It Is The Gift Of God ...
Salvation is by grace -- through faith -- not of yourselves, for it is the “gift of God.” God has always demonstrated one salient feature of His nature to mankind -- that is His interest in giving that which is in the best interest of mankind. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). If there is something that is either good or perfect that man needs, God supplies it. Anything God gives to mankind is the most precious commodity for which any rational being could ever hope.
God’s gift to mankind is unquestionably the greatest of all gifts. In this passage, Paul says the salvation God graciously provides is through man’s faith, but not of man. If it is by grace, then it is not of man -- no man could ever devise any system by which he could obtain it. Mankind could never create enough power to get it. All of the money all men have ever accumulated is not enough to purchase it. It is that which is graciously donated by the Almighty through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Not all of God’s gifts bring salvation. Paul spoke of another kind of gift in the next chapter. He wrote in verses 6 and 7, “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” The gift of God’s grace here is the gift of inspiration. The means of transmission of saving grace is inspiration. Men who were chosen as special servants, prophets, and apostles were guided by the Spirit of God to reveal God’s grace that saves. Without the gift of inspiration the gift of salvation would have been impossible.
The gift of God in salvation is revealed to all mankind. Revelation is limited to those to whom God promised the gift. There are many mere men among us now who imagine they are still receiving revelation from God -- but such revelation is only imaginary. Anyone who makes the fatuous claim of being in direct contact with God to reveal something not already revealed denies the fundamental principles of truth. Jude speaks of “the faith” which is once and for all time delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and Paul says God will add His anathema (curse) to anyone who presumes to preach anything other than the apostles preached (Gal. 1:8-9).
Some of these men who claim the Lord gave them a direct and special message for today really have ulterior motives. Take TV evangelists who claim God speaks through them. Have you ever noticed how many of their so-called “messages” have to do with their need for someone to send them a donation of money? It is really difficult to think they do not have a motive that is less than pure when they continually use God as a wedge to obtain contributions from the people to whom they speak. The fact is this: there are no special direct revelations from Almighty God to anyone today. There is but one revelation and that is sealed by Christ’s blood and any mortal who would dare to tamper with that seal does so to his or her own damnation.
The Hebrew writer speaks of the gift of salvation. The author of Hebrews wrote, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they (or better and then) fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6). The “Heavenly gift” is equated with partaking of the Holy Spirit, tasting the good word of God, and the power of the age to come. No doubt this is why we have passages such as, “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38), and “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17) or “the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7). All of them direct our minds to the “unspeakable gift of God” when Jesus came to save mankind.
The gift of God is salvation. All who are saved are completely saved from every sin committed in the past. Salvation covers the present and current condition of one in Christ Jesus and spans even to the future as the saved are promised an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of the Almighty. During the time we spend waiting for the return of Jesus, we must exercise the gifts God has bestowed upon each one of us. Paul says, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph. 4:7). The apostles received special gifts not given to others. Some of those gifts were limited to the formative period of the Lord’s church. But all receive the gift of salvation by God’s grace.
This gift is not limited to persons or time. J.O.F. Murray, author of a small commentary on Ephesians, in the Cambridge Greek New Testament series, said, “What comes to each is none the less due to the free bounty of the giver, though it is not given indiscriminately or in like measure to all. The Parable of the Talents supplies a partial illustration of the thought. Here the giver, as the context shows, is the Ascended Christ.” He then cited Acts 2:38 as an application of this point. That passage reads, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit Himself, who comes to dwell in the Christian’s life.
Peter promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to all penitent believers who would be baptized in water for the remission of sins. He promised to penitent believers who are baptized for the remission of sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Notice now the parallel to our text -- Ephesians 2:8. Peter’s sermon was the result of a direct gift of inspiration from God (Acts 1:8 -- the apostles were told they would receive power from on high). Acts 2:1-4 tells us the apostles were waiting for that power and the Spirit of God came upon them and they “began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (verse 4). Those who were baptized upon their faith and repentance were then given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:8 tells us the same thing. It is the gift of God that brings salvation through the preaching of the apostles and upon faith (obedience to God) salvation is granted.
Now, how is this gift of God granted? Is it something that is given unconditionally? Does God give salvation whether man does anything or not, whether man even wants it or not? Or, does God grant salvation conditioned upon man’s faith and obedience? The issue is not difficult to settle. Jesus said, “Not everyone that says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). The faith that saves is the obedient faith. The Hebrew writer says, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and having been made perfect, He became unto all them that obey Him, the author of salvation” (Heb. 5:8,9). Obedience today is no different than it was on Pentecost. Those who believed were told to repent and be baptized in order to be saved and receive God’s gracious gift. And the question right now is, have you done that or not? If not, we urge you to wait no longer, but put Christ on in baptism, be the recipient of God’s gracious gift and be added to the Lord’s church.
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