I once was asked where to find a specific phrase in scripture. “I want to use that text in my sermon next week, but I can’t remember where to find it,” he said. “It’s something about being saved by grace.”
Now, I’m not that good at remembering book, chapter and verse. I can usually recognize if we are talking about a Gospel lesson, something Paul might have said, or things like that. This question, though, happened to be about my favorite Bible verse.
“Let’s see: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.’ Is that the one you mean?”
“Yes! That’s the one! Where is that?”
“Ephesians 2:8, but you can’t use it without also mentioning verses 9 and 10.”
My colleague stared at me as if I had two heads. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I probably couldn’t do that again on any other verse so I just smiled and walked away, letting him think I’m smarter than I am.
I came across Ephesians 2 during a Bible study in my teenage years, and this one verse stuck with me from that point until now. God’s grace saves you from death – and that’s only because you believe. The message is so simple that even my teen brain grasped the enormity of meaning, but I also recognized that there’s more. “Not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” My actions have nothing to do with anything. I get to live forever because of what GOD does – not what I do. MY job is to believe God loves me and then respond to that love. I am what God has made me. I am created in Christ Jesus for good works. God worked in advance for this to be my way of life! What am amazing gift!
By grace (God’s love)
you have been saved (from death)
through faith (because I believe),
and this not is your own doing (none of it),
it is the gift of God (just for me!) –
not the result of works (nothing I’ve done)
so that no one may boast (pride isn’t acceptable here).
For we are (all of us)
what he has made us (made in God’s image),
created in Christ Jesus for good works (there’s the response part!),
which God prepared beforehand (God at work before I was even born)
to be our way of life (my path is clear!).
Every time I read that I am reminded that God’s love is the beginning of everything. Yup, it’s my favorite for a good reason.