Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 37) - Eph 1:13; Eph 2:8Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, January 7, 2015.
For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace 94. Eph 1:13 A. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," (Eph 1:13) B. Does this verse teach that people are regenerated or given eternal life by the Holy Spirit after they believe the gospel? i. No, it doesn't teach that because it doesn't say that. ii. It says that believers were sealed with the Holy Spirit after they believed. C. Believers don't get eternal life after they believe. i. Believers have everlasting life (Joh 6:47). ii. A person who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, not gets born of God (1Jo 5:1). iii. A person who believes the gospel passed from death unto life before they believed (See Joh 5:24 - Section III), which is the reason they could believe (1Co 1:18). iv. So it was with the Ephesians to whom Paul was writing: they believed after they heard the gospel (good news) of their salvation (Eph 1:13). a. One doesn't get saved by hearing about how God already saved him by His sovereign grace (Eph 1:4-11). b. One merely knows about it. v. Therefore the sealing with the Holy Spirit is not regeneration or eternal life. D. Sealed ppl. - 1. a. Bearing the impression of a signet in wax (or other material), as evidence or guarantee of authenticity. i. A seal on something shows evidence that it is a authentic; the seal doesn't make it authentic (Joh 3:33; 1Co 9:2). ii. The Holy Spirit is the seal that shows that a believer is an authentic child of God. iii. A child of God is sealed with the Holy Spirit at baptism (Act 2:38) which comes after belief (Act 8:12,36-38). iv. This is the giving of the Spirit that Jesus said believers would experience after He was glorified (Joh 7:37-39). a. This giving of the Holy Spirit is not the indwelling of the Spirit in regeneration (being born of the Spirit) because that had been happening for hundreds of years prior to Christ's glorification (Gal 4:28-29). b. Prior to His resurrection, Jesus said that people were being born of the Spirit (Joh 3:8). c. Therefore the giving of the Holy Spirit is something in addition to regeneration. v. Jesus was the pattern of being sealed with the Holy Spirit. 1. Immediately after He was baptized the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and the Father declared Christ's authenticity as His Son (Mat 3:16-17). 2. This was when God sealed Jesus Christ (Joh 6:27). vi. Circumcision was a seal (evidence) of righteousness for Abraham, which righteousness he had before he was circumcised (Rom 4:11). vii. In like manner, the gift of the Holy Spirit received at baptism (Act 2:38) is a seal (evidence) of a believer's eternal salvation which he had before he was baptized (Eph 1:13 c/w Joh 5:24). E. The seal of the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our eternal inheritance (Eph 1:14). i. Earnest n. - 1. Money, or a sum of money, paid as an installment, esp. for the purpose of securing a bargain or contract. Also fig. A foretaste, installment, pledge, of anything afterwards to be received in greater abundance. ii. When a person believes the gospel and is baptized, he is given a special ministry of the Holy Spirit as a down payment that ensures that he will receive more later in greater abundance (2Co 1:22). a. The Spirit is our seal unto the day of redemption (Eph 4:30). b. We have already had our spirits and souls redeemed, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee that our bodies will be redeemed as well (Rom 8:23). iii. This special ministry of the Holy Spirit which is a foretaste of better things to come includes: a. Making us a spiritual member of the church by baptizing us into the body and making us drink into the Spirit (1Co 12:13). b. Bearing witness to us that we are the children of God and heirs of God (Rom 8:16-17). c. Giving us the knowledge that God abides in us (1Jo 3:24). d. Giving us the assurance and the confidence that we will be present with the Lord when we leave this body at death (2Co 5:5-8). e. Being the Comforter who guides us in the truth (Joh 14:16-18,26; Joh 16:13; Act 9:31). f. Giving us peace and joy (Rom 14:17). 95. Eph 2:8 A. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Eph 2:8) B. Does this verse teach that we are saved by God's grace through our personal faith? C. What does the verse say? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves..." i. The grace and the faith are not of ourselves. ii. Many will say that only the grace is not of ourselves, but the faith is of ourselves. iii. This is false for the following reasons: a. In the context of the verse, Paul states plainly that when we were saved by grace, we were DEAD in sins and God quickened us (Eph 2:5). 1. Dead - 1. That has ceased to live; deprived of life; in that state in which the vital functions and powers have come to an end, and are incapable of being restored. 