Vol.XIV No.VII Pg.5
September 1977

Have You Been Misled By Such Confusion?

Robert F. Turner

Continuing our review of PRESENT TRUTH tract, Way of Salvation, we see a seeming contradiction. On p.19, the writer asks, "How does the Holy Spirit bring as faith'?" and answers, "riding in the glorious chariot of the gospel. And he comes in no other way." Sounds good, doesn't it? But he cites Acts 10: (miraculous outpouring upon Cornelius,) as "an excellent example of how the Holy Spirit comes." P. 21, "Therefore we must conclude that it is the Word of the gospel -- the message of Christ and Him crucified -that brings the Holy Spirit to us. 'The Holy Spirit, in turn, brings as faith to believe that message." What a mixture! On p. 14, he had said only believers could receive the Spirit, and now he says the word brings the Spirit-- to an unbeliever?? An objective reader sees only confusion here.

A Calvinist must give "faith" a most peculiar definition. From p. 25: "It is true that faith is a gift of God, brought to us by the Holy Spirit through the message of the gospel. But the Holy Spirit does not do the believing for us... Faith is God's gift, but it is ours to exercise. So when the Spirit works in our hearts to create faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.... the only right response to make is to act on the conviction... The writer has man responding to, or exercising a faith that God gives. He does not see that God gives faith only by the metonymy of effect for cause. The "delivered faith" or "revealed" faith (Jude 1:3; Gal. 3:23) is the gospel message which produces faith. God gives the evidence, but we do the believing. Literally, there is no faith until man believes.

The writer himself says, "Faith, therefore, is a response of the heart. It is a volitional act" (p. 26). But he also says, "At the point of giving us the gospel" (Is he talking about Pentecost, or when God "gives faith" Is an individual?) "God gives us the freedom to act. Like the prodigal son we are able to say, I will arise..." "6e are able!" Barely perceptible yet essential to the whole theme, is the concept of total depravity. 'The gospel, delivered by the Holy Spirit to the apostles and prophets of the N.T. is not enough. It must be accompanied by an additional operation of the Holy Spirit which enables (the elect?) to respond. If this is not what the tract teaches, I am at a loss to know why he consistently used passages re. miraculous operation of the Spirit in his proof texts. Put this element into the tract and we can at least rationalize his contradictions. Incidentally, he says (p.29), "— but four year-old boys can be great sinners!"

We believe the Holy Spirit did His work well when he delivered "all truth" to the apostles and prophets of the New 'Testament. The message was intended to produce faith, and it does so (Eph. 3:2-5; Jn. 20:30-31). The inspired word is the instruments of the spirit, "living and active" (Heb. 4:12), and is no "dead letter." It is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16) and needs no "accompanying power" to do what it was intended to do. It is intended as God's "call" to "all men," and "who-so-ever will" may come. We must not allow the confused writings of Calvin-oriented theologians to lead us away from the fundamental truths of God's Way of Salvation.