Is "faith" in Ephesians 2:8,9 the "gift" of God?
Some have taught that the Greek word here, for "gift", suggests that faith is the gift of God. Can this thinking really be justified in the light of what the Apostle Paul says of salvation in Romans 6:23? The answer is an emphatic "NO".
Meditate upon this for a moment: Who created us? The Scriptures reply with a resounding: "GOD". God, "who created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph.3:9), created us in His own "image" and "likeness" (Gen.1:26). And this great and mighty Creator, who "formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen.2:7), put within this man, whom He had created, the ability to "seek the Lord" (Acts 17:23-27). This quotation from Acts is no less than the words of "the Apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom.11:13). Is there not within every one of us that vacuum that can only be filled with Christ? Yet the Apostle to the Nations declares:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one" (Rom.3:10-12).
The Bible does not contradict itself here. God has built within every man, woman and child--upon creation--that ability within him to believe. He can discern the sky; he can choose whatever he pleases; he can believe a lie. If man is responsible before God, and he most assuredly is, then he may choose to "receive" the gift of God:
"For the wages of sin is death; BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom.6:23).
It is not that he is unable to believe the gospel, as we have demonstrated, rather it is a matter of his will. Consequently, man will stand to give an account to his Creator, for his faith--his ability to believe--is indirectly given of God in creation. Man, however, is a rebel from his birth, and intentionally disobedient. In the words of John 3:18, "...he that BELIEVETH NOT IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God". This is why his sinfulness is defined in terms of "total depravity".