Archive for September 2015

All Christians are Saints, but Roman Catholics are Not Christians

September 24, 2015

Seeking sainthood in the Catholic Church? If you’re from outside Western Europe, things are looking up. A Harvard University study suggests both an uptick in saint-making and a larger portion of new saints coming from outside Western Europe, thanks to increasing competition for worshipers around the world from Protestant religions. Sainthood is quite an exclusive club for American Catholics. Pope Francis’s plans to canonize a Spanish missionary next week will be only the 11th canonization of anyone with close ties to America. During his trip to the United States later this month, the pope will canonize Junipero Serra, who spread Catholicism in modern-day California. Declaring Serra a saint — meaning the Catholic Church recognizes that a person has made it to heaven and can intercede for those on earth. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/09/14/so-you-want-to-be-declared-a-saint-by-pope-francis-see-your-odds-here/

Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear FRUIT FOR GOD. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH.”

Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

Being set apart by God for God is not the same thing as being “moral”. Morality is not “sanctification” because those who are not yet justified before God by Christ’s death are not yet sanctified, not by the blood and not by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches a distinction between “dead works” (works done with unacceptable motives, like gaining assurance) and “fruit unto God” (works that are pleasing to God without being “necessary”)

Our justification is not by our works, not even by our works after faith and justification. If we are already justified, then it’s too late for us to be justified by works. If we think we will lose our justification if we don’t work, then we do not yet understand what God’s justification is.

When Roman Catholics (and most Protestants) do not yet understand what God’s justification is, that is the result of God not having yet justified most professing Christians. According to John 10, the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and do not follow strangers, and this includes legalist and Arminian Protestants as well the pope who claims to be “the vicar of Christ”. If we think that our works will give us the evidence that we are saints, then we have not yet believed the gospel, which is the good news about being joined to Christ’s death and NOT ABOUT OUR WORKS.

Romans 3: 27 “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Even after we are justified saints, we are not yet glorified, not yet raised from the first death and given immortality. But neither is the rest of salvation conditioned on our morality and works. Our future resurrection from death is not about God enabling us to do what is required, but about God doing for us what we cannot and never will do.

Most professing Christians condition salvation on what God does in the sinner. Even many Augustinians define grace as God doing in us what God requires in us, instead of defining the gospel by Christ’s death as satisfaction of God’s law.

Is Assurance Necessary for Us to Be Moral, or is morality necessary for Us to have Assurance, or do we have a Situationist Gospel in which the Answer Depends on Who’s Listening?

With its emphasis on “knowledge” and “calling”, II Peter One reverses legalism by commanding us to examine our works by making our calling and election sure. Those who know Christ are commanded to become become fruitful, but not in order to find out if they know Christ (or are known by Christ.

But many assume an assurance of calling based on our morality. To do that, they attempt to isolate one verse and ignore the context of II Peter 1, which begins in the very first verse with the idea that faith is given because of Christ’s righteousness. They makes their “works of faith” the assurance.

Their assurance of Christ’s atonement is only as good as their confidence in their own works. Their “faith” turns out to be assurance in God causing them to be moral, not assurance in Christ’s death because of the sins of the elect imputed.

By what gospel were we called? Was it the gospel of “characteristic obedience” or was it the gospel of “Christ paid it all for the elect”?

Legalists warn against thinking you are justified if you are not “sanctified” (following moral rules) . But they are trying to be saints without first being justified by Christ’s death alone. They have not yet submitted to the gospel which teaches a righteousness not our own, a righteousness found in Christ’s death. Instead the legalists give their idol god the glory for creating in them a righteousness of their own.

We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. But even many professing “Reformed” folks think of faith as the “condition” that saves them. Yes, they disagree (somewhat) about the source of faith, but they both are way more concerned about the condition faith leaves you in than they are in the object of faith.

We get “results”, they boast. We are seriously and sincerely moral. This false gospel makes everything conditional, not on Christ’s death, but on us—-if the Holy Spirit enables you do enough things right, then God promises not to break you off.

