use of the word 'gift'. Something has been bothering me about certain assumptions some of us Christians make about the word 'gift', especially as it relates to the concept of grace. I'll have to admit, I'm not sure exactly what yet.

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/30/2006 3:57 PM  

  • Sorry, Rose~.

    So much for the 'inner circle'.

    I think Pat was giving a rather simplistic account of historical theology.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 4/30/2006 4:27 PM  

  • Rose,
    I think it would be a nice expression of individual confidence and dare I say reponsibility as a Christian if a few others than just me took a crack at a answering Jonathan's quesion which is more or less a reiteration of your earlier question, Rose, which was:

    "So when is the spiritual gift of faith given? Is it at regeneration or after?"

    Reponsibility, is that asking a little too much for the totally depraved?(Sorry Rose, a little snarky.)

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/30/2006 4:45 PM  

  • The spiritual gift is given in the same way as such gifts as teaching or evangelism, after regeneration.

    Our faith is increased through sanctification, so as to deal with such trials as arise in our Christian walk, but I think this is a different thing.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 4/30/2006 5:08 PM  

  • Ros(i)e ~

    I'm "late for the door" for the evening service, but I'll say, for now:

    (1) You are apparently hopelessly confused as to what I wrote about the Word of God;

    (2) Straw man? How about the error of false alternatives (i.e. the mischaracterization of approaches to evangelism)?;

    (3) Paul (for God) "wrote the (most of) book"

    (4) Other than that, Mrs. Linclon, how'd you like the play?

    By Anonymous jim mcdermott, at 4/30/2006 5:28 PM  

  • Todd;
    You wrote "In short, 'grace' is always a transforming power having an effect on the recipient."
    Todd, aren't you confusing the aspects of "grace" with the Holy Spirit?
    Ephesians 3:16-"16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit..."
    1 corinthians 2:4-"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power..." I have to admit, I thought that "unmerited favor" as a definition of grace was a Paul phrasing, but I cant find it. I found this though:
    Ephesians 2:7-8-“7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us..." He is showing His grace in His kindness. Aslo, the transforming power of the Spirit is all over the NT, i dont really need to cite examples. You have claimed the transforming power of grace. Again, I think you are confusing God's grace with His Holy Spirit. It is by God's grace we recieve His Spirit.
    You also wrote "So grace is the power of and from God free for the taking." Where do you get the idea that it is free for the taking?
    Romans 9:15-16-"15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." God is gracious to whom He decides to be gracious to and it is not man who "wills" or him who "runs" or works. It is God's decision who to give grace AND His Spirit to.
    You also wrote about grace "It can also be enacted on you irresistably in your favor, or withheld from you to your destruction." It is the lack of God's Spirit in a man which dooms him to destruction not the lack of His grace as you have written.
    Romans 8:9-"...Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” We are sealed by the Spirit not by grace. By gace we are given the Spirit and thus saved. God can administer acts of grace on an un saved soul as well.
    It has always bothered me how the word grace gets stretched into so many places it doesn't fit. Probably because of the RC tradition I grew up in...they acted like you could store it up in a little private account.

    By Anonymous pat, at 4/30/2006 5:34 PM  

  • matthew;
    "A rather simplistic account of historical theology" was give because that was all that was required to make the point that ...none of this is new! Thanks for all the background, but it didn't make THAT point any more clear.

    By Anonymous pat, at 4/30/2006 5:37 PM  

  • Jim,
    I admit - I do get confused with your writing, as I have told you several times. :~)
    It is not deliberate, that is all I can assure you of.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/30/2006 5:51 PM  

  • Pat,
    I do sound like I confuse the power of grace with the power of the Spirit. Let me say the following about why I talk about grace the way I do first. After that I'll tell you why I believe the Spirit, among other things, is a part of God through which He channels/apportions His power to us, according to the moment, according to the needs of His plan.

    First though, I guess it's verses like these that account partly for my understanding of a sort of two-fold meaning of grace, one as 'lovingkindness', and the other as a means for the exertion of His power.


    First of all, in Acts 4:33, the word 'grace' comes from a Greek word for 'power'. Don't ask me how this interesting use pops up here all alone. Something that Luke learned? Who knows, but it refers to grace as power.

    Then you have Peter's portrayal of grace.

    In 1 Pet. 4:10, Peter refers to the manifold grace of God. "As each one has recieved a special gift, emply it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,...". No mention for quite awhile of the Spirit. Peter has a different take on God exerting His power withou the mention of the Spirit, only the manifold grace. Which He know doubt supplies trough the Spirit.

