Faith Points to the Grace & Power of God

Past writers spent a lot of time on this particular part of justification because by it, grace alone by Christ alone is preserved and set forth. It is also hard to know when a good stopping point has been reached. Perhaps a good point has passed already, but the intent is to have this post as the last one on this subject for the time. One more quote from Turretin and we will stand down from this subject.

“Faith is said to save us (Lk. 7:50), not by meriting something in order to justification, but only receptively and organically because it was the instrument receptive of that benefit. Nothing is more frequent than by a metalepsis to ascribe to an instrument the effect of the principal cause (as when “the gospel” is said “to be the power of God unto salvation,” Rom. 1:16; the diligent hand is said to increase the house; the plough to enrich the farmer; the hand of the giver to relieve the poor; and the like). If elsewhere the greatness of the faith of the Canaanite woman to whom Christ granted the sought-for blessing is extolled (Mt. 15:28), its merit and efficiency is not on that account denoted. Believing, she was certainly healed because, faith being the medium, God bestowed this blessing upon her; but believing, he healed her, not on account of the fact that faith properly speaking effected or merited the healing.”

Scripture attributes a lot to faith and so it is very easy to look upon faith as the cause of salvation and of works rather than the instrument of receiving Christ and grace. The word metalepsis is not one commonly used in our day. The meaning of it is seen to some degree from the two Greek words that make it up. “Meta” means beyond and lepsis has the idea of to take. It has the basic idea of participation or to partake. It was used in ancient rhetoric “as a figure consisting of the substitution by metonymy of one word for another which would itself be taken figuratively” (1923 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary). A metonymy is a more familiar word and it is used in modern English as using a word to stand for other things. The American Heritage Dictionary gives the example of “a pen is mightier than the sword” as a metonym. The pen is used to stand for the writing and publishing of ideas that are themselves the real power. But the pen is used to point to the whole.

Scripture uses this device in many places (Turretin points out a few). The point at this juncture is that when Scripture speaks of faith as saving sinners, it is not a unique thing to point out that the word “faith” is being pointed to in a way that stands for a bigger process (like the pen above). One example that Turretin points to is when the Gospel is said to be the power of God. The written words that speak the Gospel have no power in and of themselves. The spoken words of a preacher have no power in and of themselves. The power of the Gospel is when God takes the Gospel and applies it. The Gospel itself is an instrument in the hands of the power of God to change hearts and transfer sinners from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son. The Gospel in Romans 1:16 is not powerful in and of itself, but in the hands of God it is divinely powerful.

When God created the Scripture says in several places “then God said…and it was so.” Did God simply speak a word into nothingness and the very sounds of His voice bring all things into being? It is easier to think that what happened is that the words “God spoke” represent His power and wisdom in creating. When the power of God carries out His own words His words are powerful. God must watch over His Word to see that it is done. It is not that a word has power in and of itself apart from the true agent of power. The Gospel will not change any heart unless it is used by God to do so. God alone can change hearts. So Scripture uses metonyms over and over. The Gospel is to be preached because it is what God uses to save sinners. We are to tell people that they are saved through faith because Christ and grace are received through faith. When faith is stressed in this sense, the real point is that salvation is by Christ alone and by grace alone. When we stress the preaching of the Gospel we should not be speaking of the power of our words but of the power of God to save through the Gospel.

It is very important to stress this in evangelism or people will think that salvation must come from them as a result of their coming up with faith. We must learn to preach the Gospel while looking to the power of God to make it effectual and we must learn to preach faith alone as a way of getting men, women, and children to look to Christ and His grace alone to save rather than to themselves to come up with faith. If this is thought to be picky and an effort to explain everything to those being evangelized, then let the names continue while the Gospel is preached. The only faith that saves is a faith that looks to Christ alone and receives Him. Justification is all of God.

3 Responses to “Faith Points to the Grace & Power of God”

  1. michael Says:

    First,

    are you a pastor or on a pastoral team overseeing the souls of men?

