In this passage Paul is reminding us that salvation is wholly and entirely a work of God.
He emphasizes this even more by adding the phrases:
"And that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."
The source and origin of salvation is not in us; it is wholly and only in God.
As sure as a dead man can do nothing toward making himself alive,
so there is no way the spiritually dead can make any contribution toward obtaining spiritual life.
Self cannot save self.
God does not ask that unwilling self become willing self because it cannot.
God asks nothing from us because there is nothing we can give or do.
Salvation is "not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
God has devised all the means for receiving the gift of salvation.
Everything about us is a gift.
We totally live by what we receive: food, air, the floor beneath our feet, clothes on our backs, etc.
And in most cases something has died to give us life and sustenance.
And Christ has died that we might live.
It is by grace we are saved through faith.
Look at the word, "faith."
There is difficulty in translating the Greek verb, pisteuein.
The English does not have a verb "to faith. "
Much of the meaning is lost as we are forced to translate the Greek verb as "to believe."
The Biblical idea is that of confidence, reliance, and trust.
Faith brings a person empty to God, that he may be filled with the very life of Christ.
"It is not of yourselves."
Faith is not a work.
We must not try to turn it into "works."
Many try to turn their faith into a kind of works.
Some say that by believing on the Lord Jesus, a person saves himself.
That is to turn faith into works because it says that it is our action that saves us.
The Bible says, "Not of yourselves."
If it is my belief that saves me, I have saved myself; but Paul says that it is "not of yourself."
So, I must never speak of my faith in a way that it gives me some grounds for boasting.
Paul says, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
My boasting or my possibility of boasting must be entirely excluded.
So, as we think of faith, we must be careful to view it in this light.
So we are not saved by our belief; we are saved by Christ in whom we believe.
Faith is nothing apart from its object.
What Is Faith?
Faith is more than belief, though it includes that.
Faith is trust. It is the openness of mind, heart, and life to receive what God has to give
and to yield to what He demands.
Faith is the acknowledgment of our inability and the admission of our need of another's ability.
Faith links us to Christ, and is the means by which we receive His merit.
Faith is to believe in Christ our Lord and to commit ourself to Him.
So, to believe in God is to commit ourself to Him.
In John 2:24 it is said that Jesus did not commit Himself to the Jews because He knew all men.
The Greek word, which is translated "commit" is the same Greek word translated "believeth" in John 3:16.
So, John 3:16 might correctly read, "Whosoever commits himself unto Him shall not perish,
but have everlasting life."
So then, faith is not merely to believe things about Jesus:
Jesus gave a clear illustration of what faith in Him means.
He said to Nicodemus, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so,
must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believeth on Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life." (John 3:14-15)
The Israelite in the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-9) showed his faith by looking upon
the serpent of brass that hung upon the pole. In this one act of faith he expressed
an utter helplessness and at the same time acknowledged that God's provision was his only hope.
We must also be reminded that faith differs from mere thinking and believing and knowing,
or even from any other trusting, for faith is, in fact, an obeying.
The grace of God in Christ demands and evokes faith, confidence, and a trust in God,
which is in itself obedience to God.
The one who disobeys cannot believe.
Only he who obeys can believe.
Read Romans 1:5 and see the close connection between faith and obedience.
Faith is God's gift, and it must be a gift received.
The Puritans were accustomed to explaining faith by the word, "recumbency."
Here is what they meant by that term.
You see me leaning upon this pulpit.
I am leaning all my weight upon it.
Even so, lean upon Christ.
Fall flat upon Christ.
Cast yourself upon Him.
Rest completely upon Him.
Commit yourself completely to Him.
That is what is meant when Paul says, "through faith."
That responsibility of faith, of trust, of commitment, of leaning with all our weight is ours.
This faith is essential!
Any who do not have this faith in Christ are lost and condemned to an everlasting eternity
without God and without hope.
He will perish forever and ever.
He must receive by faith the salvation that God has provided in Christ.
He must receive Christ as His personal Saviour if he is to have life everlasting.
Praise His name for:
"Christ has redeemed you from sin;
All of your debt has been paid.
Nothing remains but to enter
Into the peace He has made."
To you who have not received Christ as your Saviour - look away from self and look to Christ.
"Why should you struggle so hard?
All the work has been done.
Tis not your goodness or badness,
Tis only if you will trust His dear Son."
"Jesus is all that you need.
All things are yours in the Lord.
Trust Him to cleanse and keep you;
Trust Him and rest in His Word."
"Come every soul by sin oppressed,
There's mercy with the Lord,
And He will surely give you rest
By trusting in His Word.
Yes, Jesus is the Truth, the Way,
That leads you into rest;
Believe in Him without delay,
And you are fully blest."
"Only trust Him, Only trust Him now,
He will save you, He will save you now."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White