    1Pet.5:10,"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengten and establish you. To Him be glory and dominion forever. Amen. Through Silanus, our faithful broher (for so I regard him), I have written you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is he true grace of God. Stand firm in it."

    What is the 'true grace of God'? Peter is speaking of 'power given' as being a part of the 'true grace of God'.

    I need to stop here right now. There are a couple of other ideas I'd want to throw at you later if you don't mind dialoguing a little bit more on this. And you asked some quesions about my meaning that I didn't answer yet as well.

    I have some time on Mon. to organize my thoughts, you probably don't, doesn't matter. I'm going to throw a few more ideas at you and you can respond as time permits if you want to. Take care. With you in Christ, Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 4/30/2006 10:57 PM  

  • Pat said:

    ". . . It has always bothered me how the word grace gets stretched into so many places it doesn't fit. . . ."

    Yes, but grace does have a semantic domain or range, by way of usage, that we shouldn't discount.

    I would argue that grace and the Holy Spirit, relative to salvation, are synonymous (see Rom. 5:5). In other words, grace is personified by the person and work of the Holy Spirit--much like truth is personified by Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6). Not denying the fact that these are all attributes shared alike by each co-equal person of the trinity. I'm only pointing out that relative to God's economic revelation of Himself in salvation history there are different "functional roles" evidenced by each person of the trinity. Maybe a better idea would be to say that there are certain "intensities" of these attributes of God's character revealed per the "different" persons in the God-head. All that to say, Pat, that I believe that the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, the grace of God, shed abroad in hearts. Notice some scripture that might help substantiate my claim here: Click Here.

    Grace is a very fluid term, and its usage is manifold, as II Corinthians illustrates. Hopefully, it can also be seen that grace can be personified by the Holy Spirit relative to His action upon the heart of man.

    It seem like the view of grace that you're advocating, Pat, assume a purely "qualitative" view of grace; rather than seeing it as a relational aspect of God's Holy character (Gal. 5:22-23).

    Maybe I've mis-read you?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 5/01/2006 2:23 AM  

  • Rose,

    You and I may not come to the same conclusions on all things, but I really do like you. You are so real and so gracious!

    Angie

    By Blogger The IBEX Scribe, at 5/01/2006 7:44 AM  

  • Angie, she is indeed.

    Keep it coming, Rose~!

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 5/01/2006 10:54 AM  

  • Rose, I agree with your interpretation of Romans 12:3. I used to believe it meant that every man was dealt the measure of faith. Meaning every man born is able to believe in God because God has given that ability to every man. I still believe that God has given every man born on this earth the ability to have faith in general (including Him), and common sense tells us as much, but this scripture is not talking about that kind of faith.

    BTW, it was a Calvinist that pointed this out to me and I'm finally able to see it. For awhile I was thinking that maybe vs 3 was the "general faith" and vs 6 was the "gifts of the spirit" faith. The reason I kept clinging to vs 3 as being general faith was because of the GREAT possibility that not every man in the room was a Christian just because they were in church. And even as I type this I can feel myself begin to waver in my thinking. But I can go with the interpretation that it is indeed speaking of the gifts of the spirit. There, I've said it. LOL

    By Blogger Dawn, at 5/01/2006 12:09 PM  

  • Amen Rose! about the boasting. That one has always seemed a bit ludicrous to me. So does the inability bit. We're depraved, not unable. We're dead spiritually which means we're incapable in our dead state to commune with God as He only hears the prayers of repentance. It doesn't meant that we cannot recognize our depravity and/or the Savior when we see Him in scripture or when being witnessed to or that we are incapable of accepting His offer of salvation.

    Some of us LOVE our depravity and are not willing to give it up. Some of us are UNWILLING to see the need for God because we want to be our own God. Etc., etc., etc.

    Rose" "The mind of God, in one sense is a mystery, but in another sense, we have been given a glimpse into Him through Christ and that is where our focus should be."

    Amen Rose! I believe that salvation is not a mystery. In fact, I believe God has been very clear about it. I think that maybe some of the ways things are worded is because of foreknowledge and predestination and because God was talking to present AND future generations.

    To me, those whom the father "gives" to Jesus are simply those who "believe". Not that God made them believe by gifting them faith. And those who are not of God or are not His sheep is simply a way of saying that those who profess God but their hearts are FAR from Him are not His sheep. "Some" of the Pharisees were a perfect example of this. Nicodemus humbled himself and believed God.

    When He says, "My sheep hear my voice" it simply means that HE KNOWS His sheep and who they will be and that those are the ones who WILL hear and believe. God simply already knows because He knows everything.

