Calvinism · Doctrinal · Interpretation

Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 10 – Romans 9:16

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been been discussing the differences between Calvinism and Provisionalism with a fellow blogger. One particular response grabbed my attention and I am trying to understand his position, by referring to his proof texts and logic.

This is the third portion of his response (in red), along with the corresponding verses he referred to. I shall seek to comment on the verses and find his argument within the verses he has provided.

Original Comment

God gave to the man Jesus the spirit without limit. God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to according to Romans 9:16 John 1:12-13.

My friend is trying to teach me that God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to, and he refers to Romans 9:16 to support this claim.

So let’s read the passage and try to understand his point.

Romans 9:16 – So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Ok. I may be a bit daft, but I am not sure where faith is referred to in this verse, unless faith is the “it” at the start of the verse.

So what is “it”?

Let’s consider the immediate context.

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
Romans 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

So the “it” in Romans 9:16 reaches back to the question posed in verse 14 – that is “Is there injustice on God’s part?” Faith doesn’t seem to be referred to here. As a matter of fact, this chapter does not address faith until verse 30, (14 verses later!) where it appears that the gentiles received a righteousness by faith. Verse 32 speaks of the Jews not attaining righteousness by faith, but by seeking to attain it by works. This is the only two references to faith in the chapter, and it doesn’t appear to address God’s willingness or reluctance to provide faith to anyone.

Oh, and the subject of faith (or belief) was last referred to in Romans 6:8, speaking of the resurrection, but not of God restricting faith or belief from anyone.

I am not sure why he referred to this verse to teach me that God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to. Let’s see if the next set of verses in John 1 help us understand his thoughts.

I do hope you will continue with me as I seek to understand the verses he supplies and if the verses he supplied support his argument of fatalism/determinism which he speaks of.



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22 thoughts on “Calvin’s Concerns – Comment Response 10 – Romans 9:16

  1. Considering the Bible quote:
    “So the “it” in Romans 9:16 reaches back to the question posed in verse 14 – that is “Is there injustice on God’s part?” Faith doesn’t seem to be referred to here”

    True, Faith is not mentioned; but the issue is what is “it” that determines who God shows mercy

    It is by the sovereign will of God to show mercy to whom He wills and determined not by the (one) willing or by the (one )running; but of the (One) having mercy, of God

    The issue about the injustice of God was asked because of verse 13 where it states God unconditionally loved Jacob and unconditionally hated Esau

    Romans 9:13-16

    13 even as it has been written, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.” Mal. 1:2, 3

    14 ¶ What then shall we say? Is there not unrighteousness with God? Let it not be!

    15 For He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will pity whomever I pity.” Ex. 33:19

    Romans 9:16

    So, then, it is not of the one willing nor of the one running, but of the One having mercy, of God.

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  2. “Faith doesn’t seem to be referred to here.” I agree, the word faith is not mentioned; but God’s mercy is mentioned and the will of man and the running of man in Romans 9:16

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    1. Your quote

      “My friend is trying to teach me that God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to, and he refers to Romans 9:16 to support this claim.”

      If Faith in the Gospel is self generated without the work or gift of God, as I understand you to believe, then I can understand why this statement “ God doesn’t give faith to everyone because He doesn’t want to” wouldn’t apply and you are arguing that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy Romans 9:15,18 wouldn’t apply to the working or giving of faith because the word isn’t mentioned. I assume you to believe God wouldn’t need to have mercy on the one who has self generated faith; but what is thought provoking is in John 3:34 God gave Jesus the spirit without limit or measure. The word “ faith” is not mentioned in this verse. Did the Spirit bring the faith of Jesus in the Father or did Jesus’ self generated Faith bring the Spirit. Is faith the fruit of the spirit or not the fruit of the spirit?

      You must believe that the lost ones Adam represented are capable of generating faith in the Gospel of Grace without God showing mercy and working in them that belief. John 6:29

      These questions come to mind when thinking about what are the origins of these things
      Not all have faith; why not?

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  3. An interesting dialogue you have going on here. I hope you don’t mind if I share my thoughts. 😊

    Belief and faith are not the same thing. Rather, they are two sides of the same coin.

