Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Decisive Meaning of Ephesians 2:8

Ephesians 2:8 has been the source of much controversy. It reads, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”

The main question becomes, what is the “this” referring to? The grace of God? Salvation?
Or is the “this” referring to everything that Paul is talking about in this verse? That grace, faith, and salvation are all gifts from God?

Thomas R. Schreiner gives us the answer, from his book Paul: Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ. In order for Paul to be specific about what the “this” (touto in the Greek) is referring to, touto would have to match in gender with one of these words from the verse: faith, grace, or saved.

Here’s the problem: Touto is in the neuter, meaning that it is genderless (neither a feminine nor masculine word), whereas the words grace and faith are feminine, and saved is masculine. So we are left wondering what the touto refers to. And there is really only one option.

Paul specifically put touto into the neuter to reveal that faith, grace and salvation are all gifts of God. We cannot claim anything as coming from us.

“The power of God saved us by raising us from death when we were utterly unresponsive to God” (Schreiner 246).

This brings revitalized meaning to Psalm 3:8, which says, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessings be on your people!”

Author's note: This post relied heavily on the aforementioned book Paul: Apostle of God's Glory in Christ, page 246.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Can Still Cling

It takes people a great long time to realize that the way they feel doesn't dictate whether they’re saved. They wonder if all answers really can be yes and amen in Christ. They wonder if Christ can really be an anchor for their soul. They feel as if they missed something.

One of the greatest comforts in the Christian life is that we can still cling. We can cling to the promises of God in Christ. Though at times we don’t feel saved, we can still cling. Though we feel sinful and despised we say, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Christ forgives us for our sinful unbelief. He forgives us of our misleading emotions. In spite of ourselves, he saves us.

We can say with Peter “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

There is no one else in whom we can place our trust. No one else has the words of eternal life. His promises to us are sure. Our justification is outside of us. It is never based on what we do or how we feel, or it it would cease to be justification. Slowly we come to know and trust that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Though we doubt, he remains faithful. He is gentle with us. He can help us in our doubt because he forgives us for our doubt.

Believe and cling to him. Never let him go. Hold to him as Jacob did the night he wrestled with God. Tell God as Jacob did: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” God had broken Jacob. God had made him cling.

Jesus is an anchor for the soul because even in doubt, he holds to us. “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14).

Come before him, broken-hearted. Tell him of your sinful unbelief, your doubts and fears. Ask
him to assuage them. He gives fervently to those who seek him. You can still cling. At times, it's all you can do. Cling, cling, cling to those promises of God. 

They are you’re only hope.