For by grace you have been saved, and that not by your own actions or efforts; but completely by the gifts from God which are the faith which He gives us and by His grace that we are made to walk in. This is possibly the most powerful concept a Christian can understand in their walk with Christ. God’s grace is where we can find the faith He gives us to receive the forgiveness He provided for us because of the result of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross. Where are your efforts in any of this other than to believe in Jesus and confess Him as your Lord and Savior?
Ephesians 2:8-10, 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In the first few verses of Ephesians, Apostle Paul establishes that our salvation is through the grace of God’s love. He now establishes the catalyst necessary to receive that grace, faith. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). In Romans 12:3 we find that it is God that has dealt a measure of faith to each of us and we know by the teaching of Jesus that very little faith is needed to move mountains. (Matthew 17:20 I “say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you”. Jesus is referring to the mountains in our lives that keep us from moving in a Godly direction, but the fact that very little faith is needed is the most important point. According to Ephesians 2:8 faith is also given to us by God and God only gives perfect gifts, (James 1:17) therefore our faith is perfect. All of the faith we need is given to us according to Ephesians 1:3 where “God has given us ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places”. (Emphasis on all, mine) See the commentary on Ephesians 1:3. I believe one of the reasons Christianity today is losing ground, at least here in the US, is due largely to the miss-understanding of faith works versus man’s works. The contrast between the two is clearly seen in verses 8 & 9. (it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them). We seem to be following the same path of the Pharisees in all of our doctrinal rules and precepts for membership. Those that call themselves non-Denominational are, more often than not, a denomination unto themselves with their own list of do’s and don’ts and “works” for the kingdom. This next statement often makes people mad, but I believe that the United States has never been more segregated in history than it is right now on Sunday mornings. God, who knows what is best for us, through the bloodshed by Jesus Christ, brought all people together as one body in Christ, but man in his “infinite wisdom” has never worked so hard to separate the body of Christ as Americans do today.
Our salvation does not depend on what we wear, how we fix our hair, when we go to church, how many people we evangelize, how often we pray, or who we pray with. We are not closer to God because of how our denomination chooses to sing praises. We do not remain saved by attending every church function listed in the bulletin. Sacrificing your time from your family, your work, or even your rest, just to go up to the church because the doors are open for the next function will not get you saved, keep you saved, nor make you a better Christian. It will make you tired, you risk becoming burned out, you may be neglecting someone in your family or your family as a whole. Many Christians develop a disbelief in God when they do all these “works” and still do not see their prayers answered nor their lives any better for it. Sad thing of all is I can show people the single verses, that when taken out of context from the text and vane of thought in the word, which could justify every one of the “works” I just listed. Here lies the problem; we do not fully understand that God wants to communicate with us on a personal basis. (“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works”) As we begin to understand this gift and open it with expectation of joy, like we do at Christmas or a birthday, we will find ourselves becoming more peaceful. As we draw closer to God in our understanding, we will find that the sins that so easily ensnared us do not cause us to stumble as often, and often stop the sin altogether. We will choose to go to some of the church functions to fellowship with like-minded believers, but will tend to our families first, knowing that in doing so we will be a living witness to a loved one that does not believe. We will sing praise to God from our heart, not because we like the music, but because we recognize what He truly has done for us. When we do share our faith with another person it is because we recognize this precious gift and do not want anyone we know personally to miss out on receiving it for themselves. Once we truly recognize the depth of this precious gift of salvation, we will begin to see it in our fellow Christian even if they choose to worship at a different church or have a different color of skin. We will recognize when a religious doctrine does not line up with the complete word of God and begin to pray for those seekers that attend that church, for their eyes to be opened and not put them down as a whole. It is God’s will that no man should parish, but that all should come to the fullness and understanding of Him. (Ephesians 4:13-16)
So what are the works prepared for us in Christ as written in Ephesians 2:9? That we should love one another and in doing so, preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and be Jesus to those around us who do not know Him. (Matthew 10:8, Luke 4:18, 9:2 & 10:9, Romans 1:5, 10:15, 15:20, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 9:14,16,18, Revelations 14:6) This is our works to do here on earth, and we can do this with our actions even better than we can our words, but especially if our words and actions are the same and are in line with the full word of God.
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