Editor’s note: This column originally ran July 13, 2017.

 In Ephesians 2:8-9 the Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” 

This is one of many verses that says salvation is not a work that we accomplish, but it is a work of grace (God’s unmerited favor), given through faith (in God’s promise of salvation and his work on the cross), not because of anything we have done (church membership, baptism, other good works), but rather it is given by God as a gift. 

Why? So God gets all the glory and we have nothing to be prideful about.

What is faith? Faith is simply believing God and obeying his revealed will. The Bible tells us that God’s will is for all to receive forgiveness of their sins, to live for eternity in heaven with him and not to go to hell. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). 

Because it is his will that we not perish in hell, God sent his son, Jesus, to take our penalty for our sins on the cross. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

But, as we saw in Ephesians 2, it is a gift. A gift is an item that is freely given and freely received. If you offer a gift to someone and they say, “No, thanks. I don’t need it,” then they never received the gift though it was offered. 

John 3:16 tells us that the gift of eternal life is given to “whosoever believeth in him.” This means in his atonement for our sins and his way of receiving that atonement. Too many say, “No, thanks. I’ll make it my own way.” 

In John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” It is either faith in Jesus and his atonement on the cross that one finds forgiveness or that one will “come up short” on the day of judgment. 

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Have you put your faith in Jesus and his finished work on Calvary or is your faith in your goodness? Saving faith is found only in Jesus and his way.

The Rev. Michael E. Thornsley is pastor of Old Paths Independent Baptist Church in Howard.

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