    Belief is a state of mind. It is the mental and sometimes verbal assent or agreement that a thing is true, as we see it. Faith is actionable. Faith goes beyond agreeing that a thing is true, to acting upon that belief.

    For example: I believe that my destiny is eternal damnation apart from Christ. Faith prompts me to repent of my sinful life and place my earthly and eternal existence in His hands; trusting Him to care for me and to raise me up on the last day.

    As a believer, I see that His word now commands me to obey Him and to lay down my life for Him daily. Faith prompts me to be obedient to Him and His Word, regardless of personal cost. Even to the point of physically laying down my life.

    Belief without faith is nothing. Even the demons believe, and shudder (James 2:19). We are not saved by works. But if our belief doesn’t result in faith that produces works as the Bible defines them, we have not moved beyond mental assent and do not truly have faith.

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    1. Very interesting take on the difference between faith and belief.
      I suppose the question that comes to mind is if the Bible makes a differentiation.
      If my memory serves me right the same greek word is used for both believe and faith – pistis.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m using the words separately, because that’s how we use it in the English language. If you’re going to teach or ask people to define faith, you have to allow for the fact that we don’t speak Greek. Many people equate faith with mere belief. It’s our responsibility as teachers to correct this assumption.

        What is your definition of faith?

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        1. That is a good observation, but we do as teachers have to understand what the authors meant originally, and i think the new testament uses one word for faith/belief/trust.
          I’m fairly certain the message associated with it was not merely mental assent.

          When I think of faith, I define it as
          hearing a message, understanding the message and then obeying or conforming to the message.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I believe you said in a nutshell what I said in a suitcase. LOL.

            I understand what you’re saying about understanding the original language, etc. But we also have to realize and work with the fact that we have a language that may or may not conform to the original. The Greek had one word for faith/belief/trust. We don’t. And all three of these words mean something different in English. We can’t tell someone to just believe in Jesus, because in our language that only means to see something as true and according to James, that is clearly not enough to obtain salvation. We would be remiss to not take that a step further and explain the difference between belief and faith.

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          2. Heart felt belief has inherently within; a will that moves according to the belief in the heart. Belief that Jesus’s shed blood and His imputed righteousness are the only grounds of salvation and Jesus is working this belief in the hearts of His people He promised to Matthew 1:21
            As Jesus said in

            John 6:29
            Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe into
            Him whom that One sent.

            In Philippians 2:13
            for it is God who is working in you both to will and to work for the sake of His good pleasure.

            Philippians 1:6
            being persuaded of this very thing, that the One having begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

            Belief without acting out that belief in no belief at all. That is why the word in the Greek contains the action and belief as one word from what I see. The only fruit that doesn’t lead unto death is the belief that Christ’s work and His imputed righteousness alone are the only grounds of salvation. That produces heart felt work from the spirit out of love for the one that first loved us, His people, believing the Sovereign Gospel of Grace.

            If you believe that your works contribute to your salvation then your are producing works or fruit unto death; Romans 7:5 Romans 3:10-12, because your self generated righteousness is a filthy menstruated cloth. Isaiah 64:6 Works from the proper belief are generated from the spirit and the Spirit only works in those that have been generated from above, who consequently believe That God is a just God and a savior without any effort from natural man who needs to be generated from above by the Sovereign Will of God John 3:8 to whom He chooses to mercy Romans 9:15,18

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  4. Faith means believing that Jesus Christ provided the effectual atoning shedding of His blood and His perfect imputed righteousness to satisfy God’s requirement of justice making Him a just God and a savior; as His people’s substitute securing their salvation from regeneration to final glorification (This is how I take it from the gospel)

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      1. Doesn’t He that believes have faith? John 6:47 Doesn’t All that the Father gives that come have faith? John 6:37 No one is able to come ( believing into Me) to Me unless it is given? John 6:65 Doesn’t the one given (come) (believe) (have faith) ?Doesn’t the one that the Father draws that come (believe) (have faith)? Doesn’t the one that is generated from above (come)( have faith) (believe)? John 3:3
        You do not believe ( come to Me) (have faith) because you are not my sheep. John 10:26
        My sheep hear my voice( believe into Me) ( come) (have faith) True belief cannot exist without coming with faith in the Gospel of God. John 10:27

        How can one believe into His work and person as the only condition of salvation without any effort from His chosen people and not believe, have true faith and come if it is truly heart felt trust and belief into Him. ( The Gospel)

        The natural man thinks spiritual things are foolishness ( The efficacious cross of Christ is spiritual).

