Ephesians 2:8 is the go to verse that Calvinists use to prove that saving faith is a gift instead of a work, but we see that it isn’t saying what they think it’s saying. They present a false choice by claiming that faith is either a work of man or a gift of God, and then develop a conclusion from that fundamental error. Is faith in Christ for salvation a work of the law? Is it a commandment of the Mosaic Law or the Ten Commandments? No…the Bible clearly contrasts faith and works. The efforts to fulfill the law have no place in our becoming saved by grace. Salvation is by grace alone because of the finished atoning work of Christ on the Cross. That grace by which we are saved, is only accessed by faith in Christ, which is not a work of the law. The focus of saving faith is on Christ, not on faith itself, which has no atoning power (regardless of source). So why would anyone who truly understands that the atoning work of Christ is a finished work, look to his faith as meriting God’s favor at all?
Especially when the gift of salvation is by grace (unmerited favor)?
To believe on Christ for salvation is to trust in His atoning work alone. Saving faith is an act of trust that looks entirely to the atoning work of another (Christ). When a man truly believes on Him, he’s not trusting in his believing, he’s trusting in what Christ did on the Cross for him. This isn’t a trivial, semantical thing that can be overlooked. Saving faith is a complete trust in the atoning work of Christ. If your trust is not in the shed blood of Christ alone…if you’re looking to your works to gain access into Heaven, then you haven’t truly accessed grace by faith. Some Calvinists take Calvinism to it’s logical conclusion in that they won’t even believe on Christ for salvation because they think that to do so is a work. In effect, they deny the gospel call of the Spirit and Bride. Faith and works are in entirely different contexts. One trusts in what Christ did, and is done to receive grace (unmerited favor). The other trusts in what you do, and is done to receive reward (merited favor). Faith is not the enemy, but rather, is what God wants you to do. The devil wants otherwise:
(Luke 8:12) Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
If Calvinism’s doctrine of Limited Atonement is true, then Luke 8:12 makes no sense. Why would the devil have to do anything to frustrate belief unto salvation of the non-elect who can’t believe unto salvation anyway, regardless of what satan does? Especially, if salvation is according to God’s sovereign will apart from man’s responsibility to believe, in that will?
(Romans 3:27, 28) Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Calvinism confuses works of the law with “the law of faith” (KJV). The Bible doesn’t confuse the issue at all, so why do Calvinists? According to Calvinism, our faith is a work. But the Bible doesn’t say that man’s believing on Christ is a work. Calvinists say that Christ should get the glory for our saving faith, which sounds great, but there’s one problem with that. If faith is a work that adds to Christ’s atoning work on the Cross, then how does Christ “get the glory” for a work of faith that is an addition to His finished atoning work on the Cross? Isn’t such an idea an insult to His finished work? Calvinism changes the terms to make their theology work. Faith is not a work, regardless of source. Especially when the very act of believing on Him is in the context of you seeing yourself as an ungodly sinner in desperate need of His righteousness. Faith, by definition, is coming unto Christ as you are (ungodly), not as a regenerated saint who needs not be born again, but is somehow saved before faith.
(Romans 10:1-4) Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
(Romans 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Calvinism creates a straw man argument in claiming that faith is a work that can only be done by Christ and given as a gift. Therefore, He gets the glory for our believing on Him. Without realizing it, they insult the finished work of Christ on the Cross. There’s nothing more for Christ to do in that regard. Faith merely accesses God’s grace (unmerited favor).