Thursday, December 29, 2011
- When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage.
- When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize.
- When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award.
- But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award-yet receives such a gift anyway-that is grace. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any many should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
2:8 Paul again reminds his readers (cf. v.5) that they owe their salvation entirely to the undeserved favor of God. "Grace" is the objective, operative, and instrumental cause of salvation. Paul expands v.5 by adding that the medium that apprehends salvation is "faith", which is also its necessary condition. Faith, however, is not something a person can produce; it is simply a trustful response that is self evoked by the Holy Spirit.
Lest faith should be in any way misinterpreted as our contributing in any way to our own salvation, Paul immediately adds a rider to explain that nothing is of our own doing; rather, everything is a "gift God." The entire process of salvation comes from nothing that we have done (cf. Rom 10:17).
2:9 Paul firmly excludes every possibility of self-achieved salvation by adding to his emphasis in v.8, "not of works." The apostle does not specify these "works" as those related to the law, since he is not thinking only of Jewish Christians. Any kind of human self-effort is comprehensively ruled out by this terse expression. The reason is immediately attached: it is to prevent the slightest self-congratulation. If salvation is by sheer unmerited favor of God, boasting is altogether out of place.
2:10 This verse is the outcome of the whole process. It shows what salvation is intended for: to produce the good works that attest its reality. While works play no part at all in securing salvation, Christians will prove their faith by works. Here Paul shows himself at one with James (see Jam 2:14-26).
We are God's "workmanship"-his work of art, his new creation. "Created" is a verb used exclusively of God and denotes the creative energy he exerts. The creation takes place "in Christ Jesus" (cf. vv.6-7). The life of goodness that regeneration produces has been prepared for believers to "do" from all eternity. Here is a further reason why Christians have nothing left to boast about. Even the good they now do has its source in God, who has made it possible.
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].
JESUS IS LORD.