4. Destitute of spiritual life or energy. 1382 Wyclif Eph. ii. 1 Whanne Še weren deede in Šoure giltis and synnes. 2. Quicken - 1. a. To give or restore life to; to make alive; to vivify or revive; to animate (as the soul the body). 3. Dead people can't decide to make themselves alive, physically or spiritually. 4. When Christ saved us, we were without strength (spiritually dead) (Rom 5:6). 5. The gospel is foolishness to them that perish (To incur spiritual death, be lost), and therefore can't be believed by them (1Co 1:18). 6. Therefore the faith through which we were saved could not be our own. b. At the time that God saved us by grace, we were natural men: we walked according to the course of this world (Eph 2:2), and were by nature the children of wrath (Eph 2:3). 1. But the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit of God because they are foolishness to him and he cannot know them (1Co 2:14). 2. Therefore the faith through which we were saved could not be our own. c. At the time that we were saved by God's grace, we were in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph 2:3). 1. But they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, not the things of the spirit (Rom 8:5). 2. To be carnally minded is death (Rom 8:6). 3. Carnal adj. - 1. Of or pertaining to the flesh or body; bodily, corporeal. 5. Not spiritual, in a privative sense; unregenerate, unsanctified, worldly. 1611 Bible Rom. viii. 7 The carnall minde is enmitie against God. 4. The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Rom 8:7) 5. They that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8). 6. Believing in Jesus Christ pleases God (1Jo 3:22-23), and they that are in the flesh cannot please God; therefore, they that are in the flesh cannot believe in Jesus Christ. 7. Therefore the faith through which we were saved could not be our own. iv. If the faith is not of ourselves, then whose faith was it through which we were saved? a. It is the faith of Jesus Christ (His faith) that saved us. b. We were justified by the faith of Jesus Christ (Gal 2:16). c. The righteousness of God is by the faith of Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22; Phi 3:9). d. It was Christ's faith to go to the cross, trusting that God would accept His sacrifice and raise Him from the dead (Luk 23:46) that saved us. e. Commend v. - 1. To give in trust or charge, deliver to one's care or keeping; to commit, entrust: b. a person. Now esp. used of committal to the divine keeping: To commit with a prayer or act of faith, ‘to deliver up with confidence’ D. What else does the verse say? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Eph 2:8) i. Eternal life/salvation is the gift of God (Rom 6:23; Rom 5:15,18). a. Eternal life/salvation is a gift, not an offer. b. Gift n. - II. The thing given. 3. a. Something, the possession of which is transferred to another without the expectation or receipt of an equivalent; a donation, present. c. Offer n. - 1. a. An act of offering (see offer v. 3, 4); a holding forth or presenting for acceptance; an expression of intention or willingness to give or do something conditionally on the assent of the person addressed; a proposal. d. Jesus gives, not offers, eternal life to His elect (Joh 10:28). ii. Even if it was our faith (which is wasn't) through which God saved us by grace, our faith is a gift from God (Rom 12:3) which comes through grace by regeneration. a. Our faith is born of God (1Jo 5:4); it doesn't make us born of God. b. It is given to us to believe on Christ (Phi 1:29 c/w Joh 6:64-65). c. We believe in God by Jesus Christ (1Pe 1:21). d. We obtain our faith through the righteousness of God (2Pe 1:1); we don't obtain the righteousness of God through our faith. e. We believe through grace (Act 18:27). f. Jesus gave us eternal life so that we could know God (believe in Him) (Joh 17:2-3); we don't get eternal life by believing in God. g. Only those who are ordained to eternal life believe (Act 13:48). E. What does the next verse say? "Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:9) i. Eph 2:9 further confirms that it was not our faith through which God saved us by His grace, because salvation is not of works. a. Works are something a person does. b. Work n. - 1. Something that is or was done; what a person does or did; an act, deed, proceeding, business c. Faith is something that is done and is therefore a work (Mat 23:23). d. Our faith is a work (1Th 1:3). e. Believing in Jesus Christ is a work (Joh 6:28-29). f. If believing in Jesus is not a work, why do we tell people to DO IT? ii. Furthermore, we know that it is not our faith by which we are saved eternally because it is "Not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph 2:9) a. If it was our faith through which we were saved eternally, we could have something to boast about. b. We could take some of the credit for our eternal salvation, because, after all, God couldn't have done it without us. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace