Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Gift of God

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

Ephesians 2:8 can be read either of two ways: The gift of God is faith, or the gift of God is salvation. While Greek scholars continue to debate the question, theologically it does not matter because faith is part of salvation. It is God who gives faith, so that faith itself is a gift of God. It is God who gives salvation, and faith is part of the total package of salvation, so that it is God who gives faith. Either way, none of us would ever exercise faith toward God unless God causes us to.

Verses 9 and 10 discuss good works. There are two errors that circulate within Christianity on the relationship of faith and good works. The first is the Roman Catholic teaching that we are saved by faith plus good works. The second is that we are saved by faith and that good works don’t matter.

There is a seriously bad teaching floating around some evangelical Christian circles that says a person will be saved if he makes a decision for Christ, even if he lives like hell for the rest of his life. This error teaches that a person can have Christ as Savior while rejecting Him as Lord. Those who teach this doctrine say that historic Protestantism is legalistic because historic Christianity teaches “Lordship salvation.”

This “easy believism” error is a deadly trap. First of all, the notion that someone can have Christ as Savior without having Him as Lord is ridiculous. It divides Christ in two. He who is Savior is Lord. You either have Christ or you don’t. Anyone who has met the true Jesus, and not some counterfeit, knows full well that He is Lord. Anyone who has met and embraces the true Jesus knows something of the “fear of the Lord.” And anyone who has met the true Jesus recognizes His lordship over their lives and desires to serve and obey Him.

In other words, salvation is by faith alone, but true faith is never found alone. True faith is always expressed in good works. Any kind of “faith” that does not issue in a life of obedience is false faith. As James wrote, even the demons have that kind of faith (James 2:18–19). Thus, Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 that those who are saved by faith will do good works.

According to Ephesians 2:10, God has prepared a productive life for us. Your life may not seem very productive, but your works do count in God’s plan of history. In your prayers today, rededicate your work to Him, and ask Him to give you insights into how your labors fit into His great plan.