God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close to satisfying God’s requirements for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell… In the bottom line realm of ungrace, some workers deserve more than others; in the realm of grace the word ‘deserve’ does not even apply.
Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?
I’ve always heard that if you work for something you’re more likely to take better care of it and appreciate it more than if it cost you nothing. I’d agree on most things, but not salvation. To fully appreciate salvation you must not work for it. In fact, you can’t work for it. Don’t try.
The thing about grace is it’s counterintuitive-ness. It’s backwards compatibility. It’s out-of-balance one-way love. There’s nothing you can do to earn it, deserve it, or warrant it. It’s God. Top to bottom, front to back, and beginning to end.
2:4 None of this could distract from the extravagant love of God; he continued to love us with the exact same intensity.
2:5 This is how grace rescued us: sin left us dead towards God, like spiritual corpses; yet in that state of deadness and indifference, God co-quickened us together with Christ. Sin proved how dead we were (the law confirmed it!) Grace reveals how alive we now are (the gospel announces it!) Before anyone but God believed it, he made us alive together with him and raised us up together with him. (We had no contribution to our salvation! God’s master-plan unfolded in the mystery of the gospel declaring our joint inclusion in Christ’s death and resurrection; God found us in Christ before he lost us in Adam! [Eph 1:4] In the economy of God, when Jesus died we died. God saw us in Christ, in his death and resurrection before we saw ourselves there! He declared our co-resurrection with Christ 800 BC [Hos 6:2]!)
2:6 (As much as we were co-included in his death,) we are co-included in his resurrection. We are also elevated in his ascension to be equally present in the throne room of the heavenly realm where we are co-seated with him in his executive authority. We are fully represented in Christ Jesus. (Our joint position in Christ defines us; this can never again be a distant goal to reach through religious devotion or striving, but our immediate reference. Col 3:1-3)
2:7 (In a single triumphant act of righteousness God saved us from the “guttermost” to the uttermost. Here we are now, revealed in Christ in the highest possible position of bliss! If man’s sad history could not distract from the extravagant love of God,) imagine how God is now able for timeless perpetuity (the eternal future) to exhibit the trophy of the wealth of his grace demonstrated in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. Grace exhibits excessive evidence of the success of the cross.
2:8 Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects his faith! (By grace you are! Saved by the gift of faith; grace reveals who we are and the faith of God persuades us of it! You did not invent faith; it was God’s faith to begin with! It is from faith to faith, [Rom 1:17] He is both the source and conclusion of faith. [Heb 12:2])
2:9 If this could be accomplished through any action of yours then there would be ground for boasting.
2:10 We are engineered by his design; he molded and manufactured us in Christ. We are his workmanship, his poetry. (God finds inspired expression of Christ in us. The Greek word for workmanship is poeima.) We are fully fit to do good, equipped to give attractive evidence of his likeness in us in everything we do.
Ephesians 2:4-10 MIRROR