“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)
Not of works! Not for the good things that we have done! It is all because of the richness and inexhaustible mercy of God brought by His great love for you and me that gave us access to salvation, an eternal life IN and WITH Him and a life that is in abundance, to the full till it overflows all because Jesus came. He opened a way for us to have, to explore and to experience a heaven on earth life. It is a “too-good-to-be-true” life that tilts our minds for our human pride always wants to creep in and take the credit for us having a good life.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor. If we did anything to earn it or deserve it, then it disqualifies it to be called grace. If God owes it to us because we are good natured people or we’ve tried to do the best we can, then it is not grace. Grace is simply us receiving His goodness, His good plans, His faithfulness ALL BECAUSE HE IS GOOD and He demonstrated His GOODNESS and His GREAT love for us by giving us Jesus, His only Begotten Son, and rescued you and I from His wrath caused by our unrighteousness.
Think with me on this, that if we are not under God’s wrath, then Jesus didn’t need to go to the cross and we don’t need to be saved. If salvation was not of utmost necessity, then it will be cruelty for God to send Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty that we deserve because of our sin. But there is NO OTHER WAY! Jesus IS THE WAY, the ONLY WAY to be saved.
I love how this passage powerfully demonstrated unmerited favor, exclusively saved BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH.
(Luke 23:39-43 NLT) “One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We DESERVE TO DIE for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”
See how the “other” criminal got his salvation? He didn’t do anything good. In fact, he deserved to die for the crime he committed and acknowledged it himself. BUT he came to realize something different. I believe it was caused by what he has been hearing about Jesus all along that brought FAITH in his heart. I believe it was his FAITH declaration when he said. “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”
In that very moment, he collided with the GRACE of God when his humble heart conceded that he needed a Savior. It didn’t take long. In a moment, he was welcomed into His kingdom with such instancy. Jesus said, “TODAY!” He didn’t say, “well let me see if you can do this or that to prove to Me that you’re worthy to be with me in paradise.” No! Read it again with me. Jesus said, I ASSURE YOU, TODAY you will be with Me in paradise.”
We only come to personally explore and experience the love of God when we believe and allow Him to. It is a kind of love never that gives up and never runs out. His love never fails. In His love, rejection is no longer a possibility. On the contrary, He promised to be ALWAYS with us.
“And BE SURE of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT