Ephesians 2:8-9 – “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.”
Salvation is a gift of God. It is an undeserving gift given from God to man. The very definition of grace is unmerited favor. Favor given from God that is unmerited means that God grants us favor apart from anything we do. Our works do not earn us favor before God; that much is clear from Paul in Ephesians 2.
Paul tells us that we are dead in our trespasses and sins in Ephesians 2:1; that we were by nature (which is evidenced by our works) “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” He makes it obvious that our salvation is “not your own doing” that it is “not a result of works,” but that in contrast, it is God’s work making us HIS “workmanship.” Ephesians 2:8-9 is a verse that all Orthodox, Bible-believing evangelicals herald as crucial to understand for our doctrine of salvation. We do not earn our salvation through our works.
Yet, while many champion Ephesians 2:8-9 as a crucial passage, many at the same time ignore a large message that Paul teaches. When Paul says, “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” what is the “it” that he is referring to? What is the gift of God? Is grace merely the gift? Is salvation by grace the gift? Seeing grace and salvation as the only gift given according to Paul is to miss Paul’s whole point. What Paul is saying is that salvation, grace, and even faith itself is a gift! Many people give a loud “Amen” when they hear that our salvation is not by works. They confidently hold to the idea that grace is a gift. But when you make a bold statement that says that faith itself is a gift, people might stop and give you a blank stare. They might say something like, “If faith is a gift, then what do I do for salvation?”
Many people would say that salvation is a gift of God that we do not earn, but that we must develop faith in Christ in order to receive that gift from God. That statement is riddled with contradiction. When we see that faith itself is a part of the packaged gift that we receive from God, we recognize and can boldly claim that “my salvation is not my own doing!”
In Romans 12:3, Paul exhorts the Romans to “not think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” He even says in 1 Timothy 1:13-14 that he was “formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” God’s grace produced faith within Paul to pull him away from his life as a blasphemer and violent aggressor.
If you are a follower of Christ, you love because Christ first loved you! Your faith is not your own doing; it is a gift of God so that no one could boast of their impressive faith. The Holy Spirit has acted in your life before you even knew it and proportioned a measure of faith to your heart so that you could respond to the gospel. Praise God for this incredible work. Praise God that we have been saved by God’s grace, and that indeed, it is not a result of our works!