Devotion in Motion: Open letter to a middle-school mom, Part 3

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.                                  

Ephesians 2:8, 9 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Dear Anne,

In this, my third letter, I want to continue with my comments about nurturing “the faith of adolescents.”  And I’ve been thinking;  perhaps the best way to do that is to write a bit about the nature of faith in general.

Take a look at today’s Scripture text (at the top):

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:8, 9 (NKJV)

Now, that statement seems easy enough on the surface.  But when look at it a little more closely and take it apart, you’ve got some important theological decisions to make.  I think that the easiest way to show what I’m thinking about is to turn it into a multiple-choice test question.

In this passage, St. Paul says “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and THAT not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In this sentence the word “THAT” refers to:





[Now, go and fix a cup of coffee, and think about that question for 45-minutes before you answer it. I’ll wait.]

OK, you’ve thought about it, and you’re back again? Good.

Let’s work through the answer together.  Clearly, GRACE is “the gift of God,” because by definition, that’s what GRACE is.  And, clearly SALVATION is “the gift of God,” because Romans 6:23 says so.  And according to your English teacher, FAITH is the “the gift of God” because FAITH it is the closest antecedent; that’s how grammar works.

So, in my opinion, the correct answer is Letter D, “ALL OF THE ABOVE.”

It’s pretty plain to see (at least to me) that GRACE, SALVATION, and FAITH are all gifts that are given by God.

So why is that  important?  Because if grace, and salvation, AND faith are all gifts from God, we can ask our loving Father for all these things.  And since FAITH is a gift of God, we can ask the Lord to give this “gift of faith” to our children.

As we’re raising our kids, it’s great to know that Jesus makes us a wonderful promise:  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  (Luke 11:13)

So, Anne, take this message of comfort to heart.  We don’t have to worry.  We just have to ask.

(More next week…..)

Love and blessings,

Brother John

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher and his wife are glad that Monday is a vacation-day.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).