Eph 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
In the Greek, this verse begins with the anaphoric article HO in the Dative case used to link what has already been noted in vs. 5 regarding “being saved by grace.” With it is the Postpositive Conjunction GAR meaning “for” or even “because,” linked with the Instrumental Dative of Cause for “grace,” CHARIS, χάρις. The Instrumental Dative of Cause indicates the cause or basis of the action of the verb, which is “having been saved,” as noted below. It tells us the why and basis for our salvation, which is the grace of God. So we translated this phrase, “For on the basis of the grace.”
This grace refers to the Plan of God as emanating from the character of God. Grace is the operating principle of God’s Plan; grace is the way in which God can provide all things for us which He designed to provide for us in eternity past without ever compromising His character and at the same time glorifying Himself. So grace is the only principle to the plan of God because grace means that God is responsible, God does the work, God does the providing. But to keep His plan perfect God must do all of the work and all of the thinking, and take all the credit. Therefore, grace excludes man’s works in the Plan of God.
The Axioms of Grace:
1. God is perfect, therefore His plan is perfect.
2. A perfect plan can only originate and function from a perfect God.
3. If man can do anything meritorious in the plan of God it is no longer perfect, and obviously no longer grace.
4. A plan is no stronger than its weakest link. For this reason grace excludes human merit and human ability. Grace also excludes human good. Do-gooders never make it under the Plan of God.
5. Legalism, asceticism and human good are the enemies of grace.
6. Therefore, works of human righteousness have no place in the Plan of God.
With this we a periphrastic phrase made up of two words. First we have the Present, Active, Indicative, 2nd Person, Plural of EIMI that means, “is or to be,” so here it is “you are.” This is linked with the Perfect, Passive, Participle in the subject Nominative case of SOZO, σῴζω that means, “save, keep safe, preserve, rescue, or make well.” It is the Intensive Perfect Tense that emphasizes the results or present state produced by a past action; therefore we have “you are saved,” (in the past with the present result of being saved in the present time that continues into the future).
So far we have “for on the basis of the grace you are saved, (with the results that your salvation will continue absolutely into the future).” Here we see that the basis or cause for our absolute salvation is the grace of God, period, and nothing else.
Then we have the Genitive of Means from the Preposition DIA and Genitive Singular of the Noun PISTIS that means, “through faith.” This is the subjective medium for the process of salvation, indicating a necessary condition. It is the means of appropriation that emphasizes the non-meritorious function, “through faith.” There is no definite article here which gives great emphasis to the noun “faith.” It emphasizes the qualitative aspect of the noun rather than its identity. The quality of faith is non-meritorious and yet it is totally efficacious because of the object of faith – Jesus Christ. Therefore, our salvation is a non-meritorious system of perception, a system whereby we can never receive any credit at any time.
Doctrine of Faith – For Salvation.
A. There are basically three systems of human perception:
1. Faith, a non-meritorious system of perception based on confidence in the authority and the veracity of another. Faith is not based on one’s own knowledge, as the other two systems are.
2. Rationalism, reason from the source of knowledge in itself, superior to and independent of any other source of perception. Rationalism says that reality is what you think to be true. It is the belief that reason and logic are the primary sources of knowledge and truth and should be relied on in searching for and testing the truth of things. Rationalism requires a high I.Q., from which systems of philosophy are often developed.
3. Empiricism, knowledge from perception by observation and experience rather than by theory. All ideas are derived from some sensuous experience using the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch, etc, having no innate or a prior conception.
B. Faith is the only system of human perception, which is non-meritorious in nature. It is the only system of perception, which will unlock spiritual truths; neither rationalism nor empiricism will do this, 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; Heb 11:6.
Faith must begin with the fact that God is, and that He rewards those that diligently seek Him. Nothing can be known or received of God unless man first believes that God is.
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
C. Perception by faith is always non-meritorious, because it depends on the authority, veracity, and ability of someone else. Faith requires authority. Faith also means a system of Doctrine, or a creed, perceived by faith; i.e., what is believed.
D. Faith is Not:
1. A mental assent, a simple agreement to a set of historical and doctrinal facts about Christ, God and the Bible. This is a “head-faith,” (left lobe – GNOSIS faith) and not a “heart-faith,” (right lobe – EPIGNOSIS faith). It is the faith of demons, James 2:17-20; cf. Mat 8:29; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; Acts 19:15. Many religious people believe in the Bible, God and Christ, but it is merely a mental assent to facts without any real heart-faith in Christ.
