Do Calvinists believe in salvation by faith alone? Quick answer: No. But don’t quit reading. . .

When I was in undergrad, my professor made us have a debate in theology class. For the debate, he had us represent the position to which we did not adhere. He was quite excited, I think, to have me – the only Calvinist in the class (indeed, the school) – represent the Arminian position (blast him!!). Being an undergraduate course, it was very general. So my task was simple: to argue that Arminianism, in general, presents the best explanation of salvation, while Calvinism falls short. I came to appreciate this assignment much more than I thought I would. More importantly, I really think I won the debate (even though the prof said I lost). There were a couple of issues that I focused on to undermine Calvinism during this debate. I will mention only one.

Calvinists, such as myself, love two analogies: first, we like the one about the dead man in a grave. This represents the doctrine of depravity and spiritual mortality. We are dead spiritually. This means that we are eternal haters of God by nature (Eph. 2:1-5). Dead! How do you preach to a dead man? You can shout and scream at the grave all day long, but there won’t be any response. The dead must be raised in order to respond. God must make us alive before we can have faith in him. The second analogy is like the first, but has a good twist.  It is the analogy of physical birth to spiritual birth. As the sound-bite version goes, “Just as a baby naturally cries out after it has been born, so believers cry out to God in faith after they have been born again.” In other words, our calling upon God to save us, our turning to God in repentance, and our faith in him come only as a result of being regenerated. The natural man cannot accept the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). The Gospel is most definitely a “thing of God.” Therefore, the natural man must be turned into a spiritual man before he can accept the Gospel. To have faith, God must be the instigator. To have faith, we must be born again.

Maybe you can see where I am going. During Bogaski’s class, I found the Achilles heel of Calvinism (or so I thought). It was simple: Since Calvinists believe that regeneration precedes faith, they do not really believe in salvation by faith alone! Faith was not the instrumental cause of salvation after all; regeneration was. Therefore, faith was a result of salvation. In this, Calvinists denied a central tenet of Protestantism. They (um . . . we) denied salvation by faith alone!

Arminians, on the other hand, were true Protestants who could say that they possessed an unqualified belief in salvation by faith alone. While they would agree that a dead man cannot respond, they would say that Christ makes all alive through prevenient grace. But this grace does not save. It only neutralizes the effects of spiritual deadness so the hostile sinner has a legitimate chance to make the instrumental choice of faith for or against God.  Therefore, their own faith, which has been given opportunity through God’s grace, is the instrumental cause of their salvation. Arminians do believe in salvation by faith alone.

However, this is quite misleading. I, at the time, did not understand something about the doctrine of sola fide (“faith alone”): No one has ever claimed that salvation is by faith alone. This is not a Protestant doctrine. We believe in justification by faith alone. This is what sola fide means. And Calvinists (along with Arminians) both believe that justification – the forensic declaration of our righteousness based solely on the merits of Christ – is brought about by faith.

Often, in theological language, we distinguish between salvation and the individual aspects of salvation. Ultimately salvation is much more than justification or regeneration. Involved in salvation are redemption, justification, adoption, conversion, calling, election, sanctification, glorification, and faith. Some of these happened in the past, some will happen in the future. But they are all part of our salvation. Even the Scriptures say that we have been saved (Eph. 2:8), are being saved (1 Cor. 1:18), and will be saved (Rom. 5:9). Which is it? Well, it depends on which aspect of salvation we are talking about. Justification is a once and for all event that is always past for the believer. Sanctification is an ongoing process which will culminate at the resurrection. But both fall under the broader umbrella of “salvation.” Of course Scripture does not always use such precise language to speak about such things, nor should we expect it to.

We often refer to this as the ordo salutis (Lat. “order of salvation”). While many aspects in our salvation, such as faith and justification, regeneration and conversion, do not follow a temporal order, they often follow a logical order. Logically, faith comes before justification in the ordo. Here is a look at the generally accepted ordo to which most Calvinists adhere.


The Arminian ordo looks a bit different:


And the Catholic ordo looks different still.

And we should not read too much into the fact that Calvinists put faith before justification. Calvinists do not believe that faith has any intrinsic efficacy. As Berkholf put it:

“Justifying faith does not justify by any meritorious or inherent efficacy of its own, but only as the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ. [The Reformers] regarded this faith primarily as a gift of God and only secondarily as an activity of man in dependence on God.” (Systematic Theology, 497)”

In the end, Calvinists do not believe in salvation by faith alone. We believe in justification by faith alone. But salvation is by God’s grace alone (sola gratia). Every aspect of the ordo is completely in God’s hands. Even the faith that we have is a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-9). While humans take part in both faith and sanctification, this does not make them meritorious for or even causal in our salvation. Salvation is ultimately by God alone (soli deo).

Therefore, while I feel I won that debate so many years ago (even though the professor did not seem to want to recognize the distinction I have made here), I only did so by creating a straw man of my own position. However, as for the other attack on my Calvinism, I feel it was legitimate and would still use it today. Another time, we might talk about it . . .

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    138 replies to "Do Calvinists Really Believe in Salvation by Faith Alone?"

    • Tio Papo

      In the first graphic, the non elect is not a free entity!

      Sorry cant accept that, no one lives like that not even Calvinists. Apply the same argument to relativists to Calvinists and you’ll see what I mean!

    • C Michael Patton

      It depends on what you mean by free. In neither are people always free in a libertarian sense. You will have to go to pelagianism to find natural neutrality. Even the Eastern Orthodox church hold to a broken will that is bent toward their sin. Our fallen nature assumes broken “freedom”.

      However, if you mean that people are free to act according to their desires, then all side hold to freedom.

    • The whole Reformed history and reality, really does tie itself back into a foundation that goes back into the Church Fathers, and into the Holy Scripture and the Judaistic life and reality of the Jewish people itself. And here certainly is also the foundation of the OT, but that also leads to the NT reality too, which is historically Greco-Roman and Hellenistic. The point here is that our Judeo-Christian theology is always historical in its theological reality. And it is here that since the Reformation and also the Reformed heritage and tradition, that we are somewhat bound by the Augustinian positions themselves. As we know in fact that both Luther and Calvin, as too Beza, etc. were very connected here. I am always somewhat amazed how this Augustinian history and connection gets pressed into the background. It is here, for myself at least that the so-called modern Reformed have had several good historical theologians, I won’t quote the whole here. But I will mention in our time the grand works of Richard Muller! His book: The Unaccommodated Calvin, etc. is perhaps just foundational to my mind at least.

      So “Calvinisim” never drops just out of the Bible by itself, as it has its history, formation and even scholastic reality. And I speak of a Protestant and Reformed Scholasticism, in the positive myself.

    • Jeremy Myers

      Good distinction, and valid. I am not a Calvinist (not an Arminian either), but we do need to be precise when discussing such theological ideas.

    • Btw, we should note that the theological system of Calvin, and later “Calvinism” was I think founded chiefly by the Institutes, and especially as formed by Theodore Beza. I am not speaking negatively at all, for I am myself positive of both Calvin and Beza. But all theology is something of a systematic movement and even development, as we can see from the OT to the NT in itself. And we can see the later development of Calvinism itself, from the likes of the early 17th century, and the so-called Calvinistic Methodism, etc. Also the great Calvinistic Creeds are also historical, in their own time. My point, is the constant need to press Calvinism, past and present, into the interface of the Holy Scripture itself, even Reformed and Calvinistic history has the Ecclesia semper reformada, i.e. the church always reformimg. And so we should and must have Reformed dialogue, and differences!

    • Oh yes, I am certainly Reformed and “Calvinistic”, but certainly towards the Anglican aspects historically. 🙂

    • @Michael: Would you see a most definite law-gospel analogy in Calvin and Calvinism? Noting, Rom. 8:4, etc. Does not “regeneration” and “the new Man or nature” (Col. 3:10) itself effect the ability of faith, but surely always faith as a gift also, (Eph. 2:10). Note, I am not a “Lutheran” here! 😉 (I have a few friends who say this position is “Catholic”!)

    • Jeff Ayers


      You wrote “Salvation is ultimately by God alone (soli deo).” You claim this monergistic position in text, while hold in your graphic that “Conversion” is “God-man” based upon man’s repentance and faith.

      Giving double speak to this contradiction by saying “Every aspect of the ordo is completely in God’s hands. Even the faith that we have is a gift of God’s grace”, does NOT change the fact that they are mutually exclusive.

      Either Justification is obtained by a MAN placing his faith in Christ (regardless of the fact the “faith” is a gift) or justification is NOT by faith and IT is imputed by God to man monergistically REGARDLESS OF ANY PERFUNCTORY GESTURE (like faith and repentance) ON THE PART OF MAN.

      Simply put, if the monergism you espouse is consistent, then NOTHING man can or will do (even if faith is a gift) is necessary or required for his Justification.

      Lastly, I noticed you completely omitted any and all comment on the “repentance” portion of the “God-man” portion in “Conversion”.

