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Ephesians 2:8-10


Darlene

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I'm feeling kind of worked up today. There has been a very interesting thread here at MrsS in regard to the church shootings recently. It's been an exercise of reading dialogue from different people who are sharing their thoughts and beliefs about how they plan on addressing the potential threatening and dark days ahead.

 

As is my usual fashion, I spent some time sharing my own thoughts are feelings. When I 'decloak' and look at how I really feel about my Country and my Lord, it tends to draw out very strong passions.

 

I'm in decompression mode at the moment, so I'm sure spending some time in His Word will be exactly what I need.

 

Heavenly Father,

 

None of life's 'things' really matter. All that does, is You.

 

I really believe that this time we're taking to going further indepth in Ephesians is in many ways, You teaching us, equipping us, for the spiritual fight ahead.

 

Forgive me Lord, my sins, for they are many.

 

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 

Wesley writes, "By grace ye are saved through faith - Grace, without any respect to human worthiness, confers the glorious gift. Faith, with an empty hand, and without any pretense to personal desert, receives the heavenly blessing. And this is not of yourselves - This refers to the whole preceding clause, That ye are saved through faith, is the gift of God."

 

Without any respect to worthiness, and with an outstretched empty hand. That's all it takes. How overwhelming is that?

 

Calvin shares, "For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

 

Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation."

 

Wow, this just seems to further cement that it's all about Him...over and over and over again. When he said "Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions?" I don't know if I can put into words how this makes me feel...it brings thoughts of being vigilant that I don't fall into the traps of thinking 'I' am this or that...it makes me more aware, and in turn, sad at others that I see operating in this manner. It reminds me to be very cautious about falling into these things that can very easily turn into prideful things, when in reality we are nothing more than (like I said before) unworthy, with outstretched empty hands, willing to receive that which He gives because He loves us.

 

Clarke writes, "For by grace are ye saved, through faith] As ye are now brought into a state of salvation, your sins being all blotted out, and you made partakers of the Holy Spirit; and, having a hope full of immortality, you must not attribute this to any works or merit of yours; for when this Gospel reached you, you were all found dead in trespasses and dead in sins; therefore it was God's free mercy to you, manifested through Christ, in whom ye were commanded to believe; and, having believed by the power of the Holy Spirit, ye received, and were sealed by, the Holy Spirit of promise; so that this salvation is in no sense of yourselves, but is the free gift of God; and not of any kind of works; so that no man can boast as having wrought out his own salvation, or even contributed any thing towards it. By grace arc ye saved, through faith in Christ. This is a true doctrine, and continues to be essential to the salvation of man to the end of the world.

 

But whether are we to understand, faith or salvation as being the gift of God? This question is answered by the Greek text: th gar cariti este seswsmenoi dia thv pistewv? kai touto ouk ex umwn? qeou to dwron, ouk ex ergwn? ina mh tiv kauchshtai? "By this grace ye are saved through faith; and THIS (touto, this salvation) not of you; it is the gift of God, not of works: so that no one can boast."The relative touto, this, which is in the neuter gender, cannot stand for pistiv, faith, which is the feminine; but it has the whole sentence that goes before for its antecedent." But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God? Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man's own. God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him: the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for himself: nor does he believe necessarily, or impulsively when he has that power; the power to believe may be present long before it is exercised, else, why the solemn warnings with which we meet every where in the word of God, and threatenings against those who do not believe? Is not this a proof that such persons have the power but do not use it? They believe not, and therefore are not established. This, therefore, is the true state of the case: God gives the power, man uses the power thus given, and brings glory to God: without the power no man can believe; with it, any man may."

 

Is this then, where our free will enters? When Clarke says "the grace or power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different things". God's power, our act...either for or against. And like Clarke said again at the end, God gives the power to believe, and without that power eminating from God, no one could ever believe to begin with...but since God does give that power (because He loves us), we can choose whether we believe or don't. I know I'm rambling, but I'm trying to grasp this concept. I do understand this better now...I just never really thought or knew it before.

 

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

Wesley writes, "Not by works - Neither this faith nor this salvation is owing to any works you ever did, will, or can do."