2. Presumption, to take for granted or to suppose something to be true without positive proof. It is something believed without actual evidence. This is arrogant, insolent, over confidence, and to take liberties in the spiritual life, Psa 19:12-13; Prov 21:24.
Prov 21:24, “‘Proud,’ ‘Haughty,’ ‘Scoffer,’ are his names, who acts with insolent pride.”
3. Natural Faith, which trusts itself to things seen in the realm of the natural senses and in the world of others, 2 Thes 3:2, cf. Heb 11:1-3, 6.
4. Faith in oneself, much “faith” preaching today teaches man to have faith in himself, his own abilities and latent soul powers. This kind of faith makes man his own savior and god.
E. The noun PISTIS used as an attribute means what causes trust or faith, reliability, faithfulness, or integrity, Titus 2:10; 2 Thes 1:4. Used in the active sense, it means faith, confidence, trust, faith as a recognition of and acceptance of Bible doctrine. In the active sense, faith is used in three ways.
1. Saving faith, Eph 2:8; 1 John 5:4, 5.
2. The three stages of the Faith Rest Drill, Rom 3:22; Heb 4:3.
3. The metabolization of Bible doctrine.
Therefore, true faith is confidence in another (The Lord Jesus Christ) and His Word with committal and surrender of oneself wholly over to God, to Christ, and to His Word, trusting Him for all, embracing and obeying His Word, Acts 16:31.
F. Faith is Assurance of your Salvation. Assurance is “freedom from doubt, firmness of mind; confidence, to make sure or certain.” In addition, it is “a pledge or guarantee; the state of being sure or certain; security.” Theologically it is the “inner knowledge” that God has forgiven us in Christ and accepted us in His beloved Son, Eph 1:6.
The believer should have assurance of salvation and acceptance before God , 1 Thes 1:5; 2 Tim 1:12. As John said over 40 times, it is to “know.” In this the believer does not presume when he has confidence in the promises of God through Christ, 1 John 2:3, 20, 29; 3:14, 19-21, 24; 4:6, 16-17; 5:18.
The believer is to have full assurance of:
1. Faith for salvation, Heb 10:22.
2. Understanding God’s Mystery doctrines for the Church Age, Col 2:2.
3. Hope unto the end, Heb 6:11.
We can have assurance of Salvaiton based on:
1. The testimony of the Word of God; the external evidence and testimony, 1 John 5:1-2; 2:3, 13-14, 20-21, 29.
2. The testimony of the Holy Spirit; the internal evidence, 1 John 5:9-12; 3:19; John 16:8; Rom 8:16; Gal 4:6; 2 Cor 1:2.
3. The testimony of a clear conscience; (another inner witness), Acts 24:16; Rom 9:1; 1 Peter 3:21.
4. The testimony of the Christian life; the outward evidence, living in harmony with the Word of God, the inner Christ like life, 1 John 3:14; 2 Cor 13:5.
G. Hindrances to Full Assurance: Things that rob believers from walking in their salvation, (or even unbelievers of their salvation).
1. Doubts and unbelief, Mark 11:22-24.
2. A lack of forgiving spirit, Mark 11:25-26.
3. Spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness, Rev 3:15-16.
4. Grieving the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30-31.
5. Allowing Satan to rob you of assurance, John 10:10; James 4:7.
6. Failure to do the will of God, Luke 12:47-48.
7. Wrong companionships, Prov 4:14; 1 Cor 15:33.
8. Love of the world, (Satan’s cosmic system), 1 John 2:15-17; James 4:4.
9. Failure to maintain a love relationship with Christ, Rev 2:4.
10. Willful sin, Heb 10:25-26.
11. Walking by sight, by feelings instead of by faith, 2 Cor 5:7.
12. Disobedience to the Word of God, Heb 5:8-9; Acts 5:29, 32.
H. Faith is the means by which we perceive reality in the invisible essence of God and His Plan for our lives as we surrender whole heartily to Him and His Word, 2 Cor 4:18.
2 Cor 4:18, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
I. Faith is the means of salvation adjustment to the justice of God.
1. As we have noted above, believing is non meritorious perception. The merit is always found in the object of faith (Jesus Christ) and not in the subject, the one having the faith (the believer). Likewise, we have noted, that salvation is by faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ, as is documented in many passages including, Acts 16:31; John 3:16, 18 19, 36; 6:47, 20:31; Rom 3:22, 28, 4:5; 9:30; Gal 2:16; 3:26; 1 John 3:23; 5:4 5.
