Faith is the Condition of Salvation and Grace is the Work of Salvation | Part One
Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK
Calvinists take solace in the claim that they believe salvation is totally a work of God (unconditional election, man’s passiveness until selective regeneration, regeneration prompting faith, etc.,), while oftentimes either implying or explicitly accusing those who make salvation conditioned upon man exercising faith (exercising faith in response to hearing the gospel prior to regeneration or forgiveness) as being less than a total work of God or stealing some of God’s glory in the work of salvation. According to Calvinists, this conditional nature of salvation (as opposed to monergism and man’s total passiveness prior to regeneration) is supposed to emanate from, at best, a lesser view of salvation by grace and God’s sovereignty, which results in some sort of communal glory or credit between man and God for one’s salvation. Fortunately, Calvinism’s final conclusion is reasoned from Calvinism rather than Scripture.
The Bible is unmistakably lucid that salvation is totally a sovereign work of God and a reflection of His omnibenevolence. According to the unbeclouded teaching of Scripture, from conception to completion, God alone did the work of salvation and superabundantly provided everything necessary so that salvation could be unconditionally offered to each and all. Accordingly, the work of salvation is not conditioned upon faith, but rather it is more precise to say that the personal reception of the free and full salvation that God has wrought is what is conditioned upon faith. Even the act of faith is grace enabled—as opposed to somehow originating outside of God’s design in either created or fallen man. To wit, no outside force influenced either the development or procurement of God’s plan of creation or redemption.
That is to say, by grace God bounteously provides every essential for a person to be able to walk in relationship with Him. This includes opportunity, necessary understanding, and a freed will to act. The basis for every sovereignly necessitated condition lies in and emanates from the grace of God rather than the merit, virtue, or otherwise contribution of man (Romans 3:21—31; 4:1—16). Thus, both the conditions and the ability to meet said conditions exist because of what is in and provided by God rather than what is in or deserved by man.
God then graciously bestows these so that man’s freedom of otherwise choice is simply an outcome of His sovereignly chosen and enabled precondition for enjoying His full fellowship. This is as true of Adam prior to the fall as it was of fallen Adam and his progeny after the fall. That a choice to receive God’s blessings and walk in them is always conditioned upon faith is the pervasive and coherent teaching of Scripture. What changes from prior to the fall, to after the fall, and then ultimately after glorification is what grace works God must accomplish and provide in order to make such blessing actually available and accessible.
For example, God created Adam, placed him in an environment that was conducive for Adam to walk with Him, while concomitantly being sufficient to provide Adam with the choice to cease to walk with God. We can understand this as creative grace enablement. That is the option that God laid before Adam, (Genesis 2:17—18). Hardly anything could be more clear (Genesis 1 & 2). When Adam and Eve chose to use their God-given creative ability to walk away from God and go their own way (Genesis 3:1—6), the opportunity for them to walk with God ceased to be available based upon God’s creative grace work. Unless God’s eternal creation plan comprehended such an eventuality, and accordingly incorporated additional grace provisions, man would never have the opportunity to walk with God in the same way that Adam did, even though all of man’s sensibilities regarding God were not obliterated by the fall (Genesis 3:8—13; Romans 1:18—32); thus, the opportunity Adam and Eve had prior to the fall ceased to exist.
Thankfully, we all know that God did not leave those He created irrevocably captive to their condign punishment. He always knew man would misuse his freedom, thereby eternally sequestering himself and his posterity from an intimate walk with their Creator. Correspondingly, God had eternally overcome such an egregious misuse of grace and freedom through His eternal coextensive creative/redemption plan, which included not only creative grace but redemptive grace as well. This becomes immediately evident (Genesis 3:21) and is encapsulated in His initial expression regarding the grander redemptive plan designed for all of mankind (3:15), which, other than God Himself, becomes the theme of Scripture.
Man’s freedom to exercise otherwise choice is a created force (libertarian free will); therefore, God is sovereign over it, and He can contravene it at any time, as He can any force. Consequently, whether this force is used for holiness or sin, it will not and cannot thwart His ultimate will, as is seen in Genesis in that God was neither surprised nor ill-prepared. This force is neither foreign nor supplemental to His will or salvation plan (as is sometimes understood or portrayed by Calvinists), but rather it is an inextricable component of His creative plan of making man in His very own image unto His glory alone!
Genesis, as well as the rest of Scripture, teaches that God desired to create man with such power, rather than limiting man to merely choosing what he only could choose through compatible freedom or being microscopically scripted by the precise decree of God. It seems that God’s creation of man with otherwise choice is the most obvious and unencumbered message of Genesis two and three if read without theological importations. Additionally, rather than this clear genesiacal message evanescing with God’s unfolding revelation, it actually becomes a supercolossally captivating theme of Scripture.
To wit, God placing a choice before man between two accessible options and then either blessing or judging man corresponding to the choice he makes is so omnipresent in the Scripture that it appears that one would have to write a myriad of books, create all kinds of biblically foreign concepts, interpret simple verses in light of complicated ones rather than the reverse, and develop unduly narrow definitions in order to convince even a few that such is not the case; further, to do so transmogrifies what began as “revelation” into a “veiling” only to be revealed by a few to a few.
Part Two Coming Soon!