| "Faith" in reformed theology?|
I have been studying up on Reformed theology of late. I'm presently reading R.C. Sproul's "What Is Reformed Theology?" I've noticed before this book, but am all the more aware while reading this book, that Reformed theology while it saying saving faith is necessary for salvation, doesn't really seem to mean so. That is, it puts such an emphasis on total depravity, unmerited grace, and limited atonement, that faith doesn't really seem necessary to salvation. Of course, exegetically, Sproul defends why faith is necessary to salvation as opposed to works. However, faith seems to be merely the byproduct of election in their theological outlook, and doesn't really do anything as related to personal salvation... other than to say one needs it in order to be saved. But in reality, why does one need it?
| 2008/7/8 20:36||Profile|
| Re: "Faith" in reformed theology?|
But in reality, why does one need it?
How else, but by Faith, would one appropriate the salvation that Jesus Christ purchased for us.
I guess the real question is, does faith originate with us; is it something we possess that we can present to God, or does faith come to us by the preaching of the Word of God?
"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God"
| 2008/7/8 21:18|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
This is true dear brother that people can have faith in the creed itself and not Christ. What a dangerous error. I believe that is what some puritans spoke of as the most tragic road to hell. The road that goes right under the pulpit!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2008/7/8 21:20||Profile|
I think people misunderstand election. If a person believes that the elect are going to be saved no matter what, is that kind of faith going to save him, of course not. A person must have faith in Jesus Christ and his work of redemption on the cross and believe God raised Him from the dead.
I think it is foolish for a person to believe that he is one of the elect, and no matter what he will be saved, and that people who are not the elect, no matter what they cant be saved.
Where in the bible does it teach us to believe in mans doctrine of election, this thing is higher than mans understanding of so called doctrine of elections.
What part of John 3:16 are we not to understand when it says God so loved the world and when it says whosoever believeth in Him.
Jesus never told his disciples to go to the world and find the elect who are already saved. He never said keep in mind that some are not the elect and is not going to be saved.
The attitude of the apostles was if they dont go people are going to perish. They believe everybody needed to hear and believe.
It is just like salvation and healing, how are we going to receive if we doubt while we are trying to believe. How can we effectively please God if everybody we meet we doubt about whether they can be saved or not because we dont know if there one of the elect. How can we be full of the love of God thinking that anybody we come across that God might not want to save them when He said He did?
| 2008/7/8 21:53||Profile|
Please don't misunderstand me in all this. I'm not trying to stir up controversy or debate, I'm just trying to better grasp and understand Reformed theology. I'm firmly Arminian and have seen many arguments.
I'm just trying to grasp/understand why the Reformed theologian even sees faith as a necessary step in the ordo salutis. Why justification by faith, and not simply justification by mere irresistible election? Why the faith element altogether?
| 2008/7/8 22:32||Profile|
I'll offer a humble explanation.
First, in Reformed theology, the Lord predestines the means as well as the end. In other words, we believe we are predestined for adoption in Christ before the foundation of the world; however, God has appointed the [b]means[/b] of receiving the benefits of the Gospel as faith, an emptying, resting upon the Lord Jesus as the sole satisfaction for the punishment due my sins before God.
"All that I would infer from these things is, that the faith whereby we believe unto the justification of life, or which is required of us in a way of duty that we may be justified, is such an act of the whole soul whereby convinced sinners do wholly go out of themselves to rest upon God in Christ for mercy, pardon, life, righteousness, and salvation, with an acquiescence of heart therein; which is the whole of the truth pleaded for." (John Owen)
The Lord has appointed the means of salvation for the elect as justifying faith, without which, it is impossible to please God. One of many mistakes is to assume that Reformed theology does not have predestined means.
Likewise, we believe in the perseverance of the saints, so why not be lazy and do nothing in the ways of God? God forbid. We also believe in means in which growth in grace is accomplished. These are the preached word, Bible study, prayer, the Lord's table, baptism, communion with the saints, etc.
Also, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." (Psalm 110:3)
The Lord has seen fit that His elect be not a dead, unwilling people. But a converted, regenerated, loving people.
I'm off to bed, so I won't be able to respond any further tonight, but I hope that was somewhat helpful.
| 2008/7/8 22:51||Profile|
This may be helpful too...
"In Acts 27:22 God made known that He had ordained the temporal preservation of all who accompanied Paul in the ship; yet the Apostle did not hesitate to say, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved" (v. 31). God appointed that means for the execution of what He had decreed. From 2 Kings 20 we learn that God was absolutely resolved to add fifteen years to Hezekiah's life, yet he must take a lump of figs and lay it on his boil! Paul knew that he was eternally secure in the hand of Christ (John 10:28), yet he "kept under his body" (1 Cor. 9:27). The Apostle John assured those to whom he wrote, "Ye shall abide in Him," yet in the very next verse he exhorted them, "And now, little children, abide in Him" (1 John 2:27, 28). It is only by taking heed to this vital principle, that we are responsible to use the means of God's appointing, that we shall be enabled to preserve the balance of Truth and be saved from a paralyzing fatalism." (A.W. Pink)
| 2008/7/8 22:57||Profile|
Why justification by faith, and not simply justification by mere irresistible election? Why the faith element altogether?
Justification by mere irresistible election is not found in the bible as being the way a person is saved. The gift of God is salvation. The gift of God is repentance.
The gift of God is faith to a person to believe in Christ and what He did for Him. God gave man a will so he must surrender that will when the Holy Spirit convicts him of his lost condition and enables Him to put his trust in Jesus for salvation.
