Vol.XVI No.V Pg.5
July 1979

Has Man A Responsibility All His Own?

Robert F. Turner

(continued from previous page) In discussing "Man's Part" in his salvation it should be clearly stated that his doing, even his "faith," is not the MEANS or SOURCE of redemption. Having sinned man stands condemned, and his only hope is unmerited mercy or grace. God has provided the means of redemption, but we believe Joe Doe must, of his own free will, respond to God's invitation in order to be saved. Faith, which obeys, is the CONDITION upon which God promises to save Joe. Grant this, and we still must consider a basic issue. Is this faith a human response, something Joe Does; or is it something God does for Joe! Calling it natural" response just beats about the bush. The evangelical says God gives the faith, or enables (by direct operation) Joe to believe. He thus maintains his theory that God is the ONLY part in man's redemption. (Note: "Solely by Grace, Solely by Christ, Solely by Faith" in Present Truth-Verdict literature.)

If Joe's faith is not his own response, something he is capable of doing or not doing, then he must be individually, unconditionally elected. If some heavenly power must enable him to believe, he is individually elected, or, justice demands that all men be equally enabled. But if God presents the good news of salvation in Christ to all men, and all are able to understand and believe, the MEANS of redemption is from God, but the CONDITION upon which Joe or Sue is saved is their own response to the invitation. This is not earned or merited righteousness --- it is unworthy sinners saved by the grace of God, through a faith which, despite man's "depravity," God considered him capable of rendering. Somehow our neo-theological brethren will accept a freewill response of "faith" without crying "works!" "law!" or "legalist!" To maintain this position they will have to strengthen Moser's "natural" dodge or perhaps take up Martin Luther's distinction in justification and sanctification. That will not be easy, for the justifying in faith of Abraham (Rom. 4) was one which was manifested all through his life (Heb. 11:8, Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:20-22, Jas. 2:21-f). Too, if "sanctification" is essential to one's being saved in heaven we are again faced with "human implementation" or "enabling power" that overrides the free agency of man. What a tangled web we mortals weave —.

Early debate propositions often used the words "at the point of faith without further acts of obedience" versus "at the point of baptism." The issue was: did God promise remission of sins before a man's faith led him to be baptized, or when his faith led him to be baptized? Such a proposition recognizes the broad "trust" meaning in "faith" as used in Rom. 3: 5: etc., but raises the valid question, "At what point" in that faith does God promise salvation. If faith is truly a free will, human response that is essential, there should be no objection to including "obedience of faith" without being blasted with charges of "law" "works" etc.

And that is exactly what the early sermons: "God's Part, Man's Part" sought to get across. The illustrations may have been crude, but may God help us get back to such preaching before neo-theology does us in.