Ephesians 2:8: What is the Gift?

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9). Here the "gift" is said to not be of "works"--"it is the gift of God" and "not of works." That means that the gift is "salvation" and not "faith." Here we see Paul making it plain that it is "salvation" which is a gift and which is not received according to works: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Ro.6:23). "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Ro.4:3-5). So when we take into consideration verse 9 it becomes obvious that the "gift" of verse 8 is "salvation" and not "faith."

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

I believe that the passage here intends on presenting God’s entire design of a, by grace, through faith and not of human works, salvation as the gift. It is the entirety of our salvation that is in view as the gift with its elements maintaining their proper distinction. In other words, the gift of God here is salvation by grace through faith.

One might then ask, is faith part of the gift? It is not described that way. Look at the passage. It is "through faith" that is the gift, not faith itself. In other words, God's gift is that "through faith" or by means of faith we may receive or apprehend salvation. By means of a non-meritorious act of believing we may receive the work done for us by Christ and designed by God the Father.

The passage does not intend to act as a commentary regarding faith's origins. While it might be a worthwhile argument as to whether man can believe or that it must be given to him by God, this passage is inadequate and in fact, exegetically deficient to use as an argument.

Clearly those calling upon holy Calvinist language will cite Pink in his claim that men may ask "God…to bestow upon him the gifts of repentance and faith". But that has nothing to do with the passage, just their misplaced sentiments.

Pastor Harold's picture

It is faith! With out faith it is impossible to please God. If every body had it, we would all be pleasing to God. I hope Paul sent a copy of his letter to the Romans to the church at Ephesus along with this letter to clarify what he was trying to say through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, or else they would become confused and think like me he meant "faith". I still hear the axe grinding some where...

Jack Hampton's picture

Pastor Harold wrote:
It is faith! With out faith it is impossible to please God.

Pastor Harold, the gift is salvation by grace through faith. It is not faith itself.

It is impossible that the gift is "faith" because of the parallel clauses "not of your selves" and "not of works," the latter of which would be irrelevant as asserted of faith.

To read the text as though faith is the gift is to destroy the meaning of the whole passage.

Jim's picture

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/ephesians.iii.ii.html?scrBook=Eph&scrCh=2...

Quote:
Vs. 8, 9. These verses confirm the preceding declaration. The manifestation of the grace of God is the great end of redemption. This is plain, for salvation is entirely of grace. Ye are saved by grace; ye are saved by faith and not by works; and even faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. We have then here a manifold assertion, affirmative and negative, of the gratuitous nature of salvation. It is not only said in general, ‘ye are saved by grace,’ but further that salvation is by faith, i. e. by simply receiving or apprehending the offered blessing. From the very nature of faith, as an act of assent and trust, it excludes the idea of merit. If by faith, it is of grace; if of works, it is of debt; as the apostle argues in Rom. 4, 4. 5. Faith, therefore, is the mere causa apprehendens, the simple act of accepting, and not the ground on which salvation is bestowed. Not of works. The apostle says works, without qualification or limitation. It is not, therefore, ceremonial, as distinguished from good works; or legal, as distinguished from evangelical or gracious works; but works of all kinds as distinguished from faith, which are excluded. Salvation is in no sense, and in no degree, of works; for to him that worketh the reward is a matter of debt. But salvation is of grace and therefore not of works lest any man should boast. That the guilty should stand before God with self-complacency, and refer his salvation in any measure to his own merit, is so abhorrent to all right feeling that Paul assumes it (Rom. 4, 2) as an intuitive truth, that no man can boast before God. And to all who have any proper sense of the holiness of God and of the evil of sin, it is an intuition; and therefore a gratuitous salvation, a salvation which excludes with works all ground of boasting, is the only salvation suited to the relation of guilty men to God.

