THE GIFT OF GOD
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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
All too many have thoughtlessly made these words to mean the same as John 3:16. But John 3:16 has to do with everlasting life, not salvation. Everlasting life is a guarantee of resurrection, but John is not specific about what is beyond that.
The words we quoted above are in a context. That context tells us what this salvation is. It is wise to be able to define our terms.
Verse 1 of this chapter tells us that Christ has filled the saints and faithful (you) with the fulness of Him That filleth all in all. After dealing with the former state and life of the saints, the apostle then speaks of a quickening, a raising up, and a seating in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In the midst of this there is a parenthesis, a reminder that this salvation is by grace. So then this great salvation by grace has to do with folks that are saints, who had been chosen before the foundation of the world, blest with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and now quickened, raised and seated where He, the Head, is now seated. No salvation like this had ever been known before.
The uniqueness of this salvation is not because it is by grace. Anything that God does for man is by grace. And that grace is only possible because of the blood of redemption. No redemption; no blessing. If no redemption, then God would have to deal with all of us in strict justice. No hope there.
Faith is not the gift of God. Faith is the simple acceptance of the gift. What is the gift? The word 'that' is neuter and agrees with neither grace nor faith. So according to the rules, it must refer to the whole clause before. So the gift is this salvation by grace through faith.
This salvation, the gift of God, is not rooted in works. It does not have its origin in works. So all boasting by man is denied. The glory must be to the One Who paid the price of redemption and made the gift possible. Man must not rob God here.
What is the purpose of this salvation? The goal is good works. We who have believed unto this great salvation are His handiwork, having been created in Christ Jesus unto or with a view of doing good works. This is a creation that is supposed to work. God has a plan and a purpose for this creation. This work, or good works, is expressed by such words as, make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, or To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. A great responsibility!
Verses 8 and 9 should not be divorced from verse 10. And the whole should not be taken from context and made to apply to everlasting life or some idea of salvation one might have. This is one of the most beautiful passages for us today.
Study to shew thyself approved
2 Timothy 2:15
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