The Greatest Gift of God
God gives his children many gifts. He gives us physical gifts like athleticism or speaking abilities. He gives all of his children some sort of spiritual gift. But, for all of his children he grants his greatest gift…salvation. This is seen in Ephesians 2:8-9. I am going to breifly unpack this text and make application from it. I pray that it is edifying and encouraging to you.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9, ESV)
This one verse could be the single best way to describe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s start with the first sentence in this verse.
Every Christian I know believes that grace and faith are necessary for salvation. This verse gives us that exact phrase. But there is more here than most Christians would like to admit.
A lot of people I hear addressing this text try to show synergy between what God does and what man does in salvation. They will say that grace is given to all people and they are free to have faith to be saved. But, this is a wrong perspective on this text because of the greek word “houtos”.
The word “this”(Greek “houtos”) is in the neuter form (ESV: English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament). This has significant meaning to the passage. The use of the neuter form refers back to the immediate preceding phrase to link the former and later phrases together. This is used many times in the New Testament but let’s look at one example from Ephesians 6:1:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
The word “this” wraps up the preceding phrase. This sentence could be easily be stated “it is right for children to obey their parents in the Lord.” I would think that everyone would read this passage to mean what I stated.
But, for some strange reason when it comes to Eph. 2:8-9 people want to assert that the word “this” only refers to grace instead of faith. This is not the case. “And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God” refers back to the entire phrase that came before it, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
If I use the same restructuring for Ephesians 2:8 as I did for Ephesians 6:1 it would read like this:
“The grace and faith that saved you has been given to you as a gift from God and not of yourselves.”
Grace and faith are both gifts given by God to his specific people. Otherwise Eph. 2:9 wouldn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t this make sense?
It wouldn’t make sense because the majority of people who claim that men have free will say that God gives grace to everybody but it is their responsibility to believe. So, what is the difference between the person that doesn’t believe and the person who does believe? The only difference is something within the person. One person was smarter or more spiritual and so he/she believed. That would give grounds for boasting because the only difference between the people in heaven and the people in hell is themselves. But this turns Eph 2:9 on its head. Let me restate what it says:
“not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
No one can boast because salvation is a gift from God and from God alone.
So, what is the application?
We, as believers, have absolutely no grounds to act like we are better than the non-believer. The only difference is that God granted us salvation by grace through faith. So, when you interact with a non-believer please remember that you do not need to convince them that God is real but rather you are to be the tool God uses to show them truth.
And that truth is the greatest gift of God…salvation by grace through faith.