All of Grace
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing…” (Ephesians 2:8)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 2:8-9
The theme of grace, re-introduced in connection with our being raised with Christ (Ephesians 2:5), is developed in the verses before us. Indeed, here we have what is generally recognised as one of the clearest and strongest claims that salvation from sin and death is entirely a gracious act of God.
Paul has said that the “immeasurable riches” of God’s grace will be revealed in the future (v. 7). He then adds by way of explanation, “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” (vs. 8-9).
The earlier verses in the chapter have made clear that salvation is by grace. We have seen that while we were still dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ (v. 5). There is no hint of auto-salvation in this – indeed, the use of death-to-life language points in exactly the opposite direction. Dead people cannot resuscitate themselves!
So the idea of being saved by grace is not new when we meet it in v.8. What is new is the added thought that we are saved by grace “through faith”. Again, this is a common element in Paul’s gospel (see Romans 1:16-17 for example). It invariably refers to God bestowing the gift of forgiveness and regarding us as righteous as we come to embrace his Son as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Paul follows this thought here by adding, “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works…” There are different opinions on how these words connect with what has gone immediately before. Some see Paul essentially repeating himself, saying that salvation is not of ourselves but is the gift of God. Others – myself included – understand him to refer particularly to “faith”. The faith through which we are saved is a gift of God so that there is nothing in our salvation that can be attributed to us and in which we can boast.
The New Testament makes it clear that saving faith is the gift of God. Jesus himself said, “No one can come to me except the Father who sent me draws him… It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me…” (John 6:44-45). The church has confessed through the centuries that it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to open blind eyes, create new affections, and redirect rebellious wills. The faith that saves is indeed a gift of God.
As mentioned, all of this is “so that no one may boast”. When the full light of glory breaks upon us, we will see more clearly that salvation is all of grace. Everything – even the faith through which we are saved – is the undeserved gift of God.
- Can you see how even the faith you have in Christ is God’s gift?
- Do you delight to give God the glory for your salvation and tell others that?
– Andrew Young