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The Gift of God
We live in a very technological age. One does not have to look very far to realize this. The computer revolution, the communications explosion—everything is becoming high-tech. I personally believe God allowed this particular age for a specific reason. It is to show us that no matter how technologically advanced man becomes he will never by his own strength or ingenuity be able to overcome sin—he will never be able to alter the truths of Ephesians 2:1–10. In other words, this passage is very timely and always appropriate to the needs of the unsaved man. It is also a constant reminder to believers of what they have in Christ and exactly how they received it:
And you hath He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins; In which in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our manner of life in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:1–10).
We are going to approach this passage with three main questions:
DEAD IN SINS
Verses 1–3 answer the question: “What is the condition of unsaved man?”
By way of introduction to this passage, you will notice that in verse one of the KJV the words hath He made alive are added words, and thus they are in italics. These words are not wrong, but they are being supplied by ellipsis from verse 5. Nonetheless, it is possible to see from reading the verses above that the subject is Christ and the church. Christ was given as head over all things, to the church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all—Even you…who were dead in trespasses and sins (1:23; 2:1)! Such an exalted glorified position for us who were so unworthy—so unclean and sinful! How thrilled we should be each time we read this! What good thing does this verse—or anything else in this passage—afford to the unbeliever? The declaration of Scripture is that the unbeliever is dead—dead in trespasses and sins!
What does it mean to be dead in sins? Let us examine the exact scriptural meaning of the word dead.
The primary meaning of the word death in the Bible is separation. In physical death the soul and spirit are separated from the body. Once a man’s spirit has been separated from his body, he does not function anymore. In spiritual death the spirit of man is separated from God—His life, His fellowship, and His blessing. Men who are spiritually dead in sin still function in life. Even though their spirits are separated from God, they can still talk, think, act, and sin. However, in that state they are on their way to spending eternity in the lake of fire. They are separated from the life of God and bound to be judged for their sins if they do not receive forgiveness.
Can spiritually dead men be saved? The answer is: “Yes—by the grace of God!” Through the merits of Christ’s work on the cross by faith alone in Him alone God will give the believing sinner eternal life based upon the complete forgiveness of sins. That is what this context is all about. This is how believers come to their position in Christ.
Can unsaved men believe the gospel? If we follow the teaching of this passage, the answer is “Yes.” Ephesians 1:13 says “after ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.” Later in this context it says by grace are ye saved through faith—by believing the gospel! Acts 16:31 says: “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
There are those who say that unsaved men are too dead to believe the gospel, but the Scriptures never say this! One passage that proves men can believe the gospel is in Romans:
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above); Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). But what saith it? The word is near thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:5-10).
Here Paul describes the righteousness which is of faith. The righteousness of the law comes by works, but the righteousness of God comes by faith, that is, it is received by faith. Paul says, “The word is near thee, even in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is the word of faith which we preach.” One point of this passage is that once God reveals the truth, questions like “Who will bring Christ down so that I may believe on Him?” are merely excuses for rejection! God says that the ability to believe is in your heart and in your mouth:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:9).
God brings His message in the power of the Spirit—through His Word. The only other thing necessary for salvation is for man to believe God’s Word. The ability to do this (as this passage says) is in the heart of every one of us. This is not the saved heart; it is the heart that Jeremiah spoke about:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it (Jeremiah. 17:9)?
Believing is the issue, and the Bible never says that the unsaved cannot believe God’s Word!
Can an unsaved man understand the basic truths of the Bible? I believe Romans 10 teaches he can. However, the unsaved do not appreciate or profit from the Bible until they believe it! Israel was not judged for being unable to believe; they were judged because they (being able) did not believe!
