Part 8 in a series looking at Ephesians 2:1-10 (for previous days click here).
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
1. “For…” links this verse to the previous. In verse 7 Paul tells us why we were saved. In verse 8, he is going to tell us how.
2. “By grace you have been saved…” This tells us that, were is not for God, we could never be saved. Salvation is impossible without God’s grace (His free favor towards us). We cannot be saved by our own attempts. Our best efforts can never match up to God’s holiness. The Bible says that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), meaning any good works we do are stained by the sin that we constantly commit. The situation is so grave that Paul tells us we were “dead in sin“. God knows our predicament, and although He does not have to, He willingly shows grace towards us. When we should be condemned, He provides the way of salvation. Without God’s grace, our sinful state would deserve judgment, condemnation and punishment. That would be the fair outcome for those who have rebelled against God. But, because of God’s grace, God destroyed our sin in Jesus so that He didn’t have to destroy us.
3. “And this is not your own doing…” Salvation was not our idea. We were content as slaves to sin, willfully destroying our souls and separating ourselves from God. But God, in His love for us, decided to save us. Anyone who receives the salvation that comes by God’s grace is merely responding to what God has done. Even our response is made possible by God. This is why the term, “made alive” is so important. We were dead and could not see, hear, know, or choose God. But, by His grace, the Holy Spirit came to us and made our hearts alive (regeneration). Only then could we see the beauty, glory, and greatness of Jesus, and the horror and destructive power of our sin. Only then could we see our need for forgiveness, and find it at the cross. Only then could we say, “Jesus is Lord” and surrender our lives to be transformed by Him.
4. “…it is the gift of God“. Our salvation is not a loan. It is not paid to us in advance with the expectation that we pay God back. A true gift is given freely, with no expectation of recompense. This makes the grace of God even more glorious. Our sin made us debtors to God, and it was an impossible, eternal debt that we could never pay. God canceled out our debt when Jesus paid the price for us on the cross (atonement). When we are saved by God, our debt is wiped out, our sin forgiven and forgotten, and the burden lifted from us. Before we were unrighteous, but through our faith in Jesus, we are made righteous (justification). Now we are free to live as His sons and daughters, not trying to pay back God, but flourishing in a new relationship with our Father.
This is the main difference between religion and the gospel. Religion says, “I obey, therefore I am accepted“. This leads to a lifetime of guilt, failure, and uncertainty about God’s love for you. The gospel says, “I am accepted, therefore I obey“. Grace destroys the drudgery or following God out of duty, and replaces it with the joyfulness of following God out of love. The free gift assures us that God loves us, and that we belong to Him, no and forever.
Next: Verse 9