        The natural man thinks the Cross of Christ is foolishness which includes in his thoughts which are blinded by the god of this age
        2 Corinthians 4:3-4 that the ones The Father gives ( certain number of people) (that can’t be lost) John 6:37-44 is synonymous with every single person without exception in the world that Jesus decided to go against the Father and die for (paying their sin debt and being punished for); but these limited number of people the Father gave to Jesus and the Spirit regenerates wouldn’t match every single person without exception that the Son died for in the world.

        There is no way The Father gave a certain number of people to Jesus that are guaranteed not to be lost while Jesus paid for the sins of every person in the world without exception and still send some to Hell.

        This would make Him an unjust God; so with this type of thinking Christ didn’t actually pay for anyone’s sins; contrary to what scripture says because some go to hell that he died for.

        This scenario would be in conflict with the limited number the spirit regenerates that the Father gives to Jesus. Jesus always does the Will of the Father.

        In other words, The Father didn’t give the same number of people to Jesus that Jesus redeemed on the cross and the spirit regenerates. In this scenario Jesus didn’t actually do the Will of the father since He died for more than the Father gave to Him.

        The natural man’s belief would make the Trinity disjointed and unbelievable.

        But according to scripture All that the Father gives to Jesus will come believing which means they have faith into the work and person of the one The Father has sent as the only condition for their salvation. That is faith in the Gospel
        (Good news)that Jesus actually effectually and efficaciously saves those the Father has given Him. Revelation 7:9

        Believing into Jesus means into His effectual work and perfect imputed righteousness as the only grounds of salvation for His people which He works alone from regeneration to final glorification. His people that He is mercies out of fallen humanity that He promised to save by His work alone. Matthew 1:21

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        1. I understand your view of the object of faith and I appreciate all the information you provide.
          When you say that he that believes has faith, it’s kinda like saying “my automobile is a car”.
          Of course it is, but that doesnt tell us anything.
          How bout this? Can you describe faith to me? General faith, not specifically Christian faith, but just general faith. In 30 words or less?
          It was very hard for me to do this so I understand if you are a bit frustrated with me. Appreciate your patience.

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          1. It sounds like you want me to describe the work that flows from being regenerated unto this belief or faith in the work of Jesus Christ alone for your salvation; that I described prior; but this belief in this Gospel of Grace alone which is to believe you contribute nothing to the grounds of your salvation because your works are a menstruated cloth and the natural man is dead to the true God, is the only belief or fruit resulting from regeneration from above.

            This faith only comes through regeneration from above and is the only means to producing the fruit that God works in us through the willing and the doing that doesn’t lead unto death.

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  5. If this verse doesn’t apply to the origin of faith, where does our faith come from
    Ephesians 2:8

    for by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God;

    John 6:37 says
    All who the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one coming to Me I will not cast out, not ever,

    It sounds the giving of the Father is what causes one to come which would give rise to Him being the one that gives faith

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      1. Faith in the Gospel of Christ or The Gospel of God

        Faith is the belief that Christ’s atoning blood and His imputed righteousness are the only conditions for salvation.

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          1. Believing that Christ’s atoning shed blood and His imputed righteousness are the only grounds of salvation without any effort from the sinner is the Gospel and what is to be believed when you believe into Christ proving you know The True God and The one whom He sent and have eternal life. That is the faith that saves. You have no righteousness of your own. If you think any work from you contributes to your salvation; then you believe a false gospel. Any work or fruit that doesn’t lead to death from you is the fruit that comes from His work and His work of the spirit in you out of a regenerated heart which created love for Him because of your knowing He first loved you because He died for you and you cannot be lost.

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