One of the most important passages of the Bible is Ephesians 2:1-10.

The apostle Paul is describing what all Christians were before they became Christians and what God did to make them his own children.

Verse 1 tells us our greatest problem. We were not just flawed. We were dead. We had no spiritual life at all. What was it like, Paul?

We spent our lives in trespasses and sins. In our own different ways we followed right along with the rest of the world. But we were following a still greater, more ominous power, described here as the prince of the power of the air. Paul calls Satan the spirit that is now at work in those who are sons of disobedience.

Paul goes on to tell us we were living in our fleshly passions, carrying out the desires of the body and mind because we were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. We were in this wretched condition, and we didn’t realize it.

So, there we were, dead, without God and without hope, drifting through life, and there we would remain unless God showed us mercy. That is exactly what he did.

We find two of the most precious words in all the Bible in verse 4: “But God ...”

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us (See Ephesians 1:3-9), even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ,” (Paul then inserts the words “by grace you have been saved.” He will come back to this thought again in verse 8) “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 Jesus Christ.”

It is vital to understand what Paul writes next in verses 8-10.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith ...” Notice the cause of our salvation is God’s grace. The way we receive salvation is through faith in Christ alone but we are saved by God’s grace alone.

This is often misunderstood and mistaught, so Paul clarifies what he means. “And this is not your own doing; it (faith) is the gift of God, not a result of works ...” Why not of our works? “So that no one may boast.”

If our works had any merit at all we would be able to boast that our salvation depended at least partly on what we had done.

Christian, our works had nothing to do with our becoming Christians.

Paul goes on in verse 10 to reinforce this by saying, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” God is the worker and creator, and he saves us not by good works but for good works. The prepositions are important.

God saves us by his grace alone apart from our own works, but he saves us so that we can actually do works that are good in his sight.

Paul finishes this section by saying something about those good works. God prepared them beforehand. He has determined what good works are and that we are to walk in them.

This contrasts with verse 2 where Paul said we were dead, walking in trespasses and sins. God made us alive so that we could walk in his ways.

Christian, if you want to understand more about your salvation, study Ephesians 2:1-10 over and over. If you are still trusting in your good works, please understand that you will never come to know Christ by your own works. Examine closely verses 8 and 9. Many who have believed their own works could save them have come to true faith in Christ through these two verses.

It is the work of Jesus Christ alone that can save us.

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Charles Fitzpatrick is the pastor of Reibers Reformed Baptist Church near Shermans Dale.