    • C Michael Patton


      Thanks for the comment. You can see that repentance is in the ordo graph on conversion. Repentance is the other side of the coin of faith.

      Second, faith is a gift. Eph 2:8-9 makes that clear. Therefore, even the part of the ordo that God includes man in is of God so that “no one may boast.”

      Finally, here on P&P we try to speak with great respect, giving people the benefit of the doubt. So try to refrain from statements like “Giving double speak to this contradiction”. Here is a rephrase which is much more acceptable on this blog (not to mention for profitable an open conversation).

      “It seems like you are double speaking and offering a contradiction. Could you explain?”

      Same thing, entirely different effect.


    • C Michael Patton


      I don’t know enough about that to speak to you question. I am sorry.

    • @Michael: That’s fine, like you I always come down on the side of God’s hand and providence, HE is Sovereign! My Catholic friends are always seeking to stump me! 😉 I always send them to Alister McGrath’s Iustitia Dei, A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification.

      Btw, as to monergism, of course we could bring Scripture like John 6:37 ; 6:44 ; 6:63-65.

    • C Michael Patton

      Or Thomas Oden’s Justifation Reader.

    • Jeff Ayers

      Point taken Michael—no disrespect meant. I do sincerely apologize.

      Quite the contrary, I hold a great deal of respect for you and your opinions (or i wouldn’t bother writing).

      But, back to the point I so rudely (and apparently unsuccessfully made) was that when a man must exercise faith to be justified it is still man exercising faith to be justified. The fact that it is a gift does NOT change the fact that MAN is a part of the Ordo Salutis and is ESSENTIAL and not optional, thereby vitiating the statement you made that salvation is all of God.

      You must ask yourself, as a thinking and logical person, if a man did not use the GIFT of faith to be justified then would that person be justified?

      If yes, then you do not hold to Sola Fide for justification.
      If no, then you do not hold to “Salvation is ultimately by God alone (soli deo).”. for the justification/ salvation was not “by God ALONE”.

      BTW A good suggestion, I try to avoid, is to never use the words “clear” or “clearly” to try to prove my point; for if it was clear, then we would have no disagreements. For example I think it is “clear” (LOL) that the “Gift” in Eph 2:8,9 is NOT the faith, but the antecedent to “That” is the salvation.

      I will reserve comment on repentance being “the other side of the same coin”, if you will respond to this post.

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Jeff, I appreciate your humility there.

      I would say that this may be where we are parting. “”if a man did not use the GIFT of faith”. This would assume a position that faith is given to all and then one has to decide whether or not to use it. At least I think it would. When the gift of faith is given, from the Calvinist’s perspective, it is a result of regeneration so it would never not be used (is that a double negative?). Therefore, it is intrinsically tied to the new birth. It is not so much mans part in the ordo, but mans response. Hope that makes sense.

    • Indeed Oden’s Justification Reader is grand! Some of my Catholic friends don’t always get the blunt of Scripture, so I send them to historical theological books like McGrath’s “Iustitia”. And of course Augustine had a place for GOD’s prevenient grace, which for Augustine prepare’s man’s will for justification. But even for Augustine the work of regeneration is itself the work of the Holy Spirit. And as McGrath noted the appropriation of the divine love to the person of the Holy Spirit is regarded as one of the most profound elements of/in Augustine’s doctrine of the Trinity. Only the Holy Spirit enables man to love! And for the man who have some kind of faith, and yet not love, has nothing! But the Spirit Himself is that love of God!

    • *has

    • C Michael Patton

      Yeah, Fr. I would liken Augustine’s previenient grace to the reformed “common grace.” Do you think that is accurate?

    • PS..I was loosely quoting Augustine! (By my poor memory at the end.)

    • Yes, I see the connection, but I would have to think it out some more? I am always “thinking”! 😉 But I hope not “overthinking”?

    • Ananya

      Great post and commentary!

    • Michael Bell

      “Second, faith is a gift. Eph 2:8-9 makes that clear.”

      No it doesn’t make that clear!

      In Ephesians 2:8-9 the subject is our salvation. Therefore the gift is salvation. The gift is given “by Grace” (God’s part) and received by Faith (Our part).

      Thoughout scripture the author of faith is consistently human. Hebrews 11 gives a few examples. Notice the end of the chapter: “These were all commended for their faith.” Why would they have been commended if it had just been a gift from God.

    • Michael Bell

      I would also like to point out that most Arminians do not believe that you can “lose your faith”. Rather it is a conscience rejection of Christ that places one on a path to destruction.

    • Brandon

      Hey brother great article. Can I humbly suggest a proofread? I saw a few typos. Anyway, I like the graphics. Just thought I’d tell you about the typos.

    • Ronnie

      “Conditional damnation”?

      I’m not positive what you mean but are you suggesting that, according to Calvinism, election is unconditional but reprobation is somehow conditional? That’s utterly inconsistent with the logic of Calvinism.

    • C Michael Patton

      Well, unless one believes in double-predestination or retrobutionism, which most evangelical Calvinists don’t, the state of the non-elect is conditioned upon their own choice (which will never change). In other words the non-elect state is conditioned on them, not an eternal positive decree of God.

    • Ronnie

      That’s exactly right Michael; most Calvinists are utterly inconsistent with the logic of Calvinism.

      though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      It’s frustrating that so many Calvinists shy away from a consistent interpretation of a text like this (not to mention a consistent application of their logic about what “God’s sovereignty” means and what it entails).

      disclaimer: I’m not a Calvinist

    • Ryan McGee

      Hi michael
      Im new to the board and been following your blog for awhile but i figured I would chime in. Came across this quote from Calvins Commentaries on Eph 2:9 translated by Pringle.
      “And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”

      Seems that apart from understanding the grammar of the passage itself, not even Calvin held to faith being a gift of God.

      Link to commentary here:

    • Inchristus

      “While humans take part in both faith and sanctification, this does not make them meritorious for or even causal in our salvation. Salvation is ultimately by God alone (soli deo).”

      “But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” (Jon 2:9).

      Well done, Michael.

    • Brian Jones

      “While humans take part in both faith and sanctification, this does not make them meritorious for or even causal in our salvation. ”

      Michael, I’m trying to think of a new analogy that would help the avg. non-theologically trained person understand this. Any ideas?

      This is a VERY hard concept to get across. At least for me.

    • Amen there Michael, thank goodness that “logic” alone does not press or understand so-called “Calvinism”. And the reprobate are always left alone to their own will, though in great ignorance. They choose with a sinful will their own way, and they like it, or prefer it. The Doctrines of Grace only affect the Election of Grace! (Prov. 2:18-19)

    • Indeed Calvin knew that salvation included both “faith” and “works”, but faith is never “of yourselves it is God’s gift. Not of works…”, but.. “We are His masterpiece, having been created IN CHRIST JESUS for good works which God previously prepared that (literally) in them we should walk.” (Eph. 2:9-10)

      Indeed by grace, “faith” and “works” are both God’s gift, in salvation! But there is also a “temporal order” of causes and effects, thru which the salvation of the sinner is wrought. But this emphasis is upon God’s eternal decree and its execution in time. This is the doctrine of the Reformed Faith!

    • Btw, Calvinism, unlike Lutheranism closely connects justification and sanctification, but they are still separate in Reformed dogmatics. But “biblically” they work closely together! (1 Cor. 5: 11)

    • Ron

      The Doctrines of Grace only affect the Election of Grace!

      There is literally nothing in a consistent interpretation of the passage I quoted to suggest this (and your citation of a proverbs about prostitution doesn’t change that).

      It’s probably the case that most Calvinists simply don’t like the idea of unconditional reprobation because they find it cruel and unfair. This, and only this, is what drives their inconsistent interpretation of Romans 9.

      Who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?

      WCF: “God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”

      “Whatsoever” includes reprobation. Man’s sin is simply the means by which the reprobate are damned. This is the logic of historic, consistent Calvinism.

    • @Ron: You might want to look a little deeper into the history of Calvinism! The fact is, many, if not most of the Reformed Creeds are written from the position of the Infralapsarian – I will let you do your homewerk here! Thankfully there are other views besides the Supralapsarian.

      And the quotation from Proverbs, was meant to be Prov. 4:18-19! (So chaper 2 was incorrect, my poor memory) 😉

    • Here is a quote from the Irish Articles 1615, written foremost by that great Anglican, Archbishop James Ussher..

      Of God’s eternal decree, and Predestination.

      11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.

      12. By the same eternal counsel God hath predestinated some unto life, and reprobated some unto death: of both which there is a certain number, known only to God, which can neither be increased nor diminished.

      13. Predestination to life, is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed in his secret counsel to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honor.