The only point in the interpretation of these verses of any doubt, relates to the second clause. What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation, or faith? The words καὶ τοῦτο only serve to render more proninent the matter referred to. Compare Rom. 13, 11. 1 Cor. 6, 6. Phil. 1, 28. Heb. 11, 12. They may relate to faith (τὸ πιστεύειν), or to the salvation spoken of (σεσωσμένους εἶναι). Beza, following the fathers, prefers the former reference; Calvin, with most of the modern commentators, the latter. The reasons in favour of the former interpretation are, 1. It best suits the design of the passage. The object of the apostle is to show the gratuitous nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, ‘Ye are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ 2. The other interpretation makes the passage tautological. To say: ‘Ye are saved by faith; not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God; it is not of works,’ is saying the same thing over and over without any progress. Whereas to say: ‘Ye are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God), not of works,’ is not repetitious; the parenthetical clause instead of being redundant does good service and greatly increases the force of the passage. 3. According to this interpretation the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved. ‘Ye are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.’ The middle clause of the verse is therefore parenthetical, and refers not to the main idea ye are saved, but to the subordinate one through faith, and is designed to show how entirely salvation is of grace, since even faith by which we apprehend the offered mercy, is the gift of God. 4. The analogy of Scripture is in favor of this view of the passage, in so far that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God. 1 Cor. 1, 26-31. Eph. 1, 19. Col. 2, 12, et passim.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Contrary to one assertion here, it is not impossible for either understanding to be the correct one grammatically, theologically, or any other way. I think this is one of those passages where we have to allow either to stand and use the rest of Scripture to convince ourselves. Personally, I lean toward understanding faith to be the gift, but I do not think the evidence is conclusive (or exclusive) either way.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

JohnBrian's picture

The different approaches to the passage are based on the presuppositions each one brings to the passage.

The monergist who affirms that salvation from beginning to end (Heb. 12:2) is all from God, and that all man contributes to his salvation is a spiritual corpse, will identify faith as included in the gift.

The synergist, who affirms that man has the natural capability to contribute something to his salvation, will identify faith as that contribution.

Each one seeks to find something in the passage that will bolster his view, and that is why there is no agreement.

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Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Contrary to one assertion here, it is not impossible for either understanding to be the correct one grammatically, theologically, or any other way.

Chip, let us look at the verse again:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9).

Here the "gift" is said to be "not of works." Are we supposed to believe that Paul is here refuting the idea that "faith" can be had by doing works? Of course that is not the error which Paul is trying to correct. There is nothing in the Scriptures that even hints that anyone was ever teaching a false doctrine that "faith" can be obtained by doing works. That is because that makes no sense at all!

The error which he is correcting is the idea that "salvation" can be obtained by "works." That has been a false teaching since the beginning so it was this idea that Paul was refuting when he said that the "gift" was "not of works."

It makes no sense whatsoever to argue that Paul was saying that "faith" is not of works because no one in their right mind would ever argue that "faith" can be obtained by doing "works" of one kind or another. So when you say that the one can believe that the "gift" is faith and that idea can be supported "theologically" then you must argue that Paul was refuting the idea that "faith" can be obtained by doing "works."

Are you willing to argue that that is what Paul was saying?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

As I already said, I think it can be argued from either direction. I have an opinion. Perhaps a block diagram would help some see how either possibility might fit.

Gift = salvation

you are saved
_____by grace
_____through faith;
_____not of yourselves:
__________it is the gift of God:
_____Not of works,
__________lest any man should boast

Gift = faith

you are saved
_____by grace
_____through faith;
__________not of yourselves:
__________it is the gift of God:
_____Not of works,
__________lest any man should boast

(sorry about the lines, but I couldn't figure out how to indent each line)

The flow of thought in both diagrams fits the grammar present in the verse, complies to the greater theological structure of scripture at large, and makes perfect sense. Both emphasize, in slightly different ways, that God is the author of salvation, and that man is incapable of saving himself. (Jack, you set up a false either/or dichotomy in post 8. It does makes perfect sense for Paul to say that even faith is not produced or originated in any way by us. This emphasizes the magnitude of the grace.)

JohnBrian was completely right that our presuppositions must inform our understanding of this particular verse.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jack Hampton's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
JohnBrian was completely right that our presuppositions must inform our understanding of this particular verse.

Chip, have you ever considered the benefits of putting aside our "presuppositions" when it comes to determining the meaning of what the Scriptures actually teach? The problem with letting our presuppositions rule is that if our presuppositions are in error then our interpretation of other verses will be as flawed our original presuppositions. Using this method of interpretation can lead to a false confirmation of our original presuppositions through the route of circular reasoning.

