Vol.VI No.I Pg.5
March 1969

Faith Comes By Hearing

Robert F. Turner

This heading is not expected to arouse our readers to amazed attention, although we are but a few generations removed from the time when such may have happened. In fact there are large denominations today with major doctrines, essential to their creed, which can not abide a fair application of the subject principle. But they will not be upset by our heading, even if they should see it. Most of the lay members have long ago ceased to know much about such particulars, or to care.

Still, we consider the matter relevant; we know it to be essential to a proper grasp of Gods dealings with those who would learn his will and obey Him. We believe in salvation by faith, as faith is the base from whence all acceptable relations to God must spring. But HOW does one obtain this faith?

A traditional concept, basic to much Lutheran, Presbyterian, and other doctrine, makes faith a gift of God — something God directly puts in the heart of the individual. Man is thought to be so depraved, so opposed to anything good, that direct divine intervention is necessary to make man receptive to the things of God.

But reflection upon the very meaning of faith would show us that it is an act of mans, something man does. He believes or refuses to believe evidence. If man is incapable of accepting the evidence offered by God, then he could in no wise be held accountable for such failure. If God just directly and individually make Tom, Dick and Harry capable of believing, then the fate of each man is wholly a matter of Gods choice, and man is no free moral agent — he is but a pawn in Gods game of chess — a game which He plays with Himself.

During the early years of Barton W. Stone, as a Presbyterian preacher, these were vexing thoughts. Often when I was addressing the listening multitudes on the doctrine of total depravity, their inability to believe — and of the necessity of the physical power of God to produce faith; and then persuading the helpless to repent and believe the gospel, my zeal in a moment would be chilled at the contradiction. How can they believe? How can they repent?... How can they be guilty in not doing them?

But Christ invites, Come unto me. all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28) Is this an empty, mocking invitation? In Matt. 13: 13-f, Christ chides some because their eyes ~ have closed: but to others says, Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears. for they hear. The whosoever believeth of Jn. 3:16, and repent ye, and be baptized, every one of you of Acts 2: 38, are cumulative proofs of the freedom of man to accept divine evidence, and divine grace. (emph.rt)

Salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8) and faith is given only in that God produces and provides that which man must believe and act upon.

Read and appreciate Rom. 10:13-17. It denies Calvinism of the past, and the subjective faith (?) of today. FAITH COMES BY HEARING GODS WORD!!