Having elsewhere shown more fully, when treating of the corruption of our nature, how little able men are to believe (Book 2, c. 2, 3), I will not fatigue the reader by again repeating it. Let it suffice to observe, that the spirit of faith is used by Paul as synonymous with the very faith which we receive from the Spirit, but which we have not naturally (2 Cor. 4:13). Accordingly, he prays for the Thessalonians, “that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power,” (2 Thess. 1:2). Here, by designating faith the work of God, and distinguishing it by way of epithet, appropriately calling it his good pleasure, he declares that it is not of man’s own nature; and not contented with this, he adds, that it is an illustration of divine power. In addressing the Corinthians, when he tells them that faith stands not “in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God,” (1 Cor. 2:4), he is no doubt speaking of external miracles; but as the reprobate are blinded when they behold them, he also includes that internal seal of which he elsewhere makes mention. And the better to display his liberality in this most excellent gift, God does not bestow it upon all promiscuously, but, by special privilege, imparts it to whom he will. To this effect we have already quoted passages of Scripture, as to which Augustine, their faithful expositor, exclaims (De Verbo Apost. Serm. 2) “Our Savior, to teach that faith in him is a gift, not a merit, says, ‘No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him,’ (John 6:44). It is strange when two persons hear, the one despises, the other ascends. Let him who despises impute it to himself; let him who ascends not arrogate it to himself” In another passage he asks, “Wherefore is it given to the one, and not to the other? I am not ashamed to say, This is one of the deep things of the cross. From some unknown depth of the judgments of God, which we cannot scrutinize, all our ability proceeds. I see that I am able; but how I am able I see not:—this far only I see, that it is of God. But why the one, and not the other? This is too great for me: it is an abyss a depth of the cross. I can cry out with wonder; not discuss and demonstrate.” The whole comes to this, that Christ, when he produces faith in us by the agency of his Spirit, at the same time ingrafts us into his body, that we may become partakers of all blessings.
But as faith is his principal work, all those passages which express his power and operations are, in a great measure, referred to it, as it is, only by faith that he brings us to the light of the Gospel, as John teaches, that to those who believe in Christ is given the privilege “to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name, which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:12). Opposing God to flesh and blood, he declares it to be a supernatural gift, that those who would otherwise remain in unbelief, receive Christ by faith. Similar to this is our Savior’s reply to Peter, “Flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,” (Matt. 16:17). These things I now briefly advert to, as I have fully considered them elsewhere. To the same effect Paul says to the Ephesians, “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,” (Eph. 1:13); thus showing that he is the internal teacher, by whose agency the promise of salvation, which would otherwise only strike the air or our ears, penetrates into our minds. In like manner, he says to the Thessalonians, “God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth,” (2 Thess. 2:13); by this passage briefly reminding us, that faith itself is produced only by the Spirit. This John explains more distinctly, “We know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he has given us;” again, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit,” (1 John 3:24; 4:13). Accordingly to make his disciples capable of heavenly wisdom, Christ promised them “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,” (John 14:17). And he assigns it to him, as his proper office, to bring to remembrance the things which he had verbally taught; for in vain were light offered to the blind, did not that Spirit of understanding open the intellectual eye; so that he himself may be properly termed the key by which the treasures of the heavenly kingdom are unlocked, and his illumination, the eye of the mind by which we are enabled to see: hence Paul so highly commends the ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6), since teachers would cry aloud to no purpose, did not Christ, the internal teacher, by means of his Spirit, draw to himself those who are given him of the Father. Therefore, as we have said that salvation is perfected in the person of Christ, so, in order to make us partakers of it, he baptizes us “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” (Luke 3:16), enlightening us into the faith of his Gospel, and so regenerating us to be new creatures. Thus cleansed from all pollution, he dedicates us as holy temples to the Lord.
“Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit,” Paul begins his discourse on Spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. Later he will say explicitly that faith is given, and of course we cannot forget Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” Also, in Romans 8:8, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In all Paul cannot be short-changed on his emphasis that whatever we do which is pleasing to God is of faith for, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin,” nor can his emphasis on the power of faith being the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is amusing, then, to watch the SBC majoritarian traditionalists assert that the way of salvation is purely a human endeavor only assisted by the Holy Spirit when Scripture clearly, unequivocably, denies that theirs is the faith once and for all delivered to the Saints. A faith, without the power of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, to them, is somehow acceptable to God. It is not just error, it is heresy to the highest degree. One cannot imagine Paul’s response. But, from Timothy we can get an inkling: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.”
In the eclectic mass confusion that is the anything goes belief system of the SBC, we should not be surprised that heresy, error, and pride abound, nor that those who proffer such should boast as to their rights of majority rule against the clear teaching of Scripture.
Perhaps worse than the corruption is the complacent naiveté of people like Al Mohler who are not willing to rebuke and denounce where warranted and necessary, who are instead willing to call for peace and “can we all just get along” with those who have no intention of ever repenting of their sin… at least in a Biblical sense of the word. The time has come to rebuke and denounce the perverse self-assertions of Christian faith of the majoritarian leadership when it has become glaringly obvious that their folly has been exposed. Even though they are considered “friends,” when the defenders of the flock do not openly condemn such error, they prove very much that they are really enemies of the flock. The most subtle enemies of the faith are those who do not love enough to wound where the sword and the hammer of God’s word should be utilized to pierce and crush all those who would exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
For all the boasting in the SBC’s enduring cooperation, where love is the avoidance of conflict for the sake of peace, truth is denied, and unity can never be.