      14. The cause moving God to predestinate unto life, is not the foreseeing of faith, or perseverance, or good works, or of any thing which is in the person predestinated, but only the good pleasure of God himself. For all things being ordained for the manifestation of his glory, and his glory being to appear both in the works of his Mercy and of his Justice; it seemed good to his heavenly wisdom to choose out a certain number towards whom he would extend his undeserved mercy,…

    • 14…

      14. The cause moving God to predestinate unto life, is not the foreseeing of faith, or perseverance, or good works, or of any thing which is in the person predestinated, but only the good pleasure of God himself. For all things being ordained for the manifestation of his glory, and his glory being to appear both in the works of his Mercy and of his Justice; it seemed good to his heavenly wisdom to choose out a certain number towards whom he would extend his undeserved mercy, leaving the rest to be spectacles of his justice.

    • Ron

      You’re mistaken Robert. The lapsarian question need not come into play here.

      You can embrace double predestination and be an infralapsarian (even though infras may not lay it out exactly like I did above).

      Even if I’m wrong about this, it only speaks to the historical question. To say that reprobation is God’s reaction to sin completely destroys the symmetry of Romans 9:11-13.

      I will make two points about the lapsarian debate though:

      1. Appealing to infralapsarianism logically gets you nowhere. Ok, people are reprobated because of their sin, but they’re sinful only because God decreed that they be so. It’s a game.

      2. Logically speaking, there is nothing that would make us prefer infralapsarianism over supralapsarianism. Again, Calvinists reject the latter simply because it seems cruel and unfair. Turretin wrote that it “does not appear to agree sufficiently with [God’s] unspeakable goodness.”

      Who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?

    • @Brian: This is a grand quote from “InChristus”. The point being that GOD is really the player and mover over man, sinful man is always the passive actor in the things of God. Indeed a mystery, but still none the less.. God’s Mystery in His “causal” order! Btw, let me recommend a book here: Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism, by Willem J. Van Asselt. With the foreward by Richard Muller. Indeed a Protestant, Reformed Scholastcism is simply neccessary and historical to an understanding of the Reformed Faith!

    • @Ron: Again mate, your seeking to make it an either or? And I am simply seeking to point us to the “mystery” of both God, and His Holy Scripture! Something sadly often lacking with many so-called modern Calvinists. And again, one can only press “logic” so far here! GOD is much more than the great logician, it is here that men like old Tertullian can really help us, with his profound understanding of the Antitheses in God! (See, btw, Eric Osborn’s fine book: Tertullian, First Theologian of the West.)

    • And I am myself never one to talk back to God! 😉 Though I do use my mind to grapple with His Mystery! But of course in the end, I am nothing, but dust.. and yet as Paul says: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Cor. 4:7) 🙂

    • Ron

      So in other words, when non-Calvinists appeal to God’s goodness and justice as reasons for rejecting Calvinism, they are placing mere human reasoning and “emotions” over “the clear teaching of Scripture.”

      But when Calvinists appeal to God’s goodness and justice to reject unconditional reprobation and a consistent reading of Romans 9, they are simply making proper use of “mystery” and appropriately refraining from being too logical.

    • Ron

      But of course in the end, I am nothing, but dust

      I actually believe we are nothing but dust. If I’m not mistaken (from previous interactions with you), you believe that humans are essentially immaterial, immortal souls.

    • @Ron: I am somewhat missing your ad hoc in or towards Romans 9? I know you are “playing a bit of the devils advocate here”!

      And, I don’t remember you, sir? I am over 60, but I hope a young 62? 😉

      Indeed Man, or humanity are spirit and souls. And like Plato, I believe the soul is immoral! But, I am also close to Traducianism, and see the soul as somehow part of the body, and for Augustine, the two constituents make up a human being. But of course at death the soul and spirit depart and return to God.

    • *immortal (wow, yes often times immoral also! 😉

    • @Michael, was that last a Freudian slip? As a Calvinist? 😉

    • Ron

      I am not playing devil’s advocate, nor am I being ad hoc. I believe you are misusing the latter.

      The point I’m making is abundantly clear. So much so that I can’t help but think that anyone who says he doesn’t get what I’m arguing is either not carefully reading my posts or being coy. In light of that, I retire from this exchange with you.

      And I did remember correctly. On your view, you are absolutely not dust. At most, a non-essential part of you is dust.

    • C Michael Patton


      Yes, Calvin was representing the grammar faithfully. The issue is what is the antecedent to “that”. Is it faith or salvation. Priority is normally given to the gender inflection, which favors the antecedent being salvation. However, the neuter suggests that it is the entire salvation process, including faith, that is the gift.

      That faith is a gift of grace is not disputed by any Christian tradition that I know of. Even Catholics hold to this.

      Here is what the Pillar commentary says:

      The context demands that this be understood of salvation by grace as a whole, including the faith (or faithfulness) through which it is received.

    • C Michael Patton

      Also, here is the Word Biblical Commentary:

      “and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In the history of interpretation τοῦτο has been taken by some to refer specifically to the last word in the preceding clause, “faith” (among recent commentators cf. Caird, 53), so that even faith itself is explicitly said not to come from a human source but from God as his gift. But the parallelism of the two clauses of v 8b and v 9 suggests, rather, that both are comments about the introductory clause of v 8a. τοῦτο is probably best taken, therefore, as referring to the preceding clause as a whole, and thus to the whole process of salvation it describes, which of course includes faith as its means (cf. also Abbott, 51; Gaugler, 98; Bruce, 51; Schlier, 115; Gnilka, 129; Mitton, 97; Schnackenburg, 98). “Not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” can be seen as a further explanation of the grace aspect of salvation. The precise wording has no antecedent in Paul, but the thought reflects his belief accurately. ἐκ here denotes origin, cause, or source, so οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν excludes the readers’ causation or authorship of their salvation. The equivalent thought in Paul is his setting the righteousness that comes from God over against people’s own righteousness based on law (cf. Rom 10:3; Phil 3:9; cf. also Rom 9:16). A literal rendering of the second part of v 8b would be “God’s is the gift.” θεοῦ has been placed first in the word order for the sake of an emphatic contrast with the ὑμῶν. Salvation has its source not in the readers but in God, and it comes from him as a gift. τὸ δῶρον is used only here in the Pauline corpus. Elsewhere in Ephesians ἡ δωρεά is the term employed for gift (cf. 3:7; 4:7), and it is this term which was, in fact, used by Paul to refer to the generosity of God’s activity in Christ on behalf of men and women (cf. Rom 3:24; 5:15, 17; 2 Cor 9:15).

      Lincoln, A. T. (2002). Vol. 42: Word Biblical Commentary : Ephesians. Word Biblical Commentary (111–112). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

    • Steve Martin

      I do think that Calvinists believe in ‘faith alone’ as all one needs for salvation.

      Trouble is that they don’t have any assurance. So doubt creeps in and the internal examinations start. That is a formula for despair…or pride.

    • John

      Michael, how do you interpret John 5:40 where Jesus says to the pharisees…”and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” This verse, and others in John, have always seemed to indicate to me that people do actually have some sort of decision-making process in the order.

    • Amen Michael! Paul was the first “Paulinist”..grace & glory, and always the doctrine of God, triune, from Him comes all gifts and glory! Funny, that wonderful verse from the Letter of James comes to mind:

      “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights , with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” (James 1: 17) Wow, talk about a “Calvinist” presuppositional verse! Indeed the whole Word of God is presuppositional to God’s, great glory “the Father of lights”!

    • Carl D'Agostino

      Anne Hutchinson took it a step further. Although faith is important it does not bring salvation. Only grace does.

    • Darryl

      Just one observation: I have a problem in arguing from analogies in general. No analogy is perfect. Spiritual death and physical death are not completely analogous are they? After all, someone who is spiritually dead is still thinking, moving, and acting. They still possess a spirit that somehow moves and acts within them, even if it is unregenerate. So to say it is “dead” as a body is “dead” when a person dies and therefore is incapable of doing anything, or responding to spiritual promptings misrepresents reality.

    • Eagle

      First you have to remember that Christianity is a cancer on the earth. It hurts more people then it helps.

      But if I am going to run with this post you also have to remember that Christianity (especially as the Calvinistas practice it) is a faith for the self rightous. As long as one is missional and reformed one can do whatever they want. Soon you can create a theology that can justify abortion, terrorism, murder, creating child porn etc.. Why allow someone to live if God hates them? Why carry that child to term? The humane thing is to terminate the pregnancy. That molestation of the 5 year old can produce charachter for that person through suffering you know.

      It also puts events such as September 11 in a new perspective. I guess that means that putting on the armor of God means grabbing a box cutter before boarding a 767. But that’s Islamic Christianity for you.

      So for the glory of God what’s the next target going to be? US Bank Tower in Los Angeles? Space Needle in Seattle? Or John Hancock Tower in Chicago…

      But as I said…Christianity is a cancer.

    • Darryl

      I would also agree that we are saved through grace alone.

    • Ron

      Eagle, do you care to explain what your bizarre rant has to do with the topic at hand?

