“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 2:8-9 ESV).
We are saved by God’s grace alone. But how do we receive that?
Somehow, we always seem to try to put ourselves back in control of God’s work. “I’ve got to do something, don’t I?”
Even here, we see the grace of God. He only asks that we receive His gift by faith. “Believe,” He says. “Let me give you this free gift.
Even faith itself is a gift of God, created by the Holy Spirit. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). We were dead in our trespasses and sins, but God has made us alive in Christ. God provides all that is needed when He makes us His children. He creates this new life in us.
This faith clings to Jesus alone as Savior. Luther said that faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. It trusts God, and sees that all good things come from Him.
Though faith in Christ is a gift of God, that does not mean that the Christian never responds. Once faith is kindled, it moves into action. It does not try to earn God’s favor. Rather, it joyfully and freely responds to the gifts it has received. So Luther also said that “faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing.” It seeks opportunities to bless others as we have been blessed.
We are not saved by our works, but by faith alone. And that is how Christians are called to live: confidently trusting God, and boldly serving our neighbor.