Monday, 29 March 2010

by grace through faith: part 4

Let's quote this verse in its entirety. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Eph 2:8 The key question now is what is 'that' referring to in this passage?

This is not a 'pay your money and take your choice' type of question. The Greek language has lots of fascinating precisions which it is not possible to reproduce in the English language. Folks who have some familiarity with another language will know that most European languages give a gender to nouns; usually masculine, feminine or neuter. Pronouns, such as 'that' then have to agree in 'case and number' with the original noun. The pronoun translated 'that' in Eph 2:8 is in the neuter form but both grace and faith are nouns which carry the feminine gender. If 'that' were referring to either or both 'faith' or 'grace' it would be in the feminine form rather than the neuter. So what is the 'that' which is of God? It is the whole work of salvation and only a thorough-going Pelagian would suggest otherwise. Certainly I know of no Arminians who would claim otherwise. Salvation belongs to our God.

Faith is unusual in that it appears as both fruit (Gal 5:22) and a charistmatic gift (1Cor 12:9) Faith is clearly a many splendoured thing! There are events of faith and also a process of faith. Christ rebuked those who had no faith and men of his day prayed for 'faith'. So who is responsible for faith? God or man?

Faith is right response to revelation. A man cannot believe simply because he decides it would be a good thing to do so. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. God must speak before men can hear and respond rightly, but not all who hear respond rightly. Those who 'rightly respond' are commended for their faith and those who do not are held accountable for their disbelief.

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