Answers to Your Questions
Dr. Couch, I understand that the Bible says that faith is a gift of God. Some of my friends do not believe this. What do you say?
I say what the Bible says. Both "saving" faith and faith "for Christian living" comes from God.
Before beginning to answer we must look at the issue of "Who is in charge" of this world, both in macro-management and micro-management? It is God! Whatever He has decreed will come to pass in every detail because He is at work. This world does not run on some kind of self-existence. He controls it and is bringing it to its conclusion.
Daniel said "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings …" (Dan. 2:21).
After being restored, Nebuchadnezzar said "And all the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'" (4:35).
Now let's look at some passages on the giving of faith for the Christian life:
1 Corinthians 12:9. As those who are gifted in the body of Christ, some are given the gift of faith by the Spirit. This is not saving faith but a special dose of trust for some (but not all) for a specific reason: "To each one (individual) is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (v. 7). This gift of faith is given by God's sovereignty. "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (v. 11), and, "God has placed the members, each one of them in the body [of Christ], just as He desired" (v. 18). So the question is: Who is in charge?
Now concerning the giving of faith for salvation:
Acts 13:48. "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life BELIEVED." The word appointed is a Perfect Passive Participle of the Greek word tasso. It could be translated: "And for those who have been progressively positioned, determined, classified, inscribed, enrolled in the past [with the action coming up to the present], these believed." Believed is an aorist tense of "pisteuo" and could be translated: "They definitely believed, began then to believe."
What caused the belief? It was the "positioning," the "appointment." This work started sometime in the past and came to fruition at some point in the present!
Most of the great commentators on Acts 13:48 of the past and the present agree that this passage is saying that salvation faith comes from God's appointment. For example:
Philippians 1:29 and Ephesians 2:8 are equally compelling. The Word of God is clear: The full package of salvation, including faith, is from start to finish the work of God!
Thanks for asking.
Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.