2. In addition, the justice of God is our point of contact with the Essence of God because justice judged our sins in Christ on the Cross. Therefore, salvation adjustment to the justice of God is believing in Jesus Christ.
3. When we believe in Christ the mechanics of receiving all blessing from the justice of God goes into action, which is called “grace.” Our faith is non-meritorious, therefore, compatible with grace, Eph 2:8 9.
4. For salvation adjustment to the justice of God, the object of faith is Jesus Christ. For maturity adjustment to the justice of God, the object of faith is Bible doctrine, the mind of Jesus Christ.
J. The Object of Faith:
1. Because the object of faith always has the merit and there is no merit in the subject because faith is a non-meritorious system of perception, all the faith in the world secures nothing but condemnation from the integrity of God. Remember that we are born with faith, we first learn vocabulary by faith, and therefore, faith itself secures nothing.
2. Yet, the tiniest bit of faith in Christ secures eternal salvation. It only takes a little more faith than no faith at all. It is the object of faith that counts, not the worthiness of the one with faith. There is no merit in believing; the merit lies in the object of faith. Faith is not something we do, but it is the channel by which we appropriate what God has done for us.
3. Through the adjustment to the justice of God and blessings from the integrity of God, Jesus Christ becomes the author and finisher of our faith, Heb 12:2.
K. Grace in salvation is the work of God.
1. God the Father imputed our sins to Jesus Christ on the Cross.
2. God the Son received the imputation and judgment for our sins on the Cross through His substitutionary spiritual death.
3. God the Holy Spirit reveals the plan of salvation to the spiritually dead person under the doctrine of common grace.
4. So an invitation from God is extended. (Remember that God always reveals Himself to us. We do not go out and find God.) When that invitation is accepted simply by believing in Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit makes our faith effective for salvation.
5. Therefore, the whole principle of eternal salvation is faith and faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ, which provides for the Grace of God to work in our lives.
Continuing with Eph 2:8, we now note that our salvation is not accomplished nor maintained from our own work or power but is purely, wholly, and completely a grace gift from God, as stated in the last half of the verse, “and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
The Greek reads KAI TOUTO OUK EX HUMON, THEOU TO DORON.
KAI meaning, “and,” is the Conjunction that ties the last phrase with the following one, establishing the negation of salvation by works.
TOUTO for “this” is in the neuter gender of the immediate demonstrative Pronoun HOUTOS that does not refer to either grace or faith, but refers to salvation in general.
OUK is the Greek negative for “no or not.” It is used as a negative for a statement of fact. The statement of fact is that we absolutely did not and cannot save “ourselves,” HUMON. And in fact we have been “saved”, SOZO, “by grace through faith which is a gift from God.”
“It is the gift of God,” uses THEOU as the possessive Genitive of THEOS which means, “God,” and DORON the noun that means, “gift, offering, or present.” The first time we see DORON in Scripture is Mat 2:11, when the Magi from the east gave gifts to the new born King, Jesus Christ, in appreciation for God’s gift of sending His Son to provide salvation for all of mankind.
Interestingly, we also see in Scripture that any “gift” or “present,” including the votive offerings of religion, could be deemed a DŌRON by classical Greek writers. Sometimes “temple offerings” are called DŌRA (see Moulton-Milligan). The Septuagint also bears witness to this, as DŌRON was frequently selected as an equivalent to the Hebrew term QORBĀN that means, “an offering or gift.” Therefore, it has a sense of sacrifice associated with it.
In addition, a second meaning of the word in classical Greek is “the breadth of the hand, the palm,” (see Liddell-Scott), therefore we are given an image of the hand of God that reached out toward us by having His Son crucified on the Cross for our benefit, when our Lord’s hands were stretched out and nailed to the Cross.
Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
2 Cor 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
“It is the gift of God,” refers to the whole process of salvation, not just to the granting of faith to believe, as this grace gift is also referred to as the “gift of righteousness,” made available through the obedience of one Man, Jesus Christ, Rom 3:23-25; 5:15-19. As such, God’s love is expressed in His giving gifts to men, His greatest gift being His own Son.
Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.”
And we see that our Lord perfectly expressed this attribute of God by giving His life as a ransom for many. In turn He commanded His disciples, John 15:13, and us, to lay down our lives in sacrificial giving; as it is “more blessed to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35. As such, your entire Christian life should be characterized by giving with a view toward serving God with a grateful heart in the process, because of what He has done and freely given to you, cf. Rom 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5.