February 14, 2010

Ephesians 2:8-9; A Devotion

For you see it is from grace that you have been saved through faith; not from yourself. This1 is a gift of God, not from works so that none may boast.
Ah yes, we are all familiar with this verse. I think it is important to understand what Paul's theology is here really. It is important to note that the basic clause of the first sentence is "you have been saved through faith". Everything else in that first sentence, and even the entire above passage, relies on us understanding that this is the basic view that Paul has about the salvation process. Indeed, the fact of salvation by faith isn't even Paul's point; it is Paul's assumption.

Paul's point is that the fact that salvation is through faith instead of works is something worth celebrating. It is the fact that salvation is through faith instead of works that is a gift from God, and the cause of any boasting being void. When we remember that God has the sovereign right to decide upon what terms He is going to base salvation, and then realize that humans would expect it to be based upon works (hence every man-made religion doing so), we can then recognize how gracious it is for God to base it upon something as simplistic as faith!

And faith here doesn't simply believe mentally believing something. It is talking about utter reliance and trust on Christ. This is why it is impossible to boast about faith, because the very nature of faith is relenting our own power and abilities. It is saying, "I give up. Christ, You do it." Who can boast in that?

So therefore, this week, let us be conscious to look to God to be our strength (as we always should). Let us rely on Jesus to be our Saviour and Lord. Let us trust in the Spirit to provide our strength and support. Let us depend completely on Yahweh, and remember Him in all our ways.


Translation notes

1 The word 'touto', which means 'this', is neuter in the Greek. It is important to note that if it referred to the word 'faith', it would match that word in gender (which would be feminine). Because it is neuter, it would refer to the entire last clause. Therefore, it is salvation through faith that is a gift.


B. P. Burnett said...

Hey JC, I noticed the footnote on this Eph 2:8-9 devotional providing the fact that the "touto" greek conjunction is neuter whilst faith "pistis" is femenine. But isn't it true that "saved" and "grace" in tihs phrase are masculine words? If so, what is "touto" referring to if it is neuter? I have heard it said that "touto" must therefore refer back to the entire clause involving faith, grace and salvation, but if this is the case, then what would we make of it as Arminians?

Jc_Freak: said...

As I wrote in the note, I too believe that this would make the referent of "touto" the entire clause. What this would mean is that salvation being by faith instead of works is itself a thing of grace.

Quite frankly, I think this simply argues the Arminian's point. God could have made it based on works, and it would've been his write. But He didn't. Instead, He made it by faith, which, unlike works, is actually possible. After all, you don't deserve salvation because you have faith in Christ.