Does God Force Faith Upon A Chosen Few?
Calvinists take Eph 2:8 (“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”) to mean God gives us faith in the sense it is forced upon the elect; they have no choice. But they are misunderstanding the grammar in the verse. The gift in the text is salvation, not faith. Notice famous Greek grammarian A.T. Robertson’s comment upon this very point – “'Grace' is God's part, 'faith' ours. ‘And that’ (‘kai touto’). Neuter, not feminine ‘taute,’ and so refers not to ‘pistis’ (feminine) [faith] or to ‘charis’ (feminine also) [grace], but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that salvation does not have its source … in men, but from God.” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol IV, page 525)Of course, God does give us faith, but it is not forced. Many times, God does things through means. For example, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exod 7:13, 9:12, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10, 14), but also Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exod 8:15, 8:32, 9:34). The harmonization is that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart through means (relief from the 10 plagues), and not against his will.It is the same with our heart / spirit:● Ezek 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you● Ezek 18:31 Cast away … all your transgressions … and make you a new heart and a new spiritDo you see how God gives us a new heart and spirit, but it is not forced; we have a part to play?It is the same with repentance. God grants repentance (Acts 11:18b), but He does that through leading people to repent through their recognition of His goodness. (Rom 2:4).The following passages show God gives us faith by providing the power of divine persuasion:· Rom 10:17 faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God· Rom 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel … for it is the power of God unto salvation· John 6:65,44-45 no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father … No man can come to me, except the Father … draw him … And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.Then comes voluntary acceptance.Jesus has done His part to save us on the cross. Now it is up to us to do our part, to believe (John 3:16). God does not do the believing for us.