Vol.XIII No.XII Pg.5
February 1977

- - - A Study In Principles Of Faith

Robert F. Turner

To believe, to hold as true; an intellectual agent. It needs an object; i.e., we believe some thing, some testimony. There must be, first, the fact; then the testimony (written or spoken); then we can assent or reject; believe or disbelieve. This assent or rejection takes place in the mind of man, is human reaction to testimony. The ridicule of historic faith so common among evangelicals, is often misplaced. There can be no faith without history. But faith is frequently used in the scriptures in the sense of trust and as such is an extension of the basic belief. With this in mind A. Campbell once wrote, Faith in Christ is the effect of belief. Belief is the cause, and trust, confidence, or faith in Christ, the effect. We should not ridicule the first in our zeal to extol the virtue of the second.

The expression, experience of faith is common among those who conceive of faith as something God puts into man; an act of His grace. This illogical use of terms has its origin in human theology: the doctrines of total depravity and unconditional election. Denying Free Will and all human implementation or synergism, these theologians had to treat faith as an act of God rather than a condition performed by the free agency of man. They were, and are, unwilling to concede that man does anything at all in coming to Christ. He can believe, only after God has moved him — individually and directly — with this irresistible grace. An early Baptist journal, explaining the passive role of a sinner in regeneration, wrote, ...the Holy Spirit is the sole agent in regeneration ... the sinner has no more efficient agency in accomplishing it than Lazarus had in becoming alive from the dead. Again, The sinner ... does all he can to ... prevent his own regeneration, until he is made willing by almighty power. This is monergism with a vengeance, but it is consistent with classic Calvinism.

If we can accept the definition of belief given in the first paragraph on this page — acknowledging mans capacity to examine evidence, and to believe or disbelieve as an independent human function — we can appreciate the synergism in Pauls statement that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Faith is the result of an objective approach to divine testimony. God provides the confirmed evidence, but we must do the believing. Our moral responsibility, not only for our sins but also for failure to trust in the remedy (Jn. 8:24) is clearly seen.

The work of God (Jn. 6:29) is not something God does for us, but what He would have us do, i.e., that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. If we can understand that, and recognize the place of obedience in a viable faith; we should also recognize mans obligations in doing the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:3; 1 Jn. 3:7). Saving faith is mans part in the synergism of Gods scheme of redemption. A careful search of cases of conversion in the scriptures will tell us at what point in that faith we are promised the remission of past sins, and other blessings in Christ, who is Savior, specially of those that believe. (Acts 2:37-38; Gal. 3:26-27)