The true gospel explains that the justification of the ungodly does not happen apart from the imputation of Christ’s death and that faith is created by hearing the gospel. The true gospel tells us that it is the righteousness ALONE (Christ’s death bearing sins, apart from any works of faith created in us ) which satisfies the requirement of God’s law. (Romans 8:4)

The moralist does not test her works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 7:4-6 teach us, that a person not yet submitted to the righteousness revealed in the gospel is still an evil worker, bringing forth fruit unto death.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The problem with using works “done after you are in the family” to get assurance that you are a saint is that works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. The light of the true gospel of free grace exposes our “good works” as “dead works”. And “dead works” are sins.

John 3:19– “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Certainly God commands us all to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh, by people who are not yet justified. To doubt that you are justified or will be justified because of morality or immortality is to take the focus away from Christ’s one-time-done death for elect sinners.

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“Union with Christ” is NOT a Result of Faith

September 23, 2015

IT is NOT faith which unites the elect to Christ. God’s imputation of Christ’s death puts the elect in Christ

Tom Schreiner—“Do we say that faith is our righteousness, or is it the case that faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness? I would say the latter. Our faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, in whom we find forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness of God is given to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). In one sense, I think it is almost simple if I explain it this way. Why is it that faith justifies us? It can’t be because it is our faith. What justifies us is clearly the object of our faith. It is not our faith itself that justifies us. ”

http://www.booksataglance.com/author-interviews/interview-with-thomas-schreiner-author-of-faith-alone-the-doctrine-of-justification-what-the-reformers-taughtand-why-it-still-matters
Questions for Tom Schreiner.

Is faith also a blessing of salvation? Does faith also depend on “union”? Or does “union” depend on faith”? Is it the faith that God the Holy Spirit gives us that unites us to Christ which then causes God to impute righteousness to us?

Are we the imputers, or is God the imputer? Does God’s imputation depend on us? Does God’s imputation depend on first God regenerating us? Isn’t regeneration also a blessing of salvation? Did Christ die to purchase regeneration for the elect? Or does the Holy Spirit give us faith in order to make the death of Christ work?

Many “Reformed” people teach us that “faith unites us too Christ”, and then after that, God imputes Christ’s righteousness. Some “Reformed” even say that God counts this “uniting faith” for something it really isn’t—they say God counts faith as righteousness.

A liberal view is that faith really pleases God so that God forgets the believer’s sins. The curse for sin is not a judge passing a death sentence or an offended king showing his wrath, but a father letting his wayward son learn the hard lesson, so that the son will finally give up on himself, remember the father’s goodness, and come home. The acts of salvation in history are therefore God’s means of reminding men his mercy, of which the death of Christ is the supreme revelation. In this view, the one and only sin becomes unbelief of the “offer” of the gospel.

An Arminian view is that faith unites us to Christ, causes Christ to be present in us, and that then as a result the death of Christ covers those united from God’s judgment. In the Passover: the esinners themselves applied the blood of the lamb to their houses and escaped the plague of death. In this view, “Christ is dead for you”, and the death of Christ is sufficient enough to make an offer but not enough to cover any sin, unless one first “exercises the faith” which “unites us to Christ.

I am not saying that either of these views deny the fact that God’s election decided for whom Christ would die. I am saying that Christ’s atoning does not have decisive priority in these two false views. .In both views, faith becomes the condition of “union” and “union” the condition of imputation. The Arminian view make us the oned who impute the righteousness to ourselves. And for all practical purposes, this view makes our faith our saving righteousness.

Hanko—by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the benefits of the atonement. if the atonement is for every sinner, but faith is not for every sinner, then faith cannot be a blessing given by means of the atonement. Then faith is not one of the blessings of Christ’s death, but becomes a condition for making Christ’s death effective. One cannot have it both ways. Faith is either part of salvation or a condition to salvation; but both it cannot be.
http://www.prca.org/current/Free%20Offer/chapter6.htm

Mike Horton—Even if it is granted that justification is an exclusively forensic declaration, the rest of the order of salvation has usually been treated in Reformed theology as the consequence of an entirely different event the implantation of new life in regeneration.” (Covenant and Salvation p 216)

Calvin (3:2:10)–”Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with Him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.”