Adam understood God in the garden after the fall; he could understand all the curses and everything else that God said. If an unsaved man could not understand and respond to the Scriptures, the whole 10th chapter of Romans would be meaningless, and our preaching would be only to the saved. We would also be foolish to ever encourage the unsaved to read the Bible, and our witnessing would be in vain. But such is not the case, and God says so. That should settle it! We can therefore offer the salvation of God to anyone in this world, and they are only a step of faith away from having everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 2:14 is often thought to say that unsaved men cannot understand the Bible:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The context of this verse, however, will show that Paul is not talking about unsaved man understanding the Bible but about how the Bible was written! Verses 1–14 show that Paul was defending where he got his message! He was saying that without direct revelation from God no man in his natural abilities could have conceived of the truth of the mystery—the dispensation of the grace of God! It was not Paul’s invention; he did not make it up. It was given to him by God. Many today (as the Corinthians did) have challenged the unique message and ministry of the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1,2)! Men who reject God’s message for today through Paul will surely face God’s displeasure at the judgment seat of Christ! Paul declares that the truths he taught could only have come from God.
NOT OF MAN
By no means am I saying that salvation is man’s doing. Ephesians 2:1–10 teaches just the opposite. Salvation is all of God! Man in his wisdom, his religion, his works, or in his ingenuity and technology cannot save himself. He cannot even help in his salvation; it is only possible by God’s grace as a gift. Salvation is based upon the finished work of Christ alone and is received by faith alone.
Salvation is a miracle of God and is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts men of sin through the Word of God. He then regenerates, baptizes, and indwells the person who believes the gospel of God’s grace (Titus 3:5–7). No part of salvation is a work of man!
We must be careful not to go any further explaining the “how” of salvation. We want to say just what God says and no more! We must not try to explain things that God has not revealed to us. Why does one man believe the gospel while another does not? God has not explained this to us, and we must not speculate about it. God has said man is able and responsible to believe the gospel, and that is what we must tell them!
OUR MANNER OF LIFE
Our condition before salvation is plain. We were the children or (as in the Greek) the sons of disobedience. The word son means the personification of and carries the same meaning as the title Son of man or Son of God. These titles of our Lord mean that He was the personification of man and the personification of God. He was not God’s offspring or creation. He is God and that is what the title Son of God means.
We were disobedience personified! The text goes on to describe all that this means. We can state it in three points:
This chapter has several unique time phrases: time past (verses 2,3,11), but now (verse 13), and ages to come (verse 7). Though these phrases can and do refer to dispensational times, in verses 2 and 3 they refer to periods in our personal lives. We were sinners—dead in sins! Sin was and is the problem. Homosexuality, Aids, abortion, fornication, crime, even poverty and hunger in many cases are the result of sin! One of the reasons people starve in India is because they worship cows and rats! Instead of eating the cows and grain, and killing the rats, they worship the cows and let the rats eat their grain! Their ignorance of God is the reason many are starving.
All over the world people are dying of Aids. In many cases it is because of a sinful act called homosexuality! Sin is the problem!
We needed salvation from sin’s penalty and power—and so do they! All those who are outside of Christ are in this perilous condition. Sin is a destroyer, but Christ is the Savior!
The bottom line in Ephesians 2:3 is that we were the children of wrath (children deserving wrath) even as others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) (Ephesians 2:4,5).
Verse 4 states that God loved us—when we were yet sinners! Does God love all men? Yes, all men, no matter what sins they have committed. But He does not love their sins. In love, God sent Christ to die for our sins and raised Him again from the dead for our justification. Men can now be reconciled to God. They can be restored to fellowship and peace with Him and forgiven all their sins. They can be delivered from God’s wrath by simply believing Christ died for their sins and by trusting Him, and Him alone, as their risen Savior and Lord!
God wants to deliver men from sin—not just its penalty but its power in the present. This is true of you and of me as God’s redeemed. He delivered us from sin so we would not have to be ravaged by it and so we would not have to offend Him any longer.
There are those who think that God’s love for us gave us worth—that God’s love for us gave us great value to Him. This passage teaches nothing of the kind. We are unworthy of His love and the sacrifice of Christ. That is what the word grace means in the first place, unmerited favor. God loves sinners and sent His Son to die for us, but that is far different from saying that we had value or worth. Jacob said he was unworthy of the least of God’s mercy (Genesis 32:10). Psalm 39:5 says that man at his best state is altogether vanity. Job called himself a worm (Job 25:6), and also said: “Behold, I am vile” (Job 40:4). Paul said that in his flesh dwelt no good thing (Romans 7:18). Believers are not to have self-esteem—not by the current definition of the term. In fact, I do not think that we should even use this term. Such esteem is selfish esteem! God’s answer is to forget about yourself and focus upon Christ and upon others. We are to reckon the flesh dead and see ourselves in Christ and complete in Him by the gift of God to undeserving sinners. We are to value others better than ourselves:
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (Philippians 2:3).
