Five Eternal Gifts from God - Faith 6
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
Three important aspects of salvation are explained in the latter part of Ephesians 2. We have previously noted the gift of God’s grace in vs. 1-7 as the basis or motivation by God to save sinners. In vs. 8-9 we not only see God’s grace as the sole motivation unto salvation but also God given faith as the sole or only means by which God’s saving grace, and its corresponding results, are applied to the sinner.
First, justification/salvation by God is by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8a. “For by grace you have been saved...”
Second, justification/salvation by God is by grace alone through faith Alone. Ephesians 2:8b-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The salvation God brings is by grace, but it is applied to the lost sinner through the sovereign, God-given means of faith. The phrase “through faith” (διὰ πίστεως) means that on account of faith, or through the instrumental means of faith, a sinner is saved. Faith is never the basis for salvation but rather only the means to which salvation is applied to sinner.
Faith is a commitment unto an object which is believable, trustworthy, dependable and worshipful. The only object that saving faith can and must be placed in for eternal salvation is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary atonement on the cross and subsequent bodily resurrection, is the only basis of saving faith.
However, from where does faith originate? Does faith initiate within the sinner himself without any intervention from God?
The Apostle Paul makes it very clear that faith is also a sovereign gift from God. The phrase “and that not of yourselves” refers the reader to grace in general but also to faith in particular. The two words “and that” take us grammatically back to the preceding noun: faith. And that (faith) is not of yourselves (οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν). Not from you.
The phrase begins with a negative particle; this is followed by the preposition ἐξ (ek ) which means “from or out from.” ὑμῶν is a personal plural pronoun referring within the immediate context to the Ephesian believers and in the overall context to all sinners everywhere.
The statement is also in the Genitive case meaning in this context, with the negative particle preceding it, that saving faith does not belong or is solely attributed to us as something we possess. Rather faith originates from someone else. Who? God!