      Islamic Christianity? Cancer that helps people? What on Earth is going on here? 🙂

    • wm tanksley

      Steve Martin, are you saying that Calvinists don’t have any assurance? On what grounds do you hold that?

      Someone else said: “The fact that it is a gift does NOT change the fact that MAN is a part of the Ordo Salutis and is ESSENTIAL and not optional, thereby vitiating the statement you made that salvation is all of God.”

      There’s a serious problem in this statement. Nobody claims man is not a part of the Ordo. Man is the _object_ of the Ordo. As the object, man is not optional; without man there is no salvation OF MAN.

      As Luther said (I don’t have a source for this, it’s from memory), man brings nothing for his justification and sanctification except his sin. So what man brings IS essential for salvation. It’s just not essential in the sense you want it to be — it’s essential in order that it be put to death by God.


    • Bill

      I get your point. It is a good one. Reprobation is equally determinative whether the means to carry out the decree is God’s active loving grace or his decision to create and determine the actions of the reprobate. I don’t see how you could consistently have a sovereign God (defined as most Calvinist do) and not see that God’s determining of outcomes is always active. Also, the particular desires which determine each action of the sinner must be determined by God in order to produce the particular actions which God has decreed.

    • @Steve Martin: If so-called “Calvinists” really read Calvin, and also more than only the Institutes, like many of his sermons, letters, etc., they would see a man full of the Assurance of Christ! Funny, I have not met too many non-assured Calvinists, myself, at least not theolog’s. But I know my share of non-American Calvinists also…Irish, English, Scots.. and some European Dutch, too. Though some are certainly before the Lord now. I even know a German Calvinist. My point is, American Calvinism is kind of a thing of its own! One looks at the OPC wars and history, etc. Perhaps the master gentleman of the American Reformed is Sir R.C. Sproul! But I did like Roger Nicole also, RIP! Btw, I have and use often, the Reformation Study Bible (ESV), with RC as the general editor. It is very good to my mind! And it is friendly to use, for the average so-called layman, at least as I would think.

    • Shawn smith

      You have missed the Lutheran scenario, which i believe is mix of reformed, and catholic.

    • Ken Griffey

      I have respect for the Calvinist , but I have to disagree with the view that God chooses and not you.

      Love allows you to choose. I believe His word says they (the unsaved) love darkness more then they love the light.

      Revelation 3:19-22 KJV

      As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

    • Dan

      It’s a really bad question. If Calvinists don’t really believe in faith alone, they are not true Calvinists. In Calvinistic doctrine, and even in the Bible, the faith that saves does not come inside the natural man, but is a gift from God, as is repentance. Your whole argument is I think, dust and ashes, my friend. Either you have not really done your homework concerning Calvinism, or are out to ‘disprove’ Calvinism because it stomps on Arminian ‘free will’, rather than find truth.

      Furthermore, to assert that Arminians believe in salvation by ‘faith alone’ is rather ludicrous if the ‘determining’ element of that salvation is a ‘free will’ decision.

      I rest my case.

    • Steve G

      In the Arminian picture you have faith before regeneration, though prevenient grace is regeneration. Arminians do not believe that Faith can proceed from the unregenerate human nature.

      Is there a reason you did not put conversion and repentance in the Arminian diagram at all? How could you leave out sanctification from the holiness church’s?

      The reason I am Arminian in theology is because of how Jesus, the incarnate God, summed up the plan of salvation (Matthew 22) and my reading of Romans 8.

      Remember that Arminianism came out of Calvinism, a further development of it if you will (perhaps in the same way the reformation came out of the medieval Catholic Church, just on a smaller scale).

    • Bill

      I love your diagrams. Thanks much for the effort! It helps to clarify the issues.

    • J W

      The Dominicans believe in Unconditional Election for a small group. All men have the power to avoid hell,but God does give to a small class additional grace that guarantees their response to salvation. Thus they are unconditionally elected. Dominicans follow Aquinas. See Predestination by Father Lagrange,O.P.

    • I am as a Calvinist one that certainly believes in reprobation, however, since I am infralapsarian I don’t believe that this is just the flip-side of the Election of Grace.

      As can be noted from this quote from the Irish Articles..

      11. God from all eternity did by his unchangeable counsel ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass: yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second causes is taken away, but established rather.

      Note, ‘the contingency of the second causes, etc.’ We can even see this in the life of Judas, who was certainly not elected to grace, (John 17: 12), “For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Mk. 14: 21)

    • Micah Burke

      “Love allows you to choose.”

      Baloney. Parents do not allow their children to choose suicide.

      The Biblical picture of man is radically different than the one you’re presenting. In Scripture man is wholly sold to sin, willingly enslaved by it. Apart from the special grace of God, provided through the hearing of the Gospel, no one would of their own will choose to believe in him for salvation. Hence the apostle calls us “dead” in our sins (Eph 2) and “unable to submit” to God (Rom 8:7-9). The only way a dead, fleshly person can and will turn to God is if the Holy Spirit causes them to. (Rom 8:9)

      True love is shown in that God saves us while we were still sinners, while we were helpless, while we were slaves of the enemy.

      The reason people go to hell is not because they are sinners, not because they didn’t hear or believe the Gospel… that is, the Gospel is the good news, not that which damns.

    • Ron

      Micah, is there a typo in the first clause of your last paragraph?

      And just curious, on your view do infants and the unborn go to hell if they die?

    • TIM

      1. Can we PLEASE quote Scripture instead of quoting (error-prone) humans? (I have no assurance that your favorite author/thinker is completely knowledgeable on everything the Bible has to say on a topic. Quoting an error-prone human lets us know that more than one human holds that position. ..which is nice, but is no guarantee of Truth).

      2. Why is double-predestination incorrect?

      3. Rom 12:3 says “God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith”. Isn’t this the same as Eph 2:8? If a man has faith, he has it because God (first) gave it to him. It’s a gift.

      4. Last week I asked some friends (who still reject predestination after reading Eph 1) the following:
      Q1: Can a man be saved if God does not predestine him? The answer was an uncomfortable “no”. Naturally, I concur.
      Two questions necessarily follow:
      Q2: What other fate is there? (nothing but hell).
      Q3: Why does God, the giver of life, create billions of humans, knowing full well that He did not predestine them for heaven? I see no other conclusion than to believe that God predestines some people for hell, and I can find no verse that says He does not. Is this not what Romans 9 teaches? If not, what on earth does Is 30 & 39 mean? And Ps 109 (The Iscariotic Psalm re Judas). Does not Peter himself affirm double-predestination (Acts 4:25-28)?

      I think too often we use the ‘mystery’ label because we don’t *want* to believe what we Read and the natural conclusions thereof.


    • Ron

      Parents do not allow their children to choose suicide.

      Really? I once knew a very loving couple who had ten children. All of the children were born with suicidal tendencies. The parents were wealthy and could afford medication that would prevent these suicidal tendencies in all of them. Out of the good pleasure of their wills, they decided to give three out of the ten children medication. The others they passed over and allowed to die.

      Why? It’s a mystery!

    • Btw, Aquinas defined himself as an Augustinian.

    • @Shawn smith: Sadly, you won’t find too many non-Lutherans that can theologically dialogue over Luther’s theology. At least on the blogs. (Note I said, non-Lutherans) And Luther is certainly Augustinian as to salvation.

    • I am always amazed at the ignornace of the “fundamentalist” type of so-called Calvinism! And most of those don’t have a clue to the real Calvin!

    • C Michael Patton

      Fr. Where do you live. I gonna plant a Credo House right by you just cause!

    • @Michael: My wife and I live (for about the last three years or so), in Yorba Linda, S. California. But we are still Brits. My younger brother (Irish) was in the American Marine Corps. He is now an American citizen. My wife and I bought a condo here.

    • Chris Williams


      I love your passion, honesty, and willingness to wrestle with the tough stuff of God. Your balanced insight is always helpful.

      When I hear “logical” and “theology” in the same sentence I cringe. Not because theology should be illogical or lacking intelligence, but rather because for me I am learning how much of our understanding of God and his ways (including salvation) are a mystery we cannot fully understand. As 1 Peter chapter one reminds us, it is a “revelation” not a chart or logical conclusion. Even the angels desire to understand it.

      It is like we are a bunch of ants scurrying around saying that we fully understand humans and why they live in houses not in the ground or a mound or why they are constructed they way they are, or what they are thinking when they do something. The idea is absurd.

      The sheer inadequacy of what we really know compared to the vastness of the God we confess to worship makes this an expected conclusion however uncomfortable. As your story illustrates, we can take any position and, with a few tweaks, find both its flaws and its strengths.

      Here is what we truly know. God calls, we answer. God invites, we come. God is available, we seek. The salvation that is given to us appears to be all of God. Our acceptance of it appears to be all us. Jesus promised that the seekers will find and knockers will have doors opened. God promised it too in the OT.

      God remains God regardless.

    • C Michael Patton

      Chris, love it. Now I am planting a Credo by u!