Now let us look at the verse in question with an unbiased eye:

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9).

Here Paul is saying that the gift is not of works. If "faith" is the gift then we must believe that Paul is saying that this faith is not of works. But why would he say that?

In the wildest imaginations of man no one would ever come to the illogical conclusion that "faith" could ever result from any "work" which a man might perform in his natural body. So common sense dictates that it is not "faith" which Paul is saying is not of works. Why would he waste his time and effort as well as his ink saying that "faith" is not of works since everyone in their right mind would never suppose that that is true?

On the other hand, Paul repeatedly says that is is "not of works" when he speaks of things which are closely associated with "salvation," in this case justification:

"If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God" (Ro.4:2).

Notice the reference to "boasting" in both cases:

"...it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9).

Again, we can see a reference to the fact that in regard to justification if it is of works then it is not on the free gift principle:

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Ro.4:3-5).

Eternal life is also closely associated with "salvation," and here we read that it is a "gift":

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Ro.6:23).

The Scriptures will be searched in vain for any place where it is said that "faith" is a gift that is given to anyone not yet saved.

So when we turn away from any presuppositions which we may have and examine the cold, hard facts, it becomes evident that it is "salvation" that is the gift of God and not faith.

JohnBrian's picture

Quote:
Chip, have you ever considered the benefits of putting aside our "presuppositions" when it comes to determining the meaning of what the Scriptures actually teach? The problem with letting our presuppositions rule is that if our presuppositions are in error then our interpretation of other verses will be as flawed our original presuppositions.
Presuppositions are not something we CAN put aside, because they are presuppositions! Hopefully our presuppositions are sourced in the text.

You have them but want to appear that you don't:

Quote:
Now let us look at the verse in question with an unbiased eye:

You have shown in your posts that you do not have the unbiased eye, while others have noted your agenda here on SI.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
You have shown in your posts that you do not have the unbiased eye, while others have noted your agenda here on SI.

The conclusions that I have reached were not reached on the basis of any preconceived ideas. And I demonstrated how I came to my opinion on the verse under discussion. And at least I answer questions in regard to my views. Earlier you said the following on a thread which you started:
Quote:
No Jack, not another regeneration. There is only 1 regeneration. You are confusing the Calvinist definition of regeneration with conversion. Calvinists do not see the term regeneration as synonymous with salvation/conversion. That is the whole point of my article!

I will ask you again, is the following verse in regard to "regeneration" or to "conversion"?:

"...even when we were dead *in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph.2:5).

And this one?:

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col.2:23).

JohnBrian's picture

You are trying to draw a temporal line between regeneration and conversion where there is none. There is only a logical line, which shows that one causes the other. For the monergist spiritual life (regeneration) causes belief, for the synergist (and some pelagians) belief causes life (salvation).

We each use those presuppositions when we approach the passages.

Eph. 2:1-7 NKJV wrote:
[sup ]1[/sup ] And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, [sup ]2[/sup ] in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, [sup ]3[/sup ] among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

[sup ]4[/sup ] But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, [sup ]5[/sup ] even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), [sup ]6[/sup ] and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [sup ]7[/sup ] that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Notice in verse 1 and 5, that God is the actor, and man is the one being acted upon. It is God that has "made us alive." Verse 6 and following show the future result of God making us alive - raised up, seated together, etc.

There is nothing in this passage that suggests that man contributes anything more to his being made alive, than his deadness in "trespasses and sin."

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=13132912596&topic=14835&post=77214 ]One writer stated:

Quote:
...Paul probably isn't trying to establish a systematic theology of regeneration distinctly, but describing the package- what has happened to us since we have been born again in Him.

Col. 2:11-14 NKJV wrote:
[sup ]11[/sup ] In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, [sup ]12[/sup ] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. [sup ]13[/sup ] And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, [sup ]14[/sup ] having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Notice in verse 13, we again see that God is the actor, and that man's contribution to his salvation is his deadness in "trespasses."

