This is the meaning of grace. We cannot obtain a right standing with God because of our works. It must be a free gift. We can only receive it by faith, cherishing it as our great treasure. This is why the Bible says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ suffered and died so that good works would be the effect, not the cause, of our acceptance. Not surprisingly, then, the next sentence says, “For we are . . . created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10). That is we are saved for good works, not by good works.
– John Piper