Talk with someone who's been following Jesus for a while, and it's likely they'll know Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."
And these two verses ARE worth knowing! These verses communicate great truth about God's grace, the inability of our works to make us right before God, and our response of faith. Earlier this week I was re-reading all of Ephesians chapter 2 (context is important!) and was reminded that - as great as Ephesians 2:8-9 is - when we include the surrounding context these verses are even better than we may originally think.
So why is the truth we discover Ephesians 2:8-9 even better than we think? Let's let the rest of the chapter answer that question:
Ephesians 2 teaches us what we're saved from
In Ephesians 2:1-3, we learn that before we know Jesus, we are "dead in our transgressions" (v. 1). We were slaves to our own cravings, "gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts" (v. 3). We were "by nature deserving of wrath" (v. 3). We were in a helpless state (dead people can't do much for themselves). And even more than that, because of our sin we were deserving of God's wrath. This is strong language. But knowing these desperate conditions we were saved from helps us appreciate Ephesians 2:8-9 even more, and makes the good news so great!
Ephesians 2 expands on what we were saved by
Ephesians 2:8-9 highlights the truth that we're saved "by grace through faith." Which is awesome. But the preceding verses build even more meaning into that (already rich) phrase. Verses 4-5 spotlight God's love and mercy shown to us. Grace. Mercy. Love. Even when we're dead in our transgressions! Truly, God's goodness and grace on display in our salvation in better than we often think - in the words of v. 6, these are "incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2 shows us what we're saved into
I encourage you to take some time and read through all of Ephesians 2 in one sitting. What else do you see there that adds to the richness of this truth that - through Jesus - we can be saved by grace through faith?
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