Neither passage presents an ordo salutis. Instead what we see is the result of God having made us alive. If you see an ordo salutis in these verses it is because you have not:

Quote:
putting aside [y ]our "presuppositions" when it comes to determining the meaning of what the Scriptures actually teach?

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Bob T.'s picture

We should see the entire thought and grasp the intent.

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:1-10 (NASB77)

Please note the repetition of "by grace you have been saved" as it appears in verse 5 and verse 8.

Is the subject of this passage salvation or faith? Forget the grammatical arguments. Just read the entire passage and the prior larger context. The subject is our salvation! What then is the obvious gift?

That great appendage of Neo Platonic, Augustinian, Medieval theology we call "Calvinism," goes everywhere twisting the obvious meaning of God's Holy word. God has made it abundantly clear that faith is that which emanates from the heart of man toward Him and is man apprehending assurance and hope.( Heb. 11:1-39). Also, it is made clear that faith is not a work and is just the opposite of works (Rom. 4:1-8). Common sense would dictate that if one offers you an abundance of riches and you accept delivery that you cannot then turn to the one who gave and claim you worked for the gift. Some passages and doctrines of scripture are so clear that to argue over them brings disrespect upon the perspicuity of God's word.

If the Calvinist insists that they must have some input other than merely scripture, may I suggest the book "FAITH" by J. Gresham Machen.

Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
You are trying to draw a temporal line between regeneration and conversion where there is none. There is only a logical line, which shows that one causes the other.

It is you who is attempting to make a seperation where there is none. Of course you fail to address the fact that the sinner is "made alive TOGETHER WITH CHRIST":

"...even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph.2:5).

This speaks of the life which one receives in "union" with Christ. Here the Apostle John writes of that life:

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn.5:11).

When the sinner is made alive together with Christ he then has a life that can be described as eternal or everlasting. And Paul makes it plain that this everlasting life comes as a result of believing:

"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Tim.1:16).

You must also somehow imagine that the sinner could be placed in union with the Son and remain in his sins and remain defiled by those sins. But the Scriptures says the following:

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col.2:23).

Of course because of your preconceived notions you must insist that logically one does not receive the forgiveness of sins until after he has been placed in union with Christ. That would mean that a person remains defiled in his sins but yet he is in union with a the most Holy Son. And we know why you would attempt to defend the indefensible:

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43; NIV).

We are to "reason out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:2) but you throw reason to the wind so that you can cling to your preconceived ideas.

JohnBrian's picture

Bob T, in post 14 wrote:
faith is not a work and is just the opposite of works (Rom. 4:1-8).
I agree, IF faith is a portion of the gift given at regeneration, rather than being something from within man himself.

Bob T. in post 14 wrote:
Common sense would dictate that if one offers you an abundance of riches and you accept delivery that you cannot then turn to the one who gave and claim you worked for the gift.
I agree, it most certainly would, IF God gives a gift of faith.

In other words, if God gifts man, via regeneration, with faith, repentance, and salvation, then man cannot claim to have contributed to his own salvation!

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Jack Hampton's picture

Bob T, you nailed it when you said:

Bob T. wrote:
We should see the entire thought and grasp the intent....Please note the repetition of "by grace you have been saved" as it appears in verse 5 and verse 8.

Is the subject of this passage salvation or faith? Forget the grammatical arguments. Just read the entire passage and the prior larger context. The subject is our salvation! What then is the obvious gift?


Of course JohnBrian just ignores what you said about this and continues to insist that "faith" is the gift and it is not "salvation."

He has yet to address my words where I demonstrate that when the sinner is regenerated it is by being "made alive TOGETHER WITH CHRIST":

"...even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph.2:5).

This speaks of the life which one receives in "union" with Christ. Here the Apostle John writes of that life:

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn.5:11).

When the sinner is made alive together with Christ he then has a life that can be described as eternal or everlasting. And Paul makes it plain that this everlasting life comes as a result of believing:

"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Tim.1:16).

Despite the fact that when the sinner is made alive together with Christ it is a result of faith JohnBrian continues to insist that regeneration precedes faith.

It is not difficult to understand why he did not address your words in regard to the intent of Paul's words in the second chapter of Ephesians and why he continues to ignore my comments on what Paul says at Ephesians 2:5.

