For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this
is not out of you; it is Gods approach present, not of works lest anyone should be
boasting. For His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which
God makes ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them (Eph.2:8-10).
This passage is a most
enlightening one. Its revelations are clearly expressed and are exceptionally glorious. We
are overwhelmed by the magnificence of these declarations, and are exceedingly glad that
they are true. For they allow usindeed, they constrain usto glorify God as God
and to take our proper place as His creatures.
Ephesians 2:8 begins with
the word for (gar, SURELY-CONSEQUENTLY): For
in grace, through faith, are you saved. Gar is a causal conjunction,
introducing the logical reason (KEYWORD CONCORDANCE, p.114, entry
for). Whenever a sentence or clause begins with this word, what follows tells
us why that which has gone before is so. It joins one thought to another, forming the
causal link between them.
any passage in which gar appears, in Ephesians 2:8 at the beginning of the verse,
we should note the causal relationship between a former and a latter statement, in order
to understand why the declarations which have already been set forth are true.
The immediate revelation
previous to Ephesians 2:8 is comprised in verses 1 to 7. There we learn that,
notwithstanding our former walk, our shameful behavior in the lusts of our flesh, being,
in our nature children of indignation, even as the rest, yet God. . . .
Yet God! O
what meaning, O what wealth these words impart. It is true that, having become
unnatural through our own inherent disposition with which we were born (Rom.8:7), besides
the ravages of mortality and those influences of sin which accord with the chief of
the jurisdiction of the air (Eph.2:2), we were indeed, in our nature, children
of indignation, even as the rest (Eph.2:3b). Consequently, we could only anticipate
severe divine judgment. This is because, in the day of indignation and revelation of,
Gods just judgment, indignation and fury, affliction and distress will
be upon every human soul which is effecting evil (Rom.2:9).
Nonetheless, Yet God!
It is evident that Paul is speaking here in an ultimate or final sense in accounting for
the stupendous change that has occurred with regard to our present standing and future
course. He has just rehearsed our awful past and insisted that insofar as anything related
either to our acts or nature is concerned, it can only be said that we were,
children of indignation, even as the rest. That is, we had no more
claim upon Gods blessing and were no more entitled to exemption from indignation,
much less to possession of eonian life, than anyone else.
Now if it were true, as
many will say, that man is finally the key to his own welfareespecially to such
unspeakable gain as exemption from indignation and deliverance unto glorythis would
have been just the place to have made this known. In fact, if such a thing were true, Paul
should have made this clear, and would have been terribly remiss in having failed to do
But what does our apostle
declare? Does he say, Yet man. . . .? Does he say, Yet men, those such
as ourselves who are saved, at the vital point, their former sinfulness notwithstanding,
summoned something from within so as to make the right decision and thus qualify
themselves for divine deliverance? If this idea is the truth, Paul should have said
as much, and he should never have saidespecially at this vital juncture
Yet God. . . .
Yet this is just what he did
say! He said, setting forth the truth, Yet God . . . . Yet God,
being rich in mercy, because of the vast love with which He loves us (we also being
dead to the offenses and the lusts [cp Rom.6:10]), vivifies us together in Christ (in
grace are you saved!) and rouses us together and seats us together among the
celestials, in Christ Jesus, that, in the oncoming eons, He should be displaying the
transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Eph.2:4-7).
THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRUTH
words of our Lord in Luke 6:32-35 give us an illuminating illustration of true grace:
If you are loving those loving you, what grace* is it to
you? For sinners also are loving those loving them. And if you should be doing good to
those doing good to you, what grace is it to you? For sinners also are doing the
same. And if you should ever be lending to those from whom you are expecting to get back,
what grace is it to you? For sinners also are lending to sinners, that they may get
back the equivalent. Moreover, be loving your enemies, and be doing good, and be lending,
expecting nothing from them, and your wages will be vast in the heavens, and you will be
sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Grace is that which is not
out of works (Rom.11:6), which exists in order to bring joy and blessing to its
beneficiaries (cp charis, JOY, grace; charisma,
JOY-EFFECT, grace; chara, JOY,
While Grace is not partial
(sinfully preferential), it is nonetheless purposeful. Any gracious gift, then,
that is not intended for all, through its very purposefulness, necessarily excludes those
for whom it is not designed, as much so as would be the case if its motivation were that
to Gods work or action of grace, the work which He does for us and in us, as a favor
or gracious gift. As ordinarily used, the expression Gods grace is a
figure of speech. It is a metonymy (figure of association) for Gods work of
grace, in reference to whatever gracious gift may be in view. That is, literally,
grace is not an action, but the character of an action.
