“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
Praise God for His amazing gift!
… but what is it?
For many people this verse remains wrapped up, unopened, and misunderstood as a result of misidentifying the gift of God.
The Gift of Faith?
The most popular mistake is identifying God’s gift as faith itself. After all, the gift of God is not of works, and no man can boast of it.
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” – Romans 3:27
The mistake begins by thinking that faith is a work. If faith is a work we can boast to save ourselves, so, they reason, faith must be a gift of God that it be “not of yourselves”.
From this perspective, the opposite of working for salvation and self boasting, is God’s gift of faith.
The Opposite of Faith
However, the opposite of faith is not works. The opposite of faith is doubt.
Though the doctrine in Mark is not for the church’s participation today, the Lord defines the believer as one that does not doubt.
“…that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass;…” – Mark 11:23
Belief and faith are the opposite of doubt. How do we know whether to doubt or believe?
Trust God and listen to His words rightly divided, which tell you the truth of the gospel.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17
The Opposite of Works
“…not by works, lest any man should boast.” – Eph 2:9
The opposite of works is not faith; it is grace. Grace is someone doing for you. Working is you doing for yourself. The opposite of working for something is being given something.
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” – Romans 11:6
Is grace the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8? This seems more likely, especially since grace is described in the same epistle as being given from God (Eph 3:7; Eph 4:7).
The Gift of God
So, what is the gift? Paul speaks of it many times. Salvation is the gift of God: justification, sanctification, glory, and eternal life.
That salvation which has been revealed to the apostle Paul to be by grace through faith freely unto all. Paul describes the this gift of salvation in Romans.
“…and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…” – Romans 5:15
“…much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:17
“…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.“ – Romans 6:23
Saved By Grace Through Faith
Grace is the means God used to accomplish salvation; faith is the means through which God gives salvation. Faith is not a work, it comes by hearing the gospel of your salvation (Eph 1:13).
Salvation is not of yourselves, it is of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one that saves.
Salvation is not of works, it is by grace. The Lord Jesus Christ graciously did all the work necessary for your salvation, and offers it to you.
You cannot boast in your salvation, since you didn’t achieve it, work for it, or deserve it. You merely received it and that through faith in Him who died for you (Rom 3:25-26).
How do you know if you have received the gift of God? If the gift is faith, there is no way of knowing if it was from God or a self-deception. If the gift is salvation, you know by faith in the gospel of the grace of God.
When people make the gift faith, works become necessary to identify those with the gift (James 2:18). When people know the gift is salvation, you are identified only by faith in the finished work of Christ.
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” – 2 Cor 9:5