Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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

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