    Rose: "Did Paul think men were "sovereign"? No. (Using that language is a straw man as well, Jim - shame shame) Did Paul seem to think that it was indeed the hearers' responsibilty to respond to the Lord and make peace with Him? Yes."

    Amen Rose! GOD is sovereign and like you stated before 1 Corinthians 1:21 says that GOD chose to give man a choice and HE chose to save those who would believe the gospel.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 5/01/2006 1:14 PM  

  • Pat: "Romans 9:15-16-"15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy." God is gracious to whom He decides to be gracious to and it is not man who "wills" or him who "runs" or works. It is God's decision who to give grace AND His Spirit to."

    Pat, I think this verse in Romans has different meanings, but in the case of "salvation" it means that God will have mercy on those who believe and will harden those who do not. And it doesn't necessarily mean that those who believe will never be hardened or those who don't believe will never receive mercy. It just depends on the person and the circumstance.

    I guess what I'm saying is that this scripture doesn't mean that God simply chooses who does and does not go to heaven without giving us a choice as many Calvinists claim it does.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 5/01/2006 1:28 PM  

  • Great posts Todd! You always seem to be able to explain things so well.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 5/01/2006 1:29 PM  

  • Here's somemore Pat,

    Grace, seems to me, can in no way be a static word. One of just a posture. 'Unmerited favor', probably more the historical definition, speaks in an active sense when it speaks of 'favor' toward the recipient. With 'lovingkindness', does that just speak of an attitude, or an attitude of involvement, an outworking of kindness, with influence, and thus power?

    It seems to me as if 'lovingkindness' is an act as well as a position. When God says 'My grace is sufficient for thee', is He saying that 'just knowing about my grace is sufficient', or 'the influence of My grace will provide you with all the strength you will need'? To me His 'grace' contains a power that offers strength. Such as the Greek definition includes 'influence'. And I think the Spirit is the Helper, the part of God that effects His power that gives us strength. And of course the Spirit seals us in God's pledge.

    Grace seems to me to include, in large part, God's stance(perhaps even His will) in apportioning the quality, or sort, of power He exerts in our lives, and any power emanating from that grace would be the power of grace.

    In Eph. 2:5 Paul places the emphasis entirely on grace, "made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him...",
    as the means of power God uses here in this exercise. These uses all color my definition of grace as they tend to be used by Paul to also to signify power in the employment of power.


    God's grace is dependent upon our acceptance of His gift of salvation, through one's faith in His revelation that Christ is His Son provided to save us from our deserved desruction.
    Such as in Eph. 2:8-9, By the power of grace the believer has received the gift of salvation in return for your faith. Faith renders us completely without cause to boast apart from making a conscious decision that we are mere men doomed to destruction without obeying Him by believing in His gospel. The only object of belief in the N.T, is His gospel.

    I'm sure I'm driving you nuts making these assertions. Not my intent. Just giving you my read so that you can marvel how different it is from yours.

    Grace itself is not a gift, but things that come through grace are gifts. Such as in Rom. 5:17,"...recieve the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteosness...". The 'gift of salvation' of Eph. 8,9. The gift of the Holy Spirit as in Acts 2:38. Gift of jusification as in Rom. 5:17. Gift of damnation in 1 Co.7:7 (just kidding).

    In one sense, it seems to me as if the Holy Spirit is both comprised of and empowered by grace, and is the delivering body to that end. The Holy Spirit in itself is not 'power' but a carying mechanism for the God-head, or I may getting reckless. And that may be a fair description of the nature of the Spirit of the Old Testament as well. I'm probaly over-speaking because I've run out of really good scriptures for the moment.

    All through the N.T. there are references to the 'power of God' in us, toward us, for us... and how else is it delivered but through the Holy Spirit, according to grace.
    Grace both determines and influences the power from God, and the Spirit is the delivering body, all exerted from God. Here again, I'm spinnig my wheels not giving you much scriptural back-up, mostly due to time constraints right now.

    I'm going to send this one along. I'll possibly regroup and mention a few more observations I have on the interplay of grace and the Spirit. Otherwise in a day or two I'll get back over to the other of Roses posts #2 on Faith and answer on your last remarks to me. Thanks Pat.

    By Blogger Todd, at 5/01/2006 1:32 PM  

  • Hey, thanks for the encouragment Dawn.

    By Blogger Todd, at 5/01/2006 1:34 PM  

  • Rose,

    I read that link you included in that comment.

    "You remind me of a thought that my husband, John, shared with me and another blogger. We were talking about regeneration preceding faith etc... and he said Regeneration>-Conversion>-Justification>-Adoption>-Sanctification ... why do you view this as a process? Why not view these as simultaneous?"

