Here is my commentary on Ephesians 2:8. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site, www.new-life.org.au
For by grace you have been saved through faith,.and this is not your doing, it is the gift of God.
It is God’s grace that saves us, setting us free from sin and death and lifting us to eternal life in the heavenly realms.
grace is God’s favour extended towards us. The same word in Greek (charis) is the root word for gift (charisma). God’s favour is a gift to us.
God loves His creation, His people, and so He is constantly pouring out his love, his gift to us.
Life itself is a gift from God. He sustains us and the whole of creation right down to the level of atoms. We are held together literally by God. He sustains us with an abundance of every necessity. He knitted us together in our mother’s womb.
Eternal life comes as a gift also. We could not earn this, and we certainly do not deserve it. Every person has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Some people say they just want justice from God. They see God as a judge who must surely punish “sinners” – which they think would be other people. But we have all sinned and we all deserve nothing less than death at God’s justice .
Salvation from the death penalty comes in the form of grace. God gifts us eternal life, not because we deserve it but because he loves us.
This grace of God – never ending, overwhelming in its nature – brings us to salvation. Salvation means to be made whole in body, mind and spirit.
To be saved is to be restored to our right state, the state we were created to live in before sin spoilt things. This is more than a legal status or a legal position of being moved from the” guilty” list to the “ not guilty” list. Salvation is not merely a legal transaction.
When Jesus healed people, the word translated as “ healed” is the same word used for salvation. On different occasions in the gospels, the same words are used for “ your faith has healed you” and for “ your faith has saved you.”
Salvation is a state of wholeness.
Sin leads to death at every part of our being because it separates us from the Father, the source of life. We are born in sin, so from the time we are born we start to die. Our bodies inherit death because sin has mutated our DNA. We are dead spiritually because we were designed for the Holy Spirit to dwell with our spirits. We are dead mentally because without the Holy Spirit to teach us, even the most intelligent person can only reach 50% of their potential.
We are in this state of death right until the time that Jesus comes in and pronounces, “Your faith has saved you.”
We still live in a broken world so that the healing we receive from Christ is partial. Our salvation is also only partial in the sense that we continue to fall short of God’s glory.
What is imperfect in this life will be made perfect in the next life when we are liberated from all the effects of sin and death forever.
Salvation is received by faith. Faith is the ability to reach out and receive God’s gift. A gift is only a gift to the extent it is received and valued by the recipient. Faith recognises the gift and its value. Faith receives salvation offered to us by grace.
A gift only comes into being at the behest of the giver. The giver must decide to make a gift before the recipient can receive it. God’s grace comes first.
Faith, then, is the act of reaching out to receive God’s gift of salvation.
Faith is often misunderstood as believing what is not true along the lines of believing six impossible things before breakfast.
Faith is rather the act of trusting that the giver of life wants to give to us what we could not get for ourselves. Faith is, in part, an assenting, a mental agreement process. But it is more an act of the will than just an intellectual exercise. I believe in my head that planes can fly. When I board a plane, I have to trust that the pilot, along with a whole community of specialist workers, can get me safely to my destination.
So I may know with my head that God is able to save people. I need to know in my heart that God is able and willing to save me. When I trust him for my eternal destiny, I don’t have to rely on good works, right doctrine, or religious practice.
My God has saved me by his work alone.
There is nothing I can add to God’s grace. There is no sense in which I can contribute to salvation. It is not my own doing, it is the gift of God.
If I can earn salvation it is not a gift. If I can substitute another path to salvation than the gift God has given, that is not faith.
Key points in this verse:
- We are saved by grace
- Salvation is God’s gift to us.
- Salvation is more than a promise of eternity.
- Salvation is wholeness of body, mind and spirit.
- There is nothing we can add to what God has given us in Christ.