“And you (did He make alive) when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”—Eph. 2:1-4.
It can do no harm to briefly restate the aim of the apostle in these verses. Thus doing we can pick up the thread of thought of our former article, which will facilitate understanding the thought as here developed by Paul in this letter.
At the conclusion of our former article we were speaking of the implication, of the Scriptural denotation of the phrase “the age of this world”.
In this instalment in the series of articles of Eph. 1:1-3 we hope to finish our expository studies on this passage. Not that we could not write more on it, but we trust that what we thus contribute will aid our readers in some measure to appreciate their great heritage in Christ; to see by the strength of the enlightenment of the heart, and that by way of contrast, what is the exceeding greatness of the power of God in Christ to us who believe, in raising us out of such a great death with Him into heavenly places.
To the former verses of this chapter, the verses 1-3, we have allotted four articles. At the beginning of the last of the just mentioned series of articles we told you, that this was all we would write on these verses. At that time we contemplated writing on some other subject at this time. However, after thinking about the matter, and also after studying this passage a little more, we are of the conviction that we ought to also write on the verses 4-10.
In the last paragraph of our former article we were speaking of the fact, that grace, the grace of God is only experienced, seen and known by us as it is historically realized in Christ Jesus. This means that there is a definite date on the calendar in which this was realized, a time in history, a moment in time when grace had fully become a reality in Christ Jesus. At that moment the shadows and typical-levitical institutions were abolished, all righteousness fulfilled. That moment was when Christ said: It is finished.
In this article we wish to call attention to the purpose of God in saving us so completely from all our sins and trespasses by reason of which we were dead, yea, were the children of wrath by nature. That we have been saved by grace, saved by the grace of God as it is revealed and merited for us in Jesus’ suffering and death, we have seen in the former article on this Scripture passage. This aspect of the salvation in Christ we are convinced has sufficiently been explained by us.
In our exposition of the verses 4-10 of this chapter, we now come to the verses 8 and 9. These read as follows: “For by (the) grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of you, of God (it is) the gift, not out of works lest any man should boast.”
In our last article we quoted Dr. A. Kuyper Sr. We noticed, that he most emphatically takes the position that it is both grammatically and exegetically correct to explain the phrase “and that is not out of you, it is the gift of God” as referring to “faith” in the former clause and not to the entire sentence. Paul here, accordingly, singles out faith through which we are saved as being the gift of God.
That faith is a gift of God not only in the first impartation of the same in regeneration, but that it is also gift of God in its constant activity as it is worked in us by the Holy Spirit though the Gospel we have shown in our former article. What we there wrote concerning faith as the constant gift of God does not mean that God works an endless series of regenerative acts in us, that he constantly creates anew.