Monday, October 18, 2010

Gift of God

Against some of the foolishness that comes with decision theology (i.e. altar calls, acceptance prayers, etc), the following verses are often quoted:

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:4-10

From there it is easy to discuss the difference between a "wage" (something you earn) and a "gift" (something you are given and don't earn).

The common reply is, "......well, you have to accept a gift" as if to say that a gift isn't a gift until you actively and consciously receive it.


While it may be customary to accept SOME gifts, leaning on this limited custom to defend an indefensible position that comes from deficient Biblical familiarity is just bad reasoning. It is easily refuted.

Example 1: Joe is hit by a car and is flown by helicopter to the ICU. He loses alot of blood on the pavement and his kidney's are badly damaged. He wakes up months later and is told that he received "the gift of life" from anonymous donors. At one point, he was legally dead, but the doctors refused to give up and did everything they could to save him. While in a coma, he was given several blood transfusions (giving blood is called "the gift of life" after all) and a new kidney. Did he accept this gift? No. It was externally given to him without his knowledge or even explicit consent. Similarly, while we we were "Dead in our trespasses and sins" God "made you alive with Christ". (Colossians 2:13) Salvation is that kind of gift.

Example 2: Suzy is a brilliant child. She is only four years old and she can already read children's books like someone twice her age. Everyone calls her "gifted". The implication here is that she was given an extra serving of smarts. What did Suzy do to accept her abilities? Nothing. She had no say. She was born with them. Did she have to read books in order to be smart? Of course not! She's been given the gift of high intelligence and her book reading naturally flows from her gift. Salvation is that kind of gift. [John 3:1-21]

Example 3: Terrance grew up in the United States where he is free to live as he chooses. He enjoys freedom, economic prosperity, and hope. Terrance did nothing to bring this about aside from being born here. Terrance learns in history class that generations of Americans before him gave him this great life he has through hard work and sacrifice. He learns about all of the patriots who died in all of the wars so that he can remain free. He learns about all of the great minds and hard workers who built this country up from nothing so that he can have food anytime he wants it, a cell phone, and Facebook. Terrance is reminded that his own grandparents and parents worked their butts off to give him a better life. He did nothing to deserve or accept any of this. He did not consciously accept what was given to him before his birth. What did Terrance do to accept this gift? Nothing. The gift was purchased and given to him before he even existed. Salvation is that kind of gift.

The only thing that makes a gift is that it is given and not earned. This acceptance garbage is not biblical and it's barely even rational.

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