    • Michael, btw, we are hoping (depending on how my wife’s health goes?) To moving to Canada, maybe near Victoria? I am already semi-retired, but as an Anglican presbyter the doors could be open there for further ministry? Have any Credo’s in Canada? 🙂

    • “But though the discussion of predestination may be compared to a dangerous ocean; yet in the traversing over it the navigation is safe and serene, and I will also add pleasant, unless any one freely wishes to expose himself to danger. For as those who, in order to gain an assurance of their election, examine into the eternal counsel of God without the Word plunge themselves into a fatal abyss, so they who investigate it in a regular and orderly manner as it is contained in the Word derive from such inquiry the benefit of peculiar consolation.” (Inst. III. 24.)…Calvin

    • Alex

      I really appreciate the topic raised. The only thing that I noticed by those pictures that in Calvinistic Ordo Salutis believers’ and unbelievers’ paths do not cross. No people fall away from grace. No chosen people ever become lost. However in both Arminian an Catholic versions of that order you can cross the line multiple times.

    • Phillip

      The battle for the foundations of the faith continues, seemingly at a more intense rate.
      Hold fast to that which is good and true,

    • TIM

      > Love allows you to choose.

      This might be fine for human-to-human relationships. But to assume that this is God’s way of dealing with man is to profoundly misunderstand the Bible’s use of the word ‘love’, and therefore misunderstand how an ordo (predicated on ‘love’) works.

      To understand the BIBLE’s view of ‘love’, please do *not* start with 1 Cor 13.

      Start with the OT and work your way forward (all the NT guys built on an existing OT understanding of Love, and none of them redefined the word – so neither should we).

      Start with Deut 7:1-11 – or better still, Ps 136 (written 1,500 and 1,000 years prior to 1 Cor 13). Bonus points if you use the ESV, HCSB, NET, NIV when reading Ps 136. Read each of the 26 verses and pause, asking yourself if this example of love agrees with your definition of ‘love’ or ‘steadfast mercy’ (same thing). Would your response to each verse be “AMEN! The steadfast love of the Lord truly does endure forever!”?

      If this is not your response, then you do not have a Biblical view of love. There are no two ways about it.

      After you have digested this, continue reading other loving passages such as Hosea 1:6-7; Malachi 1:1-5; Rom 12:19-22; 1 Cor 13; Rev 3:8-10. (There are TONS of passages like this, but this should be enough to get you started)

      While reading these passages…
      Note who is doing the loving.
      Note who is being loved.
      Note who is NOT being loved.

      You may find yourself asking why preachers…

    • I don’t have time right now to comment on the many reasons I strongly disagree with the conclusions of this post, but thought I would leave a link to a slightly different take on both the Arminian and Calvinist ordo along with several reasons I find the Calvinist ordo to theologically problematic on many fronts:

      God Bless.

    • Phillip

      Where are the comments upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the one knowing the perfect will of the Father, as seen in the face of Jesus Christ? Leaving for us, the called ones, coming in line with what has already been done.
      Yes, there are two involved. One remaining Sovererign.

    • The “ordo salutis”.. the order of salvation, applies to the “temporal” order of causes and effects in which salvation happens to the sinner who comes to Christ. Btw, even Wesley could write: “At the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit.” (Sermon, On the Way of Salvation) We can see too in the Lutheran’s the differences in their order of salvation, as we see the Wesley brothers are affected, by Luther and Lutherans of course. But even Dr. Rattenbury speaking of Charles Wesley’s hymns…’In his verses the aspects of experience, assurance, Witness of the Spirit, etc., are the bloom, colour, or scent of a single flower’. The point here is that the “spititus sancti applicatrix”…the application of the Spirit is considered at the different subsequent stages of faith, and the unio mystica. But, for Calvin and Calvinism, regeneration simply must always come first! But Luther himself, from time to time, found it necessary to emphasize the demarcation lines between the three articles of faith (see, W.A. XVIII, 203..), and to insist, upon the distinction between the merit of Christ and its “distribution” by the Holy Spirit. Certainly Melanchton and the Lutherian Confessions give themselves to the hard task of seeking of “sorting them out”.

    • J W

      The Arminian positon is that God must be fair. What He gives to one,He must give to all. If not ,He is unfair and unjust. Well, God is unfair and that is the answer. He was unfair when He chose to reveal Himself to Israel. and not to other Nations. He was unfair in choosing David and not Goliath. God discriminates. The Arminian says He could not worship a God like that. Whether you worship Him or not,God still remains unfair.

    • Phillip

      Can a Church fall in love with its own ideology?
      That nasty ‘I” word has a way of popping its ugly head up. Shall we keep pressing it down?

    • Ryan McGee

      I have to say that in a discussion like this its really important to define things and get back to the passages(this subject alone can be exhaustive). To start, if the ephesians 2 passage includes faith as a means, and that its source is from God, the thing it does not say is that God individually gives the belief itself the recipient exercises(or MAKES them believe,essentially). This passage is saying that when you believed, you were using the means(faith) that was created by God, NOT that God was personally involved in your decison. It’s still not of yourself, you didn’t make faith or salvation, you still can’t boast because its not meritorious, all your doing is basically using it. To define, there’s a difference in a process as a whole and an action within it. If God created a process of salvation, it does not logically follow that He has to be personally responsible for every step in that process. I’m being sanctified but i still need to use the means(WORD, Spirit,prayer,etc) to grow. They have their source in God but require human use. This is where I believe most calvinists cross over, that since God is the source, He is personally and causally involved in the actions themselves. That’s a big presupposition.

    • Phillip

      Irresistible grace is tough to swallow.
      Self is lampooned.

    • God’s saving grace might be resistible for awhile, but NOT on that day the believer truly comes to Christ! That’s my faith and experience anyway! (Ps. 127:1-2 / Ps. 139) 🙂

    • Also, when a believer realizes that he is really ‘In Christ’! I don’t want to give to impression that everyone experiences the so-called Augustinian Conversion, though I did myself..thanks be to God!

    • Timothy Kellogg

      You pose an interesting argument. My Lutheran views provide a counter argument. Salvation is not the combination of justification, sanctification, and the other things mentioned. Though the Greek words are different (as are the English) conceptually justification and salvation are one-in-the-same.

      Salvation is rescue from God’s wrath and justification is being made right before God. One is rescue, the other is pardon, but rescue and pardon are synonymous. While sanctification is not salvific or justifying.

      We are justified/saved by God-given faith alone, through God’s grace alone, in the work of Christ alone, which is God’s glory alone, according to scripture alone. If one were to adhere to your argument, it ought to look like this: salvation is the work of God alone (which includes faith, grace, justification, sanctification, etc.) but that’s problematic. Yes, salvation is the work of God alone, but salvation is only equal to justification. While, sanctification is also the work of God’s grace alone, it is neither saving nor justifying.

      Personally, I think sanctification fits your arguments better than salvation/justification.

      Lutheran Ordo Salutis:
      Election (God )> Fall/Original Sin, which bonds our will, negating free will (Humanity) > Atonement/Justification (God-Christ via the cross event) > Sanctification, which is Baptism/Regeneration/Repentance/Confirmation/Sacrament (God, imputed to humanity) > Glorification (God-Christ, via the cross event).

    • Alex

      Here’s a post that sheds some light on faith being a gift.

    • @Timothy Kellog:

      Btw, I think Luther only added “alone” once in Romans 3:28! 😉 Of course “alone” is exclusively God’s priviledge!

      I copied your Lutheran Ordo! 🙂 I have just a few other Lutheran Ordo’s also! 😉

    • For myself anyway, like Calvin, knowledge and knowing God comes with knowledge, but here it is a theological (study of God) knowledge, a knowledge of God and of ourselves, but there is no true knowledge where there is no true piety. One of Calvin’s favorite words (pietas, Latin), and is rooted in the knowledge and true knowing of God. But of course this all comes by faith thru grace!

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @ Fr. Robert:

      All translation is interpretation.

      I found that source amusing, but don’t have time to research it’s validity right now. Regardless, I’m used to Luther being taken out of context (Lutherans are some of the worst offenders of this). As I read his work, Luther had a higher view of scripture than most Christians today will ever posses (I’m no exception) and so I try to balance that (hence, I hold to sola scriptura, but am not a proponent of biblical inerrancy or other rigid doctrines).

      Glad you seem to like my Lutheran Ordo. What are these others you speak of?

    • @Timothy:

      Yes, I agee somewhat, but I try to stay close to word studies, but of course in the context, with syntax and grammar. I read my Greek NT every a.m. for my devotion.

      I too would hold the sola scriptura, but I am more toward the ipsisima vox – the very voice. Yet I am no doubt a conserative toward Scripture overall, also politically. But I was a career RMC, Royal Marine Commando for over ten years. And oh yeah this shapes my thinking still! 😉 And I lived in Israel in the late 90’s. Yes, I am also pro-Israel! I am even a classic Historic Pre-Mill, but post-trib. Wow things are heating-up in and around Israel! Maybe I will live long enough to see the Lord Come? (Acts 1: 11-12 / Zech.14:4, etc., Rev. 1:7) I am old enough to remember the Judeo-Christian world view, and how it has gone away also!

