We are back in the studio this week to continue our series on careful evangelism. We are still on our detour from Samuel Walker, but we will return to him soon. This week we are again looking to the twin gifts of faith and repentance.
Have you ever asked yourself this question: What enables a person to exercise the gifts of faith and repentance? Someone can grow up in church, sit under hundreds of sermons, and suddenly “have ears to hear and eyes to see.” What changed?
There are two realities when it comes to faith and repentance. The first is that they are gifts from God. The second is that man is commanded to and responsible for repenting and believing.
Scripture alone demonstrates the perfect balance.
Our tendency is to take one extreme or the other. This week, John and Matthew share many Scriptures teaching that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith and our responsibility for coming to Him in faith and repentance. It is difficult to hold a biblical balance. But if we are going to be careful ambassadors of our King we must strive, by the grace of God, to hold both truths in our hands and present them as the Bible does.
All the Scriptures John and Matthew mention are under Show Notes.
0:00 John and Matthew continue our detour from Samuel Walker for one more episode to spend some extra time focusing on the twin gifts of faith and repentance. To open, Matthew reads a quote from Henry Venn, a friend of John Newton and Charles Simeon. It is a great quote, but needs a bit of unpacking for our 21st Century ears, especially the phrase “evangelical obedience.”
5:00 What happens to a person that makes him or her want to have faith? Faith is not just a duty, it is also a gift. This understanding gives us the basis for this week’s episode. There are two major categories for us to discuss, the agent of faith and the instrument of faith.
7:00 Who is the agent of faith? This is most clearly seen in regeneration. God gives a new heat to a person and they respond by turning to Christ in faith and repentance.
9:00 But how is Jesus that agent, or to quote Scripture, how is He the Author of our faith? What Scriptural evidence do we have that faith is a gift?
14:00 Before the break, Matt mentioned the Covenant of Redemption. Now he and John go into depth regarding the importance and beauty of that doctrine. John imagines seeing the account of Act 13 from a heavenly perspective, that God is giving the people He had appointed from time immemorial faith they can grasp and live upon. The same happens to Lydia in Acts 16:14. In both cases, God uses HIs appointed instrument to bring about their faith, the spoken Word.
18:00 Within this wonderful reality are some dangers. Scripture is perfectly balanced, but we can be tempted to fall into a ditch on either side of Scripture’s path. One is a fatalistic abuse of this truth called hypercalvinism. The other ditch is overemphasizing faith as a duty and neglecting or refusing to mention God’s part in it. Both extremes dishonor God.
23:00 Misunderstanding faith can also lead to making it a matter of work. And lest we think we are too smart or theologically astute to fall into that temptation, John and Matthew point to Richard Baxter. He was a serious, Christ-loving Puritan. But he was mistaken in his understanding of justification.
26:00 The hpercalvinist ditch not only prevents Christians from obeying the command to evangelize but can keep unbelievers from obeying the command to repent and believe. Presenting a view that there is no responsibility gives the impression that lost people must inactively wait to be given the gifts of faith and repentance.
27:00 The answer to both extremes is simple. Faith hears God in man’s sermons. That is based on 1Thessolonians 2:13. This discussion may seem as though it is filled with a paradox. But when we come to seeming paradox in Scripture, we don’t choose one or the other. We stretch our hand out and, by the grace of God, grab both truths and hold them tight.
this week's Supporter Appreciation Episode.
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Other episodes in this series:
1 Peter 1:23
1 Thessalonians 2:13
Supporter Appreciation Episode Resources:
Romans in 40 Minutes coming soon. We’ll let you know when it is published!
Shepherd’s Conference (2020 Registration)