Universally this is one of the better known passages in the entire Bible. Probably as many people have heard these words or could recite them as any other passage in the Bible. And yet the subject matter that most ascribe to these words is somewhat different than that which the writer had in mind. Most look at these verses as a beautiful passage on Grace ...and that it is. Some look on them as an all encompassing passage on how to be saved... and that it is not. Paul had, I think, two purposes in mind... He wanted to show the greatness of God’s grace and mercy. And he wanted to strike a telling blow at man’s fierce pride.
This text is directed at the root of most of man’s troubles. ..His own pride. It was through pride that the angels of heaven fell away from God and were cast out of glory. 1 Timothy 3:6 Satan himself was lifted up with pride. This attacks man’s pride where he feels the strongest... his own works. How natural that man should boast of his works....he can out swim the fish, out fly the birds, out run the fleetest antelope. Through his inventions he has unlocked the secrets of the atom, removed mountains, changed the course of rivers, sent submarines around the world non-stop, beneath the surface o the rolling seas. All of these have inflated man with an overwhelming sense of importance and pride. And from the very beginning God has sought to control man’s pride. God took control of the building of the tower of Babel, bringing the work to an abrupt halt. Titus 3:5 says, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20
But in the area of salvation it is not by works. .. Now by saying it is not by works does not mean that salvation is unconditional. God has always extended his blessings to the obedient. Even this passage shows that grace is not unconditional... we are saved by Grace through faith... without faith grace is not extended. Without obedience there could be no faith. James 2:18 ”But someone will say, ‘you have faith, and I have works.‘ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Man hasn’t earned salvation... the privilege to sit in God’s kingdom... to be in His family. God doesn’t owe me salvation. It is not of myself... It is God’s gift... conditional. Not something that I can boast of meriting. John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Luke 13:3 “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” And then Mark 16:16 “He who believers and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” So there are conditions to accepting the Grace that God offers