      Btw, for what its worth today, I hold the D. Phil., which I did years back in the 90’s on Luther’s Ontology of the Cross. So I too love the real Luther! Though I am closer to Calvin on Law/Gospel, and justification & sanctification. Note, Geerhardus Vox here. See his nice book: The Pauline Eschatology. Though Luther’s contrast of the theologia crucis contra theologia gloriae is grand!

      I was thinking of all the Lutheran Creedal works and Melanchton’s efforts therein. I like Melanchton also.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      Fr. Robert:

      You pose some interesting points and are clearly well-read (consider me humbled a bit).

      I’m more of a Hebrew guy myself, but I’m not so pious. In an earlier comment, I noticed you mentioned how non-Lutherans have trouble with Lutheranism. I’d tend to agree, but it’s part of living in the tension. I adopted the Lutheran tradition and learned a lot about it prior to claiming the label. So, I know how troublesome it can be.

      In my experience, The Theology of the Cross, the Bonded Will, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, the mysteries of God, election, and the Doctrine of Grace are quite foriegn in most of Western American Christianity. Luther’s just weird to a lot of people and gets a bad reputation for all the wrong reasons, but most of it is unfounded. I dare say, I didn’t understand grace until I was introduced to Lutheranism and thought it absurd because I didn’t have a say in it. Further, I didn’t truly understand Christianity until I encountered the Theology of the Cross.

      I see people herein saying, “let’s get back to the scriptures,” “let’s remember the love,” “let’s focus on Christ,” “let’s rely on the words of God and not humans.” Luther said all of that and the Church went through Reformation. Sort of makes me chuckle. The redundancy of humanity that is, and some claim the will to be free. I grew up in the EPC and the Salvation Army; their piety did not save me, the grace of the cross event (death and resurrection) did,…

    • @Timothy: Thanks! Btw, I never write to try to “humble” anyone, thats God’s business. Though I don’t mind a little respect, not always there in today’s culture! And oh yeah I’m an old eccentric Brit at heart! 😉


      Yes, I am very Reformational and Reformed! I was not always however. Raised Irish Roman Catholic, and even being with some English Benedictine’s for a few years (back in my 20’s)…that’s long ago now! 😉 And even after I was an Anglican priest, I was an Anglo-Catholic for several years, and also close to the EO and Orthodoxy. I still have friends in both. I even came close a few years ago to going with the EO (but this was pressed more with the grave problems in Anglicanism), I still am close to their Christology and the Trinity of God. But, I cannot shake the soteriology of the Reformed! The whole doctrine of the Pauline Imputation and Adoption is so central and profound, certainly here was/is Augustine – which came Luther & Calvin of course!

      But we all still must remember we are spiritually on our Christian journey’s – all! That God redeems us is still a big grand mystery to me! The very greatest privilege is to “know” (and be known) of God In Christ! I am still amazed well over these 40 years now ‘In Christ’!

    • Btw, here is one of my own favorite pieces about the history & theology of Calvinism, I like just about anything by Philip Schaff, and this link from the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge…

    • Cameron

      As a Calvinist I have no problem still using the shorthand language that we’re saved by faith alone. Simply because I don’t care to give a disclaimer every time of what aspect of “salvation” I’m referring to. The word “saved” depends on the context, and I’d say that in Eph 2:8 it is in the same context as Rom 5:9, namely, being saved from God’s wrath – which does pertain to justification.

      As a Calvinist, I say that regeneration precedes faith as shorthand language. Really, I believe they are virtually synonymous events from God’s angle, yet from my angle, I experience it as though I’m regenerated and then later I’m more and more aware of it as my faith begins to grow.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      I didn’t think you were trying to humble me, it just was the case. I believe respect ought to be given, not earned, though earning it is fine too. Yet, I find it hard to respect the “trolling” types who brandish condemnation because they don’t know how to disagree. I live with a Calvinist and we get along just fine. Most of my relatives are Evangelicals (in the piety and reductionism sense) and they don’t know what to make of my Lutheran views; they usually assume we believe the same things (and I live in the tension with it).

      The EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church).

      True, Augustine came first, but Luther and Calvin didn’t agree with all his work. They, like us, were, “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” and moving forward with it. This is one of the reasons I appreciate pieces like this and groan in frustration with comments like, “people just need to read the Bible and stop being religious, or using culture.” Context is everything.

      If people think they don’t bring a bias to the scriptural text, they’re kidding themselves. Yes, Jesus is Lord, and Luther is not divine, but he understood the Gospel in a profound way. All that said, we’ve come a long way in understanding historical context and that’s essential to how one understands the text. But, I digress.

      Given your background, I’m curious, why the Dispensational views on Eschatology?

      The greatest mystery of the faith:

      Christ died.
      Christ has Risen.
      Christ will come…

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      I was finally able to give proper time to that article you sent me (contextualizing the misuse of Luther quotes) it was quite good. It definitely pointed to what I said about translation being interpretation. Luther (and others) attempted to be functional in their translations; hoping to make the text clear in meaning and understanding. Translation’s tough business and I wonder how much people take our English versions of scripture for granted.


      Thank you for talking about the contextual usage of salvation language. The word “salvation” has a textual definition (rescue) and a contextual definition (the Christian faith: in orthodoxy and orthopraxy).

      General comments:

      Anyone have thoughts about the tense of “saved” in the three scripture references used in the blog post?

    • @Timothy: Indeed most Evangelicals don’t have a clue to Luther or Lutheranism, I say this sadly. Of course Luther’s doctrine of the Cross (theologis crucis), is such a gem!

      I know for example that Calvin had his ups and downs with Augustine, but in my opinion Augustine’s theology was still his measure. I say this of course as to the doctrine of God, etc. But, Calvin’s weakness was always the Trinity, at least as to the Nicene, and here Luther was always Catholic in Christology!

      As to my own eschatology, that is a long story. I as raised Irish Roman Catholic in Ireland, but my greatgram (died when I was 15, was a convert away from Roman in her youth), and then later a PB, or Plymouth Brethren. She and “the Brethren” had a early affect on me! Of course when I later went to England and Anglicanism, and my education I got into A-Mill, and the Post-Mill. But much later both being in Gulf War 1, and life in Israel (lived and taught there in the late 90’s), changed me greatly! I also like the biblicism and independent work of the conservative Anglican, E.W. Bullinger (though I don’t follow his radical dispensationalism. But he is always worth the read here!) See his two grand books: Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, and his Greek/English Lexicon. – I am an eccentric & eclectic myself, and really a conservative in the main. 😉

      Btw, I love to chat English translations! I have them all! I use my R.V. (Oxford), quite often. And of course still read the KJV, with…

    • wm tanksley

      Timothy, the Ephesians reference alone contains more than enough chronology to write books on. Look at the context. In verse 5 “made alive together with” (aorist, meaning it happened all at once) “by grace you have been saved” (perfect tense, hinting that although the action is in the past it’s not a single done-once action; the past aspect probably refers to the made-alive-with). Verse 6 has a similar past tense, but a future promise; although “made alive with” and “raised up” are similar in time, being seated in the heavenly realms is an aspect of our salvation that is fully present and yet vastly more to be revealed in the future. And indeed, verse 7 explains by placing God’s intended result of all the past and present work into the future: “so that” God could demonstrate (aorist again) to the oncoming ages (a definite future, although not shown in a verb tense) the wealth of His grace.

      Finally, the indicated verse 8. The verb’s tense here is “perfect,” meaning the action is entirely complete with no need for further action; but the previous verses show that the results of having been saved span the present and future.

      I’ll skip 9 to look at 10; there we see that we are created (that our present form is the result of God’s past action) in order to perform good deeds that God prepared even before He created us.

      There is an incredible span of time and tenses wrapped up in these verses.


    • wm tanksley

      Father Roberts, I hope you can repost the rest of the above post, since it got eaten by the blog! I’m a fan of translation as well, and enjoy learning from the amazing work of the scholars who do that work. I especially appreciate the notes in the NET Bible (free online), since it’s one of the few that gives detailed explanations of translation and textual decisions, some of which are actually fairly surprising given the conservative source (Isaiah especially).

      I think that a lot more Reformed folk are beginning to newly appreciate the Lutheran contrast between the “theology of the Cross”, and the “Theology of Glory”, partially because of the newly blooming ministry of the LCMS. I appreciate Riddlebarger on White Horse Inn, and now Pirate Christian Radio broadcasts a huge number of incredible podcasts from an almost exclusively Lutheran point of view (Fighting for the Faith being a good way to start, since it is a deliberate outreach to evangelicals — unless you want something a little lighter than 2 hours per workday).