 

Calvin elaborates further, saying, "Not of works. Instead of what he had said, that their salvation is of grace, he now affirms, that “it is the gift of God.” Instead of what he had said, “Not of yourselves,” he now says, “Not of works.” Hence we see, that the apostle leaves nothing to men in procuring salvation. In these three phrases, — not of yourselves, — it is the gift of God, — not of works, — he embraces the substance of his long argument in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, that righteousness comes to us from the mercy of God alone, — is offered to us in Christ by the gospel, — and is received by faith alone, without the merit of works.

 

This passage affords an easy refutation of the idle cavil by which Papists attempt to evade the argument, that we are justified without works. Paul, they tell us, is speaking about ceremonies. But the present question is not confined to one class of works. Nothing can be more clear than this. The whole righteousness of man, which consists in works, — nay, the whole man, and everything that he can call his own, is set aside. We must attend to the contrast between God and man, — between grace and works. Why should God be contrasted with man, if the controversy related to nothing more than ceremonies?

 

Papists themselves are compelled to own that Paul ascribes to the grace of God the whole glory of our salvation, but endeavor to do away with this admission by another contrivance. This mode of expression, they tell us, is employed, because God bestows the first grace. It is really foolish to imagine that they can succeed in this way, since Paul excludes man and his utmost ability, — not only from the commencement, but throughout, — from the whole work of obtaining salvation.

 

But it is still more absurd to overlook the apostle’s inference, lest any man should boast. Some room must always remain for man’s boasting, so long as, independently of grace, merits are of any avail. Paul’s doctrine is overthrown, unless the whole praise is rendered to God alone and to his mercy. And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God."

 

It's interesting for me to note how Paul, in these scriptures, is like cleaning away any pockets of our minds or hearts...cleaning out any hidden place where we might stash away any semblance of 'self', and making it clear in such a simple yet powerful way, that there is absolutely nothing we could ever do to contribute to the gift of salvation.

 

Clarke had no specific commentary on the 9th verse.

 

10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

Wesley writes, "For we are his workmanship - Which proves both that salvation is by faith, and that faith is the gift of God. Created unto good works - That afterwards we might give ourselves to them. Which God had before preprepared - The occasions of them: so we must still ascribe the whole to God. That we might walk in them - Though not be justified by them."

 

Calvin comments, "For we are his work. By setting aside the contrary supposition, he proves his statement, that by grace we are saved, — that we have no remaining works by which we can merit salvation; for all the good works which we possess are the fruit of regeneration. Hence it follows, that works themselves are a part of grace.

 

When he says, that “we are the work of God,” this does not refer to ordinary creation, by which we are made men. We are declared to be new creatures, because, not by our own power, but by the Spirit of Christ, we have been formed to righteousness. This applies to none but believers. As the descendants of Adam, they were wicked and depraved; but by the grace of Christ, they are spiritually renewed, and become new men. Everything in us, therefore, that is good, is the supernatural gift of God. The context explains his meaning. We are his work, because we have been created, — not in Adam, but in Christ Jesus, — not to every kind of life, but to good works.

 

What remains now for free-will, if all the good works which proceed from us are acknowledged to have been the gifts of the Spirit of God? Let godly readers weigh carefully the apostle’s words. He does not say that we are assisted by God. He does not say that the will is prepared, and is then left to run by its own strength. He does not say that the power of choosing aright is bestowed upon us, and that we are afterwards left to make our own choice. Such is the idle talk in which those persons who do their utmost to undervalue the grace of God are accustomed to indulge. But the apostle affirms that we are God’s work, and that everything good in us is his creation; by which he means that the whole man is formed by his hand to be good. It is not the mere power of choosing aright, or some indescribable kind of preparation, or even assistance, but the right will itself, which is his workmanship; otherwise Paul’s argument would have no force. He means to prove that man does not in any way procure salvation for himself, but obtains it as a free gift from God. The proof is, that man is nothing but by divine grace. Whoever, then, makes the very smallest claim for man, apart from the grace of God, allows him, to that extent, ability to procure salvation.