    The more I come under the thoughts and intents of our dearly departed, yet everliving friend and brother, Francis Turrentin, I explode with great joy within!

    This quote is a case in point. Such depth and intelligence comes from within this man. One wonders why our school children have been dumbed down?

    We do not let the “outside” man train up our children where I am living. The fathers of my church school our own.

    A metalepsis, a metonymy, huh? 🙂

    One can realize quickly enough the purpose for verses such as these when one takes it all in, this article above, I just read:::>

    Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

    Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–

    Granted, I am a johnny come lately and you may have picked these verses up in early postings and unpacked them?

    It seems to me the metalepsis is “obedience” is it not?

    In your sentence above: “Scripture attributes a lot to faith and so it is very easy to look upon faith as the cause of salvation and of works rather than the instrument of receiving Christ and grace.” I pause and wonder if it would be better to make the emphasis on “obedience” instead? What do you think?

    It seems to me the benefits of “faith” are daily “obediences” as “living” epistles of God and so by such obediences on a moment by moment basis one is restored to what Adam lost, hence the unpacking of “justification”, an everpresent “place” with God. The benefit lacking is “salvation”, and a common salvation at that!

    The metonymy certainly is “standing” with Christ, who came and went and comes again, standing under Authority at great risk to His own life.

    We are called upon to live in and by Christ’s obedience to obtain and then morph to become a “benefit” to others, hence your sentence: “It is very important to stress this in evangelism or people will think that salvation must come from them as a result of their coming up with faith.” and precisely why I quoted Romans 1 and 16, “obedience to the faith”.

    Now to Turrentin then and the quote. As I read it I got a clue from where some of the inspiration came from or at least it is my guess that this is where Turrentin would write such: “(as when “the gospel” is said “to be the power of God unto salvation,” Rom. 1:16; the diligent hand is said to increase the house; the plough to enrich the farmer; the hand of the giver to relieve the poor; and the like).” It’s Psalm 65.

    Psalm 65 should inspire all of us to evangelize and give cheerfully. Psalm 65 is one place where Peace with God could easily be restored, that that Adam lost in the garden on that terrible day! One thing all living human beings have together is our future.

    I would equally venture to say the Apostle Paul might have had this Psalm, among other verses, in mind, within his spirit, as added inspiration for admonishing the Ephesian elders this:::> Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
    Act 20:33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.
    Act 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.
    Act 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

    What a great benefit indeed it is when one is finally caught, netted, gutted and fed to the dead among the nations like Jesus fed breakfast to those unbelievers?

    Joh 21:1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.
    Joh 21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
    Joh 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
    Joh 21:4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
    Joh 21:5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”
    Joh 21:6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.
    Joh 21:7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
    Joh 21:8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
    Joh 21:9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.
    Joh 21:10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
    Joh 21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
    Joh 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
    Joh 21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.
    Joh 21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

    My guess is, yours and my future are going to be filled with His Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy?

    Psa 65:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song. Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.
    Psa 65:2 O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.

  2. Richard Smith Says:

    Michael:

    It has taken me longer to get back to you than I originally thought. A lot has been going on. I am attempting to be an interim pastor for the moment. Though faith is a gift of God, it is yet obedience. Though love is a sharing in the love of God for Himself, it is still obedience. God commands us to obey what He alone can give. Faith in and of itself can do nothing but receive, but the grace that faith receives works in us true obedience from God because the grace faith receives also is love from God.

    The soul that has true faith is the soul that receives grace. The grace that is received is also the love of God received and the soul is to manifest the glory of God because of what it has received from God. It is true that the word “obedience” stands for more than a simple act of the will doing what it is told. Instead obedience to God involves the emptying of self in humility, the receiving of grace by faith, and then the life of Christ being lived out through the life of the believer. Indeed obedience stands as a word that has a whole lot behind it.

  3. Bathroom furniture Says:

    Useful information, thanks for taking the time to write it.

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