World English Bible translation
2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved), 2:6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 2:8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 2:9 not of works, that no one would boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
Though we were dead in sin, God made us alive in Christ. We were once alienated from God. Now, we have gained a new life. This is a sign and revelation of the grace of God. And, we are not stepchildren barely tolerated by a stern parent. We have been raised up and seated at a place of honor in the heavenly places. Those who were exiles and rebels will be given the seat of state. Through the ages to come, when God wishes to reveal His grace to His creation, He will point to us as the supreme examples of His mercy and love. He loved His creation this much. His mercy is this vast.
Verses 8 and 9 are two of the most famous verses in the New Testament. It is right that they should be well known. These verses are a banner of freedom to those in Christ. Here are words worth believing and living out. Here is the gospel that Christ revealed and Paul preached condensed to it most delicate form.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast." God's grace, His love and His mercy toward those who have not deserved it, is the medium that provokes our salvation. There is nothing that we need to accomplish to earn it. There is nothing that we need to "do". There are no magic words to evoke.
This grace that saves is available to all men through all time. It is a gift from God to His creation. It is offered freely by God without strings and without reservation. Through Christ, God has eliminated every barrier that had stood between Himself and man. All are equal in the eyes of God's grace and God's gift. It is offered to the children of the holiest of saints and to the vilest criminal who will ever live. Without this grace, from the highest to the lowest, we would be irredeemably lost. With this gift, we inherit all of creation. It is the difference between life and death, freedom and judgment.
If the gift is for all, why are some saved and some lost? "For by grace you have been saved through faith…" The gift is offered. Some will accept and be saved. Others will not trust or believe the grace of God. Some will reject Him outright and be lost in their rebellion like a drowning man who would refuse to enter the lifeboat. Others will believe that they can swim to shore unaided and gain salvation through their strength of will. They will not trust grace and would rely on their own works and merit. These poor souls will also be lost. Only those who accept the free gift, who quit swimming and climb in God's lifeboat, will be saved.
"For we are his workmanship…" We are the culmination of creation. The church is the reason the world was made and is sustained. And, having already been saved, God has prepared good works for us to accomplish. We are now God's children. He has work for us to do. His work. He will give us the strength and understanding to accomplish His work. These too will be prepared and accomplished by Him so that none of the credit or glory will go to us.
We were once dead. Now, by grace, we have been raised with Christ. Now, we are members of His body. Christ, through His body, has work yet to accomplish. And, through His body, He will accomplish His Father's will.
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