By Holly Garcia and johninnc
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
One of the more common attacks on the gospel is that God chooses who will believe in Jesus as Savior by giving them the faith to believe, while depriving everyone else of this “gift of faith.”
The teaching that faith is the gift of God, or even part of the gift of God, is the cornerstone error of reformed theology, or Calvinism. This error has been one of Satan’s primary tools in perpetuating the lie that we can earn eternal life by our works.
From Clear Gospel:
We observe from church history that the corruption of “grace” into an ethereal vitalizing substance, though often starting with the seemingly “innocuous” view that “grace” vitalizes the lost sinner to belief in Christ, deteriorates, almost inevitably, to the belief that the effects of grace, being sovereign or irresistible, will ultimately empower man to “repent of his sins,” to perform certain acts of righteousness, and/or to “persevere to the end” in faith and good works. Finally, we observe that the frequent conclusion of this heresy is that, if permanent and significant lifestyle changes are not manifest in the life of a sinner, God’s “grace” was never received.
As a consequence, we believe that such a corruption of the meaning of the word “grace” historically portends a grave likelihood, if not a virtual certainty, of a theological system deteriorating into a system of salvation by “Christ plus works,” (Romans 11:6-7, Ephesians 2:8-9), the very opposite meaning of the word “Grace.”
Contrary to the heretical teaching that faith is the gift of God, the Bible teaches that eternal life is the gift of God.
‘Faith’ does not = the gift of God.
‘Faith’ does not = salvation.
One can have faith and not be saved. It is by having faith in the right object that we receive the free gift of salvation (believing upon Jesus Christ as our Savior – who He is and what He has done for us -1 Cor. 15:3-4). We are justified by our faith in Him through the preaching of His truth, the gospel.
Romans 5 – 6:23 lists the gift of God seven times, and not once is it suggested the gift is making someone believe (or be regenerated in advance of belief). All the gifts are clearly identified as salvation; justification unto life (eternal), the gift of righteousness (His righteousness imputed to us), and eternal life.
Not once is “faith” named as being the gift seen in Romans 5:14-6:23.
It is concluded in Romans 6:23, that the gift of God, the free gift, is eternal life (which comes by belief in Jesus Christ as Savior).
In the Bible, some are commended for their great faith, others challenged to have greater faith, and still other criticized for having little faith, yet others are told to ‘have faith’.
Luke 7:9: When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Mark 11:22: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Luke 12:28: If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Jesus could not commend someone for great faith, if such faith were a gift from God. To do so would be attributing God’s glory to man. It is simply inconceivable that God would have Jesus praising man for something He had given him. He would have been praising the wrong person — God does not make mistakes. Jesus attributed the great faith to the centurion, not God. Jesus also commented the woman with the daughter with the demon; “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”
Similarly, Jesus could not challenge someone to have a stronger faith if such faith were to come from God. In so doing, Jesus would be challenging the Triune God (which includes Himself) to provide someone with a better faith. If faith was the gift, God would have failed for not giving them enough. None of this lines up with the Word.
Finally, Jesus could not chastise a believer for having little faith, if such faith had been provided as the gift of God. Nor would an honest God tell a crowd to ‘have faith’ when (if Calvinism were true) then the minority would be the ones that had already been chosen to be gifted with this faith.
It is clearly evident from scripture that faith itself is not the gift of God.
Eternal life is the gift of God.
The Bible clearly shows that saved speaks to eternal life in this passage (by grace you are saved) and we are saved through faith. Salvation/eternal life is the gift of God, it is not of us, not of works.
Ephesians 2:8-9:  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.
John 4:10: Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
John 6:37-39: In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Gift of God is identified throughout scripture as eternal life itself or as the Holy Spirit who regenerates us (imparts eternal life to us) and indwells us, when we believe (Titus 3:4-7; Rom 8:9; Eph 1:13) not before (which would have to be the case if one was ‘gifted’ faith’). The measure of faith spoken to in Rom 12 does not have anything to do with receiving eternal life.
Scripture is clear. Eternal life, not faith, is the gift of God. One receives the free gift of eternal life the moment he believes in Jesus as his Savior. Once received by faith, eternal life can never be lost or forfeited.
For more information on how to have eternal life, click here: The Gospel