    • Btw, my last name is “Darby”, but no relation the JND. 😉

    • Wm: I have the NET Bible myself in a genuine leather, love it! I am still and always a reader of the Bible! I read my Greek NT for devotion in the a.m. I also grew-up reading my Douai-Reims Bible, of course Catholic, but then my KJV also, which became the WORD of the Lord for me! As I noted my greatgam had a huge affect on me early. However, I was not able extract myself from Catholicism until in my mid 20’s! (But I always had my copy of the KJV even then!) But, even as a Catholic I was a conservative, though not really a traditional one. I have had a great providence of God in my life!

    • Wm, Yes, I think Horton “gets” Luther pretty well!

    • “Faith, thus receving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love (11/2).” (WC, 58)

      This could statement is one that presses me into “Calvinism”, at least by creed, and keeps me there! It could almost come near the Council of Trent. Almost! 😉

      What do you think Timothy?

    • Allow me to share this link on this important subject, and Luther on the “Justice of God”.

      ‘I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: “The justice of God is revealed in it.” I hated that word, “justice of God,” which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.
      But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn’t be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, “Isn’t it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?” This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.
      I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the…

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:
      The Theology of the Cross is why I am a Lutheran (I may have mentioned that already). I am a Theologian of the Cross, first, and a Lutheran, second. English translations of the scriptures are fun for me also, I was a Biblical Studies major in college (of course I am not alone in such company here).

      Thank you for that discussion on tense! I studied enough NT to follow your explanations, but Hebrew was my language emphasis, so I invite the incite of Greek scholars.

      @Fr. Robert:
      I love the “Autobiographical Fragment” from Luther, I read it every now and then when I feel my retention of theological aptitude slipping (one of the reasons I miss the classroom; it’s far easier to maintain the discipline of learning). Though I appreciate the quote from the WC, I disagree with Calvin, but find his spirit to be in the right place. Of course, that may have been expected. Because I don’t consider sanctification to be a part of the salvific process, I challenge the last portion of the statement, “…all other saving graces, and is no dead faith….” By way of the cross of Christ, there is, but, one saving grace and it is the very grace that justifies us that prompts our sanctification.

      As it relates to the original discussion, to say that salvation is not by faith alone makes one wonder how we trouble over the working unit of the five solas, but accept a similar function in the Trinity (using the Triune nature of God as a comprehensive aid, not…

    • @Timothy:

      For myself, I don’t see how we can “not” include sanctification in a real connection with justification, I like John Murray’s work here, who sees sanctification both initially, and during the life of the believer. (See, 1 Cor. 6: 11.)

      And perhaps all of the Soli’s should fall beneath: the soli Deo gloria: glory to God alone! HE works the Sola fides in Christum membra ecclesiae constituit: Only faith in Christ can establish the members of the church! 🙂

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @Fr. Robert:

      Don’t get me wrong, if sanctification is in response to justification, as a result of God’s grace, then they are connected, but I don’t think salvation’s the right word for it.

      As recipients of grace, we will engage the sanctification process because the grace of justification has prompted a change of mindset. This is, perhaps, more vocation than salvation.

      I’m not sure how the Cor. verse was meant to apply.

      This has turned out to be quite the discussion, I wonder if Michael expected it. As one to champion context, I have to redefine my arguments a little. The title of this piece, “Do Calvinists Really Believe in Salvation by Faith Alone,” indicates that my arguments stand in their Lutheran context, but I am not a Calvinist, so they may not hold well here.

      In turn, I can potentially agree that Calvinists don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. Further, neither do the Roman Catholics or the Arminians (since they were highlighted in this text). For them, there seems to be a fusion between sanctification and justification, which is the salvific process. It is the separation of the two that distinguishes Lutheranism. What do you think?

    • wm tanksley

      Robert (sorry I mangled your name, by the way) – as I understand it, Luther taught that sanctification, like justification, was essentially forensic, but applied to us within our own hearts by the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and the gift of repentance. This (as I understand it) leads to mortification, God and us reckoning us dead to sin, both the sin we are tempted to commit but forego out of love for God, and the sin we have committed.

      I’m not sure what Timothy means when he says he doesn’t consider sanctification to be part of the salvific process. I’d like to hear more. Perhaps we should adjourn to a different forum?

    • wm tanksley

      Timothy, my point (which you probably hadn’t seen when you posted that) was that I didn’t think Luther saw sanctification as a process per se, but rather as a standing. This is hugely different from the typical Calvinist understanding, of course, and of course from the Wesleyan. I got this from White Horse Inn’s token Lutheran (grin).

      “In turn, I can potentially agree that Calvinists don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. Further, neither do the Roman Catholics or the Arminians (since they were highlighted in this text). For them, there seems to be a fusion between sanctification and justification, which is the salvific process. It is the separation of the two that distinguishes Lutheranism. What do you think?”

      I don’t think so at ALL. That’s trivially true for Roman Catholics, of course, as the fusion of justification and sanctification is a fundamental doctrinal distinctive of Romanism; but Arminians and many Calvinists see justification as forensic but sanctification as based on the work of the Holy Spirit transforming our heart to want what He wants. Those are very distinct things.

      Lutheranism ALSO makes the two distinct, but in a very different way.


    • wm tanksley

      Robert, YES to the centrality of Soli Deo Gloria.

      And the places taken by the other Solas are also distinct. “Solus Christus” is the only agent of salvation (and the only sola in the nominative case); “sola fide” is the channel or means of salvation (NOT an actor!); “sola gratia” is the mode of salvation (not as though grace is a reagent that gets poured on us, but rather describing the centrality of God’s free and gracious giving apart from merit); and “sola Scriptura” is the only authoritative source for faith and practice.

      (The alternative to “Solus Christus” is “Solo Christo”, which refers to the statement that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, so that we approach God “through Christ alone”.)

    • Timothy Kellogg


      I’d be happy to take the conversation elsewhere (if Michael doesn’t object, we can reconvene here:

      As to your disagreement, Arminians may claim salvation by faith alone, but my experience with them says otherwise. I was part of an Arminian denomination for twelve years (The Salvation Army) and “faith without works is dead,” was pretty popular. Though, it was an interpretation with an emphasis on piety, the point was clear, faith alone was not saving. The difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy tends to influence our understanding of what we believe.

      For instance, Calvinists and Lutherans don’t believe in free will (though we differ on the concept of predestination). When we explain Total Depravity (Calvin) or The Bondage of the Will (Luther) to free will supporters they tend to agree that we’re all sinners, but miss how that negates our ability to choose (faith, God, Christ, Salvation, etc.). As a result, agreement can be found in orthodoxy that we’re all sinners, but orthopraxy illuminates how we disagree over the alienation of Original Sin. I’m not meaning to start a new rabbit trail of debate, so I want the focus to be the difference between belief and practice, not the topic I chose to describe it.

    • wm tanksley

      As soon as Fr. Robert agrees, we’ll move over there. I’d love to discuss here, but I think we’re a little too limited — and prone to wander, anyhow.

      You’re right to make that distinction between Arminians (at least the American version; the originals might have been better) and Calvinists. They tend to hold that sanctification is defined as progressively better works, which differs from the Calvinists I mentioned who hold that it’s better desires. Personally, I think that those “Arminians” are actually inheriting from Wesley’s Holiness movement rather than Arminianism per se.

      I could also be wrong about Calvnists; personally, I really like the seeming consensus of the White Horse Inn in favor of the forensic definition of sanctification; and considering that they’re 2/3 “Reformed” and 1/3 Lutheran, perhaps it’s not a solely Lutheran doctrine. (I like calling Reformed Baptists “Reformed”, but as they say, “some disagree”.)


    • @Timothy / Wm: Yes, agreed, salvation only in the initial sense. But, surely the connection of sanctification with the Christians perseverance as ‘In Christ’, (Jude 24-25). And as The Letter of James shows that “works” manifest the reality of faith, as with Abraham. And even Paul shows that “works” are part of “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works..” (Eph. 2:10)

      So I would still agree that in the initial sense of salvation, Calvin, as Calvinists, believe in ‘Justification by Faith Alone’. But in the fullest sense of salvation, sanctification is always central, and forth coming, but certainly by degree. And only God alone can judge that measure. Btw, we can see this kind of division even in the theology and teaching of Wesley, who was certainly very “Luther” on Justification itself, who makes conversion instantaeous, but the New Birth is the “Imparted righteousness”, or real change. And Justification is the “Imputed righteousness” or relative change. Again this is John Wesley. I have read him quite a bit since he was an Anglican.