JohnBrian's picture

So many posts, so little time!

Jack,

I want to commend you for thoroughly refuting an argument I DID NOT MAKE. Maybe it's that you don't actually read my posts!

In the following quotes you argue that I affirm that there is a time lapse between regeneration and the exercise of faith.

I DO NOT!

Jack wrote:
You must also somehow imagine that the sinner could be placed in union with the Son and remain in his sins and remain defiled by those sins.

Jack wrote:
That would mean that a person remains defiled in his sins but yet he is in union with a the most Holy Son.

Using the raising of Lazarus as an example of regeneration:

Jesus comes to the tomb and issues a command to Lazarus. That command CAUSES life to come into the corpse of Lazarus, and the decomposition of his body (Martha's statement about odor - John 11:39) to be halted and reversed. There is no time lapse between the command in v.43 and Lazarus exit from the tomb in v.44. The life-giving command of Christ WAS THE CAUSE for Lazarus return to life, not faith on the part of Lazarus. It also was a command that could NOT be resisted because God's word spoken by Christ had power over death.

In the spiritual realm God's life-giving command to individuals brings life to the dead, and once life comes, the response of the recipient is always the expression of faith.

Once again from post 13

Quote:
You are trying to draw a temporal line between regeneration and conversion where there is none. There is only a logical line, which shows that one causes the other. For the monergist spiritual life (regeneration) causes belief, for the synergist (and some pelagians) belief causes life (salvation).

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
So many posts, so little time!

Jack,

I want to commend you for thoroughly refuting an argument I DID NOT MAKE. Maybe it's that you don't actually read my posts!

In the following quotes you argue that I affirm that there is a time lapse between regeneration and the exercise of faith.

I DO NOT!


JohnBrian, I thought that you would understand that I was speaking of the "logical sequence" and not a "temporal" sequence. I have said repeatedly that the sequences of which I speak are in regard to a "logical" sequence and not to a "temporal" sequence. Nonetheless I will say these things again but this time I will make it clear that the reference is to a "logical" sequence:

According to your view you have the "hearing" of the gospel logically preceding "believing" the gospel. But here the Apostle Paul reveals that one's regeneration is through a process that is described as being "together" with Christ:

"Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.2:12-13).

According to Paul this quickening logically results after or as a result of forgiveness of sins:

"...hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

Therefore the quickening cannot possibly happen logically until the sinner believes because this forgiveness is entirely dependent upon faith:

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43; NIV).

Are you willing to argue that the sinner can be quickened "together" with Christ while he logically remains defiled by his sins?

Quote:
Using the raising of Lazarus as an example of regeneration:

It is ridiculous to use the principles in regard to "resurrection" as though those same principles apply to "regeneration." They are two separate and different things.

JohnBrian's picture

Jack Hampton wrote:
It is ridiculous to use the principles in regard to "resurrection" as though those same principles apply to "regeneration." They are two separate and different things.
I disagree! The story of the raising of Lazarus is a representation physically of spiritual resurrection. After all John 20:31 shows that every story in John's Gospel is written for the purpose of engendering belief in Christ.
Quote:
these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

You are very consistent in your belief. You reject the doctrine of original sin (and should be banned from SI for agreeing to a doctrinal statement that you clearly deny) and consequently reject the story of a dead man being brought to life as an illustration of spiritual birth.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
After all John 20:31 shows that every story in John's Gospel is written for the purpose of engendering belief in Christ.

Let us look at the words of John which you mention:

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

Here John says that believing results in life. But you deny this and say that life comes logically before anyone believes. You keep saying that you are going to answer this but you still have not even attempted to answer.

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You..reject the story of a dead man being brought to life as an illustration of spiritual birth.

Calvinits invariably compare spiritual death to physical death when teaching that regeneration precedes faith. Here Calvinist R.C. Sproul presents this argument:

"To quicken a person who is spiritually dead is only something God can do. A corpse cannot revive itself. It cannot even assist in the effort. It can only respond after receiving new life. Not only 'can' it respond then, it most certainly 'will' respond. In regeneration the soul of a man is utterly passive until it has been made alive. it offers no help in reviving itself, though once revived it is empowered to act and respond" (R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? [Grand Rapids: Baker, Second Printing, 2005 ], 184).