But shouldn’t we feel good about ourselves? No, we should rejoice in what we are in Christ. There is a difference! The one focuses on us; the other focuses on Christ! We are a brand new creation in Christ; we are forgiven, justified, and glorified in Him! Look at how Paul saw himself as a believer:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
Paul viewed himself as a servant—a bondslave—of the Lord (Philippians 1:1) and so should we.
Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Romans 6:11; see also 6:12–23).
GRACE IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE
Ephesians 2:5 continues: “Even when we were dead in sins…” Paul repeats our awful condition, our perilous condition. But God gave us life, by grace we were saved. This phrase is the heart of this whole passage, the heart of our whole relationship with God, of our whole existence! We want to focus on this term grace for a moment.
So many of the elements in these verses are not the mystery of which Paul spoke in Ephesians 3:
For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles—if ye have heard of the dispensation [economy] of the grace of God which is given me toward you, How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before in few words (Ephesians 3:1–3).
That man is dead in sin is not a mystery; that God is gracious is not a mystery; that men can be saved from sin is not a mystery. Christ is not a mystery and that he was going to die for sin and be raised again is not a mystery. Still this whole passage is part of the mystery; this whole Epistle is about the mystery that God revealed through Paul alone.
It is the program of God under which we are saved—what you and I were made by the grace of God, that is the mystery! It is not so much how God saves the sinner that is the mystery but the present dispensation—what God does with that person in saving him. It is the program—the dispensation, the administration—of God today that is the subject of the mystery.
This is grace in the dispensation of grace! God is not administering the Jewish kingdom program today. He is administering the heretofore secret program of grace! This is what Paul calls my gospel (Romans 16:25); it is grace in the dispensation of grace. People wonder if 1 Corinthians 15:3,4 is the gospel of grace; the answer is “Yes.”
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).
They also wonder if the gospel of grace is part of the mystery, and again, the answer is “Yes.” When Paul says Christ died for our sins, he means the world, without any national distinction. This is the mystery program; this is the grace dispensation. Today, no matter who you are, God offers you salvation by grace alone, through Christ’s finished work on the cross alone, by your faith in Him alone. If you will believe that you are sinful—dead in trespasses and sins—and separated from God and in this condition you are on your way to hell, then you are ready to hear the good news. Christ died for your sins, and He rose from the dead. God will save you from your sins and give you eternal life if you will believe that Christ died for you and will receive Him as your risen Savior—as your Lord! Mark well that it must be faith alone in Him alone! This is salvation by grace apart from man’s works. This is the only kind of salvation God offers today. It is yours for the asking—for the believing!
But we must see also that the mystery is not just a message or a doctrine; it is a program and involves a relationship! That relationship is with a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ! We are now members of His Body, and He is our risen Head. We know Him, relate to Him, and serve Him according to God’s revelation of Him for this present administration of grace—God’s sacred secret—made known to and through the Apostle Paul!
And hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6).
Did you ever wonder why believers have trouble with eternal security? After reading this verse is there any question? Are we trying to get to heaven? No! We are already there—we are seated there in Him! How much greater could our security be? This is especially significant when we realize that we got in this position by way of dying with Him and being raised with Him, and now therefore, we are seated eternally with Him! Blessed thought, blessed truth!
That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
“The ages to come” is, I believe, the dispensation of the fullness of times spoken of in Ephesians 1:10! We—the Body of Christ—will be a trophy of God’s grace for all ages! Not that believers of all ages have not been saved by grace, but that we are the triumph, the supreme display—Jews and Gentiles, all proven to be dead in sin, whether under law or without law! The Body of Christ is the trophy of the grace of God!
