God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT)
It doesn’t get much plainer than this. Salvation is a gift from God. You can’t take any credit for it – it is based entirely on God’s grace.
It’s not a reward for your good actions, because according to Isaiah, the best you have to offer is as good as filthy rags (see Isaiah 64:6).
You can’t earn it. In fact if you got what you earned, you would be lost because:
… Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23, NLT)
… The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)
Let’s not complicate what God has made simple. You are saved by God’s grace when you believe in Him. It is His gift to you!
But, doesn’t the Bible say a lot about good works? Didn’t Jesus say you will be judged by how you treat other people (see Matthew 25:31-46)?
The answer is yes to both of those questions.
Paul deals with this issue on Ephesians 2 as well. Let’s look at verse 10:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)
Did you catch that? You are God’s masterpiece! When you believe in Him He does a renovation of your life – makes you into a masterpiece. In this makeover, He puts His value system into your life. He helps you to see people from His perspective. He puts His love into your heart.
This enables you to do the good things – the good works – he wants you to do. This is the evidence that God has your heart and is at work in your life. It is the result of your belief in Jesus, the result of the gift of salvation God gives you.
It can be used to judge the direction of your life, because your action will show who you are following. If you believe in Jesus and are following Him, your life will exhibit these actions. If these actions are absent, you should double check your relationship with Jesus.
When Jesus was asked what work needed to be done in order to be saved and find God’s favor, He said:
“This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29, CSB)
Our real work is to believe in and trust Jesus!
And according to Ephesians 2:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NLT)