Sunday, June 21, 2009

Theodore Beza on the gift of faith


We are at this point such enemies of our own salvation, because of our natural corruption , that if God had merely contented Himself to tell us that we shall find our salvation in Jesus Christ, we would only mock it; thus has the world always done and will do until the end . Even more, if He added nothing more than to tell us also that the means whereby we experience the efficacy of this remedy against eternal death is to believe in Jesus Christ, that would profit us nothing. For, in all this, we are more than dumb, deaf, and blind through the corruption of our nature. It would be no more possible for us even to wish to believe than it would be for a dead man to fly. It is necessary therefore that with all this, the good Father, who chose us for His glory, should come to multiply His mercy towards His enemies. In declaring to us that He has given His own only Son so that whosoever takes hold of Him by faith should not perish, He creates also in us this instrument of faith which He requires from us.

Now, the faith of which we speak does not consist only in believing that God is God, and that the contents of His Word are true:- for the devils indeed have this faith, and it only makes them tremble -- But we call 'faith' a certain knowledge which, by His grace and goodness alone, the Holy Spirit engraves more and more in the hearts of the elect of God. By this knowledge, each of them, being assured in his heart of his election, appropriates to himself and applies to himself the promise of his salvation in Jesus Christ.

7 comments:

Lyle said...

I heard the same thing in a great sermon very recently.

Rick Calohan said...

Theodore Beza to those who do not know is the Phil Bengtson (Coach of the Green Bay Packers after Vince Lombardi) of Reform faith in so much he picked up the reigns after John Calvin.

The beauty of Reform Theology to me is that it makes clear what the Bible has to say about salvation. It is not I but He, I am not God, God is God, if it was up to I apart from the Grace of Christ alone I could not be saved.

I came across this today it is part of Ligonier Ministries Statement of Faith and it rings true to what Beza had said and what Reform Theology is:

“We believe in one God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The triune God has created man in His own image and has called him to manifest and reflect holiness through obedience to His commandments. Because man has woefully fallen in this responsibility and entered into a state of moral corruption, he has subsequently become estranged from his Creator.

Because of a profound love for His creation, God has initiated a plan of redemption which He has accomplished on behalf of His people in the realm of temporal history. The zenith of this redemption is located in the historical incarnation of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. We confess Jesus to be the Christ of Old Testament prophecy, being at the same time fully God and fully man. Jesus, through His substitutionary atoning death and bodily resurrection, has provided the meritorious basis of our justification, which, by God's grace, we receive by faith alone.

Proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit dwells in the hearts of believers, effecting their regeneration and operating in their sanctification. The same Holy Spirit has been given to the people of God to empower them for the service of bearing witness to the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit brings His people together to form a corporate community of believers. We believe that Christ has established a visible church which is called to live in the power of the Holy Spirit under the regulation of the authority of Holy Scripture, exercising discipline, administering the sacraments, and preaching the Gospel of Christ.

We believe that the Bible, in its entirety, is divine revelation, and we submit to the authority of Holy Scripture, acknowledging it to be inerrantly inspired by God and carrying the full weight of His authority.”

Also, from Dr. R. C. Sproul’s book, What is Reformed Theology?

"We believers must ask ourselves why we have come to faith while many of our friends have not. Did we exercise faith in Christ because we are more intelligent than they are?" asks R.C. Sproul in this book. "Did we respond to the gospel positively because we are better or more virtuous?

"We all know the answers to these questions," continues Dr. Sproul "I cannot adequately explain why I came to faith in Christ and some of my friends did not. I can only look to the glory of God’s grace toward me, a grace I did not deserve then and do not deserve now."

Frontier Forest said...

I know this is a most elementary question but one that has always prompted me to wonder. We know that “faith comes be hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) But do we believe first and then by hearing, faith is revealed or do we receive the faith to believe first, and only then able to hear the Word?

Brother Titus said...

To Rick Calohan: As a native of the land just south of, "The Frozen Tundra," your analogy between Beza and Bengston is rather odious and left me shaking my head. Bengsten's three-years-and-out record with the Packers was 20-21-1. Make an analogy of that to Beza's work as you did, and he wasn't much of a Reformer, even though I understand your point only to be that a much lesser known and accomplished man had taken over the reigns of a situation from a more widely known and respected man. But, my point is that I don't think that Theodore Beza's photo and words would've been posted on this blog if his work during the Reformation had been a washout. Thus, bad analogy.

Roger Mann said...

Woody,

As Calvin says in his commentary on this passage, “the word in order always precedes faith, as the seed the corn” (v. 16). Moreover, Paul himself indicates that “hearing” the word of Christ always precedes faith: “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (v. 14).

So I would say that it is through “hearing” the gospel message that God produces faith in His elect people. The reprobate “hear” the same message -- the same true information or knowledge of Christ -- yet it falls on deaf ears and is rejected in unbelief, just as the Lord Himself has determined and desired that it should (Matthew 11:25-26; John 12:39-40; Romans 11:7-10; 1 Peter 2:8; etc.). Calvin sums up his excellent commentary on this verse by saying:

“And this is a remarkable passage with regard to the efficacy of preaching; for he testifies, that by it faith is produced. He had indeed before declared, that of itself it is of no avail; but that when it pleases the Lord to work, it becomes the instrument of his power. And indeed the voice of man can by no means penetrate into the soul; and mortal man would be too much exalted, were he said to have the power to regenerate us; the light also of faith is something sublimer than what can be conveyed by man: but all these things are no hindrances, that God should not work effectually through the voice of man, so as to create faith in us through his ministry.”

“It must be further noticed, that faith is grounded on nothing else but the truth of God; for Paul does not teach us that faith springs from any other kind of doctrine, but he expressly restricts it to the word of God; and this restriction would have been improper if faith could rest on the decrees of men. Away then with all the devices of men when we speak of the certainty of faith. Hence also the Papal conceit respecting implicit faith falls to the ground, because it tears away faith from the word; and more detestable still is that blasphemy, that the truth of the word remains suspended until the authority of the Church establishes it.” (v. 17)

Rick Calohan said...

Point taken Brother Titus; However, if you had heard Tony's sermon last Sunday you would have known why I mentioned Bengston Since I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan the better analogy would have been Chuck Knoll (Calvin) Bill Cowher (Beza).

Being that both Tony and I share an affinity for the New York Yankees perhaps the Miller Huggins/Joe McCarthy or Billy Martin/Dick Howser or the Joe Torre/ Joe Girardi or the DiMaggio/Mantle whatever works for you.

Nevertheless even if Beza was no more successful than Bengston, the Reformation would have gone forward because God and not man is sovereign.

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Frontier Forest said...

Powerful thoughts Roger! Thanks for the sharing Words of truth.