Bruce McCormack—”The problem with such statements is that one of the ‘gifts’ he speaks of–regeneration–is very difficult to distinguish conceptually from that ‘union’ which is supposed to give rise to BOTH justification AND REGENERATION….Calvin’s break with Medieval Catholic views was not as clean and complete as he himself obviously thought. For where regeneration is made— if only logically–to be the root of justification, then the work of God in us is once again made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.” p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”,

Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 352—”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith

L Berkhof . (systematic, p 452)
“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. ”
“Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”
What does “union” mean?

Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?

Once you have defined “union”, will you consistently use the word “union” in the way you defined it?

Or will you be thinking of “union” only as “a result of faith”?

If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?

Is the problem with saying that “sanctification results from (is evidence of) justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not?

Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not?

Please define “union”. Do you mean “in Christ”? Or do you mean “Christ in us”?

Is there a difference in those two phrases? Why do you say “union” when you could be saying “in Christ” and “Christ in us”?)

When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, did you mean to deny that “sanctification” is a consequence of the “merely forensic”?

What do you have against any “sola” which points to merely Christ’s extrinsic righteousness imputed to the elect?

If “sanctification” is “more than” than “mere evidence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union”?

Is “sanctification” is in someway identical to “union”?

Does “union” flow result from transformation?

Is “union” the same thing as transformation?

If “union” is a result of faith, was faith a result of transformation?

If union is transformation, and union must come before God’s imputation, how is it that God is any sense justifying the ungodly?

If becoming children of God only means being born again so that we are freed by regeneration from corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified or adopted?

Stop Your Doing is NOT the Gospel

September 18, 2015

The new evangelical often has an either/or mindset. Either the fundamentalism we left, or what we are now. The truth is that there are many false gospels, many ways to be lost, and just because you have rejected one wrong way does not mean that you now believe the true gospel.

When one has abandoned the scoldings of “first legalism” (no wine or TV) for the moral pep talks of “ordinary attendance in a confessional community” preachers, one has only exchanged one form of moralism for another.

The evangelical who used to be a fundamentalist now often thinks that grace means that theological doctrine doesn’t matter when it comes to saved and lost.

In a “covenant of grace” where grace is conditional but not merited, it’s not helpful to judge individuals saved or lost based on their gospel doctrines.

Unless we tell all people without exception, without respect of persons, that God demands a perfect righteousness and that God provided this righteousness only for the elect, then we still have a man-centered legalistic cult. It may be a happier kind of cult. But it still is not submissive to God’s gospel.

But don’t I understand that “covenant of grace” people are given grace to meet the conditions? And in the PCA (as opposed to Reformed Baptist) set of conditions, it all begins with the Chuck Swindoll idea that God does not demand righteousness but only the faith to “not-perform”.“

“Start stopping your doing”

Where the old legalism said that it was saved because it out-performed others, the new legalism claims to have done it the right way now by not doing, and to have performed not-performing where others were still trying to perform. Very often in both cases the finished death for the elect of Jesus Christ is not even in the picture

If You are Not Yet Justified, then You are Not Yet Sanctified

September 8, 2015

Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD”

Romans 6:20 ”For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those thing is death”

Romans 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we now bear FRUIT FOR GOD. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH.”

Luke 16:15 That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God.

Being set apart by God for God is not the same thing as being “moral”. Morality is not “sanctification” because those who are not yet justified before God by Christ’s death are not yet sanctified, not by the blood and not by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible teaches a distinction between “dead works” (works done with unacceptable motives, like gaining assurance) and “fruit unto God” (works that are pleasing to God without being “necessary”)

Our justification is not by our works, not even by our works after faith and justification. If we are already justified, then it’s too late for us to be justified by works. If we think we will lose our justification if we don’t work, then we do not yet understand what God’s justification is.

If we do not yet understand what God’s justification is, then that is the result of God not having justified us yet. According to John 10, the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and do not follow strangers. If we think that our works will give us the evidence that we are still justified, then we have not yet believed the gospel, which is the good news about being joined to Christ’s death and not about our morality and our works.

Even after we are justified saints, we are not yet glorified, not yet raised from the first death and given immortality. But neither is the rest of salvation conditioned on our morality and works. Our future resurrection from death is not about God enabling us to do what is required, but about God doing for us what we cannot and never will do.

Most professing Christians are legalists who condition salvation on what God does in the sinner. Even many Augustinians define grace as God doing in us what God requires in us, instead of defining the gospel by Christ’s death as satisfaction of God’s law.