    I never did have any problem viewing them as simultaneous, and then launching the beginning of the exciting maturation process. And then with wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, Christ still has to finish that all for us by placing us in His Body before God. IMO, either conversion/regeneration/justification/adoption/sanctification are simultaneous, or it's between the lines somewhere and will never be known.

    Rose, to me the following goes a long way in explaining how anyone who God has not specifically chose to harden, can reach conversion.

    Rom. 1:20, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." And then it goes on to say how some of them blew it and incurred judgement and so on. And then, no doubt, there are those who He gave the ability to believe and they've lost it somehow, buried it maybe.

    I, like you, studied the bible for 10 years(you for 20), never seeing a doctrine of 'the inability to believe'. And when I did, I choked out. I'm sorry but that's what it felt like, because I could immediately see, with the evidence that is pointed to in order to prove that notion, the underlying emotionalism, lack of sound reasoning and evidence, and the flesh driven speculation, and complex, personalized interpretation that was the only thing holding it up. But they can take heart in the fact that there is a little something out of whack with all the major branches of theology. A person has to attach to the vine and be careful about the branches don't they Rose.

    I was reading 1 or 2nd Peter, or both, and just marveling at his clarity on 'believing'. But only to you and I and a few others apparently. I think my cold must be getting better, I'm getting snarky again. Take care Rose, nice chatting, take good care of John. Don't believe eveything you hear in church. Oh, I'm sorry..., but I think I've met your pastor. I better get some house work done, I've got some long work days ahead. Hopefully hard work is good for a guy because I've got that. With you in Christ! Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 5/01/2006 2:29 PM  

  • IBEX,
    Thank you for the kind words.

    Dawn,
    I appreciate your thoughts. You read these things and really think about them. That is nice to know that someone ... or a few ... do this. Thank you so much for your comment.

    You too Todd, but watch the snark. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/01/2006 11:49 PM  

  • todd;
    i read your thoughts on grace. I think you are kind of over "intellectualizing" it. Im not sure if that is a word! I have taken the stance that it is in simplifying the concept of grace I can come to a better understanding of it and hence scripture and God. I read in a commentary on grace that it is the "totality of Gods gifts to us." That to me sounds like love or "lovingkindness." When i think of how i love my kids i think of this sum or "totality" of many things: love; discipline; leadership; kindness; tenderness; etc. If you were to insert the word "favor" or "kindness" everywhere "grace" is in the NT, it is my contention, the meaning of scripture would not change. we are save through God's ...love, kindness, favor..." "For God so loved the world HE..." He loved us, so He saves us.
    Grace, God's favor results in the gift of salvation which is realized when the Spirit is given. The Spirit is God, He is not "enabled" by grace. I think you muddy the water when you mix the work of the Spirit with God's grace. Catholics do this endlessly. Which is why you don't hear much mention of the Spirit in catholicism. They think you can "collect" and "hoard" God's graces. God's loving kindess cannot be collected and hoarded like an entity. This is why i object to your assertion that it is free for the taking. just my thoughts.
    This word or concept of "grace", like "faith" are words that are just so taken for granted, and they really should not be. That is why I brought faith up to rosie in the 1st place. I don't want to assume anything about the bible because i think i was "mis taught" it in my youth...when i was taught it at all.
    pat

    By Anonymous pat, at 5/04/2006 3:24 PM  

  • Hi Pat,

    I could live with your definition of grace very easily. At least you can see my reasoning behind my possibly overdone concept of grace. But I struggle what to do with all the references to God's power. And surely you can usually just interchange the word 'power' with 'Spirit', but many times there seems to be more color and substance to the word power than 'Spirit' covers. One mediocre example because I can't fish for any more examples of the idea right now is 1 Cor. 2:4. Peter also refers to power quite a bit and while the Spirit is assumed in many of those instances there is more to the power than just replacing the word with Spirit. This gives me a hard time, especially in the context of faith, that is, the power of faith, where it comes from and who uses it and how. I think that if/when someone starts to refer to faith as a power coming through God or Christ that that needs clarificaion, because scripture doesn't tell us how that works, yet it does present it as something that man is given to participate in with his own will.

    And, of course, I always thought the catholic doctrine was a disgrace to the Word, and right now I'm struggling with the Reformed doctrine because it asserts my reading of the most important part of scripture is wrong.

    But I appreciate your thoughts and agree with your definition of grace. Todd

    By Blogger Todd, at 5/04/2006 10:45 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 

Who Links Here