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

Thursday, March 22, 2007

If Faith is not a Gift, Isn't there Room for Boasting?

It seems from the Calvinist point of view, if one says that everyone can believe or have faith in the gospel message, but some do not, then those who do, can boast. In other words, the “doctrines of grace” (Calvinism) teach that no one can believe in the gospel unless God regenerates the heart first, then they see the truth, believe and receive, and are saved. This all happens because God chose them before the foundation of the world. The only way we believe and receive is if we are chosen. Therefore we cannot boast that we have faith, because we only have faith because we are chosen. If we don’t believe in this theology, then we set ourselves up for boasting because we were wise enough or insightful enough to believe the message, and therefore we must be better than the unsaved person ... so says the Calvinist.

I decided to do a search on the word boast. I found a lot!

… he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Romans 3:26-28)
Paul is, as usual, contrasting faith and law or works. If we are saved by faith, what have we to be proud of? We cannot say we have worked our way to heaven. We can only cast ourselves on God’s mercy when we have faith that He will save, that He can save. Does Paul think that we can boast of our “faith” in Christ as being some special insight we have in and of ourselves? I think not.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3)
Paul again sites “believing God” as being nothing to boast about.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 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. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1: 20-31)
In that passage, Paul says we should and can boast – in the Lord! He chose the weak, lowly and despised so that there is no boasting. The gospel message is for the weak. It is not for him who thinks himself to be alright and righteous. The preaching of the gospel does not appeal to our pride ... quite the opposite. We can only boast of all that God has done by reconciling us to Himself through Christ, not by any work that we have done to gain favor. I don’t see the passage saying that if we believe the gospel, we have something to boast about. It says quite the opposite.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 1For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
This is probably the verse that the Calvinist would point to most of all to make his assertion that we could boast of our faith if the faith is not a gift given only to the chosen. I have read where they say that the verse speaks of faith as the gift. Taking the verse apart, I don’t see how that can be. What do you think? It seems to me that salvation by grace is the gift spoken of. We see two phrases, “it is the gift of God” and “not by works” – these two phrases are both describing the same thing. If so, can we say that “not by works” could describe faith? Nowhere is the concept of gaining faith by work found in the NT. However, the concept of gaining salvation by work is a concept refuted everywhere in the NT, as it is here. Salvation by grace is the “gift of God” and “not by works.” Read the verse again.

I don't get this constant reference to boasting. If I believed in Calvinism, couldn't I boast because obviously God loved me more than those who won't be saved? Couldn't I say that it was ME ME ME ME that God chose?
We can twist it around so the other side is presenting cause for boasting from their theology, but it isn't helpful toward defining the message that we can present to a lost and dying world. I believe the message that I can tell anyone is this: "You are a sinner. Jesus Christ loves you and He died for your sin ... yes, He died for YOU! Believe this gospel and receive Christ and you will be reconciled to God and have eternal life."

This is available to “the whole world.”

16 Comments:

  • This is just a repost from the group blog of which I am a part. I posted it there in February of 2006. I am posting it here so I can put it in my sidebar for quick and easy reference.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/22/2007 9:50 AM  

  • Rose, left-over or not it's just as good the second time! ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 3/22/2007 10:14 AM  

  • Wow, I must have missed it the first time.

    Rose, you have clearly laid out your reasons for not seeing faith as a gift in the sense that the reformed thinkers would promote.

    I would love to see a rational and coherent rebuttal using scripture in a contextual relationship to prove their view of faith as a gift.

    You are also correct that it is just as easy for a Calvinist to boast in his faith as one hand picked for salvation, and while God does want us to boast in what He has accomplished there is nothing (or every will be) in us that is worthy of boasting, save Christ and Him crucified.

    By Blogger Jim, at 3/22/2007 10:49 AM  

  • Rose~ that vword is very hard to use...would you consider doing away with it?

    By Blogger Jim, at 3/22/2007 10:50 AM  

  • I agree with you, Rose~.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/22/2007 11:31 AM  

  • Amen Rose! Very well articulated.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/22/2007 12:17 PM  

  • KC, Jim, Matthew and Dawn,
    Thanks for reading it.

    Jim, I get SPAM when I turn off word Verification. A lot of SPAM. But, since you ask, I will try it again. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/22/2007 1:22 PM  

  • Thanks, Rose for all the scripture you put into this. Very timely of you to repost this!

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/22/2007 1:31 PM  

  • Great post once again, Rose!

    I am going to throw a dead cat in the machinery here, though! I wonder, regarding the part of your original post, Rose, about those that might be able to boast that God loved them more than those that won't be saved. Has anyone here ever met anyone that genuinely believes they are NOT elect, & therefore CANNOT be saved? I knew of one man like that, no, 2 people, that man & a lady. I knew of the man long before I was saved, & the lady just a few years ago in trying to speak to her about salvation. It was truly a hair-pulling experience, & I have very little to pull! I don't know exactly why I threw this dead feline in, just wondering what y'all thought!
    I guess I do know why I put it in. It made this lady certainly focus on herself. She was absolutely CERTAIN she could not be saved because I suppose she had it drilled into her from somewhere. She was so focused on that fact, that therewas no getting her to focus on Christ & His sacrifice for her & His promise to save whosoever would believe in Him.
    If this is useless, then I will not be hurt one tiny bit if everybody ignores it! God Bless y'all.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 3/22/2007 7:57 PM  

  • Missy,
    I am glad you got something out of it.

    David,
    I appreciate your contribution. No dead cat!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/23/2007 1:18 PM  

  • Thanks Rose.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 3/23/2007 9:18 PM  

  • David,

    I was watching an interview with a mob hitman once and he was convinced that he was unsaveable and that he did not deserve to be saved. It was too sad.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/23/2007 10:42 PM  

  • You're right, Dawn. But you know, he was right in the 2nd place but wrong in the 1st! I would step right up with him & agree that neither he nor I nor any of us deserve to be saved. But the wonder of grace is all CAN be.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 3/24/2007 3:57 PM  

  • Amen David! I agree. He was right on the second count, but wrong on the first. Thankfully God's grace is there for us all and we all CAN be saved, if we will but trust in the Lord.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/25/2007 2:13 PM  

  • Amen once again, Dawn!

    You know, I was thinking. Grace is often tested when someone like that mobster who has likely murdered & done other wicked sins, is saved. Those he has murdered may have been "innocent" in the sense that they were moral, upstanding citizens, but lost. When a wicked man such as he is saved & on his way to Heaven, while his victims are in hell, our sensibilies are stretched & we tend to think "Unfair!!" Yet his victims could have trusted Christ while they lived. God's grace is open to all, & all can receive it. Surely none of us have ANY room for boasting! I know I don't. God Bless.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at 3/26/2007 6:29 AM  

  • David: "Surely none of us have ANY room for boasting!"

    Amen David!

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/26/2007 1:54 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 

Who Links Here