SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The Ephesians, to whom this letter was addressed, are newborn Christians that had once been dead in trespasses and sins, and, being influenced by Satan, had conducted their lives according to the course of this world (Eph. 2:1-2). They were by nature the children of wrath whose conduct of life was spent fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Vs. 3). Although they were once dead in (their) sins, they were made aware of the love of God, that was extended to them through the teaching of the apostle Paul, and possibly other gospel preachers, and they were quickened (made alive) and shown the exceeding riches of His (God's) grace, in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. This same richness of God's grace is extended to all ages to come - to you and I today, through this same Jesus Christ, the Son of God (See Vss. 4-7).
As did the Ephesians, if, when we hear the gospel message of God, believe it and believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, making this our confession, and if we repent of our past sins, are baptized into His body, the church, then we are, by the grace of God, added to His church, and brought into a state of salvation. And what brought us this far in our spiritual life? It was our faith - our belief and acceptance of God's invitation for eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. This state of salvation is extended to all mankind through the rich mercy of God, and for His great love wherewith He loved us (Vs. 4). As the lesson text states, it is the gift of God.
A gift is something that is bestowed on a person without being earned. It is unmerited - nothing is given in exchange. By working, one earns wages, which results from a written, or unwritten, mutual contract between an employee and an employer. When the employee performs prescribed work, the employer is obligated to pay the wage to which they agreed. This relationship does not exist between God and mankind. The state of salvation is a gift of God's love - a gift that was planned for mankind before being created by Him. There is nothing people of the world can do that obligates God to grant them eternal salvation. Therefore, lest any man should boast, the state of salvation is not of works - it is the gift of God.
Verse five says, by grace ye are saved. In recommending God's plan of salvation to the Ephesians and to us today, Paul did not stop with the message contained in this verse. Salvation does not stop with grace alone. In verses eight and nine of our lesson text, Paul writes for by grace are ye saved, through faith. God's grace extends salvation to His entire creation. Because of His love for His creation, all people of the world have access to His grace. Although God's love and grace brings salvation to all, all people will not be saved. Faith is required: faith in God, His plan of salvation, and His Son, Jesus Christ as the Messiah. It is through Jesus Christ, and only through Jesus Christ, that one has access to this state of salvation. It is true that God's grace saves us, but only through faith.
Again, Paul does not stop here by saying we are saved only by God's grace and our faith. At this point in God's plan of eternal salvation, we only become a Christian; a being created by His workmanship; a being predestined, or planned, before the foundation of the world, that, through faith, could become His adopted children having a hope of salvation through Christ Jesus. By God's grace and our faith we believe God's word, and as His word commands, we repent of our past sins, confess Jesus Christ to be His Son, and our Savior, and finally we are baptized into His body, and become His followers, known as Christians.
Again, Paul adds another step to salvation. To this point our works are not required. However, Paul says that, as Christians, good works are also necessary for salvation. Paul tells us that we are His workmanship, and are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Christians, then, have the responsibility to do good works. Why is this true? Because God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (good works). The evidence of our faith in God, the proof of our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and our Savior, has been confirmed by our obedient baptism into His body, and now we know that our faith must be made known to God through our good works. The grace of God does not result in salvation without our faith. Neither do God's grace and our faith assure salvation apart from our good works. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead (James 2:20)?
Grace, faith, and good works - all are required for salvation! If not, which one can be left out?