The grace of God is
effective, for it, like everything else, only exists according to Gods own intention
and purpose (Eph.1: 11; Rom.9:19; Isa.46:10,11). Indeed, it is the saving grace of
the Almighty God (Titus 2:11; Rev.11:17).
Consequently, then, since
it is effective, grace is a causal entity. This entails the necessary and
inevitable existence of its achievements. That is, Grace cannot fail.
Grace is not a wage or
requital in response to service or cooperation (Rom.4:4). Instead, it constitutes a favor.
Grace acts in order to bless. It does not offer to bless, but actually effects blessing.
Therefore, at the deepest level, grace always initiates, out of its own intrinsic
virtue. Though it responds to need, it is never under extrinsic obligation to do so and
can never be put under such obligation.
Our God is in the heavens:
He has done whatsoever He has pleased (Psa.115:3; cp Psa.135:6). Though He
loves His creatures and provides for them ideally, He is never beholden to them.
For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser? or, who gives to Him
first, and it will be repaid him? seeing that out of Him and through Him and for
Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen! (Rom.11:36).
The word of the
truth of the evangel . . . is bearing fruit and growing . . . [in] you . . . ,
from the day on which you hear and realized the grace of God in truth
IN GRACE, THROUGH FAITH
light of these prior and related revelations, Paul declares, For in grace . .
. are you saved (Eph.2:8). We have all that we enjoy in Christ, because we
are saved in grace. It is true, in the nature of things, that we are saved by
grace, for we are saved by God Who acts in grace in saving us. Grace, however,
is in the dative case, and this idea is most clearly conveyed in English by the word
in (or to, or into). It speaks of the sphere in
which salvation occurs, in which we find ourselves, the effectual agency of which having
wrought our salvation.
We are about to address
the question of the words through faith, which we omitted (indicated by the
elliptical dots) in our citation from Ephesians 2:8 in the previous paragraph. We did so
not because we wish to minimize them or pass them by altogether, but because we wish to
show that they do not represent the primary revelation here. The emphasis of this passage
is upon Gods grace, not the means which it employs.
FAITH IS A CHANNEL
frequently very helpful to simplify a statement into its most basic form, for apart from
the wider thought of its complete expression, the basic expression of a thought in itself
remains fully true. For example, if we are told that thus God loves the world, that
He gives His only-begotten Son . . . . (John 3: 16a), it must be so, first of all,
that God loves the world. He could not love the world thus
if He did not love the world at all.
Similarly, we could never
be saved in grace through faith, if it were not first of all true that, in any
case, in grace . . . are you saved. We have been saved in grace.
The revelation of any further particulars concerning our salvation in grace will not
change this fact. In most considerations of the phrase, through faith,
through is usually ignored altogether, faith alone being given any
attention. Yet what does it mean for something to come to us through something
else? That is, what does through mean? Through is a preposition
which means by way of. A synonym for through is by means
of. That which serves as the means through which something else is achieved,
is merely a channel. It is the means which the one who achieves the objective in
view uses in order to accomplish his purpose. The fact that God uses the faith that
we havewhich He first of all grants usin order to effect one aspect or another
of the salvation which He Himself thus works in us, does not make faith into some type of
contributing factor which ultimately owes its existence to the flesh and not to God.
GODS APPROACH PRESENT
before giving emphasis to our own pursuit of a righteous walk, we would emphasize Gods
righteousness, and seek to perceive its significance as well as its achievements.
