Is "Faith" A Gift God Gives (or forces on) Us?

            “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

For the past 30+ years of being a Christian, I have always understood this verse to mean that faith is the gift God gives us.  That faith has to be given to us by God, in order for us to believe in Him.  Of course, I believed this meant that it was a gift He offered to all, but that we had to decide to accept or reject.  And that is a fine interpretation, in my mind.  Because it's a graceful, reasonable way to mesh God's sovereignty with mankind's free-will.

However, Calvinists use this verse to say that God has to be the One to give people faith, and He only gives it to the elect, and if He doesn't give it to you the you were not predestined to heaven and have no chance to believe in Him.  In their theology, faith is a "gift" that is shoved into the elected person, causing them (and only them) to believe in God.

As I have been slowly and systematically working my way through tearing Calvinism apart, I began to rethink this verse.  In fact, just a couple days ago, I was going over it in my head as I fell asleep, thinking about how Calvinism sees this "gift of faith," when all of a sudden it hit me: Is "faith" really the gift in this verse, as I always assumed it was?  Or could it be something else?  Could it be that "grace" is the gift?  All this time, could "this not from yourselves" be referring to something other than faith?"

And so I did a little more research on this verse, and I ran across these posts online.  And it really opened my eyes to what the verse is really trying to say, and how it does not support the Calvinist view that faith is something God gives to the elect (forces on the elect).

It's amazing to me how much I have taken for granted or assumed over the years about what the Bible says and how eye-opening it's been to deeply study the Word in my pursuit of truth, of dismantling Calvinism (a theology that I believe is built almost entirely on assumptions).

So, give these a read and see what you think:    
Is faith the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8-9?

What Is The "Gift Of God"?

Is Faith The Gift Of Ephesians 2:8

Is Faith A Gift?  Calvinism Vs. The Bible

(And of course, you can find Calvinists who totally disagree with these arguments above, who will continue to say that faith is a gift God gives only to the elect.  But let me ask you, which view upholds the Bible overall and God's character better?  The one that teaches God only gives faith to certain pre-selected people and that everyone else is predestined to hell?  Or the one that teaches that God offers the gift of salvation to all, but only those who accept it in faith will acquire it?  And even if the gift is faith, I still say it's offered to all, but has to be accepted or rejected by us.)

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