Should We Rethink the Idea of Degrees of Faith? -- By: Robert N. Wilkin
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Should We Rethink the Idea of Degrees of Faith?
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
We often call Christianity the Christian faith. We speak of people being in the faith and of people departing from the faith.
We speak of justification by faith apart from works.
Additionally we say that progressive sanctification is by faith, that we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and delivered Himself up for us.
But I’ve found that in Free Grace circles there is some ambiguity about what faith is. That concerns me. This lack of precision about what faith is can be seen in the question of whether or not there are degrees of faith.
I will begin by defining the degrees of faith view which I am convinced needs to be abandoned. Second, I will show why I believe it is wrong. Third, I will show why passages purported to teach degrees of faith in reality do not. Fourth and finally, I will consider practical ramifications.
Before starting, a brief definition of faith itself is in order.
Faith is the persuasion or conviction that something is true. In Acts 17:4 Luke tells us concerning Jews at the synagogue in Thessalonica, “And some of them were persuaded.” Then in the next verse he reports, “But the Jews who were not persuaded…attacked the house of Jason…” A few verses later Luke reports on the response of Jews at the synagogue in Berea: “Therefore many of them believed…” (v 12). Clearly the persuasion of vv 4–5 is synonymous with the belief of v 12. Faith is persuasion of the truth of a fact or proposition, in this case, that Jesus is the Messiah who guarantees everlasting life to all who believe in Him.
We can easily see this as well in John 11:25–27. After Jesus says that He is the resurrection and the life and explains what He means by that, He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” Clearly He was asking her if
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she was convinced or persuaded that what He promised is true. Her answer was “Yes, Lord I believe…” She was convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that as such He guarantees bodily resurrection and eternal security to all who believe in Him.
II. Degrees of Faith Defined
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