It’s Not Up To You

William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not.”

Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

For advocates of universal “grace”, God did accomplish all that he intended. For them God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

These universal offer folks are “lying about Jesus.” Your salvation is NOT up to you.

Not only because your faith is NOT up to you.

But also because the faith God gives the elect is NOT their atonement and NOT the righteousness which saves them.

John 5: 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?”

Most professing Christians (even the “reformed”) read the gospel as an “offer” which depends on the sinner. Some of them say that God enables all sinners to believe (even if they don’t) and others say that God enables only the elect to believe. But both groups together agree that faith saves and that faith is the difference between saved and lost. Neither group teaches in their gospel that Jesus died only for elect sinners.

Far too many “reformed” folks teach a fake view of God’s imputation. They teach that God counts faith as the righteousness. This leaves us with an “as though” version of imputation. But in reality even in the legal sharing between elect sinners and a third party ( Christ!), the relationship is not “as if” but is very real. Between Christ and the Trinity, in the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, the imputation does not cause an internal change in Christ (God forbid), but Christ legally (not fictionally) became guilty (under the law) until Christ REALLY died once and then REALLY was no more under the law (Romans 6). And if you think this is ‘contract talk” ” and a bad metaphor over-used, I simply don’t care.

Everybody needs to STOP thinking of imputation as God accepting faith as righteousness. But we won’t get to the bottom of the problem until we start talking about election and the death of Christ being a particular propitiation only for the elect. Whose sins were imputed to Christ? and when were those sins imputed to Christ and by whom? (by God, not by sinners, by God before the propitiation, not after faith)

Acts 3 Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. 2 And a man who was lame from birth WAS CARRIED THERE AND PLACED EVERY DAY at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help.4 Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” 5 So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. 8 So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had
happened to him.

Ephesians 4: 7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the MEASURE OF the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high,
He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

Luke 4–there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was any of them—but to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet NOT ONE OF THEM WAS HEALED—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. 29 They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff.

I Peter 1: 1 Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours[b] through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed

Acts 18: 27 he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.
John 1: 12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man, but of God.

John 6: 36 But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.

II timothy 2:25 Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth

Calvin’s comment on Ephesians 2: 8. For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that, claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.1

Charles Hodge: The only point in the interpretation of these verses of any doubt, relates to the second clause. What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation, or faith? The words καὶ τοῦτο only serve to render more prominent the matter referred to. Compare Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 6:6; Phil. 1:28; Heb. 11:12. They may relate to faith (τὸ πιστεύειν), or to the salvation spoken of (σεσωσμένους εἶναι). Beza, following the fathers, prefers the former reference; Calvin, with most of the modern commentators, the latter. The reasons in favour of the former interpretation are, 1. It best suits the design of the passage. The object of the apostle is to show the gratuitous nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, ‘Ye are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ 2. The other interpretation makes the passage tautological. To say: ‘Ye are saved by faith; not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God; it is not of works,’ is saying the same thing over and over without any progress. Whereas to say: ‘Ye are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God), not of works,’ is not repetitious; the parenthetical clause instead of being redundant does good service and greatly increases the force of the passage. 3. According to this interpretation the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved. ‘Ye are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.’ The middle clause of the verse is therefore parenthetical, and refers not to the main idea ye are saved, but to the subordinate one through faith, and is designed to show how entirely salvation is of grace, since even faith by which we apprehend the offered mercy, is the gift of God. 4 The analogy of Scripture is in favor of this view of the passage, in so far that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God. 1 Cor. 1:26–31

Steve Baugh, Ephesians Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series– καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, “and this does not originate from you.” There is much popular discussion about the word “τοῦτο” (“this”) and its antecedent in v.8b. It is tempting to take the antecedent as “faith” (i.e., “this faith is not from you “; as Hodge…), even though πίστις (“faith”) is feminine and the demonstrative pronoun is neuter. Grammatically, one could suppose that an abstract idea like “faith” or “believing” could be referenced as neuter, but that would make this rather common construction unnecessarily complicated (cd BDF §131). In Greek, events as a whole are treated as neuter singular things with neuter articles (e.g., το πιστευειν, “believing”), neuter relative pronouns (e.g., Eph. 5:5), or neuter demonstrative pronouns as in v. 8b (also, for example: 6:1; 1 Cor 6:6, 8; Phil 1:22, 28; Col 3:20; 1 Thess 5:18 and 1 Tim 2:1–3). Hence the antecedent of τοῦτο [“this’] is the whole event; “being saved by grace through faith.”

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3 Comments on “It’s Not Up To You”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    The only reason God would not count my sins against me is NOT because of my faith but because of Christ’s righteousness (His death which satisfied the law for the elect). To give the forensic the priority is to give first place (logically) to what Christ did outside us.
    I think both Calvin and Luther want to do that. Neither wants to locate the righteousness in what Christ by His Holy Spirit is doing in us. And yet Luther points to faith as Christ’s presence already in us, and puts this faith before justification, and that tends to put our minds on the faith and not on the object of faith (as if we could have Christ first without the benefits of His work)
    Since Luther has an universal atonement, he inherently cannot think that the atonement is decisive, and by default thus makes faith to be the deciding factor. By agreeing to the temporal priority of faith, Calvin at least seems inconsistent in making the righteousness of Christ the only basis of justification.
    At the end of the day, the logical priority of Christ’s atonement as the reason a person is justified is most important. We can disagree with the Finnish view about the early Luther giving first place to Christ within. We can point to Calvin’s refutation of Osiander to make distinctions between various confusing definitions of “union”. But to the extent that people put imputation in second place, and think the Spirit giving faith is the bond of union, they tend to put the accent on “sanctification” as one of the “benefits of union”.
    Woe is me, because I do not feel the grateful “sanctification” flowing out of me. As Ellul said in another context, after all has been said, nothing has been done. Those who put the accent on the “necessary works which result from union” may reassure the Romanists and the moralists that the gospel is not antinomian, but are their theories any more productive of Christian obedience than those of us who are more concerned about “dead works”?
    It seems that neither party in the debate has much to be confident about in terms of the way we perform. What shall we say to these things? Thank God that I am more “gospel awake” than you are?
    Our performance (I mean yours also) should drive back to the gospel of a synthetic righteousness, a righteousness which is not in us but Christ’s death which God imputes to us.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    R C Sproul, Now That’s a Good Question—“According to James, even if I am aware of the work of Jesus, convinced intellectually that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that he rose from the dead I would at that point qualify to be a demon. The demon knows the truth of Christ, but he doesn’t have saving faith.

    he crucial, most vital element of saving faith in the biblical sense, is that of personal trust. The final term is fiducia, referring to a fiduciary commitment by which I put my life in the lap of Jesus. I trust him and him alone for my salvation. That is the crucial element, and it includes the intellectual and the mental. But it goes beyond it to the heart and to the will so that the whole person is caught up in this experience we call faith..


  3. markmcculley Says:

    wcf 11 —. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself,THE ACT OF BELIEVING or any other evangelical obedience to them.

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