Under the study of Calvinism/Arminianism, the statement is made, “Saving faith is not a gift or a work, but a choice to take God at His Word.” How do you understand this statement?
Great question! Actually, this is a good statement, but may need clarification so as not to be misunderstood. Part of it depends on how “gift” is defined.
Faith cannot be a gift in the sense of an outside alien element entered into you. This makes the “believing” inevitable or “automatic.” This is what the regeneration-before-faith position does. But this negates real responsibility.
Faith can be a gift in the sense of someone else convincing you to trust. But you must make the choice to trust. The Holy Spirit does the convincing. You do the believing. This is what the faith-before-regeneration position does. This is real responsibility.
Yet faith is not a work, it’s depending on the worker—Jesus. The Bible refers to those who do not work, but believe (Romans 4:5). So believing is not a work. God-dependence (faith) is something man “does” but is not a human “work.” It’s saying “I can’t, but God can, so I trust God.”
Whether speaking of salvation or Christian growth, there is an order. First, there must always be divine initiation, which is the Spirit’s convincing work. Second, there is human responsibility, which is the faith-response. Third, there is divine enablement, which is God’s response to those who respond to Him. God stirs. Man responds. God works.
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