If you only had one book, you would want Ephesians. If you only had one passage, it would be Ephesians 2:8-10. You have heard people say, “What I am saying is the gospel truth!” Ephesians 2 is the gospel truth. It is a summary of salvation.
Paul begins this chapter explaining that our spiritual battle is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. He says we are “by nature children of wrath,” and without Christ, we are “dead in trespasses and sins.” We all have sinned. That includes the best person you know and the worst person you know. You may think you are better than other people, or not as bad as some, but we are all dead spiritually. Dead is dead.
The world thinks that deep down, we’re not really that bad. We’re basically good people who make mistakes and are just weak. The gospel truth is deep down we are all worse than we know. Jeremiah said the heart is so wicked no man can know it. Sin is more than an action; it is a condition. We’re not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. You cannot appreciate the good news without facing the bad news.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….” You may have heard salvation described something like this: “I was drowning in a sea of sin and Jesus came by in a boat, threw out a lifeline, and saved me.” That sounds good, but it’s just not the gospel. The gospel is that I wasn’t just drowning in a sea of my sin, I was dead, floating face down. Jesus walked on the water, came to me when I could not come to Him, picked me up in His nail scared hands, carried my lifeless dead body back to the shore, and breathed eternal life into my soul! That is the Gospel.
Paul goes on to say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Grace means it was undeserved. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! If grace is no longer amazing to you it is because you have forgotten where you came from. Have you forgotten the sinful life from which you were saved?
I like the biblical term saved. We don’t need better self-esteem, self-image, self-improvement, self-confidence, self-determination, or self-righteousness; we need to be reached, rescued, redeemed, reconciled, and resurrected. We need to be saved! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Faith is more than mental assent or theological agreement. It is more than determination or feelings. Faith is trust that results in transformation. Why would a fearful child jump into the water? Because they trust their dad will catch them. Jesus proved His love for us. He is trustworthy! All world religions are based on human achievement: DO. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” Christianity is based on divine accomplishment: DONE. Jesus paid our debt in full on the cross. We are saved by Jesus’ works and not our own.
Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” You are God’s masterpiece! You are not saved by good works, but saved to do good works. Faith is the root, works are the fruit. What makes you think you are going to heaven? You prayed a prayer, joined the church or were baptized? Many claim to be a Christian but have no proof to prove it, no signs of salvation. Stop being afraid and confused. Get it settled. I don’t care if you are a Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Hindu, or Muslim, there is salvation in no other name but Jesus!