Is Faith a Work?
This post is written by SEA member, Roy Ingle
In Romans 4:4-5 we read the following:
4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
In this text Paul poses faith as being against works. He states clearly here that faith is counted as righteousness. To have faith in Christ is posed as against seeking to obtain righteousness by our works. As we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, salvation is received by God’s grace through faith. We are not saved by works (Titus 3:5-7). Jesus said the work of God is to believe the gospel (John 6:29). Certainly we are to strive to enter the kingdom of God (Luke 13:24) but we do this in the grace of God and not in our flesh through our own self-righteous works. Self-righteousness will never produce the righteousness that God requires which is perfection (Matthew 5:48). Paul tells us in Romans 9:30-33 that the Israelites stumbled over the gospel because they were seeking righteousness through the law and not through Christ.
We Arminians hold that through the prevenient grace of God, man, bound in sin, is able to freely believe the gospel and be saved. We affirm the bondage of the will in that man is dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) but we believe that the Holy Spirit is in the world to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8-11). Why would the Spirit be in the world if in fact Jesus didn’t come to save the world (John 1:29; 3:16; 1 John 2:2)? The Holy Spirit, through the gospel preached (Romans 10:14-17), saves sinners (1 Corinthians 1:21). The Holy Spirit opens the sinners eyes to the truths of the gospel and He regenerates those who believe (John 3:1-7; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:2, 26-27).
To receive faith freely does not make it a work. This is clear in Romans 4:4-5. Faith is not a work. Over and over again people are told to have faith, to believe, to trust. When a person does so, they do so because of the gracious work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). The idea that a person believes the gospel because they were first regenerated to do so has no biblical basis. Further, when the Philippian jailor in Acts 16:30 what he must do to be saved the reply was not “Be saved so you can believe on the Lord Jesus” but rather, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). In Acts 2:37, when the people were cut to the heart by the Spirit for their sins, they asked Peter and the Apostles what they must do and he preached repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Not one mention of regeneration before conversion. We are born again when we have true faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-10). We purify our souls through obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22-23).
The Arminian position is that all can be saved through faith in Jesus. God’s grace was fully manifested in His Son (Titus 2:11-12) and His delight is in seeing people repent of their sins (Luke 19:10). He does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32) and He calls all to repent of their sins and become a disciple of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). Our passion should be to preach the gospel to all (Mark 16:15-16) and to see all come to salvation (1 Timothy 2:4).
The original post can be found at: http://arminiantoday.com/2012/11/29/is-faith-a-work/