This is my fourth post in response to an essay written by Sam storms of Enjoying God Ministries http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/faith-and-repentance/. As noted before, this article was sent to me by my dear Calvinist friend Colleen who believes that God chooses certain individuals for salvation and also gives them the grace to accept salvation and the faith to believe.
- 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 should boast.
Mr. Storms puts forth an argument that because of word gender, the gift referred to in this passage can’t be faith or grace but is instead, “salvation in its totalality, a salvation that flows out of God’s grace and becomes ours through faith.” I emphatically agree – By His grace, God’s free gift to us is salvation which we obtain through faith. Amen, brother – sing it!
However, Mr. Storms derives the following statements from this passage:
- Salvation is a gift of God to his elect
- Faith is as much a gift as any and every other aspect of salvation
Because I lack Greek knowledge and the structure of language, I feel at a disadvantage. To that end, it is somewhat difficult and awkward to respond. However, as I look at various translations (KJ, NASB, NIV, ESV, etc), it is apparent that none of them draw out these Calvinistic thoughts. Why didn’t any of these Bible translators include the Calvinism? Could it be that these Bible translators didn’t see the Calvinism inherent within the passage?
The NIV punctuation breaks Eph 2:8-9 into six segments. I don’t know if that’s significant or not, but it’s an easy way to look at these verses.
- For it is by grace you have been saved. This is a demonstrative statement without ambiguity. We are saved by grace. The author doesn’t say we are saved by grace AND faith.
- Through faith. My trusty Webster’s Dictionary tells me that the word “through” is not only a preposition, it is also a “function word” used to indicate any number of things such as movement, time, means, completion, exhaustion, as well as to indicate acceptance or approval. Could it be that God’s “approved way” of us receiving His grace (the free gift of salvation) is through faith? There’s no indication here that God gives faith to some and withholds faith from others. The best definition of the word ‘faith’ that I know of comes from Heb 11:1 which says, “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
- And this not from yourselves. Notice that the author uses the singular word “this” and not the plural word “these”. I believe that the author is referring only to grace here.
- It is the gift of God. Again, notice that the author uses the singular word “it” and not the plural word “they”. This would again seem to indicate that only one thought – in this case, grace, is being referenced.
- Not by works. Self-explanatory – good deeds won’t cut it.
- So that no one can boast. Self-explanatory so shut-up about how nifty you think you are.
In conclusion, Eph 2:8-9 does not appear to support Calvinist thought that God chooses (elects) some for salvation. These verses don’t support the notion that faith is a gift of God given to some and not given to others. Rather – what seems self-evident from a simple reading of the passage is:
We’re saved by grace.
We’re saved by grace through faith.
Put another way, we’re saved by grace through being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.