Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 4: God's Gifts Not Revocable

Ephesians 2:8 states that salvation is a gift from God. Romans 11:29 states that the gifts of God are not revocable.

To be fair, there are those who understand Eph 2:8 to mean that faith is a gift of God. Faith may well be a gift in a particular sense… that is, all humans are capable of faith and that capacity could be said to be a gift of God in the same sense that our ability to speak or walk are gifts from God. But notice that the gift spoken of in Ephesians 2 is a gift only given to believers, so that can't be what Paul means by this, because unbelievers can speak and walk just as well as believers can, and they have faith as well.

The question here concerns verse 8 where it says "that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Obviously, we have to know what the pronouns that and it refer to. Fortunately, some common sense and the rules of Greek grammar can help sort it all out.

The pronouns "that" and "it" must have an antecedent… something which precedes them and to which they refer. In the Greek, nouns have gender and the pronouns "that" and "it" are neuter and the noun "faith" is feminine. The rules of Greek grammar require a pronoun's gender to agree with the gender of its antecedent. Therefore "faith" cannot be the noun to which "that" refers. Besides which, it's clear that everyone has faith. Consider again the skydiving analogy in the earlier post. At any rate, Paul is talking broadly about the concept of salvation and describes that with three concepts he expresses in verses 4-6.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This group of abstract concepts amounts to the antecedent, and in this case, this group of concepts would have a neuter gender and would agree with the gender of "that" and "it". Therefore, salvation is the gift spoken of here.

There are five other reasons to understand Ephesians 2:8 this way, but that's beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that Ephesians 2:8 says that salvation is a gift from God (not a reward) and according to Rom 11:29, God's gifts are irrevocable.

In other words, God's not an "Indian Giver." What God gives to you is yours to keep.

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