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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)
In talking about the Doctrine of Election, of God choosing whom He wills, we must address the problem that arises. “Well sure, God can elect a people, but we have to enter into that election, and thus it is our choice.”
Now, I could dissect the argument and talk about how it’s wrong and misunderstands a lot, but I want to primarily demonstrate the fact that this was solely a work of God, and what better than Ephesians 2.
The passage cited above demonstrates that this is solely a work of God. But lets point out the obvious. Paul says, “this is not your own doing.” That is the first thing to look at and notice. It’s not your own doing. Being saved is not your own doing. Grace is not your own doing. Faith is not your own doing. If someone has a problem saying faith is not your own doing, then answer this question: Why would Paul say this is not your own doing? Doesn’t the concept of salvation and grace both carry with them the idea that it’s not something you earn or do? Salvation and grace both demonstrate concepts of something being done to you. You receive it. And they aren’t earned by works or by doing something. So when he says, “this is not your own doing,” then I believe it should be obvious he is saying that faith is not your own doing, along with salvation and God’s grace.
Then Paul says, “it is the gift of God.” When the work “it” is used, he is referring to something beforehand. The question is, what? What comes before that links to the pronoun “it?” Well, the sentence, “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” is where he would be deriving his pronoun. Grace, salvation and faith are closely linked together, and he makes no distinguishing between any of them to indicate which he means, and so it ought to be understood that Paul, when he says “it,” he is saying the whole thing. The grace, the saving, the faith, all of it is the “it” that Paul describes as a gift of God.
To further that point, let me point out that if someone wants to say, “No, the it refers to salvation,” then I would come back and say, “and that salvation came through faith.” What I mean when I say that is this, if the gift is salvation, then that means all of the means of that salvation are a part of the salvation. It wouldn’t be called salvation if God saved you by letting you save yourself because that would be called earning a wage. So, if salvation came through faith, then faith is a part of that salvation. That means, the gift of salvation comes by the gift of faith. They are together. You cannot have faith with no salvation. And you cannot have salvation with no faith. We do not earn salvation by working up a faith within ourselves, salvation is given as a gift, and salvation is given through faith. Thus, the gift primarily is faith, and that faith has been given by the grace of God, which all results in salvation.
We can conclude that Paul says, “it is a gift of God,” we can see that Paul means that all of it is a gift of God. All the concepts are tied together. And we cannot pretend to think that faith is something we work up in ourselves. Why? Because if we worked it up in ourselves then we have room to boast. But Paul specifically addresses that. He says “so that no one may boast.” All that God has done that He wants credit for which demonstrates His glory the most, are things that He shares none of the credit with. So we cannot take credit for faith or for grace or for salvation. We can only take credit for being the object of salvation. We needed saving. We got ourselves into the mess. We brought a mess to the table. That’s all we can boast in, and a mess typically isn’t something we want to boast about.
Faith is a gift of God, and that faith is given by God’s grace and leads us into salvation. Praise God that his grace is unmerited and that he did the work! Truly, His grace is amazing.