Let’s not turn faith into a work but glory in the grace of God. Let us delight in the fact that it is all grounded in him, his sovereign choice, his willingness to submit to death on our behalf so that we – with no grounds for boasting in us as a result – might be saved. Making faith a work robs God of glory that should rightly and only belong to him.
It is straightforwardly true, according to scripture, that we have been saved by grace. Faith is the product of God’s grace towards us. Faith is the only mechanism God could use to save us by grace because it is the only means that doesn’t require any outward activity whatsoever. It seems obvious enough that faith cannot be a work.
Yet, that is precisely what some of us want to make it. We want to believe that we welled up within ourselves the ability to put our own faith, of our own volition, in Christ. The moment we believe this, we have made our faith a work. Let’s just look at Ephesians 2:1-10 to see how it is so.
you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.[a] 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,[b] 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Paul is at pains to point out our deadness in trespasses and sins. As has often been pointed out, dead people don’t will anything. They don’t do anything and they don’t believe anything. They are dead. Paul, in the first three verses, impresses upon us our deadness that was evidenced by disobedience. However, v4 marks a turning point. He notes that God takes the initiative and makes us alive with Christ ‘even though we were dead in trespasses.’ Our deadness meant God had to take the initiative. It is this, Paul says in v5, means ‘you are saved by grace’.
Paul picks up this idea again in v8.