Is Assurance Necessary for Us to Be Moral, or is morality necessary for Us to have Assurance, or do we have a Situationist Gospel in which the Answer Depends on Who’s Listening?

With its emphasis on “knowledge” and “calling”, II Peter One reverses legalism by commanding us to examine our works by making our calling and election sure. Those who know Christ are commanded to become become fruitful, but not in order to find out if they know Christ (or are known by Christ.

But many assume an assurance of calling based on our morality. To do that, they attempt to isolate one verse and ignore the context of II Peter 1, which begins in the very first verse with the idea that faith is given because of Christ’s righteousness. They makes their “works of faith” the assurance.

Their assurance of Christ’s atonement is only as good as their confidence in their own works. Their “faith” turns out to be assurance in God causing them to be moral, not assurance in Christ’s death because of the sins of the elect imputed.

By what gospel were we called? Was it the gospel of “characteristic obedience” or was it the gospel of “Christ paid it all for the elect”?

Legalists warn against thinking you are justified if you are not “sanctified” (following moral rules) . But they are trying to follow Christ as Lord without first being justified by Christ’s death alone. They have not yet submitted to the gospel which teaches a righteousness not our own, a righteousness found in Christ’s death. Instead the legalists boast in giving God the glory for creating in them a righteousness of their own.

We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God. But many “Calvinists”, along with the Arminians, think of faith as the “condition” that saves them. Yes, they disagree (somewhat) about the source of faith, but they both are way more concerned about the condition faith leaves you in than they are in the object of faith.

We get “results”, they boast. We are seriously and sincerely moral. This false gospel makes everything conditional, not on Christ, but on us—-if the Holy Spirit enables you do enough things right, then God promises not to break you off.

The true gospel explains that the justification of the ungodly does not happen apart from the imputation of Christ’s death and that faith is created by hearing the gospel. The true gospel tells us that it is the righteousness ALONE (Christ’s death bearing sins, apart from any works of faith created in us ) which satisfies the requirement of God’s law. (Romans 8:4)

The moralist does not test her works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 7:4-6 teach us, that a person not yet submitted to the righteousness revealed in the gospel is still an evil worker, bringing forth fruit unto death.

Hebrews 6:1– “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”

Hebrews 9:14–”How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The problem with using works “done after you are in the family” to get assurance is that works done without assurance are not pleasing to God. But the light of the gospel exposes our “good works” as “dead works”. And “dead works” are sins.

John 3:19– “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Certainly God commands us all to be moral. But morality can be done in the flesh, by people who are not yet justified. To doubt that you are justified or will be justified because of morality or immortality is to take the focus away from Christ’s one-time-done death for elect sinners.

It’s Not Up To You

September 1, 2015

William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not.”

Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

For advocates of universal “grace”, God did accomplish all that he intended. For them God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

These universal offer folks are “lying about Jesus.” Your salvation is NOT up to you.

Not only because your faith is NOT up to you.

But also because the faith God gives the elect is NOT their atonement and NOT the righteousness which saves them.

John 5: 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to get well?”

Most professing Christians (even the “reformed”) read the gospel as an “offer” which depends on the sinner. Some of them say that God enables all sinners to believe (even if they don’t) and others say that God enables only the elect to believe. But both groups together agree that faith saves and that faith is the difference between saved and lost. Neither group teaches in their gospel that Jesus died only for elect sinners.

Far too many “reformed” folks teach a fake view of God’s imputation. They teach that God counts faith as the righteousness. This leaves us with an “as though” version of imputation. But in reality even in the legal sharing between elect sinners and a third party ( Christ!), the relationship is not “as if” but is very real. Between Christ and the Trinity, in the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, the imputation does not cause an internal change in Christ (God forbid), but Christ legally (not fictionally) became guilty (under the law) until Christ REALLY died once and then REALLY was no more under the law (Romans 6). And if you think this is ‘contract talk” ” and a bad metaphor over-used, I simply don’t care.