 

Created to good works. They err widely from Paul’s intention, who torture this passage for the purpose of injuring the righteousness of faith. Ashamed to affirm in plain terms, and aware that they could gain nothing by affirming, that we are not justified by faith, they shelter themselves under this kind of subterfuge. “We are justified by faith, because faith, by which we receive the grace of God, is the commencement of righteousness; but we are made righteous by regeneration, because, being renewed by the Spirit of God, we walk in good works.” In this manner they make faith the door by which we enter into righteousness, but imagine that we obtain it by our works, or, at least, they define righteousness to be that uprightness by which a man is formed anew to a holy life. I care not how old this error may be; but they err egregiously who endeavor to support it by this passage.

 

We must look to Paul’s design. He intends to shew that we have brought nothing to God, by which he might be laid under obligations to us; and he shews that even the good works which we perform have come from God. Hence it follows, that we are nothing, except through the pure exercise of his kindness. Those men, on the other hand, infer that the half of our justification arises from works. But what has this to do with Paul’s intention, or with the subject which he handles? It is one thing to inquire in what righteousness consists, and another thing to follow up the doctrine, that it is not from ourselves, by this argument, that we have no right to claim good works as our own, but have been formed by the Spirit of God, through the grace of Christ, to all that is good. When Paul lays down the cause of justification, he dwells chiefly on this point, that our consciences will never enjoy peace till they rely on the propitiation for sins. Nothing of this sort is even alluded to in the present instance. His whole object is to prove, that,

 

“by the grace of God, we are all that we are.”

(1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

Which God hath prepared Beware of applying this, as the Pelagians do, to the instruction of the law; as if Paul’s meaning were, that God commands what is just, and lays down a proper rule of life. Instead of this, he follows up the doctrine which he had begun to illustrate, that salvation does not proceed from ourselves. He says, that, before we were born, the good works were prepared by God; meaning, that in our own strength we are not able to lead a holy life, but only so far as we are formed and adapted by the hand of God. Now, if the grace of God came before our performances, all ground of boasting has been taken away. Let us carefully observe the word prepared. On the simple ground of the order of events, Paul rests the proof that, with respect to good works, God owes us nothing. How so? Because they were drawn out of his treasures, in which they had long before been laid up; for whom he called, them he justifies and regenerates."

 

I was struck by a couple of thoughts as I read Calvin's commentary. When he talked about how God does not 'assist' us, or that He does not 'prepare' us (like winding up a toy until full, only to let that wind up toy release all that pent up 'power', only to eventually come to an end...with God, it's an ongoing, continue power forward that has no beginning or end, if we bend our will to His). To think along thse lines 'under values' what God has actually done...perhaps another word like 'cheapen' might apply too.

 

I wonder if those that refuse to believe are tripped up by what is being revealed in these verses...things like accepting the fact that we are absolutely nothing can be a skerry thing indeed. There's a self preservation part of all of us that doesn't want to totally let go of the fact that there hasta be SOMEthing worth something. It's pretty humbling and pretty emptying to realize and accept the fact that I am that 'nothing'...but with God, He completes that knowledge circle by teaching me that while I am nothing, I am EVERYthing in Him, because of what Christ was willing to do to procure that relationship, and with which His Holy Spirit seals and binds as our promise from the Living God. *sigh* It's sometimes hard to put these thoughts into words...they seem so fleeting as I try to grasp them.

 

Finally, Clarke's commentary states, "For we are his workmanship] So far is this salvation from being our own work, or granted for our own works' sake, that we are ourselves not only the creatures of God, but our new creation was produced by his power; for we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. He has saved us that we may show forth the virtues of Him who called us from darkness into his marvelous light. For though we are not saved for our good works, yet we are saved that we may perform good works, to the glory of God and the benefit of man.

 

Which God hath before ordained] oiv prohtoimasev? For which God before prepared us, that we might walk in them. For being saved from sin we are made partakers of the Spirit of holiness; and it is natural to that Spirit to lead to the practice of holiness; and he who is not holy in his life is not saved by the grace of Christ. The before ordaining, or rather preparing, must refer to the time when God began the new creation in their hearts; for from the first inspiration of God upon the soul it begins to love holiness; and obedience to the will of God is the very element in which a holy or regenerated soul lives."

