For those who heard my message today from 2 Peter 1:1-11 you noticed I said faith was a “gift” we choose to receive. 2 Peter 1:1, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.” It’s right there in the text- we “receive faith.”
Those familiar with Calvinism know they believe this as well and state that we as non-Calvinists/Arminians don’t believe that and that we claim to take credit for our faith. However, both Jacob Arminus (founder or Arminianism) and my favorite theologian John Wesley both believed and taught that faith was a gift (see quotes below).
Where we differ with Calvinists is that we believe faith was given to all mankind by the light of Christ and thus man has a choice to either reject faith in light of God’s revealed truth in creation, conscience and Scripture or seek after God in faith.
This doesn’t contradict Romans 3 where Paul states, “none seek after God” because we do not so on our own merit or initiative but by the “freeing grace” of God or His “proceeding/prevenient grace.” In other words, we can choose to respond to God’s seeking of us and seek Him for more light.
Calvinists on the other hand, believe God only grants saving faith to a few He specifically chooses and then leaves the rest of mankind to damnation. So according to a Calvinists the difference as to why one person goes to heaven and the other to hell is because of God’s choice. Whereas, we as Arminians say it is man’s choice.
VERSES & QUOTES:
1. Arminius on faith as a gift from God, “Faith is the effect of God illuminating the mind and sealing the heart, and it is his mere gift.”
2. Wesley on faith being a gift from God based on Ephesians 2- exactly the way I interpret it; “‘For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.’ Of yourselves cometh neither your faith nor your salvation: ‘it is the gift of God’; the free, undeserved gift; the faith through which ye are saved, as well as the salvation which He of His own good pleasure, His mere favour, annexes thereto. That ye believe, is one instance of His grace; that believing ye are saved, another.”
3. Text that shows the light of God illuminates all mankind and the darkness (man’s sinfulness) cannot over come it, John 1:4-5, “4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
4. Text that shows grace, in the person of Jesus, has appeared to all, Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.”
5. Two texts that shows God is drawing all people to salvation—- and then it is their choice to accept of reject—-
(i) John 12:32;36; “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself… Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
(ii) Acts 17:26-28, “26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”