Everybody needs to STOP thinking of imputation as God accepting faith as righteousness. But we won’t get to the bottom of the problem until we start talking about election and the death of Christ being a particular propitiation only for the elect. Whose sins were imputed to Christ? and when were those sins imputed to Christ and by whom? (by God, not by sinners, by God before the propitiation, not after faith)

Acts 3 Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. 2 And a man who was lame from birth WAS CARRIED THERE AND PLACED EVERY DAY at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help.4 Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, “Look at us.” 5 So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. 8 So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had
happened to him.

Ephesians 4: 7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the MEASURE OF the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high,
He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

Luke 4–there were certainly many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months while a great famine came over all the land. 26 Yet Elijah was any of them—but to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time, there were many in Israel who had serious skin diseases, yet NOT ONE OF THEM WAS HEALED—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. 29 They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff.

I Peter 1: 1 Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours[b] through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified the message of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed

Acts 18: 27 he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.
John 1: 12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man, but of God.

John 6: 36 But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. 37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.

II timothy 2:25 Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth

Calvin’s comment on Ephesians 2: 8. For by grace are ye saved. This is an inference from the former statements. Having treated of election and of effectual calling, he arrives at this general conclusion, that they had obtained salvation by faith alone. First, he asserts, that the salvation of the Ephesians was entirely the work, the gracious work of God. But then they had obtained this grace by faith. On one side, we must look at God; and, on the other, at man. God declares, that he owes us nothing; so that salvation is not a reward or recompense, but unmixed grace. The next question is, in what way do men receive that salvation which is offered to them by the hand of God? The answer is, by faith; and hence he concludes that nothing connected with it is our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all commendation, it follows that salvation does not come from us.

Ought we not then to be silent about free-will, and good intentions, and fancied preparations, and merits, and satisfactions? There is none of these which does not claim a share of praise in the salvation of men; so that the praise of grace would not, as Paul shews, remain undiminished. When, on the part of man, the act of receiving salvation is made to consist in faith alone, all other means, on which men are accustomed to rely, are discarded. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ. And so he adds, not of yourselves; that, claiming nothing for themselves, they may acknowledge God alone as the author of their salvation.1

Charles Hodge: The only point in the interpretation of these verses of any doubt, relates to the second clause. What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation, or faith? The words καὶ τοῦτο only serve to render more prominent the matter referred to. Compare Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 6:6; Phil. 1:28; Heb. 11:12. They may relate to faith (τὸ πιστεύειν), or to the salvation spoken of (σεσωσμένους εἶναι). Beza, following the fathers, prefers the former reference; Calvin, with most of the modern commentators, the latter. The reasons in favour of the former interpretation are, 1. It best suits the design of the passage. The object of the apostle is to show the gratuitous nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, ‘Ye are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ 2. The other interpretation makes the passage tautological. To say: ‘Ye are saved by faith; not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God; it is not of works,’ is saying the same thing over and over without any progress. Whereas to say: ‘Ye are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God), not of works,’ is not repetitious; the parenthetical clause instead of being redundant does good service and greatly increases the force of the passage. 3. According to this interpretation the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved. ‘Ye are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast.’ The middle clause of the verse is therefore parenthetical, and refers not to the main idea ye are saved, but to the subordinate one through faith, and is designed to show how entirely salvation is of grace, since even faith by which we apprehend the offered mercy, is the gift of God. 4 The analogy of Scripture is in favor of this view of the passage, in so far that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God. 1 Cor. 1:26–31

Steve Baugh, Ephesians Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series– καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, “and this does not originate from you.” There is much popular discussion about the word “τοῦτο” (“this”) and its antecedent in v.8b. It is tempting to take the antecedent as “faith” (i.e., “this faith is not from you “; as Hodge…), even though πίστις (“faith”) is feminine and the demonstrative pronoun is neuter. Grammatically, one could suppose that an abstract idea like “faith” or “believing” could be referenced as neuter, but that would make this rather common construction unnecessarily complicated (cd BDF §131). In Greek, events as a whole are treated as neuter singular things with neuter articles (e.g., το πιστευειν, “believing”), neuter relative pronouns (e.g., Eph. 5:5), or neuter demonstrative pronouns as in v. 8b (also, for example: 6:1; 1 Cor 6:6, 8; Phil 1:22, 28; Col 3:20; 1 Thess 5:18 and 1 Tim 2:1–3). Hence the antecedent of τοῦτο [“this’] is the whole event; “being saved by grace through faith.”