 

Well, I sure can't say that I live a 'holy' life, but I CAN say that I find myself hungering and longing to be more holy, to be more obedient. I can tell you right now that those desires are not birthed from myself, I've enjoyed rebellion, at all costs, my whole life. It is evidence, to me, of the work that He is doing through His Holy Spirit, and I welcome and desire Him to do so.

 

Father God,

 

I sit here right now and marvel at the 'meat' I am finding in doing this study of Your Word. I wouldn't be surprised if You kinda chuckled as my next thought is 'how am I going to study all His Word in such a short period of time...I feel like I don't have time, that the pressure is on, and I need to hurry and do as much as I can...'. I would think that You are touched by this hunger for things of You, so I thank You for giving me that desire. Furthermore, I just have to trust You to work the rest out...it IS Your will that I, and we, grow. It IS Your will that that we learn from Your Word. It IS Your will that we are prepared spiritually, learning how to better battle the days ahead, in Christ. I know that You will accomplish all that is needed, perfectly and in a manner that does nothing but glorify You. There is no 'too lates' with You, outside of death. So thank You for that hope.

 

Etch these studies on my heart and mind Father, so that I may memorize all that You are teaching me. Supernaturally instill these things in my soul, that I may never forget. And may each step that I take towards You, further cement our relationship. The enemy will war, but You alone are God.

 

I love You Lord.

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Sister, you are quite the studious person. So many cannot grasp the concept that God is LOVE--pure and simple. That He loves us unconditionally and totally. That He completely forgives our sins upon our true repentance and asking. Our finite minds cannot concieve of total forgetfulness of transgressions--but God can and does. "He throws our sins into the sea of forgetfulness" "as far as the East is from the West". Paul also wrote to the churchs that faith will generate works - not the opposite. "Only those things done for the growth of the kingdom will last" We will be judged for what we do here and what we have done with our gifts(Bema judgement)but they will not affect our destination. God's love does that for His followers. wc

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  • 13 years later...

You folks are easily confused by following the teachings of man. Try reading the Scriptures as they are written! 

 

God has done EVERYTHING needed to secure our salvation! Nothing we can do can add to it. Man needs to respond ti what God has done! Accept or Reject. Neither of those responses are a “work” nor is it anything to bare any “merit”! It is a response! 

 

Man is commanded everywhere throughout the Bible to repent and believe. This is not something that needs “power” from the Holy Spirit in order to make the decision. God has already given us His Son. He has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to convict man of sin, righteousness, and judgement for man to see His need for a Savior. He has given us His Law where every mouth may be stopped and all the world be guilty before God. The Law was a Tutor to bring us to Christ! And God has given us the message of the cross, the GOSPEL which IS the Power of God unto salvation for everyone who BELIEVES! 

 

This discussion is on Ephesians 2:8-10. How quickly we forget the previous chapter. This letter is written to the saints who are faithful IN CHRIST JESUS!

 

Paul continues with the phrase IN HIM, THROUGH HIM, BY HIM something like 15 times in 13 verses. You think he is trying to say something? 

 

Then Paul is clear HOW you are placed IN CHRIST! You get hung up on ONE time seeing “predestined” and ONE time “chose” instead of 15 times IN HIM. 

Verse 13 explains it all!!! 

 

IN HIM, when you HEARD the word of truth and BELIEVED, the gospel (Good News) of your salvation, you were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, 

who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire the possession of it, to the praise of His glory!

 

It’s NOT complicated! Why do some insist on making it so difficult. Nothing here about choosing some and not choosing others!

 

Man is helpless and hopeless without God! He sent His Son, the Holy Spirit, the Law and the Gospel to draw us unto himself. The Gospel ALONE has the Power to convert when one hears and BELIEVES! Man has Free Will to either accept or reject what God has done but this act of accepting or rejecting is neither a work nor anything meritorious!!!

 

God so Loved the WORLD that He gave!!!

 

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