OceanSide church of Christ

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Grace Only, Calvinism, Ephesians 2:5

Victor M. Eskew


            In Ephesians 2, Paul writes of God’s great love shown to lost humanity.  This love is what moved God to save men from their sins.  In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul writes:  “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).”  The apostle declares that we are saved by grace.  God’s grace, or favor, is the beginning point in the salvation process.  Without the grace of God, no man could be saved.

            Some religious groups that have embraced the doctrine of Calvinism present a faulty view of the grace of God.  They teach that man is saved “wholly” by the grace of God.  In the Baptist Church Manual (Revised), J.M. Pendleton writes:  “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace…” (p. 47).  Our contention with Calvinism and Baptist doctrine is due to the use of the word “wholly” in describing salvation by grace.  Webster defines the term “wholly” as:  “1:  to the full or entire extent:  COMPLETELY  2:  to the exclusion of other things:  SOLELY”.  If salvation is “wholly” of grace, then nothing else is needed in the salvation process.  One is saved by grace to the exclusion of all other things.

            If this is a true doctrine, then universalism must be true.  Universalism teaches that all men will be saved, not one soul will be lost.  Why do we assert that being saved wholly by grace leads to universalism?  We say this because of Titus 2:11.  “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men.”  If grace has appeared to all men, and men are saved wholly by grace, then all men should be saved.  If not, why not?  Some might say that not all will be saved because there are other things that must be done in the process of salvation.  If that is the case, then one is not saved ‘wholly” by grace.

            The doctrine of salvation by grace alone is false because there are other elements in the salvation process.  Going back to Ephesians 2, we learn that faith is an absolute must in order for one to be saved.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God” (v. 8).  Paul declares that both grace and faith are involved in salvation.  If one adds just one element to grace, the teaching that salvation is wholly by grace is defeated.

            Grace is a comprehensive term that represents everything God has done to secure man’s salvation.  Faith, on the other hand, is a comprehensive term that involves everything man must do to be saved.  The reality is that there are many things that save.  No one thing wholly, alone, or solely, saves man.  Man must understand, believe in, and submit to the entire process of salvation in order to be saved by the grace of God.