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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Take Up and Read | Main | Images of the Savior (13– His Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law) »

    What is the Gift of God? by Sam Storms

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8, 9 - ESV

    "What exactly is the "gift" (v. 8) of God?

    Arminians have often appealed to a point of Greek grammar that they believe makes it impossible for "faith" to be the gift to which Paul refers. The NASB translation is more explicit at this point, rendering the verse as follows:

    "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."

    The word faith, Arminians argue, is feminine in gender, whereas the pronoun translated that ("and that not of yourselves") is neuter. Had Paul intended to describe "faith" as the gift, he would have used the feminine form of the pronoun. To what, then, does the word that refer? What is the gift of God?

    Some point to the "grace" (v. 8) by which we have been saved. But the word "grace," like "faith," is also feminine in gender. Therefore, if "that" which is not of ourselves cannot refer to "faith," far less can it refer to "grace," which has the added liability of being even farther removed in the sentence from the pronoun "that." So what is Paul saying? What is the antecedent of "that"?

    Clearly the "gift" of God is salvation in its totality, a salvation that flows out of God's grace and becomes ours through faith. From beginning to end, from its inception to its consummation, salvation is a gift of God to his elect. Consequently, that faith by which we come into experiential possession of what God in grace has provided is as much a gift as any and every other aspect of salvation. One can no more deny that faith is wrapped up in God's gift to us than he can deny it of God's grace. All is of God! Salvation is of the Lord!"

    Sam Storms, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election (2007, Crossway Books), p. 71

    Posted by John Samson on March 20, 2007 02:30 AM

    Comments

    I am always blessed when I think about Jesus saying to Peter, "But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not." Of course hours later it seemed that everything about Peter failed, including his faith! And indeed it did. The only thing that did not fail was that which was not of him -- true faith! And when he was reduced to that which was of God, he was then in position to strengthen the brothers. Praise God that true faith is an eternal gift from God!

    Justification is like marriage. The man proposes, the woman has a choice to accept or reject. She chooses based on her perception of him.

    (Ignore gender roles here for a moment, and assume a "traditional" American engagement.)

    In the same way, God makes the offer of salvation known to us. We can either accept or reject. If we think of God as a petty, argumentative, arbitrary tyrant who tosses people into Hell for having the wrong attitude, we'll reject Him. Lucky for us He can keep asking up until the very moment of our death, if He so chooses.

    The offer is predestined; our acceptance or rejection is a choice (when viewed in the present) and predestined (when viewed as the past). Since God is omnipresent in space and also time (omnichronal), He sees it as predestined.

    Hell could not be justice if it was not at some point a choice.

    BlueNight,

    Although I would agree with you that people have choices, the fact is that the choice all will make is to reject Christ unless God draws them irresistibly to Himself (John 6:44). The worst thing God can do is to leave us in the hands of our so called boasted "free will," for our will is a function of our nature, which is hostile towards God.

    The sinner actively practices evil. His will is enslaved (John 8:34) and he is also by nature an object of God's wrath (Eph. 2:3). He has a will, most definitely, but he has no desire to seek after God (Rom 3:11) or submit to Him, in fact he cannot do so (Rom 8:7, 8), without the direct and gracious intervention of God.

    This is why without Sovereign election, evangelism would be the most futile activity imaginable. It would be much like a salesman trying to sell his products in a graveyard. The dead need to be raised to life before a salesman can make a sale! The dead have no interest in skin cream products, double glazed windows, hair loss prevention treatments, air purifiers or the latest and greatest vacuum cleaner. They are not moved by even the greatest of sales pitches! Why? Well that's pretty obvious, isn't it? Its because the dead are, in a word.... dead!

    The same is true regarding a person coming to Christ. We need to be born again, or born from above, before we can even see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3). We need to be brought to life before we can actually do anything spiritually. There's a logical order involved. Theologians refer to this as the ordo salutis, which is Latin for "the order of salvation." Though being born again and exercising faith may be instantaneous in terms of our awareness in time, logically, one thing has to come before the other. It is a logical rather than a temporal distinction. When someone is dead, resurrection needs to take place before a person can even think about moving a muscle, or walking in a certain direction. It is not the walking that takes place before the resurrection. No, it is the other way around. Dead people don't walk, living people do. In the same way, spiritually speaking, regeneration (being made alive, or born again) must precede faith. A person needs to be raised from the dead before they can take any steps towards Him.

    Without God's direct and gracious intervention in the lives of His elect, we will choose hell for ourselves everytime. We love darkness rather than light, and that's the probelm with our will... we always will what we love. We need a new heart (regeneration) before we will ever choose Christ.

    For further clarity on this issue I would recommend this article by John Hendryx found at the following web address: http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/02/free_from_what_by_jw_hendryx_1.php

    Prov 16:4 the ord has crested all things for himself,even the wicked for the day of evil.

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