Looking at this passage it is easy to see that salvation in this dispensation is the subject. It is headed up in verses 4 and 5 but especially the last statement in verse 5: “…by grace are ye saved.” Verse 1 alluded to it, other verses in the passage talk about it, and the passage ends with it. Faith is the means to God’s blessing, but the blessing is salvation—by grace through faith. Salvation is what the passage is talking about.
It is seeing this that answers the question: “What is the gift of God in this portion?” Of course, it is salvation!
But now the Apostle encapsulates the whole matter. He sums it all up with these famous and wonderful words:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
How many have memorized these verses! If you have not, you must. They are the hallmark of this present dispensation! And do not forget verse 10 in your memorizing! We often leave it off but it is so important. Someone said, “We should never quote Ephesians 2:8,9 without including verse 10!” This is true.
In reading verse 8, salvation is still the subject. “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” In one sense, this is a package offer—salvation by grace through faith. This is the offer of God to all in this dispensation—eternal salvation, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Alone, that famous word of the reformation! Faith alone in Christ alone—how wonderful to be able to proclaim it! What security and hope is here! But has not salvation always been by grace through faith? Yes. From Abel on, salvation has always been by grace through faith. But did God proclaim this as gospel before Paul? No! Men of past times knew only what God had told them, and “Christ died for your sins…” was not the gospel before Paul. “By grace are ye saved through faith” was not God’s message in past dispensations, and men of past ages knew little, if anything, of the principles and security of salvation. They were saved by believing God’s message to them, whether it was the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the gospel of the kingdom preached by the Lord and the Twelve Apostles. People of past dispensations were saved (from God’s perspective) by grace through faith, but their faith had to be in whatever God told them to do.
So it is now, men must believe God to be saved. But today the full revelation of God’s salvation is revealed. It is all plainly understood and proclaimed as the gospel of His grace in the dispensation of His grace! Has there been more than one gospel? Yes—of course! Not more than one Savior, not more than one cross, not more than one method of saving, but more than one message of good news—yes! God has not always operated under the same administration. He did not reveal all of His purpose at once. The previous program was the kingdom program, and the previous good news was centered in the Messiah and His kingdom. Today, God’s good news is about Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men without any national distinction. He died for our sins. This is includes the whole world, Jews and Gentiles alike—all individual sinners, and all offered salvation by grace through faith alone! And then what? Then we know Him as our risen, glorified Head—the Head of the Body. He is administering an entirely new program, building the Body of Christ in this dispensation of grace! The kingdom program ministered by the Twelve Apostles has been temporarily set aside (Romans 11:25).
But now, we want to address God’s gift. What exactly is the gift of verse 8? We will let the context speak first before we talk about grammar. There are three phrases that must be taken together, and they will easily determine exactly what the gift is. The three phrases are: “that not of yourselves;” “It is the gift of God;” and “not of works, lest any man should boast.” Whatever is “not of works, lest any man should boast” is also the subject of the other two phrases. That which is “not of works lest any man should boast” is, of course, salvation. Salvation is the subject of this whole passage, and it is the only thing that will fit the phrase “not of works.” No one would have to say that faith is not of works for faith and works are opposite principles. But we must tell men that salvation is not by works. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but by His mercy he saved us…” is what Paul said in Titus 3:5, and in Romans 4:5 he says, “Now to him that worketh not but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
So it is that in Ephesians 2:9 salvation is what is not of works. It follows that the other two phrases are part of that triad—they are all referring to salvation! Salvation is not of yourselves; salvation is the gift of God—salvation is not of works!
The grammar of this passage confirms this conclusion. For one thing, grace and faith are feminine in gender and cannot be to what the word gift is referring because gift is in the neuter gender as is the pronoun that. “That” which is not of ourselves but is the “gift of God” must refer to salvation. Furthermore, the words “saved,” “that” (which is not of yourselves), and “gift” are in the nominative case. These three agree in case. Therefore, God’s (genitive case) gift (nominative case) is salvation (nominative case). Salvation by grace is the gift of God, and it is received through faith.
A.T. Robertson and Kenneth Wuest both concur with this as do many other Greek scholars.
