Some NT Greek scholars debate whether the “gift of God” refers to “grace” or “faith”, but the two are so closely related that the gift cannot really be divided. Without God quickening our hearts to have faith we would not receive his grace. Without his grace we would not have faith or salvation. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
These two verses may be the most recognizable from Ephesians. We are saved through our faith, not by rote or ritual. At the end of days many will say “Lord, Lord!” yet hear our Savior respond, “Depart from me; I knew you not.” Although good can be found in such things as baptisms and confirmations, tithes and offerings, communion and confession, and loving God and neighbor, none of these things save. Any religion with a list of tasks or rituals needed to attain salvation should be met with skepticism to say the least. If there were a magical list of tasks to be completed on an epic life quest then of course those who completed the race would have reason to boast. But it is in through our faith and God’s grace that the righteousness of Christ is conferred upon us.
There is a twofold danger related to this verse. One is of course that there are groups within Christianity as well as quasi-Christian or non-Christian religions which convince people that good works or religious ritual can save. Countless millions in the world worship piously live “moral” lives, and yet all their life work is but wood, hay, and stubble. They fruitlessly pile good work upon good work but never attain the heights of the glory of God. You cannot square such belief with scriptures such as this.
The other danger existing on the other end of the spectrum is to rely on a one time conversion leading to salvation without any fruit in one’s life. If you commit your faith in Christ it must change your life. You must love the Lord your God with your mind as well as your heart. You must daily be transformed into the image of Christ. Sometimes we rely so heavily on the emotion of a initial faith experience that we neglect our responsibility to truly study God’s Word and learn from the spiritual giants who have gone before. We should be growing from spiritual babes into mature Christians – moving from sipping spiritual milk to cutting our teeth on some real meat!
It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible, until at last you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you. - Charles Spurgeon