      Btw, we should note here also, that Luther believed in the reality of “aspostasy”! That is a large subject also as to or in some kind of soteriology. Thus again, Luther’s theology gets very hard to confine and define – at least for me! But, I love it anyway! 😉

    • Btw, you guys go for it.. on the other blog, and I will jump in when I can! 🙂 Just a bit busy today, I have duties as a hospital chaplain, and ya never know how that flows? Sometimes I am on my laptop from here.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      Wm/Fr. Robert:

      I’ll go a head and jump over there as we continue the conversation. I have some thoughts on the influence of holiness movements and the “challenges” of defining Luther. If you drop a comment over there (so I know you’ve joined the conversation) I’m ready to dig into this rabbit trail with you guys. 🙂

    • […] a good summary of some important distinctions between Calvinist and Arminian soteriologies. See DO CALVINISTS REALLY BELIEVE IN SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE? An important highlight, Patton notes: it is grace that saves; it is faith that justifies. Ergo, […]

    • Carl Ayers

      Hi Michael,

      I’m a new commenter, though a late-comer to this post! I’ve not read the comments but appreciate a number of points in your post. I’ve been working on this issue a bit myself, trying to find a more balanced approach to “faith vs. works” and posted on this very recently.

      Sometime, I’d like to explore a possible idea of “justification” present in some Egyptian Lit. I was reading the other day, and it’s potential bearing on the biblical texts. In some legal texts, speaking of the administration of justice by the Pharaoh, he is introduced by the striking appellation “the justified”. This doesn’t mean he has been granted a legal status of ‘righteous’ before the gods but rather, I think, the gods have made him righteous (or given him righteous discernment, perhaps) to the degree able to carry out/enact the righteousness/justice of the gods – the role of the king in ANE. God’s people are indeed seen as “the righteous” in a real sense in this age according to Scripture. It’s perhaps likely that the ANE sense of justified is picked up in the OT and carried through into the NT; however, everyone in God’s kingdom enacts God’s justice, not just “the king”!

      In Christ

    • John B

      I never understood why Calvinists put so much emphasis on the “dead” agrument. It seems clear that in Romans Paul is saying that we can do nothing to have a relationship with God. We are dead in our capacity to do any work which will save us. However, it is clear from Romans that dead men can respond to the revlation of God. Read Romans 1-4. Man is expected to respond to the revelation taking the form of creation, conscious, the work, etc… We cannot work for our salvation but we can acknowledge who God is and what He has done. Faith is the recognition that we cannot work. Faith is something we must “do”, but it does not pay for one single sin, only Christ”s work can pay for our sin. It merely acknowledges that all the WORK was accomplished by Christ and we can do nothing but plead the blood. I think Calvinists definitely over emphasize the word “dead”. It is true that we are dead to having a relationship with God, but we are not dead to being able to ask for forgiveness. And if we believe in prevenient grace then faith is a gift of God to all men. But we have a choice whether to excercise that faith or not.

    • John B

      For those who don’t think love can imply a choice please remember this oldy but goody. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.”

      seems to tie together love and choice nicely. No, love doesn’t allow any choice, but it does allow reasonable choice.

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @ John B:

      I’m not a Calvinist, but I challenge your assumptions about grace and choice. Prevenient Grace is defined differently by different theologies. Calvin and Augustine would say that grace is irresistible. Wesleyans and Arminians would refute this and say we have a choice. Luther (though closer to Calvin on this issue) would say grace is resistible, but we cannot choose grace. Therefore, prevenient grace is not exclusive in definition.

      For Luther and Calvin, our will is tainted by the condition of sin and we cannot choose the grace of God. How it works is different, but it is a sound refutation of choice. Grace for them is regeneration.

      As for Jn. 3:16, belief is not choice it’s knowing and that knowledge is a gift of God. It can never be a choice of humans because our will is not free, but is in bondage to the sinful nature. Rejection of the grace of God is the result of a bonded will. Reception of the grace of God is given to all through the work of Christ alone.

    • @Timothy: Very nice, clean and almost irrefutable! i.e. biblically & theologically. 😉

    • Timothy Kellogg

      @ Fr. Robert,

      Thank you. I appreciate the affirming words!

      Fyi, Wm and I attempted to keep our sanctification dialogue going elsewhere, but I think there was a problem with comment notifications.

    • @Timothy: Yes, I noted that. I got busy on my end. I would still myself include, in measure, the doctrine of sanctification in connection with justification, (1 Cor. 6:11 / Titus 3: 5). But they are always connected, as per Calvin. But we must forgo here.

    • wm tanksley

      John B, how could you say that man is “expected” to respond positively throughout Romans 1-4, when Romans 1-4 consistently says that man absolutely never responds to God? It’s like we’re reading a weather forecast saying that people hoping for sun would be disappointed, and you telling me that the weatherman was obviously expecting sun. Yes, when we do not seek God we are sinning; but that’s the problem and the point.

      The truth is the opposite: nobody is expected to seek God. The natural man cannot even SEE the things of God. Of course, this is a disaster, and God (who loves the world and will reconcile it to Himself) has not left things alone. But the solution isn’t to pretend that man can respond if you beg man hard enough. We don’t need to appeal to man, to pray to man, to bring in seekers.

      We (collectively) need to GO, to preach the gospel, and to teach the doctrine that Christ gave his apostles and through their Spirit-inspired writings to us. Our job is not to appeal to the deaf and dead; it’s to proclaim the gospel that itself brings life. We need to baptize those who believe the message, and bring them into the life of the Church. In all we must PRAY, because it is God, not man, who chooses men; and He hears our prayers. We don’t need to be more attractional to natural men; we need to appeal to the One whose will is free to save.


    • John Smith

      Reformation Arminians have every monergistic and synergistic exactly like you state for Calvinist, just reverse the order of regeneration and Conversion.
      Election God, Atonement God, Calling God, Conversion God/man, Justification God, Sanctification God-man, Glorification God.

      Of course we see God calling through various means if you mean the gospel call. We see it as one call to all to repent and believe.

      See Grace Faith and Free Will by Dr. Robert Picirilli.

    • […] Fide – justification by faith alone – is closely connected to Sola Gratia. So much so that the phrase commonly runs “salvation […]

    • gary

      Dear Christian,

      Someone has convinced you that a square can be a circle. Someone has convinced you that the blood-thirsty, psychopathic god of the Old Testament is the same being as the loving, compassionate Jesus of the Gospels.

      Squares can never be circles.

      Your belief system is an ancient middle-eastern superstition. If you choose to continue to hold onto it that it is certainly your right. However, you are teaching this superstition to little children. Please consider what you are doing. These children deserve to know the Truth.

      I encourage you to watch this five minute video on this subject:

      Best wishes,

    • gary

      If Christians had good evidence for the Resurrection, they wouldn’t ask you to believe by faith.

      Think about that.

      Historians don’t ask you to believe the historicity of any other alleged event in history…”by faith”. So why do we need faith to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth if the evidence for this event is as strong as Christian apologists claim?

      Christian Americans, Muslim Iranians, Hindu Indians, and atheist Japanese all believe that Alexander the Great captured the city of Tyre; that Caesar crossed the Rubicon; and that Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. No one is asked to use faith to believe the historicity of these events. So why do we need faith to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus if the evidence for it is good?

      Answer: It’s not good. In fact, its terrible; nothing but assumptions and second century hearsay.

      Christians ask us to believe their ancient, supernatural tall tale based on very weak evidence, and, a jump into the dark (faith). And how do they get us to make this jump into the dark? Not by presenting us with more evidence, but by appeals to our emotions and/or our fears: Either by using, “Our almighty, all-knowing god will protect you and give you eternal life (security and hope)”, or, “Our righteous, just, and holy god will torture you for all eternity if you DON’T make the jump (using blind faith).”

      It’s an ugly, manipulative, sadistic superstition, folks. Unfortunately, it is the superstition used by the largest cult on the planet.

      Let’s double our efforts to debunk it.

    • mstair

      “Jesus says that faith is the way to see and utilize the true eternal reality of The Kingdom of Heaven, but faith is not a static entity. It either grows or withers. The Bible makes a good case for the growth of faith – through exercising it. Remember that simultaneously with this reality is the perfect Kingdom of God. Today, when you pray “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” become mindful of what you’re truly asking for.

      Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” iBooks.

    • Carol Marschall

      Do Calvinists believe that God has chosen those that will go on to Heaven or Hell no matter how good or bad they are. We have a friend that believes this.

    • […] As the world has it, however, since people saved were set to be so before the foundation of the world, the unsaved accept their salvation not by a personal act of any kind but by “receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ” in a point of their justification. But this brings up all kinds of paradoxical quandaries, making what is it about faith in Christ’s work on the Cross that is in any way essential to justification and salvation very murky. If faith is only an effect of regeneration, and justification and is entirely the result of an act of God, faith is only “the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ” after God lays hold of us. It’s no wonder why the content of the gospel need only be faith propositions, images of truth. Not necessarily faith predicates, truth itself, since entertained propositions may be confidently held without reflection. If by premises, premises must be thought over and experienced if they are to produce truth propositions, and this cannot be.  Faith then becomes only something for our education, playing a part in sanctification, accompanying but unnecessary in the justifying faith of salvation.1 […]

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