The following is from A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 4, page 525:
“For by grace (tei gar chariti). Explanatory reason. ‘By the grace’ already mentioned in verse 5 and so with the article. Through faith (dia pisteos). This phrase he adds in repeating what he said in verse 5 to make it plainer. ‘Grace’ is God’s part, ‘faith’ ours. And that (kai touto). Neuter, not feminine taute, and so refers not to pistis (feminine) or to charis (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that salvation does not have its source (ex humon, out of you) in men, but from God. Besides, it is God’s gift (doron) and not the result of our work.”
The following is from K. Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, Ephesians, pages 69,70:
“The words, ‘through faith’ speak of the instrument or means whereby the sinner avails himself of this salvation which God offers him in pure grace. Expositors says: ‘Paul never says ‘through the faith,’ as if the faith were the ground or procuring cause of the salvation.’ Alford says: ‘It (the salvation) has been effected by grace and apprehended by faith.’ The word ‘that’ is touto, ‘this,’ a demonstrative pronoun in the neuter gender. The Greek word ‘faith’ is feminine in gender and therefore touto could not refer to ‘faith.’ It refers to the general idea of salvation in the immediate context. The translation reads, ‘and this not out from you as a source, of God (it is) the gift.’ That is, salvation is a gift of God. It does not find its source in man. Furthermore, this salvation is not ‘out of a source of works.’ This explains salvation by grace. It is not produced by man, not earned by him. It is a gift from God with no strings tied to it. Paul presents the same truth in Romans 4:4,5 when speaking of the righteousness which God imputed to Abraham, where he says: ‘Now, to the one who works, his wages are not looked upon as a favor but as that which is justly or legally due. But to the one who does not work but believes on the One who justifies the impious, his faith is computed for righteousness.’”
M.R. Vincent also agrees that salvation is what the word gift refers to, as does Mr. John Calvin himself in his commentary on Ephesians (Volume 21, Ephesians, pages 227–229). We quote a portion from those pages:
“9. Not of works. Instead of what he had said, that their salvation is of grace, he now affirms, that ‘it is the gift of God.’ Instead of what he had said, ‘Not of yourselves,’ he now says, ‘Not of works.’ Hence we see, that the apostle leaves nothing to men in procuring salvation. In these three phrases,—not of yourselves,—it is the gift of God,—not of works,—he embraces the substance of his long argument in the Epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians, that righteousness comes to us from the mercy of God alone,—is offered to us in Christ by the gospel,—and is received by faith alone, without the merit of works…”
“But it is still more absurd to overlook the apostle’s inference, lest any man should boast. Some room must always remain for man’s boasting, so long as, independently of grace, merits are of any avail. Paul’s doctrine is overthrown, unless the whole praise is rendered to God alone and to His mercy. And here we must advert to a very common error in the interpretation of this passage. Many persons restrict the word gift to faith alone. But Paul is only repeating in other words the former sentiment. His meaning is, not that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God.”
It really is a simple matter, however, of staying with the context and being consistent.
Faith is not the gift of God in this passage. Faith is a response to God not an entity or a thing that is given.
For we are His workmanship [Greek poiema; His poem], created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
Our salvation is God’s workmanship, His handiwork, His poem! The saved are His creation in Christ Jesus! How blessed to consider that salvation was not of us, not dependent on our works in any way. It was all God’s doing! Again this speaks of security and finality. We were created in Christ Jesus—we died, were buried, and raised in Him to walk in newness of life! He is now our life, and when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4)! But we were created unto good works; we were not saved by good works. How could we have been saved by good works when we were dead in trespasses and sins? We could not have been. By grace we were saved through faith! We were saved unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
In this statement Paul is making two important contrasts. He made the statement “not of works,” and now he is putting salvation and good works in their proper order and meaning. Salvation is not by good works but unto or for good works. Paul also contrasts the kind of life we had before we were saved with what God has prepared us to do now that we are saved. We were “sons of disobedience—children of wrath; fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind.” Now we have been saved—not by works, but for them! God ordained that we—by His power, through the Holy Spirit—would walk in and fulfill that for which He prepared us in Christ. The contrasts here are important; they give continuity to the whole passage! God purposed or ordained that the believer should walk in newness of life, not going on in sin. He expects us to walk in good works. Where there is life there should be evidence of life!