Man was given a free will in the beginning and because of sin man's will is in bondage. God's desire is to free man's will again so that He can love God. God enables man by his Spirit and frees man's will to put his faith in Jesus and to obey. Man is then able to will to do God's will.
God never intended man to be a robot and not have a free will.
We can not be saved by the works of the Law neither can we be saved apart from appropriating faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.
The bible says it is by grace through faith.
| 2008/7/8 22:57||Profile|
| Re: "Faith" in reformed theology?|
Hello KingJimmy, this is a good observation. I'm glad you are going to Reformed sources to learn about their views.
Speaking as a Reformed person, at least soteriologically, I will suggest immediately that Sproul may not be an adequate representative of the entire Reformed tradition. Sproul's views should be balanced with those of other Calvinist (I prefer "Pauline", but even Paul said He got his doctrine from Christ, so we're back to being "Christian") believers.
As an observation, every generation of believers is tempted to over react against whatever cultural swings seem most dangerous. Today, when Reformed believers find themselves occupying a tiny wing of the gargantuan professing Church, it should not surprise us if such affect is given to declaring their chief differences in doctrine. Looking outside of their polemical defenses, we will likely find more accurate presentations of their values.
Before showing some pertinent quotes, I will suggest perusing works by Joseph Alleine, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Sibbes, Luther, John Newton, to see how radiantly each emphasizes faith, though that emphasis is always subordinate to its object, Christ. In more recent times, consider Paul Washer (who first exposed my lack of genuine faith) or John Piper (who reminded me not to place faith in my faith, but in the finished work of Christ for everyone who will believe) or Rolfe Barnard, etc.
Here is a series of Paul Washer sermons, entitled "It comes down to Faith."
[url=http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?sourceonly=true&currSection=sermonssource&keyword=gcc&subsetcat=series&subsetitem=By+Faith]It comes down to Faith[/url]
Here are some quotes by various Reformed brothers on the subject of faith, and may God bless you through them...
Our heavenly king is pleased with all our graces: hot zeal and cool patience pleaseth Him; cheerful thankfulness and weeping repentance pleaseth Him; but none of them are welcome to Him without faith, as nothing can please Him without Christ.
Other graces make us like Christ, faith makes us members of Christ.
All other graces like birds in a nest depend upon what faih brings in to them.
Faith is the captain grace.
The soul is the life of the body, Faith is the life of the soul. Christ is the life of faith.
Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins.
Where reason cannot wade there faith may swim.
We must understand that faith does not justify and save us by itself. . . but as an instrument, whereby we lay hold of and apply to ourselves Christ with His righteousness and merits, by which only we appear just before God. A small and weak hand, if it be able to reach the meat up to the mouth, as well performs its duty for the nourishment of the body as one of greater strength, because it is not the strength of the hand but the goodness of the meat which nourishes the body.
Faith is seated in the understanding, as well as in the will. It has an eye to see Christ, as well as a wing to fly to Him.
Faith, hough it hath sometimes a trembling hand, it must not have a withered hand, but must stretch.
Judas knew the scriptures and without doubt did assent to them, when he was so zealous a preacher of the gospel; but he never had so much as one drachma of justifying faith in his soul. . . Yea, Judas' master, the devil himself, is one far enough (I suppose) from justifying faith, yet he assents to the truth of the Word. . . Assent to the truth is but an act of the understanding, which reprobates and devils may exercise. But justifying faith is a compounded habit, and hath its seat both in the understanding and will: and, therefore, called a "believing with the heart" (Rom 10:10) yea, a "believing with all the heart." (Acts 8:37)
It is the office of faith to believe what we do not see, and it shall be the reward of faith to see what we do believe.
Faith is your spiritual optic.
It is the nature of faith to believe God upon His bare word. . . 'it will not be', saith sense; 'it cannot be', saith reason; 'it both can and will be,' saith faith, 'for I have a promise for it.'
If faith were assurance, then a man's sins would be pardoned before he believes, for he must necessarily be pardoned before he can know that he is pardoned. The candle must be lighted before I can see it is lighted. The child must be born before I can be assured it is born. The object of faith must be before the act. Assurance is rather the fruit of faith, than faith itself. It is in faith as the flower is in the root; faith in time, after much communion with God, acquaintance with the Word, and experience of His dealing with the soul, may flourish into assurance. But as the root truly lives before the flower appears, and continues when that hath shed its beautiful leaves, and is gone again: so doth true justifying faith live before assurance comes and after it disappears.
Faith is not assurance. If it were, Saint John might have speared his pains, who wrote "to them that believe on the name of the Son of god, that they might know that they have eternal life." They might then have said, "We do this already."
How weak soever the believer finds himself, and how powerful soever he perceives his enemy to be, it is all one to him, he hath no more to do but to put faith on work, and to wait till God works.
Finally, if I may answer your question, "why [does] the Reformed theologian even sees faith as a necessary step in the ordo salutis. Why justification by faith, and not simply justification by mere irresistible election? Why the faith element altogether?"
Amongst myriad excellent answers, God uses faith as a means of bestowing His determined gifts simply because He is pleased to make foolish things the method of His wisdom.
| 2008/7/8 23:03||Profile|
Thanks for your response. Just a request so this thread doesn't go bonkers and become a debate between Calvinism/Arminianism, but could you please limit your responses on this issue to explanations of Reformed theology? I have my fair share of hangups with Reformed theology (my present reading of RC Sproul's book is filled with counter arguments in the margins).
I'm just trying to grasp/understand their view :-)
| 2008/7/8 23:05||Profile|