We submit the following in hopes readers will enhance their understanding of what the Word of God clearly teaches and thus avoid the subtle humanistic deception that is widespread in today's evangelicalism and fundamentalism—the serious error of making faith the cause of salvation. This is a semantic issue in the identical sense Genesis 3:1 was an issue of accurate vs. inaccurate wording.
Pursuant to the progressive revelation of Scripture, it is God the Holy Spirit via the Apostles who sets forth the a priori nature of grace and the a posteriori nature of faith, while simultaneously avoiding the thought that grace and faith are separated chronologically in time or experience.
The CAUSE of salvation is election, mercy, and grace, not faith.
Clearly, the CAUSE of our salvation is God's sovereign choice. God's choice (election) reflects His nature of Love and Mercy. This is the central theme of much of the New Testament—the Gospel (Good News) of Christ. Contrary to widespread misunderstanding, grace is NOT some magical force or substance which flows through a particular Church, bishop, priest, or religious sacrament (often referred to as a "vehicle of grace")—all false claims. God's GRACE is Love, Mercy, and Kindness in supernatural action; it is undeserved Divine favor.
The MEANS of salvation is faith, not grace.
Scripture does use the phrase by faith, but these two words must be read in context to understand their precise meaning. In the mind of the Apostles, faith is always the antithesis of works. Works, in any biblical age, were never the means of salvation. The moral law was given to inform us of our lost condition. A few examples will illustrate:
"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law (Jewish works)? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law (Jewish works)." Romans 3:27-28
"It was not through law (Jewish works as the means) that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith." Romans 4:13
"For I can testify about them (Jews) that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God (by means of faith) and sought to establish their own (by the works of the Law), they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (faith)." Romans 10:2-4
Salvation, and all things/elements attendant, are a gift from God. "Salvation comes from the Lord." It is not something which can be worked for, earned, or in any fashion merited. A "gift" is never extended upon the basis of whether someone is good or bad, or whether it is deserved. Jesus taught this concept (grace) in His parable of the hired workers (Matthew 20:1-16). Carefully note the grumbling and objections questioning the landowner's (God) fairness (justice) with regard to gift giving. Note the landowner's response.
"Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius (the going rate for a day's wage)? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" Matthew 20:13-15.
The Holy Spirit sovereignly uses the message of Jesus Christ's life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, to enable an otherwise spiritually blind and deaf sinner to "see," "hear," and believe the Word in order to accept the Savior and thereby be regenerated—born again. It's supernatural start to finish; it's a sovereignly-initiated miracle. Have some invented "another gospel", one which is more compatible with the egalitarian spirit of the age?
According to Romans 10:17 together with other portions of the Word, neither the ability to hear the message nor the specific faith necessary to believe the gospel message are pre-existent within any individual, nor has this hearing or faith been universally imparted (erroneous 'common grace' theory) to all mankind at any point following the Fall. If this were the case, human pride could and most certainly does gain a potential foothold in the drama of redemption. If biblical faith was pre-existent within all humanity, it could not be said to "come". The power to believe comes via a chain of sovereign workings of God and results in the conversion of lost sinners.
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never go thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:35-37
"Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:43-44
Have some today invented "another gospel", one which is more compatible with the egalitarian spirit of the age?
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