Paul’s Use of the Word “Faith” Part 2 -- By: Martin O. Massinger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:432 (Oct 1951)
Article: Paul’s Use of the Word “Faith” Part 2
Author: Martin O. Massinger

Paul’s Use of the Word “Faith”
Part 2

Martin O. Massinger

(Continued from the April-June Number, 1950)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 2–10, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–9 respectively.}

Saving Faith

In any attempt at the classification of Bible passages difficulties are encountered. Certain ones are easily identified as belonging to a certain group, whereas others for various reasons are hard to classify. This perplexity is met from time to time in the present study. Often the classifying of the words faith or believe depend on the result of a painstaking exegesis, and at times a definite decision is next to impossible. Again, we find that the word faith is used in a general sense to refer to the whole of the Christian life and experience, thus defying more exact interpretation. It is usually possible, however, to identify faith as the act and attitude of the human heart which results in salvation, or as the attitude of one already saved, or in the third place as an objective entity apart from individual believers. First in chronological and logical order as well as first in order of importance is that act of faith which marks the beginning of the Christian life. This is termed “saving faith,” because it is the faith which brings salvation to the one who hitherto was unsaved. Such faith comes up for discussion now.

In spite of the fact that the Bible speaks very clearly regarding the source of saving faith, this aspect of the doctrine is grievously misunderstood by many who claim to accept the Bible statement as authoritative. To be sure, we detect in regard to this matter of being saved a paradox which our finite understanding is unable to reconcile

together, namely, the fact of predestination on the one hand and the fact of man’s free will on the other hand. Still, this does not furnish an excuse for Arminians to emphasize free will at the expense of predestination, nor for extreme Calvinists to emphasize predestination at the cost of free will. We read in Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Let us be content, then, with the simple fact that we cannot bring the two opposing doctrines into harmony to the satisfaction of human reason, since intellect and reason are limited. But let us recognize too that both doctrines, irreconcilable though they seem now to us, are taught in the Scriptures and therefore are true. So let us examine each one separately, seeking to understand it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then to pr...

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