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Those who promote the fictitious idea that, in conversion, faith is like a “hand that receives,” claim Scriptural proof and cite: “But as many as ‘RECEIVED’ Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Yet, as Martin Luther points out, the Holy Spirit here uses “receive” in a passive sense, like dead soil “receiving” living seed. Furthermore, Luther also notes that John 1:12–13 is the clearest teaching of the Holy Spirit against any type of idea that we might play any role or partnership in our conversion. This is made absolutely clear by the following verse, verse 13, where the Holy Spirit, in discussing those who receive Christ states—they are they those “who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 3:13).

“For by Grace [I] Have Been Saved through Faith . . . It Is the Gift of God”
Ephesians 2:8

The grotesque hand on the opposite page is stunning. This hand visualizes the idea that dead and lifeless soil could suddenly grow its own hand and reach up for seed.
It is indeed far-fetched to believe that dead soil can raise its hand to retrieve, or “receive,” seeds sown into any soil, as shown on this page. Yet, popular Protestantism insists on a similar teaching as the basis of all their teaching about conversion and salvation. They teach: At conversion, God blows/breathes the Seed of His Word down toward the dead and lifeless soil of your heart (Ephesians 2: 1). Then, popular Protestant further claims that, as shown on this page, the dead and lifeless soil of your heart suddenly grows its own hand to “receive” God’s Word or to “receive” Christ!”


Prior to God’s initial act of salvation for you, before He planted in the soil of your heart His living Word, you had absolutely no faith. You were dead and lifeless soil. You were “dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Because of God’s own definition of faith, it is seriously false teaching to say that, in order to be saved, you or anyone else can reach out to “make a commitment to Jesus Christ,” “decide for Christ,” or “give your life to Jesus.” Only after God has placed/planted within you His Seed/gift of faith can you exercise this gift of faith and use it in your daily life. However, even then, unless this Seed/plant of faith is daily watered through God’s living Word, this gift of faith will most likely die, as did the Seed that landed on the rocks and shallow soil in Matthew 13:5–7. 

Here is a second, similar trick of Satan: Many people claim to have faith because they have some knowledge of God. If you are tempted to believe this, consider the Holy Spirit’s warning to you: “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). The Spirit’s warning is clear and decisive: Faith is not simply knowledge of God. Faith is God’s gift of trust in Him as Savior, planted in your heart through the living Seed of His living Word.


To communicate His saving Gospel, Jesus uses simple, everyday illustrations of farming and gardening. Jesus says, “The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). The Holy Spirit also likens your heart and mind to soil. Even the most uneducated person understands that unless a seed is planted in the soil, the soil remains barren. You can leave soil in the sun and regularly water it for a million years; but, without seed and water, the soil will produce absolutely nothing. Furthermore, when a hand sows or plants seed, the dead soil does not suddenly form a hand to reach up to grab or receive the seed. Again, this foolishness is depicted in one of the illustrations on the opposite page. As foolish as this illustration may seem—for the soil to suddenly form a hand for itself and reach up for the seed—this is what is taught when we say we can cooperate with God in our salvation or make a decision for Christ. Reject all these false teachings. Jesus says that before He gives you the gift of faith, you are as spiritually dead as lifeless soil (Ephesians 2:1).


So, the key QUESTION is this: How can you prevent Satan from twisting Scripture and causing you to believe the false teaching that you connect yourself to God by “committing your life to Him”? ANSWER: By following the example of how Jesus drove the devil away in the wilderness; by pointing to the full and clear teaching of the Spirit as revealed in the Scripture; by repeating daily, if not hourly: “For by grace you are saved, through faith, it is a gift . . .” Again, “For by grace I am saved, through faith, it is a gift;” And again, “For by grace I am saved, through faith, it [faith] is a gift.” Repeating key sections of God’s Scripture is, for His children, not a burden, but a joy! (Philippians 3:1). Continually thank your heavenly Father for His gift of faith! Why is it so important that this teaching of the Spirit be embedded so deeply in your mind and soul? Because, whether you are awake or asleep, knowing that faith is God’s gift means that you need do not need to be tempted by daily doubts and uncertainties, because your faith is in God’s hands. “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). 

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of faith that You have planted deep in my heart. Please water Your gift of faith in me. “You have also performed, for us, all our works” (Isaiah 26:12). Amen.… 

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