The word itself sends shudders down the spines of many religious people. They recognize a tendency in many believers to find the hope of salvation in their own efforts to be righteous, and they recoil.
And rightly so.
Some Christians—following the tradition of the ancient Pharisees—trust too much in their own ability to keep the Bible’s commands, even equating their own traditions with God’s law.
Paul fought against this perspective throughout his ministry. Listen carefully to him in Ephesians 2 as he explains how God saves:
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. 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 (Ephesians 2:4-9).
Notice especially verse 8, where Paul says salvation comes by grace.
Grace is God’s giving us something that we don’t, and can’t, deserve. It’s unmerited and unearned.
In case we didn’t hear him the first time, Paul repeats it: “And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Have you ever felt a little proud of your faithfulness? (Most of us have)
Ever wondered if you’ve done enough to be saved? (You haven’t)
We really need to grasp this point: we’re saved because of what Jesus did on the cross.
Does this mean that God doesn’t care about what we do? Of course not.
But it’s important that we run away from any kind of perspective that brings us confidence in what we’vedone. Our confidence, our hope, our trust, should begin and end at a little hill outside of Jerusalem.
That’s where we’re saved. It’s God’s doing, not ours.