Monday, October 7, 2013

Saved by Grace?

It may be good to address a popular idea about being a Christian. As I have traveled around I have heard many sincere people quote Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This has been quoted to prove that God has done it all for our salvation and there is nothing for us to do. I sincerely believe that this is an error that has been allowed to grow in people’s understanding because they have not taken the time to search the scriptures diligently. And because it sounds very pleasant to hear from “The Bible” that I have nothing to do. When I look at the whole book of Ephesians (It was written as a single letter to an individual assembly of believers) the passage in 2:8-9 is part of a larger statement. As part of that larger statement it is absolutely true and correct. But it is not the whole statement or intention of what is being communicated. In this case I had to read the entire epistle to get the fuller meaning of what is being said and how this passage relates to the whole. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 are a sort of introduction to the message of the letter. In chapter 1, Paul expresses his prayer for the saints (Christians) in Ephesus; that they will realize all that God wants to accomplish in each of their individual lives. In chapter 2 he does speak extensively about the grace of God, and that it has made us alive (vs. 5) so that we will be able to actually accomplish good works (vs. 10). Without God we could do nothing of any eternal value. In chapter 3, Paul goes into some detail to explain that God has made him an apostle, in spite of his own unworthiness, in order to show to those who will see, the amazing scope of all that God desires to accomplish in each individual child of God. Then the meat of the message which has been well prepared by the first 3 chapters is presented in chapters 4,5 and 6. Here we find practical instructions for realizing more and more of the wonderful benefits that are ours as the children of God, because of the redeeming power of Jesus’ cross and the tremendous working of God’s grace in our life.