Gods righteousness is manifested to us through Jesus Christs
faith (Rom.3:22). Even Christs faith, His faithful obedience to God even unto
the death of the cross, is only the channel of Gods own righteousness. Ultimately,
it is the Deity Himself Who alone is our God and Saviour. Our Lords sacrifice would
have occurred in vain were it not the fulfilling of Gods own counsels (cp
Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27,28). In speaking of our glorious salvation in grace through faith,
Paul would have us know that this is not out of you; it is Gods approach
present, lest anyone should be boasting (Eph.2:8b,9). We doubt that any are so
foolish to suggest that salvation itself is actually mans creation and that God only
makes use of it after it comes to Him out of us. This cannot be what the
words, this is not out of you are denying (Eph.2:8b). Rather, Pauls
point is that it is not due to something from (i.e., out of) us that we now
find ourselves in Christ and the beneficiaries of Gods saving operations.
Instead, our salvation in
grace through faith, is Gods approach present (doron, GIVE-GUSH).
Our salvation, in its entirety is a present! It is that which God has given us out of His
love. Doron is practically the same word as dorea (GIVE-GUSH)
and is defined for us by the adjectival form, dorean (GIVE-GUSHed),
which means gratuitously or freely.
This clearly shows that it
is completely mistaken to conceive of ones faith as a means of qualification, a
practical warrant entitling its bearer to Gods salvation while placing the Deity
under obligation to grant it, as if He had promised to do so on such a basis.
In Greek this special
form, doron, served to represent the Hebrew corban (korban, Heb.
qrbn, NEAR, approach; Mark 7: 11). In the figure, here in Ephesians
2:8b, instead of the sinner bringing a sacrificial gift unto God, God brings a sacrificial
gift on behalf of the sinner in order that he may approach unto God! The gift has already
been purchased and its character fully determined before we are even told what it is. Any
rejection of it by ourselves will not change the fact that it is ours. That
is, this will be so if we are indeed among Gods chosen ones, which is evidenced not
by our understanding of these mature revelations of Ephesians but by our basic faith in
Christs death and resurrection.
Indeed if we should reject
the salvation encompassed in the approach present of God of Ephesians 2:8, it can only be
because we really do not believe at all, or because while we do believe in Christ and His
sacrificial death, we do not yet believe what God actually says as to the nature of His
approach present for us which is presented in this passage. This, of course, will not
change the character of Gods gift; it will only mean that, at present, we cannot enjoy
what we actually possess, being in the trap of the Adversary, having been caught alive by
him, for that ones will (cf 2 Tim.2:25,26).
THE DOINGS OF GOD
salvation is not out of ourselves. We do not possess it because we have done this or that
in order to acquire it. Consequently, boasting is debarred (Rom.3:27). This is because we
are Gods achievement. For His achievement are we (Eph.2:
10a). We are saved because we are Gods achievement. It is just that simple and this
is fully the truth.
achievement, is poima (DO-effect). We are the
product of Gods doings. It is only unbelief that will seek to modify this or to
explain it away. This unbelief is due to the deceptive influences of the worldly
philosophy known as free will. We do not care for the fact that we ourselves, who effect
much evil and some good, are the product of Gods own doings.
God, however, is able to
operate in us, to will and to work for the sake of His delight (Phil.2:13), so that we
think of these matters continually, and in a profitable and uplifting way. As those who
are Gods achievement, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, ones which God
Himself prepared beforehand, there is no possibility but that we should be walking in
them. Indeed, since the subjunctive, should, in this case, points us only to
God, the good works to which it refers are just as certain to be accomplished as would be
the case had the indicative shall been used instead.
May God grant us a
foretaste of the superabundant and transcendent good works of the future in a measure of
good works even now, even if the best of these should be totally eclipsed when compared to
our labors to come, during the oncoming eons, when we are conformed to the image of
Gods Son and seated together among the celestials (Rom.8:29; Eph.2:6).
should be boastinglest we ourselves should artfully contrive some way to look
to and lean upon the fleshwe would glory only in God and in His Christ. We are saved
in grace through faith, faith being an assumption, based upon Gods own word,
concerning what is already true prior to and apart from our conviction in it. For
His achievement are we, being created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God makes
ready beforehand, that we should be walking in them (Eph.2:10).
* thanks, literally, is grace