For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I remember learning this verse when I was a kid. It's a great verse and I've heard it over and over again- my whole life it seems. Sometimes when we hear a verse over and over again we fail to listen to it. Does that ever happen to you?
There's a teen girls after school Bible study I get to be part of now. These girls, many newer in their faith, expressed this exact struggle. "It seems too easy- there's got to be more to it than just accepting Christ as your savior." "If I keep struggling with the same sin my whole life wont that mean I'm going to Hell." This struggle is one every single person on the face of the planet deals with. It's why in my studies of other religions the one thing separating Christianity from any other is that salvation is not based on me. Salvation is not based on how good I am- or how many good things I do- or how moral of a person I might be. Salvation is a gift. That's all there is too it. It's so "simple and easy" that most people reject it.
Yet it's not simple or easy at all is it?
We Christians call it a free gift- but is it really?
God created us in His image- created us to be in relationship with Him.
Sin interrupts that and our sin separates us from God. Since the garden of Eden God has been working out a plan of salvation- demonstrating to us His love over and over and over again. Wooing us, correcting us, picking us up when we fall and holding us when we hurt. His love is active and strong and vibrant. It is selfless, pure, and prefect. Never forsaking us- never leaving us- always forgiving us.
There is no love like that on earth. Marriage is supposed to be one of the closest pictures of God's love to us. Marriage will only survive and last and thrive when 2 people are constantly diligent about dying to self and serving the other. So many people think of marriage as a "ball and chain." They don't want to be committed- they want their freedom. What they fail to realize is that true love casts out fear. True love- real love- God's love creates immense freedom. Freedom from bondage to sin. Freedom to live a life full of hope and joy and love.
We see on the cross the depth of God's love for us. God's love for us cost Christ everything. He gave it all. It wasn't easy for him- he pleaded with God in the garden of Gethsemane that if there were any other way to let the cup pass from him. Yet he went. Willingly He died in my place. It was my sin that hung him to that cross. My fault he was there.
When we understand the cost of that gift we are given with salvation we begin to glimpse how great and wide and deep God's love is for us.
I love the fact that this verse in Ephesians doesn't stop with the gift. It continues to tell us the why. Why is this gift all from God? So that I can't steal His glory. He did it all- He paid the entire price.
When I understand that- I am overwhelmed by His love for me. His love that is poured out on me not based on what I do- but who I am. I am His workmanship. The same God that spoke a word and put it into being- the same God who paints the sky at sunset with immense beauty- the same God who intricately designed and planned the human body from conception- that same Creator is creating something in me. He is forming me, molding me, shaping me into HIS CREATION. His Masterpiece. He's not holding anything back.
John Phillips says, "Good works are part of God's plan. They are not the price of salvation, but the proof. The believer is not saved as a result of good works; good works are the result of salvation. They are the result of God's working in the believer's heart. They are the evidence that he is alive from the dead. They are the proof of the glorious togetherness that exists between the believer and the Savior."
What love- what grace- what beauty is God's love. Undeserved.
That's why I desire to serve Him with everything that I am. Because- He gives everything for me. I desire to walk with Him all the days of my life.