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salvation-handsHere is the basic verse I am looking at. Ephesians 2:8 (paraphrased) For you are saved by grace, through faith; it is the gift of God.

Grace is God’s influence on the heart. It is freely given, not based on anything we have done. We don’t earn a gift. The Greek word translated as grace is charis, from which we get the word, charismatic.

Now see this: the word translated as gift is doron. It means a gift, present.

  • gifts offered in expression of honor
  • of sacrifices and other gifts offered to God
  • of money cast into the treasury for the purposes of the temple and for the support of the poor
  • the offering of a gift or of gifts

So the gift of God’s influence and favor (charis) is given as an offering or honor. In other words, grace is freely given, showing divine favor. But it’s more. Jesus gave Himself as an offering, for us, as the word doron implies. He is our salvation. Our gift. Amazing God, amazing grace!

Here is a friend’s breakdown of the Ephesians 2:8 sentence:

Subject: “You” Predicate: “are saved” (present participle I think) Adverb phrase: “by grace” modified by additional adverb phrase “through faith”… then compound sentence this is the subject (being saved) “is” (implied predicate) “of yourselves” is prepositional phrase modifying subject, then simply “it” (subject) “is” predicate “the gift of God” is the predicate object. How’s that for “it’s Greek to me”? (Thank you, Michael Proctor)

I think we can read it this way: So then by His grace/divine influence on our hearts (and His favor towards us) we are made whole (and delivered from death) because we have trusted/believed God; and this wholeness is a gift from God. We did nothing to earn it. I believe that the Holy Spirit is the agency by which this works.

God has made us so that we have the ability to trust/believe/be persuaded/have faith. Then He is working, drawing us, through grace. It’s twice a gift. Grace is a gift, and salvation is a gift.

Grace opens our hearts and draws us to God. Then we hear and we are persuaded and we trust. In other words, we have faith and believe. It’s the same word in the Greek – pistis, to trust or be persuaded; or being trustworthy and faithful.

Or, in some cases, we just see and believe. Who can stand in the light of His love? I don’t believe anyone can see Him and not be changed. Some believe that eventually everyone will see, and run to meet the One who is running to meet them.

 What an awesomely beautiful thing He has done.

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Ephesians 2:8 (The Message)

Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! 

The word for faith means trust. God cannot give us trust. He gave us the ability to trust. Every man has that (Romans 12:3) – Paul calls it the measure of faith. God gives us that. It means the ability to believe, since God cannot trust for us. It can also mean that He has given us “the faith”, which is the new and living way. And it also means ‘fidelity’ or trustworthiness/faithfulness.

Paul is actually talking about thinking soberly of ourselves, saying that each one has the measure of trust, the same as anyone. No one has or gets more faith/trust. Either you believe or you don’t. Actually, if everyone believed because it was a gift, then preaching would be unnecessary.

The idea that faith is a gift comes from misreading and misunderstanding these passages. Perhaps seeing faith as a gift appeals to those who think that using faith is a work. But scripture says without faith it’s impossible to please God. You don’t use your faith anymore than you can use your trust. Faith is something you have.

In other words, we must believe that He is in order to even come to Him. This is called having faith toward God, often badly translated as the faith of God. But in the passages that say that, God is the modifier for the word, faith. It is having the God kind of faith, or faith in Him. God doesn’t have or need faith. He knows and doesn’t need to trust. 

Therefore all people have the ability to believe. He gave us that much, but He does not trust or believe for us or give us His trust. We trust. Suppose we want to believe and can’t seem to. If faith is a gift, then we would be blaming God for not giving us this necessary gift. How preposterous! 

Some say that the gift of faith is ours and we just need to use it. Well, how to you use trust? You have trust, you don’t use it. Trust comes from being persuaded of something. In fact, the word for faith also means to be persuaded.

Again, God doesn’t give us persuasion, any more than He gives us trust. How do we become persuaded that anything is true? We hear about it and make up our minds, perhaps with the spirit’s nudging, but we believe it. We have faith. We trust. It’s the same root word, meaning to believe or to trust.

The gift is salvation, by grace – and grace is His favoring us, and His divine influence in our hearts. Grace enables us to believe. It is that divine spark in us that only mankind has. And yes, trust is one of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, like the fruit of the spirit (1 Cor. 12:7-9).

Clearly, if faith is handed out to this one or that one, this passage in 1 Corinthians cannot be talking about basic faith or trust. It is something else here.

Grace is the gift and its various out-workings are by the Holy Spirit.

True, we do not earn grace or salvation. God gives it to us because He loves us. We are His children. The idea that we don’t deserve it is not the best understanding of favor. Like we give good things to our children without making them earn it or do something to deserve it, God gives gifts, like grace, to us. But faith/trust is not one of them.

God's influence in our hearts

God’s gift to us – His divine influence in our hearts. This is based on the many meanings of the Greek word, charis. And also on the verb form. It is usually translated gift, or grace. But it is so much more. Note the similarity to the fruit of the spirit! It’s almost as though there is a very direct connection between the Holy Spirit and grace….

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah means rest, as in to settle down in a location. We who believe enter God’s rest, and we have been given grace. Interesting……

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