Friday, May 15, 2009

A taste of the heavenly gifts

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 3 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 2 - Faith: Its Definition Set Forth, & Properties Explained

Sections 8-13 - Various unacceptable views of "faith"
Section 8 - Formed and unformed faith
Any genuine assent to the truth of the gospel is of the heart,
of "a devout desposition," leaving out an "unformed" faith, by definition.
Rom 1:5; John 3:33; 6:29.

Section 9 - 1 Corinthians 13:2 - a proof of the difference
between formed and unformed
They think Scripture speaks of unformed faith in this verse:
"If anyone has faith to move rountains, but has not love..."
But this is speaking of the Spirit's gifts, and using them to edify the church.
There is only one kind of faith among those who believe, not two.

Section 10 - What is called "unformed" faith is only an illusion of faith
Simon Magus - Acts 8:13-18 - wasn't pretending, fooling only others.
He was also fooling himself, thinking he believed.
Same with Luke 8:6-7, 13. Our hearts easily deceive us. James 2:19.

Section 11 - "Faith" even among the reprobate?
Though true faith is only given to the elect - 1 Thess 1:4-5 - the reprobate
often have a very similar feeling and experience to true faith - Heb 6:4-6.
Some object that this leaves believers no assurance. But the elect's
assurance doesn't come from others having nothing like their faith,
but from the Spirit sealing their salvation in their hearts.
Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15.
The reprobate may gain "a momentary awareness of His grace."
But only the elect persevere to the end - Luke 24:13.

Section 12 - True and false faith
Reprobate are like a tree without deep roots that withers after a while.
They have a "common" faith: transitory, and not "living and permanent."
Jesus didn't entrust Himself to this sort - John 2:24-25.
More Scripture on enduring, true faith, versus fleeting faith:
John 8:31-32; Titus 1:1; Matt 15:13; James 2:14-26; 1 Tim 1:5, 19; 3:9.
Many "fall from the common faith," but none from true faith.

[Modern theologians who object to Federal Vision -
that it erodes assurance - need to read sections 11-12.
Then again, Federal Vision theologians need to read II.17.1-3,
on Christ meriting our salvation.]

Section 13 - Different meanings of the word "faith" in Scripture
"The meaning of the word "faith" is ambiguous."
1 Tim 3:9; 4:1, 6; 6:20-21; 2 Tim 2:16; 3:8; Titus 2:2; 1:13.

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