There are important terms that need careful defining:
“Grace” is divine favor, bestowed in the redemptive gift of Christ, independent of any inherent righteous worth resident in rebellious humanity. Grace has been defined as the “gratuitous loving kindness of the Lord” (Moule 1977, 72).
“Saved” refers to divine pardon from the guilt of sin (though not the consequence of sin [cf. Romans 5:12]). The verb is a perfect tense, suggesting the idea of a past act that results in a present state. There is a salvation from past sins that occurs at the point of one’s conversion, and that state abides as long as the child of God walks “in the light” (1 John 1:7).
“Through faith” is a phrase that reveals how merciful grace is accessed by the sinner who needs and longs for salvation. Faith is not a mere acknowledgment of historical facts, nor even the disposition to trust, though it embraces both of these. Faith also involves a response to whatever conditions may be divinely imposed (Thayer 1958, 511). A careful study of the terms “faith,” “believe,” etc., establish this beyond dispute (cf. John 3:36, ASV,ESV; Hebrews 5:9).
Salvation is “not of [ek] yourselves." The preposition ek (out of) emphasizes that salvation cannot possibly come “out of” any humanly contrived plan or course of action (cf. Titus 3:5; see Thayer on the verb poieo , 526). Rather, salvation is described as a “gift” from God (Romans 6:23). However, a gift may be conditional without nullifying the gratuitousness of the benefactor. The ancient Israelites were “given” the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:2, 16) but they did not have possession of the community until they complied with the divine terms required (vv. 3ff; Hebrews 11:30; cf. also Acts 27:24, 31).
God “gave” his Son as a sacrifice for the whole “world” (John 3:16), but only those who “receive him” (John 1:11-12) may partake of the benefits of his death.
By Wayne Jackson, ChristianCourier.com
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