“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
—Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV)
During my junior year of college, I met the girl who would eventually become my bride. After dating for a year, I went to visit a friend who worked in a jewelry store so that I could look at engagement rings. Before he showed me any rings, he laid a deep, dark black cloth on the counter and then placed the rings on top of it. I assumed he placed the rings on the black cloth to protect them. However, that was not the case.
He placed the rings on the black cloth to show me the brilliance of each diamond. You see, against the darkness of the cloth, you could see the brilliance and the beauty of the rings. It allowed me to have clarity when making the decision to choose my future bride’s engagement ring.
This is not only true for jewelry but also true for the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8–10 is the gospel in a nutshell. To truly understand the beauty and brilliance of the gospel, we must first understand the depth and darkness of our wickedness and sin.
Ephesians 2:8–10 is best viewed through the lens of Ephesians 2:1–7. In verses 1–3, Paul shows us the severity of our wickedness and how we are dead in our sins and deserve the wrath of God.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:1–3).
In verses 4–7, Paul shows us that with Christ we can be made spiritually alive. This is good news!
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7).
It is good news that we can move from death to life, but we need to be careful. We must understand that because of our sinful nature and our longing to be reconciled back to our Creator (Romans 8), we may find ourselves trying to be “good enough.”
Someone once told me, “You will never ever be good enough for God, but that’s OK because Jesus was good enough in your place.” This is exactly the message that Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus.
By Grace Alone
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).
Salvation is a gift from God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way back into God’s favor, and that’s OK. We need to place our faith in the historical fact that Jesus Christ did what He needed to do in our place. He lived the perfect life that we could not live, and he died a death that we could not die. He atoned for our sins by taking our place on the cross. Because of that, salvation is a gift.
For God’s Glory Alone
Paul continues in his letter, “not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:9–10).
God deserves to be glorified because of what He did for us. He reconciled us back to the Father and He deserves to be worshipped. The good works we accomplish are a means to glorify God.
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom. 11:33–36).
Lee Dymond lives in Hoover, Alabama, with his wife, Holly, and his two daughters Caroline and Anna. He currently serves as the Missions Pastor at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover. He formerly served as a State Missionary/Baptist Campus Minister Auburn University at Montgomery.