This is a book study on John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe: The Sovereignty of God, Freedom, Faith, and Human Responsibility’. Lennox openly acknowledges that he has not provided definite solutions to these deep questions of the faith and that there is mystery involved. He clearly acknowledges that God is sovereign, but that we need to think carefully about what the word ‘sovereign’ means Biblically. This book, per my understanding, is an invitation for Christians to spend time thinking deeply about what the Bible means when it describes God as sovereign.
Greetings fellow bookies (@Interested_in_book_studies) - we are now on Chapter 7! I look forward to hearing your favorite quotes and your reflections on this subject matter.
My main takeaways were:
- Paul regarded faith as the opposite of merit
- faith is not the gift - salvation through Jesus Christ is the gift
- God does not decide for us
- Biblical faith is evidence based
- terms like monergism and synergism are best avoided because they are not Biblical
Questions for Discussion
- How is faith the opposite of merit? Can you provide an illustration?
- In what ways do you understand Biblical faith as evidence based?
- What was your main takeaway from this chapter?
They can only be saved if God takes the initiative and provides salvation for them. On this, most if not all Christians will surely agree, whatever their position on determinism.
If God did not provide salvation, no one could ever be saved.
faith itself must be a gift of God distributed according to his sovereign will, completely independent of any attitude, desire, or behaviour on the part of those he elects to save. This view, as we have seen, is called “unconditional election”
Human beings are incapable of believing because they are dead in trespasses and sins as a result of the sin that Adam introduced into the world. This view is often called the “total depravity” of man
Although human beings are incapable of believing in God, for the reason given under Argument 2, it is nevertheless their fault that they do not believe.
I take these arguments very seriously. They, and variants of them, have been and are held by eminent and highly respected Christians, some of whom I know and value.
I hope that the reader will grant me that I fully share their concern not to detract from God’s glory in any way.
Nevertheless, my contention is that, because of their strongly deterministic elements, all three arguments do detract from God’s sovereign glory. I also hold that they are flawed.
meriting something, and having to do something to obtain that thing, are not the same.
Paul regarded faith, the act of believing, as the opposite of merit.
Paul, then, is contrasting two possible actions or attitudes – working and trusting – on the basis of the tacit assumption that everyone is capable of performing both.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1–2.) To commend someone for doing something that is not within their power to do is meaningless.
technical term for the claim that only God is involved in regeneration is “monergism”.
The alternative view, that human response is involved, is called “synergism”.
Paul’s teaching is clearly that God alone does the work of regeneration, but we are responsible for trusting him which activity is not a work, such that regeneration is not in that sense synergistic.
terms seem unhelpful and therefore best avoided.
From a grammatical point of view it is therefore not faith that is the gift – the gift is salvation by grace. Paul is in fact here making the same point as in Romans 4, contrasting salvation by merit with salvation by grace through faith.
So the main dictionary meanings given to “faith” are: belief, trust, confidence,
Biblical faith is evidence-based.
To suggest that humans do not have that capacity, but that their fate is determined by their possessing or not possessing some special and very different kind of “saving faith” – one that it is the prerogative of God alone to give arbitrarily – massively diminishes rather than enhances the glory of God’s character, to say nothing of its dehumanising effect on us.
The coming of the Saviour into the world is a prerequisite for salvation. God is the author and initiator of salvation.
There is, therefore, much of God’s grace to be experienced before someone comes to trust Christ, but this should not be confused with regeneration.
And, however we interpret them, we must never interpret them in such a way as to undercut human free will, thereby making God ultimately responsible for sin and evil.
God will do everything in his power to help us, but he cannot decide for us.
Jesus makes the point: If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. (John 9:41.) According to Christ, then, people will never be condemned for not seeing what they cannot see. Therefore, if they are to be judged for not believing, they must have been capable of believing. To suggest otherwise is to run
He gives a devastating indictment of the sinfulness of human beings, be they pagan or religious, and shows that no one has any excuse for their sin because of the evidence God has given them in creation, in conscience, and in his revealed word.