The question that should be asked, "Is there any justification in drawing such a strict parallel between a spiritual death and a physical death?" If this analogy between spiritual death and physical death holds true then spiritually dead people should not be able to do anything more than corpses can do. For instance, a corpse cannot resist the Holy Spirit. But the Scriptures declare in no uncertain terms that the spiritually dead can indeed resist the Holy Spirit, as witnessed by the words of Stephen addressed to spiritually dead men:

"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51).

Just as corpses cannot hear or believe anything they cannot resist anything. But those who are spiritually dead can resist the Holy Spirit so the Calvinist idea in regard to those who are spiritually dead is seriously flawed. From this we can understand that employing a supposed parallel between spiritual death and physical death represents nothing more than an illegitimate method of exegesis.

But since your ideas cannot be supported by the Scriptures you have no choice but to employ this illegitimate method of exegesis.

JohnBrian's picture

Quote:
You keep saying that you are going to answer this but you still have not even attempted to answer.
I did answer it in one of these many posts and you declared my answer to be a non-answer!

Quote:
But the Scriptures declare in no uncertain terms that the spiritually dead can indeed resist the Holy Spirit, as witnessed by the words of Stephen addressed to spiritually dead men:
Sproul is correct, that's all spiritually dead men can do - resist the Holy Spirit! It is only when they are given life that they have the ability to STOP resisting.

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
I did answer it in one of these many posts and you declared my answer to be a non-answer!

JohnBrian, I searched and searched and could not find your answer, much less my response. Would you mind repeating your answer?

Quote:
Sproul is correct, that's all spiritually dead men can do - resist the Holy Spirit!

Sproul said nothing about anyone resisting the Holy Spirit. You are seeing things which are not there.

JohnBrian's picture

Sorry, What I attributed to Sproul was actually your writing. No matter who said it my statement still stands

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Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
Sorry, What I attributed to Sproul was actually your writing. No matter who said it my statement still stands

No problem, JohnBrian. Earlier you said:
Quote:
I did answer it in one of these many posts and you declared my answer to be a non-answer!

Then I said:

"JohnBrian, I searched and searched and could not find your answer, much less my response. Would you mind repeating your answer?"

You said nothing. If you will not repeat your answer then please tell me where I can find your answer and my response.

Thanks!

Jack Hampton's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
I'm not sure in which of the threads I responded, and won't have time to search to find it until possibly tomorrow.

So why don't you just give me a recap of your answer and save the time searching the threads. After all, this one verse completely contradicts the Calvinist teaching that logically regeneration precedes faith:

"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (Jn.20:30-31).

According to the Apostle John it is believing that results in life. That means that it is impossible that regeneration precedes faith (in a logical sense).

JohnBrian's picture

my http://sharperiron.org/comment/19987#comment-19987 ]post 31 of the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-dispensationalism-cult ]Is Dispensationalism a Cult? thread

Quote:
So when I as a monergist come to 20:30-31, my monergistic presupposition requires me to understand it differently than your pelagian synergistic presupposition.

You responded in http://sharperiron.org/comment/19988#comment-19988 ]post 32

Quote:
I searched and searched your post and I could not find even one reference to John 20:3-31.

Maybe it was only a single "searched" that you did!

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J Johnson's picture

Sorry if this was touched on already, or if I'm misunderstanding the question - but it's been pointed out to me that "this" is feminine, and "grace" is feminine, not faith. Therefore, because in the greek the modifier matches the gender, it is referring to faith, and not grace.

JohnBrian's picture

J Johnson wrote:
Sorry if this was touched on already, or if I'm misunderstanding the question - but it's been pointed out to me that "this" is feminine, and "grace" is feminine, not faith. Therefore, because in the greek the modifier matches the gender, it is referring to faith, and not grace.
I think you meant that grace is the gift, not faith.

In post 5 of the http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-regeneration-precedes-faith ]Regeneration Precedes Faith thread, I linked to a Jim McClarty video where he deals with the gender dispute in this passage.

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