These are good works generally. It does not mean that God preprogrammed us to walk like robots. It is speaking in the same terms as 1 Thessalonians 4:2: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.” God wants us to be set apart to Himself.
God expects us to walk in the Spirit, to do good works—fruitful works—in the name of Christ, for His glory. This is both to honor Him and to reach others for Him; this should always be in view! God has enabled us to be fruitful in the power of the Spirit, walking by faith obeying His Word; it is just that simple!
GOOD WORKS AND SOUND DOCTRINE
One of the most important principles of a fruitful walk is that these good works accord with what the Apostle Paul calls sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10,11 cf. verse 3; Titus 2:1). Sound doctrine is basically the Word of God rightly divided. Sound doctrine is sound or healthy teaching. All the Bible is for our learning; it is all sound teaching, but it all must now be understood in the light of the Epistles of Paul! He is the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13) and the dispenser of God’s revelation concerning this present dispensation of grace (Ephesians 3:1–5). This is what God is doing today. He is operating according to the plans He gave us through Paul! This is why Paul calls his message “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery [secret]” (Romans 16:25). All the Bible is sound teaching, but we must recognize God’s present administration of grace as the key that unlocks the Bible and makes it make sense. Therefore, God’s instructions through Paul are especially important for us today.
All of the teachings of Paul’s Epistles are sound doctrine! This includes a list of things in Titus 2:1–10 that we often overlook. But Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:3 that the time will come when believers will not endure sound doctrine! Paul’s testimony of himself was that he had kept the faith. But we need to know that as time goes on, more and more believers will refuse to walk in good works that God has foreordained we should walk in—good works according to sound doctrine!
Perhaps this last verse has been a challenge to you. If not, let me offer a challenge. Is your life accomplishing this walk in good works? Or do you feel like you are failing? I suppose there are times that we all feel we are failing. Perhaps you feel the need for help in your walk with the Lord. First of all, this passage should help and encourage you. That is exactly why God gave it to us—to help and encourage us. This is true of all of the things in this Epistle. Even from 2:11 on, these truths are not just academic or to tickle our intellect. They are here to give us understanding, to draw us closer to our Lord Jesus Christ, to help and encourage us in our service and daily walk with Him! These truths are never here for mere knowledge or intellectual entertainment!
These verses are old and yet they are new and refreshing each time we read them. The Lord stands ready to help each one whose heart is open and tender to His Word. If you have failed the Lord yesterday or today, so be it. Every day is a new day, and you need not fail Him any more!
Perhaps you think you have missed the opportunity of serving; perhaps you think you have missed God’s best for you. My friend, God has a best for you every day!
Salvation is God’s gift. He delivered us from sin’s power and gave us new life and meaning—a new purpose! We do not have time to go on living for ourselves. We do not have time to go on building bigger barns, bigger businesses, and bigger fortunes. It is time to begin walking as He has purposed!
If you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, we hope that you will consider the good news of God just now. If you understand that you are dead in sins and see no hope of being delivered from God’s wrath, then you are ready to hear the remedy. Christ died for your sins and was raised again the third day! Will you believe that He died for you and trust Him, and Him alone, as your Savior and Lord? That is all you can do, and it is all you need do! We encourage you not to let one more day go by without trusting Him!
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Romans 6:23).
 “Kai touto ouk ex umwn. It has been not a little debated, among both ancient and modern commentators, to what noun touto should be referred. Some say, to pistewv; others, to cariti; though on the sense of pistiv they differ in their views. The reference seems, however, to be neither to the one nor to the other, but to the subject of the foregoing clause, salvation by grace, through faith in Christ and his gospel; a view, I find, adopted by Dr. Chandler, Dean Tucker, Dr. Macknight, and Dr. A. Clarke. And to show that this interpretation is not a mere novelty, I need only refer the reader to Theophylact, who thus explains: Ou thn pistin legei doron yeou alla to dia pistewv swyhnai touto dwron esti yeou. ‘He does not say that faith is the gift of God; but to be saved by faith, this is the gift of God.’ Such also is the view adopted by Chrysostom and Theodoret.” —Bloomfield.
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