God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. - Ephesians 2:8-9
The Titanic, the largest and the most luxurious ship of its time, was a shipbuilder’s delight. Because the ship featured a double hull that included sixteen watertight compartments, the Titanic’s builder boasted that the ship was unsinkable, that “not even God could sink this ship.” But at midnight on April 14, 1912, the great ship, with 2,224 souls aboard, ploughed into a huge iceberg at twenty-two knots, and two and a half hours later lay at the bottom of the Atlantic. The unthinkable had happened—the unsinkable had sunk. The builders of the Titanic had good reason to be proud of their workmanship—but no grounds for their boasting. Majestic though the Titanic undoubtedly was, God was more than her match.
So it is with mankind. There is an undeniable majesty about man, the pinnacle of God’s creation—a uniqueness that is undeniable. Nothing else in creation comes close. Man knows it, there’s no point in denying it, and it is perfectly appropriate for mankind to rejoice in it. But when man boasts of abilities that he does not possess, he gets into trouble. Like the Titanic, man is far from unsinkable.
It is precisely when man comes up against God that he discovers the awesome grandeur of divine law and the majestic glory of divine standards. It is then that he begins to take on water and sink under the weight of divine indignation and the burden of human failure. No amount of effort on man’s part can bail him out. He may boast of his superiority, claim invincibility, and believe in his own sufficiency, but he will sink nevertheless. He can’t sail on as he should, and he can’t save himself either.
This is where God’s grace comes in. God is willing to do for man what he cannot do for himself. Salvation will not happen for man because of his efforts but because of God’s intervention. Paul explained, “God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. . . . so none of us can boast about it” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Perhaps it is hardest for a man to admit that he needs saving at all, and that, if he does need saving, he can’t save himself. Proud boasts drip too easily from a man’s lips when a call for help is more appropriate.
Another ship, the California, was within twenty miles of the distressed Titanic, but her radio operator was not listening, so the calls for help were never heard. But God is always listening.
For Further Study: Ephesians 2:1-10